- Apr 17, 2007
Surprise! Turkey gets away without paying full fine
It seems that the FIA wanted it to go un-noticed, but the motorsport governing authority has let Turkey get away without even paying the slap on the wrist they imposed in the first place.
For those who may not recall, at last year's Turkish Grand Prix, the leader of Turkish-occupied Cyprus was introduced to give the trophy to race winner Felipe Massa in a deliberate politicization of the motorsport competition. Turkey's dominion over Cyprus is not internationally recognized, and the FIA warned of fire and brimstone. Threatening to take away not only the Turkish Grand Prix but also possibly to revoke Turkey's WRC rally stage and blacklisting the entire country from holding any FIA-sanctioned races, the sanctioning body declared that motor racing was not to be manipulated towards political ends. Following a tribunal that considered the issue, the FIA instead imposed a relatively minor $5 million fine and let Turkey keep its races.
Half the fine was paid by the race promoters, who were subsequently dismissed from responsibility for organizing the grand prix, which passed into the hands of Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management. The remaining $2.5 million was to be paid by the Turkish motor sports federation TOSFED, but after pleading with the FIA and explaining that the fine would send them into bankruptcy, the governing body let them off without paying.
Mercy is a laudable attribute, but by failing to hold TOSFED to any punishment whatsoever, the FIA is leaving the door open to further manipulation of motor racing by others in the future.