Drivers need to shut up a little bit

Last week, when the drivers decided to weigh in on the tumult that surrounds Formula 1, they probably knew they would get a response but the responses they’ve been getting lately haven’t been very pleasant.

F1 boss Bernie Eccelstone has been making headlines today because of a quote that most press have carried in which he said “drivers shouldn’t be allowed to talk”. This makes for good headlines and fuels the outrage culture on social media but it’s not really his point. As ESPN UK quotes:

“What sort of interest do they have, the drivers, other than taking money out of the sport?” Ecclestone said. “I’ve never seen one of them put one dollar in, you go to dinner with them and they don’t even pay the bill. They shouldn’t even be allowed to talk. They should get in the car and drive it.”

His point, if you can be bothered, is that they are not financial stakeholders in the sport aside from getting a salary and precious few of them get that such is the prolific pay-driver scenario in F1 these days. As pundits with little or no financial skin in the game, they really don’t have a lot of room to demand much of the commercial or regulatory direction as one speaking from a position of risk and investment.

That doesn’t make for very good headlines though when you can simply quote his first quip where he’s being the cheeky ring leader he’s always been. He knows how to tee up a story with a clickbait headline. This isn’t his first rodeo after all.

Then there is the story of Lewis Hamilton and Snapchat. The original source I’ve seen was an implied German paper (I’m not doubting that, I just don’t speak or read German) but on this side of the pond, it seems GMM is the most common byline I’ve seen listed and that’s a bit surprising if I’m honest but then when it comes to the denial of some form of social media, I can see where the source becomes of little relevance when you can gin up social media outrage for a few clicks. Surprised no one has made a quick GIF for this story too.

Effectively the story goes that FOM asked Mercedes to tell Lewis to stop posting video from the paddock on Snapchat. WHAT? OUTRAGE! What they may be missing is that the use of any video in the paddock is strictly governed, owned and controlled by FOM. Sky Sports F1 pays huge for the privilege of broadcasting video of Ted and the folks in the paddock area. So does NBC with Will Buxton on the grid along with trusty partner in crime, Jason (who is ace BTW).

That’s why you don’t see gobs of video I’ve taken at COTA in the paddock area. I can’t post it. You’d all have to come over to my house and watch it and while I really like all of you, I don’t like you that much. You’d be getting into my F1 stuff and asking to play one of my guitars and as an introvert, that just isn’t my kind of thing.

So there you have it, Lewis isn’t paying for the right to video Merc’s shenanigans and goings on.

Then there is the third organization in the trinity of piranha…the FIA. You ask for miracles? I give you the F-I-A. When queried by the fabulous folks at AUTOSPORT, Jean Todt (road safety king) said:

“With all due respect to the drivers, I’m not sure if you ask them how governance works, it would be doubtful they know. Maybe I’m wrong,” said Todt.

“I can sympathise with the drivers, with them saying ‘We love our sport, help us to ensure we have a healthy and transparent sport’.

“But unless they have very specific advisors then they don’t know what is the governance.”

So there you have it, there is little love for the drivers these days and some press—some of which I respect very much—have suggested that the GPDA letter was little more than a publicity stunt to absolve them from any fallout should F1 go belly-up. It won’t but there you have it.

So in short, drivers just need to shut up a little bit. That’s not my opinion but with so much opinion out there already and social media outrage, who has room for my opinion on the matter anyway?