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Lando Norris: The Darling of Formula One

All drivers are equal, but some drivers are more equal than others.

Paraphrase of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” (1945)

 

Unlike Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll, Lando Norris entered Formula One under a shower of praise from the sports press. Journalists, narrators, and commentators extolled the young English driver in the same way they did to Charles Leclerc in 2018 and 2019. The impression the fans had was that a big star was coming to the tracks.

However, compared to other drivers of his generation, Norris has not achieved great things. Still, this did not prevent the media from treating him as one of the greatest athletes in Formula One. That fueled the fanaticism of many fans, who are even aggressive towards those who doubt the driver’s alleged mastery. In this article, we will analyze Norris’s profile and the media’s intentions behind his idolatry.

 

1- Lando Norris’s origins

 

Born in Bristol on November 13th, 1999, Lando Norris is the second child of businessman Adam Norris and his wife, Cisca Wauman. The couple is also the parents of Oliver, Flo, and Cisca. According to a report in the Bristol Post, Adam Norris’s fortune reached £ 205 million in 2019, making him one of the richest men in the United Kingdom.

His family’s financial conditions allowed Norris to have certain privileges compared with most of the world’s population, like a full-time tutor to assist him in mathematics and physics subjects. The driver studied at the traditional Millifield School but dropped out of school before graduating. Norris is not modest in saying that “If I wasn’t a very good driver it would not be a wise decision.”

 

Lando Norris and his father Adam. (Photo: F1i.com) [1]

 

From 2014 to 2018, Norris participated in 16 editions of single-seat championships before debuting in Formula One. He won five of them: the MSA Formula in 2015, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, and Toyota Racing Series in 2016, and European Formula Three in 2017.

Considering the media treatment given to drivers who had previously debuted in Formula One in a similar situation, and bearing in mind his bourgeois origin, Norris would be a good candidate for the nickname “pay driver.” However, traditional media outlets avoid associating it with the category’s inherent elitism.

 

2- The internet’s teen sensation

 

It is almost a consensus among sociologists that social networks greatly influence a company or public figure’s reputation. Bought by Liberty Media at the end of 2016, Formula One itself began to invest heavily in online advertising in the hope of attracting young audiences. The result was positive, with a considerable increase in audience and interaction with the category, in addition to significant financial gains.

Lando Norris knew how to take advantage of that resource. Through humorous posts on social networks, the driver shaped his reputation among Internet users. Consequently, he formed a young fan base, which was one of the goals of Formula One. However, most new fans could not distinguish Norris from the internet from Norris from the tracks. Soon, delighted by the content of social networks, they started to consider the driver as one of the best in the sport, even though the facts prove otherwise.

 

Unlike what happens on the tracks, Norris’ posture on social media is usually very humorous, which attracted many fans. (Photo: Drive Tribe) [2]

 

To analyze the performance of the English driver, we consider seven drivers on the 2021 grid from the so-called “new generation of Formula One”: Max Verstappen, Lance Stroll, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris, and George Russell. Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, and Nikita Mazepin are left out since they are rookies in 2021, not having enough time to reach a substantial verdict. The same goes for Nicholas Latifi, who debuted in 2020. Among the seven previously mentioned, Verstappen had the best performance during his career, followed by Leclerc, Stroll, and Gasly. Norris is the third from the bottom’s list, just ahead of Ocon and Russell, as shown in the table below.

 

 

To classify someone as “talented” or “pay driver,” it is necessary to establish evaluation criteria. According to the impacts on the driver’s history and the championship table, the ones adopted are wins, podiums, pole positions, records, and points*. Through the joint analysis of the data, we arrive at the verdict on the athlete’s performance. Gasly, for example, has a win so far and Stroll none, but the Canadian has one pole, three podiums, and two records against two podiums by the Frenchman. Therefore, Stroll is ahead of Gasly, beating him on three of the five established criteria.

(*The points affect the championship table, but the records are more remarkable for the driver’s history, so they were placed ahead in the order of relevance for the analysis. In addition, the points are dependent on the particularity of each race.)

In the case of Norris, who so far has three podiums, he overcomes Ocon and Russell, drivers with a certain peculiarity. Until the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, that year’s penultimate race, Ocon had not had a podium, and Russell had not scored. It is clear from official data that it would be more reasonable to consider Verstappen, Leclerc, Stroll, and Gasly “more talented” than Norris. But traditional sports media has another approach.

 

An internet user expresses support for Norris on Twitter with a generalist phrase. (Photo: 9GAG) [3]

 

Unfortunately, the financial interests of a media outlet outweigh the commitment to the facts. In the sports environment, it is observed that sponsors of athletes and teams also fund broadcasters and websites, influencing the way their advisors are represented in the media. Therefore, the athlete’s reputation results from his press office’s work and his sponsors’ influence in the media. The driver’s posture can also have some impact on reputation (especially in scandals). But sometimes, in less severe cases, it falls into the shadow of the other two factors.

That explains, for example, the situations of Stroll and Norris. Facts indicate Stroll has talent and cannot be considered a “pay driver.” However, he will still be crucified in the media due to his advisers’ incompetence and the driver’s passivity before image crises (see “Racing Point: A Poorly Managed Image”). At the same time, Norris will be portrayed as a very talented and generous driver, even though his results and behavior show the opposite.

