Who’s Lawrence Stroll? Lance’s Famous Daddy

Businessman Lawrence Stroll has been attracting the attention of sports media in recent years due to his investments in Formula One. From the entry of his youngest son Lance into the category to the purchase of the Force India team (now Racing Point and future Aston Martin), the Stroll name arouses curiosity in journalists and fans.

However, Formula One fans often end up believing in rumors and having false impressions about the Canadian. Consequently, they do not realize the true intentions of his detractors. In this article, we will explain who is Lawrence Stroll through facts and show to the motorsports lovers who is famous Daddy Stroll.

 

1- The origin of the Strolls

 

The Stroll family, whose original name is Strulovitch, has origins in Russia. During the tsar era, there was intense persecution of Jews. One of the state policies was the pogroms: invasions of Jewish villages accompanied by raids, fires, and deaths. Soon, many Jews had hoped for new times with the revolutions of 1917 (including some leaders of the movements against Tsar Nicholas II, such as Leon Trotsky, were Jews). However, the Communist period did not bring peace to this community, especially in the regime of Josef Stalin. The persecutions not only continued but intensified.

As a part, many Jews fled Russia for democratic countries. A large part fled to the Americas. It was the case of Leo Strulovitch. Resuming life on the New Continent, Strulovitch and his wife Sandra (born in Canada) had two children: Lawrence and Randy. Lawrence decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, a clothing merchant who, years later, became an investor and introduced Ralph Lauren and Pierre Cardin’s feminine line in Canada. He studied, worked, set up his first businesses, and started his initial investments a few years later.

 

Lawrence Stroll and his partner Silas Chou. [1]

 

Specialists point Lawrence Stroll as responsible for the popularization of the Polo Ralph Lauren brand in the European continent and the expansion of Michael Kors in the market. In 1989, Stroll and his partner Silas Chou founded Sportswear Holdings Limited, one of the largest companies in the fashion industry in history, as pointed out by Spanish journalist Jaime Cevallos. The company allowed the popularization of the Tommy Hilfiger brand, which gained a large space in the textile sector. In the 2000s, Stroll and Chou saw some brands that received their investments entered the Stock Exchange, like Michael Kors. The purchase and sale of shares earned a good fortune to entrepreneurs.

In August 1994, Stroll married Belgian fashion designer Claire-Anne Callens; On March 11 of the following year, their first daughter Chloe was born. Their second son, Lance, was born on October 29, 1998. Owner of the Callens brand, Claire-Anne runs her business alone, and her stores are in many cities in Europe, the United States, and Canada.

 

Belgian fashin designer Claire-Anne Callens, Lawrence Stroll’s wife. [2]

 

2- Lawrence Stroll and sport: an ancient interaction

 

In the documentary W5: Lance Stroll Canada’s Top Formula 1 Racer, Lawrence Stroll reports that he raced in the Ferrari Challenge, a competition made by collectors who own the Ferrari model 348, around his 30 years and continued during the childhood of his children, who used to see their father at the event. That was the first insertion of Stroll into the sporting world, long before Lance thought about being a Formula One driver. Soon, the first myth about the entrepreneur falls apart: that he would only have entered the motorsport business because his son wanted to be a driver.

Just as Lawrence acquired a taste for fashion by observing the work of his father Leo, Lance Stroll shares a love of the sport with his father. Motorsport is one of the most expensive sports categories that exist due to the cost of your labor and materials. Consequently, it is necessary to have financial support in the career of athletes, making it impossible for drivers without investments to enter from the basic categories to the highest. Possessing a fortune stemming from his textile business, Lawrence Stroll was one of his son’s supporters on his way into the sport.

 

Lawrence Stroll at the Ferrari challenge with his children. [3]

 

The training of a driver requires investment and athletic performance. In this case, it does not matter if the sponsorship comes from your family or not. A talented driver without a good investment cannot help the team’s budget, and an athlete without aptitude does not achieve impressive results that translate into financial gains for the team. With these obstacles, it is almost impossible for a driver to reach the top category of world motorsport with only financial and frustrating performance. Athletes like this usually abandon their careers in lower stages, such as karting. Also, according to Nuno Sousa Pinto, sports director, the FIA itself made it even more difficult for drivers whose performances would not justify investments in their careers (the famous pay drivers): from 2016, to enter Formula One, they would have to score 40 points in the Super license.

 

3- Lance and Lawrence: father and son in Formula One

 

As the 2014 Italian Formula 4 champion (the first in the category), the Toyota Racing Series in 2015, and European Formula Three in 2016, Lance Stroll earned the points needed in the Super license to join Formula 1 in 2017 for the Williams team. Nuno Sousa Pinto points out that Stroll’s curriculum is more impressive than that of many young athletes who also entered Formula One and, even though having wealthy families, do not receive criticism;

It reveals that, unfortunately, some journalists let personal preferences stand out from the expected professionalism and spread misinformation, ignoring one of the main principles of journalism: ethics.

Athletes need time to adapt to the category in which they work. The criticism of Lance Stroll during the pre-season was, from a journalistic point of view, hasty. The first half of 2017 confirmed it, as Stroll scored his first points at the Canadian Grand Prix and finished third at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, breaking his first record: youngest rookie to score a podium;

A pay driver would never get such impressive results because he would not have an aptitude for the sport, only financial contribution. At the Italian Grand Prix, Stroll broke the record for the youngest driver to start from the front row, proving his potential and talent for motorsport.

 

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix’s podium. [4]

 

In an interview with Canadian broadcaster RDS in 2018, Lance Stroll stated that his father is a businessman and that he invests in ventures that he is sure will work. Therefore, Lawrence Stroll’s interest in teams, from Prema Powerteam to Racing Point, goes far beyond interaction with his son: these are opportunities for high investments.

It is worth noting that the only drivers on the 2020 grid who came from more humble families are Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas. Everyone else comes from families with high financial conditions: some from the middle class like Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, others from more affluent classes. However, all, without exception, have financial contributions, whether from their families, companies, or even both.

Some drivers were born to entrepreneurs (Lance Stroll, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, and Sebastian Vettel) who work in different areas such as fashion, investments, automobiles, engineering, among others;

Others are children of athletes (Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr., and Pierre Gasly), soon also have privileged conditions since birth. The driver’s origin does not interfere with his performance because, as Lawrence Stroll defined, parents do not drive the car for their children.

 

4- The rumors: reporting before knowing the truth

 

In 2018, with Force India sale to the consortium led by Lawrence Stroll (also formed by Silas Chou, Michael de Picciotto, John McCaw Jr., John Idol, Jonathan Dudman, and Andre Desmarais), the media speculated that Lance would move to the team immediately, as the engineering department of Williams failed in making a competitive car;

When Esteban Ocon left the team after the season, his fans and some journalists immediately blamed the Strolls, as if the French driver had his situation already assured before the sale of the team;

However, as Joas van Wingerden reported, Toto Wolff was already considering taking his patron from Force India. The negotiations failed because the ties between Ocon and Wolff were viewed with suspicion by the other teams, as stated by Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull. That was proved in 2019 when Ocon undid his ties with Wolff to get an opportunity to return to Formula One for Renault.

At the time of the purchase of Force India, Sergio Pérez was more attractive to investors than Esteban Ocon due to his consistency in scoring and sponsors. That, added to the intentions of the French driver manager, ensured that the Mexican was the best option to race alongside Lance Stroll. Also, the Canadian presented good prospects for the next seasons due to investments and his achievements in the debut year.

 

Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez at Racing Point. [5]

 

In 2020 there was a similar situation. Sebastian Vettel did not have his contract with Ferrari renewed because his work was not meeting their expectations. Racing Point owners considered contracting him because of his past as a four-time champion and his financial investment. Although it seemed apparent that the team would not choose Lance Stroll to give Vettel his seat, this is not just because he is the son of one of the owners. There are indeed companies that prioritize family ties and, if their members are not prepared to take this kind of responsibility, the business ends up going bankrupt. But this is not the case observed in Lawrence Stroll: the success of his investments is due to care in decisions.

That means that family ties are not the deciding factor for choices like this. What was discussed was which of the two drivers, Stroll or Pérez, would have more chances to bring the results that the team intends to achieve in 2021. Both have impressive achievements, differing in career time in Formula One: Pérez has ten, and Stroll has four. In technical terms, the two can be considered experienced drivers. However, the Mexican is more likely to retire early, as he is 30 years old and is in Formula One for a decade. Having both good sponsorships, sports investors find more prospects in young athletes, such as Stroll.

It perceives that business involves much deeper issues than just kinship ties. Investment in Formula One is high risk and therefore, decisions require caution. Of course, the inconstant narratives of Racing Point difficulted the understanding of the facts, so laypeople in business can judge this is a case of a father protecting his son. That is why one must coldly analyze the facts to disclose the information correctly.

 

5- Conclusion

 

That is the story of Lawrence Stroll: a man who built his fortune with investment and entrepreneurship, works that require a lot of commitment and caution. If you expected the stereotype of a wealthy heir to large capital, married to a socialite and a playboy child, look for someone else. Maybe you will find a driver’s father with that profile, but that is definitely not Lawrence Stroll.

 

Update (October 9th, 2020): As revealed by Adam Cooper in the website Motorsport (check here), Sebastian Vettel bought shares in Aston Martin before signing his contract. It proves what was said here: the hiring of Vettel instead of the renewal of Sergio Pérez was due to business, not a priviledge of Lance Stroll for being the son of the owner.

 

Bibliography

 

 

Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article belongs to me. This site has informative intentions, not commercial. The links where I took the photos are indicated below. All copyrights reserved.

Renault: A Past That Defiles

During the 2020 season, Renault F1 Team launched four protests against Racing Point F1 Team claiming the rival had copied the braking system project of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited. The complaints started after the Styrian Grand Prix, which the British team’s cars ended in front of the ones of the French team (Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll crossed the finish line respectively in sixth and seventh place, while Daniel Ricciardo was the eighth finisher and Esteban Ocon retired). Since then, in every race that the Racing Point’s drivers surpassed Renault’s, the team commanded by controversial Cyril Abiteboul launched a new protest. Only at the British Grand Prix, in which Ricciardo e Ocon ended in front of Stroll, there were no complaints.

A priori it seems a childish attitude of Renault in wanting to disqualify its adversary because it cannot beat it on track seems childish. However, analyzing the team’s past, marked by cheating and cheating that, including, costed the career of a young Brazilian driver son of a three-time champion, it is possible to note the levity and hypocrisy of the French team and raise the hypothesis of that, besides wanting to rise at the championship standings without merit, it looks for erasing its spotted history. This article will take a brief retrospect of Renault’s history in Formula One to identify which is the team’s true goal in siking so low.

 

1- Obscure origins: collaboration with nazism

 

Renault was founded as an enterprise in 1899 by Louis Renault, an industrial from Paris. In 1938, the businessman reunited personally with Adolf Hitler and in the following year became one of the main suppliers of the French army. The French resistance started to reject him due to his apparent collaboration with Vichy’s government, which was in service to the Nazis. In 1942, the British Air Force bombed Renault’s facilities to weaken the supply of the troops allied to Germany. Two years later, Louis Renault was arrested under the accusation of collaboration with the Nazis. His factories were expropriated by the French government.

 

Louis Renault, founder of Renault and collaborator of the Nazi regime. (Photo: Famous People) [1]

 

Louis Renault’s figure still causes controversy among historians. Some of them claim that he supported nazism for financial interests, others say he was forced to collaborate with Vichy’s regime. Anyway, the enterprise had an active role in World War II, supplying the French army, Hitler’s allied at the time. Many European car manufacturers had similar experiences, mainly the German ones, and nowadays try to erase this spot in their past. Renault, it is not different.

 

2- Renault as a team: a disastrous beginning

 

Louis Renault’s brother, Michel, was passionate about racing. It aroused the enterprise’s interest in the sport. However, Renault entered Formula One as a team only in 1977. Its first year in the category was a failure. Racing with just one driver, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the Équipe Renault Elf ended the season without points or a place in standings. Among the eight races he would take part, Jabouille withdrew from three, retired from four, and did not qualify for one.

 

Jean-Pierre Jabouille: Renault’s first driver. (Photo: Carthrottle) [2]

 

In the following year, the team scored its first points at the United States Grand Prix, which Jabouille finished in fourth place. Renault was the 12th placed at the final standings, with three points. The team’s first victory happened at the 1979 French Grand Prix, that put the team in the sixth place among the constructors, but was also the only race that Renault scored points.

 

3- 80’s: from Heaven to the first hiatus

 

Like Williams, Renault had good seasons in the ’80s. Racing with Jean-Pierre Jabouille and René Arnoux, Renault was the fourth place in 1980 (with 38 points). In the following year, Alain Prost replaced Jabouille and the team ended the championship in third place, with 54 points, repeating the position in 1982, with 62 points. American Eddie Cheever replaced Arnoux in 1983, becoming the first non-French driver to compete for the team, that was the runner-up that year with 79 points.

 

Alain Prost was one of Renault’s driver in the ’80s. Currently, he is one of its ambassadors. (Photo: Renault) [3]

 

In 1984 Renault was the fifth place in the final standings, with 34 points, and in the following year ended in seventh place among the constructors, with 16 points. Patrick Tambay was its main driver in these years, being Derek Warwick’s teammate in 1984 and François Henault’s in 1985. In the following year, Renault stopped to participate in Formula One as a team, limiting itself to the role of engine supplier of Lotus, Ligier, and Tyrrell teams. In 1987, it stopped to provide engines, entering a hiatus that was only ended two years later, when it equipped the runner-up, Williams.

 

4- 90’s: success with the champions and the second hiatus

 

During almost all the ’90s, Renault kept as an engine supplier in Formula One. Its most well-succeed partnerships were with Williams and Benetton, which won titles between 1992 and 1997 (being five championships won by Williams and one by Benetton). However, in 1998, though the height of its engines, Renault left Formula One once again, coming back again only in 2001, as the engine supplier of Benetton, which ended the year in the seventh place, with 10 points.

 

Michael Schumacher with Benetton in 1994. The team used Renault engines. (Photo: Michael Schumacher’s official website) [4]

 

Until then, Renault’s attitude was faced as strange in the eyes of its competitors. It is known that motorsport is a sports category with a lot of costs, but the results obtained by the French team’s clients would justify the investments, as the rewards paid by FIA would be high. In the following decades, Renault avoided hiatus, but even though its results had got better, its participation in Formula One was accompanied by controversial episodes.

