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[Finished] Case #11: Did Senna end an era of sportsmanship?


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#1 Rainstorm

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Posted 07 February 2001 - 04:37

Williams has brought the following case to the Atlas F1 Court:

With all respect to the Judges of the AtlasF1 Court, I would like to petition the court to try the case that:

The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for, the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers.

PLEASE NOTE: this is NOT meant to be a rehash of the Prost/Senna feud. For the purposes of this enquiry, we are only interested in whether such incidents may have lead to a degredation of sportsmanship in Formula One.

We need to exame whether some of the actions of Ayrton Senna, and the limp-wristed FIA reaction to them, led to an era where a win-at-all-costs mentality was allowed to take over the sport, leading to many further unsportsmanlike incidents between drivers. Senna was one of the highest profile drivers of the 80's and was watched with adoring eyes by future generation of F1 drivers, such as Michael Schumacher and others. Did the Senna win-at-all-costs mentality have a hand in programming this new generation to compete in the same ruthless manner, and was this manner of competition relatively rare in F1 before Senna ?

By sportsmanship, we mean a relationship of respect between drivers which allows for

1) an ability for two drivers to decide who is faster at a given moment on the track, with track position consequently going to the quicker driver, without resorting to blatant blocking or dangerous squeezing tactics, thus allowing a proper competition of speed and driving ability .

2) a willingness to share the road without crashing, even in highly competetive situations .

3) a conscious effort made to avoid collisions at all times, with the goal in mind of showing superiority by beating the competition, not of eliminating them from the track .

4) an absence of imtimidatory tactics relied upon to conduct overtaking maneuvers, but a reliance instead on superior speed and use of the track .

5) an willingness on the part of drivers to treat each other with respect and courtesy in public off the track, even in highly competetive situations.

6) a willingness to compete on an equal, or unequal, basis against any driver and be able to lose with grace and without considering the loss a personal affront.

One famous example of sportsmanship in Formula One was the Villeneuve-Arnoux battle at Dijon in 1979, where two drivers were able to compete fiercly head-to-head without taking each other off and without any post-race rancor. There are probably even better, and less dangerous examples of such sportsmanlike behaviour.

Examples of unsportsmanlike behaviour from Senna include:

1) The infamous collision Suzuka in 1990. For the purposes of this enquiry we will not consider whether Prost and Senna were at fault in this matter, but we are interested in knowing whether it may have percipitated similar behaviour, or a change in attitude, among future F1 drivers.

2) Senna's refusal to allow Derek Warwick on the Lotus team. Although this may be considered a somewhat bordeline example of poor sportsmanship, it shows a willingness to sacrifice the spirit of real competition between equals in order to achieve the goal of winning, regardless of the path taken to get to that goal.

3) Senna's clash with Eddie Irvine in 1983. This was a clear example of a lack of respect between drviers and a lack of courtesy.

4) Senna's dangerous squeezing of Prost against the pitwall, after making a "chopping" maneuver, at the start of the 1988 Portuguese Grand Prix.

5) Senna's "breaking" of the pre-race agreement with Prost at Imola in 1989. Again, the point is not to assign blame in this matter, but to determine whether it might have led to similar behaviour by other drivers and had a detrimental effect on the atmosphere of sportmanship in Formula One in subsequent seasons.

6) Senna's clash with Nigel Mansell in Canada in 1992.

In order to arrive at a decision on this matter, we need to discover the following:

What incidents, if any, in the career of Aryton Senna, (he had 7 collisions and 5 accidents during his career) may have led to many other drivers following his example of using intimidatory tactics and actual car-to-car contact to gain an advantage on the track ? Did examples of the sort of Senna-isms listed above become more prevelent after Senna, compared to pre-Senna days ?

Was there ever an era of sportsmanship among drivers which was superior to what we see in Formula One today ? Compare examples of sportsmanship and unsportsmanlike conduct among drivers of the pre and post-Senna era.

If there has been a loss of sportsmanship among drivers, are increasingly commercial considerations a larger factor in the this loss ?

Have the alleged "Senna mentality" become the acceptable norm, since Senna compared to pre-Senna days, in the feeder Formulas, leading to a raft of incoming young drivers who are carrying on the new traditon ? (Witness Jenson Button's recent comments that he basically saw nothing wrong with Schumacher's behaviour at Jerez in 1997).

Note that on the issue of sportsmanlike conduct pre- and post-Senna, that, since it is impossible to prove that a thing (such as sportsmanship or unsportsmanship) does NOT exist, the most fruitful line of enquiry would be to find incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct pre-Senna and incidents of sportsmanlike conduct post-Senna to discover whether there has been a real change in sportsmanship in Formula One.

Thank you for your time in considering whether to hear my case.



This case has been accepted for hearing, and the residing judges are Billy, Rich and myself.

Evidence and arguments will be heard from all interested parties for a period of 14 days, from May 2nd to May 15th inclusive, after which a decision will be posted within seven days (no later than May 22nd).

Thank you.

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#2 Rich

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Posted 05 May 2001 - 20:06

This hearing is now open. As an addendum to the preamble, I must note that the residing judges are Rainstorm, Marcel Schot and myself. Thanks and enjoy.

#3 Williams

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Posted 06 May 2001 - 03:50

Let us start by saying that presenting this is being presented case with full respect to the memory of Ayrton Senna, who was a great racer and, by all accounts, a great human being. In this case, we will be critiquing the competetive nature of Senna, with relation to the impact it has had on modern sportsmanship, and our hope is that the discussion can be respectful yet objective.

The career of Ayrton Senna stood on a dividing line betwen a time when Formula One Racing was involved with business in order to fund a sport, and the present, when Formula One is, simply put, a business, and only a business. This can be seen by looking at sportsmanship in the early and modern eras.

The Early Days

The early days of Formula One were all about sport. The drivers all knew one another well, they raced together, they played and travelled together, their wives chattered in the pits together. Formula One was like a big family, a social club, or a fraternity, with it's own social heiarchy, cliques and divisions. As in any other social grouping, it was important that members "get along", in order to maintain a sense of belonging.

So when drivers competed on the track it was literally true that how you won was important. It was no good if you just beaten the field, but had done it in a way that was "unsporting". If you played by rules different than those agreed upon, at some level, amongst the competitors before the start of the race, you hadn't really won, despite standing on the podium and collecting the hardware and the wreath of honour. Back in the pits there would be an atmosphere of "You won, but...", and congratulations wouldn't seem as heartfelt, from the people who were your extended family.

Rob Walker compares the the early days of Formula One motorsport with today.

"In our day the drivers raced because they enjoyed it, it was sport, and I really don't know if any of today's drivers really enjoy it, not in the same way. In short I would say we raced for sport, and now the whole thing is a business, and of course they cheat nowadays; especially traction control. It's all so sophisticated that the scrutineers cannot tell when it's being used and one team in particular uses it a lot. We just wouldn't behave like that, because there would have been no point, everyone would have known and it wouldn't have been sport."


Walker's remarks about cheating are not the point here, but rather the comparision between the Formula One sport of yesteryear and the pure business that it is today.

Sport is defined as "amusement, diversion, fun, pastime(s), game(s), esp. of athletic or open-air character". So to be unsporting meant to not play for the enjoyment, but, for example, to merely win, or to collect the maximum amount of prize money. Unsporting behaviour is to ruin another sportsman's enjoyment of the sport, by, for example, humiliating him, or endangering him in some avoidable way.

Enjoyment of motorsports is in the speed, the feeling of control on the edge of disaster, the sensations of acceleration, turning and braking, the feeling of power that comes with passing another vehicle. Mike Hawthorn recalled that sense of enjoyment in one of his fights with Fangio: "We would go screaming down the straight side-by-side absolutely flat out, grinning at each other, with me crouching down in the cockpit, trying to save every ounce of wind resistance. We were only inches apart and I could see the rev-counter in Fangio's cockpit". The enjoyment of the sport and the permitting of others to enjoy the sport by pushing oneself to the furthest edge of racing speed and control was the highest sportsmanship. To take away the enjoyment of another sportsman by endangering or humiliating him was unsporting.

This is not to say that the early Formula One drivers were not professionals, they were. But professionals have professional ethics and the professional ethics of any race driver will to some extent include the concept of sportsmanship. There is always, in any enterprise, a tension between the demands of an employer for results and the limit to what an employee will do to achieve those results. In motorsports, those limits are set by by rules, driving ethics and each driver's sense of sportsmanship.

That is also not to say that the early drivers never played hardball; Jackie Stewart recalls "Black Jack" Brabham:

"He'd have fit into Formula 1 in the late 1990's perfectly ! There guys today know nothing about keeping people back, compared with what Jack knew. I'm not not sure he would actually run into anybody, but he didn't need to, you see - he was much more subtle than that ! It's only the unsubtle who actually have to run into people.
"Racing was generally very clean in that era. I'd happily race all day with Jochen or Bruce or Chris or Denny, but Jack was bit different. He'd block you, use pieces of the road that he'd never used before - and you got more chips in your visor following him than anyone else, that's for sure. Your couldn't talk to him about it though; he'd just smile !"

However, it seems that Brabham was the exception rather than the rule.

As Formula One proceded through the sixties and into the seventies and eighties, cars became more complex and expensive, and required more and higher quality, therefore better-paid people to design, build and service them. The teams and garages became bigger, the number of people travelling the circuit increased. Isolated within larger teams and travelling with ever more numerous support staff, drivers saw less of each other, some often seeing each other every other weekend in the pre-race meetings and for a couple of moments as they exchanged glances before submerging themselves in their cockpits. The personal relationships between drivers no longer counted as much, and drivers were ever more willing to play a harder game to win.

As teams got bigger, and the teams' demands for funds became ever more voracious, pressure for results increased on the drivers. Sponsors willing to pay large sums for space on the highspeed billboards demanded the exposure made possible by race wins and podium finishes. It became easier for drivers to reconsider their positions on driving ethics and sportsmanship.

A search of the Forix website reveals that the number of races in which at least one driver's race was terminated by an collision (two cars making contact) amounted to just 3 between 1955 and 1971. Thereafter the numbers increase dramatically:

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The numbers reflect the greater safety of the cars over time, but also the willingness of drivers to take advantage of that safety in pursuit of racing success. The numbers also show that it is possible to race without collisions, providing there exists among the competitors a sense of sportsmanship and a willingness to put safety over the desire to win.

Senna arrives

Senna's arrival on the Formual One scene marked a new era in motorsports. Aryton was able to have a huge impact on the sport of Formula One racing because of his formidable talent, motivation and drawing power, which demanded the respect of every competitor and every official. That Senna was one of the great drivers of all time is beyond dispute. He nearly won at Monaco his first time there, trailing Alain Prost in a fast-closing second place before the race was stopped. He holds a record for most pole positions which will probably never be broken, and is a three-time champion.

Senna was one of the most highly motivated individuals on the track. Even in his early days in the British Formula Ford and the British F3 series, Senna showed a willingness to do whatever was neccessary to win. Pehaps the best known competitor from Senna's days in Formula 3 was Martin Brundle:

He took no prisoners. he had that brightly-coloured helmet, and you could clearly see him coming up behind you. He left you to decide whether you were going to have an accident with him. What you did depended on how badly you wanted to finish the motor race.


Lesser-known Rick Morris was another driver who raced against Senna:

I was on pole position, considerably quickest in practice. At Oulton, you go up the hill into a right-hander with a double apex. It's not one of be accepted passing places, and going into it on the first lap I though I had a good lead when suddenly he came up and banged me out of the way. I got back on the track in tenth place. He won the race.


Though some might have said that Senna simply used his greater ability to pass Morris, it was more his willingness to remove a rival in order to achieve a victory which won the day.

Total War

Senna brought the concept of total war to Formula One racing. He realized that the track was not the only arena in which a driver could fight for an advantage over an opponent. His drive to win encompassed all of his dealings with his rivals, his team-mates, and his bosses on the teams he drove for.

After driving for a year at Toleman, having left the team with ill feelings due to the way he handled his jump to the new team, Senna established himself at Lotus, He quickly saw off the challenge of Elio de Angelis, a man who was no mean driver himself. The team proposed bringing in Derek Warwick, a fast, experienced British driver. Senna vetoed this, on the grounds that it would divert attention from his championship challenge. Yet in previous years, such first-rate drivers such as Fangio and Moss were willing teammates, both glad to prove themselves against the very best. Senna was not in racing for the sport, he was there to win, and that was his only goal. Warwick, who holds no grudge about Senna's decision today, acknowledges that this move by Senna pretty much killed off his chances of moving his career onto the next level.

Yet years later Senna would complain about Prost not allowing Senna to race alongside him at Williams:

If Prost wants to come back and win another title, he should be sportive. The way he is doing it, he is behaving like a coward. He must be prepared to race anybody in any conditions, on equal terms, and not the way he wants to win the championship.

While this could be charactererized as breathtaking hypocrisy, in fact Senna was simply being pragmatic and using whatever weapons he could at time when he had little else to fight with (the McLaren, stripped of it's Honda engine, being uncompetitive that year). This was part of Senna's "total war" philosophy, as remarked upon by Richard Williams in his book "The Death of Ayrton Senna".

When he insulted Prost in that way, when he became the first world champion to accuse another of cowardice, Senna was actually paying his opponent the highest compliment: he was fighting him with every weapon he could find, even handfuls of mud from the gutter.


This tradition has been carried on in the modern era. A classic case is the needle that went on between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill during the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Damon's comments about having no sympathy for Michael if Benetton had been found have been cheating, and Michael's return statement that Damon was not really a number one driver, were followed up by a shake-hands-and-make-up photo session, where this sotto-voce conversation ensued, as recalled in Damon Hill's diary of the season:

Hill: Come on Michael, let's forget all the bullshit.
Schumacher (smile frozen in place for the cameras): Yes, after the championship.

Stirling Moss saw no need to engage his rival in this sort of pyschological warfare, and was willing to let his results speak for themselves on the track. There is a memorable letter which Stirling wrote to Karl Ludvigsen before the the 1956 season, after Ludvigsen had written an article on his opinion that Fangio and Moss were evenly matched competitors for the championship that season:

Just for your own information and to get it straight from the horse's mouth, I can assure you that Juan is definitely more rapid than yours truly in Grand Prix racing today.

The needle between Damon and Michael in 1995 continued until the Championship was effectively put out reach by Michael with his victory at Nurburgring, when Damon came out to the side of the track to applaud him on his victory lap. Michael did not stop to pick Damon up, later citing a clutch problem and the possibility that Damon might catch a cold while sitting on his car, but he went on to compliment Damon for his sportsmanship. He deftly avoided saying that he thought Damon was a great driver. Like Senna, the two sides used whatever weapons they could find to fight their battle, while they needed them, and without regard for sportsmanship.

Senna and Prost

One of the fiercest battles of all time between two top F1 drivers was that between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The highlights of that battle are as follows:

  • At the restart of Estoril 1988, Senna squeezes his McLaren teammate over towards the pit wall at 180 mph, close enough to the wall to make nearby team personnel step away from the it. Prost proclaims that if Senna wants the Chamipionship so badly that he's willing to die for it, that he can have it. Senna does win the title that year, though not without a fight from Prost.
  • At Imola 1989, Senna renegs on a no-passing pact with Prost. Prosts accuses Senna of being dishonest. Senna retorts, "Are we racing, yes or no ?".
  • Prost, frustrated that Senna is beating him with his own chassis setups and suspecting that Honda are favouring Senna, announces that he is going to Ferrari for 1990. Senna urges the team to drop him immediately so that technical information is not lost to Ferrari with Prost.
  • At Suzuka 1989, Senna and Prost collide. Prost is out, but Senna continues on to win the race, and, he thinks, the title. But Senna is excluded from the race for missing a chicane on his restart after the collision, and Prost takes the title.
  • At Suzuka 1990, after Senna qualifyed on pole, but with Prost again threatening to take the title from him, the governing body tells Senna that pole has been moved to the dusty side of the track. Still smarting from the official ruling which handed the 1989 title to Prost, Enraged, Senna warns Prost not to turn in on him at the first corner. Prost does so anyway, and with breathtakingly dangerous determination, as 24 cars bear down on them going into the corner, Senna keeps his foot planted and rams Prost, taking them both out of the race and handing himself the title. A year later, Senna admits the move was deliberate.
After the Suzuka 1990 incident, the FIA fined Senna $100,000 and gave him a six-month suspended ban. Senna, knowing his value to the sport, refused to pay the fine. The FIA threatened to withold his superlicense and demanded an apology for certain comments made in the press. Ron Dennis stepped in and paid the fine and Senna retracted his statements.

In a fine example of brinksmanship, Senna had in effect eliminated a rival from the championship with impunity. Senna's philosophy of total war, of playing in every possible arena in order to secure victory, had brought him success once again. The FIA could not bring itself to set this right, by, for example, disqualifying Senna. This sent an important message to future generations of top drivers: star power could trump governing power, and the ability to defy the rules could now become a new tool in the arsenal of future Championship contenders.

In past generations, far from trying to punt each other off the track, drivers had actually helped one another to the championship. In Monza 1956, Peter Collins, still with a faint but dying hope of winning the championship, turned his car over to teammate Juan Manuel Fangio, whose own car was out with a broken steering arm. Fangio was able to take his friend's car and place it second, enough to secure the championship for himself.

In the future, however, hardball would be the order of the day. Without knowing that his star power gave him an advantage to play the rules very close to the edge, would Michael Schumacher have taken Damon Hill out of the 1994 championship in Adelaide, assuming that had been his intent when his crippled vehicle collided with that of Hill ? Would he have attempted to remove Jacques Villeneuve from the track at Jerez 1997, if it had been demonstratably likley that he would have been banned the next year ?

And even today, future stars look on. In January of 2001, Damon Hill, interviewing Jenson Button for F1 Racing Magazine, asked Jenson his opinion of the Adelaide '94 incident:

Button: Yeah, I thought that was alright.
Hill: What did he do that was alright ?
Button: Well, he won.

Of the Jerez '97 incident, Jenson said: "The only thing wrong with what he did was that it didn't work".

Sportsmanship in Victory

Senna was a master of using the needle technique for getting under the skin of his rivals. Even at times when it seemed he could afford a bit of sportsmanship, he was seeking the psychological edge for future contests. After his majestic win at Donnington 1993, Senna arrived late at the postrace press conference, just in time to to hear Prost doing what F1 drivers have always done after losing a contest: complaining about his car. Instead of being magnamimous in victory, Senna waited for a pause in the proceedings, leaned towards the microphone, and brought the house down by quietly remarking, "Why don't you change cars with me ?". Damon Hill recalls:

"Senna was humilating Alain. It was very embarrassing. I was sitting there like a lemon in the middle of the whole thing. You wanted the ground to open up and Alain to disappear."


A photo from Graham Gauld's book on Jim Clark comes to mind. Stirling Moss and a young Jim Clark are standing on the podium, Clark wearing the winner's wreath, Moss looks exhausted, his eyes downcast. Clark is facing Moss, and is giving him a consoling pat. The body language says it all, and it is a poignant photograph, showing mutual respect between the two champions. Jim Clark is clearly not thinking how he can beat Moss in the next contest too, he is most likely wishing him "better luck next time". He is showing the sportsmanship which Senna, along with many current drivers, considered to be a distraction, or even a liability, in their own struggles for the championship.

This becomes clearer as we fast forward to Silverstone 1998, where Michael Schumacher has just won the wet race by crossing the finish line in the pitlane to take a penalty. Damon Hill, driving for Jordan, and struggling, his tenure there under question, went off in the early laps, after a battle for position with Eddie Irvine. Eddie Irvine has emerged on the podium, his sixth of the season, and his 13th overall, a record for a driver without a win. The result will further secure Irvine's position with Ferrari. Irvine, in his moment of triumph, chooses to focus on the vanquished Damon Hill, accusing him of weaving in front of him during their battle, calling him a "sad old man", and saying, "Still, he got his punishment went he went off".

Sportsmanship, if not dead, is sadly lacking in modern Formula One.

In my next post I will deal more directly with the six points of motorracing sportsmanship outlined in the case preamble.

