Where is Lewis Hamilton? Where is he? Usually active on social media, the 7 times F1 driver looked set for a record-breaking 8th at the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. However, when Nicolas Latfi crashed into the barriers with five laps to go, a safety car period was called and Hamilton’s advantage went from zero to minus. The biggest crash was caused by Race Director Michael Masi who seemingly didn’t follow safety car release procedures for backmarkers. Max Verstappen pitted under the safety for a set of new soft tyres while Hamilton decided that to cease position to Verstappen was not an option.
But Hamilton was marooned on tyres that were over 30 laps old. Masi instructed the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves and when the race restarted with one lap to go Verstappen was the 2021 drivers champion. To many observers, from Max Verstappen fans, Hamilton fans, neutral observers, all can agree that what happened was not in the letter of the law. And the FIA is the law on all aspects of Formula One.
We here at DCBHQ have attended F1 race weekends. We have experienced how controlling the FIA is. We know how they expect reporters to follow certain paddock rules. You can’t stand here, you have to have a pass for entering the pit lane. Every step you take, every move you make during a race weekend is virtually monitored by FIA officials. The FIA demands regulatory obedience to their rules. So how could they have gotten Abu Dhabi 2021 so wrong? It is bizarre.
Max Verstappen is blameless, his over the limit driving deserves criticisim as much he deserves none for his newfound world championship status. He did more than enough to earn his world champion stripes. After competing for his life against Lewis Hamilton, he finally understands what it takes to win a title. That alone will mean more to him than anything else.
But what of Sir Lewis Hamilton? Where is he? Apart from a dignified post-race interview, he has remained silent. He skipped media commitments, his social media accounts have not been updated. For Hamilton, losing Abu Dhabi 2021 in such a manner hurts. The hurt will run deep for weeks yet to come. What happened on the last lap of the Grand Prix is a betrayal, of everything the FIA supposedly stands for.
Now no one is clear what FIA even means.
Will Hamilton quit? It remains a possibility, why put in such total commitment all year when the winner takes all race is orchestrated on the last lap? Mercedes too could pull out, but that won’t happen because the 2,000 people in Brackley, Northampton will be suddenly out of a job. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 is an unsatisfactory ending for sure. For now, the F1 world awaits to hear from Sir Lewis Hamilton.