The 2021 F1 battle is not the only title 'robbery' that Lewis Hamilton has been a part of

The other F1 title 'robbery' involving Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton said that the end of the 2022 F1 Italian GP brought back memories of what happened in Abu Dhabi last season. His fans too felt the same as they went into outrage yet again. #voidlap58, #humanerrorchampion, #abudhabiscandal, and whatnot were trending once again after the race.

It's safe to say that what happened at the 2021 F1 Abu Dhabi GP was not the best way to go about things. The topic has, however, been discussed to death. Everyone has their opinions on what happened and they're not going to change. Having said that, it's clear that the incident and its repercussions for Hamilton are still fresh in the minds of many.

Ad
Since the shocking finish of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, numerous F1 fans have clamoured for the FIA to #VoidLap58. But can Abu Dhabi results be overturned?

#F1 #TeamLH @LH44_insights
silverarrows.net/opinions/guest…

First of all, it speaks volumes about Lewis Hamilton's personality. It's not often you see an F1 driver command such a huge army of followers. Kudos to him for achieving that!

Having said that, the considerable outrage and the words 'F1 Robbery' being thrown around made us curious. Let's assume that the 2021 F1 championship was a 'robbery'. It made us think of what other championships in the past could be considered 'robbery'.

Starting with the 2021 F1 season, we went back year by year until we stumbled on one. Going back over a decade, we did eventually find a championship that could be considered a 'robbery'. Ironically, this championship battle also featured Hamilton prominently.

On this day in 2008 Lewis Hamilton won his first #Formula1 world title, and became the youngest champion in history, in only his second season!

#F1 #TeamLH
Ad

Now, many fans would be surprised to hear that Lewis Hamilton has featured in not one but two championship 'robberies' in his career. While fans are well aware of the 2021 F1 championship 'robbery', the previous such instance was the title battle in 2008 where Hamilton won the title from Felipe Massa by one point.

In this piece, we look at why the 2008 championship was a 'robbery'.


What happened in the 2008 F1 season?

Now, before we get to the gist of it, let's get some background on what happened in 2008. The title battle featuring Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and Felipe Massa of Ferrari came down to the wire, with the former clinching it by completing a last-lap overtake over Timo Glock.

Ad
🏎 OTD in 2008: Lewis Hamilton wins his first World Drivers Championship at the #BrazilianGP @InterlagosTrack

Do you think the WDC is close this year?

Hamilton won by ONE point from Ferrari's Felipe Massa on the final lap after passing Timo Glock and finishing 5th.

In a close title battle, the pendulum swung both ways throughout the season. In the end, Felipe Massa, with 6 wins and 97 points, fell short of Lewis Hamilton's tally of 5 wins and 98 points. As can be seen here, the last lap overtake made all the difference.

Now, at this point, everything seems fine. It was a close battle and Hamilton won it from the skin of his teeth. Why would anyone then term it a 'robbery'?


The bone of contention! (Crashgate)

Ad

The bone of contention was uncovered almost a year later. Nelson Piquet Jr., a former Renault driver, revealed in 2009 that he was ordered to voluntarily crash during the 2008 F1 Singapore GP by his team boss Flavio Briatore and his deputy Pat Symonds.

After his mid-season Renault departure, an angry Nelson Piquet Jr gave the @fia evidence of race-fixing at the previous season's #F1 #SingaporeGP; as the sordid Crashgate scandal exploded, team boss Flavio Briatore and head of engineering Pat Symonds resigned, #OnThisDay in 2009.

During Lap 15 of the race, Piquet Jr. would innocuously crash into a wall, bringing out the safety car. This resulted in his teammate Fernando Alonso gaining a huge advantage, who took the lead out of nowhere and won the race.

The incident didn't cause much concern at the time. In 2009, however, when it was ultimately proved that the 2008 F1 Singapore GP was pretty much a 'fixed race', it brought the sport and the Renault brand a lot of infamies. The scandal was subsequently termed "Crashgate".


Where do Lewis Hamilton and 'championship robbery' fit into all of this?

Now, this is where things get interesting. The infamous 2008 F1 Singapore GP featured Lewis Hamilton finishing 3rd while Felipe Massa was caught out in frantic pitstops during the safety car. He would finish P15 and outside the points. Hamilton scored six points from the race while Massa had nothing to show for his efforts.

Ad

The missing context is the fact that Felipe Massa was utterly dominant around Singapore. Nobody, not even his teammate Kimi Raikkonen or challenger Lewis Hamilton, could get close to him. Just to illustrate the Brazilian's dominance over the field, Massa was a ridiculous six tenths of a second faster than Hamilton in qualifying. Even in the race, he was cruising towards a dominant win as nobody had an answer for him.

