Waking up the next day following what was a crazy Azerbaijan Grand Prix, I found my Facebook news-feed flooded by the Vettel-Hamilton clash posts.
In my country where for the newspapers and news channels the word ‘sports’ starts and end with cricket, they also were not behind in encashing in on the drama that happened on the previous day.
My friends had WhatsApped me asking for juicy details and I found my colleagues Googling and YouTubing the coming together of the two names they associate the sports with.
Looking at all this the proverb that “there’s no such thing as a bad publicity” rang up in my mind.
When the two Championship rivals came to blow on the streets of the Azerbaijan on Sunday, it sparked a big debate among the fans of the two drivers and it immediately catapulted the Sport on the top of the news feed. Even people who have no association with the sport tuned in to check a wheel banging moment between the best of the Sport.
And this show of emotion or as Vettel put it “elbows out” moment is what the sport needs. For too long the drivers have been criticised as mere PR puppets with emotions only ranging between swinging the Champagne merrily on the podium and a dejected interview in case something went wrong.
Formula One too has been facing criticism a lot lately for V6 engines and the lack of noise and recently for the processional racing. It has been in the news but for all the wrong reasons. This clash affords the Sport the right dose of publicity without criticism to the sport itself. In a very long time Formula One had a Nascar moment, the latter drawing a lot of attention because of the every now and then run-ins between the drivers, the last time in March when Kyle Busch and Joey Logano got into a fist-fight, the official Nascar video raked in more than 1.4 million views not to mention the views other unofficial videos have garnered and the interest it generated for Nascar.
This is not the first time when two drivers are coming together in Formula One as the sport is replete with instances of drivers losing their cool or colliding with each other on track. Last year’s Spanish and Austrian Grand Prix collision remain the latest but on merit they’re separate than the Vettel-Hamilton collision as they can be put in the racing incident category. But this year’s wheel banging moment was a show of anger and emotions that was lacking in the previous incidents. The official video has till date more than 1 million views but it’s nothing compared to the plethora of news that generate and pop-up the moment you google Hamilton or Vettel.
This clash also spiced up the Championship battle for this year and effectively marks the end of the bromance between the two drivers and signifies that the gloves are now off. The previous 3 year’s championship battle, although it had a narrative of its own, was lacking in many regards because of the repetition of the intra-team battle year after year between the two team-mates. But now with Ferrari and Mercedes engaged in the battle we finally have two top names from the Sport at loggerheads. And Baku’s incident has added a new dimension to their rivalry which benefits the Sport only.
And Jacques Villeneuve was absolutely right in saying that Vettel’s swipe may have been ugly but it looked great on TV and it did. It added great spice to what was going to be a boring Grand Prix considering last year’s race and that’s above everything is what F1 needs, interesting races because the boring races element has gone up especially this year with the new aerodynamics that have made races a bit more processional.
With FIA set to investigate further into the matter, expect the whole saga to rumble for a few more days and that means F1 will remain in the news for a few more days. However the FIA needs to tread carefully because over-disciplining the sport would do nothing but hurt the Sport only in the long run.
The clash between the two superstars of the Sport has ignited a new interest into it and Formula One has emerged has a clear winner in all this drama as it gets to encash all the limelight it is getting.