Perfectly Gentlemanly Conduct

I’ve got no problem with what Lewis Hamilton did at the Abu Dhabi grand prix. This is for two reasons :

1 – I am a Ferrari fan and while the team motto isn’t “we lie, we cheat, we steal” it easily could be. I have no room to complain about anyone bending the rules.

2 – Hamilton was fighting for the world title. Nothing he did endangered anyone’s safety, and Mercedes had already won the constructors World title. There was nothing wrong with what Hamilton did and I’m still not sure why the Mercedes team management tried to interfere.

My only problem comes when he tries to pretend he didn’t deliberately slow down to try to help Vettel and Verstappen try to overtake Rosberg. It’s like “Lewis, who do you think you’re kidding?” The superiority of the Mercedes to the other cars has been a theme for the past few seasons. It was half a second faster than the next nearest car in qualifying. You can say all you want about tire and fuel management, but there are limits. If he’d said it while tipping a wink, it wouldn’t be so bad. Instead he bald-facedly said he was driving the car at its maximum, when it was clear to everyone from team management down that he wasn’t.

Nobody would think any the less of him for trying everything he could. All of us would have done something similar for such an important prize.

So why lie? It’s not like Formula 1 isn’t a sport known for its skullduggery. For example Red Bull’s flexible wings, Brawn’s F-ducts and everything Ferrari did in the years 1996-2009.

I can only imagine he’s either trying to live up to his image of Senna or he’s trying to protect the Lewis Hamilton brand. I’m not sure if either of those two are reasonable.

That image of Senna bares no resemblance to the Senna I remember. The real Senna punched Eddie Irvine and rammed Prost off the road. I think everyone loved Senna with all his flaws a lot more than they would have loved the milquetoast saint he’s sometimes made out to be. For similar reasons, I’m not convinced that Brand Hamiliton wouldn’t profit from him showing a more fighting side. Because of the technical dominance of Mercedes, the last two of Hamilton’s title wins have had the air of coronations about them. I think people love a fighting champ a lot more than a serene one. Being willing to show a little steel would have endeared him to people more than ‘I didn’t do it’ does.

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