Race Rip: F1 Monaco 2014

As I watched the podium “ceremony” in Monaco, I became very confused. I checked my phone and my computer and confirmed that it was indeed Sunday morning and I was not watching a weekday soap opera. The similarities between a soap and the Mercedes duo’s antics on the podium do create a lot of press, but also tarnish the professional image of Formula 1. Drivers have always been extremely competitive people, and we should do nothing to diminish or quash that unique aspect of the sport. But in addition to a code of conduct on the track (rules about passing, etc.) there has always been a code of conduct in the paddock. Professionalism is supposed to demonstrate a competitor’s ability to accept, tolerate, and compete within a set of rules. Additionally, racing (especially F1) isn’t cheap, and professional athletes are expected to act like professionals in their roles as role models and spokespersons. There is an exception for what happens on the track. For example, I don’t look dimly on Ed Carpenter’s immediate reaction to getting taken out by James Hinchcliffe in the Indy 500. While referencing a serious injury like a concussion may have been less than graceful, a competitor never wants to be taken out of the game and Carpenter’s frustration was understandable and real.

But back across the pond in Monaco, how did Nico wrong Lewis by competing fairly and beating him? Similarly, what did Lewis do wrong by beating Nico for four GP in a row? The answer to both questions is absolutely nothing. When people act like they have been wronged when in fact no wrong has occurred, they’re not being competitive: they’re bitching. They’re whining. They’re acting like children, and we as fans should not tolerate it. Everywhere you go in life, you will undoubtedly find someone who is better than you at something. Even the best aren’t number one in everything. Nico’s frustration at how things were going when Lewis was beating him regularly was completely understandable. However, frustration is a personal feeling and does not mean showing ill will or disregard for a fellow competitor’s achievements. Nico, however, does not have Lewis’ track record of sulking and whining. I’ve been a Lewis Hamilton fan from the time he entered the Formula 1 world in 2007. That was the first season I began watching F1. Lewis got his first win on my birthday at the track closest to my house. As someone whose native field is politics, I cheered for a person of color to win in a sport that has historically been rather white-washed. However, my favouritism of Lewis has wained over the years. Sure, he had a rough entrance into F1 with Alonso that may have set him up for this. But Lewis’ behavior has demonstrated a pattern of narcissism and now borderline paranoia that will make him a handful for any team he races for. I’ll never forget watching the interview with Lewis and Heikki Kovalainen in 2009. Lewis was sitting there like a hawk listening to each and every word Kovalainen uttered. When the McLaren chassis proved to be subpar in 2009, Lewis started demanding a new car be designed mid-season. For several years at McLaren, Lewis couldn’t find an opening-lap crash he didn’t like and easily became frustrated with the team. And now Lewis is acting exactly like Alonso acted with him in 2007. It appears that what Lewis has tried so hard to avoid (his experience with Alonso in 2007) has actually turned him into the very thing he is trying not to be.

I should have spent this article writing about racing, like Marussia scoring a point, the challenges of Monaco, and the passing we saw this year is unusual places. But what is remembered best is often remembered last. In this case, the immaturity after the race will cast a dark cloud over the entirety of this year’s event. Much like the Hungarian GP in 2007, Monaco will be a GP that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

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