By Carol M. Creasey
After being denied his eighth world championship at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis took time off from social media, which was a wise decision, as it has become a very toxic place. He was accused of “sulking” by some, but if he had spoken at the time he would then have been accused of whining and complaining.
He returned for testing and it became apparent right from the start that Mercedes had not produced a car capable of fighting for a championship. What a blow this must have been to him, wanting to fight back and regain that lost championship, but unable to do so. However, this is where Lewis has shone this year, his strength of character has shown itself. Knowing there was no hope of a championship, and with nothing left to prove, he could have cruised until the end of the season, but he didn’t. He helped his team to develop the car, he tested new developments and weird setups, and with his input, the car started to improve. Then the podiums came, five second places, and five third places. He stated that he wasn’t worried about having no wins this year, as he was more concerned with getting the car right for 2023. Obviously we won’t know until testing if Mercedes will be competitive in 2023, but if Lewis gets a competitive car, he will be right up there fighting for another championship.
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Red Bull will undoubtedly have a very fast car next year, but there will always be a blemish on their success. The team has breached the budget last year, and coupled with rules being broken at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, many fans do not see Verstappen as a true champion. Lewis however, never pounced on this, and when he was asked about his take on these controversies, there was no bitterness.
The way Lewis carries himself in the face of adversity has only increased his fanbase. After Abu Dhabi last year he showed his class in congratulating Verstappen in spite of the shock and pain he was feeling. Lewis has said that the love of his fans got him through this tough time, and he has earned it with the way he conducts himself.
He will train hard this winter, and regroup in time for the Bahrain Grand Prix. I hope he can win his eighth title next year, but even if he doesn’t, I know he will give it his all, and he will do it fairly. And that, is what truly makes him the GOAT.
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