I am amazed by the fuss that has been kicked up in the aftermath of an enthralling season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
To sum up: Lewis Hamilton won but it was not enough in terms of points and thus ended his reign as champion, while his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg did what he had to do by finishing second and with it becoming the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion.
Sad luck but good try Lewis, well done Nico you deserve it… Done and dusted?
No. Instead of letting things be, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff cried “anarchy” after one of the most intriguing and exciting final showdowns in the history of the sport.
Let’s not get started on Wolff’s racing naivety, clearly it knows no limits and one has to question if racing is in his blood, like it is in the veins of most serious F1 fans and the majority of people in the paddock.
Racing must always take preference over corporate machinations and this is not negotiable, otherwise it’s not racing and not sport either.
What did Wolff expect? Lewis to roll-over and end his season with a whimper? Had he done that he would not be the champion we know him to be. The Mercedes chief should have known better.
Love him or loathe him, Hamilton did as true champions do and tried until the very last corner of the title fight to cause a massive upset. It was riveting stuff as he expertly backed Rosberg into the chasing duo of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.
Hamilton’s tactics are as old as motorsport itself and he was showing his mastery on the night. The ploy, which is as common as shielding a ball to the byline in football [soccer], could also backfire, but on this occasion it was a driver at the very top of his game pulling out all the stops with mesmerising effect.
After all he started the race from pole position with three dominant wins on the trot to his name, and on the night could have simply disappeared into the distance.
But despite silly odds, Hamilton opted to fight to the bitter end and notably without assistance from his pit wall. Quite to the contrary in fact, as Paddy Lowe issued ultimatums which Hamilton thankfully ignored. Paddy should have known better too.
The world champion played his last card on his own, slowing to a snail’s pace when he could and speeding up when required. Sublime skills, incredible chutzpah and the heart of a champion.
This in turn added huge pressure on Rosberg, who admitted as much, and that he survived speaks volumes for the German’s nerves under extreme pressure. It was his most tense race. Horrible, he declared at the end.
The script of the 2016 F1 season would hardly be believable if it were not real: new world champion starts season in dominant style, defending champion bounces back with a series of dominant displays, before new champion goes on a victory binge until reigning champion goes one better by winning the final four rounds and then in the season finale goes down punching… but fails. A movie for another generation no doubt.
So Wolff should shut it and allow us to savour a season which delivered a great duel between Nico and Lewis with a very satisfying outcome for majority of real F1 fans. A contest that already sets the stage for a mouth-watering 2017 season shoot-out.
In the end the last word on the matter goes to Nico who, like Lewis is a true racer, and his blood pumps racing. This is what he had to say after the nerve wrecking battle on the biggest night of his life:
“Lewis was using all his skill to do it perfectly, so there was absolutely no way for me to manage to get by, so of course I thought about it but it was just pointless so there was no way. He did it in a very good way, in a perfect way.”
“We can just drop the whole discussion. There’s no point discussing this topic any more. It’s done and it’s in the past,” spoken like a true F1 World Champion that he has now become.
Inside Line Opinion by Paul Velasco