In his 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix retrospective PlanetF1’s Thomas Maher writes “the final laps made it clear that that integrity was briefly abandoned in favour of the spectacle”.
One year ago today the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix took place. To mark this occasion, the F1 media is doing numerous retrospectives on the controversial race, which saw Lewis Hamilton unjustly lose the 2021 title.
One in particular has put things in quite a nice perspective.
“While Red Bull and Verstappen did nothing wrong, his first title win will always be viewed as less than legitimate by those who won’t give him his due,” wrote PlanetF1’s Thomas Maher.
“Mercedes and Hamilton did everything right, but still lost due to matters outside of their control.
“The man controlling those matters, Michael Masi, fell victim to the Sword of Damocles that hung over him the instant he made the call to withdraw the Safety Car.”
While some will argue that by asking the race director to allow for one more lap of racing, Red Bull directly or indirectly influenced the result, Maher is quite right in saying that Verstappen did nothing wrong. However, he still benefited from the race director’s obvious rule breaking.
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“While highly entertaining, Abu Dhabi 2021 marked the point at which F1 collectively forgot that it is a sport, first and foremost,” Maher continued.
“However unintentionally, the final laps made it clear that that integrity was briefly abandoned in favour of the spectacle.
“With that condemnation in mind, the alternative of a Safety Car ending would have been an incredibly unsatisfying way to end the season – but it would have been the fair, and correct, outcome regardless of whether Hamilton or Verstappen crossed the line first.
“Astonishingly, that weekend marked the highest highs of entertainment and the lowest lows of sporting integrity.
“Will there ever be a championship finale like it again? Let’s hope not,” Maher concluded.