Formula 1 | Hamilton hails ‘harmony’ among F1 drivers after dinner
On Thursday evening, 20 Formula 1 drivers, as well as the president of their association, Alex Wurz, dined together in Abu Dhabi. Lewis Hamilton is at the start of this initiative and it is he who settles the bill at the end of the night.
The seven-time world champion wanted to celebrate the departure of Sebastian Vettel and was glad that the evening passed smoothly. He praises the harmony between the whole set, which he has never known since his debut in Formula 1, while the drivers also met at the circuit the next day (photo at the bottom of the article).
“I asked the group in Mexico if they would be open to having a dinner to say goodbye to Seb” Hamilton says. “We haven’t had dinner in China in years, 2016.”
“It was a great night, we all laughed a lot, told great, great stories. Seb is also a great leader. He did a great job trying to pass on some of his experience over the years, especially to the youngest. Because they are the future.”
“We took this picture, and I think it was the greatest harmony a group of pilots ever had. Maybe not in history, because it’s many, many years ago, but maybe in the last 15 years there are pictures of the past.”
An initiative that will be repeated regularly
All of the pilots appreciated that they should repeat this initiative regularly: “Then we thought we should do it all the time. Maybe make it an annual event here, maybe add another event during the year.”
“But the Grand Prix drivers’ association, as a united group, there is a lot we can do. We have a responsibility. We have a big platform, individually and collectively, and there is a lot that F1 needs to push forward in terms of actions.”
“He says we’re doing a lot, we’re doing sustainability and all that, but we have to make sure we’re going all the way and doing our best, and maybe the GPDA can play a role in that domain.”
His teammate George Russell explains the reasons for this harmony: “There are only 20 F1 drivers in the world and there is one other driver that we can all relate to in some way.”
“And in a way, it’s a very special thing that we all share in common, and in a way it brings you a little bit closer. But when the helmet is on the head, the helmet is on the head.”
“There is no big competition”
While the table footage will inevitably be scrutinized by fans for any sign of loyalty or animosity, Alexander Albon insisted that no-one plans to avoid sitting next to a particular opponent.
“We said whoever comes sits next to whoever is in place, clockwise. So there were no musical chairs.”
He arrived at the same time as his teammate Nicolas Latifi, who, like Vettel, will start this weekend’s final Grand Prix. “Nicky and I were the first to arrive. We were five minutes late and ended up being the first to arrive 20 minutes early, so we were able to sit next to each other.”
“Everybody seems like good friends. There’s no big rivalry except for the duo you know so well. But overall, we all get along really well. I think we see each other more now than ever, just the amount of things we do, all the trips we do, places where we tend to share planes.”
“So we spend a lot of time with each other. We see each other more than our own family. So there’s a good spirit throughout the network.”
A first for many pilots
Two years of Covid restrictions made such an event impossible until recently. Many drivers on the grid have never faced all of their opponents at the same time.
“It’s the first time I’ve done something like this, I think it’s cool” Coming in 2019, Lando Norris celebrates. “You kind of grow up in the world of motorsports, you don’t have to dislike each other, but you don’t grow to like each other. You still see them as enemies more than anything else.”
“So it’s a completely different feeling to sit there and talk to everybody completely away from the racetrack and away from the race for the first time. So it’s really cool. I talked to riders that I almost never talked to before.”
“Enjoy the company” of other pilots
Daniel Ricciardo joins his colleagues in showing that it is a good thing for drivers to sit together without the usual rivalries away from the circuits.
“Some have gone before” said the Australian, who explained that he went to bed at 8am on Friday. “Obviously we had a good excuse to do it as a sort of farewell for Seb.”
“But you kind of forget that when we’re all in a room away from the competition of that environment, it’s just beautiful. We all have a lot in common, probably more than we think.”
“So it was great to enjoy each other’s company and not really talk about racing and competing. I felt like we all learned a little bit more from each other off the track, which was good.”
More “friendly” atmosphere than in the past
Fernando Alonso, the most experienced driver on the grid, has participated in several such encounters during his 21-year F1 career. After facing the likes of Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, he now faces a new generation of rivals.
“When I started it was Jos Verstappen and now it’s Max. It’s just different. Before the older generation was more respected, this younger generation, there’s no social media or anything else to interfere with our bubble.” refers to the Spaniards.
“Formula 1 used to have very strong characters, it was DC, it was Mika, it was Michael. It was very defined who was who. In social media, everything is smoother, otherwise you get shot. Now it’s a bit more friendly in a different race “I’m not saying it sounds wrong, but they’re all young, they’re all friendly.”
“It used to be different. But I like the way it is now, I think it’s more fun. Everyone’s taking pictures, the only thing you have to be careful of is because you can’t have a bad time because it’s going to be broadcast all over the world or someone will be taking it. It’s been a lot of fun.”
“Respect and admiration” for what everyone else does
Carlos Sainz explains that mutual respect comes from a certain admiration for what each person is capable of: “On the track there is a lot of competition and tension, as in the past, but off the track we have managed to find a balance between us all.
“We all see the merit in what we do, we all see that we’re 22 races away from home, we’re travelling, we’re away, we’re on the road, we all respect that.”
“And above all, we all respect what we do on the track. You can’t imagine the risks we take, the speed we go in these cars, the crazy limits of everybody and the talent that’s out there. .”
“We all respect and admire each other. Off the track, we have the opportunity to enjoy some company that we hope will grow in the future.”