The 2011 season was a turning point for F1. The sport introduced newer regulations and it was also the first time F1 brought in DRS. The mechanism has led to some memorable overtakes over the years but also left Lewis Hamilton with some less than happy memories. It’s time to revisit the 2011 Italian Grand Prix to know why.
When Lewis Hamilton discovered Michael Schumacher’s resilience
As the Monza race rolled around, championship leader Sebastian Vettel was well ahead of everyone else in terms of points. The German started the race on pole but the real action happened down the grid. More specifically, between 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher and then 1-time champ Lewis Hamilton.
The duo engaged in one of the best wheel to wheel battles of the decade. It seemed like a classic master and apprentice situation which saw Michael demonstrate a masterclass in defence. The pair battled for 30 laps in what a was a major test of patience for the British driver.
Schumacher had a monster start and quickly swooped past Lewis Hamilton. A few laps later, the Briton caught the German’s Mercedes but couldn’t pass him on track. Michael displayed all of his veteran racing abilities to keep the McLaren behind. However, what caught everyone’s attention was Schumacher’s ability to test the threshold of the rules.
The German driver made more than one change of direction in his defence which enraged Hamilton. Lewis was quick to report Michael’s aggressive driving and even called for a rule check with the FIA. It reached a point where then Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn stepped in. Brawn advised Schumacher to go easy on the defending and be a little more considerate.
Schumacher’s quest to reach seven World Championships never involved only simple and straightforward driving. The cunning ability to test the rules to its absolute limit is what separated the German from other drivers.
Nevertheless, Schumacher’s aggressive driving prompted the FIA to issues a formal clarification on the rules in the following season. The governing authority made a small tweak to the preexisting rules on changing directions.
The rules stated that a driver could leave the racing line and return, provided he leaves a car’s width. The FIA also firmly stated that a driver can only make one change of direction.
As fans, we can only consider ourselves lucky to witness an epic battle between two behemoths of the sport.