By Carol M. Creasey
Sir Lewis was able to continue, which enraged Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, who bombarded the FIA with radio messages insisting that Sir Lewis should get a penalty. Eventually he was handed a ten-second penalty, and two points on his superlicence. He served his punishment without complaint, and then went on to win the race, thrilling the British crowds.
Verstappen climbed out of his car after the incident, and waved to the crowds before going to be checked out at the hospital as a precaution. Sir Lewis asked immediately after the impact if Verstappen was ok, and was told he was. Toto Wolff also enquired about Max’s condition and was told that he was “fine”. Because it was the first race with a full capacity crowd with such a huge amount of Sir Lewis supporters, he celebrated afterwards by driving round the track with his Union Jack, and the crowd absolutely loved it.
The consensus of opinion was that it was a racing incident, but maybe the FIA felt after the pressure put on them by Horner, that they had to penalise Sir Lewis, as he was still able to continue in the race. Looking back on previous incidents, it seems like it’s the pot calling the kettle black, because ever since he entered Formula One, Verstappen has earned himself the nickname of Crashtappen, because of all the times he has taken other drivers out, and ruined their races. Sir Lewis, on the other hand, has the reputation of being a clean and fair driver.
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Horner must have forgotten his role as a team leader when he verbally attacked Sir Lewis, calling him ‘desperate’, a cheat, unprofessional, and many other attacks on his character. This resulted in racists using his criticism as fuel to vilify the Briton, which has naturally had repercussions. Lord Peter Hain, who was instrumental in recommending a knighthood for Sir Lewis, has condemned him for his outburst which has provoked racial hatred.
Verstappen then added salt to the wound by saying that Sir Lewis should not have celebrated his win while he was still in the hospital, and said that he behaved insensitively. But there is a difference between being in the hospital sick or injured, and being checked out at the hospital as a precaution, which is what had happened to him, and which we are all glad about. As Sir Lewis said: “Nobody ever wants any Formula One driver to be injured”.
Through all this storm, Mercedes have remain calm, and Toto has said that he understands Horner has spoken in the heat of the moment, but it does not give him the right to tarnish the name of his seven-time world champion by making up lies, as everyone knows that Sir Lewis is not a dirty driver.
Sir Lewis has acted with dignity throughout the whole thing. He has taken the insults without retaliating, and has even contacted Verstappen to say that he hopes they can continue their quest for the drivers’ title with mutual respect for one another.
But still Horner is acting like a spoiled child who has just dropped their ice cream. With Helmut Marko’s support, Red Bull have contacted lawyers, they are still intent on trying to get Sir Lewis a race ban. They are completely ignoring the fact that their driver has a history of aggressiveness, and that most other drivers will avoid confrontation with him, but on this occasion Sir Lewis had enough of his bullying. He wasn’t going to let this upstart ruin his British Grand Prix hopes.
I hope when Horner calms down he realises how disgraceful his behaviour is, and he apologises to the man whose name he has done his best to tarnish. Sir Lewis and Mercedes have acted with class and dignity, whereas Red Bull and Horner have acted like deranged and unbalanced people, who make up lies and excuses to suit their own purpose. Come on Horner, do the right thing, then maybe Formula One fans will be able to respect you just a little bit for admitting your behaviour was totally out of order. If you can’t do that then you don’t deserve to be a team principal!
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