#4 John B

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 14:47

Did Senna end an era of unsportsmanship? Here's another perspective on the years 1981-1987. I think it's interesting to consider that in the years before Senna's appearance in F1, there were several disputes among teammates:

1. Carlos Reutemann, after having signed a "number two" contract with Williams, refused to move over and let Alan Jones win the rain-soaked Brazilian race in 1981 as mandated in the contract. Tension continued between Jones and Reutemann all year, and ultimately Brabham driver Nelson Piquet nabbed the title at the last race.

2. The Pironi/Villeneuve incident at Imola is well documented and discussed.

3. Rene Arnoux, behind in the 1982 title fight after an indifferent start, refused to move over and let Prost win the 1982 French GP as agreed by the team. This starts a bitter personal feud between the two which ran for several years. Some, including Autocourse, even wrote that Arnoux's progress through the field at the 1983 Dutch GP forced Prost into his ill-advised pass attempt on Piquet.

4. Arnoux and Tambay had at least 2 controversies in 1983 during the heat of the title battle. In Germany and Austria Arnoux made aggressive passes of his teammate which were to some unexpected.

5. This was after Senna came to F1, but before he became a true WDC contender. Piquet and Mansell were hardly good friends at Williams. One example of the rivarly was in Hungary 1986 when Piquet used a new differential without telling Mansell. NM finished 3rd in the race, and the team was not pleased as had NP broke then Senna rather than NM would have won the race.


So, we can see that while Senna arguably raised the bar with his on-track behavior, he also came into the sport during an era where acrimony, and driving which could be interpreted as unsporting, among the top teams was not uncommon. I find it ironic that in this period, in spite of the sportsmanship decline, we have not had this sort of bitter teammate feud - nothing like an Irvine not moving over for MS or DC refusing to let Hakkinen win his first two GPS.

And as a footnote I'd like to point out the era he entered F1 was also one of the safest, with no GP weekend fatalities until the double tragedy at Imola 1994. As documented, Senna was very distressed by the Ratzenberger accident on Saturday before his own passing.

#5 raceday

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 21:08

Formula 1 is not separated from the rest of the society and the rest of the world. By that I mean that the ethics that is in a certain sport at any given time is effected by the climate of the society and the world in general. It is also effected by the nature of the sport and the conditions it creates.

Senna is accused of: “ The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for, the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers”.

English is not my mother language but the meaning of that must be that the person who brought this to trial thinks that the situation in F1 would be substantially different ethics-wise had not Senna existed.

I think there is a natural progression in the world going from simple provincial farmers to the global “supermedia” society that we are approaching now. Meaning that the competition has become way harder with the global media and competition and the pressure to succeed has hardened with it. We’ve seen that not least with politics, business and sports.

I am not sure where it started in Politics, but Watergate, Irangate and Clinton and Kenneth Staar might be worth mentioning. Another society related thing is that in the fifties problems with terrorism, drugrelated problems, gang violence and football hooliganism was very much smaller than today.

In business there is pretty obvious that the ethics has taken a backseat, unless it would give the company a competitive edge. To name a few examples: Childworkers in the third world for big clothing companies, oil-companies who wants to find oil and chases away people from there land in Africa, companies who tries to figure out if the costs for getting sued are going to exceed the costs for withdrawing the product from the market, and look at a company like Firestone…

Sports might be the most interesting one: In the sixties there didn’t even exist rules for doping. Steroids were regarded as some kind of food additives or "“vitamins". Shortly after that it got forbidden. Now it’s a circus with pretty much an industry of doping where the doping police is chasing in vain, because the “doping-inventors” and most of the users are always one step ahead.

Examples of bad sportsethics and it’s progression are: Ali who made it an art to intimidate his opponent in the sixties, the man who had this “touché-button” in his Floret (sword) in the 1976 Olympics, McEnroe calling a judge “a disgrace for humanity” and generally behaving bad in the beginning of the 80:s, Maradonnas “hand of god” in the 1986 Football World Championships, Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis’s duels where they intimidated each other to the maximum climaxing with Ben Johnson getting caught for use of steroids in the 1988 Olympics. There’s MANY more examples but I think the resent scandal with the Finnish Nordic skiing team gives a good picture of where it all has led: Basically the whole Finnish team was caught using illegal substances in the last world championship in 2001. When that was revealed a reporter asked the captain of the Finnish team on live TV: “Why did you take it?” “Because it would improve our performance”. “But didn’t you know it was illegal?” “ Yes, but we didn’t think we would get caught…”. That is systemised cheating by the leaders and athletes of a national team. (I do by no means think the Finns are any worse than others)

My point with all this is that you can see a clear line of progression in the society and the world in general towards a less ethical behaviour and it’s my firm conviction that Formula 1 would not substantially differ in it’s ethical level had not Senna existed. Especially as I think it’s a fair assumption that the nature of the sport Formula 1 and the conditions it creates are very likely to have taken the sport this way anyway with the ever increasing sponsorship and the increased pressure for results it will create.

However, I think it’s true that a few drivers of today had Senna as their idol and hence he could have had an effect on them. But the same could be said about Prost. I think this banging of wheels and blocking started way earlier than Senna, just look at the comments that Atlas reported recently about what Lauda said how they behaved in the seventies. Something along the line: “There were lots of dirty tricks and wheel banging off camera in the woods”.

I think that the only REALLY badly ethical thing Senna ever did was the Japanese GP 1990. But he sure wasn’t the first one to do it, as was pointed out in the court case of the Japanese GP of 1989. It’s therefore unfair to pin this on Senna alone.

My judgement would be that he, and others in a similar position, contributed to the already declining climate of ethics. (I sure as hell enjoyed it though, and I still do)


#6 Williams

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Posted 09 May 2001 - 10:26

The six points of motor-racing sportsmanship noted in the preamble break down into two broad areas:

1) Sporting behaviour on the track, encompassing the concerns of safety and enjoyment of the sport.

2) Sporting behaviour off the track.

Here we will deal with the issue of sporting behaviour on the track.

The best example of good sporting behaviour in a competitive situation that I can think of to date is the Villenueve/Arnoux battle of Dijon 1979, where the two drivers battled wheel-to-wheel for a full lap without taking each other off. From their comments after the race, the two drivers were very much engrossed in their battle, and were out to prove who was the better driver. One driver taking the other off the circuit would have negated the purpose of the battle. That, in a nutshell, explains what sportsmanlike racing is all about. While object was to beat the other driver, it was important how that victory took place. It was not just a matter of one car crossing the line first, or of one of the cars not finishing.

When two cars go into the same corner, the two drivers must decide who will take possession of the corner before they both reach the point of no return which will see one or both of them off the track. A certain level of sportsmanship is required to complete this maneuver successfully. If both drivers are too bloody-minded to know when to back off, they will simply wind up in the gravel trap (or the hay bales or the armco, depending on the era). During the cornering maneuver, it is important that both cars, even while competing to go through first, leave each other enough room to remain on the track. The decision as to who takes a corner is dependent on the relative speeds and positions of the car, and which car has most fully commited itself to the corner.

To be sporting is to take a risk, the risk of losing. Backing off first means the loss of track position, even while it allows the fight to continue, with the possibility of getting the postion back. Senna was not willing to accept this risk, and, because he was interested only in the fact, and not the form, of a win, depended on the sportsmanship of the drivers around him to achieve an edge. Senna cut through the complexities of the cornering maneuver by rewriting the rules of the game, to wit, that all other cars competing for track position should yield to Senna. This was the essence of his "But I am Senna !" remark, which was made when, after he complained to a driver about being blocked, the driver responded that Senna been known to make a few blocking maneuvers of his own.

Many other drivers have since attempted to emulate Senna's hyper-aggressive passing tactics, and this, along with the technical difficulty of overtaking, and the use of pit strategies to overtake, has relegated the the skills of on-track cooperation and sportsmanship to a minor place, although in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, this skill is starting to come back. The inability of Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher to sort out Priory corner at Silverstone '95, and Alesi and Schumacher at the end of Brabham Straight at Adelaide '95 are two other examples of this modern skill deficiency.

Another typical modern pass was that of Villeneuve at Jerez in '97. Correctly assuming that Schumacher would simply move to block him if he attempted a conventional pass, Villeneuve started his maneuver from an unexpectedly long distance back and simply charged down the inside of Schumacher's car hoping to keep the car on the road when he emerged on the other side; a do-or-die grab for the championship. An actual race around the corner, ala Gilles/Rene, would never have happened, the drivers were simply not used to that sort of on-track cooperation. Of course we will never know whether Jacques would have been successful had Schumacher not taken himself out of the race by ramming him.

I will finish this post by reading into the record the text of a 1990 televised argument between Senna and Stewart over Senna's driving tactics, excerpted from Christopher Hamilton's "Ayrton Senna - As Time Goes By". Notice Senna's description of his own tactics, in that he depends on the the other driver to take full responsibility for avoiding an accident as he completes his overtaking maneuver. Also note Stewart's comments about Senna's collision record, which we will deal with in a later post. In terms of collision rankings among 27 champions, in percent collisions out of race starts, Senna ranks fifth, behind Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, and Mika Hakkinen, all drivers who came after Senna.


INTRODUCER: Hardly a season goes by in Formula 1 without at leas one major row but never has a controversy split expert opinion so squarely as the one surrounding that first corner collision involving Senna and Prost at Suzuka two weeks ago. For example, our good friend Jackie here believes that Senna's driving has been highly questionable all season. What's more he doesn't mind saying so, even to Senna. In this interview a former World Champion and the new World Champion meet for a frank exchange of views. [FILM OF THE CRASH IS PLAYED]

SENNA: He knew I was right with him, I was not far behind, I was right with him and when I was right behind him he moved to the inside line going towards the first corner, I just chased him then and he opened the gap. And knowing me like he does know, he must realise if there was a gap I was going to try and overtake him. Under those circumstances, he should never have opened a gap in the first corner and then come back again - because, by doing so, he opened the gap, gives the gap and then closes it. In those circumstances there was no way to avoid an incident.

STEWART: Right. But that only happened, Ayrton, because you saw the gap - and I accept that, you're a racer - but a mature racer has to also think if he closes the door again we're going to have an accident. And in fact there was a high-speed entrance so there could have been a very serious accident.

SENNA: Absolutely.

STEWART: So would it not have been more prudent under those circumstances to at least have seen if the gap was potentially going to close?

SENNA: Not at all. He was in a position where he could never - under no circumstances - put his car anywhere near mine in a difficult position, because if we happened just to touch - just to touch - and have a wing damaged or a flat tyre, he had everything to lose. And under those circumstances my understanding was that he would never move against me in the first corner. I was very surprised when I found myself with him moving the car over mine [WAVING FINGER].

STEWART: So in that case you were calculating that he would give way, that he would let you through?

SENNA: Of course. He would not close the way he did from the moment he made the initial room [STILL WAVING FINGER] he would not come back and close the door again.

STEWART: A calculated risk?

SENNA: Of course. [SHRUGS SHOULDERS]

STEWART: OK, let me ask you another difficult question. If I were to count back all the World Champions - and, after all, this is the 500th grand prix, if you totalled up all of those great champions [SENNA SMILES LANGUIDLY] and the number of times they had made contact with other drivers, you in the last 36 months or 48 months have been in contact with more other cars and drivers than they might have done in total.

SENNA: I find it amazing for you to make such a question, Stewart, because you are very experienced and you know a lot about racing and you should know that by being a racing driver you are under risks all the time. Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people and if you no longer go for a gap that exists you are no longer a racing driver - because we are competing, we are competing to win and the main motivation to all of us is to compete for a victory. It's not to come third, fourth, fifth or sixth. Right?

STEWART: But hasn't that always been the case?

SENNA: Sorry?

STEWART: But hasn't that always been the case with all the great champions?

SENNA: Absolutely. [FILM OF THE CRASH IS PLAYED AGAIN] And if you go back… [TALKING TOGETHER]

STEWART: But it didn't happen…

SENNA: But if you go back in history and talk about the incidents and so on, then you'll find that I've been myself leading most of the races and finding back-markers in front of me and I was never involved in leading races with other people. [FILM OF A CRASH WITH BERGER IN BRAZIL, THEN THE CRASH WITH PROST AT THE CHICANE, SUZUKA 1989, IS BEING PLAYED] There were three, four events only when I was leading a race at the first corner and like many other people I've been involved.

STEWART: I have to believe though, Ayrton, there must be some fault and I respect totally your ability, you're the fastest grand prix driver in the world but I have to speculate that it can't all be right that you have this many collisions, if you like [SENNA STONE FACED] whether it be with back-markers or whether it be with lead changes, it just happens too often. Don't you question yourself if...

SENNA: But I think it's all irrelevant, all what you are saying Jackie is really irrelevant because I am a driver [VOICE RISING A LITTLE] that won more races than anybody over the past three years, I am a driver that's been on pole position more than anybody in history and I am a driver that won two titles in the past three years. I cannot comprehend how you can try to [RAISES LEFT HAND, PLACES TWO FINGERS HORIZONTALLY AND TWISTS THEM IN A CORKSCREW MOTION] turn things around to say that I have been involved in more accidents than anybody — because that is not true as well. I don't really understand the point.

STEWART: I'm sorry, I don't agree with that because…

SENNA: Then you should go back [POINTS FINGER AT STEWART THREE TIMES], you should go back ten years from the date of today and [WAGS FINGER] look not only at the leaders, you should look at the middle [HAND WAVING] the middle field drivers and the back field drivers

STEWART: I speak of the champions…

SENNA: ….. and find, find by yourself that what you say is not quite right [FLICKER OFA SMILE].

STEWART: Well, I would be happy to go back with you and go through the Fangios and the Clarks and the…

SENNA: No, you only have to go back ten years, you only have to go back ten years, the modern Formula 1, that's what we are talking about [THIN SMILE].

STEWART: So you feel totally comfortable that the technique of driving that you use has not in any way developed into a situation where the gap opens up and it's taken spontaneously - because you do go for gaps, and we have all done it in our careers.

SENNA: When there is a gap [RAISES HAND], when there is a gap it is designed for being in a competition at a very high level [meaning the gap happens in a very high level of competition] with cars going so close as they go today, with the same horsepower, with the same level of grip, with the same low aerodynamics, you all know with the different circuits where it is very difficult for overtaking - because the circuits are designed not in an appropriate manner for overtaking manoeuvres - you either commit yourself as a professional racing driver that is designed to win races [WAVING HAND] or you come second, or you come third, or you come fifth and I am not designed to come third, fourth, or fifth. I race to win as long as I feel it is possible. Sometimes you get it wrong, sure, it is impossible to get it right all the time but I race designed to win [WAVING LEFT HAND] and as long as I feel I am doing it right some people agree, some don't. In the end I am the one who is doing it, I am the one who is driving and I can only do what speaks for my mind [meaning what I think].




#7 raceday

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Posted 09 May 2001 - 16:14

In my previous post I made a reference to Lauda and here's what was reported on Atlas news sektion:

”Lauda Defends Schumacher's Driving Tactics

Friday January 12th, 2001

Triple World Champion Niki Lauda has defended the aggressive tactics used by
Michael Schumacher to defend his position, saying that similar things
occurred when he was racing.
Lauda says that improved television coverage is to blame for the criticism
of tactics that have been used for many years.
"The problem today is television," said Lauda. "The TV coverage is done so
well, there are so many cameras now, you can see what everybody is doing.
"In my day we used to hit each other off the road but if somebody complained
afterwards, we'd just say, 'I don't know what happened'. Now you cannot
really do that.
"What Schumacher did and what Coulthard did was just human reaction and I
can fully understand it.
"If you are on pole position and make a bad start you think you'd better
move over to defend your position.
"People complained but it is part of the show of Formula One and I don't
think that FIA should interfere.
"If they do and make things more strict then in the end there will be less
action and the sport will get more boring."”

I think that this shows clearly that questionable ethical behaviour was quite common within F1 well before Senna.

#8 Rainstorm

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Posted 09 May 2001 - 16:34

Hi all,

There are a few questions I would like to ask, primarily the prosecution. Please note that these are questions, primarily invoked by reading your submissions so far. They in no way reflect any pre-concieved judgement that I may have on the case.

Firstly, one of the points Williams raises here, stands to a large extent in stark contrast to the current state in Formula One.

Williams wrote:

A photo from Graham Gauld's book on Jim Clark comes to mind. Stirling Moss and a young Jim Clark are standing on the podium, Clark wearing the winner's wreath, Moss looks exhausted, his eyes downcast. Clark is facing Moss, and is giving him a consoling pat. The body language says it all, and it is a poignant photograph, showing mutual respect between the two champions. Jim Clark is clearly not thinking how he can beat Moss in the next contest too, he is most likely wishing him "better luck next time". He is showing the sportsmanship which Senna, along with many current drivers, considered to be a distraction, or even a liability, in their own struggles for the championship.


How does one settle this with the overgrowing respect both Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher are showing towards each other?


That may, perhaps, seem like and anecdote of sort, but I believe that for the prosecution to establish its case it must not only establish that Senna himself was not a sportsman, but also that he indeed ended such era of sportsmanship.

If that is the theory, then any fact which defies it might shake its truthfulness.


At the same time, I would like to ask the following:

1) Do you believe that the lack of accidents between drivers on track is primarily a reflection of the fact that drivers were better sportsman, or a reflection of the fact - as stated - that the sport became much safer, thus allowing drivers to dare more? I believ this is an important issue to consider and analyse, considering that a primary evidence was sumbitted here, in the number of race-ending accidents.

2) How do you establish that, a) sportsmanship existed before Senna's time; and b) sportsmanship no longer exists after his time?

And, assuming that is indeed established, how do you prove that the reason for this transition, betwee 'a' and 'b', is indeed pinned on Senna?

I would like to see more evidence to that effect. Simply proving that Senna was not a sportsman (if indeed he was not) does not prove in itself that he is the reason an era of sportsmanship has ended (if indeed it did).

Thank you,

Rain

#9 Mario

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Posted 09 May 2001 - 18:51

I went through the school of Mansell, Prost and Senna. That's where I drew my guidelines from and that guideline is very different form what we have today. In the past it was okay to do certain things that you can't get away with now.

Michael Schumacher

http://www.formula-1...04.htm?page=304

Maurice Hamilton: Lead by Example

Rudgwick, West Sussex, England, July 4 - Max Mosley used his capacity as president of the FIA to deliver a speech at the French Grand Prix about the need to reduce fatalities on the roads. The strength of his praiseworthy mission was to be diluted a few hours later, when one of the best drivers in the world engaged in tactics which would not be acceptable on a public highway.

Michael Schumacher did not go beyond the letter of the law as we currently know it, but his blatant swerve into David Coulthard's path at the start of Sunday's race went way beyond the spirit. The Ferrari driver's action said, in no uncertain terms, "If you don't back off, we're going to have an accident."

We should not have been surprised, since Schuey had pulled the same stunt on Coulthard at the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. The difference this time was that DC was not going to let the matter drop, as he had, in an almost subservient manner, post-Imola.

You could tell by the body language of the McLaren that he was going after Schumacher once Rubens Barrichello had been dispatched in an impressive manner. Not even a ruthless elbow by Schumacher onto the curb would deter Coulthard. If anything, it seemed to strengthen his resolve. I'm sure Max Mosley and his political friends were appalled - in public, anyway - by Coulthard's subsequent one-fingered gesture from the cockpit, but it got a resounding cheer in the media center.

The president of the FIA is probably on the horns of a dilemma. Here was a mild example of the sort of road rage that we are encouraged to avoid while driving to the office. And yet it was provoked by actions that stretch the ethics of the sport to the limit.

Mind you, the FIA has no one but themselves to blame, since such extreme tactics were effectively legalized when Ayrton Senna escaped censure for driving Alain Prost off the road at Suzuka in 1990. In the light of the FIA's safety drive on the roads, perhaps this is a good time to establish new safety parameters in motorsport as well. - Maurice Hamilton, Senior Editor, RACER

http://www.speedvisi...ary/000704.html

Perhaps the competitors of yesteryear shared a level of sportsmanship that is perceived to be lacking in the modern formula. Having said that the drivers of yesterday did not have to deal with today's penetrating, 24/7, instant replay coverage that captures all the moves on the track along with all the banter in the paddock. The sport is simply under a greater microscope today than what is was even just a few short years ago.

