AN IGNORANT AMERICAN THINKS THE F1 GODS WERE ANGRY AT IMOLA 2021
Maybe it's magical thinking, but it's pretty obvious to me that Lewis Hamilton is the Chosen One and his mistakes must be atoned.
Hello race fans! Wow, was Imola a real cracker of a race. So much excitement, twists and turns, water falling from the sky, crashes, victory, heartbreak, the whole enchilada. When I first started watching F1, I developed a theory that the best races have an extra, uncontrollable element of chaos thrown in, and this weekend certainly came with a large dose of unpredictability. With two such races to start it out, the 2021 season is living up to our predictions of epic-ness so far, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
I know I’m late on this, but here are my 5 ignorant observations from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and a very off-the-wall question that I hope you all can help me research.
1. Formula 1 is better when 4 different teams finish in the top 4 places.
We all know that we’re supposed to content ourselves with the midfield battle when Mercedes runs away with the lead, but is it ever really that satisfying? It’s certainly not as satisfying as seeing Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, and Ferrari duke it out at the front. To my untrained eye it doesn’t look like Mercedes has gotten worse this season, it looks more like the other teams have stepped up their engineering and gotten better, and that makes the races better. Ferrari is back in a big way, perhaps not to their former glory, but the duel between Max and Charles that occupied a good chunk of the race looked to me like the ghost of F1’s future, whenever Hamilton moves on. Admit it, for all of our admiring talk of technical prowess, what we really want to see are drivers trying to get past each other. I hope the trend continues through the rest of the year.
2. Sergio Perez is in trouble.
Practice wasn’t kind to Sergio Perez, and the safety car nonsense was more of a management issue than a driver issue. Lots of drivers, including Hamilton, had offs on the same turns. We could chalk up Perez’s poor finish to bad luck, but one of the things I’ve learned over the last 3 years is that “bad luck” is not a valid excuse in F1. Just ask Gasly, or Vettel, or Stoffel Van Doorne how much consideration they got from management for honest misfortune. I really hope Checo has some good luck in the next few races, and is able to showcase his skill again soon, because bad luck in F1 is often grounds for dismissal or demotion.
3. When Hamilton makes a mistake, the Matrix glitches and chaos ensues.
Hamilton’s off into the gravel at Tosa (I had to look it up, I still don’t know all the named turns) stunned the racing world. Even with a track that was still a little wet, to see Lewis lock up and slide off into the rocks was a major shock to me and, I think, to most people watching. We just aren’t used to signs that Hamilton has human weaknesses of any kind, which I suddenly realized must be an incredible amount of pressure for a 36 year old to carry around. The F1 deities were just as surprised, and they let Hamilton off easy with nothing more than a busted front wing. But for every error there must be atonement, so the capricious gods of racing quickly transferred the blood-debt to Hamilton’s team mate and under-study, and the sins of the Chosen One were paid for sevenfold by Bottas and Russell.
4. I wouldn’t want to be George Russell this week.
It wasn’t the most violent crash I’ve seen in F1, but it might have been the fastest, and man was there a lot of confetti to clean up. What I don’t understand is Russell’s response. He needs Mercedes to like him. He needs Toto to like him. No one on the track really wants Bottas for an enemy. To use Martin Brundle’s phrase, the “junior school” garbage might have worked for Verstappen a few years ago because Verstappen was undoubtedly a talented driver, but even then Max always apologized for crashing into his seniors, which he did quite a lot. Russell’s weird attitude toward Bottas and his antics right after the crash may have been the result of high emotion, but my guess is that this week is going to be hell for him as the whole world reminds him that he’s no Lewis Hamilton and he’s no Max Verstappen and emotions are not allowed on German racing teams.
5. It turns out track limits are not that hard to enforce.
The big debate after Bahrain was how to better enforce track limits. In Italy, the stewards seemed to have figured it out quite easily. The penalties and deletion of lap times during practice and qualifying trained the drivers to respect the track limits on race day, and those who didn’t had no doubt about why they were being punished. It seemed like a difficult issue to resolve, but it turns out it was just a matter of enforcing the rules that were already on the books. If only we could figure out how to do that in the public sphere…
Anyway, my takeaway from this weekend is that Lewis Hamilton has some kind of supernatural anointing. He has been destined by the Fates to win in the same way that Nico Hulkenberg was cursed by a witch to always finish 7th. Hamilton’s error was paid for by a second-place finish and the blood of a Merc and a Williams, and balance has been restored to the endless cycle of things. All I know is that if Lewis goes off again this season, watch out for mayhem elsewhere on the track. All must be atoned!
Here is my off-the-wall question that I hope you can help me answer - the paddock structures of each team look portable. Are they packed up and flown into each city where a race is held? How are they transported? How small do they fold up? What are they made out of? What amenities do they include? How much do they cost the teams?
I’m really hoping one of you can point me to a video that shows the whole setup and takedown process, and maybe a tour of each team’s facility.
Guide me, internet strangers. See you in Portugal, and thanks for reading!