Max Verstappen has been trying for years to beat Lewis Hamilton to the world championship title. He finally succeeded at the weekend but in unsatisfactory fashion.Picture: MORIO/Wikimedia commons.

It should have been the finale to end all finales.

Millions of people around the world – many either new or returning fans – had tuned in to watch the culmination of an enthralling 2021 season that had come down to a
final-race shoot-out for the world championship.

One of the greatest drivers of all-time Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were both dreaming of getting their hands on the title – the latter for the first time. Their rivalry had captivated and enthralled so many that it felt so fitting that they both, deservedly, took their battle to Abu Dhabi for a heart-stopping decider.

It’s the type of script you could have written for a Netflix thriller; pretty ironic giving Drive to Survive had pulled countless new people into the sport thanks to the streaming platform’s hit series.

The problem is sport already writes the best stories, without the need for a script or director. With leading protagonists like Hamilton, Verstappen and their team principals Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, outside influence is rarely needed to spice things up.

Yet on Sunday, FIA race director Michael Masi took the control away from the two men who had gone wheel-to-wheel and both deserved to get their hands on the silverware in their own right.

He allowed the importance and desire for entertainment and drama to overtake all the things we associate with top-level motorsport; skill, luck and strategy. The indecision, changing of rules and making it up as it went along made a mockery of fair play and a rule book that is meant to provide clarity and governance to proceedings. It now belongs in the bin alongside the reputation and integrity of F1.

Masi broke his own rules and protocol to ensure the race didn’t finish behind a safety car, allowed some back markers to unlap themselves and set up a one-lap dash for glory that was heavily stacked in Verstappen’s favour. 

Hamilton had done nothing wrong and, in fairness, neither had the man who benefitted from Masi’s call, which confused everyone watching and the drivers on the track.

Instead of celebrating one driver’s hard-fought victory, the recriminations and head scratching have continued long into this week with appeals and threats of legal action.

It’s not been about the racing and that’s the most disappointing thing. Because if the chaos and farcical nature of the campaign’s climax wasn’t going to turn everyone away, it’ll certainly put off new fans.


Lynn gain from new boss bounce

It’s been a long tine coming but King’s Lynn Town finally won a home game in the National League on Saturday. 

New manager Tommy Widdrington.

The 2-1 victory against Dover was the Linnets’ 10th attempt to chalk up three points at The Walks and arrived less than 24 hours after Tommy Widdrington had been announced as Ian Culverhouse’s replacement.

It’s amazing how often a new person in the dugout can spark an upturn in form. Whether it’s a new voice, fresh ideas, players desperately trying to create a good impression as part of a fresh start or a mix of all three, ‘new manager bounce’ remains a reason why bosses get sacked after a poor run.

You only need to look at the upturn in Norwich City and Manchester United’s results since Daniel Farke and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer were relieved of their duties to see it has an impact at all levels of the game.

It’s happened at Lynn, regardless of Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Halifax. It has raised morale and lifted hopes that the Linnets can make a decent fist of trying to avoid the drop.


Ashes woe likely to go on for Root

History doesn’t look too kindly on England’s chances Down Under.

Neither does the performance from the opening Test of the latest Ashes where, despite some third-day resistance, Australia crushed Joe Root’s side.

A nine-wicket defeat at the Gabba was a miserable start to a series that many expect the visitors to get comfortably beaten in.

Some red-ball success elsewhere and fantastic short-format glory might have raised hopes that it would be different for England this time around. Yet we’ve seen nothing yet to suggest this crop of players can buck what’s becoming a pretty miserable trend for the tourists in one of cricket’s fiercest rivalries.

Root’s troops would become only the third team in 42 years to get their hands on the Urn when it’s been competed for outside of our shores.

A powderpuff batting line-up will have to dig in considerably more across the board during the day-night second Test in Adelaide, where the ball is likely to swing under the lights. Losing their final eight wickets for 77 runs last time out isn’t a good sign.

Things may turn but another defeat across the next five days, if the action gets that far, will start to see fears of another grim whitewash, like 2006-07 and 2013-14, being repeated.

Stats and records are there to be broken but with 10 defeats in 11 Tests in Aussie soil, it’s no wonder many fans and pundits are predicting more Ashes woe.