 

3- Humble Lando Norris: a character from children’s stories

 

During the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix broadcast, Brazilian narrator Sérgio Maurício and commentators Reginaldo Leme and Max Wilson took the time to praise Lando Norris. The most used adjective was “humble.” However, none of the three cited an event that proved this alleged “humility” of the driver. In real life, Norris’s behavior is far from what can be considered “humble.”

Norris’s first heated moment was at the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix when he collided with Lance Stroll. He apologized to the team for the crash, admitting his responsibility, but then raged against the Canadian. The Englishman blamed Stroll even though the commissioners had cleared him. At the French Grand Prix, he ordered McLaren to tell Carlos Sainz Jr. to swap positions. When Sergio Pérez overtook him at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Norris cried on the radio and belittled the Mexican’s performance.

 

Norris’s acid comments don’t spare even his teammates. The most recent case was Ricciardo. (Photo: GPBlog) [4]

 

In 2020, during the Belgian Grand Prix, the driver verbally assaulted his engineer, who had warned him about exceeding the track limits (which could lead to a penalty). At the Italian Grand Prix, annoyed that Stroll had won the podium, Norris acted hypocritically. He made unfounded criticisms of the FIA ​​regulation that allows tire changes during the red flag. However, he omitted that the stewards investigated him for being too slow in the pits, which in fact, runs counter to the rules. At the Eifel Grand Prix, the driver was rude to his team, using a foul vocabulary again. After a collision with Stroll at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Norris offended the opponent’s learning ability. In an interview the same week, he belittled Lewis Hamilton’s seventh world title and credited it to the Mercedes car. After severe criticism for the arrogant stance, Norris apologized to Stroll and Hamilton but did not even mention their names, referring to both as “certain people.”

At the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Norris demanded McLaren to order Daniel Ricciardo swapping positions. Unlike what happened in France in 2019, the team accepted the English driver’s wishes. Despite the maneuver, considered unsportsmanlike by many experts, the audience elected Norris as “Driver of the Day.” However, the most impressive performance of that race was that of Hamilton, who reached the second place after a hit in the wall almost took him out. In addition, Norris said openly that he “has no sympathy” for Ricciardo before the difficulties faced by his teammate and that he considers him “less adaptable” than Sainz. The Englishman also reports that he aims for a “leading” position within McLaren.

 

An article on the Formula One official website reports that there were team orders in Norris and Ricciardo swap positions. (Photo: Formula One official website) [5]

 

The facts listed above prove that Norris has no ethical and respectful posture within the sports environment, both with his team and other competitors. Therefore, the word “humble” does not describe his conduct, even though the Brazilian narrators and commentators insist on treating him as such. It is noteworthy that the same Sérgio Maurício, who applauds Norris, despite all the rudeness spoken by the English, criticized Max Verstappen for responding harshly to a journalist’s rude question in 2018. We return to the paraphrase at the beginning of the text: “All drivers are equal, but some drivers are more equal than others.”

While the mainstream media overlooks Norris’s inappropriate behavior and sells him as the best and most humble driver of all time, independent journalists and internet users have unmasked this fraud. Initially, the driver was compared to Veruca Salt, from the children’s book “The Fantastic Chocolate Factory” (1964). They have characteristics in common: both are English, very wealthy, and demand that all their wishes be met, no matter how much they need to shout for it.

 

Although the sports media tries to disguise it, Norris has many characteristics in common with Veruca Salt. [5]

 

Also, they compared Norris with other fictional characters. One of them is Quico, from the Mexican series “El Chavo del Ocho” (1973-1980), famous for shouting his catchphrase “Shut up, shut up, shut up, you make me crazy.” The reference is due to the several times Norris yelled at his engineer on the radio. Another character compared to Norris is Prince Adam, from Disney’s franchise “Beauty and the Beast” (this, in turn, is an adaptation of the French tale by Suzanne de Villeneuve, written in 1740). The movie “The Enchanted Christmas” (1998) revealed that Adam acted very rude to his servants and was indifferent to the suffering of others. As a result, a witch decided to turn him into a beast. In addition to the prince, Norris’s father’s namesake, another French character with behavior similar to that of the driver is Chloé Bourgeois, from the cartoon “Miraculous.” Unable to love anyone other than herself, Chloé mistreats anyone who crosses her path. Also, she thinks that serving and idolizing her is everyone’s duty. Although Chloé shows no respect for anyone, she has a large fan base (mainly Americans), just like Norris; these relativize her crude profile and hope for her triumph in the end.

 

Journalists treat Norris as a “humble rich one” (like Adrien Agreste), but in real life, he acts like a “spoiled rich one” (like Chloé Bourgeois). [6]

 

Unfortunately, because it is not in line with its interests, the mainstream media will not treat Norris and his rudeness in the same way as other drivers. In addition, his most passionate fans will continue to promote hostile environments on the internet on his behalf until his wave of popularity dissipates.