 

5- 2000’s: the height, the ruins, and Singaporegate (or Crashgate)

 

In 2002, Renault returned to Formula One as a team, under the name of Mild Seven Renault F1 Team. Its drivers were Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button, who earned it 23 points and put the team in the fourth place of the championship. In the following year, which the team repeated the standing position (with 88 points), Button was replaced by one of the most controversial drivers of the history of the sport: Spanish Fernando Alonso. Though responsible for Renault’s best moments, Alonso was also one of the characters of such a contentious episode that affected many teams and drivers in that decade.

 

Fernando Alonso next to Michael Schumacher at the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix. That year marked Renault’s first title in Formula One. (Photo: EssentiallySports) [5]

 

After finishing the 2004 season in third place, Renault got its first title in 2005. Alonso had seven wins, 15 podiums, and one more finish in the scoring zone, getting 133 points. His teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, scored 58 points, with one win, three podiums, and eight more finishes in the scoring zone. Besides the title, it was the first time Renault surpassed 100 points in a season, getting 191 in total. In 2006, Alonso repeated his feat, becoming a two-time champion with seven wins, 14 podiums, and two more finishes in the scoring zone. Fisichella got 7 points, with one win, five podiums, and 11 more finished in the scoring zone. Having scored 206 points in 2006, Renault lost Alonso in the following year to McLaren, in which the Spanish drove alongside rookie Lewis Hamilton, but received him back in 2008. Even with a good result (third place among the constructors, with 51 points), the French team passed through its first big problem in its history at the Canadian Grand Prix, in which Fisichella was disqualified after leaving the pit lane while the red light was on.

 

Giancarlo Fisichella driving for Renault. (Photo: Pinterest) [6]

 

But Fisichella’s penalty was far away from the spoilage that would happen in 2008. Racing under the name of  ING Renault F1 Team, the team hired Nelson Piquet Jr., son of three-time champion Nelson Piquet, to replace Fisichella. In that year, Alonso was far from his brilliant results of yore, and Piquet Jr. (known in Brazil as ‘Nelsinho’) faced difficulties to score. Then, at the 15th round of the season, that the managing director Flavio Briatore put into practice a fanciful plan for the Spanish return to win. He ordered Nelsinho to crash his car at turn 17 to force the safety car deployment. With this maneuver, the grid changed drastically. Fernando Alonso won the race, with Nico Rosberg in second place and Lewis Hamilton in third. Felipe Massa, who had led a good part of the race, was the most affected in a short term: crossed the finish line in 13th place, having lost much time in a disastrous pit stop made in a hurry by Ferrari’s mechanics. Some supporters and analysts claim that a Massa’s win in Singapore, that was taken as a fact until Nelsinho’s crash, would earn him the title, that was won by Hamilton.

 

Nelson Piquet Jr. (‘Nelsinho’) crashing at turn 17 at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, known as ‘Singaporegate’ and ‘Crashgate’. (Photo: EssentiallySports) [7]

 

Nelsinho was hired after the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. His father recommended him to denounce Briatore’s scheme, as it was not fair that the young driver to be hindered by an order from his superiors. An inquiry was launched, resulting in the Briatore’s ban for life from Formula One and Pat Symonds’, Renault’s engineering director, for five years. Alonso was absolved after saying on trial that he did not know about the scheme. The French court interceded for Renault and revoked the bans, but as Briatore as Symonds accepted to not come back to Formula One.

 

Flavio Briatore: Renault’s team principal in 2006 and mentor of the Crashgate. (Photo: Gero Breloer/EPA) [8]

 

If in that time the teams had acted as Renault acted in 2020, the French team would have been banned from Formula One like Briatore. The case, nicknamed ‘Singaporegate’ and ‘Crashgate’, not only benefited Alonso, as it harmed directly Massa’s struggle for the title and Nelsinho’s career.

 

6- Renault F1 Team: an old wolf in new sheep’s clothing

 

Despite the vexation of the Singaporegate, Renault was not banned from Formula One. With the exit of its main sponsors, the ING group and the Mutua Madrileña, due to the controversy, the team adopted the name of Renault F1 Team after the 2010 season. Having its driver duo formed by Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, the team started the decade standing in fifth place among the constructors, with 163 points. In the following year, it made a fusion with Lotus that lasted until 2014 (the word ‘Renault’ got out of the team’s name in 2012). In 2015, Lotus raced its last year in Formula One, using Mercedes engines. One year later, Renault got out of the backstage and returned to the category as a team. Its main client, Red Bull (that won four titles between 2010 and 2013 with Sebastian Vettel), continued using Renault’s engines, but under the name TAG-Heuer.

The first year of the French team’s new return was not so good. Its drivers were Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Scoring in just three races, Renault was the ninth place among the constructors, with only nine points. The following year was better, with a sixth place in the final standings and 57 points. Nico Hülkenberg replaced Palmer in the middle of the season. In 2018, Carlos Sainz Jr. joined the team seeking out opportunities to grow in his career. Scoring on more occasions, Renault got fourth place in the championship.

 

Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were disqualified from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. (Photo: Instagram) [9]

 

In the following year, however, the situation was quite different. Even counting with good drivers, the car’s performance showed many problems, preventing Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg from reaching better positions. Its worse moment was at the Japanese Grand Prix, from which its two drivers were disqualified due to irregularities in the car. Renault scored 91 points, ending 2019 with the fifth place. In 2020, with Hülkenberg’s departure, the French team hired a driver nearly as polemic as Alonso: Esteban Ocon. The Hispano-French had stayed of Formula One for a year after his choices and decisions had cost him chances in practically all the teams (to know more, read Understand the Esteban Ocon case).

Ending 2019 in front of Racing Point, a Renault did not comply with its rival’s excellent performance at the beginning of 2020. It accused the British team of copying Mercedes’ systems, aiming to disqualify Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll from the concluded races until then and guarantee extra points to Ricciardo e Ocon. The “denounce” has two faces, which will be exposed right now.

 

7- Reporting Racing Point: the pot calling the kettle black

 

It is obvious that, if there were indeed irregularities, Racing Point should be held responsible for its acts and suffer the proper sanctions. After all, no team is above the regulation. However, FIA’s judgments tend to be questionable. A good example was the body’s complicity with Ferrari, when the federation shrouded the alterations of the Italian team’s car in 2019, opening space to doubts concerning the adjustments’ legality. From the nine remaining teams, seven joined in a collective complaint against the agreement between Ferrari and FIA (only the client teams of Ferrari engines, Alfa Romeo and Haas, stayed out, however, Mercedes removed the complaint some weeks later). The explanations of the federation’s president, Jean Todt (former team principal of Ferrari) were not convincing, and he even claimed he could not reveal more details without the Italian team’s approval.

 

FIA’s famous double standard [10]

 

As Racing Point was one of the integrants of the collective complaint, Ferrari was one of the teams to intrude on Renault’s protest (even the French team also being part of the complaint), implying that the British team should be punished. McLaren, Racing Point’s rival in 2020, insinuated that there was a copy, but it did not deserve any sanction. Mercedes denied its participation on Racing Point’s project, and this one in turn always alleged its innocence, claiming the development of each part of the car was made under the inspection of FIA itself.

On August 7th, FIA announced that Racing Point would lose 15 points and receive a fine, but its drivers’ scoring keeps unchanged. However, the decision is subject to appeal. With this, Renault and Ferrari were benefited, rising their positions in the constructors’ standings. The denounce by itself seems to aim justice, as one of the competitors would be violating the rules. However, why just Renault, whose past was marked by scandals, was responsible for the protest? If so many teams dared to comment on the case, implying Racing Point’s fault, why none of them moved the protest? The answer is simple: Renault knows it is not able to produce a car to compete as equal with Racing Point and McLaren in 2020, therefore, recurring to Flavio Briatore’s values, decided to snatch a “victory” by force, messing with the constructors’ standings. The body which judged the case also would not be the most appropriate to this function, once it already has a background of favoring Ferrari, but it is the only that Formula One has to situations like that.

 

The bottom line [11]

 

8- Conclusion

 

Renault’s history was built on regrettable episodes. The brand’s founder was a collaborator to the Nazi regime. The team passed through two hiatus between the ’80s and the ’90s. Its leaders destroyed Nelson Piquet Jr.’s career to Fernando Alonso have one win in 2008, disrupting Felipe Massa’s way to the title. In the ‘2010s, it hid its name for fear of the embarrassment of being remembered for the Singaporegate (or Crashgate). Nowadays, unable to withstand its rivals, it uses judicial ways to raise its position in the championship.

If Renault was indeed hungry for justice, it would apologize to all it harmed through its history, and, at least, get out of Formula One and stop tainting the sport with its shameful participation. Moral values it what this team cannot claim, as it wishes its rival assume a coadjuvant role in sport and be known more by the memes made by rival teams’ supporters than by results. The history proves that Renault’s true intention is, as we say in Brazil, win on ‘the big carpet’ (without merit and by decisions out of the sportive events). After all, if all the championships will be decided on court, there is no necessity of the cars going to the track. If there is something Renault definitely cannot accuse Racing Point is acting in bad faith, as in this the French team is already a specialist.

 

Coherent, no? [12]

 

9- Bibliography

 

 

10- Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article, except the montage, belongs to me. This site has informative intentions, not commercial. The links where I took the photos are indicated below. All copyrights reserved.

The Fall of Williams: From Height To Ruins

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic that caused the cancellation and postponement of many races of 2020 season, two announcements alarmed the sports media. One of them was the dismissal of Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari. The other is related to the severe financial crisis that affects Williams. Champion in the past, the British team led by Claire Williams underwent many bad management periods that culminated in a potential bankruptcy. Amid so much speculation, we will unravel the reasons that brought Williams to the current situation.

 

1- Origins: from Lady Virginia’s love to the first crisis

 

Williams’s origins come from two loves: the one of Virginia Berry for Frank Williams and his for cars. Came from a humble family, Frank joined a group of wealthy friends who loved races. To earn some money, he worked buying and selling car parts. With this, he founded Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1966 and entered the automobile market, selling cars to drivers from diverse countries, manly Italians. In the following year, he met Virginia, a wealthy but married woman. Both started a relationship and she got divorced from her husband to be with Frank. After participating in some Formula Three rounds, being known by his dangerous and risky way of drive, Frank turned Frank Williams Racing Cars in a Formula One team, having Piers Courage as the main driver.

 

Piers Courage, Frank Williams’ trusted driver. (Photo: nobresdogrid.com.br) [1]

 

However, in 1970, Courage died in a tragic accident at the Dutch Grand Prix. His death got Frank Williams very sad. In the following years, being renamed as Williams FW by 1973, the team’s performance fell drastically, being criticized by the press. Its cars were made with second-hand materials due to the team’s low budget. Virginia, with whom Frank officially married in 1974, made a lot of sacrifices to keep the team, including selling her apartment. However, as Williams family as the team experienced misery days. With poor structure, the cars did not reach good results, then Formula One paid a low amount of money to the team. Consequently, there were not many resources to invest in cars’ improvement. Deep in debt, Frank had no choices unless to accept the offer of oil magnate Walter Wolf and sell 60% of the team in 1976. At the end of that year, Wolf removed Frank from administration and bought his part, renaming the team as Walter Wolf Racing.

 

Walter Wolf: the first investor to resolve a Williams’ crisis. (Photo: reporter.si) [2]

 

2- Restart: Patrick Head and the new Williams

 

In 1977, Frank Williams signed with Belgian brewery Belle Vue, sponsor of driver Patrick Nève, and founded with Patrick Head the Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited. Engineer, Head was one of the responsible for the technological advance that allowed Williams’ rebirth. The teams’ first year was not very encouraging, ending the season without points. However, better times were coming.

In the following year, Alan Jones got Williams’ first podium, with a third-place at United States Grand Prix. Five round later, at Great Britain, his teammate Clay Regazzoni guaranteed the first victory of the team’s history. Jones was victorious in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, and Canada and Regazzoni got podiums in Italy and Canada, ending both races in third place. Scoring 75 points, Williams became runner-up in the constructors’ championship, staying 38 behind first-place Ferrari.

 

Alan Jones: Williams’ first champion. (Photo: Motorsport) [3]

 

The ’80s marked Williams’ domain in Formula One. Having Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann in 1980, the team won for the first time as the drivers’ championship ad the constructors one. Jones was champion and Reutemann was third-place. In the following year, the team was again constructors champion, with its drivers scoring together 95 points (49 from Reutemann, runner-up, and 46 from Jones, third-place). In 1982, Keke Rosberg replaced Jones e became champion with 44 points. Getting six podiums, Rosberg was known as “one-victory champion”, as the only race he won that year was the Swiss Grand Prix, but his constancy in scoring guaranteed the title. Williams was fourth place in constructors’ championship, repeating the placement the following year when Jacques Laffite replaced Reutemann.

Ending sixth in 1984 and third 1985, Williams returned to win constructors championship in 1986, having Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet (two-time champion with Brabham in 1981 and 1983) as its drivers. Mansell ended the season as runner-up and Piquet was third-place. The following year, the Brazilian was champion and British was the runner-up. Williams conquered its fourth constructors’ championship. The team ended the decade with a seventh-place in 1988 and a second-place in 1989.

 

Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet: highlights in Williams’ golden age. (Photo: Esportes em Ação) [4]

 

3- Frank’s accident and the rise of Claire

 

On March 8th, 1986, Frank Williams suffered a severe car accident in France, becoming a quadriplegic. However, he kept active as the team’s director. The team repeated success in the ’90s, winning constructors championship in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, and 1997, and drivers championship in 1992 (with Nigel Mansell), 1993 (with Alain Prost), 1996 (with Damon Hill), and 1997 (with Jacques Villeneuve). In 1994, the team suffered a big loss: Ayrton Senna died in an accident at San Marino Grand Prix.

Father of Jonathan, Claire, and Jaime, Frank did not trust his children to rule the team, but his daughter always had an interest in the family business. Joining the communication department in 2002, Claire took the sector’s highest post eight years later. In 2012, Frank abdicated the function of team principal and Claire took office the following year, remaining until nowadays. She is also responsible for departments of marketing, communication, and the commercial business of Williams. Her brother Jonathan also works in the team. Ele played management roles until the rise of Claire.

