Formula 1 is a high-risk, high-stake business. The people involved in the various aspects of it are experts in their area of work and that’s the reason they are the chosen ones.
But, as any religious follower of the sport might know, time and again, a number of those experts have been called in to question of their intentions, biases, unfair dealings and unlawful activities. The same logic applies to the journalists of the game too.
History is something that cannot be altered to taste, no matter how you try to paint it. You could paint it green today, but, someone will come up tomorrow and paint it red and the result would be yellow! That’s the nature of trying to speculate something that’s not concrete or official information. Once you’ve said something in public, no matter how you try to paint it later, it will not take or stay the colour you want.
Sure, media and speculation are inseparable in the way sugar and candy are, but sometimes, things get a bit out of hand, even for the most seasoned ones. Now, this is a blog and I’m perfectly entitled to present my opinion as I see fit without abusing anyone, directly or indirectly, but, I won’t mention names here. If you’re reading this, I believe you’re capable of finding out who I’m talking about.
All this began with a report of a possible sale of the Force India F1 team. A report that shocked many, and as it turned out, including the owner himself. The said journalist/blogger who broke this news is someone I have always had high regard for. He’s one of the most experienced and followed reporters in the F1 circles and to question his ability or credibility would be considered naive. Given his stature, this report seemed all the more credible. But as I mentioned above, sometimes even the most seasoned of people get caught out. The report was followed up by an official press release by Vijay Mallya which read:
“I was shocked to read a media report that I am selling the Force India Formula 1 team.
This is completely untrue and without any basis whatsoever. I take great pride in having been able to put an Indian team on the Formula 1 world championship grid and have worked very hard to greatly improve the performance of the team.
Now that India is finally on the Formula 1 world championship calendar, my commitment to Force India becomes even stronger.
As team principal, I will continue to run the team and I have no plans whatsoever to exit.”
As is clear from the release, Mallya clearly denied any intentions or plans of selling the team.
This sparked a follow-up post (some that might possibly have been edited or removed later), from the journalist in question, that if there were indeed a sale of some sort to happen later, it’d prove that Mallya had been “lying through his teeth“. Some of this came across as a bit extreme to a lot of people.
A day later, news arrived about Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy holding a press conference in Delhi about some kind of a deal concerning the Force India F1 team.
This led to further statements from the said scribe along the lines of;
“If it turns out that Mallya is now announcing the sale of a minority of the shares or some such arrangement no-one is going to believe anything that he says as he will already have told a whopping great lie, insisting that the team is not for sale.
So why should we believe him if he says he is only selling a bit of it?“
That is a pretty risky thing to say based on speculation alone. Not something you’d expect from a highly experienced pen.
After the announcement, it was clear that Sahara were the new co-owners of the team with both Roy and Mallya holding an equal 42.5% stake. The remaining 15% were held by the Mol family who formerly owned 50%.
Now, based on the above facts, the initial media rumours of a “sell & exit” and the subsequent response of denial by Dr. Mallya, there is nothing that says or proves that he lied. He responded in denial of a possible “sell & exit” and a co-ownership/partnership deal is not a “sale & exit”.
But that did not stop the said journo from mounting up the offensive and calling Mallya a liar among other things, things which were completely unwarranted and uncalled for. I’d like to mention at this point that the same individual had made a huge ruckus earlier this year when Tonio Liuzzi was replaced at Force India by Paul Di Resta. As if an untimely driver change had happened for the very first time in the history if F1, he went on to say all sorts of things about Mallya, how he dumped the driver unceremoniously, his unethical ways of doing business and how he was someone that no one wanted to deal with. Funny that Mallya actually happens to be someone that a LOT of people want to deal with!
Now, moving on, a lot of comments started to pour in trying to clarify the situation that Mallya did not lie. It’s common practice in business to deny something in public when there’s an unfinished deal going on behind closed doors. Sure, most people say something like “No comment”. But in this case, Mallya chose to deny a “sale & exit” as was being suggested by the rumour reports. And he was right. There was no lie in what he said. That is if you looked at and perceived it without some kind of personal vile or agenda attached.
What followed was a lot of arrogant and snide-like replies from the blogger to comments on the post in question. Some posts were not published at all (including one of mine). When I asked him why, he callously said
“I have no idea what you last comment was but if it was not published it was probably because it was disrespectful in tone. Your ability to comment is a privilege not a right.“
It’s not very complicated to guess why he said that. I run a blog myself and even if I did not, any one with half a brain and some sense of blogging knows how comment approvals work. There is no way you “would not know why it was not published” unless you had a system crash at WordPress itself and lost all data!
Every comment that questioned his judgement of the matter was dealt with in similar fashion.
Now, Pitpass did a pretty heated article on this issue which further angered him and he followed up with an almost threat-like post of the “should expose them” kind.
Another journalist (again someone I’ve followed for a long time and immensely respect) stood in defence of the journalist in question. I do understand why he did that and maybe, for a long time colleague, I would have done the same to an extent, but, having made a mistake, and snide remarks, and some more about something and then having dealt with his readers in a rather belittling way, I would think twice before defending said colleague. But that’s just me!
In the midst of all this tomfoolery, the readers and fans are left with no clue of who or what to believe, which is unfortunate. Being a journalist of top stature gives you a lot of power, but along with it comes equal responsibility to make sure that fans and readers are not misled in any way. Your personal grudges or feelings should not get in the way of reporting an event. Sure, it was only a blog post, but that does not free you of the responsibility.
All in all, I’m beyond appalled to see some of the top pens of the sport engaging in such mud-slinging. It just does not look professional or mature in any way to me. It’s a bit like – Dave pays for Paul, Paul pays for all..
Utter shambles made out of a complete non-issue!