Also, people must take the racial factor into account. Hamilton said in an interview that he “would be more popular in the UK if he were White,” which allows one more hypothesis to be raised. Aware that Hamilton is the most successful British driver in history, perhaps the media will try to invest in Norris’s image (just as George Russell’s), hoping that the audience will believe that the post will one day be filled by a White driver. Consequently, the media in other countries adopt the same stance once the central bodies of the official Formula One press are based in the United Kingdom.

 

4- Conclusion

 

The sports media elected Lando Norris as its favorite driver mainly due to the financial benefits he brings to both his sponsors and Formula One.  His popularity on social media has attracted many young fans to the category, but these see him through a celebrity filter. Then, they do not realize that the athlete is far from being the gentle star the press sells. Since Norris is well-advised and Formula One keeps money as its most significant factor, we may not see him being treated like other drivers anytime soon.

 

Addendum (23/07/2021): Lando Norris confirmed that McLaren received more sponsors when he debuted. Also, his participation on Twitch attracted more public. That information (checked here) proves the article’s main argument.

 


Sources:

 

1- Lando Norris’s origins

 

2- The internet’s teen sensation

*Sources of the table

 

3- Humble Lando Norris: a character from children’s stories

 

Addendum

 

Photos:

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

 

 

Racing Point: A Poorly Managed Image

The case of Racing Point’s image management between 2018 and 2020 should be studied by the faculties of Public Relations as much as those of Journalism in Brazil analyzes the Base School case. The reason is the same: it is an example of what an excellent professional should not do.

Successive errors and negligence made the team and its drivers (mainly Lance Stroll) the target of constant attacks and misinformation by the press. There was likely a conflict between the solutions to the image problems and the interests of the team. This article analyzes Racing Point’s failures to deal with successive image crises before its transformation into Aston Martin.

(The author of the article has a degree in Broadcasting from Faculdade Cásper Líbero and took courses in Press Office and Crisis Management by the same institution and Senac. Her teachers were Neuza Serra and Aurora Seles.)

 

1- The beginning of Racing Point and the first crisis: the Esteban Ocon Case

 

In 2018, Indian businessman Vijay Mallya faced legal problems in his home country’s justice system, which accused him of fraud and money laundering. His team in Formula One, Force India, declared bankruptcy in July of that year due to successive debts. Amid various speculations about the team’s future (among them that the Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, one of Sergio Pérez’s sponsors, would buy it), Canadian Lawrence Stroll, Lance’s father, joined an entrepreneur group to set up a consortium and buy Force India. Consequently, the team ran the rest of the 2018 season as Racing Point Force India.

 

Vijay Mallya: Force India’s owner from 2007 to 2018. (Photo: Getty Images) [1]

 

Lance Stroll, until then, drove for Williams, a team marked by severe administrative problems. Team principal Claire Williams and chief engineer Paddy Lowe blamed the drivers for the team’s poor performance. However, this problem lay in the low structure of the car assembled by the engineering department. The press adopted Claire and Lowe’s narrative and attacked Stroll and his teammate Sergey Sirotkin.

Since one of the new owners of Force India was the father of a driver, they speculated that either Sergio Pérez or Esteban Ocon would leave to make way for him. Pérez brought in more sponsorships and got higher scores, making him the most likely to stay on the team. On the other hand, Esteban Ocon was a personal friend of Lance Stroll, although the emotional component is not definitive in business decisions. However, they highly omitted that Ocon was already quoted to leave Force India. His then patron Toto Wolff, Mercedes’s team principal, would have offered him a seat on his team if he hadn’t made it difficult for Lewis Hamilton in a possible dispute for positions at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.

 

Toto Wolff failed to give Esteban Ocon a seat in 2019, but the driver choose to let the media blame Lance Stroll. (Photo: EsporteNET) [2]

 

According to the American podcaster and communication theorist Ben Shapiro, the facts become irrelevant to the media when it creates a narrative to follow its agenda. In the analysis of the German sociologist and communication theorist Theodor Adorno (1903-1969), the media has a purely market view of its target audience. Reconciling the two theses, we see that it was not enjoyable for the press to divulge the truth: Esteban Ocon was leaving. It would be more in line with its plan and financial interests to create controversies to sell headlines, even if this would damage Lance Stroll’s reputation.

The Canadian driver’s press officers never learned how to manage his image crisis generated by the media persecution. Many journalists refused to acknowledge their achievements in Formula One, which the category considers ‘historic.’ The strategy adopted was to ignore malicious comments from the press and fans. Although this is an excellent plan to maintain emotional control, “silence is never the best answer,” Professor Neuza Serra said. Stroll’s advisers’ duty was to clarify that he never fit into the ‘pay driver’ profile. One proof is that the Canadian fulfilled all the FIA prerequisites for entering Formula One, like the 40 points in the Superlicence (these are earned and cannot be bought). The other is that he achieved a podium and two records in his debut year by a team that is not very competitive.

 

Lance Stroll’s podium at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix: the last Williams had. (Foto: FORMULA1) [3]

 

Esteban Ocon took advantage of the controversy to disregard the case. He knew that was Toto Wolff’s fault for his probable exit from Formula One, as he failed to get him a seat on another team (the others viewed the relations between Ocon and Mercedes with suspicion). However, Ocon preferred to let the media blame Force India’s purchase by Lawrence Stroll and his partners. Only after months did the driver speak out against the attacks on Lance Stroll, even though he was not sincere about those responsible for his delicate situation. Maintaining the controversy despite the announcement was an excellent self-promotion strategy for Ocon.

