Lewis Hamilton won the record for the seventh world championship title at the Turkish Grand Prix, but you don’t see a picture of him with the championship trophy.
One of the strangest aspects of F1 is that the champion does not get his prize if he wins the title, which distinguishes the series from most sports competitions.
As a quick test, try thinking about what an F1 Championship trophy looks like (which is difficult because it’s so rare in competitions), then compare it to how quickly your mind evokes images of other sports trophies. The huge Stanley Cup, gold at the FIFA World Cup, Vincent Lombardi’s trophy, everything you can imagine. Even the sight of the winner of the Masters slipping into an immaculate green jacket is legendary – he’s as much a golf icon as Tiger Woods, who walked on the green in a red shirt on the last day of the Major.
Although they are all very beautiful, they are special because we associate them with victory – they come out as soon as the champion is crowned. We see them in every photo, in every newspaper, in every tweet, in every video montage of what the winning athlete or winning team will do from now on.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Formula 1 and the World Championship driver trophy to give it an official name. It doesn’t even have its own page on Wikipedia, which is a mystery for 2020 and for the sport, which so often tries to profile itself in the modern sports landscape.
It’s too bad, because it’s beautiful. A large silver jug with a gold rim, on which the name of the respective champion is depicted, dating from the first championship in 1950. After the interview he gave Hamilton in Formula 1 after the Turkish GP, it was nowhere to be seen that Hamilton is at an eventful level with seven world championship titles won by Schumacher. It was a truly historic achievement, but Hamilton never received that trophy.
Here it is, for your information.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Lewis Hamilton is in possession of the trophy of the F1 Drivers’ Championship after the FIA gala of 2015. Jean-Michel Le Mer – Poole/Getty Pictures
Hamilton will host the FIA-organised post-season gala in 2015. Not only are trophies awarded to Formula 1 at numerous events under the auspices of the FIA, but Hamilton will receive the 2020 trophy at a similar event later in the year.
Therefore, if you do a quick Google search for the F1 World Cup trophy, you will only see people in tuxedos or suits holding it in their hands – as opposed to the human emotions you can find when you do a similar search for one of the above mentioned trophies (or coats).
The official statement of the FIA is that at this time of the season there may still be protests from rival teams that could affect the outcome of the Championship. Although this is true, the same argument does not apply to the presentation of trophies on the podium immediately after each race and before the official results are established.
Think of the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2019. Hamilton finished third in that race, but was clearly determined to get a penalty for his clumsy encounter with Alex Albon on the final lap. He still made it to the podium for protocol before visiting FIA race director Michael Masi and the stewards, where he was punished and demoted. A few hours after the end of the show Carlos Sines and McLaren took place on stage for the postponed celebrations.
A similar incident took place during the Austrian Grand Prix that year, when Max Verstappen surpassed Charles Leclerc in the final heat and won. First steps fourth on the podium, then both men went to the stewards and the official result of the race clung to the thread of luck for a few hours. Verstappen retained the victory, but it was strange that there were doubts when most spectators saw Verstappen celebrating with a trophy.
If necessary, the podium must be postponed until after the race, taking into account the speed with which official sanctions can be imposed after the event. Potential championship calls were rare. In 1999 Ferrari was briefly disqualified – for the Mika Hakkinen and McLaren Championships – for the penultimate race of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix, which was to be restored later that evening. In 2007, a week after Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen won the title, McLaren complained to Sack and Williams about fuel irregularities – which could have changed the result of the Brazilian Grand Prix and made Lewis Hamilton the champion – but it didn’t work.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Lewis Hamilton celebrated his seventh title after the GP of Turkey, although he had just won without the championship trophy. Clive Mason/Getty Pictures
Choosing a new champion for your trophy would be an immediate and normal thing to do in Formula 1, but it also makes sense if you take into account one of the problems that so many sports fans have to deal with: What is the driver’s success rate on his car? Rewarding a trophy in such a sterile environment hardly promotes the driver’s side of this debate. Nor does it support the idea of F1, and the FIA is no longer obsessed with some of the outdated traditions to which it has clung for decades.
It is remarkable to recall Hamilton’s first championship at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, which he and his team celebrated in the paddock, when the man he defeated, Felipe Massa, was on the podium as the winner of the race. This created one of the cult moments in modern Formula 1, when the crying Massa hit him on the chest in front of his audience because he was raw and emotional. It’s exactly in times like these that athletes deserve to get what they fought for.
This season Hamilton will receive its trophy at a virtual event to be broadcast live by the FIA in mid-December.
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