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Drivers Protest Over Grid Access Refusal For Physiotherapists

Drivers Protest Over Grid Access Refusal For Physiotherapists

When Martin Brundle took to the grid this morning for his inaugural grid-walk of 2010, the former driver warned viewers that there would be very few drivers lurking about. Brundle went on to explain that in a strange decision by the powers-that-be, the physiotherapists who look after the drivers have had their access passes revoked. In protest at not having these key people with them on the grid, the drivers all agreed to leave the track and return to their respective garages once they had parked their cars up. And indeed, the grid was looking notably driver-free. Of the current grid of pilots, Brundle only managed to catch a quick word with Fernando Alonso.

The drivers are insisting that they need their physios on the grid with them to ensure they are in perfect physical condition prior to starting the grand prix. In the past, the start/finish line has always been a flurry of people, including those bystanders handing their drivers fluids, towels and other paraphernalia that goes with their jobs.

According to a leading driver who has spoken to Autosport but wishes to remain anonymous, the drivers are angry at not being allowed to have their physios with them and have stated that the protest will continue at the next race in Australia if the passes are not re-issued.

Bernie Ecclestone has retorted by saying that he believes the grid is too busy, filled with too many unnecessary people. Ecclestone has told the drivers that if they want extra people on the grid, they need to organise the passes with their teams. However, with strict controls on how many passes are handed out, they are in very short supply.

Martin Brundle summed it up quite well while commentating his wander through the cars, saying that the grid is usually a hive of activity, with celebrities and stars mixing with drivers and team staff. Alas, the Bahrain grid was just lightly-littered with dignitaries and ex-champions, having just completed their own parade to celebrate 60 years of the World Championship.

Oliver White

8 comments

  • How exactly are the physiotherapists less necessary than the celebrities and ex-world champions? “Money” is not an acceptable answer, though probably the one Bernie had in mind. If Bernie thought this was going to improve anything for anyone, he was wrong.

    Good on the drivers for protesting!

  • Good on the drivers for protesting!

    That’s an interesting stance. From what I’ve been reading so far this evening, most people are of the view point that the drivers have become too soft and need “butlers” around them to hand them drinks and hold their umbrellas.

    I personally don’t know what the fuss is about. More people (obviously within reason) makes the grid look busy and interesting. How boring would it be if you were watching from the grandstands and the drivers arrived, parked up and then sodded off. I think certain people should be on the grid. In actual fact, aside from hob-nobbing, what does Bernie contribute to the grid prior to the formation lap? I know it’s his show n’all, but if we are to start looking more closely about who is and who isn’t there…

  • Ok, driver’s should need their physios cos they’re quite important, they should have one person to hold the umbrella, drink etc (Not for each thing) and they should not haveball those random celebs on the grid because it’s so irritating when you want the commentator to speak to a driver and you end up with Rory Bremner! Today I was very disappoited that all we got was one questionnwith Fernando Alonso because the physios couldn’t be on so the drivers buggered off!

    I think they shouldn’t have all these little servants but they should be allowed to have the physios. As for celebrities, they should only come if they are actually interested in F1. It’s pretty useless to have someone like Cheryl Cole down there. As for former F1 driver they should be there to help the current drivers and give them advice.

    Finally money is no excuse. Will it really cost that much to have a few more people out on a track???

  • and they should not haveball those random celebs on the grid because it’s so irritating when you want the commentator to speak to a driver and you end up with Rory Bremner!

    So true, and well said. Of course, Rory Bremner did actually speak some sense (from what I could hear over the impressions) and seemed like a fairly knowledgeable fan of motor sport and Formula One. But, just as surprised as Brundle was, I too was thinking “huh?” when I saw Bremner speaking to Brundle on the grid. It was a little surreal. 🙂

    On the one hand, I’m all for removing celebrities from the grid, née, the planet. But I know some charity would get on my case about that, so… given that they also raise the profile of the sport and generally don’t get in the way too much, I’m okay with them being around. Just please, for the love of all that is decent and proper, stay away from Brundle so I don’t have to put up with it on the otherside of the television.

  • Just please, for the love of all that is decent and proper, stay away from Brundle so I don’t have to put up with it on the otherside of the television.