 

Esteban Ocon clarifying the controversy, pero no mucho. (Photo: Instagram) [4]

 

2- The second crisis: the departure of Sergio Pérez and the entry of Sebastian Vettel

 

During 2019, Lance Stroll took longer to adapt to the new car, and consequently, his scores were below those of Sergio Pérez. Soon, some press sectors continued to doubt its capacity, as did Brazilian commentator Reginaldo Leme during the broadcast of the French Grand Prix by Rede Globo. Despite this, it had some impressive results, like fourth place in Germany.

In 2020 Racing Point started the season as a candidate for ‘top team,’ as its cars and drivers had an excellent performance. However, the team was accused of copying Mercedes’ brake systems and gaining advantages. Although FIA ordered Racing Point to pay a fine and lose 15 championship points after an investigation, the drivers managed to bring it back to the top. At the time, Lawrence Stroll commented on the case, stressing that he does not usually appear in the press but intends to clarify the situation, proving his team’s integrity.

 

Renault took the leadership of the movement against Racing Point, though its past is not exactly the most ethical in Formula One. [5]

 

They soon forgot this case due to a second image crisis. Again, the media found an opportunity to tarnish Lance Stroll’s reputation by accusing him of influencing Racing Point’s decisions for being the son of one of the owners. Fired from Ferrari due to a series of wrong choices that costed points for the team, Sebastian Vettel was out of options for the 2021 grid.. He decided to buy shares in Aston Martin, the company that would own Racing Point the following year, and soon secured his place. The problem was in the disclosure of events: Racing Point, sometimes denied, then confirmed the arrival of Vettel, and there was also inconsistency in the narratives about whether they warned Sergio Pérez or not.

The fact is that Racing Point never mentioned in its releases that Sebastian Vettel was more than a driver but a shareholder. And even big names in the media reporting the fact (like Adam Cooper and Sergio Quintanilha), the press reinvested in insinuating that Sergio Pérez was dismissed because firing Lance Stroll was out of the question. The natural thing for a press relations team would be to clarify two main points in this case: that Stroll is a driver with an excellent start to his career, and because he is young, he can be a good investment in the long run, and that Vettel bought his seat. Instead, both the team’s and Stroll’s advisors preferred to omit what would be crucial to ending the crisis.

 

3- The passivity of Lance Stroll (and his press office)

 

Given the facts listed, it is essential to note that Lance Stroll’s stance in the face of the successive crises through which his image goes is, at least, curious. As stated earlier, the driver and his press office prefer to ignore the insults because they know they are unfounded but end up wasting a good opportunity to reveal the truth to the press and improve his image. Ignoring the crisis is not going to make it go away; it just increases it.

The proof that Lance Stroll does not have privileges at Racing Point (as many in the media suggest) is that there is no complaint from him or his family on the constant fails of his strategists who persistently fail to plan for the races. It happens mainly at pit stops, as in the Turkish Grand Prix, where Stroll started from pole position and ended in ninth place. And his staff could use a handy resource to silence these rumors permanently.

 

Though the strategists are constantly failing, neither Lance Stroll nor his family complains about it. This is just one from the many proofs that Lance is not receiving privileges in the team. [6]

 

As evidenced in “Formula One in Brazil: An analysis of the television broadcasting in the country,” those who criticize the wealth of Lance Stroll, an indigenous and Jewish driver, and do not do the same with white drivers with fewer achievements, are racist. The same goes for those who criticized Lawrence Stroll’s investments in Force India and did not do the same with Sebastian Vettel’s investments in Aston Martin. In its marketing view, the press pretends to be a supporter of the fight against social inequalities, and – as stated by Ben Shapiro – it invests in the class struggle discourse to engage its target audience. But it is very suspicious that the convict in this narrative is precisely a Jewish-Amerindian driver, a member of ethnic minorities, and involved in social causes.

By this logic, what would apparently be a narrative case of promoting a class struggle (between the driver “lucky to be rich” and the fans “without the same luck”) turns out to be a reactionary discourse that reinforces a system of oppression of minorities, because it denies the athlete of historically persecuted ethnic groups (Jews and Amerindians) the right to fortune while allowing those belonging to the dominant group (white Europeans).

(Translated from Portuguese to English from “Formula One in Brazil: An analysis of the television broadcasting in the country”, p. 120-121)

 

Therefore, it is strange that Lance Stroll’s advisers do not point out the racist character in the media attacks on the driver. If it did, the press would be forced to report, and journalists, fearing that they would be labeled as ‘racist’ by public opinion, would change the discourse. Also suspicious is that Stroll still considers Esteban Ocon his friend, even when he used the Canadian driver’s image crisis to promote himself instead of helping him.

