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The Hispania Racing/Bruno Senna British Grand Prix Debacle of Bad Wrongness (updated yet again, 7/15)

There I was, going about my merry way being all smitten with Formula 1 and blithely thinking that — just for instance — the drivers I like would get to OH, I DON’T KNOW, DRIVE IN EVERY GRAND PRIX DURING THE COURSE OF A GIVEN SEASON?

Oh, but that was the Robyn of yesteryear — well, actually, make that yesterDAY. So naive, so full of crazy dreams. I think back on the Robyn Of About Lunchtime Yesterday so wistfully.

Because now, NOW, I’ve caught a glimpse down the GAPING MAW OF GREED AND HEARTLESSNESS that is . . . well, that is certain teams in certain situations, I guess? I don’t know. I mean, I really don’t even know. It’s not as though said MAW is spewing forth any actual answers, here.

So. Just to get things straight in my own mind, on the basis of what little I could stand to read on the interweb:

1. Rumors started circulating on Thursday that Senna was going to be replaced [James Allen]. Where were they circulating? Were those rumors the first Senna had heard of any of this? The most recent BBC story describes him as having been “surprised” by the decision.

2. The team confirmed the rumors late Thursday [James Allen].

3. Senna’s manager claimed from the start that Senna had NOT been sacked [quoted in numerous sources, including the original BBC news story].

4. The team denied (and continues to deny, I think) that it had to do with money [BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson, quoted in the BBC live commentary during practice].

5. However, several sources report that the person slated to replace Senna — test driver Sakon Yamamoto — had a metric asston of money he could pay the team. Possibly $5 million, from what I’ve read [James Allen]. Just saying.

Edited 7/10 to add: However, Sakon Yamamoto also at least claims to have been surprised:

Normally when you get news that you are driving, as a driver you are very happy.

But it was too surprising that I was a bit shocked.

I had to adapt quickly and concentrate for this weekend, and gather any information that I could. It wasn’t an easy day yesterday, but I worked with the mechanics, engineers and team members and slowly we could prepare everything for this morning.

(From Autosport.)

So what wasn’t clear was whether this replacement was just going to apply to this weekend, or whether the team really was planning on dropping Senna altogether. Apparently, no one knew the answer to that as of Thursday night.

6. There was this lovely statement from Hispania team principal Colin Kolles to the BBC on Thursday: “A decision as to who will drive for Hispania for the rest of the season will be taken over the weekend” [Autosport].  Honestly, there aren’t enough “!!!!!!” in my computer tubes to really capture my reaction to that.

7. BBC pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie, quoted in the BBC live online commentary during Friday practice:

The latest from Hispania after first practice is that the situation over who will drive for the team at Silverstone and beyond is still fluid and no decision has yet been made. Hispania say they will put out an official statement later on Friday but in the meantime there are ongoing meetings. Bruno Senna is at the track today, keeping a low profile in the team’s motorhome, and Sakon Yamamoto . . . will drive the car this afternoon, though not necessarily for the rest of the weekend. [emphasis mine]

So, as recently as after first Friday practice, it had not yet been decided whether Senna would be racing this weekend? Okay.

8. So yes, there were talks going on between Senna and the team Friday, after which the team announced that he would miss only the British Grand Prix and would be in the rest of the races this season. What were these negotiations about? Money, as most people have (reasonably) assumed? Or did it have something to do with punitive measures? James Allen, a guy who doesn’t make shit up, says he thinks there might be a disciplinary dimension to all this. Without more info, though, I just don’t know what to make of that!

9. The team is obviously disinclined to provide the actual reason for what they did. They’re saying they just decided to give Yamamoto an “opportunity.” Whatevs.

Edited 7/10 to add: Bruno Senna has now spoken to Brazil’s TV Globo about what happened, but he’s not really adding anything to what Hispania has said in their public statement [ESPNF1].

Edited 7/10 to add: Am now hearing rumors of an “unfortunate email that created problems” [Joe Saward in a comment on his blog].

Edited 7/13 to add: More support for the “unfortunate email” rumor [Motorsport]:

Germany’s Auto Bild Motorsport suggests a simple email could be the reason.

The report said Senna, 26, composed an email that was highly critical of the struggling Spanish team’s boss Colin Kolles and his management style — and then accidentally sent it to the Romanian-born German.

It’s all recounted in sort of vague terms in the articles I’ve read.  Should this still be regarded as merely a rumor?  Bruno, call me!  ;-)

Edited 7/15 to add: This article on Planet F1 includes a bit more detail about the whole mess, citing “German media” as reporting that both financial issues AND an unfortunate e-mail message were involved.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want to skip the comments. You know, the ones by brilliantly talented drivers who would no doubt be totally winning races if someone would just let them have a go on the Hispania team.

I’ll add to this if I learn more, and if someone else happens to be reading this and has something to add/correct/whatever, please don’t hesitate to tell me! I have to admit, I haven’t been combing news sources far and wide; I’ve honestly just found all of this too upsetting. Yes, my new, hard-bitten, cynical outlook has toughened me up a bit —  but not quite enough.  ;-)

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