I'm not so sure Senna ended the era of sportsmanship in F1 as it appears to be alive and well between Schumacher and Hakkinen today. Having said that Ayrton Senna's deliberate crash into Prost at the 1990 Suzuka grand prix has to be the single most cutthroat maneuver not just in motor sports, but all organized sports. Instead of stripping Senna of the championship, FIA did nothing, therefore endorsing the notion that winning is greater than how you win. What kind of message does this give young racers?

No, Senna wasn't the first driver to mix it up with an opponent, and he certainly used psychology to his advantage, but I submit that Senna's crashing into Prost was the first real illustration of fanatical lunacy, a bloodthirsty desire to win at all costs. FIA, usually dealing with underweight cars and other clever schemes by engineers, had never dealt with anything so blatantly sinister before. There was no speculation, this was not a racing incident, just deliberate cheating so naked, so obvious.

Senna committed the crime, the crime went unpunished by FIA, a message was delivered, and with the superstar status of Ayrton, a win at all costs philosophy was planted into the minds of young, impressionable racers.

#10 HP

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Posted 10 May 2001 - 09:15

IMHO, the entire question is worded bit too black and white. And it is a bit heavy to appropriate the blame onto one person only.

Like any other sport there is the need for check and balances. If a driver behaves unsportingly then it's the responsibility of the ruling body to not only define the rules, but also to make sure the rules are enforced. The FIA tradition is a bit questionable in this regard. Legislation, excutive and judicative (sp?) have made mistakes (if needed I will compile a list, of questionable incidents).

My main point here is that if Ayrton Senna's track behaviour wasn't what was expected of him, then it should have clearly have had repercussions for him. It seems that the FIA has only woken up a bit after Mr. Balestres departure and started taking action after the incidents involving the early career of Michael Schumacher.

So at least the FIA has to carry part of the blame.

Also my second point is that I do not think that Senna ended an era. No-one ever can say, you cannot be a fair player anymore, and not go back being a fair sportsman as prefered by most people. It's a moral choice every driver must make. And no, Ayrton Senna cannot make moral choices for the current drivers. He might not have been a good example in that area, but to blame him for all woes is not right.

I think in these days the right of an individual is put over the well-being of the entire society. The results are clearly showing.

I would think appropriating blame doesn't help anything, leading by good example can undo some of those effects, and hopefully MS and MH this season have show a glimpse of what F1 can be in terms of sportsmanship.

To conclude there was never an end to an era of sportsmanship. My sig should give a further hint.


#11 Gareth

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Posted 11 May 2001 - 08:56

I would like to respond to a couple of points made by Williams.

Firstly, the use of statistics.

1. The table of 'race ending collisions'
I would suggest that this table reflects changes in technology in F1 more than changes in sportsmanship. The increased importance in aerodynamics has made there be effectively only 1 way to take a corner. There has to be a massive difference in relative speeds for a driver to overtake someone who is on that 'right' line. This means that drivers have to fight for 1 bit of track in order to overtake, therefore making overtaking more likely to result in collisions. I think this is reflected by the marked increase in collisions in the '70's where aerodynamics became a major part of F1.
I would also suggest that the table reflects changes in the 'robustness' of F1 cars. In the earlier days the cars were not so sensitive to collisions and consequently a touch would not necessarily result in a DNF.

2. Senna's percentage of collisions
This stat is particularly misleading. It is used to say, 'Senna had the highest number of crashes per race of any champion, the only champions to have more are those subsequent to him'. Well this is equally true of the WDC who had the highest percentage before Senna, lets say he's called Max. At the time that he won the WDC Max had the highest percentage of any driver. The only drivers who have a higher percentage are those who have come after him, ie Senna et al. Well this is obvious because Max had a higher percentage than all those before him so he could only be 'beaten' by those after him.

Secondly, F1 was 'like a family' before Senna,
I don't disagree that things were more 'family' like in the fifties and sixties but this changed because F1 became big business, not because of Senna. The fact that drivers were competing for huge sums of money and their profile (which in turn leads to huge sums of money) has 'alienated' them from one another. In other words big business prevents friendships in the paddock and therefore the 'family' atmosphere. However this does not necessarily mean there is no sportsmanship. For example, as pointed out by Rainstorm, Hakkenin and Schummacher may not be friends but sportsmanship exists between them eg MS's congratulations of MH's move at Spa 2000, Spain 2001.

Thirdly, Suzuka 1990,
This is used as evidence of bad sportsmanship bringing someone the WDC and that this has resulted in a win at all costs mentality. Williams states that he does not want this to be an examination of who was to blame BUT as this case lays the blame of a change of sportsmanship at Senna's door partly because of this incident at least a cursory examination of this is inevitable.

Briefly, IMO the disqualification of Senna in 1989 and the moving of pole in 1990 to make pole a disadvantage showed clear Prost bias on the part of the FIA. If the governing body are tilting the playing field towards one party in a sport then IMO THEY have taken sportsmanship out of the equation - it is no longer a sport, it is a crowning ceremony of the governing bodies man. Consequently any blame for a change in sportsmanship as a result of this incident should lie at the door of the FIA at the time.

Fourthly, the Stewert interview,
Williams states: "Notice Senna's description of his own tactics, in that he depends on the the other driver to take full responsibility for avoiding an accident as he completes his overtaking maneuver." Well I noticed nothing of the kind. I noticed him saying in that 1 incident he didn't expect Prost to close the door because of the WDC situation but as to his general overtaking tactics it says nothing other than 'as a racer you have to go for gaps. Sometimes you will make a mistake and misjudge them.' This suggests the opposite of what Williams states ie that Senna tried to overtake by going for gaps that HE thinks are there. His admission that sometimes he makes mistakes implies that he does not rely upon the other driver to take responsibility.

Finally,
I would like to hear some response from the prosecution on the points raised by Jon B on 'feuds' prior to Senna and Racedays comments on the influence of society as a whole on F1. it seems to me that taken together these suggest a general 'corrosion' in sportsmanship in society that found it's examples in F1 before Senna.


#12 Williams

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 00:04

Regarding the questions of the Court:

How does one settle this with the overgrowing respect both Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher are showing towards each other?

Such shows of respect are not uncommon among drivers who hold no threat to each other. Presently, Schumacher has 36 championship points to Hakkinnen's 4 points, and Schumacher can afford to avoid any sort of mental games with Hakkinen for now. Think about this seriously, because, although I have no doubt that these two men actually respect each other, the true test of sportsmanship will be near the end of the season, if both are in close contention for the championship. Then you may see a different behaviour. Remember that Prost and Senna were bitter enemies - until Prost retired. The same holds true of Schumacher and Hill, who were at each other's throats all during the 1995 season, but then made up immediately after Schumacher clinched the championship at Nurburgring.

As I pointed out in a previous post, there is a risk inherent in every act of true sportsmanship, and the amount of risk arising from an act of sportsmanship is a measure of its quality. Battling fairly with an opponent opens up a greater possibilty of losing. Showing friendship with an opponent risks the loss of an psychological edge over that opponent. If both drivers can hold that sporting attitude under tougher conditions, then we can discuss their sportsmanship.

1) Do you believe that the lack of accidents between drivers on track is primarily a reflection of the fact that drivers were better sportsman, or a reflection of the fact - as stated - that the sport became much safer, thus allowing drivers to dare more? I believe this is an important issue to consider and analyse, considering that a primary evidence was sumbitted here, in the number of race-ending accidents.

The rising number collisions is due to a number of factors, some of which I covered in my original post:

1) A decrease in personal contact between drivers led to a greater willingness to test the borders of unsporting behaviours.

2) Greater safety of vehicles meant that a lesser penalty was paid for accidents or collisions. Drivers thus became more willing to race in an unsporting fashion (i.e. intimidate or eliminate instead of racing other drivers).

However, these things alone were not enough to make unsporting tactics acceptable. If the early great champions did not get involved in using such methods (as pointed out by Jackie Stewart in his interview with Senna), then neither would the new drivers who emulated them. There was a catalyst required.

It would be imprudent to claim that Senna invented aggressive racing tactics. However, before Senna, rough racing tactics, such as squeezing an opponent to the border of the track, or making some sort of minor contact was not something to be proud of. These things happened, but were looked down upon and roundly condemned. When Senna came into the sport, he had a very high profile from the very beginning, and the tactics he employed came under close scrutiny. Of course, at the time of these incidents (such as Senna/Prost at Estoril 1988, or with Mansell in Canada 1992), there was a hue and cry, but Senna broke through a barrier of sorts and was able to emerge from each incident with points intact, and largely unpunished by the FIA. Thereafter these tactics became part of the toolkit of a new generation of drivers. Such tactics were seen to be a) effective and b) not seriously sanctionable by the governing body. They simply became methods which "hard" racers were willing to employ in order to win.

Notice that in fact, two parties, both of whom are mentioned in the preamble, have responsibility for making unsporting tactics more common in modern F1 (the preamble states that Senna should be shown to be at least partially responsible). Senna, knowing his value to the sport, dared to use such methods as he saw fit to take his rightful place in the pantheon of great drivers. The FIA then placed their stamp of approval on them by never seriously sanctioning Senna for his actions.

Once such tactics were seen by a new generation of drivers as useful and at least tolerable at a high level, they were adopted and became part of the future of F1 racing. Senna did not invent these tactics, but he brought them to wider acceptance among serious drivers in the sport.

2) How do you establish that, a) sportsmanship existed before Senna's time; and b) sportsmanship no longer exists after his time?

Some unsporting conduct existing undoubtedly existed before Senna's time, and some sporting conduct exists after Senna. However, the prosection must show that the conduct before Senna's time was largely sporting, and that there has been a large amount of unsporting conduct after Senna's time. Some contrasts of the two eras, with relation to Senna, follows:

As seen by the example of Fangio and Moss, the frontline drivers of the early days were perfectly happy to test their talents against each other in the same vehicles. Senna realized the the disadvanatages of this arrangement and mantained a veto over teammates chosen by the team. This tradition has carried on with the example of Michael Schumacher forbidding the sharing of his race data with his teammate Johnny Herbert, in effect reducing the effectiveness of his teammate's challenge.

As seen by the example of Stirling Moss and Karl Ludvigsen, the drivers of an early era were willing to give credit to good or better drivers. Whether he adopted pychological warfare as a deliberate strategy, or if he actually had an active dislike of his opponents, Senna did whatever he could to assert his dominance over a rival driver. The example of Senna and Prost after his dominant win at Donnington in 1993 has been given. His relationship with Prost was frosty from the very beginning, starting on the moment that Prost took pole in a celebrity saloon competition they had both entered. In the modern era, the example of the verbal wars between Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher has already been noted. Ralf Schumacher, in a statement that exemplifies the state of team-mate relations in modern F1, said of Juan Montoya, "We have a normal relationship as teammates. But you can't expect us to have a friendship". The need for a pyschological edge and a healthy distance between teammates has replaced the good fun and fellowship of an earlier era.

Another example of the change in the level of sportsmanship was that of Fangio being black-flagged at a race in Casablanca in 1957. Fangio was mistakenly black flagged by a confused race clerk (the flag was meant for Jack Brabham, who car was leaking oil onto the track). Fangio, with absolutely no idea as to why he was being flagged, simply obeyed it without question. Contrast this to Michael Schumacher in Britain 1994, where he ignored the black flag for several laps until his team, after arguing the point with the race stewards (he was being sanctioned for passing Damon Hill twice on the warmup lap), decided to call him in.

And, assuming that is indeed established, how do you prove that the reason for this transition, betwee 'a' and 'b', is indeed pinned on Senna?

I will address this issue in a future post.



#13 Williams

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 00:19

Raceday wrote:

My point with all this is that you can see a clear line of progression in the society and the world in general towards a less ethical behaviour and it’s my firm conviction that Formula 1 would not substantially differ in it’s ethical level had not Senna existed. Especially as I think it’s a fair assumption that the nature of the sport Formula 1 and the conditions it creates are very likely to have taken the sport this way anyway with the ever increasing sponsorship and the increased pressure for results it will create.


...and I agree pretty much with all of what Raceday wrote here. The changes in Formula do reflect the changes in the world around it. However, we have ways and methods in this society of dealing with the erosion of values and ethics. In society we have the court system. In Formula One we have the FIA.

Unfortunately the FIA fell down on their job. Senna was a highly-motivated individual who was bent on winning at all costs, and who was also one of the main draws for Formula One in the late 80's and early '90s. When Senna decided that he had the "star power" to challenge the governing body of the sport, the FIA had an opportunity to send a message to subsequent generations. They didn't do it, they decided that the short-term commercial interests of the sport outweighed it's character and integrity. Senna's methods stood, and his example set the tone for F1 as we see it today.


#14 unrepentant lurker

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 05:54

I will not attempt to say that Senna was a sporting gentleman, he was not. But it is ludicrous to say he ended the era of sportsmanship in Formula 1. He may have contributed in his own way but he is far from being the most responsible party.

I have a few issues with the prosecutions arguements. The first is the graph. It seems to contain at least a few errors, or at least some differentiation between "collision" and "accident" form FORIX. I'm not sure what the difference is. As an example, Wolfgang von Trips died as a result of a collision/accident with Clark. Yet, 1961 lists 0 collisions.

The graph shows that the most unsporting year is definatley 1982(the year before Senna's debut), with 13 of 16 races containing race-ending collisions. Clearly, a proposterous statement, but the graph is proposterous. As stated by Gareth, it is more a reflection of the differences of cars than of driver attitude. I would also add to his excellent arguement that the 50's and 60's had a very darwinian aspect to racing. Drivers that were accident prone were simply eliminated. An example is Trips. He had 4 accident/collisions from 27 starts, which is nothing today.

I would also add that there is much less room for error since the advent of aerodynamics, particularly in the last 10 years with ludicrously short breaking distances and the prolification of chicanes. The 2 races in 2001 and the 9 in 2000 are primarily the result of driver error than overaggressive/win-at-all-costs driving.

Originally posted by Willaims
After driving for a year at Toleman, having left the team with ill feelings due to the way he handled his jump to the new team, Senna established himself at Lotus, He quickly saw off the challenge of Elio de Angelis, a man who was no mean driver himself. The team proposed bringing in Derek Warwick, a fast, experienced British driver. Senna vetoed this, on the grounds that it would divert attention from his championship challenge.


An example of unsporting behavior, but also of week-kneed management at Tolemen. Frank Williams is one of the most successful team leaders for the reason he does not subscibe to this theory.

Originally posted by Willaims
After the Suzuka 1990 incident, the FIA fined Senna $100,000 and gave him a six-month suspended ban. Senna, knowing his value to the sport, refused to pay the fine. The FIA threatened to withold his superlicense and demanded an apology for certain comments made in the press. Ron Dennis stepped in and paid the fine and Senna retracted his statements.


IIRC, this is actually in reference to the 1989 incident in which he appealed his disqualification. The result of the appeal was the 6 month ban for 5 counts of dangerous driving going back some time. One of the 5 counts was the incident with the black-flagged Mansell. Mansell continued on the track until he was able to punt Senna, yet it was Senna's fault that the collision occured? Hardly surprising that Senna did not bow down to the Keystone Cops.

The rehashing of the Adelaide'94 incident and a quote with Jenson is highly questionable and assuming he(MS) was trying to eliminate Hill is assuming too much. The quote from Jenson about Jerez'97 merely shows lack of intelligence and ethics on JB's part, particularly since MS was (very weakly) punished.

Originally posted by Willaims
In terms of collision rankings among 27 champions, in percent collisions out of race starts, Senna ranks fifth, behind Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, and Mika Hakkinen, all drivers who came after Senna.


Another interesting statistic, which shows very little. Of all people, Mika Hakkinen?? The driver most reviled because of his unwillingness to make risky passing manuevers. MS is probably so high due to the number of times he was punted by Hill while Hill dove for the gap that just wasn't there. It is another example of showing us a statistic without showing a clear cause and effect relationship, as with much of the other posts.

Much of the prosecutions arguements are based specifically on the actions of Schumacher, a driver very much like Senna. In fact, Schumacher would probably act very much the same as he does now even if there never was a Senna. This thread would probably then be entitled "Did Schumacher end the era of sportsmanship in F1?"

There are numerous examples of unsporting behavior in the 70's and 80's as F1 transformed itself from a sport into more of a business. Much of this is at the team level and is not very much on in general discussion - its profile is not as high or as interesting. The teams were constantly trying any sort of scheme to get around FIA scrutineering, just as it is today. Such thing included ice ballast, moving skirts, active suspension, ballast in refueling. These are all examples of a win-at-all-costs mentallity, it just was not televised live in 268 countries around the world. Senna's behavior on track is merely an extension of that behavior, and for his teams it was logical as it benefitted them as well.

#15 raceday

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 08:19

What is sportsmanship?

To me that is highly subjective. There is off course clear cut cases of sporting and unsporting behaviour as a majority would see them, but even those will often be subject to long discussions and disagreements. It depends on where you come from, the social group you belong to, the religion you belong to, how your family functioned etc.

The point here is that the drivers come from different backgrounds an hence their view of what is sporting could differ, and for the same reason, so could the spectators view of it do. What can be done is to have a ruling body for the sport. Their function shall be to lay out the rules for the participants and indeed RULE. If there is infringements of the rules, they should act on it.

That’s the principal reasons why FIA exists for Formula 1. If one or several drivers didn’t behave in an acceptable fashion, then FIA should have acted on it. If they didn’t then my conclusion is that FIA should be blamed for not doing their job and take the main blame for a possible decline in ethics of the sport.

Since Williams agreed with me that Formula 1 would not substantially differ in it’s ethical level had not Senna existed and also that Williams agreed that the ruling body FIA didn’t do their job and that the changes in Formula 1 do reflect the changes in the world around it, have we then not come to an agreement that the main part of the decline of sportmanship of the sport Formula 1 is to be blamed on FIA and the progression in the world in general?

To me that certainly seems to be the case!


#16 Williams

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 09:35

First, I would like to thank my learned colleague Mario for his excellent post.

In reply to the equally excellent points raised by learned colleague Gareth:

1. The table of 'race ending collisions'
I would suggest that this table reflects changes in technology in F1 more than changes in sportsmanship. The increased importance in aerodynamics has made there be effectively only 1 way to take a corner. There has to be a massive difference in relative speeds for a driver to overtake someone who is on that 'right' line. This means that drivers have to fight for 1 bit of track in order to overtake, therefore making overtaking more likely to result in collisions. I think this is reflected by the marked increase in collisions in the '70's where aerodynamics became a major part of F1.


While I agree that the fight for ever-shrinking driving lines is a factor in the number of collisions, there is no reason that drivers fighting for position could not adopt different tactics to avoid collisions, if they were really interested in avoiding such collisons. However, for the reasons I gave above in my post of 05-11-2001 20:04, it seems they were not.

And before it is suggested that this is a contradiction of the prosecution's position, let me say that such driving obviously became more in evident pre-Senna, but that Senna was the catalyst to make unsporting driving tactics acceptable to all those determined to win races in modern Formula One, as supported by Hamilton's quote in Mario's post above.

I would also suggest that the table reflects changes in the 'robustness' of F1 cars. In the earlier days the cars were not so sensitive to collisions and consequently a touch would not necessarily result in a DNF.

I would suggest that with the use of carbon-fibre technology that cars today are actually more robust. However, whether or not that is the case, drivers motivated by sportsmanship can take into account the technology available to them and race in a manner which avoids race-ending collisions.

2. Senna's percentage of collisions
This stat is particularly misleading. It is used to say, 'Senna had the highest number of crashes per race of any champion, the only champions to have more are those subsequent to him'. Well this is equally true of the WDC who had the highest percentage before Senna, lets say he's called Max. At the time that he won the WDC Max had the highest percentage of any driver. The only drivers who have a higher percentage are those who have come after him, ie Senna et al. Well this is obvious because Max had a higher percentage than all those before him so he could only be 'beaten' by those after him.


The rankings for percentages were arrived at as follows: take the number of collisions by each F1 Champion and divide it by his number of race starts. This applies across the entire F1 era. Could driving champions after Senna could have had a lower collision rate ? Yes. Do they ? No.