 

As Robin would say, “Holy Naivety, Batman!” [7]

 

Also, Sebastian Vettel’s entry into Aston Martin caused a suspicious attitude in Lawrence Stroll himself, whose position is inconsistent with reality and puts his own son’s reputation in check. The businessman blamed Vettel’s dismissal from Ferrari before the beginning of the 2020 season for the German’s poor performance that year. He ignores the fact that this ‘bad phase’ had already occurred in recent years due to Vettel’s “individual mistakes,” leading him to be fired, as reported by journalist and former driver Martin Brundle). He also blamed the Ferrari car for the driver’s misfortune, ignoring that Vettel’s situation is quite different from that of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin at Williams in 2018 (both drivers had difficulties on the track due to the car). Charles Leclerc’s performance in 2020, far above Vettel’s, proves that, although it has an impact, the Ferrari car was not the main factor for the German’s underperforming performance. Finally, in trusting that Vettel will benefit the team for having been a four-time champion with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, the businessman resorts to the fallacy argumentum ad antiquitatem (appeal to tradition or the past), presenting the future as a continuity of the past distant, ignoring the changes that occur in the present. However, Mercedes also did not have a four-time champion in 2014, when their team was composed of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and won all championships from that year. Lawrence Stroll himself does not mention Vettel’s purchase of shares, as if he also wanted to hide this fact so that the German is not remembered as a ‘seat buyer’ (using his past to help with the disclosure strategy). Consequently, as for lack of science (or, maybe, even with his consent), he allows the media to continue distorting his son Lance’s image to satisfy the team’s marketing goals.

 

4- Conclusion

 

Racing Point’s press office has consistently failed to protect its drivers, especially Lance Stroll, from the media’s unreasonable and sensationalist attacks. And even if it means that Stroll does not have privileges on his team, the press prefers to ignore the facts to obtain financial advantages through controversies.

Sometimes, companies end up allowing specific image crises to hide their real interests. In the case of Racing Point, it is evident that Sebastian Vettel did not want to be remembered as ‘the driver who had to buy his seat because, despite his glorious past, his present was a disaster.’ Therefore, the team omitted information that would be essential to save Lance Stroll’s reputation. Consequently, it is clear that if there is a privileged person at Racing Point (now Aston Martin), that someone is Vettel. The passivity of the Canadian driver and his press office is a clear example of how not to face an image crisis caused by the media.

 

They are doing a great job in engineering. They only need to improve in press office. [8]

 

5- Bibliography

To better understand the sources, the bibliography was divided into sections according to the information presented in the article.

 

1- The creation of Racing Point

 

2- The Esteban Ocon Case

 

3- The Williams Case

3.1 Claire Williams and Paddy Lowe blaiming the drivers for the team’s problems (from 2017 to 2018)

3.2 The real causes for the problems

 

4- Reginaldo Leme’s comment

 

5- Lance Stroll’s deeds in Formula One

 

6- Philanthropic actions and social causes defended by Lance Stroll

 

7- The brakes’ scandall

 

8- “Individual mistakes” led Sebastian Vettel to be fired from Ferrari (Martin Brundle’s testimony)

 

9- Sebastian Vettel buys shares from Aston Martin

 

10- Discrepancy of narratives about Sergio Pérez’s situation

 

11- Lawrence Stroll’s fallacious testimony in favor of Sebastian Vettel

 

12- The impact of the car on the drivers’ performance

 

12- Theoretical basis

 

6- Photos

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

 

The Alexander Albon Case: A Wasted Potential

Article dedicated to the reader Lucilene Mota, who asked for an analysis of Alexander Albon. Special thanks to Adriana Perantoni for the sources of Noemí de Miguel and the information about Antonio Pérez.

 

On December 18th, 2020, Red Bull Racing announced Sergio Pérez to race alongside Max Verstappen in 2021. Therefore, the British-Thai driver Alexander Albon got relegated to a reserve driver. Some controversies follow the circumstances of this situation at Red Bull. Some examples are their inability in making a car as good as Verstappenthe exit of Pérez from Racing Point after Sebastian Vettel acquired shares of its future owner, and Albon’s hiring in the middle of the 2019 season to replace Pierre Gasly (what generated a big hope over the new driver);

It notes that Red Bull is impatient to become the new challenger of Mercedes, given the fall in Ferrari’s performance and the rise of Racing Point in 2020. Aware of Verstappen’s ability, who conquered the team’s first wins since 2014, the Austrian team was looking for a teammate who could follow the Dutchman’s speed after the exit of Daniel Ricciardo for Renault with the end of the 2018 season. Albon ended up being a victim of this haste and having a humiliating exit from the constructor’s championship runner-up. This article will explain how it happened and why there was a big injustice with the athlete.

 

1- The 2019 season: the opportunity to shine

 

As explained earlier, Daniel Ricciardo’s departure led Red Bull to look for another talent to race alongside Max Verstappen. The duo had achieved excellent results from 2016 to 2018, which allowed the team to be runner-up and then third place (for two consecutive years) in the constructors’ championship. Replacing a driver who guaranteed victories and podiums for the team would not be easy, but Red Bull had a young name in mind: Pierre Gasly.

 

Pierre Gasly takes fourth place in the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix. (Photo: Sky Sports) [1]

 

The French driver had excelled in Toro Rosso, having his best result so far, the fourth place in the Bahrain Grand Prix of 2018. They believed that if Gasly could reach such a high position in a car considered average, he would succeed in getting at least podiums in a top team. However, his performance in the first year with Red Bull was below expectations. While Verstappen was an almost constant presence on the podium, Gasly was behind Ferrari drivers (Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc). Not being able to take advantage of the Italian team’s crisis (whose tension between the drivers was aggravating), the Frenchman got fewer points for Red Bull, which lost the chance to win the runners-up championship.

