Does F1 need provisions for penalties for situations involving substitution drivers?

Following his botched attempt to overtake Pascal Wehrlein at the 2017 F1 Monaco GP, the stewards handed Jenson Button a three-place grid penalty. Button is unlikely ever to serve this penalty as his participation was a one-off substitution for Fernando Alonso, who was competing in the Indy500.

It isn’t the juiciest of topics, but it’s worth noting that the F1 Sporting Regulations make no provision for any meaningful penalty in these situations.

Continue reading “Does F1 need provisions for penalties for situations involving substitution drivers?”

Does F1 need provisions for penalties for situations involving substitution drivers?

What we saw at the 2017 Monaco GP was not Ferrari favouring Vettel for the championship

Formula 1 loves a good favouritism story, especially when it involves Ferrari. It was a constant theme across the Michael Schumacher-Rubens Barrichello partnership, sometimes going so far as to imply that Schumacher’s success was solely a product of Barrichello’s subservience. In fact, so much of an issue has been made out of Ferrari’s imposition of team orders that the F1 Sporting Regulations around them have been changed several times in the past two decades.

It seems this obsessions continues. From the moment Kimi Raikkonen took pole ahead of Sebastian Vettel at the 2017 Monaco GP, commentators queried whether Ferrari would somehow switch them to hand Vettel the win and maximize his chances in what is so far a close battle with Lewis Hamilton for the driver’s championship. When Raikkonen then pitted first from the lead in the race and Vettel put in enough fast laps to build a gap that enabled him to emerge ahead of his teammate after his own pitstop, commentary immediately suggested this was a deliberate tactic, even a fait accompli.

However, the evidence doesn’t support this. Continue reading “What we saw at the 2017 Monaco GP was not Ferrari favouring Vettel for the championship”

What we saw at the 2017 Monaco GP was not Ferrari favouring Vettel for the championship

Why Schapelle Corby doesn’t deserve our sympathy

In the lead up to and throughout her return to Australia, Schapelle Corby and her family have pleaded for privacy and criticised the media circus surrounding her.

Someone needs to contact Oxford University Press to insert a photo of Schapelle and her family under the definition of “hypocrisy”.

Continue reading “Why Schapelle Corby doesn’t deserve our sympathy”

Why Schapelle Corby doesn’t deserve our sympathy

The sex work is a red herring, but Cassie Sainsbury really is Schapelle Corby 2.0

When news about Cassie Sainsbury’s arrest in Colombia for drug trafficking first attracted media attention, social media laughingly tagged her “Corby 2.0”. Though many parallels can be drawn, it was the attention-seeking nature of her and her family’s pleas for assistance that most starkly resembled Schapelle and her family back in 2004. But last night, “Corby 2.0” went from being a joke to reality when Channel 9’s 60 Minutes  and Channel 7’s Sunday Night went head to head with “exposes” on the mysterious, inconsistent and questionable stories around how Cassie ended up with 5.8kgs of cocaine in her luggage at El Dorado Airport in Bogota.

Both stories had interesting nuggets of information. On Sunday Night, her father revealed that she had mentioned a trip to Bogota back in January, which he advised against. There is no communication between members of her family: her fiance has not communicated with her mother and sister, and nobody has contacted her father. Colombian officials and experts on their drug trade provided insight into her situation and the consequences she may now be facing. However, what is consuming the most media attention and discussion today is the revelation that Cassie worked as a sex worker prior to her excursion around the globe to Colombia.

Continue reading “The sex work is a red herring, but Cassie Sainsbury really is Schapelle Corby 2.0”

The sex work is a red herring, but Cassie Sainsbury really is Schapelle Corby 2.0

Cassie Sainsbury: the plot thickens

As expected, Cassie’s Sainsbury’s family publicising her situation has fueled media pursuit of the story. The strangeness of their version of events, with the inconsistencies and the odd procurement of headphones as gifts that turned out to have 5.8kgs of cocaine in them, along with Cassie’s claim of innocence provide much scope for revelation.

What is the new information?

Cassie’s trip was apparently not confined to Colombia. According to her Instagram she flew first to China, then Los Angeles, then on to Bogota, over the space of a couple of weeks. She posted about an all expenses paid trip that was great, being mostly holiday with very little work.

Information obtained by the media indicates her return trip from Bogota on 11 April was to London, France, Hong Kong and then home. Based on what her sister has said about picking her up from the airport in Adelaide on Saturday, 15 April, it does not appear she intended to spend much time in any of those destinations.

Continue reading “Cassie Sainsbury: the plot thickens”

Cassie Sainsbury: the plot thickens

Cassie Sainsbury: just another drug mule?

Cassie Sainsbury was arrested at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia on 11 April 2017, about to board her flight back to Adelaide, Australia. Officials allegedly found 5.8kgs of cocaine concealed in packaged headphones. Cassie’s family claim she was set up.