Secondly, F1 was 'like a family' before Senna,
I don't disagree that things were more 'family' like in the fifties and sixties but this changed because F1 became big business, not because of Senna. The fact that drivers were competing for huge sums of money and their profile (which in turn leads to huge sums of money) has 'alienated' them from one another. In other words big business prevents friendships in the paddock and therefore the 'family' atmosphere. However this does not necessarily mean there is no sportsmanship. For example, as pointed out by Rainstorm, Hakkenin and Schummacher may not be friends but sportsmanship exists between them eg MS's congratulations of MH's move at Spa 2000, Spain 2001.


As I noted one of my posts after this one of Gareth's, Senna was a catalyst in making unsporting tactics part of the acceptable toolkit of the modern F1 driver. Also, I am not saying that sportsmanship absolutely does not exist after Senna, but that Senna was partly responsible for legitimizing unsporting activities, and therefore was at least partially responsible for their increase.

Thirdly, Suzuka 1990,
This is used as evidence of bad sportsmanship bringing someone the WDC and that this has resulted in a win at all costs mentality. Williams states that he does not want this to be an examination of who was to blame BUT as this case lays the blame of a change of sportsmanship at Senna's door partly because of this incident at least a cursory examination of this is inevitable.

Briefly, IMO the disqualification of Senna in 1989 and the moving of pole in 1990 to make pole a disadvantage showed clear Prost bias on the part of the FIA. If the governing body are tilting the playing field towards one party in a sport then IMO THEY have taken sportsmanship out of the equation - it is no longer a sport, it is a crowning ceremony of the governing bodies man. Consequently any blame for a change in sportsmanship as a result of this incident should lie at the door of the FIA at the time.


Whoever's fault it was does not excuse the tactics used by Senna on those occasions, and he bears at least partial responsiblity for them (as required in the preamble). The question is not what motivates such tactics, but whether such tactics by a high-profile driver like Senna contributed to the future use of the them.

Fourthly, the Stewert interview,
Williams states: "Notice Senna's description of his own tactics, in that he depends on the the other driver to take full responsibility for avoiding an accident as he completes his overtaking maneuver." Well I noticed nothing of the kind. I noticed him saying in that 1 incident he didn't expect Prost to close the door because of the WDC situation but as to his general overtaking tactics it says nothing other than 'as a racer you have to go for gaps. Sometimes you will make a mistake and misjudge them.' This suggests the opposite of what Williams states ie that Senna tried to overtake by going for gaps that HE thinks are there. His admission that sometimes he makes mistakes implies that he does not rely upon the other driver to take responsibility.


Or he could be admitting sometimes he puts drivers in a position where they can't possibly avoid him as he simply takes over the racing line without consideration for the other driver.

On his own race tactics Senna said:

SENNA: He (Prost) was in a position where he could never - under no circumstances - put his car anywhere near mine in a difficult position, because if we happened just to touch - just to touch - and have a wing damaged or a flat tyre, he had everything to lose. And under those circumstances my understanding was that he would never move against me in the first corner. I was very surprised when I found myself with him moving the car over mine


Here Senna clearly assumed that it was Prost's responsibilty to make sure the two of them did not crash, even if Senna simply took the entire racing line and left no room for the other driver to transverse the corner successfully.

Let's leave aside the fact that Senna later admitted that this was a calculated maneuver to take Prost out of the championship. He was quite happy to take the entire racing line and leave Prost to try to keep his car on the road if he could. Instead of preserving the possibility that both drivers could race head-to-head in a sporting fashion, and settle once and for all which was the better driver, Senna chose to go for the win at all costs. If winning came at the cost of endangering another driver and cutting the potential battle short, great. The only goal was the win, not to prove whose was the better man on the track. This is the essential difference between the early-era racing attitudes and those of the modern era, and Senna legitimized that attitude.

Finally,
I would like to hear some response from the prosecution on the points raised by Jon B on 'feuds' prior to Senna and Racedays comments on the influence of society as a whole on F1. it seems to me that taken together these suggest a general 'corrosion' in sportsmanship in society that found it's examples in F1 before Senna.


See my post of 05-11-2001 20:19.

#17 Williams

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 10:12

Raceday:

Sportsmanship is the ability to compete for reasons which transcend merely winning, but which include the need to prove one's own ability against those of others. To race only to win means that one is willing to use any tactic to get that win, even if using such tactics precludes proving one's own legitimate ability, such as when a driver eliminates another from the competition, or when one takes a competetive advantage by endangering another.

While the FIA has certainly had a large role in the decline of sportsmanship in F1, Senna was a giant of a driver who could have been a powerful propenent of sportsmanship in Formula One. Instead he chose to use his power within the sport for direct competetive advantage, in more than one instance defying the FIA and rightly assuming that his actions would go relatively or wholely unsanctioned. He succeeded in this way, even though he was clearly talented enough to succeed in a fair and sporting way.

With any other driver, this could have had a neutral impact on the sport. But Senna was a man deified by millions, and watched with adoring eyes by the young Michael Schumachers and (by rememberence) the Jenson Buttons who represented the next generation of F1 drivers. To them, the hard tactics employed by a special driver like Senna became the legitimate tactics they would use to succeed on their own arrival in F1.

It could be said that, as such a gifted and famous driver, Senna had a responsibility as an example to future generations. I will not however go down that road, for such a responsibilty can be only be voluntarily adopted, not thrust upon, a competitor in any sport. However, I will say that there is no doubt Senna's tremendously high profile gave his every action, legitimate or illegitimate, an inordinately large impact on the sport he dominated, regardless of whether he ever intended that to be the case.

#18 Rainstorm

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 10:30

For a discussion on the definition of sportsmanship, I recommend a visition to http://www.sportsmanship.org. Here is a segment from an article that appears there:

Surveys indicate declining sportsmanship

Last November, ESPN examined the issue of sportsmanship on its cable network and its website, ESPN SportsZone. In one of ESPN's surveys, more than 81 percent of respondents said they believed sportsmanship had declined in the last decade and that most pro and major college athletes care only about winning.

Greg Garber wrote one of the many SportsZone columns on the issue. "Welcome to the 1990s, where good sportsmanship will soon become an oxymoron," Garber wrote. "In the world of today's professional and major college sports, sportsmanship is nothing more than an abstract, moral concept. Taunting and trash talking are up. Respect and decorum are down."

Garber noted that flagrant fouls in the NBA went from 76 in 1994 to 117 in 1995 and to 134 in 1996.

There may be a few other ways to measure sportsmanship. The Institute for International Sport recently released a survey of college basketball players that indicated that 43.8 percent of male players were willing to accept trash talking as a way of life in college basketball. Only 24.8 percent of female players agreed.

The Institute's poll also revealed that 46 percent of male players would follow directions by their coach that would result in an advantage, even if those methods were against the rules.

In an earlier study by the Institute for International Sport, as many as 76.5 percent of the members of the media who were surveyed said that they believe there is an increased level of serious game misbehavior involving professional athletes.

Also, 78.8 percent of the media members surveyed said sportsmanship in professional sports is at an all-time low, while 72.9 percent said sportsmanship at the college level is at an all-time low.

What is sportsmanship?

It is easy to see that assaulting an official or slugging an opponent in a softball game is poor behavior, but what exactly is sportsmanship?

When ESPN asked athletes and coaches for their definition of sportsmanship, most of them could offer only examples of actions they perceived to be sportsmanlike, such as shaking hands.

But tennis player Jim Courier offered a definition that ESPN SportsZone users agreed with the most. He said: "Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you can't tell whether he's won or lost. It's going out and giving your best and honoring your opponent by giving your best all the way through, and shaking his hand at the end of the battle and saying, 'That was good warfare, but we can still go have a beer afterwards.' "

SportsZone columnist Tom Farrey says the definition of good sportsmanship may depend on many factors. "In today's diverse world, there is no longer any single definition of 'sportsmanship' that applies in the world of sports -- but rather many definitions, each shaped by the nature of the sport, the relative pressure to win, the personality of the individual and even the culture that the person springs from," Farrey wrote.

Farrey also pointed out that the standards are different for different sports. "What flies for a creative goal-scoring celebration in soccer, for instance, will get (your team penalized in) a college football game," he wrote. "Punch an opponent in hockey and you might get five minutes in the penalty box; do it in the NBA, and you're out multiple games and lots of salary. However, fail to shake hands with the other team after it knocked you out of the playoffs and you're far more of a jerk in hockey than you are in basketball."

It seems clear that part of the analysis of sportsmanship must include a continued discussion about what is sportsmanlike and what is not. Is cheating ever sportsmanlike? Is celebrating with your team unsportsmanlike?

Can you be an aggressive competitor who is focused on winning and still be a good sport? Is there a line separating pushing your way through a screen and "clotheslining" an opponent with your elbow?

Sportsmanship and ethics

Apart from the obvious desire to ensure that officials and other participants remain healthy and safe, why do we care about sportsmanship? If sportsmanship is indeed declining, why should we care? Should we care as part of the intercollegiate athletics community? Should we care as a society?

Perhaps we should care because, as some would suggest, sports mean nothing if you don't play by the rules.

Russell Gough, author of "Character is Everything: Promoting Ethical Excellence in Sports" and a professor at Pepperdine University, points out that ethics and sportsmanship are really two sides of the same coin.

"Sportsmanship is a big deal because ethics is a big deal. If ethics isn't a big deal, sportsmanship isn't a big deal," Gough wrote. "As with ethics, when we talk about 'sportsmanship,' we are talking about someone's character and actions, but specifically in the context of sports."

Gough defines sportsmanship as "a matter of being good (character) and doing right (action) in sports."

Gough also points out that the majority of acts that are considered unsportsmanlike -- acts that are unfair, dishonest, disrespectful or against the rules -- are unsportsmanlike because they are unethical. Being sportsmanlike is like being ethical in sports.

"We can also better appreciate why there is no concept or value more important to sports than sportsmanship. It's our foundation, our starting point. It gives us our very best reason to play fairly, to show respect to opponents and officials, and to follow the rules -- because all that is the right thing to do, the ethical thing," Gough continued.

"With sportsmanship, we see that there's simply no escaping the ethical dimension of sports. Without it, the game's over."




#19 Williams

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 12:35

On a couple of the points in the post of unrepentant lurker:

I have a few issues with the prosecutions arguements. The first is the graph. It seems to contain at least a few errors, or at least some differentiation between "collision" and "accident" form FORIX.

My understanding of Forix's information is that an accident occurs when only a single car is involved, such as hitting a guardrail, whereas a collision involves two cars. In terms of sportsmanship, while some collisions are simple accidents, some will be the result of overly-aggressive tactics, and assuming that each era has a roughly equal mix of these collision causes, the overall trend is the important consideration. A single-car accident, on the other hand is due to driving error or mechanical failure, and, as such, were not included in the stats.

For the sake of clarity and fairness in the information I am providing to the Court I have just now accumulated the "accident" stats from Forix for the perusal of the Court, and I am looking into the Forix definition of the terms "accident" and "collision". The accident stats are at the end of this post.

On the reference to what I saw as the 1990 incident at Suzuka:

IIRC, this is actually in reference to the 1989 incident in which he appealed his disqualification.

This was an error on my part.

There are numerous examples of unsporting behavior in the 70's and 80's as F1 transformed itself from a sport into more of a business. Much of this is at the team level and is not very much on in general discussion - its profile is not as high or as interesting. The teams were constantly trying any sort of scheme to get around FIA scrutineering, just as it is today. Such thing included ice ballast, moving skirts, active suspension, ballast in refueling. These are all examples of a win-at-all-costs mentallity, it just was not televised live in 268 countries around the world. Senna's behavior on track is merely an extension of that behavior, and for his teams it was logical as it benefitted them as well.

While an obvious parallel can be drawn between ethical driving actions and ethical engineering actions, I will defer to the Court as to whether this hearing is about engineering actions. IMO it is not, nor was it intended as such when this case was brought before the court.

The remainder of unrepentant lurker's post I leave to the consideration of the Court.

NOTE: These stats are "accidents" only, and do not include "collisions".
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#20 raceday

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Posted 13 May 2001 - 16:56

Williams,

To my surprise you’ve answered my question of what is sportmanship with something that looks like a definition. Is that FIA's definition of sportmanship? IF so, then I accept it! If not, then I have to strongly question it and ask you if you think you have the absolute and only definition of what is sportmanship?

To the definition-like answer you have given of what sportmanship is, it could probably also be argued endlessly weather somebody fits into your definition or not? And also what that would mean?

A case like this is probably best handled with reasoning and/or examples of sporting and unsporting behaviour that could be discussed. I think there is not a chance that we could come up with an unanimous definition of sportmanship here, not least with regard to the timeframe we have.

I actually do not even agree with your view of sportmanship as you outlined it originally in the court case. I’ll give you an example:

Williams wrote:
“1) an ability for two drivers to decide who is faster at a given moment on the track, with track position consequently going to the quicker driver, without resorting to blatant blocking or dangerous squeezing tactics, thus allowing a proper competition of speed and driving ability.”

Wouldn’t that mean that anybody who’s been reeling in somebody ever so slowly should be allowed to overtake? To me that wouldn’t be racing. That would be like a time trial in a bicycle contest. However, I do agree that “blatant blocking and dangerous squeezing” could be unsporting. It is, though, subjective what is to be regarded as for instance dangerous squeezing.

To put your statement of sportmanship in a perspective I want to quote Rainstorms “sportmanship-site”: “It seems clear that part of the analysis of sportsmanship must include a continued discussion about what is sportsmanlike and what is not”

And yet another one:

"In today's diverse world, there is no longer any single definition of sportsmanship that applies in the world of sports”

And I expect it to be many more views of what sportmanship is that’s worthy of quoting?

I agree that Senna was a giant of a man. But it still doesn’t change the fact that FIA rule. If you have an official organ that rules. Then if there is something going wrong within their responsibility and they don’t act properly to it, then they are definitely to blame much more than anybody or anything! I would add that it would be hard for FIA to stop a bad thing from happening at a given time, but FIA could act on it afterwards with a proper punishment so the impressionable youth that watches gets a clear message. If FIA are so weak that they let commercial interest etc. come before ethics or sportmanship, then I don’t see why they are not on trial for possibly ending an era of sportmanship?

To connect to my previous post, If FIA and the general progression in the world is mainly to blame for the decline of sportmanship, then I don’t see how Senna could be convicted of ending an era of sportmanship? If so, then it’s a matter of deciding weather he was partially responsible for a possible ending?

Now, partially responsible that’s indeed very vague. It could be claimed that every single person is partially responsible for the situation in the world today. So if the level of ethics has declined, which we seem to agree on, then it’s pretty much a given that he is partially responsible for contributing to it. But it could be argued that so is many of the other drivers.

I agree with you that Senna was probably not a great role model for ethics. I also do believe that he contributed more than the average person or driver to the already declining climate of ethics. But it could also be claimed that so was Prost and a number of other drivers.

Senna is accused of: “ The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for, the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers”.

I do think that sportmanship may sadly be lacking in many cases but I still think that it’s far from being ended:
I want to present some examples of sportmanship that has taken place after Sennas death:

I have to say that one example of sportmanship not being ended is Mika Hakkinen (MH). He drove together with Senna at McLaren and he’s stated something along the line: “I studied him (Senna) very thoroughly trying to figure out what he did and how he did it and I learned a lot!”

Has anybody ever complained about MH being unsporting or anything of that kind?

I would like to say that MH is a very fine example of sportmanship. Examples being Monza 2000 when he tried to comfort MS and to do everything he could to take the pressure off MS at the press conference, though both were very much in contention for the title. When MS broke his leg at Silverstone 1999, MH was one of the first to send his condolences and wished him a fast recovery. After Suzuka 2000, MH gave a very sporting speech after having lost the title in a very close battle. Spain 2001, MH showed a very good behaviour in the face of grave disappointment.

There is also examples of sportmanship among others in F1

Australia 1998, quote from Atlas news sektion: David Coulthard let Mika Hakkinen pass to win, because of a gentleman agreement and because Hakkinen went an extra time through the pits because there was a miscommunication between the McLaren pits and Hakkinen - which costed him the lead

McLaren has also stood by the, as I see it, honourable and sporting intention to have equal equipment and no teamorders for the drivers, until it’s mathematically called for.

As I’ve understood it, David Coulthard (DC) and MH has had starts where they’ve stood by the deal that whoever takes the firs corner will win the race (unless something unexpected happens with the car or so).

Quoute from Austarlia 1998 Coulthard: "We have got closer - with Hakkinen- during the winter, and we agreed that who would go through the first corner first in normal race conditions would win the race. Unfortunately he made a good start."

DC apologising to Michael Schumacher (MS) last year for some wrongdoings.

MS comforting/supporting MH at Spain 2001, and MH was still in contention for the title (if you can drop back 32 points in 5 races, then it’s not unrealistic to gain 32 points in 12 races) .

MS getting in contact with MH after his accident in Adelaide 1995, wishing him a fast recovery.

MS and MH singing “smoke on the water” together at Suzuka 2000 during celebration of MS’s title. And MS celebrated with MH the year before at Suzuka when MH won the title. MS also said that MH is a great champion, after his WDC 1999.

These examples suggests that, although sportmanship is sadly lacking in many cases, the “era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers” is in my view not ended , and among some very much alive. In which case nobody could be accused of ending it.


#21 Rich

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Posted 13 May 2001 - 18:04

Due to the indepth nature of this case, we are prolonging the hearing to allow further research and posting time for both sides. This hearing will now close on 22nd May.

#22 Gareth

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Posted 14 May 2001 - 09:22

I'd like to respond to Williams' response to me (if that makes sense).

Firstly, thanks for calling me 'learned', I think this has to be a first in my life.

Secondly, on the table of collisions.
You agree with me that the change in aerodynamics results in drivers fighting for 1 piece of track and therefore more collisions however you state that sporting drivers would drive in a way so as to avoid such collisions. I don't really agree with this. Fighting for 1 piece of track results in more mistakes being made and therefore more collisions. Mistakes are not necessarily unsporting. For example I would use the RB/HHF incident in Oz this year. RB thought he had the corner and didn't brake to avoid an incident. HHF thought he had the corner and so didn't position his car in a way so as to avoid an incident. I think both drivers honestly thought they had the corner. 1 of them made a mistake but I wouldn't consider either to be unsporting.

Furthermore, the change in aerodynamics has made overtaking more difficult so before drivers could dice with many changes in position, now 1 move is likely to be the final move. In the above incident I'm sure that if either driver thought 'more chances will come' then they would both have behaved differently. I don't believe this is an element of sportsmanship it is an element of risk taking ie drivers are thinking: I think I have this corner, is it worth testing that out? The answer to that question is more likely to be yes when overtaking is more difficult.

As to the ‘robustness’ of F1 cars, you state that they are actually better through modern carbon fibre technology. I agree that this may make them more impact resistant and therefore more robust. The point I was trying to make was that cars now are more ‘sensitive’ in the sense that a small part broken can lead to a DNF.

Thirdly, Senna’s percentage of collisions.
Again if you are using this to say ‘Senna had the highest percentage and he has only been beaten by those after him’ to show that Senna changed things then my original point still stands. However from your reply I get the impression that you are saying ‘Senna had the highest percentage and he has been beaten by ALL those who came after him, therefore he changed things’. I don’t think this logically follows. Furthermore I wouldn’t describe Damon as unsporting, maybe slightly incompetent in his moves and I think MH is one of the most sporting men to have raced an F1 car.

Fourthly, the Stewert interview
In your original post you used what Senna said about that 1 incident to describe Senna’s overall approach to overtaking. What I was saying was that this is unfair as this was an exceptional incident.

Senna says ‘as a racer you have to go for gaps, sometimes you will make a mistake and misjudge them’ I don’t think this is admitting that he ‘takes over the racing line with no consideration of the other driver’. He admits he can misjudge gaps, this means that he MUST consider the other driver. When going for a gap how can a driver make a mistake? Assuming that they know the width of the car and the width of the gap in the first place (watching the drivers come out of the pit lane in Austria I think this is certainly true) the only thing they can make a mistake with is as to the movements of the other driver – this involves consideration of the other driver.

Finally I think your other points can be summed up as saying ‘Senna was the first popular driver to use unsportsmanlike tactics and that he made them acceptable’.

