Formula One 2021: ‘Box office’ in terms of entertainment, but have FIA set a right precedent going forward?

FIA might have just pushed their boundaries this season to give the fans a blockbuster end to the Max Verstappen-Lewis Hamilton rivalry.

Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium
Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium

There is absolutely no denying the fact that the 2021 F1 season was one for the history books. Millions of fans were kept glued to their screens, one race weekend after the another as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton put on a title fight for the ages. During the course of the nine-month roller-coaster season, the championship pendulum swung from one contender to the another.

The two championship contenders really pushed other right until the limit, as they entered the final race of the season being level on points. This was exactly what our sport needed this year, as Formula One found a whole new fanbase.

As things panned out, it was a fitting but not quite the right ending to an epic F1 season. Max Verstappen brought his Red Bull home in what turned out to be his 10th victory this season, and also the championship deciding win.

The championship seemed exciting as long as the battle was fought on the racing track. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton gave it their everything all throughout the 22 races on the calendar, but they surely cannot control things that goes out on the outside. FIA, the governing body of Formula One is responsible for maintaining the decorum in the sport, and giving out fair decisions which does not affect one particular driver.

We make the rules, and we break them: The story of FIA all season

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff shocked by FIA decision

In a bid to provide the fans the content they needed, the FIA pushed their boundaries a bit too much, as there were some questionable decisions throughout the season. Their final act in the ‘most’ important race in the history of F1 just put another nail in the coffin as to how poor the decisions have been this season.

‘Inconsistent, Biased, Clueless,’ are some of the adjectives used by the fans to describe FIA’s decisions this season. And they are certainly not wrong! Lewis Hamilton’s eighth world championship title was snatched away in the most controversial manners, as FIA allowed the lapped cars to overtake the virtual safety car, setting up a one-lap showdown between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton saw his 11-second advantage being sliced down to just being a few seconds ahead of Max Verstappen, with the latter being on a fresh set of tyres. One can argue that Mercedes could have brought Lewis Hamilton into the pits during the yellow flag, but does that answer to the question as to whether the correct decision was made by the FIA?

Related: Max Verstappen to use number one on Red Bull car for title defence in 2022

An epic season tarnished by poor decision-making from FIA

Sachin Tendulkar on Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

It seems that the FIA tried a bit too hard to push the Max Verstappen-Lewis Hamilton agenda, and deliver content just for the TV audience. We saw poor decision-making in Saudi Arabia, where there was absolutely no clarity regarding the rules. FIA were determined to have the two championship contenders level on points for the final race of the season.

A season which has seen two world-class drivers push their boundaries every single race, you surely want to remember the 2021 season for the epic battles, and not the poor and controversial FIA decisions. Now answering the question as to whether FIA have set a right precedent going forward? Absolutely NOT!!

Our sport has arrived at such a moment, where FIA need to be clear regarding their decision-making in terms of consistency. The rules should be objective and not subjective, one situation cannot lead to a penalty, with the same other situation not penalizing other driver. The least we can hope going forward into the 2022 season is that FIA come up with a solution, such that it sets a precedent for the younger drivers emerging from the rookie chamoionships.

Also Read: “I felt for Lewis,” Max Verstappen on his championship rival after clinching the title; expects a very ‘strong’ comeback from the Briton in 2022