Administrators hit all the wrong notes in Hamilton fiasco

I’ve kept my counsel all week. Much lip biting. At this point I’d better point out that the following views are very much my own – but then again, they always are.

Last Sunday in Abu Dhabi, something deeply odious occurred. The great sport of motor racing, F1 indeed, for me hurtled headlong into a cesspit of disrepute.

You’ll probably be familiar enough with the details, but in a nutshell seven-time World F1 champion Lewis Hamilton was denied a record-breaking eighth courtesy of some last-gasp shenanigans by race director Michael Masi.

In a bid presumably to give a watching world something they’d never, ever forget (mission accomplished), he changed his mind concerning a lapped cars situation, under the safety car, but then applied it only partially.

Hamilton had been cruising to an untroubled win on the bridle, proverbially ten lengths clear entering the final furlong. A late crash though brought out the SC and his rival could pit, get fresh tyres, and lose nothing in terms of position. In fact he’d now be right on Hamilton’s tail.

Hard to imagine another sport where such a contrived transformation through no fault of the leader could take place.

All that hard-won advantage now ludicrously gone, Hamilton was a sitting duck when the field concertinaed and championship rival Max Verstappen could use those fresh tyres to breeze on by to a win, and a first world crown, of his own.

The race should have finished under the safety car. What in fact was haphazardly manufactured denied one of if not THE greatest racer of all time an eighth world crown in a sport where he already has more individual Grand Prix wins than any other human being.

Hamilton’s reaction has been amazing. Restrained. Gracious. Inside he must be devastated. Whatever dark, deep cave exists beyond devastation, even. I’ve no problem with Verstappen, a fine, swift, ambitious, steely, ruthless competitor. But there was no natural justice about the result. No logic. None whatsoever.

The best man on the day lost, and lost because some weird piece of alleged entertainment was fostered upon us that bore no resemblance to anything good, just, or legitimate.

Hamilton stayed away from this week’s end-of-season presentation gala, unsurprisingly, and may yet be fined for doing so. You could hardly make it up. There’s also talk of possible retirement.

I’ve no idea what he might decide to do, but he’s dwarfed the sport since Sunday in terms of credibility, and if that’s how they treat one of their absolute greats, perhaps he’s better off out of it.

He remains one of Britain’s finest sportsmen of all time, with an astonishing record, and simply magnificent achievements. No half-baked mad half-hour in the Middle East can ever take that away.

He officially became Sir Lewis the other day, head doubtless still spinning from the weekend’s nonsense. A fitting honour for an entirely honourable man dishonoured on Sunday last by the sport he’s served so brilliantly.

Talking of heroes – I happily paid £4-something to watch ‘Robbo’ on Amazon the other night. It chronicles the life and times of Bryan Robson, one-time England football captain, and by universal regard one of our very finest.

Huge names queued to pay genuine homage. Sir Alex (above). Gary Lineker. Eric Cantona. David Beckham. Countless other admirers followed suit. Flashes of his brilliance served to recall a bygone age of tackles that would make even Martin Keown wince.

I loved it, and football evidently loves Robbo, for many years now an ambassador at Manchester United where he enjoyed his greatest successes on the field. A relatively slight figure, he was a warlike giant between the white lines.

Gary Neville, Becks and Links in particular noted that they were so much in awe of this modest, totally unassuming man that they found it hard sometimes to approach him. All confessed to being inspired by his presence.

He was the epitome of the natural leader. Probably still is. At a time when leaders in other very important spheres often disappoint (as Ant and Dec might put it, ‘Good evening, Pr …… ‘), it’s nice to recall to advantage a 24-carat version who surely richly deserves a tap on the shoulder, somewhere down south, with a ceremonial sword.

If only public life was filled with a wagonload of Robbos.

Alan Firkins