It therefore seems to me that the essence of your case is that:
1. Unsportsmanlike behaviour was unacceptable before Senna
2. Senna behave in an unsportsmanlike way
3. This contributed to unsportsmanlike behaviour becoming acceptable because of Senna’s profile

As to 1:
Other posters have given examples of unsportsmanlike behaviour before Senna. You agree that it happened but say it was unacceptable then. In what way were the responses to those incidents from those inside F1 or the fans different to the responses to any of Senna’s alleged unsportsmanlike incidents?

As to 2:
I shall go through the incidents you allege and say what I think of them:

(A) Warwick:
Senna refused to allow Warwick on the team as he considered that Lotus, a British team, would provide too much support for Warwick thus detracting from Senna’s WDC attempt. This is not unsporting, Senna believed having Warwick in the team would harm his chances. This is the same as saying fitting a 4 year old ford engine to MS’s car will harm his chances but allow him to compete equally with Alonso, by not doing this MS is unsporting.

(B) Irvine:
I thought that in terms of courtesy it was the other way round. Anyway, I don’t think that a flash if anger after a race is unsporting, I’d call it human.

(C ) Portugal 1988
Could someone tell me where to find a video of this, as I don’t remember it. You describe it as a ‘chopping’ manoeuvre. If this means moving across your opponents line then that is racing. If you make a poor start you don’t just sit there and say ‘after you Alain’.

(D) Mansell:
Again, a video would be nice but I think I remember this as being Mansells fault or at least that it was 50:50 so unsportsmanship doesn’t really come into it.

(E) Pre – race agreement:
I’ll agree that this appears to be unsporting

(F) Suzuka 1990:
As I’ve said before, I don’t believe this was unsporting – it was no longer a sport. Yes Senna could have been ‘the bigger man’ and let it go making him a 2 time WDC but having seen the FIA rob him of 1 WDC he decided to not let them do it again. To be sportsmanlike you have to be competing in a sport, at that time because of the FIA’s behaviour F1 wasn’t a sport. The FIA had made F1 ‘win at all costs’ by cheating. Senna played by the new rules.

In conclusion to this it appears to me that there was little about Senna’s behaviour that is unsportsmanlike.

As to 3: This contributed to subsequent unsportsmanlike behaviour.

There is no evidence of subsequent unsportsmanlike behaviour other than MS’s 2 final race incidents. The incident with DH, I would submit, was not unsportsmanlike. The incident with JV was. The prosecution have shown 1 incident post Senna that was unsportsmanlike, hardly a change in attitude.

Furthermore the prosecution must show some causation between Senna’s behaviour and subsequent behaviour, this seems to be lacking.

Finally I’d like to thank all involved for what has been, for me, a very interesting debate so far.

Gareth.




#23 Williams

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Posted 15 May 2001 - 02:56

Before I respond to collegue Raceday's fine rebuttal, I would like to move that the following statements be acknowledged by the Court:

1. The basis of the charges brought to trial are clearly defined in the case preamble. Definitions of "sportsmanship" which cannot be shown to fall out of, or form the basis of, the definition of sportsmanship given in the preamble are irrelevent to the case.

Inevitably, as a consequence of the above, and with apologies to the respected Members of the Bench, I must further more move that the Court's own posted definition of the "sportsmanship" be stricken from consideration, unless the defense can show that the definition given therein can be shown to fall out of, or form the basis of, the definitition of sportsmanship given in the preamble.

2. The title of the thread pertaining to this case is also irrelevent to the definition of the charges. It is a technical heading meant to convey a general idea of what is being discussed behind these courtroom doors. We are not discussing "Did Senna end an era of sportsmanship ?", we are discussing the charges laid out in the preamble of the case, which can be summarized, with consideration given to the rest of the preamble, that:

The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for, the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers. We need to exame (sp) whether some of the actions of Ayrton Senna, and the limp-wristed FIA reaction to them, led to an era where a win-at-all-costs mentality was allowed to take over the sport, leading to many further unsportsmanlike incidents between drivers.... Did the Senna win-at-all-costs mentality have a hand in programming this new generation to compete in the same ruthless manner, and was this manner of competition relatively rare in F1 before Senna ?


In consideration of the above, my answer to Raceday's post is as follows:

1. The entire argument that one of the clauses of the preamble as the definition of sportsmanship is somehow wrong is irrelevent to the case. This definition of sportsmanship forms the basis of the charges, and it is sportsmanship as defined by the preamble for which we ask the question of whether Senna was at least partially responsible for ending an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among drivers. I therefore move that the entire first nine paragraphs of Racedays' post be stricken from consideration by the court.

In response to Raceday's argument that:

Then if there is something going wrong within their responsibility and they don't act properly to it, then they are definitely to blame much more than anybody or anything! I would add that it would be hard for FIA to stop a bad thing from happening at a given time, but FIA could act on it afterwards with a proper punishment so the impressionable youth that watches gets a clear message. If FIA are so weak that they let commercial interest etc. come before ethics or sportmanship, then I don't see why they are not on trial for possibly ending an era of sportmanship?

I must point out that none of this shows the falsity of the statement that Senna was at least partially responsible for ending an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among drivers, which is the question brought before this court. To say that the FIA bear some responsibility for a lack of sportsmanship in F1 does not prove that Senna himself had no impact on the situation.

To connect to my previous post, If FIA and the general progression in the world is mainly to blame for the decline of sportmanship, then I don't see how Senna could be convicted of ending an era of sportmanship?

As I stated in one of my previous posts, while the general progression of social attitudes and the FIA had a role to play in the decline of sportsmanship in Formula One, my contention is that Senna was a prime catalyst in all of this, in that he showed the weakness of the FIA and the possiblity that future high-profile drivers could also get away with unsporting conduct with impunity. Without the unique character of Senna showing the way, a man who was uniquely high-profile, talented, commercially valuable, highly driven and with a nack for knowing how far he could push the governing body, today's drivers would not be so free about defying the FIA.

Now, partially responsible that's indeed very vague. It could be claimed that every single person is partially responsible for the situation in the world today. So if the level of ethics has declined, which we seem to agree on, then it's pretty much a given that he is partially responsible for contributing to it. But it could be argued that so is many of the other drivers.
I agree with you that Senna was probably not a great role model for ethics. I also do believe that he contributed more than the average person or driver to the already declining climate of ethics. But it could also be claimed that so was Prost and a number of other drivers.


First of all, there is nothing vague about "partial responsibility". If Senna had a significant impact on the state of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among drivers, then he bears at least partial responsibilty for it. Secondly, whether or not other drivers are also partially responsible is irrelevent to the question of whether or not Senna had a role in this matter. It is up to the court to decide whether or not our arguments show that Senna's impact on fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among drivers in the sport was significant.

On the question:

Has anybody ever complained about MH being unsporting or anything of that kind?

The answer is "yes". From Autocourse 1994, Pg. 117, on the Pacific Grand Prix of that year, Damon Hill says:

"He closed the door on me, put me on a kerb, and I spun off. I should have known it would happen becasue he's a bit of a wild boy. He comes up to you on the grid and shakes your hand, which is totally sporting and makes him seem like a normal person. But when gets into the car and puts on his helmet, he turns into some sort of demon."


The above seems to indicate that the public and ontrack personas of a driver with respect to sportsmanship might be different, and shows that arguing that the general impression of a driver's sportsmanship is not good enough to point to them as proof that sportsmanship exists.

McLaren has also stood by the, as I see it, honourable and sporting intention to have equal equipment and no teamorders for the drivers, until it's mathematically called for.

With due respect to with my fellow introlocutor, this trial is about sportsmanship among drivers, as opposed to the sportsmanship displayed by team principals. However, were it a matter for consideration here, I would have to point out that McLaren's decision to supply equal vehicles to their drivers has to do with maximising their opportunities on the track and maintaining the motivation of both drivers, not sportsmanship.

DC apologising to Michael Schumacher (MS) last year for some wrongdoings.

It strikes me that this is not a driver showing sportsmanship, this is a driver trying to erase an unsporting action.

Australia 1998, quote from Atlas news sektion: David Coulthard let Mika Hakkinen pass to win, because of a gentleman agreement and because Hakkinen went an extra time through the pits because there was a miscommunication between the McLaren pits and Hakkinen - which costed him the lead

As I recall, David took a few laps of convincing by the team to give up his lead, although the decision was in fact left up to him in the end. Certainly David did not call up the team and volunteer to give up the position. We need to ask whether David was acting out of sportsmanship or a sense of fairness, or acting out of his own self-interest to maintain a good standing with the team.

MS comforting/supporting MH at Spain 2001, and MH was still in contention for the title (if you can drop back 32 points in 5 races, then it's not unrealistic to gain 32 points in 12 races).

This is not exactly a highly competitive situation. For an example of what happens in modern F1 when the chips are really down, look no further than Austria 2001, and see how Schumacher and Montoya started started clawing at each other at first opportunity, with some very unsporting statements, now that MS sees Montoya as a threat on the track, and with Montoya's apparent need to confront the sport's top gun in the press as well as on the track. Because of the modern drive to psychologically dominate one's opponent, the modern F1 driver is incapable of laughing off an racing incident, and enjoying the moment of rivalry. When the competition gets close, the knives come out.

MS getting in contact with MH after his accident in Adelaide 1995, wishing him a fast recovery.

MS and MH singing "smoke on the water" together at Suzuka 2000 during celebration of MS's title. And MS celebrated with MH the year before at Suzuka when MH won the title. MS also said that MH is a great champion, after his WDC 1999.


These incidents took place at a time where there was nothing to be gained by being anything other than sporting, i.e. there was no risked involved in these incidents of sportsmanship.

I have to go back to Rob Walker's words. "In our day the drivers raced because they enjoyed it, it was sport, and I really don't know if any of today's drivers really enjoy it, not in the same way." The modern F1 driver is far too involved with concentration, psychological tactics, press relations, and general off-track oneupmanship to ever truly enjoy a hardfought head-to-head competition with a rival driver. This high level of intensity and concentration on the nuts and bolts of winning, as opposed to a general enjoyment of the sport, was the legacy left by Senna to the modern F1 driver.

#24 Gareth

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Posted 15 May 2001 - 11:25

If those things set in the preamble are not up for discussion in the case then it seems unfair to me that the preamble is supplied by the main prosecuting party.

Furtheremore, I believe that if the definition of sportsmanship is to be that in the preamble then the only decision this court could come to would be that:

The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for: the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers (as defined by Williams).

This seems to me to be counter-productive to what this court is about ie reaching objective conclusions about issues.

Gareth

#25 Gareth

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Posted 15 May 2001 - 13:53

Originally posted by Williams

These incidents took place at a time where there was nothing to be gained by being anything other than sporting, i.e. there was no risked involved in these incidents of sportsmanship.


MH's pass on MS at Spa last year was at a very crucial stage at the WDC. After that pass MS had nothing but respectful things to say about MH and the move.

Gareth

#26 Williams

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Posted 16 May 2001 - 11:11

My response to Gareth's response to my response:;)

Gareth wrote:

You agree with me that the change in aerodynamics results in drivers fighting for 1 piece of track and therefore more collisions however you state that sporting drivers would drive in a way so as to avoid such collisions. I don't really agree with this. Fighting for 1 piece of track results in more mistakes being made and therefore more collisions. Mistakes are not necessarily unsporting. For example I would use the RB/HHF incident in Oz this year. RB thought he had the corner and didn't brake to avoid an incident. HHF thought he had the corner and so didn't position his car in a way so as to avoid an incident. I think both drivers honestly thought they had the corner. 1 of them made a mistake but I wouldn't consider either to be unsporting.

Furthermore, the change in aerodynamics has made overtaking more difficult so before drivers could dice with many changes in position, now 1 move is likely to be the final move. In the above incident I'm sure that if either driver thought 'more chances will come' then they would both have behaved differently. I don't believe this is an element of sportsmanship it is an element of risk taking ie drivers are thinking: I think I have this corner, is it worth testing that out? The answer to that question is more likely to be yes when overtaking is more difficult.

The relationship between sportsmanship and overtaking is a little more indirect than that. My main point on this issue is that, unfortunately, drivers have lost the ability to fight cooperatively on the track, and I believe this has partly to do with the lack of a sporting attitude. Two drivers skilled at the art of coexisting with other cars on the track should be able to decide who a corner belongs to. Even in an environment fraught with aerodynamic effects and short braking distances, overtaking in Formula one can be handled with skill and grace, if there were some informal agreements among drivers as to certain conventions and agreements on how overtaking maneuvers should be executed. Such conventions would be impossible to legislate, but would have to be build over time, with ever driver involved, and veterans taking the lead in practicing the conventions, as younger drivers learn them.

The problem with this pipe dream is, of course, that drivers would have to be able to trust each to follow these conventions, even under highly competitive situations. This requires a sporting attitude, which says that how you win is as important as the act of winning. In the current climate of Formula One racing, where everything is permissible so long as it is not illegal, and with everybody is emulating that Senna-esque tight focus on the fact of a win, instead of the form of a win, such a system would be unworkable. And so we are stuck with the truly pathetic sight of the most highly-paid drivers in the world clumsily taking each other off the track whenever they try that great motorsporting fundamental: the overtaking maneuver.
===============================

Thirdly, Senna’s percentage of collisions.
Again if you are using this to say ‘Senna had the highest percentage and he has only been beaten by those after him’ to show that Senna changed things then my original point still stands. However from your reply I get the impression that you are saying ‘Senna had the highest percentage and he has been beaten by ALL those who came after him, therefore he changed things’. I don’t think this logically follows. Furthermore I wouldn’t describe Damon as unsporting, maybe slightly incompetent in his moves and I think MH is one of the most sporting men to have raced an F1 car.


The Champions who followed Senna were more willing to play with rough tactics than the drivers who came before him. This need not be so blatant as actually trying to push another competitor off the track, merely less willingness to leave other competetitors to room on track, a little less care for the safety of others, during close quarters racing, leading to more "racing incidents".
===============================

Senna says ‘as a racer you have to go for gaps, sometimes you will make a mistake and misjudge them’ I don’t think this is admitting that he ‘takes over the racing line with no consideration of the other driver’. He admits he can misjudge gaps, this means that he MUST consider the other driver. When going for a gap how can a driver make a mistake? Assuming that they know the width of the car and the width of the gap in the first place (watching the drivers come out of the pit lane in Austria I think this is certainly true) the only thing they can make a mistake with is as to the movements of the other driver – this involves consideration of the other driver.

In my original passage on this matter, I said.

On his own race tactics Senna said:


SENNA: He (Prost) was in a position where he could never - under no circumstances - put his car anywhere near mine in a difficult position, because if we happened just to touch - just to touch - and have a wing damaged or a flat tyre, he had everything to lose. And under those circumstances my understanding was that he would never move against me in the first corner. I was very surprised when I found myself with him moving the car over mine

Here Senna clearly assumed that it was Prost's responsibilty to make sure the two of them did not crash, even if Senna simply took the entire racing line and left no room for the other driver to transverse the corner successfully.

I will admit that the second part of my statement that "Senna clearly assumed that it was Prost's responsibilty to make sure the two of them did not crash, even if Senna simply took the entire racing line and left no room for the other driver to transverse the corner successfully" was irrelevent to that particular case. However, the first part is correct, in that Prost, and only Prost, would determine whether the two them would make it through the corner. He did not have the options of being more skillful than his opponent and beating him, or being less skillful and losing the corner. His only choice was to yield or crash. Thus Senna was not involved in a sporting contest, he was involved in a death-duel. That is not sport.
===============================

(A) Warwick:
Senna refused to allow Warwick on the team as he considered that Lotus, a British team, would provide too much support for Warwick thus detracting from Senna’s WDC attempt. This is not unsporting, Senna believed having Warwick in the team would harm his chances. This is the same as saying fitting a 4 year old ford engine to MS’s car will harm his chances but allow him to compete equally with Alonso, by not doing this MS is unsporting.


A driver doing something to make himself more competitive is not the same as being sporting. In many case of unsporting conduct, the opposite is the case, including this one.

Sportsmanship carries a risk. A sportsman is interested in pitting his skills against other sportsmen in order to prove his own worth. Senna was interested only in winning, and was not willing to accept the risks inherent in sportsmanship, as shown by this action. Part of the reason that Senna was so superior in wins, poles, etc., was that he found new means of reducing his risk of losing, and some of these means were unsporting, such as excluding certain drivers from his team instead of accepting the risks of racing against them. Other drivers who were willing to accept the risks of sportsmanship, by, for example, taking on competitive teammates, did not take these advantages, and were therefore less competitive, but more sporting.

Sportsmanship is not just an absence of bad behaviour. Sportsmanship is competing for the enjoyment of the sport. The 6 points of motoring sportsmansip fall out of this basic definition. Senna was not interested in sportsmanship, he made himself more competitive by avoiding sportsmanship where it carried a risk to his competetiveness.
===============================

(B) Irvine:
I thought that in terms of courtesy it was the other way round. Anyway, I don’t think that a flash if anger after a race is unsporting, I’d call it human.


Unsporting behaviour is unsporting behaviour. There are no "ifs" in the definition of sportsmanship. For whatever the reason unsporting behaviour occurs, it is still unsporting beahviour. Slugging a competitor is unsporting.
===============================

(C ) Portugal 1988
Could someone tell me where to find a video of this, as I don’t remember it. You describe it as a ‘chopping’ manoeuvre. If this means moving across your opponents line then that is racing. If you make a poor start you don’t just sit there and say ‘after you Alain’.


From Alan Henry's "Remembering Ayrton Senna":

The event was subsequently stopped and restarted due to a multiple collision further back in the pack. This time Senna made the best start, chopping across his rival going into the first turn. At the end of the opening lap, as Prost swooped alongside himto challenge for the lead, Senna squeezed himso tightly against the pitwall that rival teams quicky withdrew their signalling boards for fear they would strike the Frenchman's McLaren as it shaved by at almost 180 MPH.

Prost's later reaction to this was that Senna's actions had been dangerous, as was the reactions of many other observers. Endangering another driver for the sake of winning is clearly unsporting.
===============================

(D) Mansell:
Again, a video would be nice but I think I remember this as being Mansells fault or at least that it was 50:50 so unsportsmanship doesn’t really come into it.


There may have been unsportsmanship on the part of both competitors, but not leaving room for other drivers to compete on the track is unsporting.
===============================

(F) Suzuka 1990:
As I’ve said before, I don’t believe this was unsporting – it was no longer a sport. Yes Senna could have been ‘the bigger man’ and let it go making him a 2 time WDC but having seen the FIA rob him of 1 WDC he decided to not let them do it again. To be sportsmanlike you have to be competing in a sport, at that time because of the FIA’s behaviour F1 wasn’t a sport. The FIA had made F1 ‘win at all costs’ by cheating. Senna played by the new rules.


Again, the reason for unsporting behaviour is irrevelent. If one sportsman answers unsporting behaviour with more unsporting behaviour, it doesn't mean his action is not unsporting. It just means that more that one person was being unsporting.

In any case, whether or not we believe Senna was being unsporting in this instance (and I contend that he was for the above reason) is irrelevent to the question of whether it had an impact on future generation of driver. The point is that by his actions of directly confronting the governing body, and getting away with it unpunished, served as as example for future drivers. A driver looking back on this incident and realizing that a driver's commercial value to the sport makes it possible to get away with certain behaviours, is not looking at the whys and wherefores of Senna's motivation. They are looking at the apparent lack of response from the FIA.
===============================

There is no evidence of subsequent unsportsmanlike behaviour other than MS’s 2 final race incidents. The incident with DH, I would submit, was not unsportsmanlike. The incident with JV was. The prosecution have shown 1 incident post Senna that was unsportsmanlike, hardly a change in attitude.

On this issue I said:

In the future, however, hardball would be the order of the day. Without knowing that his star power gave him an advantage to play the rules very close to the edge, would Michael Schumacher have taken Damon Hill out of the 1994 championship in Adelaide, assuming that had been his intent when his crippled vehicle collided with that of Hill ?

At the very least, Schumacher might have been a bit more careful in his handling of a crippled vehicle on the track if he had known that some extremely hard sanctions could have been on order for taking another vehicle out of the championship.

I left out a few points in Gareth's post, about which I will think over some more and respond later.



