All through build-up to the season’s final race in Abu Dhabi, many F1 fans and pundits alike, predicted that the season was going to climax in historic fashion.
And indeed it did, but Formula 1 and the FIA have very much set for themselves unpopular history.
Max Verstappen won the Abu Dhabi GP in the final lap of the race – a very dramatic end to a very, very dramatic season.
Perhaps, there will not have been much commentary and controversy had the FIA not cooked up an exciting end to the season.
Definitely, everyone craves excitement but when does excitement have its own limits?
With five laps to go in the season’s finale, Hamilton was in a comfortable lead and looked sure to wrap up the title till Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers.
Hamilton left Verstappen chasing his shadows as Mercedes and the seven-time champion seemed to have overcome their pace deficit to Red Bull.
The Brit will have wrapped up his historic eighth title in historic fashion and Red Bull principal, Horner confirmed it in-race to race commentators: “Hamilton is too strong today.”
Also midrace, Christian Horner said Verstappen needed a ‘miracle’ to beat Hamilton. That was the enormity of the challenge Verstappen was facing in order to stop Hamilton from winning an eighth.
After Latifi’s crash, a safety car was deployed and the FIA decided that lapped cars were not going to be allowed to un-lap themselves.
However right before end of the safety car, the FIA re-decided and allowed lapped racers to un-lap themselves. But the controversy here is that, the FIA ruled for only the five racers separating Verstappen and Hamilton to go on to unlap themselves.
Meaning Verstappen and Hamilton, who had the same number of points prior to Abu Dhabi and were in a ‘winner takes all’ event, were locked in a head-to-head duel in the final lap of the race.
The Dutch racer at the start of the safety car pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres and went on to beat Hamilton, who was on hard tyres ageing over 30 laps.
What do the Formula One regulations say?
Article 48.12 of the 2021 Race regulations reads: “If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message “LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE” has been sent to all teams Competitors via the official messaging system, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.
“This will only apply to cars that were lapped at the time they crossed the Line at the end of the lap during which they crossed the first Safety Car line for the second time after the safety car was deployed.”
Jack Nicholls, a BBC F1 commentator summed up all the drama: “The long and short of it is the FIA have changed the rules in order to get a one-lap race. They have made them up on the fly. It’s not sportingly fair for the whole field because some lapped cars were not allowed to un-lap themselves. Are the FIA allowed to make up the rules as they go along?”
By allowing only five of the lapped cars to un-lap themselves, race director Michael Masi had setup an entertaining finish to a race, which had a healthy proportion of the world’s population hooked.
It was a move which will certainly have gone down well with a section of fans who believe Formula 1 has become ‘boring’ due to Hamilton’s dominance.
In 2019, F1 revealed that only 14% of its viewers were below the age of 25 and David Coulthard, 13-time F1 race winner before the Abu Dhabi GP suggested that, Hamilton winning an eighth world title will not sit well with younger F1 fans.
He also indicated that Max winning his first world title, will serve Formula 1 better commercially, an avenue F1 have been trying to maximize.
The franchise has partnered Netflix and in the premiere of its series, Haas F1 team principal, Guenther Steiner said:
“Why you watch Formula One? You want to see action. You want to see drama. You want to see the underdog making a good result. A story. Each race should have a story, and the story should not be all the time Mercedes or Ferrari wins, because that story gets old pretty quickly.”
Not to say Verstappen was the underdog heading into the race but the story of Verstappen piping Hamilton to the world title probably sells better, and Coulthard captured it perfectly in buildup to Abu Dhabi.
“I have said earlier that Lewis winning an eighth title doesn’t tell us he’s a great driver. We knew from when he won his first, his second, his third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh that he is a brilliant driver. He is the benchmark in Formula 1.
“I think Max moves the dale in terms of connecting with a younger generation who are gamers. So if I take a commercial view and what’s better for Formula 1, I think Max winning the world championship is something new and exciting,” Coulthard said to F1’s F1 Nation podcast.
And indeed the results from Formula 1 seized and took over the internet.
Before 6pm in Ghana [after the race], ‘Abu Dhabi’ was trending number 1 with over 815k tweets. ‘Karen Horner’, a social media meme to troll Red Bull principal, Christian Horner was also in the trends with 1,368 tweets.
As at approximately 10 minutes to 7pm, Michael Masi had also climbed up the trends. Likewise Bottas and Perez.
Basically Formula 1 seized the world at a point where Barcelona – who are at their lowest and basically now a social media troll item, had conceded an 86th minute equalizer to Osasuna.
It was also at a period where the Spanish La Liga was also building up for the Madird derby.
The results of Abu Dhabi and its subsequent commentary had overshadowed football and even got football fans, current and ex-players roped in in the conversations.
Following race completion, Sir Jackie Stewart, a three-time world champion said to the BBC: “The sport needed a new world champion”.
But does a hunger for a new world champion have to override sporting fairness and originality?
- My wife has left me because of my child with another woman – Osofo Kyiri Abosom
- The Fourth Estate uncovers fraud in SHS computerised placement
- Full video: SHS computerised placement for sale
- Officials of China Mall, Shoprite, Palace Mall picked up for tax violations
- WAEC explains BECE grading system
- 8 persons arrested in ‘School placement for sale’ exposé
- New chief falls from palanquin during coronation in Central Region
- 3 grabbed for pulling down storey building at Cantonments
- Haruna led Minority leadership had challenges working with Bagbin – Asiedu Nketia
- Assault on Latif Iddrisu: No policeman touched him – Attorney General
- Come for your passports – Foreign Affairs Ministry to applicants
- Today’s front pages: Tuesday, January 31, 2023
- South Africa calls on MTN, Ghana to resolve $773m tax dispute
- UK economy only G7 nation to shrink in 2023 – IMF
- Nigeria cost-of-living crisis sparks exodus of doctors
- Opuni Trial: Court to hear another motion for stay of proceedings
- Internal report on CSSPS related corruption ready – Kwasi Kwarteng
- We need to find out if investigation on CSSPS was concluded – Dr. Anti
- We were denied CSSPS data to check public basic schools placement quota – Eduwatch
- GRA taskforce arrests five shopping malls managers for tax infractions
- Ghana free from sleeping sickness
- Forestry Commission demobilises excavator in Atewa Forest
- Emmanuel Owusu: Proposals to operationalise Ghana Financial Stability Fund (GFSF)
- Minority reshuffle: We didn’t consult Caucus for good reasons – Asiedu Nketia
- Chelsea transfer news: Blues bid £105.6m for Enzo Fernandez