 

Claire Williams: funders’ daughter and current team’s CEO. (Photo: Pinterest) [5]

 

4- The second crisis: Toto Wolff saves the team

 

At the beginning of the 2000s, Williams kept itself in a good position among the constructors, ending third-place in 2000 and 2001, and second-place in 2002 and 2003. After 2004, the team’s performance was going down, varying between fourth and eight-place until 2009. During this period, at least one driver left Williams by year. Among better-known names of the team in that decade stand out Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Webber, and Nico Rosberg.

It was clear there was something wrong with the team. The agreements with engine suppliers Cosworth (2006) and Toyota (2007-2009) had not to yield good results. Earning less than in glory times, Williams had not enough resources to good upgrades in carr. However, in 2009, entrepreneur Toto Wolff bought some of the team’s shares and started to integrate its board of directors. It was the perfect opportunity to get out of the crisis.

 

Toto Wolff: Williams’ second savior. (Photo: EsporteNET) [6]

 

In 2010, deluded Toyota, Williams returned to use Cosworth engines, signing a long-term agreement. However, without good results, the  partnership ended the following year. In 2012, the team started to use Renault engines, but performance kept well below the expected. In that same year, Pastor Maldonado guaranteed the last Williams’ victory until nowadays, at Spanish Grand Prix. Toto Wolff was named executive director, and his wife Susie was hired as a test driver. Williams had the opportunity of having officially the first woman in Formula One since Desiré Wilson, who drove in 1980. However, internal barriers impeded the realization of this fact, as well as necessary changes in the engineering department. With this, Williams varied between sixth and ninth-place among the constructors between 2010 and 2013.

 

Pastor Maldonado’s win at 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, the last of Williams. (Photo: CarsNB.com) [7]

 

5- Wolff’s exit and third crisis: Lawrence Stroll saves the team

 

In 2013, seeing himself with tied hands, Toto Wolff sold his shares in Williams and joined Mercedes, buying 30% of the team’s shares. Claire Williams took office as team principal and management positions. In the following year began the German team’s domain in Formula One that remains until nowadays. In 2014 and 2015, counting with Mercedes engines, Williams got back to the constructors’ podium, ending third-place. However, the team’s financial administration still had problems. Risking to close after the 2016 season, which ended fifth-place, the team needed more investments. Among its drivers, Felipe Massa announced his retirement at the end of that year, Valtteri Bottas remained in the team.

Still, in 2016, garment entrepreneur Lawrence Stroll, father of that year European Formula Three champion Lance Stroll, announced he would invest in Williams. Lance replaced Massa. However, with Nico Rosberg’s retirement, Wolff called Bottas, his patronized, to replace him at Mercedes. To complete the transference, Frank Williams’ daughter required Paddy Lowe back to the team, and he took the engineering department. According to Massa’s reports, Claire phoned him at Christman to go back to the team to replace the Finnish driver.

 

Lance Stroll and his father Lawrence, Williams’s third savior. (Photo: F1Sport.it) [8]

 

In 2017, Williams had a medium start. Massa got reasonable scores and Stroll faced difficulties, with mechanical failures in the first race and accidents caused respectively by Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz Jr in the following ones. The media started to attack the Canadian driver, blaming him for the team’s problems. Even before the season starts, during tests in Barcelona, Claire dared to blame Stroll’s crashes for the cancelation of one of the teams’ tests, which incited furious supporters to attack the young driver at social networks in a coward, unfair way. Lowe always criticized him in the press. At the same time, the same media that was delighted with a woman as a team principal did not have the same reaction with the debut of an Amerindian driver at the category. However, at Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Stroll had the only podium of the team and Williams’ last until nowadays, with a third-place. With this result, the team jumped to the fifth-place of the championship, earning a better bonus than the previous year.

 

Lance Stroll’s podium at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Williams’s last one. (Photo: Formula 1) [9]

 

Unfortunately, Stroll’s contribution to the team was not properly recognized. In 2018, after Massa’s definitive retirement, Williams hired Sergey Sirotkin to replace him. Even with the entry of one more sponsor, Russian bank SMP, the engineering department did not know how to convert the investment in upgrades in the car. Consequently, both drivers had much difficulty in scoring. Exonerating the engineers of any guilt for the bad performance of the cars, media returned to attack Stroll. Some journalists ignored journalistic ethics (taught at college) and dared to use liable-to-prosecute-terms as “questionable talent drivers”, ignoring Stroll’s achievements in the previous year and championships precedent to his debut in Formula One, and disregarding Sirotkin’s lack of experience. Media simply “forgot” that who makes the cars are the engineers, not the drivers, the team’s budget comes from sponsors (so investors are always welcome), and journalists used the argumentum ad hominem fallacy to attack the drivers and acquit Claire Williams and Paddy Lowe (see 11th item of bibliography).

 

Paddy Lowe, Williams’ technical director from 2017 to 2019. (Photo: Jornal Cruzeiro do Sul) [10]

 

6- Stroll’s exit and fourth crisis: masks start to fall

 

In mid-2018, Lawrence Stroll set up a consortium of investors and bought Force India team, whose owner Vijay Mallya was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged corruption. Even aware of the difficulties faced by his son with a nothing competitive car and of his crucifixion by media, Lawrence kept Lance in Williams until the end of the year. The Canadian driver moved to the new team, renamed Racing Point, the following year (see Understand the Esteban Ocon case).

With Stroll out of the team, Williams lost its biggest scapegoat. The critics, believing the Canadian entrepreneur and his son were to blame for the team’s crisis, trusted that the new hirings would bring the team back to its golden age. However, with Stroll’s exit, Williams had the worst performance ever. Robert Kubica was the only one to score, making one point at German Grand Prix. George Russell, Toto Wolff’s sponsored, finished season without points. However, no media organ called him “pay driver”, even came from a wealthy family and not having chances to justify investment in his work, generating suspects of racism by media (see The Lance Stroll Case: An Amerindian in Formula One).

 

George Russell: European White, he is not criticized by media even being unable to score. (Photo: AutoSport) [11]

 

Enduring in the last position of the championship with the lower bonus of its history, Williams found itself back in a severe crisis. Shortly at the beginning of 2019, seeing media now could not blame Stroll anymore and that Russell and Kubica could not get out of the last places, Lowe asked to exit from his functions claiming personal reasons. The engineering department kept failing at its job, being the most notable case the delay in months of Kubica’s adapted steering wheel. Finally, the pressure fell into Claire. Kubica was fired at the end of the year and Nicholas Latifi, Canadian driver of Iranian descent, was chosen as his substitute. Latifi had not even debut and some fans accused him of being a pay driver and made xenophobic offenses against Canada. There was even no statement of Williams about this.

 

Nicholas Latifi: had not debuted yet and furious fans already blamed him for Williams’ fourth crisis. (Photo: tomadadetempo.com) [12]

 

In 2020, amid the paralyzation of the teams’ activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Claire admitted that possibility of the total sale of Williams. Toto Wolff acquired 5% of the team’s shares in June.

 

7- After all, who is to blame?

 

Differently of what some journalists tried to instill at fans’ heads, Williams’ crisis’ fault is NOT Lawrence Stroll’s, even less Lance Stroll’s, and nor of any other investor or driver to whom the media dishonestly name as “pay driver”. No one is to blame except Claire Williams herself. For being the daughter of the team’s founder and its gestor, Claire should manage the financial part better to ensure control in her hands. However, excessive spending that was not converted into results on track let the team depend on extern investments. Now, if William’s problem was money, how can it be possible to blame who put money on its cash? Toto Wolff and Lawrence Stroll did nothing but to HELP the British team at the moment it most needed support. Drivers and investors do not make cars, engineers do, and engineering department led by Paddy Lowe had money enough to develop a good project, but failed considerably.

The fact of Lance being the son of Lawrence means absolutely nothing at the subject of Williams’ financial crisis. The Amerindian driver’s participation guaranteed to the team the fifth-place at the constructors’ championship in 2017 due to his third-place at Azerbaijan Grand Prix, justifying his father’s investment on the team. It is obvious that the car’s performance is the engineer’s responsibility and financial control if for the team owners, but many people do not see it and, by ignorance of lack of character, blame Stroll. The media’s insistence in blaming him by all the problems that happen in current Formula One, since internal issues of the teams until the ones of the category as a whole, reflects two phenomena that follow the history of mankind and were responsible for the biggest tragedies.

 

 

This Einstein quote says a lot about the way the media treats Lance Stroll. (Photo: GoodReads) [13]

 

One of them is antisemitism, as powerful groups always tried to blame Jews for the world’s misfortunes and do until now. As current society is more conscious of the problem of discrimination, media just accuses Stroll and omits his ethnic origins (the reason for the persecution) to not taking risk of being retaliated by public opinion. Some fans accept the speech because they go along with these ideas, others are easily fooled, reflecting what was previewed by Theodor Adorno in the 20th century: some people accept passively everything the media says, without questioning anything. In the 21st century, Ben Shapiro proved the existence of this face of media, noting that it ignores the facts and shows the narrative as it wished to fulfill its agenda.

The other phenomenon is structural racism. Even with good financial conditions, Lance Stroll still belongs to minority groups (as he is Jewish and Amerindian), and media will tend to favor historically privileged groups (Europeans and Whites). With this, proving Shapiro’s analysis, it ignores Claire William’s management incompetence to blame Stroll, even without arguments and proofs. Its speech ends prevailing because many fans do not want to think, as it is more comfortable to accept what is said without checking the facts. For some people, it can seem absurd that racial questions are made in Formula One’s context, mainly in the case of a team’s bankruptcy. However, it is humanly impossible to ignore the unhealthy, unfair persecution the media and some fans do with Lance Stroll e the reasons must indeed be unmasked.

 

8- Conclusion

 

Williams’ bad financial management put the team in four crises throughout its history. Even with good investments and sponsorship, the engineering department failed successively to upgrade the car for the drivers could fight for good positions and put the team back to the top of the championship. The media preferred to blame who was helping instead of the responsible ones for the car’s inefficiency. The hostile internal atmosphere keeps the team from potential investors, under the fear of facing barriers on decisions (and if they belong to an ethnic minority, they take the risk of being crucified by the press and fans and blamed by issues out of their responsibility). Then, for Williams, there is just the sale of the team or learn with its pasts and make a radical change in its attitude.

 

Williams’ problem: always bites the hand that feeds it. [14]

 

Update: On March 21th, 2020, it was announced that Williams was sold to the American company Dorilton Capital.

 

9- Bibliography

 

 

10- Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article, except the montage, belongs to me. This site has informative intentions, not commercial. The links where I took the photos are indicated below. All copyrights reserved.

 

The Dismissal of Sebastian Vettel: Justice or Injustice?

On May 12th, 2020, Scuderia Ferrari announced that German driver Sebastian Vettel’s contract would not be renewed. Vettel’s performance in recent years has been spotlighted by two main characteristics: his disputes for the title in 2017 and 2018, and his constant accidents. In 2019, the German ended behind his teammate, Monegasque Charles Leclerc, on final results, with Leclerc being on his second year of career and first with the Maranello-based team.

During the 2018 season, some fans considered that a retirement of the German driver would be more indicated to him. Others used Vettel’s glorious past as a four-time-champion to justify his permanence in Formula One. So, after all, was Ferrari’s decision fair or unfair? To answer this question, let’s make a retrospect of Sebastian Vettel’s career and rate if his performance was worthy of Ferrari’s investments.

 

1- The beginning: a young talent enters Formula One

 

Sebastian Vettel debuted in Formula One at 2007 United States Grand Prix for Sauber, replacing Polish driver Robert Kubica, who had suffered a serious accident on the previous round, in Canada. Vettel finished eighth, the last place of the scoring zone at the time, scoring one point. In the same year, he was hired by Toro Rosso to continue the season from Hungarian Grand Prix. His second and last scoring was a fourth-place at the Chinese Grand Prix. He finished the championship at 14th place, with six points.

As of 2008, Vettel’s star started to shine more. Scoring in nine races, the German had a triumphant victory at Italian Grand Prix, being the first time a Toro Rosso driver won a race. At this same round, he broke two records: “youngest Grand Prix pole position winner” and “youngest driver to score a double” (pole position and race win). He finished 2008 in eighth place, with 35 points.

 

Sebastian Vettel’s first victory, at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. (Photo: MAXF1.net) [1]

 

2- Joining Red Bull: the apex and the fall

 

In 2009, Vettel was hired by Red Bull Racing team. He broke more two records: youngest driver to score a hat-trick” (pole position, race win and fastest lap), and “youngest World Drivers’ Championship runner-up”. With four wins, eight podiums, and four more scores, he got 84 points, 11 lesser than champion Jenson Button, of Brawn. His results were so impressive that he turned into Red Bull’s bet to dispute the title.

Racing alongside Australian driver Mark Webber, his teammate since his first year with the Austrian team, Sebastian Vettel became champion for four consecutive years. In 2010, with five wins, 10 podiums and five more scores, he got 256 points and guaranteed the first title of a Red Bull driver. In 2011, he conquered 392 points, an outcome of 11 wins, 17 podiums, and one more score. The following year, he had 281 points, five wins, 10 podiums, and seven more scores. His last title was conquered in 2013, with 13 wins, 16 podiums, and two more scores. Vettel’s four titles meant two things for Red Bull: the engineering department has succeeded in their turbo engine development and the team had one of the most talented drivers in the history of the sport.

 

Sebastian Vettel’s win at the 2013 German Grand Prix. (Photo: Motor Authority) [2]

 

In his four titles’ years, Vettel broke nine records he keeps until nowadays. In 2010 he broke the one of “youngest Formula One World Drivers’ champion”, at the age of 23. In 2011, he broke the ones of “most podium finishes in a season” (17 at all), “most pole positions in a season” (15 at all), “most laps led in a season” (739 at all), “most wins from pole position in a season” (totalizing nine) and “youngest driver to score a grand slam” (pole position, win, fastest lap and led every lap). In 2013, he broke the records of “most consecutive wins” (nine at all), “most consecutive grand slams” (two at all), and “most wins in a season” (totalizing 13). Vettel also got three more records, “youngest driver to led at least one lap”, “youngest driver to score a podium” and “youngest Grand Prix winner”, but these were surpassed some years later by Max Verstappen. With these achievements, Vettel was considered the biggest winner of the Turbo Era in Formula One.