Unhappy with Gasly and Verstappen’s mismatch, consultant Helmut Marko convinced Red Bull officials to replace the Dutchman’s teammate. From the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix onwards, Alexander Albon would take the seat. It was too late for Red Bull to recover the loss, but they saw the new driver as a long-term investment (if he performed well, he would remain on the team the following year). Albon had commendable performances, as in the Russian Grand Prix (in which he started from the pits and finished in fifth place) and in Brazil (having a chance to get the first podium, but was reached by Lewis Hamilton with a few laps to go). Albon finished the championship in eighth place, with 92 points. Considering that he spent the first half of the season at Toro Rosso and only then went to a top team, the result is impressive. For this reason, he was elected by the Autosports Awards as the “Rookie of the Year” in 2019.

 

Alexander Albon being awarded the “Rookie of the Year” award in 2019. (Photo: FIA) [2]

 

2- 2020: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

 

This phrase from Uncle Ben, from “Spider-Man,” sums up the pressure that fell on Alexander Albon in his second season with Red Bull. The driver started the year well, having one more chance to get his first podium at the Austrian Grand Prix. An unfortunate coincidence prevented him from winning: again, a collision with Lewis Hamilton. In the following races, Albon reached the scoring zone, but in places much lower than Max Verstappen’s. The situation was soon similar to that of Pierre Gasly in 2019, but Helmut Marko chose not to fire the Thai in a hurry.

Two factors prevented immediate action by Red Bull. First, the second layoff in two consecutive years without the championship ending would put the team’s reputation in check. The switch from Gasly to Albon no longer seemed as justified in 2020 as it was in 2019, and taking out the Thai was in danger of resulting in yet another unsatisfactory replacement. Soon, Marko would be classified as “impetuous.” Second, AlphaTauri did not have the appropriate names to take Albon’s place. Bringing Gasly back would be “humiliating” for Red Bull (who would have to admit he “made a mistake” with the Frenchman), and Daniil Kvyat already had a ticket by the Austrian team, being fired at the beginning of the 2016 season and replaced by Verstappen. The switch from the Russian to the Dutch driver was the most assertive of Red Bull in recent years in the short, medium, and long term, which did not repeat with the following changes (this is because Verstappen is a separate case).

Helmut Marko (left) and Max Verstappen (right). (Photo: XPB) [3]

 

In the first half of 2020, Albon faced difficulties in training on Friday and Saturday, starting from intermediate places on the grid, which is not expected for a top team driver. Only in the Tuscan Grand Prix, a race marked by accidents that led almost half of the grid to abandon, the Thai got his well-deserved first podium after winning a duel with Daniel Ricciardo for third place. He repeated the result only at the Bahrain Grand Prix, in which Sergio Pérez’s car engine ignited the rear of the vehicle and forced the Mexican to abandon. Despite the podiums, Albon was nowhere near what Ricciardo had been for Red Bull, and Gasly’s victory in the Italian Grand Prix only added to the team’s embarrassment.

Pierre Gasly’s win at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. (Photo: Matteo Bazzi/AP) [4]

 

The similarity between Albon’s performance in 2020 and Gasly’s in 2019 was just one ingredient in the change of drivers from Red Bull to 2021. Another reason is in the context of another team.

 

3- Changes in Racing Point: Sergio Pérez enters the game

 

In 2020 Racing Point started a landmark chapter in its history. The previous season served as a test for the team’s new plans, bought in the second half of 2018 by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll after the Force India bankruptcy. Deciding to join the group of top teams, the English team had impressive results thanks to the joint work of the engineering department and its team of drivers, formed by Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez.

For 2021, the team sought even more investments to continue its triumphant path. One of the agreements reached was with the French company Aston Martin, which will give its name to the team. Everything seemed to go as it was, but now with improvements approaching, a turnaround happened: Ferrari fired Sebastian Vettel for his disappointing performances, and months later, Racing Point announced him as its driver for 2021. His signing would not have been so controversial if were it not for the confusion of information reported to the press: Racing Point oscillated between denial and interest in Vettel, and the narratives of Pérez and the team leader, Otmar Sznafnauer, about whether the Mexican had previously been warned of the situation conflicted with each other. Journalist Adam Cooper later revealed the truth, reporting that Vettel had bought shares in Aston Martin, thereby securing a seat on the team (to better understand this case, read the article by Ricardo Hernandes Meyer here).