Nelson Piquet Jr.'s crash-induced safety car, however, ruined everything. If there had been no safety car intervention, it would have been a Felipe Massa win, giving him 10 points, and Lewis Hamilton would have finished in P2 scoring 8 points. In the final points tally, where Massa lost the championship by one point, there would be a swing and the Brazilian would be the world champion.

Now, this is hypothetical stuff and not worth pondering over. What is, however, more important and needs to be questioned is why a race that has been deemed a "fixed race" for all intents and purposes still features in the championship for the 2008 F1 season. Why are we adding points to the championship from a race whose result was, for the lack of a better word, 'manipulated'?

Shouldn't the results of that race be excluded? Should that be done, Lewis Hamilton will be stripped of the title he won in 2008. That did not happen now, did it? It does make you question why in a world where #voidlap58 trends every day, why was there no such #Void2008SingaporeGP trending at the time.

Ad

Why no chants of #Void2008SingaporeGP?

When we compare the two events, it's not a question of what's more egregious. What happened in Abu Dhabi in 2021 was not F1's greatest moment. Similarly, what we had in Singapore in 2008 was a fixed race. Despite that, why did we not see similar outrage for what happened in Singapore? There are a few reasons behind it.

The brash nature of the 'Abu Dhabi Scandal'

What transpired in Abu Dhabi had a brash nature to it. The safety car was called in all of a sudden, and the unlapped drivers between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were moved out of the way. Hamilton was left exposed and then we all saw what happened. The nature of the Abu Dhabi incident was right in front of our eyes and hence had a bigger impact on the fans.

You know what's really stupid?

Abu Dhabi 2021: All lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen cleared, and the SC comes in on the last lap. (Verstappen 2nd)
Italy 2022: The race finishes behind the Safety Car with no racing laps. (Verstappen 1st)

A bit fishy if you ask me.

In contrast, the nature of the 2008 'robbery' is more subtle. Not many people were even able to discern that it was this very race that cost Felipe Massa the title and hence, the outrage did not even exist.

Ad

Lack of education

A far more important factor is the difference in the ecosystem. F1 is increasingly mainstream these days and easily accessible. Its global reach has soared and it has penetrated an entirely new section of the audience in the last few years. In 2008, F1 was more of a niche sport. It did not have the global reach it does right now. Consequently, the outrage was non-existent at the time. Moreover, social media was not as potent then as it is right now.

Another crucial factor to be considered when talking about current fans of the sport is that not many are even aware of the Crashgate scandal. Subsequently, certainly not many are aware of the repercussions of that fixed race in the championship.

Comparing what happened in 2008 to that in 2021, the biggest difference is the lack of awareness of such an event transpiring in 2008.

The Cult of Lewis Hamilton

FInally, arguably another important factor is the personality who was subjected to the 'F1 robbery'. When we talk about Formula One, let's admit one thing, Lewis Hamilton is a phenom in this sport. Not many athletes in the world possess a following close to what Hamilton has. When you compare the following of any other driver on the grid to that of the Mercedes driver's, it's almost laughable.

this is funny because it’s been 9 months and today, we’ve got f3 drivers praying that what happened to Lewis Hamilton in AD doesn’t happen to them.

AD won’t be forgotten- all it’s done is made people (fans and drivers) lose faith in this sport.
Ad

On Twitter alone, he has around 7.7 million followers; the next best is around 3 million. On Instagram, he has a whopping 30 million followers; the next best is around 10 million. These numbers show Hamilton's stature as compared to other drivers, and to be honest, he is the only true superstar in the sport right now.

It was this number that drove the aforementioned outrage. Millions of his fans saw their favorite driver get 'robbed' right in front of them, and they couldn't let it go! This is the reason why we still see #AbuDhabiScandal or #Voidlap58 trend on Twitter despite it being a year to the incident.


The purpose of this piece!

The purpose of this piece is not to take shots at anyone. Rather, it is simply to educate the new-age fans who clamor for justice because of what happened in Abu Dhabi last season. If the rules were followed to the dot, Lewis Hamilton might have won the title in 2021. In the same breath, however, he would have lost the title in 2008.

When Lewis Hamilton was 'robbed' off the title in Abu Dhabi in 2021, he was also a beneficiary of the title 'robbery' in 2008. With this piece, we hope to educate the fans that the Mercedes driver has not always been a victim of the FIA's inadequacies, rather he has benefitted from it as well.

Ad
Edited by
Anurag C
 
 
See more
More from Sportskeeda