 

With Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel won four championships and got nine records he keeps until nowadays. (Photo: Sports Mole) [3]

 

But in 2014, the situation changed drastically. With Mark Webber’s exit, the team chose also Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo to replace him as Vettel’s teammate. If before the German’s mastery was clear, he passed to be left behind by the team in favor of the new teammate. Vettel’s car in 2014 had little power to reach previous years’ results. By contrast, Ricciardo’s car enjoyed perfect conditions, allowed him to even get his first win, at Canadian Grand Prix. Getting only four podiums and 12 more scores, Vettel finished the year in fifth place of championship, with 167 points. Ricciardo finished third, with 238 points. In the same year Red Bull decided to prefer a new driver, the team lost leadership in Formula One, and Lewis Hamilton’s title (the second of his career) started Mercedes mastery, which remains until nowadays.

 

Red Bull’s preference for Daniel Ricciardo not only harmed Sebastian Vettel’s 2014 season, as it allowed Mercedes to be the new dominant team. (Photo: Marca) [4]

 

3- Going to Ferrari: a good deal?

 

Seeing Vettel’s deception with Red Bull, Ferrari made him a proposal to join the Italian team replacing Spanish driver Fernando Alonso. The Maranello-based team was since 2007 without winning the drivers championship and since 2008 without winning the constructors championship. Unhappy with Alonso’s failure, Ferrari’s officers bet on the young four-time-champion to bring back the team’s times of glory.

Vettel’s contract with Red Bull would end at the end of 2015, but Ferrari paid his severance to have him in its team. Racing alongside Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen, the least champion with the Italian team, the German came back to drivers’ top-3. Conquering three wins, 13 podiums, and more four scores, he finished the year at third place in the ranking, with 278 points, 44 lesser than runner-up Nico Rosberg and 103 lesser than champion Lewis Hamilton (both of Mercedes). Though without getting another title, his position in 2015 was a relief to Vettel, as he was in a more competitive car, being the team’s priority, and was closer to compete for the champion trophy.

 

With Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel retrieved chances to fight for the title. (Photo: O Globo) [5]

 

But in 2016, destiny brought another big rival: Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver had debuted by Toro Rosso in 2015 and the following year was promoted to Red Bull replacing Russian driver Daniil Kvyat (fired because of his weak performance and his constant accidents, even harming Vettel, as at Russian Grand Prix). Verstappen has the same characteristics as the German driver: he was young, fearless, audacious, brave, and had no fear of taking risks. Responsible for breaking three records that belonged to Vettel, the Dutch driver held intense disputes with Ferrari’s driver. The most emblematic were the disputes for the Mexican Grand Prix podium and for the Brazilian Grand Prix fifth place (which Verstappen ended third). The young driver nearly surpassed Vettel in the championship, ending only eight points behind the German, who finished the year at fourth place in the ranking, with 212 points.

In 2017, Vettel was highlighted again, starting the championship with a win at Australian Grand Prix. The dispute for the title with Hamilton kept balanced for 13 races, with the German having a certain advantage. However, at Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari’s craving for victory ended harming its main driver. Starting from pole position, alongside Max Verstappen, Vettel and Räikkönen squeezed the Dutch driver, which caused a triple crash. The three drivers had to retire from the race and victory ended with Hamilton. With the British driver leadership, Vettel needed to win Mexican Grand Prix and cross his fingers to Hamilton finishing at least ninth to became champion. However, one more dispute with Verstappen frustrated the German’s plans. The Dutch driver took him the leadership and both had a touch. While Verstappen kept it normally, Vettel ended shocking against Hamilton and both went to the last places. Ferrari’s driver finished the round in fourth place, while the English driver crossed the finish line in ninth place, guaranteeing that year’s title. Winning for the last time at Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel ended 2017 as runner-up, with 317 points an outcome of five wins, 12 podiums, and five more scores.

 

Accident at the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix involving Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, and Max Verstappen. (Photo: Busy.org) [6]

 

The year 2018 was similar to the previous one. Vettel started the championship with two consecutive wins (in Australia and Bahrein). However, as of the Chinese Grand Prix, in which he had a touch with Verstappen that dragged him to the eighth place, his luck started to change. In that year, Vettel involved himself in a series of accidents that cost him precious points to dispute the title. At French Grand Prix, he collided with Finnish Valtteri Bottas, while at German Grand Prix, though the team facilitated his job, ordering to teammate Räikkönen to give him the lead, he crashed into the wall and retired from the race. At the Japanese Grand Prix, he risked his luck in a fight against Verstappen that made him leave the track momentarily, ending the race in sixth place. At all, Vettel had five wins, 12 podiums, and eight more scores, consolidating himself as runner-up once more, with 320 points.

In 2019, Kimi Räikkönen was replaced by  Charles Leclerc. Although many journalists and supporters speculated that the new driver would bring a hazard to Vettel, old experts in Ferrari knew that the team would prioritize the German and would make the Monegasque his squire (as they did to Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa in the past). At the first race of the year, in Australia, thought Leclerc’s car having a better output, Ferrari did not allow him to overtake Vettel (the same happened two rounds later, in China). For this reason, Leclerc was nicknamed “Cinderella”. However, Vettel did not justify his team’s predilection for him in 2019: he got only one win, Singapore, that even lent him the controversial accusation of being helped by Ferrari (that changes his tires before Leclerc’s), besides eight podiums and seven more scores. The main mark of Vettel in 2019 was his accidents, notably the crash with Hamilton at Canadian Grand Prix, the purposeful collision with Verstappen at British Grand Prix, with Lance Stroll at Italian Grand Prix, and with Leclerc at Brazilian Grand Prix. In the second and third cases, Vettel only stayed in the last positions, including receiving penalties, while in the other he caused a ferrarist double-retirement that alarmed the team. Finishing the year in fifth place, with 240 points, Vettel ended one position and 24 points behind his teammate.

 

4- From hero to zero: what was Sebastian Vettel’s mistake?

 

Conquering a title in Formula One is not an easy job. The specialists are practically unanimous in saying that the key to the success in motorsport is the sum of the driver’s talent with the car’s good performance. There is no point in having a potent car if the driver has no stamina to bring it to the title (Valtteri Bottas is an example), as well as there is no point in the driver being talented if the car’s performance does not match (Max Verstappen is an example). Vettel’s achievements (records, wins, and titles) prove his talent. Ferrari and Red Bull are considered top teams (though recently the Austrian team is quite different from it was in at the time the German was its main driver). So how to explain such a fall in such a short time?

The answer is simple: self-control. This is an important ingredient in the recipe for a champion. A big example of how it works is the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton disputed the title with Vettel and had started from pole position. However, a full of range Max Verstappen fought for the win. Hamilton preferred to not showing too much resistance, as he preferred to guarantee a second-place, keep a constant series of scoring, and steady the title than disputing the win and risk an accident, giving chances to his rival to surpass him. Vettel does not think the same way. The German is indeed impulsive and risks until the last second, causing unnecessary accidents and losing significant points. When this dispute happens with another impulsive driver, like Verstappen, the damage is even bigger. Who knows the 2017 championship would have ended differently if Vettel and Räikkönen had not framed that squeeze for Verstappen to try to scare him?

 

Sebastian Vettel’s crash at the 2018 German Grand Prix. Silly mistakes cost him the chance of winning three more titles. (Photo: Goodwood) [7]

 

A strategy is also important to win a game. Formula One is a collective sport that depends on the interaction between the driver and his team (this one divided into its many departments and staff, as engineers, mechanics, strategists, among others). Audacity and courage are indeed relevant factors to a successful career, but even in extreme situations, as a dispute for positions, it is necessary to think very well before acting. A good strategy would be reuniting the team before the races to discuss how to proceed in hypothetical situations and put in practice what was discussed before.

The main mistake of Sebastian Vettel was letting his emotions to take control of his reason. Accidents like those of the 2019 British and Brazilian Grand Prix were clearly an outcome of the driver’s rage for being overtaken by his rivals (respectively Verstappen and Leclerc). Vettel should follow the suit of Hamilton’s prudence if he wants to win titles again.

 

5- Conclusion

 

Ferrari realized that it is not worthy to spend its investments in a driver who, though talented, always getting into trouble. It is likely that Charles Leclerc became the new bet of the team, that will hire another driver to be his squire (sources speculate about the name of Carlos Sainz Jr.). Sebastian Vettel , in turn, has two possible ways: or retirement, or a weaker team (though Toto Wolff had already shown some interest in putting him in Mercedes, it is not known if Vettel would accept to be Lewis Hamilton’s teammate). The four-time-champion waiver was an outcome of his impulsivity, that harmed him more than helped him. However, it would be unfair to ignore Vettel’s achievements, as he left his legacy in Formula One as a bold and fearless driver who translated his courage in four titles. The most important lesson that he leaves for the new talents in the sport is that it worths thinking before acting more than risking everything, as you can lose the last chance to shine.

 

Sources

 

 

Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article belongs to me. This site has informative intentions, not commercial. The links where I took the photos are indicated below. All copyrights reserved.

The Max Verstappen Case: A Big Driver For a Little Team

Max Verstappen is one of the stars of Formula 1 today. Holder of six official records (among them the “youngest Grand Prix winner”), highlighted in exciting races and with several podiums and victories in a few years of experience, the Dutch driver surprised fans by announcing on January 7th, 2020 that he had renewed his contract with Red Bull Racing until 2023. While some praise the decision, others criticize the choice, wondering why Verstappen did not accept proposals from better teams. The analysis of this case you can check from now on.

 

1- Max’s career: a star appears

 

The eldest son of Dutch former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen and Belgian former kart driver Sophie Kumpen, Max Verstappen started his auto career at the age of 4, in regional kart competitions. At 17, after finishing the European Formula 3 2014 in third place, he was hired by Scuderia Toro Rosso to compete in Formula 1 the following year. In his debut at the Australian Grand Prix, he broke the record for “youngest driver to debut in a Formula One race”, which previously belonged to Jaime Alguersuari. In the next race in Malaysia, he broke the record for “youngest driver to score in Formula One”, which was previously owned by Daniil Kvyat. Verstappen ended his debut year by scoring 10 times, totaling 49 points in 19 races, in addition to being awarded by the FIA ​​as “Rookie of the Year” and “Personality of the Year” and his overtaking over Felipe Nasr in Belgium earned him the “Action of the Year” award.

All these achievements were essential for Red Bull to choose Verstappen in 2016 to replace Kvyat, whose results were below expectations. The Dutchman did not disappoint and achieved his first victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, breaking the records of “youngest leader, by at least one lap in Formula One”, “youngest driver to achieve a podium in Formula One” and “youngest Grand Prize winner ”, all of which previously belonged to Sebastian Vettel. In Belgium, he broke the record for “youngest driver to start from the front row”, which the following year was broken by Lance Stroll. In Brazil, he broke the record for “youngest driver to make the fastest lap in Formula One”, which previously belonged to Nico Rosberg. At the end of that year, with Rosberg’s retirement, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was looking for a replacement for the German. It was reported that he contacted Jos Verstappen several times to talk about Max, but the young man continued with Red Bull. Wolff hired his sponsor Valtteri Bottas, who was racing for Williams, to take the team’s second seat.

 

Max’s victory on 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

 

If 2016 was a wonderful year, in which Verstappen was able to expose his skills, 2017 was disappointing. In 20 races, he had seven retirements, but none because of him. The first was in Bahrain, where a brake problem took him out of the race. The second was in Spain, where Bottas collided with Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen, taking both of them out of the race. The third was in Canada, where an electrical failure shut down his car. The fourth occurred in Azerbaijan due to an oil problem. The fifth was caused by Kvyat, who collided with the Dutchman and Fernando Alonso in Austria. The sixth took place in Belgium, where his car shut down in the middle of the race. In the seventh and final retirement, Verstappen was crushed by Ferrari drivers, Vettel and Raikkonen, and then was thrown off the track by the Finn’s dangerous re-entry. Disappointed by the inconsistency of his car, in contrast to the good performance of the car of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen had moments of fury with his team. Aware of the situation, Toto Wolff and Maurizio Arrivabene, Ferrari’s team principal, contacted Jos to discuss the future of the young prodigy. It was clear that Red Bull had no competence to produce a winning car for its two drivers as well and Max was being sacrificed. Wolff was not satisfied with Bottas’ inability to compete on an equal footing with Lewis Hamilton (giving Ferrari a rebirth as a title contender) and Arrivabene was looking for someone to replace Raikkonen, who was close to leaving the team. However, Verstappen preferred to give the Austrian team a chance and signed a contract with an exit clause. Despite the difficulties, he managed two victories, one in Malaysia and one in Mexico.

 

 

2017 Singapore Grand Prix accident.

 

In 2018 the situation changed. Red Bull knew that Max gave up good proposals to continue with the Austrians, and disappointing him would mean his departure. The car showed more stability, but it was not yet powerful enough for Red Bull to establish itself as a threat to Mercedes’ hegemony, achieving only two victories, in Austria and Mexico. However, Ricciardo’s car had many flaws, compromising the Australian’s performance. The announcement that Red Bull would use Honda engines from the following year caused suspicion in Ricciardo, who signed with Renault for the 2019 season. Verstappen preferred not to use the exit clause and remained with the team, which promised hard work with Honda around the Dutchman.

The promise was fulfilled in a very warm way because even though Verstappen was promoted to the position of first driver, Mercedes did not feel the tip of Red Bull’s claws. To make matters worse, the hiring of Pierre Gasly became a failure, as the Frenchman was unable to face the Ferrari drivers, who were not in a good phase at the beginning of the year, and prevented Red Bull from winning the runners-up championship. With Verstappen carrying the team on his back, director Helmut Marko decided to replace Gasly with Alexander Albon, from Toro Rosso, something similar to what happened between Kvyat and Max in 2016. Despite three good victories in Germany, Austria and Brazil Verstappen faced a lack of power in races that could make up for the deficit caused by Gasly, as in Russia, where his car failed to reach Charles Leclerc’s. His contract was due to expire in 2020, but the Dutchman decided to renew it for 2023.

 

2- Red Bull: glorious in the past, decadent in the present

 

Red Bull Racing emerged as a Formula 1 team in 2004 after the eponymous company bought the Jaguar team, whose partner was three-time champion, Jackie Stewart. The peak of the team occurred between the years 2010 and 2013, in which Sebastian Vettel secured the fourth championship for the team, defeating McLaren of Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.

