To be clear, Max fans, it’s not that I begrudge him the title. Sure, I have issues with his park-it-on-the-apex unraceability, but his sheer speed in 2021 was breathtaking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more electrified car than the RB16 in his hands during qualifying for Saudi Arabia. It’s one of the greatest laps in modern times, despite him not finishing it. He was jaw-dropping last year.
But purists will surely be disappointed by the fashion in which he clinched the title. To lean on the FIA’s own phrasing, there’s the risk history may mark this as a tarnished title, when it could so easily have been an unqualified classic. It’s this that I begrudge.
What hasn’t helped is the FIA’s suggestion that it’s our fault, for our “significant misunderstanding” of what was going on. The FIA is right to say the matter is “tarnishing the image of the championship” but it wasn’t fans, nor Formula 1 teams and drivers, that caused it. We understood quite clearly what we saw.
For others, the final straw with F1 came earlier; the track limits melodrama, the seemingly ‘heads or tails’ handout of penalties after on-track incidents, the farce that was Spa – even further back, to Ferrari’s secret engine deal and the assumption we’re all meant to just pretend nothing happened.
Whenever it came, it all smacks of die-hard race fans not being taken seriously in the quest for the spectacle.
In my tweet, I asked the FIA how it was going to resolve things, and get me to turn on for 2022. Perhaps encouragingly, the organisation has promised to study things and delivery “meaningful feedback and conclusions” before the 2022 season begins.
Anyone else still have @f1 binned after that utter farce of a final 2021 race? Even watching old race highlights on YouTube is too painful, never mind following the news. Still waiting to see how you’ll resolve it, @fia.
— Richard Aucock (@richardaucock) January 4, 2022
I, and it seems many thousands of others, await this with interest. As does Mercedes, which is why it dropped its appeal into the Abi Dhabi debacle (With Toto Wolff promising to hold the FIA “accountable”). This should give me hope we may yet see something meaningful, that all this sporting anguish may yet be resolved. But I admit I’m not holding my breath.
We want to love F1 again; we secretly still want to follow 2022 with relish. But, right now, it’s all still too raw. We give so much time and emotion into F1, and this has been shattered. Can we risk investing such passion again?
Abu Dhabi remains a sore spot that must be treated. We want assurance the brilliant thrills and spills our sport can deliver will be beyond reproach. But we also want evidence we’ll be listened to. We want to be taken seriously, not dismissed, or told the fault is ours, not yours.
Until then, F1, sorry, but I’m out.