Friday June 8th, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
Team boss Eddie Jordan gave an insight into the extent of espionage in Formula One on Friday and said the wraps would not come off cars until cameras could be controlled.
"Until you can stop photographers, until you can put some meaningful controls over, if you like, espionage of photographic material into the car, then I don't know how you can do it," he said when asked about allowing fans to see more.
BAR team principal Craig Pollock and Jaguar's Bobby Rahal both spoke out, on a personal level, at the Canadian Grand Prix on Thursday against the current practice of covering up sensitive parts of the race cars. The issue has been raised several times before but resurfaced in Montreal after an open day traditionally held for fans on the Wednesday before Sunday's race was cancelled because the cars were not on display.
An official statement issued by the organisers last week said this was "due to the discreetness of all the Formula One teams...when it comes to the technological aspects of the sport."
Jordan, appearing at a news conference with Williams principal Frank Williams and Arrows' Tom Walkinshaw, said teams spent huge amounts on technology and had to protect it.
"We are all spending fortunes making the very best car we can. And within two seconds flat all of those pictures are on virtually every Formula One team," he said.
Williams put it even more bluntly.
"To find one tenth of a second out of a car these days you may spend easily half a million pounds and I don't exaggerate. Seeing half a million quid (pounds) taking a trip down the pit lane is not very funny and should not be happening."
Jordan gave an example of the detail that photographers could pick up with a digital camera.
"I have seen a full digital copy of a race engineer's sheet as he was writing it taken by somebody above him in the Paddock Club," he declared.
The Paddock Club is an exclusive area, looking down on the pits and finish straight, reserved for VIPs, sponsors and special guests of the teams.
"This is a fact. Don't think it doesn't happen. It can happen in war and it can happen in Formula One, make no mistake," said Jordan. "The whole set-up of the car is there. How can it be right?"
Jordan said it was too easy to blame the teams for paying for the photographs because they did not instigate what was happening.
"But you could say we do pay for it because we do pay for the pictures the same as anybody else. I agree that the screens should come down but not before we have some form of a truce," added Jordan, suggesting that a code of practice agreed between teams could work.
The teams did come to an agreement at the start of the season when Australian Grand Prix officials asked them to remove screens in front of the pit lane garages so that fans could watch mechanics working on the cars. However aerodynamic parts of cars such as rear wings are routinely covered as soon as cars come into the pits. At the start of the season Ferrari also covered up their brakes when wheels were removed.
Pollock had said on Thursday that Formula One was reaching a ridiculous stage where the cars were hidden from the very people they were supposed to be entertaining.
"They want to see Formula One cars and not a tent put over them," he said speaking for the spectators and sponsors.