Massa to lead serious action over karting attack - The Race

Massa to lead serious action over karting attack

Oct 5 2020
By Scott Mitchell

FIA karting president and ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa will lead serious action following Luca Corberi’s extraordinary attack on a rival at the world championship last weekend.

The KZ, KZ2 and Academy finals were held on Sunday at Lonato, which is owned by Corberi’s family.

Corberi is a 23-year-old karting returnee, who stopped full-time competition a few years ago.

In 2012, when he was 15, Corberi beat F1 drivers George Russell and Lance Stroll and F2 racers Callum Ilott and Dan Ticktum to win the CIK-FIA World Cup in the KF3 category.

Video emerged on Sunday of Corberi, who entered the race for fun, walking to the side of the track with his kart’s front bumper in hand after being taken out by Paolo Ippolito.

As Ippolito drove past, Corberi launched the bodywork at him. A second video showed Ippolito waiting with his kart in parc ferme post-race, then Corberi sprinting into the area in full race gear and tackling his rival.

He proceeded to physically attack Ippolito, who was also confronted by two adult team members – one of whom is understood to be Corberi’s father.

The older Corberi is also believed to have confronted Ippolito’s father.

Corberi was disqualified from the event, as was Ippolito for the on-track incident that acted as the trigger, but it is likely to be followed up through the relevant courts.

Former Ferrari driver Massa is CIK-FIA president and was in attendance at Lonato and The Race understands he will not let such a violent issue pass without further action.

On Monday afternoon, Massa tweeted that “this behaviour is unacceptable in our sport, those individuals will face the consequences of their actions.”

Italy’s national governing body has moved to “absolutely condemn” the incident and has reserved “every possible initiative” against those responsible, while on Monday afternoon the FIA announced it had begun an immediate investigation into the events.

A suspension or licence cancellation for Corberi has been widely mooted, with Massa’s former F1 rival Jenson Button among the vocal proponents for a “life ban”. Button said Corberi has “destroyed any chance” he had of a racing career.

The Race says

04/10/20, Lonato, South Garda Karting, Fia Karting World Championship – Kz, Fia Karting International Super Cup – Kz2 & Fia Karting Academy TrophyAs CIK-FIA president, Massa needs to act swiftly and strongly over this incident which is as shameful as it is shocking.

Corberi was thrown out of the meeting but that cannot and almost certainly will not be the end of the matter.

Calls for life bans for any motorsport competitor carry a harsh tone and there may be a sensible argument for Corberi to have some opportunity for rehabilitation further down the line.

But for a 23-year-old to conduct himself in this manner is not the same as a driver in their teens.

Those front bumpers are not exactly light. Who knows what would have happened if it had struck Ippolito’s head – or another competitor’s? And getting so close to the track with drivers at speed is reckless.

That incident alone would merit a lengthy ban. To then engage in physical violence afterwards underlines why there appears little reason for sympathy towards Corberi – or his associates who charged down Ippolito as well.

It’s a huge pity for the image of international karting as footage of the bumper throw and post-race brawl was quickly shared on social media and has unsurprisingly gathered far more attention than the results of the world championship itself.

Massa and the FIA will be compelled to act on this cocktail of recklessness and violence that also brings the world championship into disrepute.

For the record, the winner of that race (and KZ world champion as a result) was Jeremy Iglesias. The Frenchman manages the Brignoles circuit in the south of France with his brother – they saw the late Jules Bianchi start his career there, and are close to the family of Charles Leclerc as well. Apparently, Iglesias’s win – the first for a Frenchman in this category – was widely applauded.

Few outside the karting world would have taken notice of Iglesias’s win in normal circumstances, it’s true. But it remains extremely unfortunate, and unacceptable, it has been overshadowed this way.

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