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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Formula One - bovvered?

If we were to discover that, let's say, the veg buyer for Sainsbury's had defected to Tesco and had taken with him the details of the prices his previous employer had paid for potatoes, we wouldn't be at all surprised. We wouldn't expect a governing body to levy a £50 million fine for breach of confidence. We wouldn't expect to see Tesco prevented from being a supermarket for a year. We certainly wouldn't expect it to be the second lead on the ten o'clock news.
Whatever has gone on between McLaren and Ferrari in the none-more- pompous world of Formula One racing is only the kind of bare-knuckled conflict we would expect between any two competing businesses. That's what they do. They will try to steal each other's secrets in the usually vain hope that this will give them a key advantage.
By conceding that some business intelligence was unfairly acquired and that this then gave one company a key advantage over another, the racing authorities are conceding the one thing we have long suspected - that Formula One is not actually a sport at all. It's a business and it works by asking us to get excited about which business is in front at any particular time.
And we don't much care. Any more than we do about Sainbury's and Tesco.