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:
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“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.
“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 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.
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.