Feisty and sneaky all in the F1 game

Be it drivers playing dodgems at Monaco or some dodgy tyre testing, it stops the business from being labelled as bland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 4:27pm

Sometimes it's good for drivers that this sport entails wearing a helmet. Apart from the obvious, a driver can hide behind his headwear.

Having made a schoolboy error and exited the race embarrassingly , a driver can march down the pit lane, visor lowered and he doesn't have to talk to the media or the boss.

Threats of violence aren't so edifying, but sporting life would be dull without conflict

It might be a good idea for Sergio Perez to keep his on at all times in Montreal this weekend. The Mexican will be keeping an eye out for Kimi Raikonnen after the two played dodgems in Monaco.

Asked if drivers should have a word with the young McLaren driver, the Finn told reporters; "That won't help. Maybe someone should punch him in the face". So much for his nickname of the 'ice man'.

Putting the rights and wrongs of the incidents to one side, it's good to see a flash of unvarnished emotion. In this age of sanitised, corporatised sport you can all too easily fail to spot the raw feelings that can bubble to the surface. But surface they do, whether it's the attempt to knock seven bells out of Owen Farrell in the Lions match against the Barbarians the other day or Luis Suarez taking a bite out of an opponent.

This column has previously chronicled some of the best punch-ups in Formula One. Let's face it, you don't get to the pinnacle of the sport without being prepared to bare your teeth occasionally, both in and out of the cockpit.

Like many sports, F1 is no longer the domain of the gentleman. Just witness some of the colourful language in a recent post-race podium television interview for proof.

It's not necessarily a bad thing. Meanness of spirit never sits well in any sport, but feistiness and focus is good for the individual and those watching on. Threats of violence aren't so edifying, but sporting life would be dull without conflict.

Speaking of which, there is another fight in Formula One. Hopefully it isn't going to be sorted out by fisticuffs, but it has got temperatures rising in the paddock. Once again it is all about the topic of the season thus far, tyres.

Mercedes and Ferrari are in hot water with the sport's governing body, the FIA, over what is claimed to be illegal in-season testing of the controversial Pirelli tyres. Mercedes have been asked to explain why they tested tyres for Pirelli on a 2013 car in Barcelona after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ferrari were one of the teams that protested about that test. Rather embarrassingly, Ferrari are now being asked to explain themselves over a test they conducted for Pirelli, although using a 2011 car would seem to make them less culpable.

One has to feel for all involved really. Pirelli have been under pressure to sort out more stable tyres. This weekend they will provide new compounds in a bid to stop the rubber going "off" too quickly in races. For the British Grand Prix they will supply rear tyres with a kevlar belt instead of steel in their construction. At the same time they are preparing their 2014 offerings.

All need testing now, and not in a car hauled out of the museum. You can see why Mercedes would be happy to help, given their poor race pace compared with qualifying. Nico Rosberg's subsequent victory in Monaco may not have anything to do with the tests, but it took a bit of the shine off it all the same.

With such limited testing, Pirelli have decided to let the teams use some of their tyres earmarked for the British Grand Prix during practice in Montreal. Teams like control and understanding, and at the moment there is little of either when it comes to race rubber.

Just as you can't expect drivers not to be feisty, you can't stop teams being sneaky; or is it being transparently clever? The FIA will be the arbiters of whether the teams and Pirelli stepped over the line, but don't expect teams not to try to help sort the mess out. If, in the process, they can gain an advantage, they won't be complaining.