#27 Spot

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Posted 16 May 2001 - 12:06

I ask for all comments derived from the interview between the brazilian and Stewart regarding the 1990 accident with Prost be stricken from the record. As the brazilian clearly admitted a year later that the accident was premeditated any comments made during the interview regarding a legitimate overtaking maneouvre were clearly made from a platform of outright dishonesty.


#28 Williams

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Posted 16 May 2001 - 19:49

Originally posted by Gareth
If those things set in the preamble are not up for discussion in the case then it seems unfair to me that the preamble is supplied by the main prosecuting party.

Furtheremore, I believe that if the definition of sportsmanship is to be that in the preamble then the only decision this court could come to would be that:

The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for: the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers (as defined by Williams).

This seems to me to be counter-productive to what this court is about ie reaching objective conclusions about issues.

Gareth


I certainly have no wish to undermine the mandate of the Court. Futhermore, my statement on the preamble was a submission to the Court, which the Court, at some point, may reject or accept.

I must admit that I was surprised and honoured when my submission to the court to try this case was used literally as the preamble to the case. However, it was read and considered by the Court, and used as the preamble at the discretion of the Court, and as such is no longer a product of the Prosecution, but a product of the Court itself, presented to the Prosecution and Defense as a direction as to how the case is to be tried.

The preamble of the case is a statement that is either true or false. The statement has to do with Senna, the FIA and sportsmanship, where sportsmanship is defined within the statement. This statement is what is required to be shown true or false.

If the definition of sportsmanship is now up in the air, then at his point how are we to procede ? Are we to first argue the definition of Sportsmanship ? If that is the case, then we will need to submit arguments as to the definition as sportsmanship in motorsports, and get a definitive ruling from the Court, before we can procede with the rest of the case. Furthermore, because everybody has a different dictionary, which definition of sportsmanship is the starting point for our reasoning as to the definition of sportsmanship in motorsports ?

I look to the Court for their guidance on this matter.

#29 raceday

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Posted 16 May 2001 - 21:22

quote:

The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for, the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers. We need to exame (sp) whether some of the actions of Ayrton Senna, and the limp-wristed FIA reaction to them, led to an era where a win-at-all-costs mentality was allowed to take over the sport, leading to many further unsportsmanlike incidents between drivers.... Did the Senna win-at-all-costs mentality have a hand in programming this new generation to compete in the same ruthless manner, and was this manner of competition relatively rare in F1 before Senna ?



Now what kind of charge is that?

What would Senna possibly be convicted to?

Imagine some fictional court where the prosecutor would prosecute somebody for “causing, or at least be partially responsible for, an ending of “good deeds” in the society”. Then the defence brings in some views of what “Good deeds” is. Then the prosecutor claims: No the defence’s view of “Good deeds” is irrelevant because it doesn’t correspond to what I have defined it to in my charge!

This I think is something the judges need to decide on?

I also respectfully have to ask the judges, is it fair to let the prosecutor decide what: “we need to examine…”? or “ In order to arrive at a decision on this matter, we need to discover the following…”?

A charge I could understand and relate to would be:

Did Senna end an era of sportmanship?

Or, a little bit more complicated but still a charge I could understand:

The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for, the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers.


#30 Wolf

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Posted 18 May 2001 - 01:47

If one wants to know what sportsmanship is, he only has to learn what happened on circuit running through town of Oporto, in fall of 1958.

Readers digest- one of the drivers competing for a C'ship spins off in dying moments of the race, with the leader already having crossed finish-line and unsucessfuly tries to restart his car. The race winner comes along and suggests him another way of restarting stalled car, which incidentaly works, albeit officials move to disqualify the spun-off driver. The race winner steps up and testifies on other drivers behalf and persuades race officials to drop the whole matter. Would it surpriose anyone that the race winner was, at the time, runner up in C'ship while the other driver was points leader, who thanks to the gallant move of his pursuer held his C'ship lead and managed to hold on to it in the following, last race of the season? Would it surprise anyone that the race winner was always proud of his actions that day and claimed he would have done so, even if he knew he was going to lose that C'ship by a mere point?

Maybe Senna da Silva did not singlehandedly bring that era to an end; but he did strike coup de grace, paving a way for Schumachers to follow... And his name epitomizes the coming of an era in which 'end justifies the means', and wheel to wheel battle is no situation for a driver who is not willing to drive his competitor off the track, for the sake of mere points.

#31 Nomad

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Posted 19 May 2001 - 23:30

Does anyone have any examples of Senna being sporting on track or making sporting gestures off-track to direct competitors?

#32 raceday

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Posted 20 May 2001 - 20:49

Let me begin by saying that I do fully agree in principle with Gareth.

Since Williams so firmly wants to stick to what’s in the preamble, I want to point out the following:

Rainstorm wrote in an early post:

“… How does one settle this with the overgrowing respect both Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher are showing towards each other?

That may, perhaps, seem like and anecdote of sort, but I believe that for the prosecution to establish its case it must not only establish that Senna himself was not a sportsman, but also that he indeed ended such era of sportsmanship.

If that is the theory, then any fact which defies it might shake its truthfulness. ”

And Williams respons was:

”Such shows of respect are not uncommon among drivers who hold no threat to each other. Presently, Schumacher has 36 championship points to Hakkinnen's 4 points, and Schumacher can afford to avoid any sort of mental games with Hakkinen for now. Think about this seriously, because, although I have no doubt that these two men actually respect each other, the true test of sportsmanship will be near the end of the season, if both are in close contention for the championship. Then you may see a different behaviour. Remember that Prost and Senna were bitter enemies - until Prost retired. The same holds true of Schumacher and Hill, who were at each other's throats all during the 1995 season, but then made up immediately after Schumacher clinched the championship at Nurburgring.

As I pointed out in a previous post, there is a risk inherent in every act of true sportsmanship, and the amount of risk arising from an act of sportsmanship is a measure of its quality. Battling fairly with an opponent opens up a greater possibilty of losing. Showing friendship with an opponent risks the loss of an psychological edge over that opponent. If both drivers can hold that sporting attitude under tougher conditions, then we can discuss their sportsmanship.”

As I see it, Rainstorm is fully right!

What I want to point out is: It is possible that in many cases “it’s a risk inherit in every act of true sportmanship”? I couldn’t find it defined in the preamble though and I’m sure there’s a whole range of opinions about this. I for one think there’s many more acts that qualifies as measures of true sportmanship. For example behaving fair and respectful in the face of grave disappointment, as Hakkinen did for instance after losing his WDC at Suzuka 2000. The greater disappointment, the more sporting. I’m sure there’s more views about this as well.

The point here is that we are discussing Sportmanship ( fair-play, honour and sportsmanship actually). Not sportmanship under certain conditions. In order to come to a conclusion whether an era of sportmanship is ended or not, I think all acts of sportmanship needs to be looked at, and if found being indeed sporting it should indeed count.

If not, then I suppose the accusation should have been something along the line: The career of Aryton Senna marked, and was at least partially responsible for, the end of an era of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among Formula One drivers in championship deciding situations.

Though we have pointed out a few of those too! Spa 2000, as pointed out by Gareth, and Monza 2000, as I mentioned.

In addition to this I have to question Williams view that “Partially responsible is not vague”

If we’ve had some three hundred F1 drivers and the general level of driving ethics has decreased, along with the rest of the world, with time. Couldn’t it be argued then that every single one of them is partially responsible?

That would mean that partially responsible would range roughly from ½ to 1/300. That’s pretty vague for me.

And in an extreme view, every person in the world is partially responsible, since Formula one is effected by the world. That could actually mean that partially responsible ranges roughly from ½ to 1/5000 000 000..

The point I want to make here is that partially responsible could be so insignificant that it would mean virtually nothing.

I think every single piece of ethics could be relevant to this case. Certainly the general state of ethics in the world, FIA:s way of ruling, the acts of teams and also how they use technology, other drivers and so on. The reason for this is that they have an effect on how ethics develop. If ethics develop to the point that an era of far play, honour and sportmanship is actually possibly ended, then we need to find out as many, if not all, reasons for this as possible. If all the contributing factors are so large in relation to the one driver on trial here that his actions would not substantially alter the development of ethics within Formula 1, then I cant see the significance of saying something along the line: “He had an effect as a role model, impressionable young drivers admired him, so Sennas and his behaviour is therefore partially responsible for ending (?) an era of sportmanship.” I mean the point of this surely couldn’t have been that we could have a whole bunch of drivers, teams, organisations and so on convicted for the same thing as Senna run the risk of getting convicted for?

I’ll explain why his part in this is not significant:

It’s FIA:s responsibility to set the level of rules and act if they are not followed. If there is a development towards a certain level that could be interpreted as unsporting, then I see two possible explanations why FIA accepts this. One, FIA has no integrity or they think the development is good and therefore accepts it. Or two, FIA realises that the world has changed and as a consequence Formula 1 must change with it and therefore they accept it.

I think it’s the second option and I’ll explain why:

Every really commercial sport, where competitors fight closely, I can come to think of, has taken a similar pattern as Formula 1 in it’s development the last 40-50 years. To describe one example: Ice hockey. In the fifties they had a relatively slow and relatively friendly game and there weren’t much money in it. Now it’s better skates, sticks, ice, pads, fitness etc. The game is now much more brutal, fast, full of mind games and much more of a business. The referees allow a higher level of different types of physical contact, that would have been regarded as a terrible way to behave in the fifties. It’s in all likeliness the ruling body of ice hockey who has accepted these changes, in all likeliness for the same reasons as FIA has accepted them for Formula 1.

Who do they try to blame it on in Ice hockey? Or Basket ball? Or Soccer? And so on…

The point being: I think the way of the world isn’t something that one person in sports can change in a significant way! As I have stated before, Senna may have been unsporting at a number of occasions, but I’m convinced that the ethical level in Formula 1 would not be substantially different had Senna not existed, which actually Williams agreed on before. If Senna and a whole range of others possibly was catalysts for this development is in my view not very significant. Because if he and others wouldn’t have existed, then with the absolutely highest likelihood yet another range of others would have been catalysts and Formula 1, and also virtually every other sport, would in all likeliness not be substantially different ethics-wise because of one participant.


I do want to make the following additional re-replies to Williams:

I wrote:
“Has anybody ever complained about MH being unsporting or anything of that kind?”

Williams replied:
“The answer is "yes". From Autocourse 1994, Pg. 117, on the Pacific Grand Prix of that year, Damon Hill says:

quote:

"He closed the door on me, put me on a kerb, and I spun off. I should have known it would happen becasue he's a bit of a wild boy. He comes up to you on the grid and shakes your hand, which is totally sporting and makes him seem like a normal person. But when gets into the car and puts on his helmet, he turns into some sort of demon."


The above seems to indicate that the public and ontrack personas of a driver with respect to sportsmanship might be different, and shows that arguing that the general impression of a driver's sportsmanship is not good enough to point to them as proof that sportsmanship exists.”

My rereply is:
Fair enough that Williams manage to find this quote. But who recognises Hakkinen in this quote? It is seven years ago and it is the opinion of one driver at one time. As I see it, Hakkinen is now an outstanding role model for fair play, honour and sportmansship!

I think it must be our impression of drivers behaviour that forms the basis for whether fair play, honour and sportmanship exists within Formula 1 or not in this court case. If information occurs, from for instance a driver, that may alter this impression, then of course that should be included in the total picture.

I do withhold that I think Hakkinens behaviour throughout the years has been very sporting and I am convinced that most people would agree on this and that this alone is actually a strong indication that fair play, honour and sportmanship is not ended.


I wrote:
“McLaren has also stood by the, as I see it, honourable and sporting intention to have equal equipment and no teamorders for the drivers, until it's mathematically called for.”

Williams wrote:
“With due respect to with my fellow introlocutor, this trial is about sportsmanship among drivers, as opposed to the sportsmanship displayed by team principals. However, were it a matter for consideration here, I would have to point out that McLaren's decision to supply equal vehicles to their drivers has to do with maximising their opportunities on the track and maintaining the motivation of both drivers, not sportsmanship.”

My rereply is:
I have explained part of this above, but in addition to that:
I have to say that the ethics of a team is very relevant for how the drivers behave. There is examples of teams not supplying the exact same equipment to their two drivers. It’s often understandable but it’s not fair play to the second driver.

In addition to this I also think that not imposing team orders is increasing the risk of losing the WDC, for the cause of having a fair battle between the two drivers and to not run the risk of making the second driver less motivated and possibly feeling treated unfairly. So it could be seen as an act of fair play and hence it is relevant.


I wrote:
“DC apologising to Michael Schumacher (MS) last year for some wrongdoings.”

Williams wrote:
“It strikes me that this is not a driver showing sportsmanship, this is a driver trying to erase an unsporting action.”

I re-reply
I admit that this sentence was not explained in a very fulfilling way. So, if DC, as in this case, realises that accusing MS through the press instead of talking to him face to face first is unfair and wrong. Then I think it’s sporting and it shows a sense of fair play from DC, to stand up to this and admit that he was wrong and apologise. I also think it showed that DC wants to compete with a better spirit between them in the future, which I find sporting.


I wrote:
“Australia 1998, quote from Atlas news sektion: David Coulthard let Mika Hakkinen pass to win, because of a gentleman agreement and because Hakkinen went an extra time through the pits because there was a miscommunication between the McLaren pits and Hakkinen - which costed him the lead”

Williams replied:
“As I recall, David took a few laps of convincing by the team to give up his lead, although the decision was in fact left up to him in the end. Certainly David did not call up the team and volunteer to give up the position. We need to ask whether David was acting out of sportsmanship or a sense of fairness, or acting out of his own self-interest to maintain a good standing with the team.”

I re-reply:
It is certainly possible to find an angle were the best intended act could be twisted around to something completely different. The team as well as the drivers certainly seemed to have a sense of fairness in this situation. The news report from Atlas didn’t say anything about convincing or anything along that line. It said a “gentleman agreement”, which I think is part of what fair play honour and sportmanship is.

I also remember that McLaren made a huge effort to make the team mates get to know each other better in order to get along better and create a better spirit within the team so that they can work better. This incident seems to reflect this. It’s not always a driver in a team knows what has happened to his teammate in the race and why and also it’s against two equal teammates nature to let the other pass without explaining it. So that may explain why it perhaps took awhile for DC to let him pass. In the end he did and that was clearly an act of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship.


I wrote:
“MS comforting/supporting MH at Spain 2001, and MH was still in contention for the title (if you can drop back 32 points in 5 races, then it's not unrealistic to gain 32 points in 12 races).”

Williams replied:
“This is not exactly a highly competitive situation. For an example of what happens in modern F1 when the chips are really down, look no further than Austria 2001, and see how Schumacher and Montoya started started clawing at each other at first opportunity, with some very unsporting statements, now that MS sees Montoya as a threat on the track, and with Montoya's apparent need to confront the sport's top gun in the press as well as on the track. Because of the modern drive to psychologically dominate one's opponent, the modern F1 driver is incapable of laughing off an racing incident, and enjoying the moment of rivalry. When the competition gets close, the knives come out.”

I re-reply:
“Part of the answer for this is explained above in this post. In addition to that I want to say:

It was still a situation where MS regarded MH as his main rival for the title, and rightfully so then, if you keep in mind what happened last year and also if you keep in mind what MH is capable of, which the race in Spain showed yet again.

As to your comment about Montoya and Schumacher. Firstly I don’t think an occurrence of possibly unsporting behaviour is showing that ”the modern F1-driver is incapable of laughing off a racing incident, and enjoy the moment of rivalry”. Schumacher changed his mind and admitted that his initial impression was wrong and that it was just a “racing incident”, yet again a sign of fair-play, honour and sportmanship. Montoya also showed signs of sportmanship in Brazil when he lead for the first time and was taken out by a backmarker and still behaved very civil and calm afterwards.

I wrote:
“MS getting in contact with MH after his accident in Adelaide 1995, wishing him a fast recovery.

MS and MH singing "smoke on the water" together at Suzuka 2000 during celebration of MS's title. And MS celebrated with MH the year before at Suzuka when MH won the title. MS also said that MH is a great champion, after his WDC 1999.”

Williams replied:
“These incidents took place at a time where there was nothing to be gained by being anything other than sporting, i.e. there was no risked involved in these incidents of sportsmanship.”

I rereply:
I have explained this above in my post, but in short:

It is possible that in many cases “it’s a risk inherit in every act of true sportmanship”? Though I think there’s many more acts that qualifies as measures of true sportmanship. For example behaving fair and respectful in the face of grave disappointment, as Hakkinen did for instance after losing his WDC at Suzuka 2000. The greater disappointment, the more sporting.

In other words, I think these were excellent examples of sportmanship. So MH join in at his main rivals celebration party for the WDC (as MS did the year before), and not only that he did it to the extent that he actually got up and sang together with MS, at the evening of the day he lost the WDC. Would this happen if an era of fair play, honour and sportmanship was ended?

Williams continued his reply above:
“I have to go back to Rob Walker's words. "In our day the drivers raced because they enjoyed it, it was sport, and I really don't know if any of today's drivers really enjoy it, not in the same way." The modern F1 driver is far too involved with concentration, psychological tactics, press relations, and general off-track oneupmanship to ever truly enjoy a hardfought head-to-head competition with a rival driver. This high level of intensity and concentration on the nuts and bolts of winning, as opposed to a general enjoyment of the sport, was the legacy left by Senna to the modern F1 driver.

I re-reply
It’s obvious it’s now much more business than it used to be. Of course drivers don’t enjoy it in the same way as drivers did then. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy it. I would say they enjoy it in a different way now. It certainly doesn’t mean that an era of fair play honour and sportmanship is ended!

In addition to all of the above I want to point out a few additional things that also points out that fair play, honour and sportmanship is not ended:

The following is a transcript from the press conference at Suzuka 2000:

“Q:Mika you have been superb world champion for the last two years but for now your reign is over how do you feel?
Mika Hakkinen: So sad. But anyway congratulations for Michael. It really has been a great season, really tough, Its definitely been very interesting this year and also very up and down for us. On the other hand I understand that it is sometime another drivers turn to win, and to be a good winner sometimes you have to be a good loser too. It doesn't mean you have to be very happy about it to be second or to lose but to give the enjoyment and pleasure for the driver who has won. Michael, at the moment, he has done the best possible job for the year and we were not able to do it. So I feel a bit disappointed, but also I feel I have won 2 years in a row 98 and 99 so life continues and racing continues, and you have to keep fighting. I am sure we will see exciting races in the future too.”

Would a driver say this if an era of fair play honour and sportmanship was ended?

Monza 2000, when MH tried to comfort MS and to do everything he could to take the pressure off MS at the press conference, though both were very much in contention for the title.

Spa 2000, when after the race MS only had good things to say about MH and his spectacular overtaking manoeuvre, though it was at a crucial stage of the championship.

These two examples qualifies as acts of “true sportmanship” even by the prosecution.

Brazil 2000, MH congratulating DC very happily after the race, even though it was a hard blow to his championship chances, due to his teammates huge lead in the championship over him. A handshake and a short congratulation would have been looked upon as quite sufficient and good. But he was virtually beaming and smiling and seemed sincerely happy. This would not have happened if an era of fair play, honour and sportmanship was ended.

Look at the interview in http://www.itv-f1.co...p3?mediaid=4930 where Button has been backed to turn his season around by team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella. This is done even though GF is at a crucial stage in his career where he needs to beat Button, and GF knowing that Button did an excellent job at Williams team last year and it could very well be that once Button gets to know the car and the team better he could actually go on beating GF. If an era of fair play, honour and sportmanship was actually ended would this happen then?

I would like to finish with pointing out that most of the new generation of drivers don’t show any obvious lack of fair play, honour and sportmanship. Look at a guys like Raikonen, Alonso, Bernoldi etc.or even Button. Is there any obvious lack of fair play, honour or sportmanship among them? I know what Button said in that interview about Jeres 97, but I haven’t seen anything in his on track behaviour that would back up that statement. In fact he could have said it just to wind Damon up? I haven’t read anything else about him that would picture him as anything other than sporting. In fact I haven’t seen any drivers at all defying FIA at all the last few years, which would be very frequent if the era of fair play, honour and sportmanship was ended.