During this period, the category employed turbo in their cars and Red Bull was able to assemble a chassis that would respond to the engine’s work. Vettel dominated the seasons feeling little danger from his opponents. Hamilton was disappointed with McLaren and Ferrari felt the bitterness of not winning a drivers’ championship since 2007 and a constructors’ championship since 2008. In 2014, with the ban on the turbo, the scenario of Formula 1 changed considerably. Australian Mark Webber, until then Vettel’s companion, gave way to fellow countryman Daniel Ricciardo, while Austrian Christian Horner assumed the role of team leader. The four-time champion’s car went through a sequence of breaks that prevented his score. Despite his first career victory, Ricciardo did not achieve much and Red Bull saw Hamilton’s rise in Mercedes and the dominance of the German team that lasts until today.

For those who do not remember the sequence of technical failures in Vettel’s car, it is the impression that Ricciardo beat his teammate for having more talent. Critics of the German use the 2014 season to this day as a justification for saying that Vettel should retire and that his titles are more a product of the turbo engine than his talent. However, the failure in 2014 does mean Vettel’s downfall. Feeling betrayed and neglected by the team, he signed with Ferrari for 2015, with the Italian team committing to pay for his breach of contract with the Austrian team.

 

Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull. The German’s exit was the beginning of the teams downfall.

 

With Vettel at Ferrari, Red Bull hired Daniil Kvyat to race alongside Ricciardo. However, neither brought back the glory of German times. Kvyat gained the reputation of being a “Sunday driver” and his accidents cost him the place on the main team and the confidence of the leaders. Ricciardo gave the impression of being a “bureaucrat driver”, as he did not usually fight for bigger positions. Max Verstappen was not just a substitute for Kvyat in the eyes of Red Bull, but an opportunity to return to the position of champion, since the Dutchman had all the virtues found in Vettel: determination, boldness, courage, persistence, among others.

However, it is only possible to win a championship if there is a balance between the talent of the driver and that of the engineering department. The athlete cannot be afraid of challenges, but must also be prudent to avoid accidents. The car needs to match the driver’s performance, so electrical failures in the engine, brakes, oil or elsewhere are unacceptable. What seems obvious to fans seems not to be for Red Bull. Max’s boldness is constant, as it is clear that he always tries to overcome his opponents, no matter the situation. He is a driver who is not satisfied with points or podiums, as he seeks victory. His car, however, is the weakest among the so-called “top teams”. The question that remains in the air is: “How in good conscience can anyone claim to be a fan of Max Verstappen and forgive Red Bull for the crashes in 2017 and for giving him an average of just two wins a year?”.

 

3- Loyalty vs. Achievements

 

Max Verstappen’s first contract renewal with Red Bull in 2017 had already been a big surprise. In that year, some press outlets began to question the Dutchman’s talent, ignoring the real responsible for the retirements. This happened because the memory of an incompetent sports journalist is the same as the memory of a voter: short. Unlike Sebastian Vettel, who realized the team’s difficulties and moved to Ferrari, Verstappen was giving the team one more chance that provided an artificial atmosphere of distrust around a driver who doesn’t need to prove anything else.

Max never detailed the reasons why he chose to stay with the Austrian team, just saying that he trusted what the team planned for him. The contract offered was very interesting: the Dutchman would stay with Red Bull until 2020, but an exit clause gave him the freedom to choose another team if his expectations were not met. In other words, Red Bull was aware that Verstappen had refused great chances on other teams and would be willing to bear the consequences of the Dutchman’s choice.

 

Red Bull’s car instability costed victories and points to Verstappen. Anyway he refuses to leave the team.

 

Therefore, in 2018, it was believed that Red Bull would work hard to produce a car that matched Max’s talent so that he had a chance to compete for the title with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Although his results were satisfactory, Verstappen was a little far from expected to become a champion: he had only two victories (Austria and Mexico) and nine more podiums. Hamilton had 11 wins and Vettel won five times that year. At the end of 2018, Verstappen varied the answers he gave to the press about expectations for 2019: sometimes said they were ready to fight for the championship, sometimes said they had no chance. Only one thing was irreducible: he would not leave Red Bull.

In 2019, the season was a little better, but also far from the first place: Max had three wins and six more podiums. Jos Verstappen even threatened to ask his son to leave Red Bull if the team was unable to compete for a title. With the end of the contract approaching, Formula One fans were curious to know what the fate of the young prodigy would be. As Verstappen did not indicate that he was willing to leave the team, Toto Wolff renewed with Valtteri Bottas. It was then, that on January 7, 2020, Verstappen gave Lewis Hamilton a great 35-year gift: he renewed with Red Bull until 2023. From what has been observed since 2017, Max’s loyalty binds him to his current team, but that alone does not guarantee achievements, as he lacks a competitive car (which he sometimes admits that Red Bull does not know how to do).

 

4- Myths and Truths

 

  •   Myth: Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull in 2019 because the team was prioritizing Verstappen

 

This absurd theory created by Verstappen haters has been contradicted several times by Ricciardo himself, but now and then someone appears to say this on the internet. The fact is that the Australian driver left Red Bull in 2019 because he was unhappy, but it was not because of his teammate.

In 2017, Max started the year ahead of his teammate, reaching third place in the championship in the second race of the season, at the Chinese Grand Prix. However, the series of retirements that started at the Bahrain Grand Prix allowed Ricciardo to surpass him in the scoring. This does not mean, however, that the Australian had an easy year: despite his victory in Azerbaijan and eight more podiums, Daniel accumulated six retirements, the worst being in Mexico, where he had achieved pole position. The following year, he won twice (in China and Monaco), but had eight dropouts. Those who accuse Red Bull of providing Ricciardo with a worse car in 2018 to benefit Verstappen, should at the very least be consistent and admit that it seemed that in 2017 the team had done the opposite: damaged the Verstappen car so that Ricciardo overcame him in the championship.

 

Verstappen and Ricciardo keep their friendship after the Australian’s exit.

 

Still, in 2018, Red Bull executives announced that starting in 2019, the team would switch from Renault to Honda engines. The news surprised fans, as the Japanese supplier was at war with McLaren when it used its engines at the time of Fernando Alonso. The Spanish driver had several dropouts due to engine failures. Ricciardo said he did not want to have the same fate as Alonso, and aware that neither Mercedes nor Ferrari were interested in hiring him, the Australian traded Red Bull’s uncertainty for Renault’s likely stability. Unfortunately, the French team performed poorly in 2019, but it was not possible to guess that this would happen.

Ricciardo and Verstappen have already said that they miss each other and have been seen in moments of relaxation several times. That is, if Max were the reason Daniel left Red Bull, they would not have this healthy relationship after his departure for Renault.

 

  •    Truth: Mercedes had been showing interest in Verstappen since 2014

 

Toto Wolff does not hide his admiration for Max. The Mercedes team chief revealed in interviews that in 2014, when Verstappen was still in Formula Three, that the German team had tried to sign him for the future. However, Red Bull planned to put him in Formula 1 earlier than proposed by Mercedes. Max and his father Jos were more interested in the Red Bull offer and the young man debuted for Toro Rosso in 2015.

Virtually no driver in Formula One history has raced in just one team during his entire career (except in cases where the driver died or was fired in his debut year). The idea of ​​Verstappen leaving Red Bull to race for Mercedes in the future does not seem absurd. But the analysis of this possibility depends on demystifying yet another untruth that Verstappen haters love to utter.

 

  •   Myth: If he leaves Red Bull, Verstappen has nowhere to go

 

Toto Wolff called Jos Verstappen to talk many times. And, logically, the Mercedes team leader would not set up meetings with Max’s father to talk about a chapter of a soap opera or about the last football match, especially when it comes to the person who was already interested in hiring the young man when he was still was not in Formula One.

The current Mercedes drivers are champion Lewis Hamilton and Finn Valtteri Bottas. The latter has a peculiarity: all contracts signed so far have been valid for only one year. If Mercedes rejects Verstappen the way the haters claim, why doesn’t it hire Bottas to run for at least three years? The answer is simple: the German team knows that the Finn is not in a position to face Hamilton like Rosberg did, so he uses the driver as a buffer while Max remains at Red Bull. Some question whether Hamilton would allow the youngster to join Mercedes, but the fact is that the Englishman has no decisive power in the team. If he had, Rosberg would have been fired in 2015.

Another option for Max, although this is more unlikely, is Ferrari. The Italian team currently has Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, two drivers Verstappen does not get along with. The Dutchman has already stated that he would not mind running alongside Leclerc, but the Monegasque does not hide that he would not like to be his teammate. Vettel is a notorious rival to Max, with whom he has had several conflicts. Those are the reasons why Verstappen is less likely to go to Ferrari, despite the team showing interest in him in 2017.

 

  •    Truth: Verstappen’s lack of titles in Formula One is his team’s fault

 

Drivers are not responsible for the performance of their cars. This is the task of the engineering department, and consequently, of the engineers. Blaming Verstappen for engine, electrical or brake failures is stupid. Only in cases of accidents can the pilot be blamed, and even then accidents are analyzed to find out if he failed or not.

Max started 2017 as one of the title favorites. The championship was lost due to the abandonments, caused either by car failures or collisions caused by other drivers. In 2018 and 2019, there were several opportunities for lost victories because the performance of the car did not make it possible to overcome opponents of the top teams. Could it be that a driver who, at 19 years old, had broken six records and can run so well in the rain (as in Brazil in 2016, China in 2017 and Germany in 2019), really does not manage to be champion for “lack of talent”? Or is the car of the “competent” Red Bull only capable of guaranteeing a maximum of three victories per year?

 

5- Conclusion

 

Max Verstappen is one of the greatest talents in Formula One. His skills have been proven in several races, just look for the videos. However, his team, Red Bull Racing, has not yet been able to provide him with a competitive car that matches his determination. Who doesn’t remember the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix, in which the team asked him to slow down so as not to overload the car?

Verstappen has a good chance of being as successful a champion as Lewis Hamilton. He already has one of the keys to success in Formula One: talent. Only the other is missing: the car. But if he continues to give chances to a team that until now has only delayed his dream, this achievement risks being postponed to a point where he would find himself in a situation similar to that of Ricciardo: already at a certain age and without hopes of a title.

 

 

 What do you prefer? Winning eleven times with Mercedes or three times with Red Bull?

 

6- Sources

 

 

Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article belongs to me. This site has informative intentions, not commercial. The links where I took the photos are indicated below. All copyrights reserved.

The Lance Stroll Case: An Amerindian in Formula One

 

Updated on September 1st, 2020

Revised on September 4th and 5th, 2020

 

Abstract: It is not racism to not support Lance Stroll, but it is when they deny his talent and praise White drivers with fewer deeds.

 

Canadian driver Lance Stroll is periodically subject to sports news and comments from Formula One fans. Unfortunately, most of them are offensive and discharge abnormal hate against an innocent boy (who did nothing to his detractors, who do not even know him personally). Several hypotheses are raised about the origin of this hatred: envy for the Stroll family fortune, fanaticism for rival drivers, ignorance about who Lance is, among others. But only one is closer to the truth: racism against indigenous peoples.

Some haters remember his mother is Belgian, while others say his skin is lighter. Such phrases relate to how much current society is unaware of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In this article, we will prove the anger many netizens (and even press members) have about Lance Stroll is nothing more than the desire for an all-white sport.

 

1- An Amerindian driver in Formula One

 

Born in Montreal on October 29th, 1998, Lance Stroll is the second child of businessman Lawrence Stroll and fashion designer Claire-Anne Callens. Lance is of Russian-Jewish and Inuit (native people of Canada, including Quebec, the homeland of the Strolls) descent by his father’s side, and from Belgian and English descent by his mother’s side. Lawrence Stroll is the son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant father and a Canadian mother, has reddish skin, straight, thick hair, and slightly slanted eyes. Claire-Anne Callens has white skin and blue eyes. The result of miscegenation is noted in the couple’s children: Chloe, the eldest child, has her mother’s eyes, but her father’s face shape; Lance, the youngest child, has his mother’s face shape, but his father’s slightly slanted brown eyes and dark, straight, thick hair. Lance’s skin is lighter than Lawrence’s and redder than Claire’s.

 

The Strolls. From right to left: Claire-Anne (mother), Lance (son), Lawrence (father), and Chloe (daughter). (Photo: Thill Arthur / ATP) [1]

 

In the Americas, due to past colonization, slavery, and immigration, miscegenation is inevitable; it is no different in Canada, where Native peoples had contact with Europeans (white-skinned) and Africans (black-skinned);

When two people of different skin colors have children, these ones are called mixed-race. In Brazil, for example, mixed-race people receive names according to their origins. The children of a Black parent and a White one are called mulatos; those born to a Native parent and a Black one are called cafusos; children of a White parent and a Native one (such as Stroll) are called caboclos or mamelucos;

In genetics, there is a high probability that mixed-race people with white ancestors to have white children when they marry white people. In the nineteenth century, the United States banned interracial marriages. However, the Brazilian government encouraged marriage to whites to “whiten” future generations.

Having a lighter skin tone than their ancestors does not nullify mixed-race person origins. The Caboclos maintain their Amerindian origins even with their skin lighter than an ‘Indian’ one. They are of both Amerindian and European descent. Lance Stroll fits in this case.

 

Physical characteristics of Lance Stroll that prove his Amerindian origin. [2]

 

2- How the European people describe the Amerindians

 

Formula One was created in the 1950s. It was not even a decade since the fall of the Nazi-fascist regimes in Europe. These ones were characterized by intense state repression and persecution of minority ethnic groups (mainly Jews) under racial pretenses. Since the nineteenth century, with the formulation of social Darwinism, schools and intellectuals in Europe have taught that races are organized into a hierarchy. Then, the European-whites are considered superior to the others and the mixed-races inferior to all the so-called pure races.

Some anthropologists such as Edward Tylor used to defend that theory and to claim the social evolutionism, a hierarchy between cultures; Even with efforts by others, such as Franz Boas, in showing that it is not possible; European society was convinced about its advantage;

However, this phenomenon has older origins. Since the colonization of the Americas by nations of Europe, various power-holding groups have launched propaganda to support the colonizing process; In Brazil, for example, after the death of Bishop Pedro Fernandes Sardinha (who would have been devoured by anthropophagous Amerindians) in the 16th century, the Catholic Church promoted campaigns that treated Amerindians as animalistic, savage beings, to justify its catechizing campaigns and the Portuguese control; it led to catastrophic consequences and the extermination of the tribe accused of killing the bishop, the Caetés;

 

Image of the 1882 Brazilian Anthropological Exhibition, illustrating a Brazilian indigenous and an African slave being exhibited in Europe. Notice how Amerindians and blacks are portrayed in an animalistic way compared to whites. (Photo: National Museum of Rio de Janeiro) [3]

 

In the 1950s, the European population still did not understand what the native peoples of the Americas were like. Some decades earlier, in 1911, Scottish James Matthew Barrie released his most famous work, Peter Pan. In the story, a Native American tribe is portrayed as submissive to the protagonist;

It can be noted on the daughter of their chief: Princess Tiger Lily does everything for Peter, even his feelings for her not being the same he has for Wendy Darling, an English girl he brought to Neverland; In 1953, Walt Disney adapted the work into an animated film in which the natives take a larger role in the song What Makes the Red Man Red. In the scene, the tribe is made up of individuals standing in time, isolated from the rest of the world, and wearing the same clothes as their ancestors. The stereotype around Native American people has generated so much controversy for Disney that the studios chose to not include the characters in the sequel film Return to Neverland (2002).

