There was an expressed desire that the race would be won on the track.
So what we got was a safety car, a decision that cars would not be able to unlap themselves and then some cars could in the last minute, an 11 second advantage essentially wiped out by a crash, and replaced by another advantage in the form of fresh soft tyres against old hard tyres for a one lap show down.
Verstappen wins the championship and Hamilton loses out through no fault of his own and Mercedes protest twice, get rejected and are now appealing.
This is really messy and the victory for Verstappen is unfortunately, rather hollow.
Hamilton and Verstappen both drove and battled amazingly throughout the season. Red bull had the better car at the start but from the half way point, Mercedes tweaked some things, managed to find their A game and clawed their way back.
And as great a driver as Verstappen is, I was less than impressed with his aggressive tactics and standards. It’s the inner bastard that this kind of sport manifests in you and he won’t back out and is always in it for himself.
Hamilton’s experience and approach was much more dignified. He changed tact to avoid collisions and always puts the collective effort first above himself, hence why he always talks about the crowds or the teams first before himself. How he handled the loss with such dignity and grace is to be hugely admired.
But Hamilton didn’t deserve to have his 8th world title clinched away in such fashion by an FIA call that was at best, inconsistent and arbitrary.
For Masi to change his mind last minute puts a real dent in his credibility. Such a discussion with the safety car meant that he ended up dictating the winner. After all the work Hamilton and Mercedes did, there were no good options, including changing tyres due to losing track position.
So the lap cars could unlap themselves to let the battle take place for 1st but what about podium positions and Sainz? Did those positions not count for that kind of consideration in the last lap showdown?
And it makes you wonder how manipulated this situation was. It provided a last minute spectacle but that was that the expense of rules being consistently applied in the sport?
This needs to be questioned going forward.
And I don’t like the stewards constantly being badgered by team principals. Horner will especially use every trick in the book and to him, it’s NEVER his drivers’ fault. The Red flag situation at Saudi Arabia when Verstappen almost caused a collision at the second restart sounded like a negotiation as opposed to an enforced rule. The authority of Masi was always challenged and at times, it appeared he cracked under the pressure.
So many people feel that a world championship battle tonight and even the sport as a whole was tarnished by an arbitrary decision this evening, and they are right!
And whilst Hamilton may not be victorious for this year, he’s still a 7 time champion and captures the essence of a sportsman who is dignified, has an amazing attitude and stands up for justice and causes he believes in.
And it’s not new news that the deserving are victorious in F1, but that’s also the case for many other aspects in life.
Despite that, Hamilton’s maxim is the most fitting response.
‘Still we rise’.