News   |    December 14th, 2021

FORMULA DONE

The sporting highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the Formula 1 World Championship showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

The pair started the final race of the season level on 369.5 points which is unbelievable after a whole season of racing. Verstappen qualified for the race in Abu Dhabi in pole position and Hamilton took second place on the grid. Hamilton started the faster and took the lead at the first bend. From then on, Hamilton dominated the race and from the comments on the team radios it appeared that Verstappen’s Red Bull team principal Christian Horner conceded that Verstappen needed a miracle to win the race and thereby the World Championship.

Well with five laps to go, that miracle arrived. Nicholas Latifi crashed his car and with debris all over the track the safety car came into play. Had the cars followed the safety car around for 5 laps then Hamilton would have won the race and have been crowned the world champion. The race stewards had other ideas and decided that the race would continue for the last lap only. Race director Michael Masi also decided to allow only the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the safety car leaving Hamilton and Verstappen racing together. This is contrary to usual procedure which would see all lapped cars move aside, but if Masi had ordered that in this instance, there would have been no time to resume racing.

Verstappen had fitted fresh tyres and that turned out to be a masterstroke by the Red Bull team because Verstappen used the advantage this gave him to overtake Hamilton on the last lap. This decision sparked great controversy and Mercedes lodged a protest against the decision and also referenced the fact that contrary to the rules Verstappen had gone in front of Hamilton when they were following the safety car. That protest failed although they are continuing to challenge the decision, but I doubt that will achieve anything other than some bland promise to review the race stewarding processes in the future.

Formula 1 is a sport where the rules can be confusing and open to interpretation at the best of times. In my eyes if a race is stopped for safety reasons, then once it is re-started the conditions should be exactly as they were at the time the race was stopped. A 58-lap race should not then move to a 1 lap race on essentially an equal footing. That makes no sense to me. Whatever the time gap there was between Hamilton and Verstappen should remain in place when the race re-started.

Sometimes in sport someone’s name is on a trophy be it an individual or a team and I think that was the case here.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Christian Horner on a couple of occasions, and he is fascinating to talk to, and I am delighted for him that he has achieved his goal this year. His commitment to Red Bull is there for all to see and nobody deserves this success more than him.

Image – Instagram Maxverstappen1

Peter Varney - Chairman, Integral Sports Management.

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