Finally, I think there would be all hell out there if in fact the era of fair play, honour and sportmanship was actually ENDED! This and all of the above shows that all though fair play, honour and sportmanship may sadly be lacking in many cases, it is however not ENDED.


#33 Billy

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Posted 21 May 2001 - 15:51

Statistical evidence on historical accident rates from Forix has been presented to the court. Another source of accident statistics is the book written by Professor Sid Watkins, Life at the Limit, Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One.

Watkins gives the number of accidents that have occurred at race meetings, including free practice and qualifying, for a serious of 5 year intervals from 1963-1996. He also tabulates the number of injuries and deaths that occurred.

Accidents
1963-1967: 50 races, 47 accidents
1968-1972: 59 races, 88 accidents
1973-1977: 77 races, 250 accidents
1978-1982: 76 races, 283 accidents
1983-1987: 79 races, 218 accidents
1988-1992: 80 races, 305 accidents
1993-1996: 49 races, 248 accidents

Serious Injuries
1963-1967: 50 races, 21 injuries
1968-1972: 59 races, 31 injuries
1973-1977: 77 races, 51 injuries
1978-1982: 76 races, 3 injuries
1983-1987: 79 races, 2 injuries
1988-1992: 80 races, 1 injury
1993-1996: 49 races, 2 injuries

Accident Rate per Race Meeting
Posted Image

Injury Rate per Race Meeting
Posted Image

We can see that the number of accidents was rising steadily until the early 1980s, when it decreased due to the removal of ground effect race cars, a reaction to the tragedies of 1982. However, despite that reduction, the rate of accidents has steadily increased at the same rate as before.

However, the introduction of safety features by Bernie Ecclestone, in particular his appointment of Professor Sid Watkins in 1978, has markedly reduced the growth of driver injuries, despite the fact that accidents continue to increase.

We can see that accident rates were increasing before Senna, increased during Senna's time, and continued to increase after Senna. The fact that injury rates have dramatically decreased has not caused the accident rate to accelerate: it is simply increasing at the same rate it was before.

#34 Billy

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Posted 21 May 2001 - 16:37

In professional sports, the kind of bad sportsmanship that is most serious is where one player retaliates against a rules infringement by a competitor. In football, who can forget David Beckham's retaliatory kick after he was fouled by Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup, an action that was harshly dealt with by the referee. In all sports, the umpire must keep the law, and there is no justification for a player to take the law into their own hands.

In three of the cases of bad sportsmanship presented to the court involving Ayrton Senna, he was acting in angry retaliation to actions by other people that he perceived to be unsporting.

At Suzuka 1989, he was angry and in the mood for revenge because of two rulings by FISA. Firstly, FISA said you could drive through the chicane if you were forced off the road there, a safer course of action than driving into the path of other competitors, when last year he had been disqualified for doing exactly that. In addition, FISA had put the pole position starting on the dirty side of the track.

At Imola 1988, Ayrton said he was forced off the road twice by Prost, so his edging of Prost into the pitwall was seen by Senna as a payback for these previous infringements.

At Suzuka 1993, Ayrton punched Irvine because he was provoked.

The common thread in all these actions was that Ayrton was angry, and his actions to take revenge were motivated by his hot blooded nature taking over from his generally sporting nature. The instinct to strike out against an opponent, either with your car, or your fist, is not done in cold blood, it is done when the driver is overcome with angry emotion.

Like Senna said about Jean Alesi: "He has the hot blood that this sport needs." Alesi said "I try to be a calm person. Sometimes when I am angry I want to explode, but I try to remember the English way".

The English way is exemplified by Damon Hill. After Senna was angry with Irvine's ontrack behaviour in the Suzuka race in 1993, Damon said "The era of one driver saying, 'After you, Claude' is long gone and that is as much due to Senna as anybody else. He started being very aggressive and everyone else has copied him." Earlier that season, at San Marino, Senna had words with Hill after he thought Hill got in his way, and Damon said "I told him that I was driving the way I had learned from watching him. I don't think there was much he could say about that."

In Hill's mind, Senna was responsible for a culture of aggression on the racetrack. By following his example, Hill showed that he was impressionable, easily led by images of Senna he had seen on television while he battled in the lower British formulae during the 1980's. Remember that Hill was only 6 months younger than Senna, so he did not have the excuse that he was learning from Senna whilst in his early years of racing. As Hill mentioned to Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher (32 this year) is still not as old as Damon was when he won his first Grand Prix (nearly 33yrs old).

When Michael Schumacher was racing against Senna in Brazil 1992, he complained about Ayrton afterwards: "He was slowing down and speeding up. If he had a problem he should have got out of the way. I don't know what game he was playing but it was not a game I like. He is the world champion and he should behave better."

In a similar way, Hill said about Schumacher after Adelaide 1994, "He was the champion, there is no doubt about that, but had not achieved it in the way a champion should."

Both Hill and Schumacher expressed their belief that a World Champion should behave in an exemplary manner to guide the ontrack behaviour of all drivers.

However, this is completely unrealistic. Champions are fallible, led by their emotions to ignore their sporting natures just like any other competitor. As Schumacher discovered in Canada 1998, the 1996 World Champion Damon Hill did not always drive in a sportsmanlike fashion: "If someone wants to kill you he should do it in a different way. We are doing 200mph down there and to move off the line three times is simply unacceptable. I was lucky to get through the chicane. I can't handle an experienced man doing something like that. I shall be having big words with him."

Ayrton Senna did not end an era of sportsmanship. That would be like saying John McEnroe ended an era of sportsmanship in tennis. The sport is bigger than any of its champions, and bad examples of sportsmanship only influence the weak minded competitors whose own moral values are not strong enough, and who hide their own weaknesses by claiming to be following the example of a great, but flawed, champion of the past.

#35 Wolf

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Posted 22 May 2001 - 00:16

I was quite certain I could rest my case with my previous post, showing that sportsmanlike behaviour means behaving in compliance with high moral and ethical norms, regardles of any conditions.
I think court needs no further evidence that defendant was not a sporting and fair person. Nor to effect that his charisma and performance, more or less, forced FIA and general public to accept that behaviour. As for corrupting influence of the defendant, one doesn't need to point a finger at his rightful heir Michael Schumacher, but just to look at a quote in Williams' opening post. If a newcomer to the sport (Button) considers that move is all right if it benefits one (as can be seen from that example, regardless of sporting or otherwise value), it must make one question intrinsic values involved. And he (Button) could argue his view with 'Senna was a great champion and he did just that. Am I wrong in assuming it's acceptable?'

Next, I move to strike Unrepentant Lurker's refuting of Williams' data on account of Monza '61 not being listed amongst accidents. My reasons: 1. although contact between the two existed, not even official investigation (AFAIK) could determine whether that contact was prior or after von Trips lost the control over his Ferrari, let alone responsible for the same; 2. Clark resumed the race without any problems resulting from that contact (and if that is to be considered accident- how many 'accidents' were in last laps of Dijon '79?).

As for evidence, I challenge the defence to provide any evidence of events prior (to defendants) in which governing body decided to look away on blatant rules infractions and unsporting behaviour. It being a clear sign of unsporting behaviour becoming acceptable (as can be substantiated by numerous latter examples, mostly involving another 'flawed genius'). [Aside.] I could do it for only one occasion when a great champion was involved, a car coming to lap him, slamming of the door and ignored black flag were involved- but I ask the Court to dismiss that particular evidence since it was pre-WDC era and governing body wasn't FIA...

#36 Williams

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Posted 22 May 2001 - 02:12

From learned colleague Raceday

Now what kind of charge is that?

What would Senna possibly be convicted to?

Imagine some fictional court where the prosecutor would prosecute somebody for “causing, or at least be partially responsible for, an ending of “good deeds” in the society”. Then the defence brings in some views of what “Good deeds” is. Then the prosecutor claims: No the defence’s view of “Good deeds” is irrelevant because it doesn’t correspond to what I have defined it to in my charge!


For my rebuttal to this argument of Racedays, please see my post of 05-16-2001 15:49 with regard to whether the Prosecution is responsible for the wording of the charges. Also please note that if, for example, a person is charged with shoplifting, that there is no argument over the definition of "shoplifting", the argument is over whether the person charged is guilty of it. "Shoplifting" is defined in legislation, and the charge will refer to the legislation. In the absence of recognized legislation here, the definition of sportsmanship is defined directly within the preamble, instead of pointing to some outside source. Also note that this is not an argument on the guilt of the defendant with respect to the charge, but an argument against the bringing of the charge in the first place.

===============

In addition to this I have to question Williams view that “Partially responsible is not vague”
...
That would mean that partially responsible would range roughly from ½ to 1/300. That’s pretty vague for me.
...
The point I want to make here is that partially responsible could be so insignificant that it would mean virtually nothing.


Again, this is simply an argument against the charge itself, not an argument as to whether or not the defendant is guilty of it. This are all questions which were considered by the Court before accepting the case. Not presume to know the thinking of the Court, but if the charge was too vague, then the Court would have rejected this hearing, stating that "the proposed case is rejected on the grounds that it is too vague".

===============

If ethics develop to the point that an era of far play, honour and sportmanship is actually possibly ended, then we need to find out as many, if not all, reasons for this as possible. If all the contributing factors are so large in relation to the one driver on trial here that his actions would not substantially alter the development of ethics within Formula 1, then I cant see the significance of saying something along the line: “He had an effect as a role model, impressionable young drivers admired him, so Sennas and his behaviour is therefore partially responsible for ending (?) an era of sportmanship.” I mean the point of this surely couldn’t have been that we could have a whole bunch of drivers, teams, organisations and so on convicted for the same thing as Senna run the risk of getting convicted for?

To complete this argument, the defense has to show that the "if" portion of the argument (italicized) is true. The prosecution's argument is that in fact that Senna, being a high-profile driver with both influence on future drivers and enough commercial power to sway the judgement of the FIA, did have such a large effect and therefore bears a signicant responsibilty for the adoption of unsporting tactics within the sport. The pressure to use such tactics may come from society at large, but that pressure did not make such an acceptance inevitable, it took the example of Senna using them and getting away with it to make future drivers consider using them. Outside social influences are not enough to complete this effect, they only supply the potentional for it to happen.

============

As for the further examples of sportsmanship which my collegue Raceday gave for example of sportsmanship, I must say that making public statements in the face of disappointment is all very well, but when was the last time a display of substantial sportsmanship was shown, in which a participant actually tossed aside the importance of winning in sacrifice for the principles of sportsmanship ? See my example of Peter Collins giving up his car to Fangio while his own championship hopes were still mathematically alive, or Wolf's example of Oporto 1958. These sorts of sportsmanship simply don't happen anymore.


#37 Williams

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Posted 22 May 2001 - 03:05

From Billy's excellent post:

The sport is bigger than any of its champions, and bad examples of sportsmanship only influence the weak minded competitors whose own moral values are not strong enough, and who hide their own weaknesses by claiming to be following the example of a great, but flawed, champion of the past.

My reply is that if the sport was bigger than any of it's champions, Senna's punishment after Suzuka '90 would have been considerably stiffer. Certainly the advantages gained by this unsporting behaviour would have been removed by the application of appropriate sanctions. But Senna proved, in fact, to be bigger than the sport when the result earned from his admitted ramming of Prost was allowed to stand.

Unsporting tactics should exact a significant penalty and should certainly not confer an advantage. In the case of Suzuka '90 unsporting tactics confered a very clear advantage on the perpetrator. If even F1's champions can conduct themselves in this way with impunity, then we can say that that unsporting behaviour has been well and truly institutionalized in F1.

#38 Billy

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Posted 23 May 2001 - 08:00

The court has heard the interview of Ayrton Senna by Jackie Stewart. According to the book Ayrton Senna, As time goes by by Christopher Hilton, Jackie Stewart said after that interview "I know Ayrton believes totally in everything he says, but so did Hitler ..."

Prost said about Senna "he was extremely religious, and he used to go on about that, about speaking the truth, about his education, his upbringing, and everything else. At the time, I used to think that some of the things he did on the track didn't fit with all that, but now it seems to me he really didn't know he was sometimes in the wrong. He had these rules, he played by them, and he wasn't interested in anything else. Looking back, I really think he believed he was always in the right, always telling the truth -- and on the track it was exactly the same way."

Murray Walker echoed these concerns, saying "I remember that impassioned outburst in Adelaide [1989, after the first Suzuka incident] and I realised long afterwards, having been won over by his sincerity, that he was lying through his teeth -- but I believe that, in some convoluted way, he was somehow sincere in what he was saying. A bit like Bill Clinton."

David Tremayne, in his book Racers Apart, wondered "is he the arrogant Ice Man? Or just a man so very vulnerable that he believes his only form of defence is to use the maelstrom of his own fearsome talent as a weapon for attack? Only time, that great quasher of causes celebre, may answer such questions with authority and, perhaps, determine precisely where this occasionally flawed genius, motor racing's philosopher king, deserves to be ranked among the all-time greats of the sport."

Ron Dennis said "Other drivers were involved in other incidents and his view was, if they can do things like that and there is no penalty, and that is the standard, then so be it -- but he didn't like the standard. I felt afterwards that he regretted, very much regretted, lowering himself to drive in that way."

Aryton was asked to describe his own character, and he said "The key in any relationship, whether professional or purely human, is that you speak the same language, have the same basic values. Respect, trust, professionalism, competence. Then I'm an easy person. But if for any reason something is missing, something fundamental -- fairness, say, or honesty -- then at once I become a difficult person."

Only rarely, motor racing was a pure expression of his character. He said, "In the seconds before the start, when the engine is started, I let myself go, somehow let myself fall. All conscious thinking ceases, everything flows on quite naturally as though of it's own accord. There is a rhythm, something like a perfect melody. Not always, but there is always the eternal search for it. When I find it then I drive in another dimension. Controlled, but totally free, steered only by my very own, I would almost say innate instincts. I am there in the present, but I am also ahead of myself and of time. I sense intuitively much more than I calculate. Unfortunately, these are only rare moments, but wonderful ones."

#39 Gareth

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Posted 23 May 2001 - 09:10

Firstly, as to the argument as to the definition of sportsmanship,
I can fully accept Williams' argument that as the court has used the definition itself it has become an emination of the court and as such should be taken as 'set in stone'. However, it appears to me that from the Judge's own posts (ie a description of sportsmanship) that the definition of sportsmanship may be up for discussion and that the preamble was provided to 'set the arena' for the debate ie give us a good idea what we were talking about and not provide something that the court accepted as unchanglangeable.
I feel both conclusions would be acceptable and would like guidance from the court as to which route should be taken so that arguments can proceed accordingly.

Secondly, I would like to lend my support to Raceday's comments on 'partially responsible'.

If the conclusion of this court is to have any meaning this term cannot mean that Senna need only be found responsible in part no matter how small. Senna must surely be found to be partially but substantially responsible ie it was not wholly him who caused it but he was a substantial factor. If partially responsible means 'to any degree no matter how small' then simmilar charges could be brought against any driver who may be considered to have been involved in any act of unsportsmanship, even if they only raced once in F1.

Thirdly, wolf's 'challenge',
Wolf requested that the defence show examples of 'blatent rule infractions' that were ignored, to this I would say:
a)the prosecution has only provided 1 example of an ignored rule infraction ie Suzuka 1990. There not being 1 example before Senna and then 1 example after/during does not prove a change. Going from 0 to 1 is hardly evidence of a change, more evidence of a 1 off.

b)The onus is surely on the prosecution to prove the charge is true, not on the defence to prove it is false. To this end I feel that the prosecution must provide examples of behaviour before Senna and after and how it has been treated differently. (See my post in which I set out what I think the prosecution must prove)

Fourthly, the example of Peter Collins giving up his car to Fangio,
It appears strange that one teamate being given an advantage over the other is considered an example of sporting behaviour when one of the examples of Senna's unsporting behaviour is him trying to gain an advantage over Warwick.
Furthermore, if this is an example of sporting behaviour then I would submit that sportsmanship is still very much alive and well in F1, see Rubens' defferment to Schumacher at Austria this year.

Finally I would like to aum up my argument so far,
It appears to me that the prosecution must prove the three things I mentioned earlier ie that:
1. Unsportsmanlike behaviour was unacceptable before Senna
2. Senna behaved in an unsportsmanlike way
3. This [partially but substantially] contributed to unsportsmanlike behaviour becoming acceptable.

As to 1, examples have been cited before Senna in the 50's and 60's, however to show that Senna ended an era examples must surely be cited right up untill Senna's arrival and alleged unsportsmanship in F1, otherwise th era ended before Senna. This has not been done.

As to 2, there are a few alleged examples of Senna's unsportsmanship. With the exception of Suzuka 1990 I would submit that they are not great examples of unsportsmanship and that at the least they are debatable and a simmilar list could be compiled of simmilar incidents for many F1 drivers ie other than Suzuka 1990 Senna's alleged unsportsmaship is nothing special.

As to 3, the prosecution must show that there has been subsequant unsportsmanlike behaviour. The prosecution has only shown 1 incident (Jerez 1997) and data on collisions that I submit is irrelevent as although it shows an increase it does not show anything connected with Senna - the increase begins way before his arrival. The prosecution must also show how being unsporting is now also unacceptable through showing how reactions to alleged unsporting behaviour have changed post Senna. I believ the prosecution has shown none of these things.

To sum up, the prosecution have provided some evidence as to each of the above but no where near enough to meet a standard of proof and consequently I consider the charge to be unproven.

Gareth

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#40 Williams

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Posted 23 May 2001 - 11:30

Gareth said:

If the conclusion of this court is to have any meaning this term cannot mean that Senna need only be found responsible in part no matter how small. Senna must surely be found to be partially but substantially responsible ie it was not wholly him who caused it but he was a substantial factor. If partially responsible means 'to any degree no matter how small' then simmilar charges could be brought against any driver who may be considered to have been involved in any act of unsportsmanship, even if they only raced once in F1.

My own viewpoint on this matter is similar, as seen by a careful reading of my previous post on this:

First of all, there is nothing vague about "partial responsibility". If Senna had a significant impact on the state of fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among drivers, then he bears at least partial responsibilty for it. Secondly, whether or not other drivers are also partially responsible is irrelevent to the question of whether or not Senna had a role in this matter. It is up to the court to decide whether or not our arguments show that Senna's impact on fair-play, honour and sportsmanship among drivers in the sport was [/b]significant[b].

The only difference was my choice of the word "significant" instead of "substantial". I will happily accept the term "substantial" for the purposes of this trial.


#41 oldtimer

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Posted 23 May 2001 - 21:26

This submission will not be objective, but some of the thoughts and feelings behind it are, I believe, a large part of why the issue exists and is being debated.

On the issue of sportsmanship, a British Olympic medallist (gold and silver), David Hemery, summed it up best for me (note subjectiveness). He was asked about this question, because he was a very, very competitive and determined athlete, who was gracious in both victory and defeat. In reply, he quoted an ancient Greek saying on the matter, which was to the effect, "I love my opponent because he makes me do my absolute best."

My thoughts about Senna as a ruthless, unsportsmanlike driver (using the notion given above) became crystallised after he barged Nannini (in a Benneton) out of a chicane, causing Nannini's car to come very close to being tipped over. I don't remember which race, or which year, but I haven't forgotten the image of the underside of Nannini's car. For me, all the subsequent ugly happenings with Prost were all part of that same picture.

That is another subjective point, but I would like to draw the Court's attention to the emotive word 'ugly'. Somehow, I feel that word would strongly resonate for more than a few when thinking of some of Senna's on-track actions, and, if it does, then it is making a case.

Adding to the ugliness of some of Senna's behaviour was his enormous skill. Why did a man with such marvellous skills behave as if they were not sufficient to get the job done? To my mind, the fact of Senna's great skills not only add to the unsportsmanlike character of the ugly actions, but set a standard under which others could stand and plead the same cause.

Senna was a very large figure in the world of F1 racing, and as such, he inevitably became a model. He, nor anyone else, can signal the end of sportsmanship. It only needs several sportsmen, or a single champion, to reverse any such trends. But Senna set a tone, and it wasn't the same as some previous champions, who are revered because they brought more than great skills and competiveness to the sport.





