By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
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OAKLAND — This was one of the best racing years ever for Formula One. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ended under protest, it ended with many strange decisions and strange results by the Mercedes-Benz Racing Team and the Grand Prix Stewards.
The year-long battle between Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes Benz) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) did not disappoint racing fans and benefited Formula One because it gained world attention. It came down to the last race, it came down to the last lap.
Hamilton missed winning his eight world championship because of many issues, his team, his pit crew, his worn-out tires, not having DRS, the way he drove the last two laps and the Formula One Racing Committee Stewarts changing the rules at the last second.
Verstappen won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by one second and captured the 2021 Formula One World Champion after another car crashed on lap 54 in turn twelve. Nicholas Latifi kissed the wall on turn 12 leaving car debris all over the course causing the last Red Flag-Safety Car situation and this is where the controversy began.
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez kept Hamilton from running away and hiding from the field and that kept the race interesting not letting Hamilton get a strong lead on Verstappen. The Perez move brought Verstappen closer to Hamilton causing the Silver Arrow to slow down and be drawn back to the pack.
It was the same strategy that teammates Hamilton and Valtterie Bottas implored the last two years. Bottas would block any challenger to Hamilton and it worked. The tables were now turned, the Mercedes Team could just sit and watch the Red Bull Team use their strategy.
Hamilton needed Bottas this year and he was doing a very good ghost act not helping the Mercedes-Benz team in this race. Verstappen and Hamilton have locked tires many times before this racing season so this race seemed normal. Max had won 9 races and Lewis 8 this year and that would be critical too.
The Formula One committee told both drivers that if they crashed and both could not finish and Verstappen would win because of this year’s total victories. This did not sit well with the Mercedes team because if Verstappen forced Hamilton off the road he would win.
Lewis Hamilton took the lead early and held on lap 54 on his way to his 8th title but was told that lapped cars would pass him before they would start again after they were informed that the cars would not lap the leaders. Confusion rained down on the track for two laps and Verstappen drove right up beside Hamilton as the race started again.
Max was surprised at the changed decision and used it to his advantage. If it had stayed the way it was Max would have been five cars behind Lewis and it would have taken him time to pass them all. Lewis would have been dust in the wind at the finish line before Max could see the Silver Arrow’s tail lights.
Verstappen had a pit stop at hand and he used it at this time. The Mercedes Race Team told Hamilton to stay out to keep the number one position on the track. That might have been a critical mistake because Verstappen would get fresh new tires that would grip the race course in turns. In turn five of the restart Max would prove this point by taken the inside of Hamilton to pass for the victory on the last lap.
The Mercedes Team became upset of the sudden change of rules. When the race is less then four laps and a Red Flag or Safety Car comes out. The driver in 1st place wins the race usually, which should have been Lewis Hamilton, leading at the time. The committee waved this rule and told the other drivers to drive around the leaders and clear the track for Hamilton and Verstappen to finish.
When we discus the issue of power and control this is what we are talking about. The Racing committee had to make quick decisions to either Red Flag stop the race and let all the drivers pit in Safety Car mood in which each driver and team would make their own decisions to pit. The Committee took their time making this choice and two laps had passed.
Now under the rules the driver in the lead is declared the winner. The committee came up with another idea, a one lap run off. This would have been fine if they let Hamilton pit before the run off. They did not, advantage Verstappen. Hamilton was the better driver but his car would fail him.
The Mercedes team wanted the Stewards to Red Flag (stop) the race so it would give more time to clean the track and allowing teams to pit to change tires and refuel. It would have been the perfect ending Verstappen and Hamilton racing the final three laps in a restart, even or level as the English would say. Hamilton’s degraded tires was just another critical mistake on this day and would seal number 44 fate.
One last question would the racing Stewards have done the same if the roles of Hamilton and Verstappen were reversed.
Another critical mistake team Hamilton made was not having DRS the last lap. For those who are new to Formula Racing DRS is a Drag Reduction System, an adjustable rear wing system which can be used to facilitate overtaking another car. Under the rules for 2011, the driver of a following car can adjust the flap of his rear wing under certain circumstances. The car must be in the DRS zone on the track for the system to work.
Black men and women all over the world understand changing the rules has always been at the bottom of most sports issues when a Black athlete exceed the existing standards, Lewis Hamilton has done this in the racing field.
Look at history:
Tiger Woods in golf the PGA “Tiger Proofed,” The Masters, making the course longer and harder to win.
Serena Williams cannot get one major to tie Margaret Court with 24 major wins, remember the incidents in New York and Australia.
Bob Gibson-St. Louis Cardinals pitcher-MLB lowered the mound after Gibson outstanding 1968 season.
Wilt Chamberlain – NBA widen the lanes after Wilt’s 50-point average season.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar- NCAA no dunking for the UCLA Bruin for three years. Creating the birth of the Sky Hook.
The preverbal dog collar around Black quarterbacks before Colin Kaepernick was Joe Gilliam. Jefferson Street Joe went 4-1-1 at the beginning of the 1974 season before the Pittsburgh Steelers went in another direction.
This past week it was Hamilton’s turn in racing changing how to finish a Red Flag or Safety Car race.
You know what’s coming next. The NBA is going to change the rules in 3-point shooting because of Golden State Warrior Steph Curry passing Ray Allen’s record in New York. Curry will put the numbers in outer space before he retires.
This is the way the power and control game is played.
The Formula One racing family better be glad Lewis Hamilton is not a hot head, an angry Negro, not like volatile Max Verstappen or Sabastian Vettell who flys off the handle when things don’t do right on the race course it would have been a mess at the podium and the world would be still talking about it, instead Lewis Hamilton tip his hat, shook hands, and moved on.
Lewis Hamilton just walked away after the race and look for another year to win the 8th Championship. That’s what Black men and women understand all over the world and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix just proves it-AGAIN. They are not only competing against their opponent they are also competing against the established order.
Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was a gentleman and asked his team to withdraw the protest, what an ending for the 2021 Formula One Racing circuit. The Mercedes Racing team did not take photos at the end of the race nor did they take photos of the Constructors Cup Championship Award in protest. The more time changes the more they remain the same.
The Benz Motor Team withdrew the appeal after two days of consultations with Hamilton and the racing team. This will be just another BLACK mark in sports history, we will move on only hope the next target will not be Steph Curry. Taking the joy out of playing the sport that these young Black men love and doing their best.
Thank you all for a great 2021 Formula One racing season it is too bad it ended in a bad way as the English would say.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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