Lewis Hamilton has been jokingly accused of “using the force” to scupper Sergio Perez’s hopes of claiming a podium finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. Perez spun out of the race on the final lap after his engine failed, with new footage showing Hamilton’s view of the incident.
The eagerly-anticipated 2022 F1 season finally got underway at the weekend as fans got a taste of what they could expect over the next nine months. Hamilton’s Mercedes team, who had struggled for speed during pre-season testing, were off the pace as Ferrari and Red Bull wrestled for glory on the Persian Gulf.
With just three laps of the season-opener remaining, Scuderia star Charles Leclerc led the race, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen behind him. But Verstappen was forced to retire due to power failure as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz moved up to second and Perez jumped to third.
But in a cruel twist of fate for Red Bull, Perez’s car spun around in the closing stages, with Hamilton hot on his tail. At first it appeared that Hamilton had made contact with the Mexican’s car. But it soon became apparent that Perez had spun out of the race without coming into contact with anything.
And fans on Reddit, where a video of the drama was posted, were quick to suggest that dark forces could have been at play. “So it turns out Mercedes spent their whole budget on a Red Bull force field,” wrote one person on Reddit following the incident. “Lewis has mastered the force,” penned another.
Meanwhile, another fan attempted to contextualise the incident and wrote: “It was so abrupt too. Like he was hit almost. That’s why a lot of people thought initially that Hamilton had spun him from certain camera angles.” And one Redditor joked that Sainz had been “leaving that banana peel,” in reference to the video game Mario Kart.
Hamilton took full advantage of Red Bull’s shocking day as he rose to third to claim a podium finish and 15 valuable points. He was followed in fourth by Silver Arrows team-mate George Russell.
Hamilton is chasing a record eighth F1 championship this season after missing out on it last year after a controversial ending at the final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. But the Briton will need Mercedes chiefs to improve his car as quickly as they can if he wants to compete for honours. The Silver Arrow look like they could get left behind their rivals this season following a winter of regulation changes and vehicle upgrades.