FORMULA ONE ROUND-UP
The conclusion to one of the most exciting Formula 1 seasons in years came to a thrilling and controversial climax at the last event in Abu Dhabi when Max Verstappen, driving for Red Bull, pipped Lewis Hamilton on the last lap to win the drivers championship by the slimmest of margins. Despite the consolation of winning the constructors’ championship for the eighth consecutive year, Hamiltons Mercedes team intend to appeal the result at Abu Dhabi, despite having two appeals turned down on the day, forcing Verstappen to wait for four hours at trackside before finally being confirmed the champion for the year.
After Hamilton got to the front of the race early with a better start than Verstappen he appeared to leave the track to keep his place after the Dutchman tried to pass him at the end of the back straight. That seemed to be the decisive move in the race and Hamilton looked like he was on his way to victory until five laps from the end when a crash occurred and a safety car was introduced, leading to further controversy. The race director initially announced that lapped cars between the two leaders would not be allowed to un-lap themselves, as is the normal procedure. However, after a complaint from Red Bull, he reversed that decision, which allowed Verstappen to be right on Hamiltons tail with one lap to go. Verstappen then passed Hamilton at turn five and held him off for the remainder of the lap to win the race and the championship.
The arguments over the race director’s reading of the rules allowing Verstappen to get close enough to Hamilton to get past him on the last lap are already raging and it looks very much like the Mercedes’ team appeal to demote Verstappen and give Hamilton his eighth title is far from a forlorn hope.
Whatever the outcome, the season has produced the most thrilling finish in years and the two drivers involved are leagues above everyone else on the grid at the moment. I think Hamilton, although deeply disappointed about not winning another title, will find his reputation and popularity enhanced because of the way he has competed and the courage and sheer talent he has exhibited throughout the year. It looks like the very determined Verstappen, a deserved winner, will be around for a long time yet and ensure stiff competition for Hamilton in the future.
First of all though the sport has to get it’s house in order after a season where the new race director, Michael Masi, has been less than consistent with his use of the rules and the feeling is that the clash of the Mercedes/Hamilton and Verstappen/Red Bull teams that has made it such an exciting season on track has papered over some very questionable decisions, one of which has now decided the outcome of the drivers championship. Their is going to be some serious fallout in the sport over this and hopefully the F1 house will be in order for next season. Fans everywhere will be hoping that the way will be clear for these two giants to clash again and ensure another classic contest.