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Monday, March 4, 2024

5 issues we realized from the FIA Gala

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This yr the occasion occurred in Baku, not removed from the road circuit that has hosted a System 1 race since 2017.

The Gala is probably the largest gathering of racing individuals away from the depth of the competitors – and it at all times prompts some moments of reflection and intrigue.

Friday evening was no exception, as we run via 5 huge takeaways from the celebrations.

Verstappen admits to Abu Dhabi podium second

Max Verstappen has gotten properly used to accumulating trophies this yr, after his record-breaking run to a 3rd consecutive F1 title.

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However as he collected the official F1 drivers’ phrase championship silverware, he admitted that there was one podium that stood out for him as being a bit completely different this yr.

And that was the ultimate one in Abu Dhabi when, trying again over his workforce and the dominant RB19 that was on the bottom in entrance of him, he realised it was the final time he would get to race that automotive in anger.

“After all, via the yr we had been on an awesome roll and also you need to carry out each single race weekend,” he mentioned about his emotions via the yr.

“However I feel it did hit me slightly onerous as soon as I used to be standing on the rostrum in Abu Dhabi.

“You realise the season is over, and also you don’t get to drive this automotive any extra sadly. Nevertheless it has been unimaginable… I’m extraordinarily happy with what now we have achieved this yr however after all I hope additionally it doesn’t cease.”

Photograph by: FIA

Lewis Hamilton, FIA System One World Championship – third Place

Verstappen took the trophy, however Hamilton stays a champion

The annual finish of season FIA Prize Gala is an opportunity for champions to absorb the glory of their successes as they’re formally topped.

However every championship’s rules stipulate that the highest three drivers should attend the spectacular – which has not at all times been one thing that those that didn’t win have particularly preferred.

Successfully being the help band will not be one thing that any of F1’s greats enjoy, however for third positioned Lewis Hamilton specifically, this Gala was particularly notable.

It was his first time again to the occasion since he unsurprisingly skipped 2021 within the wake of the FIA’s mishandling of the protection automotive restart at that yr’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which price him the crown.

However his look additionally got here towards the backdrop of this week’s controversy over the FIA’s complicated determination to go public that it was trying into allegations of a possible battle of curiosity between Toto Wolff and spouse Susie.

The governing physique’s motion, which finally resulted in an embarrassing U-turn when it known as off the probe after simply 48 hours, is unlikely to be finish of the issues amid the reputational harm that the Wolffs and Mercedes have suffered.

Hamilton was clearly irritated at occasions – and particularly the best way Susie Wolff had been dragged into issues – as he spoke out within the pre-Gala press convention when he known as the FIA’s response ‘unacceptable’.

However Hamilton additionally confirmed he was a champion in a while within the official ceremony when he acted the gentleman on stage in being well mannered, skilled and regarded in entrance of the FIA member company and champions.

“Huge congratulations on this yr,” he informed the room. “It’s been wonderful to see so a lot of you preventing within the completely different collection you’ve been in, and congratulations in your awards.

“For everybody it’s been a really, very lengthy season and I’m very a lot trying ahead to a winter break. However working very, very onerous on ensuring we’re match, and we come again sturdy subsequent yr.”

And whereas he didn’t get pleasure from being crushed week in week out by Max Verstappen and Pink Bull this yr, he additionally was unprompted in providing a pat on the again to his rival.

“I’ve to say a giant congratulations to Pink Bull, and Max, and Checo, who’ve carried out an unimaginable job this yr,” he mentioned. “Max was faultless and the workforce actually raised the bar.

“We’ve lots of work to do to shut the hole, however I do imagine we will shut that hole. Thanks additionally to my workforce as a result of they by no means gave up this yr. We began off with the sister of the earlier yr’s automotive, which was not good and never enjoyable to drive for many of the yr, however nobody gave up, everybody continued to point out up day-after-day and that’s what was most inspiring.”

Hamilton then wished everybody a Comfortable Christmas, earlier than disappearing into the evening – straight to Baku airport and away for his winter break.

Oscar Piastri, FIA Rookie Of the Year awarded by Ronan Morgan, FIA Drivers' Commission President

Photograph by: FIA

Oscar Piastri, FIA Rookie Of the Yr awarded by Ronan Morgan, FIA Drivers’ Fee President

Piastri hopes he has gained his final rookie award

Oscar Piastri has a behavior of immediately being good in all the pieces he does. He was rookie champion in System 3 and System 2 and has simply come off the again of a stellar debut season in System 1 with McLaren.

After battling for podiums over the second half of the yr, and taking that spectacular dash victory on the Qatar Grand Prix, it was probably not a lot a shock to seek out out that the Australian was awarded the FIA’s Rookie of the Yr.

