Let’s talk about the 2021 screwjob, which is a reference to the Montreal Screwjob in 1997. Look it up.
A lot of people don’t like Lewis Hamilton. He comes across a certain way that a lot of folks don’t like. When he first started racing back in 2007, I was really impressed with his driving, but he didn’t have the maturity that’s needed when coming into a sport where people die. Formula 1 is extremely dangerous. As recently as 2020, Romain Grosjean was almost burned alive if not for a new safety device that was installed on cars to prevent damaging the head of the driver, which was introduced after we lost Jules Bianchi. As it turns out, this same device came in very useful in 2021 when a young driver positioned his rear tyre — still attached to the car he was piloting — on Lewis Hamilton’s head.
Yes, I’m talking about the young punk, Max Verstappen. He’s a punk in all the wrong ways. I refer to him as a petulant child. I’m not suggesting that Lewis Hamilton is innocent of all ills: this is racing after all, and you don’t win championships by being a nice person. Just ask Felipe Massa, one of the nicest people in the world.
I went to the longest Formula 1 race ever, the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, where I got to see Michael Schumacher wave to me after the race was over. That was amazing. It was in that race that Lewis Hamilton’s car had to be removed by crane because he’d introduced himself to a wall, and I jeered along with a lot of other spectators.
But there was always something different about him, especially after he moved to Mercedes in 2013. He found his stride. He started winning. And winning. And winning. Rosberg rightly gave him a bit of competition and deservedly won the championship in 2016. That’s when Lewis — to extend the metaphor — grew up and became the unassailably best Formula 1 racing driver alive (sorry Michael).
So what is it about Hamilton that people don’t like? Is it arrogance? I can give you a long list of drivers displaying arrogance over and over again, starting with Sebastian Vettel in a winning car with his “number one” finger sticking out at the end of every race. There are many other punchable faces in the paddock too that I’m sure you can think of. Max Verstappen is also arrogant.
I’d like you to listen to Lewis when he speaks: whether about his team or other racing drivers in general. About his fans. Watch him when he wears Pride colours, and kneels to represent Black Lives Matter. Hamilton is using his fame to talk about issues that affect more than just him. And of course he is gracious in defeat because he has to be as a Black man. He is the undisputed greatest performer in his field with the accolades to match, and any chance of him enjoying that comes with an additional layer of judgement.
So yes, I reckon a lot of the deep-seated resentment is because he’s Black, and has dreadlocks, and wears his heart on his sleeve. I also reckon that if he were white and British, well that’s literally the thing that invented colonialism! He’d be held up as the pinnacle of the sport. Those final lap shenanigans would have been resolved differently, and Max Verstappen would be called out for the dangerous driver that he is.
Lewis Hamilton is the greatest racing driver in the sport of Formula 1 alive, even greater than Michael Schumacher. We’ll never know if he was greater than Ayrton Senna, but they have the same drive, the same passion.
Finally, I’ll agree that Max Verstappen won the championship this year, that he had the advantage going into the final race. He put in the most wins, led the most laps, had the most podiums and all that. But, he’s a danger to the sport and needs to grow up too.
Two closing thoughts: Hamilton should have given that place back in the first lap, and the FIA should have a look at replacing Michael Masi tout de suite.
Photograph of Lewis Hamilton taken by Morio, and reproduced under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International).