In what was described as the biggest championship battle of all time, the 2021 season also revealed how dangerous and terrifying the F1 community can be.
Former Formula 1 commentator, Alexey Popov, has blasted the sport’s fans for their “scary” reaction during the 2021 season, claiming he is currently ‘disappointed’ with those watching.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen created one of the all-time great championship battles, with the Dutchman clinching the title on the final lap of the season’s final race.
However, Popov, who is known as Russia’s F1 voice, is dissatisfied with the way motorsport fans have behaved before and even after Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
“I am very disappointed with the way Formula 1 fans react to news nowadays,” the journalist said in an interview with Championat.com.
“On my YouTube channel I’ve had almost the most views this year of a video with the headline ‘Max quits?’ It was just a reaction to people starting to hype the story – supposedly Max said he was leaving.”
“I just explained that he wasn’t going anywhere. But the fact itself… such things attract people.”
“And what was the story? When I started to unravel the whole tangle, I found the original interview: it was on a BBC podcast. I listened to it twice. To twist what a person has said to such an extent, that’s a real challenge!” Popov continued.
“I understand that it’s an unhealthy story these days, where people aren’t interested in going into detail, but are interested in a big headline, so that they can get into the comments and start bad-mouthing each other.”
“I always thought Formula 1 was different from, say, football,” he insisted.
“I was very happy and proud that we have much more intelligent fans who respect each other. Respectful of the drivers they cheer for, but also of the other drivers and their teams.”
“This year, sometimes it was just scary: I see people talking crap about each other. Honestly, this is not the Formula 1 I was proud of at one point.”
Nicholas Latifi got death threats after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, one of the things that prompted Popov’s comments. With five laps remaining in the race, the Williams driver lost control of his car and collided with the wall at the Yas Marina Circuit, triggering a safety car.
The safety car brought about a lot of controversy as Lewis Hamilton was leading the race to win a record breaking eighth championship win, but Race Director Michael Masi allowed the lapped cars between the title rivals to overtake the Safety Car. This compromised the duo’s track positions giving Verstappen the upper hand after closing in the gap behind Hamilton.
Running on fresh tyres, the Red Bull driver initiated an overtake on Hamilton who was running on aged tyres and went ahead to win the race claiming the 2021 championship title.