Call it a heartbreak. Call it a seriously low point in the ongoing 2021 world championship. Or, call it what you may, but Lewis Hamilton not finishing a Grand Prix, and instead crashing out of it wasn’t a good sight. Not one bit, even more so that his race-retirement happened at a track where the seven-time world champion is a five-time winner.
Someone who, by virtue of his great consistency and amazing pace, has tamed the Ferrari at their own race event in the past, being beaten only by Charles Leclerc in 2019, whilst coming on top of a staunch challenge mounted by Kimi Raikkonen in the Finn’s last season with the Scuderia, 2018.
Though, for the 2021 Monza-bound Italian GP, when the current defending world champion would have so liked to get on top of things, his effort being to make do for a lost opportunity in the sprint (qualifying) race, the end result was drastic and horrific.
To see his archrival, while some calling him his nemesis, Lewis Hamilton saw, immediately after his first scheduled stop, Max Verstappen right on top, literally speaking.
A dreadful sight. One that evoke horrors beside shock, not awe!
And while the end result of both drivers coming to blows at Monza on Sunday means no drastic change in the Driver Standings, it certainly is a chance lost for two extremely fast and daring racers of the grid.
One among them- slightly callous and overzealous, which one though, is something you’d have to decide depending on whose side you really are.
Was Max Verstappen to be blamed for the crash completely? You’d argue so. Here’s why. What was visible was that the Red Bull driver, who had the racing line, had sped up the moment he saw the Mercedes crawling out of the pits, in a relatively straight forward attempt to pass the slower car.
But even as he saw Lewis Hamilton cutting to the left hand side, which even Verstappen would’ve done, in the Mercedes’ bid to deny the Red Bull the track position, Max failed to slow down. This is when the duo were battling in the approach to the first chicane.
That part of the incident, which should never have taken place in the first place, sees the blame on the current leader of the world championship, not that his attempted pass on Lewis helped him or Red Bull’s cause one bit- as he’d take himself out.
But truthfully speaking and in all fairness, any racing incident must be examined from both ends.
So let’s see what happened where Hamilton was concerned. Frankly, the only bit of blame, if at all, one were to put on the mighty experienced driver, one who’s currently neck and toe involved in the struggle for the top, was that the Mercedes cut way too strangely to the left.
This is he knew what was up ahead, right after cutting across to deny Max the move, was a right-hander. Remember, Lewis was always on the inside line, hence, the right-hand side with Max on the outside.
But then rests a question- would a driver who’s desperately trying to find his way back to the top in the Driver Standings not have attempted to block Max? Would Red Bull not have done the same knowing Max’s penchant for right-on-the-limit driving, if one weren’t to term it ‘dangerous?’
Nonetheless, much to the chagrin of both teams, two top drivers- one a conqueror of the F1 throne (on multiple occasions), and the other, the pretender to the throne- were out of the race.
But more importantly, it was the manner in which the accident occurred. Max, in not holding back, taking a bump from the orange sausage kerbs, and resultantly, flying into thin-air landing only, on his arch-rivals’ head.
Another occasion where one rightly thanked the invention of the halo. Imagine what might have been the repercussion for Lewis Hamilton had the halo not been there?
If it’s racing, there will be accidents, some more dangerous than most others. But one can always- it ought to be remembered- contend with a certain amount of caution.
Even in going daggers drawn on one’s opponent, and this is just a perspective, there’s always space to exercise restraint.
That both drivers walked out unscathed was great news for everybody. Though only Lewis Hamilton suffered the most pain endured from a sight that wasn’t any pretty.
That being said, here’s a question- while Max was well within his rights to attempt a pass on the Mercedes, not the fastest car at Monza as seen on Sunday, did he not have half a minute, or if not, a few seconds, to stop by and ask for his opponent’s well-being?
Hamilton, remember, was still stuck in his car as Verstappen walked away. And if his indifference, very much visible, was in the heat of the moment since a dangerous crash had occurred, has Max issued a word or two of concern now that the accident is over?