#42 Wolf

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Posted 24 May 2001 - 01:37

I'd address Gareth's account of accidents. He admits there were no such incidents in forty years of GP racing for WDC (prior to defendants incidents) and at least two* in single decade. If that is not a significant increase in sporting behaviour, than I don't know what is.

* Suzuka, Adelaide, Jerez, Spa... just off top of my head.

#43 Gareth

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Posted 25 May 2001 - 09:58

As to Wolf saying 'at least two',
I would submit that one, Jerez, does not support the case against Senna as a penalty was imposed by the FIA, the docking of all his points. In this sense it shows that reactions to unsporting behaviour are the same as before Senna ie that being unsporting considered to be bad.

The other, Suzuka, actually involved Senna and so can only go towards his alleged unsportsmanship. It can go towards HOW Senna changed attitudes towards sportsmanship but not toward IF he changed attitudes. eg These posts are HOW I am trying to influence the court, they do not show that I HAVE influenced the court

Consequently I would suggest that neither of these incidents support the idea that Senna ENDED an era of sportsmanship. Jerez shows unsportsmanship is still frowned upon, Suzuka does not show that people changed their attitudes.

As to other examples, I would like to state that when I said there had been zero prior to Senna I meant of a type like Jerez/Suzuka ie one driver trying to take others out deliberately. I would consider that, as William's statistics show, there were many collisions between drivers prior to Senna of the type post Senna and so in this respect nothing has changed.

Gareth

#44 130R

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Posted 26 May 2001 - 01:26

No one man can end an era of anything, whether it be sportsmanship or chivalry.

Popular culture changes 'eras', not individuals. Senna was obviously an extraordinary man. His life was full of huge successes and minor injustices - in his eyes, anyway. He was, no doubt, controversial.

The rules of conduct have not changed substantially in F1, however, our perception of the tactics has. How much of this, I ask, is related to the explosion of popular media. Conflict resolved in print, rather than in private. In the courtroom, rather than the barroom.

What is acceptable, without penalty, has seemed to change with each passing decade, and clearly no one man can be responsible -- if, in fact, it has even occured to any meaningful level.

#45 Falcadore

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Posted 26 May 2001 - 04:01

Earlier in the thread John B points out several aspects of poor sportsmanship amongst team mates. Perhaps Senna is merely a victim of increased public profile of Formula One, as the sports popularity exploded in the mid 80's. If the events of 1982 had occured in 1989, would not Didier Pironi be forced to respond the mountains of public pressure that was inlficted up on Senna? How would Pironi have responded to Jackie Stewart in interview under those circumstances?

While not directly related, the controversy over team orders is a much more telling example of motor sport having to respond differently because of varying public profile. Team orders are as old as motor racing itself. But when McLaren made their ploy at the 1998 Albert Park race, suddenly global damnation was brought on the sport when previously there had been no real reason to have to defend. There were warning signals about this sort of reaction at Suzuka in both 1991 & 1992 after Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell gifted the race to their team mates Gerhard Berger & Riccardo Patrese. But the reaction led by Ron Walker and others post Albert Park 1998 shocked the F1 establishment into the rediculous team order ban the Ferrari was ignoring before that season ended, and has since exploded again after Austria this year.

My point being, that the major influence on the perception of sportsmanship in Formula One no longer comes from within the sport.

#46 Rich

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Posted 26 May 2001 - 14:35

Thanks for your contributions all, this hearing is now closed. The verdict will be posted asap.

#47 Rainstorm

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 01:11

I don't think it's a coincidence that all judges involved in this case found themselves doing their utmost to escape writing its judgement. And, I can only say for myself that, given the opportunity, I would have left this case to speak for itself - for the volume of evidence presented by all its participants could never be done justice by one single verdict. For that, I commend all of you who participated in this proceeding.

I pondered about this case as I read through the posts in this thread. What is this hearing really about? What is at stake here?

There is Ayrton Senna himself. A driver who draws, almost eight years after his premature departure, more debate and curiosity than the vast majority of the currently participating drivers.

There is the FIA. A body who earns little credibility and respect from the fans and participants alike throughout its history, including before, during and after Ayrton Senna's time in F1.

There is sport in general. A central part of our lives - be it for those who avidly follow football, baseball, basketball, athletics, tennis, golf or motor racing. In all cases, sport ceased to be a mere extra-curricula activity long ago, evolving into money-induced, business-oriented, high-profile entertainment industry for both its participants and followers.

And there is Formula One in particular. Still regarded as the pinnacle of motor racing, Formula One holds today, perhaps more-so than in the past, the accolade of being the top league as far as popularity and reverence goes. I say more than in the past, because if you look back several decades ago, the gap between F1 and, for example, Le Mans, sportscar or lower formulae (F2 for example) was not as big as it is today.

This case is also about sportsmanship, ethics, morals, rules and regulations, and their place in each of the above-mentioned components. Senna's demeanour is on trial here, but so is that of the FIA, as are the specific changes in F1, and sport in general, in this regard during the past couple of decades.

All these components, however, bear within them a completely unquantifiable aspect. The core of this case is, I would dare venture, a philosophical one, and as such is purely subjective. There is no simple answer to any of the questions posed through this case, and I will say right away: I will not presume to offer absolute answers. I can only, in this case, give my interpretation of the evidence.


Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna was a unique driver. I doubt there has ever been a driver before him or after him with such will and determination. Alain Prost, in a quote brought before this court, has mentioned Senna's devout religiousness and self-belief in his ways. I think it can be established without much argument that Senna was radically devoted to winning, but this is not in itself a negative thing; his devotion can by all means be seen as an admirable trait as well, and this too drew the attention of his fans, rivals and subsequent followers. For he set a standard of focus and determination that could only be aspired to by others.

Senna wasn't shy about wanting to win. His quotes on the subject ("Winning is everything") are well-known to all, and he honestly believed that finishing second is being the first among the losers. He simply did not want to lose.

I don't believe any participant in any sport, be it today or 100 years ago for that matter, wanted to lose. I don't think Fangio, Moss, Clark, Stewart, et. al., came home to their wives or girlfriends and said, 'Oh joy! I lost!' But I do think they accepted defeat more graciously than some of those who came after them. And yes, Senna - it must be said on the outset - did not accept defeat graciously.

The definition of sportsmanship is important for this case. And while sportsmanship - as are ethics and morals - is a subjective term, it seems there are aspects of it that can be agreed on.

For example, we seem to all agree that Mika Hakkinen accepted his defeat in the 2000 Championship gracefully. We also all seem to agree that, regardless of who is at blame or what were the reasons or the repercussions (or lack thereof), the incident of Suzuka 1990 showed lack of sportsmanship, as in the case of Jerez 1997.

Grace and fair play are therefore part and parcel of Everyman's definition of sportsmanship. More to the point: losing with grace and showing respect to your rival is part and parcel of sportsmanship.

I don't believe, however, that any living person can be coloured in black and white. We are all shades of grey; every living person is a complex entity. Ayrton Senna is no different.

Senna, in his 10 years of competing in F1, had shown at times a lack of sportsmanship - to that we can all agree on - but has also shown grace, as in the case of allowing teammate Gerhard Berger to win. Likewise, Mika Hakkinen was accused by Damon Hill at the outset of his career for lack of sportsmanship. The FIA found him guilty of dangerous driving in 1994, and many fans complained of his lack of grace in losing to David Coulthard on many occasions in the past few years.

And yet, ask any person and I'd venture to say the common perception would be that Hakkinen is a more gracious loser than Senna; that the former is more predisposed to fair-play than the latter.

Such is the nature of perception, that it seldom goes into details. Something lingers in our memories, and there is a 'bottom line' that remains in our impression of a man's total lifework. In general, Senna would be described as a flawed sportsman, perhaps, whereas Mika Hakkinen would be described as a fair one.

Obviously, there is no smoke without fire. These perceptions would not be so deeply inherent in the public memories of a driver had they not bore some foundation in his life work. And, in Senna's case, several examples were brought to the court and while they don't quantify to much, they do have a cumulative effect. In fact, someone suggested that Suzuka 1990 may be the only real and undisputed example of unsportsmanlike behaviour on Senna's behalf, but one must really ask: isn't one case of such magnitude enough to shatter a man's reputation? And, isn't this one specific case relevant enough, in light of the fact that it was thereafter imitated?

I believe that enough evidence was brought to the court to establish that Ayrton Senna was, more than any top F1 driver before him, guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct. I highlight the qualifying term - more than any top driver before him - because it is essential for this case. After all, the relativity of Senna's sportsmanship, fair-play and gracefulness stands at the centre of this case. And, without much evidence brought to show other top and central figures in the sport before Senna behaving as badly as or worse than him, I can only ascertain that none existed.

One rebuttal was brought to the court, and that is Niki Lauda's quote. I feel I must explain why I could not take it alone into consideration in my above conclusion.

Lauda gives a general comment, stating that "In my day we used to hit each other off the road but if somebody complained afterwards, we'd just say, 'I don't know what happened'."

This quote, however, is not backed up - neither by Lauda nor by any poster here - with an example. That is not to say that I dispute Lauda nor do I question his integrity - absolutely not. But it's hard to refer to something as generalised as this without even a single example being given to illustrate this, for we do not know which incidents he is referring to, who were involved, etc..

There have undoubtedly been cases where unsportsmanlike behaviour took place before Senna. The example of Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi certainly comes to mind as a glaring one. But even if one would say that Pironi himself can be accused of unsportsmanlike behaviour, then the relativeness of these two men - Pironi and Senna - comes into play; and, as I said, I believe enough evidence was brought to establish that Senna was more - whereas others were less - guilty of repeated unsportsmanlike behaviour. Repeated - even if not constant.


Sport & World Evolution

Much has been said in this case about the actual era in which Senna was driving in. As mentioned by several, the world had changed. The world of professional sport had changed. There is a lot more to be said about this, no doubt, and without going into an exhaustive socio-economical debate of how the Western world had changed through the 80s, one can only point at the rise of Capitalism throughout the Western world; at the shift from nationalism to individualism; the introduction of terms such as Yuppie, Generation X, 'Win at all Costs', etc.

These are attributes that cannot be overlooked. And, I could not agree more with Raceday's first post in this case, where he essentially states the situation in Formula One ethics-wise would not be substantially different now had Senna not existed.

But, as the old cliche goes, if Senna didn't exist, we would have to invent him. More than likely, if Senna didn't exist, this trial would have taken place over someone else, and John Doe would have been accused of ending an era of sportsmanship.

Therefore, the fact that Senna was a part of what we all agree is a wider social and economic progression, doesn't absolve him from being tried and tested. For the fact is, about 50 or more other drivers participated in Formula One at the same time as Senna, and yet this debate focuses on none other than Senna himself.


The FIA

Another aspect often repeated in this case, was the accusation that the FIA did nothing to 'stop' these acts of unsportsmanlike behaviour, which in turn lead to their 'acceptance' in the sport, thus leading to the conclusion that it was in fact the FIA who were guilty of degrading the sport, and not the participants.

There is no doubt logic in this statement, however I firmly believe that sportsmanship is first and foremost a character trait that cannot be imposed by others: whether someone loses gracefully or not, cannot be enforced by any set of rules. Whether someone refuses to shake his opponent's hand on the podium is not something for the governing body to sanction.

If the FIA is guilty of anything, it's inconsistency and politicking. The FIA has always been accused of these, however. Before Senna, during Senna's days, and after Senna. There is much to be said about the governing body's conduct in many cases - those they have intervened in, and those they haven't. And, while there is a fair chance Jerez 1997 (and perhaps Adelaide 1994) would not have happened had the FIA acted in Suzuka 1990 (and perhaps even Suzuka 1989), that incompetence alone could not absolve Senna for his conduct in various cases as discussed in this case. Just because someone was not punished doesn't mean his behaviour was legal; and just because a thief isn't brought to trial, doesn't mean he never stole.

Furthermore, I have no doubt in my mind that Senna was a big influence on dozens of drivers to have followed him. Just look at the growing list of drivers who come into the sport nowadays citing him as their idol. And, while some claim Senna was martyred in his death, those who have followed Formula One in his life will know he was already idolised then. Senna was, without a doubt, the most popularly followed driver of modern age - much in the same way Michael Schumacher is today. Whether he was loved or hated, Senna was a huge star in his life, not just after his death.

But idolising Senna wasn't only about his misconduct. His mastery driving left a generation of drivers and fans in awe. Those who have seen him drive - be they TV viewers, fellow racers, or mechanics - all felt they were watching something special. Some of his performances mesmerised millions around the world. In his home country, he was an inspiration to an entire nation who loved him and cherished him. He was, very much, a positive figure and who knows how many drivers whom we have yet to hear of, have begun racing because of him.

And, of those who loved Senna and admired him, there are drivers of great sportsmanship. Mika Hakkinen was mentioned as one who worked with Senna and said, as someone quoted here, that he had learned a lot from the Brazilian, but it is obvious Hakkinen did not turn out an unsportsmanlike demon. Rubens Barrichello admired Senna and saw him as his utmost idol. There is absolutely no indication that Barrichello is a bad sportsman either. Neither do I accept Jenson Button's comments - for without knowing if they were said in seriousness or in jest (and I suspect the latter), and without any proof that Button himself lacks sportsmanship, these comments bear absolutely no evidence that indeed Button has been affected to support and behave unsportingly.

Hence we are left with Michael Schumacher who, it seems to be agreed on, has taken a path similar to Senna, becoming the greatest star of his own generation and also, like Senna, to a controversial figure involved in unsportsmanlike incidents.

Michael Schumacher seems to very much define the current era. His presence is astounding, perhaps even more than that of Senna - who was not alone in the top of the sport and had many more great drivers to share the limelight with. But if we neglect Schumacher, has Formula One really become less sporting than before Senna's days? Can two people - as big as they are/were - make up for such a critical judgement on their era? After all, from the evidence itself it would seem that by eliminating Senna and Schumacher, we would not have felt any change in sportsmanship at all!

I do not have an answer to the above questions. I cannot know what Formula One would be like without Senna and subsequently Schumacher. Nor can I know how the FIA's lack of action after Suzuka 1990 would have affected the chain of events that followed in years after. Those are all hypothetical questions and any guess would be as good as mine.

However, perhaps the fact that the FIA punished (regardless of how heavy the punishment was in effect) Michael Schumacher after Jerez 1997 could give us a clue as to what the answer to the above hypothetical questions might be.

The fact is, after Jerez 1997, controversy continued as to the conduct of sportsmanship on track. Michael Schumacher pushing Heinz Harald Frentzen off the track and out of the race in Canada 1998; the incident between David Coulthard and Schumacher in Spa of that year (and the utter lack of sportsmanship behaviour in the pits on that day); Schumacher's - and Coulthard's thereafter - infamous starting 'chop' which, while legal, could not be seen as sporting by anyone, I should think. All these happened after the FIA has seemingly intervened. Even Adelaide 1994, if you want to see it as a case of Schumacher deliberately ramming off a WC opponent, happened immediately after Schumacher constantly felt the wrath of the FIA in that year, with no less than 2 DQs and 2 race bans (which, one must assume, could not have left him feeling secure that he would go unpunished whatever his actions).

So in all, there is little evidence to suggest that the FIA's intervention in itself would have altered the course of history and had secured a more sporting environment after Senna's days. Hence, I reject the claim that the FIA alone or mostly could be blamed for it.

Again, sportsmanship is a virtue. It is not a regulation. As such, it is a result of how men behave much more than how much they abide to rules. And no matter what the FIA would do, it could not alter the characters of those who lack grace or respect to others.


Formula One

Much too has been said about the changes to Formula One itself. Of utmost importance is the change in safety.

Formula One became so much safer right at the time Senna entered it, that one must remember Senna's death happened on the first weekend of fatalities in the sport since the day he entered it! That length of time is unprecedented, and undoubtedly, improved safety has allowed for more aggressive driving than before. It allowed a driver to risk contact without actually fearing for his life; to push a driver off the tarmac without actually fearing that the opponent will most likely find himself rolling in a ditch or crashing into a tree.

Confidence brings more daring, there's no doubt about that, and perhaps Senna was one of the first of his own generation to comprehend that. Not much, if any, evidence was brought forth to suggest what Senna himself thought about it, except for what he himself told Jackie Stewart after the 1990 event.

The interview with Stewart is, indeed, a telling one. I accept what someone proclaimed here - that the interview must be taken with a pinch of salt, in light of the fact that Senna admitted, a year later, to have taken these actions deliberately (whereas in the interview, immediately after the race, he rebuts that). Nevertheless, some of what Senna says is consistent with what he said before and after, namely that "...if we happened to touch - just to touch - and have a wing damaged or a flat tyre, he had everything to lose."

Notice what Senna is saying here: a damaged wing or a flat tyre. Not a life or a limb! And notice further what Senna is talking about: losing. Not life, but a prize.

That, to me, speaks volumes about Senna's mindset and priorities: he did not see the situation as dangerous, not to his body. It was only 'dangerous' in respect of losing a competition. That indicates, as I mentioned, that Senna may well have been extremely confident in his - and his opponent's - physical safety. It allowed him to dare, it allowed him to plough into gaps, existent or not, and it allowed him to place winning above and ahead of anything else.

His own safety being secured - at least to his mind, and in effect - the level of competition could have been raised to a more aggressive one. Quite honestly, I cannot bring myself to condemn him for that. It would be like condemning drivers of today for not having battles the likes of Villeneuve and Arnoux in Dijon 1979: it was possible then, it's impossible now. Simple as that.


Formula One also changed in its commercial aspect (as did the entire world, as noted), and in its media coverage. The fact that drivers have been flying into races in First Class or even in their own jets for some 20 years now, whereas before they used to share a ride to the races with each other or with mechanics; the fact that drivers spend hours in fitness room and none at the local bar with their friends and wives; the fact that the paddock grew from a hundred odd people to thousands - all this has brought without a doubt an atmosphere of estrangement among opponents, which in turn lays the foundation for lack of respect and lack of grace.

Senna, undoubtedly, epitomised this shift. He attacked his opponents as though they were his enemies, not just sporting rivals. Enough evidence was brought forth to suggest he was very much a self-centred man, who placed his own quest for ultimate greatness above and beyond anyone else's.

And yet Senna was such a unique example, that it almost makes him the exception to the rule, rather than the rule itself. And, looking at the example of Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher, it could be ascertained that this kind of behaviour is not necessarily the unshakeable norm; that it can be changed if the men involved only wish to change it. Schumacher had bitter - and ugly at times - rivalry between himself and Damon Hill, and even between himself and Jacques Villeneuve. But the fact that he had a clean and respectful rivalry with Mika Hakkinen - both in 1998 and 2000 - suggest that demonizing your opponent isn't necessarily a fixture of the sport, that times are changing and that sportsmanship is not all but lost.


The Verdict

I would like to summarise now, and get to the bottom line of my decision.

1) I accept that Ayrton Senna had displayed a lack of sportsmanship more than any other top driver before him;

2) I accept that Ayrton Senna left a huge impact on the sport - perhaps more than any driver of the past several decades.

3) I accept that the sport has changed significantly, and especially during the time Ayrton Senna had participated in the sport, and I accept that this change was carried over and amplified even more in the time after Senna's death;

4) I do not accept, however, that Senna's impact is entirely or solely negative; nor do I accept or in fact see evidence to suggest that his impact primarily or solely brought about negative change to the sport;

5) Furthermore, I do not accept that sportsmanship has vanished from the sport, nor that it is now entirely lacking. In fact, there have been evidence to suggest that we are now seeing better sportsmanship in the sport than we have seen for many years previously;

6) I see no evidence to support the notion that the FIA could have prevented a lack of sportsmanship, only - perhaps - it could have prevented specific events repeating themselves.


In light of all of the above, I find that Ayrton Senna was an important factor in changes that have taken place during his time, that Senna had an impact on changes that have taken place after his time, but that neither he nor any other single factor could be blamed for changing the course of history: he was, if anything, the right man at the right time. Or, as the case may perhaps be, the wrong man at the wrong time.

All we have left is to remember him for who he was: a great and unique man that walked among us, a man whose devotion was second to none. And, alas, also not the greatest sportsman to have participated in the sport. A flawed genius he was. Warts and all.

He will no doubt, as this case proves, be remembered for it all.


Decision written by Rainstorm, verdict is supported by Rich and Marcel Schot.