 

Native American tribe from the movie Peter Pan (1953). (Photo: Disney) [4]

 

Since Amerindians lived only on the American continent, Europe had no interest in combating prejudice against them, let alone self-criticizing the interaction between Whites and Amerindians over the centuries. Even in countries of the Americas, the Natives were still marginalized and excluded from society. Only with the organization and struggle of these peoples, especially in the twentieth century, was the issue taken more seriously. On April 19th, 1940, the First Inter-American Indian Congress was held to promote the fight against racism and to pressure American countries to adopt policies to protect and guarantee indigenous rights. That is why in Argentina, Costa Rica, and Brazil, Indian Day is celebrated on April 19th.

Formula One aimed to encourage interest in the auto industry. At the time, consumers in this industry were White men. Women were forbidden to drive in many countries around the world, and Black and Amerindian people lived in segregation, rendering them unable to access vehicles. Therefore, the category focused on pleasing the European white male public, its consumer market. Due to this, Formula One was dominated by Europeans and their descendants for many years (Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentine driver who was the second champion of the category, was of Italian descent).

 

3- Revson and Hamilton: breaking the hegemony

 

In 1964, American Peter Revson debuted as the first Jew in the category, breaking years of European white rule in Formula One. It is worth remembering that the Jewish people have been persecuted since ancient times and were the majority group among Holocaust victims. Previously, they had suffered invasions of its lands by Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, inquisitions by the Catholic Church, pogroms in the Russian Empire, and many other policies of segregation and extermination); Besides this, though a quarter of the Jews has white skin like Revson, racial theories do not consider they as White because they originate in the Middle East; then, White supremacy groups persecute them;

Revson drove for ten years with Revson Racing, Reg Parnell, Tyrell, McLaren, and Shadow Racing. He won two races, got eight podiums, scored 14 times, and accumulated 61 points throughout his career. He died in a training accident for the 1974 South African Grand Prix.

Forty-three years later, in 2007, the first Black Formula One driver, British Lewis Hamilton, debuted. Son of a White mother and Black father born to Caribbean immigrants, Hamilton joined McLaren to race alongside Spanish Fernando Alonso. Early at pre-season training sessions, he suffered racial offenses by Alonso’s fans, who called him a monkey. Some people say the reason behind the insults was not racial but sporting because Alonso’s fans loved the Spanish driver. But if so, wouldn’t it be more logical to call Hamilton a loser or to say that Alonso would finish him off? Calling him a monkey, an offense historically associated with Black people proves that Spanish fans’ hatred of Hamilton was, indeed, racism.

Hamilton started the year with a podium, got his first win, and became runner-up in 2007. The following year, he was still champion with McLaren. But even with his brilliant results, the Englishman was still not free from racial persecution. At the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix, the stewards punished Hamilton for a collision with Felipe Massa, a Brazilian driver of Italian descent. He questioned the punishment and accused the stewards of taking a decision based on the drivers’ skin color, as Massa was White and Hamilton Black. Instead of investigating the case, those responsible for Formula One filed a censure against the British driver, prohibiting him from accusing the stewards of racism again. The best decision, in this case, would be to show the crash video to both drivers and clarify the reasons for the punishment. By silencing Hamilton, sports administrators left room for the hypothesis of racism to be taken into account.

 

Peter Revson (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right): respectively the first Jewish driver and the first Black driver in Formula One. [5]

 

Another case of racism suffered by the British driver occurred at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, whose arbitration is still questioned today. Racing for Mercedes, Hamilton had a chance of overtaking Charles Leclerc, a Monegasque driver who represented Ferrari. To block the opponent, Leclerc squeezed him against the wall, taking it to an investigation. However, the stewards decided to just warn Leclerc with a black and white flag. After the Monegasque driver’s victory, Hamilton climbed to second place on the podium, and Italian fans booed him hardly. Some even made gestures and sounds imitating monkeys. Hamilton posted a recommendation on Instagram to Italians to not be disrespectful as it would tarnish the image of a crowd known for its joy and enthusiasm. No Formula One’s official has even commented on the case.

Centuries of White superiority teachings have left deep marks on European society, so racism gets unnoticed and banalized until nowadays. In the Americas, antiracism movements have more supporters than in Europe, but some people refuse to recognize racial discrimination as a problem anyway;

In Brazil, for example, some European immigrants married Native and Black persons, while others preferred to marry other Europeans and raise their children on the dominant ideas in Europe; it led some Brazilians to believe racism is not a serious subject and to tolerate discrimination against Blacks and Amerindians; even athletes;

At the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, whose result guaranteed Hamilton as the champion, even with Massa winning the race, Brazilian fans booed the English driver and called him a monkey; it proved that the Brazilian racial utopia is just a legend;

 

4- Amerindian and Jewish: the perfect scapegoat

 

Lance Stroll belongs to two historically persecuted and massacred peoples: the Amerindians and the Jews. These two groups were never well regarded by European society. In the Eurocentric view, the Amerindians were cannibals, savages, animals, uncivilized, and needed conversion or to be tamed and enslaved; According to prevalent ideas, Jews were deicidal, heretics who controlled the banks, the media, and politics, and should be converted or burned for not accepting the Christian truth and being of an inferior race;

Even with the fall of Nazism, these ideas have not been erased from the European mindset altogether. There are still figures on the world scenario who deny the Holocaust, accuse the Jews of conspiracy, and argue that Amerindians should give up their original cultures.

 

Lance Stroll playing American football in childhood. Notice the Inuit characteristics in the boy. (Photo: Instagram) [6]

Many people in Europe and the Americas still view Amerindians as standing in time, forest dwellers, who live on hunting and fishing; so they cannot understand that Amerindians can be successful entrepreneurs;
Since Formula Three does not get as much attention as Formula One, not all sports fans knew about Lance Stroll’s achievements; all they knew about him was that he was from Canada and his father was a billionaire; they disregarded that all drivers receive an investment to maintain their careers; Even drivers as Esteban Ocon have sponsors to fund them in sports;

In pre-season 2017, having no experience with the Formula One car, Stroll crashed several times. While some took advantage of the situation to make jokes, some hastily accused the young man of buying a seat. Well, even if Stroll had paid to enter Formula One, that would not be cause for so much hatred. After all, he had been hired by Williams to replace a retiring driver, Felipe Massa. The Brazilian driver gave up his retirement after Valtteri Bottas left for Mercedes to replace retired Nico Rosberg. No one bought the seat from anyone. Bottas and Stroll were just replacing retired drivers. Why so much hatred on Stroll, who until then was no rival to anyone?

The answer to that question is simple: fans wanted to see another European at Williams. It bothers many people to deal with a Black driver in Formula One, then an Amerindian driver was coming, instead of a White one;
This is why Lawrence Stroll’s fortune causes such hatred to netizens: even though he is married to a European woman, even though his companies are creating jobs and supporting families, even though his money has been obtained legally, without involvement in any scandal, they still see him as an uncivilized savage cannibal inferior to the Europeans. Just imagine how outraged these netizens must have been to see for the first time a driver from the American continent be a EUROPEAN Formula 3 champion.

 

Lance Stroll was the first Amerindian to win the European Formula Three championship. Racists wanted to see a European driver as the champion. (Photo: Prema Powerteam) [7]

 

Motivated by racial hatred for Stroll, racists threw acid criticism of the Canadian driver’s presence in Formula One as if he were to blame for all the ills in the world. He felt in the skin what his people had suffered for centuries.

While self-called social avengers online, who do not even give alms to a needy beggar, hate the Strolls for their fortune, Lance proves that he does not match with the stereotype of the selfish rich man; He engages in charitable actions, like a visit to the Montreal Children’s Hospitala campaign to drill water wells in the Gambia, and a generous donation to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation to combat wildfires in California;

His haters purposely ignore the fact that there are equally rich drivers whose results are not close to Lance’s. Why? Because they are not disturbed by White people being rich as they are by wealthy Amerindians; They blame an Amerindian-Jewish man for all the misfortunes of the world as if a single Canadian driver were responsible for world hunger and misery; Wealthy White people are acquitted of it;

Why? Because racists on the internet and media cannot stand to see that an Amerindian driver has accomplished feats that many whites were unable to obtain. Nor that eight White drivers, including Fernando Alonso (the same idol of the racists who called Hamilton a monkey), went after an Amerindian in his debut year. To do so, they omit not only his deeds, but they also omit Lance’s ethnicity from the discussions. They use the excuse that Stroll’s mother is white to say that he is no longer an ‘Indian’. Nobody stops being ‘Indian’. It is like stopping being old: ethnicity, like age, is an inherent characteristic of each person.

 

5- White cannot be pay drivers, only the Amerindian ones

 

The fact is that the 21st century is not the same as the twentieth. Even with the persistence of racism, combat movements are stronger today than in the last century. Western society is more aware of the importance of respect and that no ethnicity or culture is superior or inferior to another. Therefore, even the most convinced racists try to mask their racism to avoid being condemned by public opinion.

The excuse racists found to criticize the presence of an Amerindian in Formula One without realizing the racial motives was to underscore his father’s fortune. And as Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said, a lie told many times becomes a truth; Then, some journalists and netizens are so numb with prejudice and the idea that Stroll does not deserve his seat that they refuse to even read his story before judging him;

They convinced themselves that Amerindians should be ignored, treated with contempt like centuries ago, when European settlers massacred tribes, enslaved Natives, and forced them to give up their original cultures;

But racists end up missing their plan by committing a fatal slip: unaware of the ethnicity they deem inferior. Many netizens claim to not know that Lance Stroll is Amerindian, and others deny he is one; The same excuse was given when the same racists claimed not to know that Stroll is Jewish; The reasons: Stroll does not wear a kippah (and even if he did, it would be hidden under his helmet), has not peyot (the hair curls on his temples), and has no ‘big nose’;

The first step in identifying a racist is to note that they generalize all members of a group as if they were all equal. In this case, because Lance is not a Hasidic Orthodox Jew, they think there’s no way of knowing that he is Jewish. The internet makes research work easier; however, racists do not see the need to research those they consider inferior.

 

 

The Jewish people are made up of diverse ethnicities. It is wrong to think that all Jews are equal. In the image above you can see four Jewish ethnic groups: Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Ethiopian Jews (also called Beta Israel), and Mizrahim.  [8]

 

Even more absurd is the excuse of not knowing that Stroll is Amerindian. The reasons: he does not use an ‘Indian’ headdress, does not hunt and fish with a spear, does not live in the woods or an ‘Indian’ reservation, and his skin is lighter than ‘Indian’ skin. This reveals much of today’s society’s ignorance of indigenous peoples.

In the first place, there is not just one Amerindian ethnicity. Grouping all the native tribes and nations of the Americas as unique was only an instrument of the colonizers to convince the European monarchs that the Amerindians would be easily defeated and tamed. There are Amerindians of various skin tones.

For example, the skin tone of the Métis (a Native people from Canada) is lighter than the Inuits, and that does not make them fewer ‘Indian’ than the others. Among the American tribes, Quileutes are different from the Navajos, which are different from the Cherokees, which are different from Ottawas, which are different from Potawatomis, which are different from Powhatans, and so on. In Brazil, the Tupiniquins differ from the Guaranis, Yanomamis, Jês, among others.

Indeed, most Amerindians have a dark, straight, thick hair, a reddish skin, slightly drawn eyes, and few body hairs, but they are not all like that. Ironically, Stroll has many of these characteristics, but for not living isolated from contemporary society, his detractors omit he is Amerindian;

 

There are thousands of Amerindian ethnic groups on the American continent. Each tribe has particularities such as culture, religion, dress, language, and customs. In the picture above you can see four Amerindian ethnic groups: the Inuits (Canada), the Navajos (USA), the Seris (Mexico), and the Yanomamis (Brazil). [9]

 

As you can see, former Bolivian President Evo Morales has the same kind of hair and eyes as Lance Stroll. Morales is of Aymara ethnicity and Stroll is mixed-race of Inuit ethnicity with European ethnicity. Both have indigenous origins. [10]

 

The problem with racism against Amerindians is that it goes unnoticed by the population because there is not much media attention about it as there is for prejudice against other ethnicities. The Amerindians struggle for respect is silenced by media contempt, and some say they have never heard of an Amerindian. When the word racism is heard, it is rarely associated with Amerindians, and they only appear on the news when the government or a farmer or prospector invades the reserve lands and clashes with its members;

And the hard evidence that the haters’ hatred for Stroll has nothing to do with money but skin color is their idolatry for the English driver Lando Norris; He is the son of magnate Adam Norris, a millionaire owner of Horatio Investment whose personal fortune is £205 million, being the 18th richest man in the United Kingdom;

Unlike Stroll, who debuted in an uncompetitive team, Norris debuted in McLaren in a year it had upgrades which guaranteed it a performance good enough to compete for the top five places; Differently from Stroll, who finished his debut year just three points behind his experienced teammate (even surpassing him in the standings at times), Norris ended the year with 47 points less than teammate Carlos Sainz Jr., who had four years of experience; Sainz also got the team’s only podium of the year with a third-place finish at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix;

Compared their results, there is no doubt that Lance Stroll is better than Lando Norris. In his debut year, Lance got a podium, started from the front row, and broke two records (for the youngest rookie do both things). His achievements secured his team’s fifth place in the constructors’ championship. In his debut year, Lando did not achieve any podium or record. His best result was sixth place in Bahrain and Austria (Lance was fourth in Germany);

To mask his mediocrity as an athlete, Norris launched a marketing campaign for fans and Formula One itself to remind him as a funny driver rather than a pay driver who is only in sport because his father is a millionaire businessman; They make several memes, fake profiles spread them, and anything Norris does is followed by a lot of people laughing, considering him the best driver, even though he is not doing anything impressive; Also, Petrobras’ sponsorship of McLaren ensured that Brazilian narrators and commentators praised Norris as if he were the reincarnation of Ayrton Senna himself;

So, if Lando Norris is also a millionaire and has much lower results, why is Lance Stroll called a pay driver? Indeed, in Norris’ glory year, Stroll’s best performance was higher than his, and the English driver still does not have the same achievements as the Canadian; Sport director Nuno Pinto also points that Lance’s curriculum is more impressive than Lando’s, and that he was the first driver to fulfill the FIA’s rule against pay drivers (scoring at least 40 points in the Superlicense); And yet netizens and the media idolize Norris and stone Stroll; This proves that it is not money that matters, it is the color of the person who has the money;

 

 

The logic of racists: If you are Amerindian, you are a pay driver; if you are white, you may be the most mediocre driver that we will praise you. [11]

 

Another case of racism was when the media tried to blame Lance Stroll for Esteban Ocon’s departure from Formula One (see Understand the Esteban Ocon Case) after the Canadian’s father bought the team, saved 405 jobs, and kept Ocon until the end of his contract (you see, even with this detail, racists go into the absurdity of accusing Lawrence of buying teams for Lance); They omit that Ocon was already leaving when his sponsor Toto Wolff promised him a seat at Mercedes, Renault, or McLaren, but all the other teams refused;

In other words, is it Stroll or Wolff, who lied to his sponsored, to blame? And why do not they blame Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz Jr., or George Russell for Ocon’s departure? Because all of these men are White.

