SREELATA S.YELLAMRAZU | 29 SEPTEMBER, 2020
Too Much Red in Ferrari Territory as Hamilton Makes History - Well Almost!
Formula 1 kicks up a storm
By the end of the third back-to-back treble race weekends, Formula 1 racing was seeing too much red. Two races in Italy and three red flags can do that. As Lewis Hamilton nearly made history in the Ferrari’s territory, Formula 1 racing once again whipped up a storm.
Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix at Mugello turned out to less eventful for the team from Maranello. While driver performances and car issues continued to dominate the headlines for the stricken Ferrari team, the Italian national anthem went up for another team at Monza as Alpha Tauri and Pierre Gasly made their mark in the most unusual fashion.
If a solitary red flag caused problems in 2020’s first race in Italy, causing a blip on Lewis Hamilton’s record for a season for podium wins, two red flags and multiple collisions in Mugello failed to stop the Mercedes driver from now coming within one win of matching Michael Schumacher’s 91 career wins.
However, the biggest news coming out of Italy was bittersweet as fans and fellow drivers were of the opinion that Sebastian Vettel had done to Sergio Perez what had been done to him at Ferrari at the second start of the season.
While the four time champion cannot be blamed alone, the timing of the decision was called into question after it was announced that Vettel would take Perez’s place as an Aston Martin driver at Racing Point next year.
The scenario, although appearing to look like an overnight decision, turned out to be an ongoing discussion behind the scenes all season between the German driver and Lawrence Stroll, the billionaire owner of Racing Point, whose son, Lance Stroll, occupies the other seat.
The announcement was a bitter blow to Perez now left in a similar situation as Vettel was at the start of the season in July when Ferrari abruptly announced their departure from continuing with Vettel.
Dismay and anger followed even amongst fellow drivers as Perez, already affected by the coronavirus, was considered instrumental in turning around Racing Point’s fortunes.
One of the people coming out vocally in support of Perez who is now in the hunt for a seat for the 2021 season was Carloz Sainz, the driver replacing Vettel at Ferrari, “It makes me a little angry because I have a good relationship with him and I respect him a lot as a driver.”
“It reminds you that this sport is like that, that it gives you very little return. But it is the one that we have chosen to compete and be professionals in, and you have to accept it.”
Taking a scathing view of how the Racing Point let go of the talented Mexican driver, who was only informed at the late hour despite strong discussions between Stroll and Vettel, Sainz stated what other drivers felt, “What Checo (Perez) shows is that in F1 not everything is your performance.”
“Judging on purely performance, there is no reason why he (Perez) should leave Racing Point or they don’t want him. But in F1, there are other interests, things that come with performance that are very important.
“For me, Checo’s exit is a shame, because the team that he has trusted in for so many years, that he practically saved from bankruptcy and that they finally get producing a good car for him, is now the team that does not want to continue with him. It is a real shame.”
Sainz added, “I hope he gets a seat that motivates him.”
Until Italy, Max Verstappen thought he was in the best seat in the house to take on Hamilton’s dominance. However, two ‘did not finish’ results in Monza and thereafter in Mugello put paid to the ambitions of the Red Bull driver.
Although it was a contact crash that seemed to put Verstappen out of the race in Monza, technical issues with the car was already rendering him a slow start, steadily falling behind before the inevitable happened.
What Verstappen’s misfortunes have done is given Hamilton a cushion of a lead even as Valterri Bottas in his own Mercedes pit garage has been giving the British driver a shakedown for prime spot in the garage. Even when orders from the pit garage suggested Bottas make way for Hamilton to pass, Bothas claimed over the car radio of not being aware of any such agreement to the effect.
Meanwhile, there was little to cheer for the prancing horse in Italy despite back to back races at Monza and Mugello. If anything, Ferrari were beginning to admit that their hopes for a turnaround were whittling so fast, they might have to now wait until 2022 and rule changes in order to paint the town red.
The drama up and down the track and the repeated presence of the safety car on track failed to stop Hamilton though to come within touching distance now of equalling the former German driver, Michael Schumacher, on 91 race wins.
Sealing his 90th at Mugello after being penalized for pit stop issues at Monza, Hamilton continued to rule the root and raise awareness for issues that have taken over the agenda for several sports.
Sporting a T-shirt in support of Brianna Taylor, Hamilton continued his open and rather controversial crusade on police brutality and championing the cause of ‘Black Lives Matter’.
Adding purpose to his performance, Hamilton currently leads the field in a league unto his own and a legacy he is building even as a younger generation vies for attention as the likes of Pierre Gasly has shown at Alpha Tauri. The first French driver to win a Grand Prix in 24 years when he sealed the deal in Monza was the recipient of benevolence after Hamilton was served a 10 second penalty at the Italian Grix in a chaotic race.
“Three races in one day,” was how Hamilton put it at the Tuscan Grand Prix after the two red flags and an attrition fuelled race left him depleted. Although coming out of it unscathed to win his 90th race, Hamilton’s reaction after finishing on top highlighted just how tumultuous the race had been.
Hamilton will certainly be hoping that Sochi this weekend will prove to be far less eventful and a smooth ride to the top. Not something Vettel can hope at Ferrari or at Racing Point as many believe will be the case even if he has secured a place for the next season.
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