It was the second time that Piastri has taken the trophy – the final time being when he gained F2 in 2021. And in his trademark deadpan humour he hoped it might be the final time he acquired it!

Requested on stage if he felt McLaren’s sturdy finish to this marketing campaign could possibly be constructed on in 2024, he mentioned: “I hope so.

“If we will begin subsequent yr as we completed this season then we will probably be in fine condition. It’s been a large workforce effort and a giant turnaround. I’ve loved my rookie season in F1 quite a bit. I hope it’s the final rookie season of my profession…”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, 3rd position, arrives on the podium

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Workforce, third place, arrives on the rostrum

Nothing excites Alonso greater than a great battle

System 1 is a greater place for having drivers like Fernando Alonso who give their all, are keen about racing and at all times give us leisure.

The 2023 season noticed Alonso again to his greatest, as he helped Aston Martin emerge as a pressure on the entrance, even when it had a little bit of a rollercoaster marketing campaign.

Alonso’s never-say-die spirit remained on present always over the course of the season, and was maybe by no means proven higher than his final lap repass of Pink Bull’s Sergio Perez for a podium spot in Brazil.

Having briefly misplaced the place, he pulled off an excellent overtake into Flip 4 after which masterfully managed the final lap – plus the exit of the ultimate curve – to carry on by simply 0.053 seconds as they crossed the road.

It was a second that helped Alonso win the FIA’s Motion of the Yr Award – one thing that the Spaniard appeared to be particularly happy with.

And it was clear that what Alonso cherished about it essentially the most was not that he had come out forward, however that this had been the proper instance of what pure racing is about.

“Any battle on monitor wants the collaboration of two,” he mentioned in a video message.

“I feel this ought to be an instance not just for the current but additionally for future generations, the place we should promote clear driving with none contact between vehicles.

“So hopefully see you subsequent yr with extra motion on monitor – and due to all of the followers and the FIA.”

Mohamed Ben Sulayem, FIA President Anar Alakbarov, Azerbaijan Automobile Federation President, Max Verstappen, FIA Formula One World Championship - Champion, Lewis Hamilton, FIA Formula One World Championship - 3rd Place, Nasser Al-Attiyah, FIA World Rally-Raid Championship - Champion

Photograph by: FIA

Mohamed Ben Sulayem, FIA President Anar Alakbarov, Azerbaijan Car Federation President, Max Verstappen, FIA System One World Championship – Champion, Lewis Hamilton, FIA System One World Championship – third Place, Nasser Al-Attiyah, FIA World Rally-Raid Championship – Champion

Ben Sulayem’s low-key method couldn’t disguise shadow of Wolff controversy

One matter stood out above virtually all the pieces else if you spoke to FIA individuals on the Gala – the controversy over the probe that was launched after which dropped into Toto and Susie Wolff.

The choice to go public that it was trying into a possible battle of curiosity, solely to do a U-turn and admit there was nothing to really have a look at simply 48 hours later, has left the governing physique in a tough spot.

And with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem believed to be at entrance and centre of the entire affair, the occasions unfolding on the eve of the governing physique’s largest evening of the yr was removed from perfect.

There had been the prospect of Ben Sulayem, a person who’s well-known for talking his thoughts, fanning the flames by talking out on the FIA occasion – with the matter already topic to authorized exchanges with Mercedes.

Certainly, Ben Sulayem had been on account of communicate first on the pre-event FIA Gala press convention. However, shortly earlier than the allotted time, it was introduced that he had been taken unwell so couldn’t attend.

An FIA spokesman mentioned: “A number of days in the past the President took unwell and suffered a fall and concussion. He obtained care in hospital and can make a full restoration. He want to thank the medical employees and Mr Anar Alakbarov and his workforce for his or her assist, and to all these within the FIA household which have despatched their properly needs.”

Two hours later although, Ben Sulayem did flip as much as the Gala – though didn’t look in the very best of spirits as he appeared to have much less vitality that ordinary.

Whether or not it was the results of his sickness, or the fallout from the Wolff case, he was notbaly low key throughout his appearances on stage when he was known as as much as congratulate winners.

As Verstappen was handed his drivers’ trophy, Ben Sulayem mentioned: “Individuals say he’s profitable all the pieces…are you able to do one thing because the president of the FIA to gradual him down? I say how can I punish success? So clearly properly carried out and I want extra success for everybody, not only for you, to make it extra attention-grabbing….”

And that was it. There was no going off script and commenting on issues he ought to probably not have – which some throughout the FIA may have been relieved about.

However whereas the week’s occasions didn’t garner any official touch upon Gala day, the repercussions are going to play out for some time but.

Mercedes has reserved all its authorized rights because it bids to unravel what actually occurred this week, and it’s honest to say that there are a couple of throughout the FIA who’re removed from pleased with how issues had been handled on the very high of the organisation.

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