Dec 13, 2021
1 mins read
The observation came with 10 precious laps remaining as Max Verstappen Formula One world championship hopes dangled by the thinnest of strings. A “miracle” is what Verstappen needed, Red Bull principal Christian Horner told an international television audience watching Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sky Sports. Short of divine intervention, Lewis Hamilton would win a record-breaking eighth championship.
To the delight of Horner and Verstappen, such a miracle occurred in the form of Nicholas Latifi crashing with just five laps left, much to the chagrin of Hamilton, who uttered a long string of obscenities bleeped out by the network. What ensued was not just the most dramatic finish to a championship in Formula One history, but also a sequence of events showcasing the incompetency of how Formula One presides over races.
The controversy centers around Formula One race director Michael Masi initially deciding the race would be restarted with one lap left and that the five lapped cars between the leader Hamilton and second-place Verstappen would remain in place, per FIA regulations, not reshuffled to the end of the lineup.
Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, after Horner continued lobbying Masi, the director reversed his decision. The lapped cars could go around, and Verstappen was to restart directly behind Hamilton. With Verstappen having fresher tires than Hamilton’s, not having to maneuver around slower traffic in only a lap presented him a significant advantage, which he capitalized on by passing Hamilton into Turn 5. Just like that, Masi delivered Verstappen and Red Bull a second miracle, while severely kneecapping Hamilton and Mercedes.