Some background

Professional drug traffickers are skilled and successful at moving their drugs around the world. They are organised and efficient, minimizing their risk and maximizing their opportunities. To do this, they leave as little to chance as possible by retaining as much control as possible over their drugs and any person with whom they are entrusted.

Traffickers are therefore highly, highly unlikely to dupe unsuspecting tourists into becoming unwitting mules by planting drugs on them. What if the person noticed the extra weight (especially given that most international travelers are right on the limit)? What if the person discovered the drugs and threw them out or contacted police? How would they retrieve them at the other end? No, the unaware unsuspecting completely innocent tourist dupe is really just an urban legend.

Continue reading “Cassie Sainsbury: just another drug mule?”

Cassie Sainsbury: just another drug mule?

What happened on United Airlines Flight 3411 was an abuse of power

In amongst the maligning United Airlines has received for forcibly removing and assaulting a passenger who refused to give up his seat on Flight 3411, there has been a number of airline industry workers (executives, flight attendants) who have attempted to provide justification for the airline’s actions, in some instances even going as far as to attempt to absolve the airline of wrongdoing. It seems that many within the airline industry actually believe their own self-important rhetoric, perhaps have even become so oblivious to the power airlines wield that they are blind to an abuse of that power.

It has been said that it was aviation security who assaulted the man, not the airline staff. Putting aside the fact that not one staff member attempted to stop the assault, it was the airline that called in security, long before all other options had been exhausted. They saw force as an easier option than behaving reasonably and/or impacting their profits. 

The situation was not one involving overbooking, where an airline sells more tickets than are available because often people don’t turn up for flights. Rather, it involved four crew members who had been delayed on another flight, who needed to get to Louisville for a subsequent flight. Airline policy is that the crew must fly. 

The term “must” is both misleading and self-serving. There is no actual necessity that a crew get on a particular flight. It is in fact a preference of the airlines so as not to disrupt their schedules and eat into their profits. Of course it is important, because a subsequent cancelled flight will impact hundreds of passengers and may have a knock-on effect. However, this is the airline’s responsibility, and should not fall to individual paying passengers. 

United could have looked at paying for their crew to fly on another airline. They could have looked to bring in alternative staff in Louisville, or flown in other staff from elsewhere as needed. It was simply the cheapest and easiest option to deadhead them on Flight 3411. Further, if the airline regards it as a necessity that crew get on a flight in that situation they should reserve seats on all planes as a contingency. They won’t, because that will impact their profits. But they can’t claim necessity unless they are willing to exhaust themselves and their resources to accomplish it.

The airline then limited its offer of financial compensation to $800. A passenger has confirmed they offered to leave for $1600 and were dismissed by a laughing flight attendant. So United would rather force people off an airplane and resort to security measures than offer a bit of their own extra money. 

The airline has stated that their selection of passengers to remove was random. Most people have found this hard to believe (would they really remove a first or business class passenger over someone on a cheap ticket?) and a number of people in the industry have confirmed that there are policies in place for removal, such as those on the cheapest tickets and/or with carry-on only being removed first and keeping families together. 

Either way, it was at the airline’s discretion as to how this was handled. Upon hearing that the individual was a doctor and had patients to see – people whose health and wellbeing depended on him – they could have picked someone else. Whilst the airline should not have allowed this to happen to anyone, him being a doctor goes directly to the issue because that is why he refused to get off the flight. The decision to forcibly remove him is particularly disgusting in light of the fact that airlines often rely on doctors being on their flights when a medical emergency occurs. It’s apparently OK to call on them when the airline needs them, but not show any respect for their profession otherwise.

That the airline saw security as an easier option when it should be a last resort is demonstrative of their sense of power. Rather than provide training to their staff on how to manage a situation like that, or call in management to make a judgement when there is a dispute, they prefer intimidatory tactics. Because that is exactly what it was: even if the assault itself was security’s responsibility, the airline ignored any notion of reasonableness, dismissed the passenger’s circumstances and decided to intimidate him into getting off the plane. This is at best taking advantage of their power over people and at worst abusing it.

The terms and conditions imposed on tickets that have been used by the airline industry to justify the crew’s actions are a direct result of policies and procedures that are designed around protecting profits. To support those actions is to believe that a few thousand dollars to a big corporation is more important than dignity, respect and wellbeing. To agree with what happened supports the notion that security and force can be used to arbitrarily demand people do what they are told, and that reasonableness, especially the concept of reasonable force which is almost universally applicable, is irrelevant. To suggest the crew acted properly allows them to hide their lack of training, common sense and decency behind a veneer of entitlement. 

The verbal beating (pun intended) that United Airlines has received barely goes far enough to addressing what was unquestionably an abuse of power.

What happened on United Airlines Flight 3411 was an abuse of power