Lewis Hamilton believes it was “really important” for Formula 1 drivers to break bread with Sebastian Vettel one last time, hailing his former rival as a “great leader”.
Vettel bid farewell to Formula 1 at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, with the Aston Martin driver calling mid-season to hang up his helmet.
In a show of unity, his farewell brought all 20 drivers together for a final supper on the eve of the Yas Marina race.
Organized by Hamilton, who according to Alex Albon also picked up the checkphotos from the night show a group of people smiling and happy, we could even use the word friends.
Hamilton reckons it was the greatest camaraderie he has seen in his 16 years in Formula 1.
“I think it was really important, that’s why I asked the group in Mexico if they would be open to everyone to do a dinner to say goodbye to Seb,” said the mercedes driver.
“We haven’t had dinner in China for years. . It was the best night. Everyone was laughing so much, great stories – Seb is a great leader.
“He gave a great speech, really trying to convey some of the experiences he had over those years, especially to the younger ones, because they are the future.
“We had this picture and it was the greatest harmony a group of pilots had ever had I imagine – maybe not in history because there are pictures of others many years ago, but certainly over these 15 years.
“Afterwards, we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s do it all the time’.
“Maybe we’ll make it an annual thing here. Maybe we’ll add another in the year, maybe.
“There are also a lot of things we can do as GPDA as a united group. We have a responsibility, we have a great platform, all of us collectively.
“It’s encouraging…collectively there’s a lot F1 needs to push forward on the action front. We’re doing a lot and sustainability, but we’re really looking to move forward and do best we can and maybe the GPDA can play a part in that.
Long may the camaraderie continue
Two years ago, former driver-turned-pundit Martin Brundle spoke about the friendships between the new generation of Formula 1 drivers, saying it was rather confusing for him.
Running in a time of bickering and rivalry between riders, he said: “I don’t get it at all, today’s Instagram-driven world is joking with each other.
“Best friends, how can this last? How can you be such an intense rival?
“We had friendships in the past, but that would end up being broken because you would end up fighting in the same corner at the same time.”
But that’s what makes this current generation of Formula 1 drivers so unique.
They’ve shown time and time again that they’ll run hard, they’ll stick their elbows out, they’re even willing to cause a crash so next time the other rider knows they have to give space. They’ll do exactly what the drivers of yesteryear did on the track, then go for a beer.
There are plenty of photos on social media of various drivers, rivals on the track, celebrating the offseason.
Long may it continue.
Ironic, isn’t it though, that while the riders leave the rivalry behind when they take off their helmets, their fans don’t.
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