And speaking of George Russell, he proved that many times the media only criticizes minorities while evades whites from guilty. In 2018, with Williams’ poor performance due to its engineering department, headed by Paddy Lowe, the media blamed Lance Stroll for not scoring enough points; Stroll finished that year second to last, beating Romain Grosjean and teammate Sergey Sirotkin; When George Russell and Robert Kubica replaced Stroll and Sirotkin, Williams’ car performance worsened, and the team scored just one point, scored by Kubica; At no point was Russell’s hiring criticized, even though he was unable to get a meager point; The media preferred to consider Russell an excellent driver victim of an incompetent team, a title they would give Stroll if he were not Amerindian;

 

6- You already knew he is Amerindian; you just do not want to admit it

 

When announced as a 2017 Williams driver, Lance Stroll was in evidence. There was an interest from the media and netizens to get to know him better; It was readily noted a resemblance between Lance and American actor Taylor Lautner (famous for playing Native American werewolf Jacob Black in the Twilight saga); Interestingly, even though Lautner was the son of an Amerindian mother, there were still people who doubted his ethnicity because his father was of pure European descent;

If Lautner was not Amerindian, he would not have been called to play an Amerindian character, right? And if Stroll was not an Amerindian, it would not make sense comparing him to an Amerindian actor. Why not compare him to Will Smith or Leonardo DiCaprio? Because he does not have the same ethnicity as these two but as Taylor Lautner.

 

A photo that compares Lance Stroll to Taylor Lautner. (Photo: Blig Groo) [12]

 

Humorous site F1 Fanatic calling Stroll the “cover of Twilight werewolf” (“cover do lobisomem do crepúsculo). For those who do not know, Jacob Black, the werewolf in the Twilight saga, is a native of the Quileute tribe. (Photo: F1 Fanatic) [13]

 

7- What do we learn from this?

 

  • That Lance Stroll is not taking anyone’s seat. He was hired to replace a retiring driver.
  • That Lance Stroll has more achievements than many European White drivers, and this bothers a lot of people.
  • That despite having a Belgian mother and a Russian grandfather, Lance Stroll is also of Inuit descent; As a mixed-race person, he has both European and Amerindian origins;
  • That there is not just one Amerindian appearance; There are thousands of indigenous tribes in America, each with its ethnicity and culture;
  • No matter how good the driver is, he will always be a victim of racism if he belongs to an ethnic minority (ex: Lewis Hamilton);
  • That no driver gets to Formula One without financial support (including Brazilians); The problem with Strolls’ fortune, which earned honestly and fairly, is pure anger of people who think Amerindians cannot succeed;
  • That every Lance Stroll hater is either a racist, angry to see Amerindian athletes (and even beating White ones), or is an idiot who repeats the racist fallacy, as they are unable to think with their heads and swallow everything the media and the internet says;

Knowing this, the next time you see or hear a netizen or television host (narrator or commentator) calling Lance Stroll a pay driver or rich boy, or accusing him of stealing someone’s seat, know you are facing a case of racism; Report it, confront them, tell the truth to this person; Do not let racism thrive;

If we want a society where everyone is equal, do not ignore prejudice with others; Unmask the racist; Make them shut up; Amerindians are human beings like all other ethnicities and origins, and as such deserve our respect and support;

 

Addendum (March 11th, 2020): On March 11th, 2020, The Racing Track’s page on Instagram was a target of a racist comment from a profile called official_alexalbon, which stated that “Jews deserve ‘Aushwitz’ not f1 seats”. This is a clear proof of what was demonstrated in this article: who is against the presence of Lance Stroll in Formula One is against the presence of Amerindian and Jewish drivers in the sport, using the Canadian family’s fortune as an excuse for the disproportionate hatred of a person they do not even know. Bearing in mind that supporting European white drivers, or even not being a fan of Lance Stroll does not make the supporter a racist (at no time did the article imply this), but using a double standard to judge the drivers, ignoring the achievements of Stroll and demoting them compared to equally wealthy white drivers whose results in the sport were inferior is an act of racism. Below is the photo of the comment:

 

To those who doubted racism against Lance Stroll was real, there is the proof.

 

Erratum: Originally, the text said that Lance Stroll had broken three records on his debut year in Formula One: youngest rookie to get a podium, youngest driver to start from the first row, and youngest average age of podium finishers. However, this one was broken at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, and before that round, the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix’s podium, which Stroll took part, had the tenth youngest average age of the finishers. After being informed about the mistake, we corrected the paragraph.

 

8- Bibliography

 

 

Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article belongs to me. This site has informative intentions, not commercial. The links where I took the photos are indicated below. All copyrights reserved.

Understand the Esteban Ocon Case

Article written on August 10th, 2019. Reading it nowadays can help you to understand why Esteban Ocon got without seat in 2019 and what actions he had to take to get back on the grid in 2020.

 

Esteban Ocon, a Hispano-French driver who raced in Formula One between 2016 and 2018, is one of the most talked names when speculation in the driver market begins. After all, the 22-year-old driver, patronized by Toto Wolff, was considered by many supporters as a promise of a future star. However, he got out of the 2019 grid. Why did this happen? Does he still have a chance? His case is complicated, but we will explain everything.

1- Early career

Esteban Ocon is a rare case in Formula One. As this is an expensive sport (pieces, engineers, mechanics, simulators, etc.), drivers are expected to bring sponsorship to help with their team expenses. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of drivers are of a wealthy background. Ocon is one of the rare exceptions. Born to a humble family of Spanish immigrants from Malaga, capital of the province of Andalusia (the poorest in the country), the young driver owes his entire career to Toto Wolff. Ocon even claimed that if it wasn’t for the current Mercedes’ Team Principal, who gave him an opportunity to join motorsport, he would be working in fast-food restaurants to help his family income. The relationship between Wolff and Ocon is the key to understanding the driver’s current situation.

Esteban Ocon and his parents, Laurent and Sabrina

In 2014, Ocon was the champion of European Formula Three, one of the main categories to the entry in Formula One. However, the young driver promoted that year was Max Emilian Verstappen. The young Dutchman, son of former driver Jos Verstappen, debuted at Toro Rosso in 2015, while champion Ocon remained anonymous until mid-2016 when Manor signed him to replace Indonesian Rio Haryanto at the Belgian Grand Prix. Ocon finished his debut year without points in 23rd place. His first point came with the following year’s Australian Grand Prix, which Esteban finished in 10th place.

2- Similar case

Pascal Wehrlein is a German driver who was also patronized by Toto Wolff. Son of a German father and African mother from Mauritius, he made his Formula One debut at Manor in 2016 at the Australian Grand Prix. He became Ocon’s mate after the resignation of Rio Haryanto. At the end of the season, Manor filed for bankruptcy and announced that it would no longer compete in Formula One.

Pascal Wehrlein

To ensure his patronized boys remained, Toto Wolff landed good deals: Wehrlein was sent to Sauber, replacing Brazilian Felipe Nasr, and Ocon to Force India in place of German Nico Hülkenberg. The Rede Globo, a Brazilian company that owns Formula One broadcasting rights in the country, even speculated that Nasr would go to Force India because he outperformed his fellow teammate, Swedish Marcus Ericsson. However, Nasr was left out of the category and Ocon got the seat. Initially, many Brazilian fans were angry at Toto Wolff and Esteban Ocon.

As Sauber’s car had the worst performance of the grid, Wehrlein only scored twice, with seventh place in the Spanish Grand Prix getting six points and tenth place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix getting one point. His teammate was the only driver that did not score that year. By 2018, Sauber would have to sacrifice one of its drivers to hire Monegasque Charles Leclerc, GP2 champion (another great category to entry in Formula One) and a member of Ferrari Driver Academy. Leclerc is patronized by Nicolas Todt, son of current International Automobile Federation (FIA) president, Jean Todt (Ferrari Team Principal between 1993 and 2007). Sauber at the time was a team subordinate to Ferrari just like Toro Rosso is to Red Bull today. Having to choose between Tetra Pak-sponsored Swede and Toto Wolff-patronized German, the Swiss team opted for Ericsson, and Wehrlein was fired.

Wolff put Wehrlein in the position of Mercedes’ third driver, along with the young Englishman George Russell. Toto promised Pascal that he would fight until the end to secure him a seat in Formula One, but Wehrlein expects this until now. Displeased with the situation, the German joined Ferrari as a third driver, replacing Russian Daniil Kvyat, who was returning to Toro Rosso after being fired from the team.

3- Relationship with other drivers

In the days of the access categories, Ocon befriended Canadian Lance Stroll, whose father, Lawrence Stroll, was the owner of the best European Formula Three and GP2 team, Prema Powerteam. Ocon was champion of the 2014 European Formula Three season with this team. Lance did the same in 2016, breaking the record of “youngest champion” of the category and the first Canadian to win the title. Some critics measured that Verstappen drew more attention than champion Ocon for taking third place with a much lower car (Van Amsterfoot Racing, powered by Volkswagen). It is legitimate noting that Verstappen was the big sensation of 2015. The automotive newspapers only spoke about him, whether by his records, his accidents, or his bold moves that guaranteed him good scores. Max was elected FIA Rookie of the Year in 2015. All of this contributed to overshadowing Ocon’s image for a year and a half.

With Stroll, Ocon had a “Prince and Pauper” kind friendship, as both came from very different backgrounds. Nevertheless, the friendship between them both proved that wealth does not define character. Being rich does not mean being bad or good. Being poor does not mean being good or bad. And later on, let’s see that this really applies.

With Wehrlein, Ocon had no considerable conflict, a situation quite different from that of his Mexican counterpart Sergio Pérez, his Force India teammate. The two met on occasion, especially at the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix, when a touch between them at the Eau Rouge entrance squeezed Esteban against the pit wall. Ocon accused Pérez of “trying to kill him,” infuriating Mexican fans, who offended him on social media. Claiming security reasons, Esteban hired armed security for himself and his parents at that year’s Mexican Grand Prix. Another example of friction between the two was at the Singapore Grand Prix when Pérez beat Ocon out of the race.

The conflict between Pérez and Ocon at the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix. Ocon accused Pérez of trying to kill him

4- Beginning of the crisis: Force India’s bankruptcy

In 2018, Force India owner Vijay Mallya was investigated by the Indian authorities under suspicion of corruption. British courts were already negotiating his deportation to India. With accounts in the red and low reliability, the team started the bankruptcy process. According to Mariana Becker, a journalist for Rede Globo, an American businessman and a Russian were interested in buying it, but no agreement was reached.

Seeing an investment opportunity, Lawrence Stroll set up a consortium of businessmen and bought Force India, with Mallya assuming any pending issues regarding his term of office, including the lawsuit Sergio Pérez filed against the team. Stroll’s son Lance, who had had a good season with Williams in 2017 (getting a podium, a start from the front row and three records), suffered from an uncompetitive car in the English team. It was speculated that when Lawrence bought the team, Lance would transfer to it.

Article from the journal Independent, that mentions the 405 jobs saved by Lawrence Stroll

As explained at the beginning of this article, Formula One needs drivers to bring sponsorship to maintain the sport. Pérez is sponsored by companies such as Telmex and Claro and the state government of Jalisco, Mexico. Ocon, for its part, was sponsored only by Toto Wolff.

5- Attempts to contract with other teams

  • Mercedes: The sponsor upholds Niki Lauda’s wishes.

According to the press, Toto Wolff had adviced Ocon before the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix. He would have said that if it did not make it difficult for Lewis to overtake Hamilton after the pit stop, Esteban would take the second Mercedes seat, as Finnish Valtteri Bottas outperformed Hamilton. This would have occurred well before the purchase of Force India (which was made on drivers’ vacations before the Belgian Grand Prix). Ocon facilitated Englishman overtaking in all races.

That is, months before Force India went bankrupt and was sold, Esteban Ocon was already set to leave the team. However, then-Mercedes adviser, three-time champion Niki Lauda, ​​advised Wolff to give Bottas one more chance. The Team Principal accepted the request and renewed Finn’s contract for another year. In the case Ocon left Force India, which was most likely not to bring the same benefits as Pérez, Wolff would have to work hard to put his pupil into a new team.

  • Renault

In 2018, the French team had Spanish Carlos Sainz Jr. and German Nico Hülkenberg. The first was called in to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren after the two-time champion announced his retirement. The second had its contract renewed. As a result, Renault had a seat available for 2019. According to press reports, Toto Wolff was negotiating the transfer of Ocon to this team, as the driver was no advantageous neither financially nor in terms of performance, as his results were below those of Pérez.

Nevertheless, nobody could have predicted a turnaround in Red Bull. The announcement that the Austrian team would run with Honda engine in 2019 displeased one of its drivers, Australian Daniel Ricciardo. Fearing to pass through a series of crashes like McLaren in 2016 and Toro Rosso in 2017, Ricciardo opted to leave Red Bull and signed a contract with Renault, filling the team’s second seat. This was the first door that closed to Ocon.