    Thank you for making me laugh after a looooooooooooooooooong day at school (Don’t people get the picture? I’m not a gangsta anymore, I’m a ninja) (Don’t ask)

  • That’s an interesting stance. From what I’ve been reading so far this evening, most people are of the view point that the drivers have become too soft and need “butlers” around them to hand them drinks and hold their umbrellas. {Ollie – 4 comments ago}

    Let me draw a parallel. In disability swimming, the competitors are largely capable of carrying a drinks bottle if they want one in the race preparation area (analogous to the F1 grid, consisting of a seated waiting area with competitors arranged by event, race and lane; connected to the side of the pool where the race is due to start) and don’t need umbrellas. However, no team would consider sending a swimmer down to poolside without having a coach or management assistant help prepare them in the immediate run-up to competition (in fact, they’re known in swimming parlance as “escorts” because one of their roles is to escort swimmers to and from poolside and through the administrative elements of the competition). Note: this applies even if the gala is a regional one involving only teams from a handful of counties and run on a shoestring.

    To compete at your best, you need to get yourself into your peak physical and mental state by the time the race starts. What the escort does in disability swimming is:

    – remind the swimmer of what is required (ranging from “get to the other end of the pool and stay on your front until you hit the wall” to advanced tactical discussions of when exactly to put the hammer down and technique improvement sessions)

    – keep the swimmer calm (some competitors can get very over-excited and/or scared of apparently-faster opponents, especially if they’re new)

    – make sure they’re alert and attentive (otherwise you get false starts, slow starts and general sluggishness)

    – assuage any worries the swimmer may have (a moany swimmer is a slow swimmer)

    – check they’re actually using the bottle they’ve brought with them (I admit to forgetting that sometimes)

    – check the swimmer is remembering to keep warm and doing any appropriate stretching to prepare

    – check the swimmer is in the right place at the right time in the right gear (swimming in the T-shirt and flip-flops usually worn over swimming gear while awaiting a race is generally inadvisable and swimming in the wrong lane gets you weird looks and/or disqualified)

    – check the swimmer remains in compliance with the gala rules and is/continues to be in a fit state to attempt to compete (no gala organiser wants to be compelled to activate a drowning alarm…)

    – interact with officials (the press aren’t allowed in the race preparation area even for big galas, but there are still volunteers who ensure a smooth flow of participants)

    The list of things a racing driver might conceivably need help with is somewhat longer than that of a swimmer. Although the team has to send a bunch of people over to the grid anyway, they’re mechanics. Not only have they got lots of responsibility preparing a car that has, if anything, even more requirements in order to be race-ready, but they’re not trained to do some of the things the driver’s physio needs to do to prepare their driver.

    If a swimming gala ever said escorts could not accompany their swimmers to the race preparation area, there wouldn’t be a swimmer boycott of the preparation area – the teams would simply refuse to send swimmers in the first place or not register/withdraw the team if already entered. The gala would collapse and the organisers, if they outlasted the financial hit, would take careful note to reverse the ruling before attempting to organise another gala. This despite the fact that a gala organiser is entitled to make such a rule change without notice unless it’s affiliated with a governing body which says otherwise.

    Contractually, the teams can’t do that (not only would they lose a portion of their TV money, but the FIA could find them guilty of refusing to race as a protest and possibly throw them out of the championship). So the nearest thing possible for the teams and drivers without causing a huge ruckus is what they’re doing now – putting their drivers in a place where they can prepare properly until such time as they are obliged to go to the area where their physios can’t follow. That’s why I’m completely in favour of what the drivers and teams have decided to do in this instance.

  • Brundle’s grid walk can be seen at http://bit.ly/d7gKQ4 One thing you may not have noticed is that even though Brundle struggled for an interview and has to wait to speak to Alonso, he still manages to push in front of a female interviewer and really annoyer her – watch her in the background. That was the highlight of the weekend for me. Brundle takes no prisoners!

  • So you pluck 24 people from the melee that is the F1 grid and we’re supposed to notice? 24 from 300? Yeeaahhhhhhh Bernie, that’ll make ALL the difference in the world….

    The troll wasn’t even at the Australian GP….probably didn’t want to be shown up by the drivers…there was 2 drivers available….Rubens and Adrian….GREAT TV Bernie….!!!

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