Opinion: That’s Entertainment

    On the night of 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, a sport failed.

    Published On Dec 14, 2021 05:55:00 PM


    Opinion: That’s Entertainment

    A new champ was born and a sport was killed the night of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP. Yes, dramatic it may all sound, but the actions of the FIA that evening only bolstered arguments of those who have long refused to acknowledge motor racing as a sport. It was simply an error in judgment, but it erred on the side of entertainment, not sport. And that’s really a pity.

    Much has been said about the two calls that night: Lewis Hamilton running wide and the race restart after the safety car. Regarding the first, I think Lewis should have given back the position he gained. But Max Verstappen did run him wide and Lewis genuinely had no room. Plus, Max didn’t lock up and kept it within the race track. So the FIA only asked Lewis to reduce the gap and not drop behind, and that was in the spirit of ‘letting them race’.

    But that didn’t play out all through, did it? If that were the case, the FIA had far better options for the safety car restart. I would simply follow protocol, let all cars un-lap and finish under the safety car. Yes, an anti-climactic finish, but we’ve had this before and that’s motor racing; accidents do happen. Besides, in no way would it have robbed Max of a race, he was far behind and clearly not going to mount any late challenge.

    But let’s acknowledge that even as a sport you do have to put on a show. Should it be at the expense of the spirit of competition? As so many have already said, if the un-lapping protocol was so undesirable, the race could have been red flagged and we’d have had a thrilling 3- to 4-     lap duel with both cars on the same tyres. Or, the un-lapped cars could have been kept in place, Max would get about half a lap to clear them and Lewis a chance to try and defend better. Both scenarios would have ensured a fair fight to the championship contenders and, also importantly, to other competitors too. Some had their own races muddled up, as they have already stated and, of course, both these scenarios would have added that drama and excitement! Sigh. 

    No, I’m not a damp squib. Of course, I watch motor racing for the excitement. And this isn’t about siding with my favourite driver, either – in any case, he stopped mid race and stepped into retirement – this is simply about the love of sport. Yes sport, close hard human competition. I really hope future FIA decisions respect that fine line between sport and entertainment. That’s quite simply why I loathe the decision that night. It altered the natural course, was fair to only one of the two championship contenders and treated others like chopped liver. That’s not sport, that’s entertainment.

    Also see:

    Verstappen crowned 2021 F1 champion after last-lap pass on Hamilton

    Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.


    LurA - 715 days ago

    Max is a deserving winner! but it's ok to rob Lewis? No F1 fan will be able to digest this farce. Better to stick with MotoGP where racing is concluded on track Lewis beat max at the start and in racing until he was robbed by the farce. At least I am happy it's not the drivers who mocked the sport. May be it's the only way to beat Lewis and his team. So congratulations to Max and Rebull on the first ever Masi Fia championship. I don't think Senna would have celebrated such a championship asbif there's no tomorrow Masi clearly stated to horner that lapped cars won't be allowed to overtake. Then all of a sudden everything changes with invention of a new rule. I think the order possibly came from very powerful higher ups who didn't want Lewis to take 8th at all cost or could be revenge for bringing blm into F1 Antonio's conduct is also wired. He was rolling around for some time to park safely but when he parked he kept rolling away from the opening which would have made extraction faster Horners tone on the radio even when max unable to close much on new hards and no radio communication with driver about how fast he closing appears suspect. Kind of relaxation if I know what's going to happen Redbull were discussing with Perez about how to help after his first pitstop when Lewis was 30 second ahead. Either he could have held up as backmarker or were redbull planning tactical safety car crash? Respect for Perez in turkey, Brazil, multiple tows but none in abudhabi. Hard racing is welcome but he deliberately slowed the pace down in twisties. That's not hard racing but race fixing If roles were reversed Max would have damaged Lewis front wing or punctured his tyres deliberately. Lewis kept his integrity Fanbois will cry it's team sports. The same goes to Mercedes. As a team they worked their arses off in second half to improve their package. Lewis and this team set it up for race. Max and redbull set it up for qualy and bet everything on staying ahead and defend by any means necessary How about the conduct of max completely blocking Lewis from heating up his tires before restart? Mercedes shouldgo up to CAS. If they win the case they should withdraw from everything F1. If not stay for 1 more year and then withdraw Masi has upheld the tradition of Australian cricket umpires who did any blatant thing for their country to win before technology was brought in. They have cheated even with technology

    Kshitij - 715 days ago

    Completely agree. This season, specially the last two races were more like race control managing a show. Not good for the sport.

    Kshitij - 715 days ago

    Completely agree. This season, specially the last two races were more like race control managing a show. Not good for the sport.

    Ask Autocar Anything about Car and Bike Buying and Maintenance Advices
    Need an expert opinion on your car and bike related queries?
    Ask Now

    Search By Car Price

    Poll of the month

    Would you buy an electric Royal Enfield?

    Yes, electric mobility is here to stay and we must adapt



    No, it's not a proper Royal Enfield without the sound and feel



    Total Votes : 1276
    Sign up for our newsletter

    Get all the latest updates from the automobile universe