  • McLaren

Dissatisfied with the results of Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne, the English team dismissed the driver and hired Carlos Sainz Jr. to replace Fernando Alonso, who would retire at the end of 2018. Consequently, a seat would be available at McLaren too. Sources say Toto Wolff also contacted the British team to secure a seat for Ocon. However, the team opted for a young English driver who had been in the team development program for years. His name was Lando Norris, the son of an English billionaire businessman. With that, a second door closed for Esteban Ocon.

  • Williams: the Lance Stroll case

If 2017 was a glorious year for the English team, as Lance Stroll’s podium earned it fifth place in the constructors’ championship, 2018 was ruined by the incompetence of its engineers. Lawrence Stroll was one of the team’s main sponsors, along with the SMP bank, which sponsored Russian Sergey Sirotkin. The British engineering team led by Paddy Lowe failed to create a competitive car, with promises of improvements that were always postponed. Embittering in the last positions of the grid, the drivers were unfairly accused by the team’s problems, as they had more spotlight.

Obviously, Lance was unhappy with the team’s incompetence and unfair treatment by the press and fans. It was also clear the dislike of Claire Williams, Team Principal, and daughter of founder Frank Williams, for the Canadian driver, and the clash between Claire and Lawrence created a heavy mood in the squad. Remembering that it was the second time that the Williams family’s mismanagement had led the team into the hands of an outside investor (Toto Wolff in 2009 and Lawrence Stroll in 2017). Lawrence realized that the investment would not be worth it and found an opportunity on Force India purchase.

Although his father took over as the new owner of the team, Lance did not transfer to it. This is the first argument to rebut the accusation that has fallen on the Canadian: that his father would have bought Force India to give his son a better seat, even if he had to sacrifice his friend. If Lawrence were simply a father trying to please his son, he would have paid for Ocon’s contract termination and put Lance on the team immediately. That’s not what happened. Esteban remained on the team, now named Racing Point Force India, until the end of the year.

Many expected Lance and Esteban to switch teams. In other words, Stroll would go to Force India and Ocon to Williams. With Sirotkin’s underperforming performance and Stroll’s departure, the English team would have two vacancies. Toto Wolff stepped into action, placing his pupil in one of Williams’ seats. His name, GEORGE RUSSELL.

The young Englishman was a member of the Mercedes driver development program and served as the third driver of the German team. A long time ago, he had been waiting for an opportunity in Formula One. Wolff did not explain why he chose to secure a seat for a rookie rather than the sponsored who was running out of chances. He merely claimed that Russell had qualifications for the vacancy.

At the same time, there was speculation about Robert Kubica’s return to the grid. The Polish has been out since 2011 when he suffered a serious accident that left his left arm injured. His manager was none other than the champion of 2016, Nico Rosberg. Kubica’s return was a risky investment: his team would have to spend more money to adapt the car to his shortcomings, and there was no guarantee that he would perform well. Rosberg claimed that Polish companies would be willing to sponsor the pilot and that the country’s fans had been looking forward to Kubica’s return since the retirement of Brazilian Felipe Massa.

  • Toro Rosso: Pupil of Toto Wolff? No way!

Toro Rosso went through an unrivaled chair dance. Dissatisfied with Daniil Kvyat’s successive crashes, the team ran in 2018 with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley. However, the second was also involved in a series of collisions that angered the leaders of the Italian team.

With Hartley fired and Gasly promoted to Red Bull after Daniel Ricciardo left for Renault, there were two seats available. However, two factors hindered Ocon’s chances. The first is the fact that Toro Rosso is a team subordinate to Red Bull, and usually, its drivers are linked to it: they are either young people from the development program or have been demoted from the team. Esteban had no ties to Red Bull. The second factor was Ocon’s connection with Toto Wolff. Team chief Franz Tost even claimed that he did not want drivers linked to Mercedes on the team. Perhaps the team feared an espionage scandal like McLaren’s in 2007 or that Ocon would tell Wolff the secrets of the team, that used Honda engines.

6- Esteban Ocon’s image

  • Stroll is thrown into the fire; Ocon delays to help his friend

Lance Stroll made his Formula One debut in 2017 for Williams at the age of 18 at the Australian Grand Prix. Three successive retirements and accidents at free practices made the press and fans forget about his European Formula Three achievements (like his title and record) and consider him a “pay driver”. This unfair fame accompanied Lance to his third-place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where he broke the record for “youngest rookie to score a podium”. Ocon had no podium so far, even with a superior car, and remained so until the end of his career.

With the problems Williams faced in 2018, the reputation of “pay driver” came back to Stroll, mainly because the media blamed the drivers for the poor performance of the car, even though it was the engineers’ responsibility. When his father, Lawrence Stroll, bought Force India in the second half of the year, saving the jobs of 405 workers, fans of Esteban Ocon, full of deadly rage, attacked Lance on his social media with the most terrible offenses possible, some even of racial content. Little was said about the saved jobs, or the advantages Pérez and Stroll would bring to the team, or that Ocon’s lack of sponsorship and results hindered him in the case. Some simply would not admit that a Canadian Jewish driver of Amerindian descent who had a podium, a start from the front row and three records would replace a white European driver with no podiums and no records.

However, the most surprising in this case was Esteban Ocon’s reaction. Force India was bought in August 2018. Ocon only spoke out about the attacks on Lance in September 2018. Within a month, the media and fans had enough time to launch slanderous rumors about the Canadian, while his friend since Formula Three era watched all quietly. Ocon called the attacks “irrational” and launched a story on his Instagram in which he emphasized his friendship with Stroll despite their “different backgrounds”. Why did Ocon take a month to help his friend who was suffering one of the dirtiest defamation campaigns in Formula One history? Why did Ocon point out differences in their “background”, as Stroll suffered racial offenses and attacks for being rich (which 99.9% of pilots are)?

Ocon’s Instagram post defending Stroll a month later
  • Crash into Verstappen at Brazilian Grand Prix; the final gavel

With 99.9% of seats unavailable for Ocon, his chances of staying in Formula One were scarcer. On November 11th, 2018, the Brazilian Grand Prix happened at Interlagos Circuit in São Paulo. Although Lewis Hamilton took pole position, Max Verstappen took the lead and was on his way to victory. Esteban was 16th and coming out of pits when he accelerated and ignored the blue flag, crashing into Verstappen. The two drivers temporarily left the track, allowing Hamilton to overtake. Verstappen came back in second, with damage in the car. Ocon received a 10-seconds of stop-and-go penalty. Hamilton’s victory was credited by this incident.

After the podium ceremony, Verstappen sought Ocon to clarify the situation. With a smirk on his face, Esteban replied that he was “faster” and therefore had the right to be in front even with the blue flag.

(Note: Believe me, some people believe in this lame excuse to this day.)

Verstappen was enraged at the mockery and set off for physical aggression, successively pushing Ocon until both were separated. Max left the room visibly annoyed, while Esteban continued to laugh and mock the Dutchman. Then he dared to say that “Max didn’t act like a man”. Is disrespecting the blue flag, which obliges the lapped cars to let the front drivers pass, a man thing? Is making fun of the injured person instead of assuming the mistake and apologizing for it a man thing? Is seeing your friend being a victim of defamation and helping him only a month later a man thing? Is accusing the teammate of attempted murder a man thing?

Ocon makes fun of Verstappen after the move that prevented his victory
  • Verdict: guilty of maximum allegiance to Toto Wolff; Sentence: to be without a seat for 2019

Ocon’s reaction to the crash with Max Verstappen spawned two theories to explain it: the first is a possible resentment of Esteban for Max’ promotion to Formula One in 2015, even though he was third in 2014 European Formula Three while Hispano-Frenchman had been the champion; The other is that Ocon was sending a message to Toto Wolff that he would be a great driver for the team, as his actions undeniably secured Lewis Hamilton’s victory.

While this image would benefit him for Wolff, it earned Ocon a bad reputation with the other teams. Esteban came to be seen as a loyal agent to the Mercedes team leader, and his presence in other teams could mean espionage, betrayal, and double loyalty. Ocon gained nothing from the Verstappen accident: he did not score, received a penalty, and had his reputation tarnished. The only beneficiaries of the event were Hamilton for the win and Valtteri Bottas, who was fourth in the championship ahead of Verstappen. Nevertheless, that did not last until the end, as in the last race of the year in Abu Dhabi, Max took third place and took Bottas’ position in the championship, just three points behind third-placed Kimi Raikkonen.

After the Brazilian Grand Prix, Claire Williams announced that the British team had hired Robert Kubica, ending all chances for Esteban to continue in the top motoring category. Wolff had no choice but to place him as Mercedes’ third driver.

7- Myths and truths

  • Myth: Stroll is to blame for Ocon’s departure from Formula 1.

Stroll did not take the seat immediately after his father bought Force India with the help of a business consortium. Even though they could afford a contract termination, the new team owners let Ocon run for the team until the end of his contract. Ocon was also tipped to leave the team before purchase. Pérez brought advantages to the team by being the best performing driver and still having good sponsors, something Esteban did not do. The choice for Pérez was based on offer and demand, a golden rule of the market.

Ocon tried vacancies on other teams, but all had other plans. Renault opted for Daniel Ricciardo. McLaren chose Lando Norris. Mercedes has renewed Valtteri Bottas’s contract. Toro Rosso has hired Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat (who had a career podium at the time, one more than Esteban Ocon). Stroll is no more guilty than Ricciardo, Norris, Perez, Bottas, Albon, Kvyat, Russell, and Kubica for Ocon’s exit. Remembering that Stroll has a podium, a start from the front row, and three records on his carrer, skills that Ocon does not have. Blaming Stroll for being in Formula 1 while Ocon is out is the same as blaming Ayrton Senna for having more titles than Rubens Barrichello.

  • Truth: Ties with Toto Wolff has reduced Ocon’s opportunities in Formula One

Esteban’s countless compliments to Mercedes’ team chief and the move into Max Verstappen’s at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix prove that Ocon is very devoted to Toto Wolff, his patronize on sports. The other teams feared that a double agent would generate an espionage scandal or that their secrets would be leaked to the German team.

Many may think that because Mercedes has one of the best cars on the grid (if not the best) it would not be interested in information about other teams. However, teams always watch the performance of their competitors (see McLaren in 2007) for improvements and strategies.

  • Myth: Ocon was an outstanding driver and his departure was a great injustice.

Ocon was surpassed by all his teammates during his Formula One career. In his debut year in 2016, he trailed Pascal Werhlein in the final results. , although both scored zero because they entered Formula 1 midway through the year. In 2017 and 2018 was surpassed by Sergio Pérez, with 87 points against 100 in the first year and 49 against 62 in the second. This myth was created by journalists who, for personal reasons, focus on defaming Pérez, Stroll, and Verstappen rather than praising Ocon for themselves. The driver data proves this.

In two and a half years of career, Ocon failed to win a podium, a front row start, a pole position, or a record, totaling only 136 points. Comparing to other riders of the same age group: Max Verstappen broke two records in his debut year and four more the following year, the same year he got a victory, five podiums and a start from the front row; Lance Stroll got a podium, three records, and a start from the front row in his debut year; Charles Leclerc did not achieve great results in his debut year, but a year later he has so far achieved two poles and five podiums. Remembering that in his debut year, Ocon was unable to score.

  • Truth: Ocon’s choices earned him a bad name in the paddock

The 2017 Belgian Grand Prix case, where Esteban accused Sergio Pérez of “trying to kill him”, is one of the examples of the narrative war the driver fought in his career. Perez even claimed that Ocon likes to victimize himself and make his rivals look like villains. The theory has foundations.

During his career, Ocon’s choices, whether racing maneuvers or press statements (including their lack/delay), made Pérez look like an “impulsive driver who could even kill his teammate”, Stroll looks like “an evil capitalist who buys seats in Formula One” and Verstappen looks like “an uncontrolled brawler who assaults his opponents”. All these media figures eventually turned against Esteban, who in front of the other teams got the image of “a treacherous and incompetent driver who gets along with no one but Toto Wolff”. With such a reputation, it is difficult to get a seat in Formula 1 because the teams are not trusted.

8- Comparisons between Ocon and Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein entered Formula 1 with Manor in 2016. He did not score points due to the poor performance of the car. In 2017 he was promoted to Sauber, where he scored in the Spanish Grand Prix and Azerbaijan Grand Prix. No sponsors who could help the team’s accounts, although it outperformed teammate Marcus Ericsson, was fired from the team to make way for Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc. In 2018, he was named third Mercedes driver by godfather Toto Wolff, who promised a return to Formula One. As the promise was never fulfilled, he joined Ferrari as the third driver and was never seen on the track again.

Esteban Ocon entered Formula 1 with Manor in 2016. He did not score points due to the poor performance of the car. In 2017 he was promoted to Force India, where he scored 18 times but finished the championship with 13 points less than his teammate Sergio Pérez, who won him in 2018 as well. No sponsors who could help the team’s accounts and underperforming his teammate were fired. In 2019 he was placed as the third driver of Mercedes by godfather Toto Wolff, who promised him a return to Formula 1 (earlier he would have promised Bottas’ seat).

9- Conclusion

Esteban Ocon’s departure from Formula One in 2019 and his uncertainty for the future are the result of the poor choices the Spanish-French driver made during his career. Leaving gratitude to Toto Wolff in his head, Ocon handed his future into the hands of his godfather, who had failed to secure a vacancy for his other sponsor, Pascal Wehrlein. The lousy relationship with Sergio Pérez, the delay in helping longtime friend Lance Stroll as he suffered defamation, and move into Max Verstappen that allowed Lewis Hamilton to win at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix earned Esteban a tarnished reputation (double-loyal and victimhood) and distrust of the other teams (who opted to sign Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Alexander Albon, Daniil Kvyat, George Russell and Robert Kubica). His results were not enough to justify his deserving of the seat at Force Point, Force India’s heiress, and his choices set him apart from the rest of the grid. The image of an “excellent driver wronged by others” is just a media invention of malicious journalists whose interests focus more on defaming Pérez, Stroll, and Verstappen than on extolling Esteban’s great achievements in Formula One, which have so far not materialized. If Ocon has a chance to return to Formula One? Yes, but it will depend on the strategy adopted by Toto Wolff. At the moment, Ocon’s situation is almost identical to Wehrlein’s.

Esteban Ocon and Toto Wolff: Formula One’s most troubled marriage

 

10- Sources

Photos

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