The F1 title race promises to get ugly as we step into the final three races of the 2021 season
The age of diplomacy in Formula 1 is over, said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
The statement that following Lewis Hamilton’s extraordinary win in Brazil to keep his championship hopes alive surprised older ears when they learned that there was even a diplomatic code.
Few sports lead to controversy like F1, whose history is littered with bitter disputes, multi-million pound fines and bans. Things often get emotional on a playing field where the participants are beating wheels at 300 km / h.
In addition, the reliance on machines is so great that the technical parameters that frame the plot are a constant source of exploration, review, tension and, quite frankly, atrocity.
Things came to a head in Interlagos, where Hamilton was beaten with two penalties on the starting line-up and table leader Max Verstappen for so many indiscretions.
Although Hamilton would prevail to reduce the gap to Verstappen to 14 points, the feeling of injustice felt by Mercedes was hardly alleviated by the victory and left a hardening of the attitude in Brackley, which will certainly be the last three races of the season, starting in Qatar , will shape this weekend.
Initially, it was found that Hamilton’s rear wing was breaking the rules by 0.2mm. This violation was solely the result of a malfunction and not a deliberate act, but still resulted in a draconian disqualification of Hamilton’s sprint race pole time and his maneuvering in the back of the grid, practically a 20-place penalty.
This worried Mercedes, who argued that Red Bull had the opportunity to take care of their rear wing problems in the previous races at Parc Ferme without penalty.
Mercedes couldn’t do anything about the five-grid penalty for using a new engine on race day, but saw the $ 50,000 rap for Verstappen over the wrist after inspecting the Mercedes wing after sprint qualifying at Parc Ferme which is absolutely forbidden.
“We had a broken part on our rear wing that we couldn’t see, that we couldn’t analyze, didn’t pass the test and were then disqualified, very hard,” said Wolff.
“And then you see the Red Bull repairing a rear wing for three races in a row while it has no consequences in the parc ferme.”
And Mercedes beamed at the stewards’ failure to resolve the incident on lap 48 when Verstappen pushed Hamilton far through turn four.
Mercedes shouted foul, Red Bull protested Verstappen’s innocence. Tough but fair race, they argued. Crucially, the commissioners only had the television footage to make a decision and, since it was inconclusive, they declared it a racing incident and took no action.
Although they retrospectively requested the on-board material and telemetry that reveal braking, engine and steering inputs that could result in a retrospective penalty and possible loss of points, the emotional damage is done.
“Lewis did it just brilliantly by avoiding contact. But that was overdue. It should have been at least a five-second penalty, ”said Wolff.
“Max probably knew that. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. It is ridiculous. If the rules say it does, that’s fine. But not when it was clear beforehand that you couldn’t drive anyone off the track. “
And so about Qatar anything but a feeling of mutual respect. Wolff alluded to a loss of confidence in the F1 justice system, which will take time to repair.
“We got a lot of blows in the face this weekend. When all decisions are against you, it’s something that just annoys me. I’ve always been very diplomatic in the way I discuss things, but diplomacy is over today. “