 

Otmar Sznafnauer, Racing Point’s team boss (left), and Sebastian Vettel (right). (Photo: XPB) [5]

 

They note Pérez is one of the most consistent drivers in Formula One. He has podiums under challenging races, as in the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The journalist Noemí de Miguel, who reported first hand that Renault was negotiating the signing Fernando Alonso for 2021 (confirmed months later), stated that Red Bull planned to bring Pérez to be Max Verstappen’s teammate. One of the signs of this negotiation was when Antonio Pérez, the driver’s brother, started to follow Red Bull’s profile on Twitter. However, both “Checo” and the Austrian team preferred to keep the talks a secret (perhaps not to affect Albon’s results) and only announced the decision after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

 

Among the profiles Antonio Pérez, Sergio’s brother, follows on Twitter por Antonio Pérez, is Red Bull’s. (Photo: Twitter) [6]

 

We can see that Racing Point’s and Ferrari’s actions also impacted Red Bull, mainly in Albon’s fate. The expectation was that Vettel would have a gap year to reflect on his mistakes and rethink his career, just as it did with Esteban Ocon. However, the German had a master’s strategy: buying shares in the owner company guarantees a place. Indeed the press will not emphasize this because it prefers to generate controversies over Stroll, which has nothing to do with the story (the reason is implicit). Pérez’s need for a seat and Red Bull’s desire to replace Albon without being like what happened to Pierre Gasly led to the Mexican’s hiring and, consequently, the Thai’s replacement.

 

4- Helmut Marko’s haste: the sacrifice of young Red Bull talents

 

The Red Bull consultant had previously told the press that “none of the young people on the team’s training program come close to Max Verstappen.” Such a statement is harmful to athletes, who feel their work devalued. Sport is indeed an area that demands pressure to result in achievements, but this comparison hinders young drivers’ self-confidence and frustrates the team’s plans. Also, Marko seems to put too much pressure on the athletes and not to do the same with the engineering department, unable to produce a car up to Verstappen’s potential despite allegedly working focused on the driver. Recalling that engineers are fundamental in the performance of a team in Formula One, as noted in Williams’s case.

Verstappen, as previously revealed, is an exceptional talent. As a teenager, he achieved victories, podiums, and records in a team that did not have the best car on the grid. It does not mean, however, that other drivers cannot be talented. Demanding a Verstappen clone from his students is an absurd attitude by Marko, as each person has their work style. Not even Max’s father, Jos Verstappen, had such brilliant career results as his son. If instead of demanding a second version of the Dutchman, Red Bull worked to develop both drivers’ potential, the team would have a better performance in the championships. But it seems that this team favors one athlete and wants the other, as observed in the first decade of 2010 with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

 

 

Marko even accused Albon of not having self-confidence. With a boss like this, it gets tricky. (Photo: GPBlog) [7]

 

Pierre Gasly’s victory in 2020 proved that each rider has his time to adapt and that excessive charges do not shape an athlete based on another just because the team’s board wishes. Unfortunately, while being an enemy of perfection, haste shows up as one of Marko’s values, which sacrifices Red Bull’s opportunities. The example of Racing Point, which preferred to “take it easy” in 2019 to rock out in 2020, demonstrates that caution should be the main ingredient of good planning, not anxiety.

Another essential point to note is the hiring of Yuki Tsunoda to race for AlphaTauri in 2021. As Daniil Kvyat is no longer able to satisfy the group, and Gasly does a great job, it is natural to fire the Russian to give the Japanese a chance. Although this means an impediment for Albon to return to AlphaTauri, Tsunoda should is not responsible for the Thai’s misfortune, as this is a new talent that will have a chance to present his work. As demonstrated earlier, the purchase of Vettel’s seat at Aston Martin influences Albon’s situation much more than the hiring of the Japanese driver.

 

5- Conclusions

 

Alexander Albon’s case only differs from that of Pierre Gasly in one point: the time Red Bull fired each of them. Both were victims of Helmut Marko’s haste and eagerness to have two riders with the performance of Max Verstappen, which places all the responsibility on young athletes. Both Albon and Gasly have proven their talent and deserve seats in Formula One but have suffered from the Austrian team’s conflict of interest, which wishes for triumph by choosing the wrong ways.

If Sebastian Vettel had not bought Aston Martin’s shares in his successful attempt to stay on track despite his impetuosity, perhaps Red Bull would have to keep Albon for longer. That’s because Racing Point would probably keep its drivers, as Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez have excellent dynamics as teammates and guarantee remarkable results in the races. As the Mexican is more experienced and then has a more extensive curriculum, he became the ideal candidate for Red Bull to continue its fight against Mercedes, besides satisfying the desire to fire a driver whose “mistake” was “not being” Verstappen.

 

This is how Red Bull thinks: Verstappen is above any driver. [8]

 

Although he said he never suffered racism in his personal or professional life, some fans and journalists remember a case that is at least suspect. At the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, the stewards decided to punish him for an incident with Carlos Sainz Jr., even though it was the Spaniard who threw the opponent off the track. That was one of the actions that led to suspects of racism on the stewards (the others were the unfair decisions with Stroll and Lewis Hamilton), which hurt the three colored drivers on the grid to benefit white athletes. Albon may not have noticed the “coincidences” in the Italian Grand Prix’s decisions, but these cannot be ignored. Also, when speculation began about his departure from Red Bull, much was said about a possible interest by the company’s owners in keeping him from being Thai. Sponsoring companies are indeed interested in compatriot athletes in their respective sports categories, but Albon should not be remembered just for his ethnic origins. His work and effort justified his presence in Formula One.

