Formula One is definitively at its best when people are trying all sorts of crazy tricks. Ferrari’s latest one—that of covering up its cockpit camera usually used for television broadcasts—is either brilliant or hilariously dumb. Ferrari was ordered to stop it. It didn’t. So it was ordered to stop it again. It didn’t. It’s now been ordered to stop it a third time, and Ferrari has once again made a new contraption to cover the camera. I don’t care. I love it.
First Ferrari started putting an ice bag on its camera, because it decided the camera need to be cooled, for some reason. Then it put an umbrella over the whole cockpit, because you just can’t have that camera getting wet don’tcha know. Those were definitely, “definitely” the reasons.
And now it has, well, this thing covering up the camera:
What the hell is it even supposed to be? Like, what even is the excuse? Motorsport.com says the claim is now that it’s an “airbox cooler,” which for reasons I’m sure are quite thorough needs to have a whole bunch of stuff attached to it:
With FOM not happy about Ferrari cooling its camera equipment, the FIA notified Ferrari ahead of the Italian Grand Prix that it should stop using the cooling bag with immediate effect.
Ferrari was duly spotted on the grid at Monza using an umbrella to try to block the camera view.
Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari has been spotted with a newly-designed airbox cooler which features several appendages that also appear to block the camera view.
While the team will likely argue that the device acts in the same way that other teams’ airbox coolers do, it is almost certainly no coincidence that it is shaped in such a way that the camera’s view of the steering wheel appears to be shut off when it is fitted.
This is all so petty and so dumb, it is now giving me life.
That might be a weird sentiment about the whole situation, but the truth of the matter is that F1 is at its best when it’s playing tricks and creating mysteries. Does Ferrari have something in its cockpit that it’s blocking?
Who can say. As my esteemed colleague Raphael Orlove pointed out, so many good cheats—or even non-cheats, but simple innovations—have been hidden from other teams, or utilized misdirection. Gordon Murray, famously, mocked up a fake box with wires sticking out of it to take attention away from his real suspension cheat on the Brabham BT49C.
So that was a misdirection, but real cheats can be hidden in the cockpit. McLaren created an extra brake pedal in 1997, which nobody noticed until a photographer happened to shove his camera in the footwell.
Do I care if Ferrari is or isn’t cheating? Not really, because everyone is cheating. But it certainly makes F1 a little more interesting.