I had a few people message me with pictures of the infamous collision between Formula 1 champions Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve back in 1997. The were kind enough to attach a picture of the incident and while I appreciate their sentiment, I don’t think what happened in Baku is remotely related other than both drivers being German and in a red car.
Good on Autosport for anticipating my defense by sourcing Jacques Villeneuve himself on the incident and his response may surprise you.
“It was very different,” he explained to Autosport. “They’re going 10mph, who cares?
“Of course it was ugly, but ultimately Lewis brake-tested him.
“I’m a driver, I’ve been there. Whenever a driver did that to me, then I would do whatever Seb did.
“He got a penalty, the biggest he could get I guess according to the new rules.”
There were a lot of messages sent to me with links to news articles stating that the FIA reviewed data from Lewis Hamilton’s car that showed no brake-testing and the wording of all those articles struck me as inconclusive and possibly misleading. One article suggested his previous lap was the same as the re-start lap which, if you listened to our race review podcast, you would know that we feel these two laps are distinctively different and not a good litmus test.
There were other articles that said he didn’t significantly brake or lift differently than other re-starts and while this may be true, there have been some accusations that suggest that his actual speed radically dropped meaning he lifted. Who knows? I find it all a case of pro and con Lewis camps trying to make a case with crafty verbiage and suspect “data”. The fact is, even if he did brake-test him, Seb needs to be heads up and his reaction was in poor form.
The fan and mobocracy reaction to Seb’s reaction has been equally silly. Think of the children, he’ll inspire road rage deaths et. al. Really? If you listened to our podcast, both Paul and I make a case that after watching the on-board camera of Seb’s, I’m not entirely convinced he meant to hit Lewis but it would be even more embarrassing to say that he cocked up and accidently drove into the champ. Don’t believe us? Well, a F1 champion in the form of Villeneuve might.
“I don’t think he was trying to hit him,” said the 1997 champion.
“He had one hand on the wheel and was looking at him and pointing the finger.
“You don’t hit with your wheels turned like that, you will break your own car, and with one hand – if you’re going to hit someone, you have two hands on the wheel!
“In a way I am happy to see that drivers have emotions. It’s good, it’s fun.
“We have the two guys fighting for the championship, getting angry with each other, and ultimately no damage was done.
“What’s the big issue? It’s great TV, it’s good to see that they’re on it.
“Much nicer than Lewis asking [Valtteri] Bottas to slow Vettel down. That was embarrassing.”
There is one point that JV makes that no one is speaking about and that is Hamilton’s request for Valtteri Bottas to slow down and aid him in passing Vettel in the closing laps of the race. That was slightly odd given the Bottas was driving his tail off trying to reach the podium which is what Mercedes pay him to do and Lewis is under the notion that Valtteri is there to play helper and be the number two driver…which the team, Valtteri and others say isn’t the case. So which is it? Did Lewis just tell the world that Valtteri is a clear number two at Mercedes and his role is to play wet-nurse to Lewis?
It’s all very interesting and makes for good TV and press. No, I’m not beating up on Lewis, he drove a good race and got scuttled by an errant head support and Seb did a bad move by hitting him in anger or error. What I find ridiculous is the outrage over the situation and castigating of Seb or Lewis. I also have a difficult time in understanding what F1 fans want. Some said this was a great, eventful race and others thought it was a sham. What do you want? I thought this was a fun race to watch and it certainly mixed things up a bit.
Hat Tip: Autosport