Alexander Albon is yet another driver condemned for his team’s irresponsibility even though he is innocent. A similar case was that of Sergey Sirotkin, who left Formula One with the stigma of a “pay driver” although he was not to blame for Williams’s crisis (which was proved in the following years to be by its engineers and managers). Those directly responsible for leaving the Red Bull driver are Vettel (for causing Pérez to quit Racing Point when he bought Aston Martin shares) and Marko (for demanding perfection from his drivers quickly). But what can we consider the “culprit” for Albon’s misfortune is Red Bull’s segregationist policy, which prefers to turn one driver into a prince (even though he doesn’t have the resources to do so) and the other into a beggar when he could turn them both into heroes. If they do not change their strategies, the Austrian team is in danger of going through a crisis similar to that of Ferrari, and other “Albons” will be sacrificed in the process.

 

In short. [9]

6- Read also:

 

 

7- Bibliography

 

 

8- Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article, except the montages, 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 the 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: Virginia Berry for Frank Williams and his for cars. Having come 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. Therefore, founded Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1966 and entered the automobile market, selling cars to drivers from diverse countries, mainly 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, known for his dangerous and risky way of driving, Frank turned Frank Williams Racing Cars into 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 made Frank Williams very sad. In the following years, being renamed Williams FW by 1973, the team’s performance fell drastically and was criticized by the press. The cars were made with second-hand materials due to the team’s low budget. Having married Frank officially in 1974, Virginia made many sacrifices to keep the team, including selling her apartment. However, both the Williams family and the team experienced miserable 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 choice 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. As an engineer, Head was one of the responsible for the technological advance that allowed Williams’s rebirth. The team’s first year was not very encouraging, ending the season without points. However, better times were coming.

In the following year, Alan Jones got Williams’s 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’s first champion. (Photo: Motorsport) [3]

 

The ’80s marked Williams’s 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. The following year, the team was again constructors champion, with its drivers scoring 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 in the constructors’ championship, repeating it the following year when Jacques Laffite replaced Reutemann.

Ending sixth in 1984 and third in 1985, Williams returned to win the 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’s 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 significant 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 was always interested 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. It ended in 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 the most famous 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) did not yield good results. Earning less than in glory times, Williams had not enough resources for 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’s second savior. (Photo: EsporteNET) [6]

 

In 2010, deluded with 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. Pastor Maldonado guaranteed the last Williams’ victory in its history at Spanish Grand Prix in that same year. Toto Wolff was named executive director, and his wife Susie was hired as a test driver. Williams had the opportunity to have, officially, the first woman in Formula One since Desiré Wilson, who drove in 1980. However, internal barriers impeded the realization of this fact, besides 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 the 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 return 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 some 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 the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Stroll had the only podium of the team and Williams’s last until nowadays, with a third place. With this result, the team jumped to fifth place in 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 adequately recognized by people. In 2018, after Massa’s permanent retirement, Williams hired Sergey Sirotkin to replace him. Even with 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. The media returned to attack Stroll, exonerating the engineers of any guilt for the bad performance of the cars. 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. The media simply “forgot” that who makes the cars are the engineers, not the drivers, and that the team’s budget comes from sponsors (so investors are always welcome). Also, journalists used the argumentum ad hominem fallacy to attack the drivers and acquit Claire Williams and Paddy Lowe (see the source on the article written by Kadu Gouvêa at the bibliography).

 

Paddy Lowe, Williams’s 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 the Force India team. Indian authorities wanted its previous owner Vijay Mallya for alleged corruption. Lawrence kept Lance in Williams until the end of the year, even aware of his son’s difficulties with a nothing competitive car and his crucifixion by media. 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 of the delay in months of Kubica’s adapted steering wheel. Finally, the pressure fell into Claire. At the end of the year, Kubica was fired, and Nicholas Latifi, a Canadian driver of Iranian descent, was chosen as his substitute. Latifi had not even debuted, 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’s fourth crisis. (Photo: tomadadetempo.com) [12]

 

In 2020, amid the paralyzation of the team’s activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Claire admitted that they could sell the entire Williams. Toto Wolff acquired 5% of the team’s shares in June.

 

7- After all, who is to blame?

 

Unlike what some journalists tried to instill at fans’ heads, Williams’s 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. As 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 did not convert into results on track let the team depend on extern investments. Now, if Williams’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. Besides, the engineering department led by Paddy Lowe had enough money to develop a good project but failed considerably.

The fact that Lance being the son of Lawrence means absolutely nothing on the subject of Williams’s 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 the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, justifying his father’s investment in the team. It is evident that the car’s performance is the engineer’s responsibility and financial control if for the team owners. Still, many people do not see it and, by ignorance of lack of character, blame Stroll. The media’s insistence in condemning him for 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 humankind and that caused the most significant 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 blame Jews for the world’s misfortunes and do until now. As current society is more conscious of discrimination, the media only accuses Stroll and omits his ethnic origins (the reason for the persecution) to avoid 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 Harold Lasswell in the 20th century: some passively accept 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), so the media will favor historically privileged groups (Europeans and Whites). With this, proving Shapiro’s analysis, it ignores Claire Williams’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, and people must unmask the reasons.

 

8- Conclusion

 

Williams’s bad financial management put the team in four crises throughout its history. Even with suitable investments and sponsorship, the engineering department failed successively to upgrade the car so 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 to decisions (and if they belong to an ethnic minority, they risk 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’s problem: it 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.