By Carol M. Creasey
The fans are waiting for the second part of the season to commence, with bated breath. It is clear now that the championship will be decided between Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
At the beginning of the season, knowing how aggressive Verstappen is when overtaking, Lewis did his best to stay out of trouble when challenged, and was ready to back down when needed. If he had not had this mindset, they both would have had two or three non-finishes.
Lewis has been racing for many years and has learned that being patient, and finishing a race, is the best road to winning the championship. But his patience was stretched to the limit while he battled Verstappen for the lead in the British Grand Prix. This was the most important race of the year for him, it has been two years since there have been spectators at his home grand prix, and the points deficit to Verstappen was too great. He decided that he had to make a stand, so this time he did not yield when they approached the Copse corner.
The result has been well-documented. Even though most F1 personalities regard it as a racing incident, the Briton was handed a 10-second penalty, which in my opinion was only because Verstappen crashed, and was unable to finish the race. The words used by the stewards were that Hamilton was “predominately to blame” for the collision. Verstappen has stated many times that he did nothing wrong, but if he studied the footage properly, he would have seen that he turned his wheel and ran into the Briton, obviously to stop him from taking the lead. But it backfired on him, as he went crashing into the tyre barrier.
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Over the years that I have watched Lewis racing, one thing has stood out for me: if he was in the wrong he has always owned up to it. However on this occasion he said he had done nothing wrong, and he will continue to race in the same way in the future.
That incident was the turning point in the championship, as by the end of that race Verstappen lost most of his 32 point championship lead . But then came Hungary, where he was a victim of a multi-car crash accidentally started by Valtteri Bottas at the start of the race, and although he carried on, the damage to his car meant he could only manage 10th place (after Sebastian Vettel was disqualified). So as we went into the summer break, Lewis was now ahead by eight points.
Obviously the last two races have been unlucky for Verstappen, but although he does not complain about it, Lewis has also had his share of bad luck this year. Because of a ‘brake magic’ button accident at race restart in Baku, he went off track and didn’t score any points. Having just passed Perez, he could have won that race. He also had to fight his way from the back in 3 races: Imola, Silverstone and Hungary. Taking this into account, along with the fact that he obviously has a slower car than Verstappen, Lewis certainly did not have an easy ride to this point.
The second half of the season will show who has the grit and determination to take it all the way. Mental fortitude will be very important. Lewis has made it clear that he will not yield anymore, so I hope that Verstappen has the sense not to be as aggressive in the future. I also hope that reliability of the cars does not decide the championship. May they both stay safe, and may the best man win. We all have our own opinion on who that is, but we will have to wait and see how the rest of the season unfolds.
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