By Carol M. Creasey
With various rumours abounding about Red Bull’s breach of the cost cap for 2021, life in the world of Formula One still had to go on.
Max Verstappen took a dominant victory in Japan to seal his Drivers’ Championship and, as Red Bull is clearly the fastest car on the grid in race trim, it seemed a foregone conclusion that this weekend his team would seal the Constructors’ Championship as well.
Unfortunately the way Red Bull’s budget cap transgression has been dealt with by the FIA has left many Formula One fans questioning the integrity of the governing organization, and wondering why Red Bull seems to be a team they are very lenient with regarding penalties both on and off the track. Several prominent figures including Sir Lewis Hamilton, Zak Brown, Carlos Sainz, Mattia Binotto, and Toto Wolff have spoken out about how much extra development could have been achieved with a lot less than the rumoured amount Red Bull went over the budget by. Fans in their thousands have clamoured for Lewis to be given the drivers title for 2021, as it is now tainted on two accounts, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Lewis himself has thanked his fans for their loyalty, and said how much he loves them all, and is looking towards next year to try and claim another championship.
What is worrying is the fact that Red Bull has this advantage to take with them into 2023, which is totally unfair to all the other teams, especially Ferrari, who have a great car in qualifying. Charles Leclerc has gotten many poles this year, maybe with a bit of extra development they could have won more races. We will never know.
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So, everyone expected Verstappen to just race to victory at the United States Grand Prix, even though he could not match Carlos Sainz in qualifying. At the beginning of the race Sainz made a bad start, and came together with George Russell, picking up a puncture, and sadly had to retire from the race. Leclerc had an engine penalty, as did Sergio Perez, so they were further back. Russell continued on after serving a five-second penalty during his pit stop, and eventually finished fifth. Lewis managed to avoid the carnage of this incident, and went into P2.
Owing to a bad pit stop of eleven seconds by Red Bull, Lewis got ahead of Verstappen, and then the race became exciting. He fought with every fibre of his body to hold off the Dutchman, and it was thrilling to watch. Handicapped by a car that is only third fastest, he had to eventually cede first place to Verstappen, but his plucky defence was a pleasure to see until the inevitable happened and the Dutchman breezed past him. Leclerc made his way up to third place on the podium.
The discussions the FIA is engaged in with Red Bull regarding their cost cap breach have been put on hold out of respect for the co-founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, who passed away this weekend, so nobody actually knows what will happen. For the sake of the fans, the drivers, and the sport, let’s hope that the punishment will fit the crime, otherwise, judging by the unrest on social media, it seems that many people will be refusing to attend races, and/or stop watching Formula 1 altogether.
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