I love Formula One. Not because of the fossil fuel-wasting fast cars or the grid girls who think they’re having a great time while they’re actually being objectified, or any of that stuff.

No, I love the fact F1 is run by such a hilarious group of mega-rich super-egos.

On the weekend, Michael Schumacher won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and announced his retirement, effective as per 22 October, the end of the F1 2006 calendar.

Today, the big news is that the head of the rival Renault team has screeched that the fix is in and the championship has already been awarded to Schu at some gathering of shadowy F1 organisers. That is what’s known in the revhead trade as a good yarn. Put everything you’ve got on red.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore was reacting to the Italian result, which not only saw the Schu greet the flag for his 90th career formula one race win but also saw Renault’s boy, reigning world champion and Schu’s big rival for this year’s crown, Fernando Alonso, demoted five places on the grid for allegedly impeding the other Ferrari, driven by Felipe Massa, in qualifying. Alonso’s car then broke down anyway, forcing his retirement.

So it wasn’t a good day for Renault and Briatore came right out and complained, comparing the management of formula one with the Italian soccer match-fixing scandals.

That would have won him a lot of points at head office on its own, but he wasn’t finished. Speaking on Italian TV, he added: “What happened on Sunday isn’t the problem. It is what happened before the race, which is strange. This is a world championship which has already been decided at the table. We have understood how things go. It has all been decided … they have decided to give the world championship to Schumacher and that is what will be.”

Alonso could only sniff that Formula One “was no longer a sport.” The strangest thing about all this, by the way, is that Alonso is leading the race to the drivers’ championship – but only by two points as Schu steadily reins him in.

Formula One officials have huffed that the Renault boss may be called to an extraordinary meeting of the World Motorsport Council next week. He might even be charged with bringing the sport into disrepute. Given Briatore is a billionaire – not millionaire, billionaire – he’ll no doubt sweat on the potential fine for all of about 13 seconds.

The final word came from Ferrari’s president, Luca di Montezemolo, who said: “In life you need to have a little bit of class and so I prefer not to respond.”

Boy, is he in the wrong sport!

Peter Fray

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