Parc Ferme: Out damned spot!

Parc Ferme: Out damned spot!

Parc Ferme: Out damned spot!

Formula 1 has become the media gift that can’t stop giving. As it ascends, no descends… mmm, okay, moves sideways to a compulsive, obsessive condition of publicly airing its personal grievances through the media.

Formula 1 has never been short of Machiavellian moves, but in the past, most of it remained buried under the surface. “Issues” were settled in the court of Bernie Ecclestone – normally, at his caravan parked in the paddock at a Grand Prix weekend. In a type of F1 Majlis, problems were aired, grievances discussed, and judgment summarily pronounced, all behind closed doors.

No one discussed or revealed what was agreed outside of the F1 family, and if something were to escape into the open, only Bernie and the antagonists spoke publicly on the matter. The narrative was tightly controlled. None of this would have gone down in Bernie’s time, the source would have been buried already… metaphorically, of course.

Seepage

Fast forward to today, where it appears that what does or does not go on behind the pit box door can and will be leaked to the media. Unlike the track, where a driver can look his competitor in the face, other high-profile personalities are under constant threat of silent assassins. The weapon of choice is the media slur.

For example, if I were on X with twenty thousand F1 followers and tweeted: “XXX  may have a collection of racist dolls, I’m not saying it’s true, but they haven’t denied it?!” The caveat at the end would not be registered. But the racist aspersion element would be halfway around the world before the victim even knew. I’m being both flippant and reductive here, but that is, for all intents and purposes, what is happening.

Gagging to speak

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Geri Horner walk in the Paddock holding hands prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403020248 // Usage for editorial use only //

Christian Horner remains quiet, no doubt due to a binding NDA agreement with Red Bull corporate. Meanwhile, Jos Verstappen continues his campaign to promote his exit without articulating specifics. According to “karting dad”, he (Horner) is apparently tearing the team apart.

However, last weekend would suggest he is apparently not. Meanwhile, both Horner and innocent bystanders like his wife, continue to get publicly water boarded, unable to respond. If you want to find out who appears to be tearing Red Bull apart, look the other way, not far away though, just the other way within the Red Bull garage.

Out damned spot!

If I were Max Verstappen, I’d take a leaf out of Lewis Hamilton’s playbook. Consign Dad to the stands with occasional accompanied visits to the paddock. Max’s own approach is completely professional. This was evidenced when interviewed over the weekend about Horner. He exuded disinterest in salacious speculation, focusing only on the team and its performance. He then went out and nailed pole, fastest lap and won the race.

It’s about him, not you

Jos needs to remember his position and rest quietly in the shadow of his son. Especially as his conduct might be closing more doors for Max than opening them. If he ever drives for another team, like Mercedes, for example, there will surely be a “No Jos” clause. Maybe a more interesting race this weekend will push all this rubbish to the rearview mirror, where it belongs?