By Ebiwene O. Bozimo
I repeatedly read this narrative of Red Bull being ‘smarter’ by changing Max Verstappen’s tyres and criticizing Mercedes’ strategy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
At Abu Dhabi, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton had practically pulverized their main opposition in pace, skill and position. They had absolutely no need to come and take on new tyres because nothing Verstappen did on new tyres brought him even remotely near Hamilton on old tyres – such was the degree and display of dominance.
Dispense with the mealy mouthed ‘deserved to win’ mantra. F1 is not a contest of ‘deserving’ drivers because arguably the Haas team, struggling in a car with zero development, ‘deserve’ to win even more for ‘showing up’ nonetheless. You can’t change the goal posts and claim you have a fair contest.
By dint of the efforts of both drivers and their teams, they had arrived at Abu Dhabi level on points and so it was indeed a ‘winner takes all’ showdown. Winner. On. The. Day.
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Not winner based on their efforts and exploits before the day. There are 18 other drivers also working hard who also ‘deserve’ to win. It is not about ‘deserving’; it is about delivering. On the day. And that was exactly what Hamilton did.
The record will show and the result will state that Verstappen won. However he ‘won’ solely because race director Michael Masi broke the rules of Safety Car procedure and played ‘god’.
At the very least, Masi should be sacked for toxic incompetence. He was promoted, suddenly, beyond his capabilities due to the unfortunate passing of Charlie Whiting. While different examples of his inability existed before, matters came to a head and it was obvious at Abu Dhabi that he is not capable of managing the pinnacle of motorsport on the world’s biggest stage.
And that is a charitable take, devoid of suspicions of underhanded conduct by him.
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