F1 never fails to entertain, off the track as much as on in the last couple of seasons. Last year was Spygate, which gave the patrician Max Mosley, President of the FIA, opportunity to give a good reaming to working class Ron Dennis, boss of McLaren, for allegedly using purloined Ferrari information, courtesy of a disgruntled Ferrari man, on his cars. The extent to which McLaren did so, Ron denies it, and the advantage if any gained, will never be known for sure; but I suspect the lordly Max did not regret slapping the $100 million penalty on Ron.
This season the aforementioned Max himself is the centerpiece of the continuing off-track entertainment for his starring role in a spanking video with several prostitutes which, according to the film's producers, the ever-scholarly, truth-seeking, and even-minded News of the World, has clear "Nazi role-playing." Max is the son of English fascist Oswald Mosley (watch Remains of the Day for a review of the English aristocracy's attitudes towards Germany in the years before WWII). Max considers the whole thing a terrible invasion of his privacy (the kind of "what I do in my private life is my business" attitude) and is determined to stay on. A meeting of the FIA in June will determine his fate. My money is on his staying. Needless to say, Ron Dennis denies any role in the sting, though he would not be at all at fault for deriving just a crumb of satisfaction from seeing Max's lashed bottom available for public scrutiny.
Apart from the obvious voyeuristic appeal - YouTube videos and all - Spankygate provides an informative insight into the minds of rich, powerful men. Some have come out in support, like his chums at Ferrari (some say the F in FIA stands for Ferrari); and one can appreciate the natural affinity of the class-conscious Max with the faux aristocracy of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo (kind of like the mysterious "Count" in Real Housewives of NYC - yes I do my homework here). They say that Max is doing a good job and his "private life" (now extremely public) has nothing to do with it. Except that no one now wants to touch Mosley with a ten foot pole, as he has been unwelcome at any of the F1 races since the scandal began. For others, the sticking point seems to be the Nazi bit; as if to say it was really okay provided there wasn't any of that stuff going on. Are we to conclude that the FIA members are not opposed to a bit of slap and tickle (and spanking) - it all being in good sport? Maybe strippers emerging from large cakes is a regular item on the agenda at their meetings on road safety or whatever else they prate on about.
I told Dulcie about it in great excitement when the story first broke and her first world-weary question was, "What is the FIA?" I replied that it was a really important organization. Ever penetrating she asks what they did. I had to say I really didn't know; but they are "really important." On reflection I still don't really know, but I suspect it is a collection of middle-aged men having regular parties at other people's expense in order to create a sense of importance where none might really exist. Max thinks he is important and is telling the FIA members that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone (he of the short stature and two tongues) will steal F1 away from the FIA if Max is whacked. Truth be told that F1 needs the FIA as much as a healthy prostate needs a poorly lubricated finger. Bernie probably would want to steal it, but he is too smart to actually say so before doing it; and has responded to the FIA by rebuking everything Max has claimed.
However it plays out, once again one is left to marvel at the hubris and utter lack of shame displayed by these folks in high places who risk all by indulging in perverse antics, thinking all the while that they have the right to do so and can get away with it.