Johannesburg – A short, abridged history of the First Punic War will show that the Carthaginians had it and the Romans wanted in.
To do so, they waged a relentless war for over 20 years against their rivals for supremacy of the western Mediterranean. The Romans lied, cheated, raided, looted and stole their way through that conflict to ensure eventual victory, but they also learnt, innovated, discovered new philosophies, and implemented new ideas, strategies and tactics.
Carthage, as an example, were the dominate sea-faring nation of the day – their wealth based on trade by controlling the sea-faring routes that connected Europe. Rome, on the other hand, had close to no navy whatsoever.
But when a Carthaginian quinquereme washed up onto the shore of Italy, the Romans were quick to inspect it, learn its secrets and reverse engineered the warship. Within months, they had constructed 120 of the five-oared ships, despite being novice shipwrights and, at best, poor seaman.
The point is, by the end of all this, the Romans were the undisputed regional power; and there was no one who could or would dare challenge them.
For some reason this is what popped into my mind after the latest controversy emerged from Formula One. Red Bull, you see, have exceeded the cost cap that is supposed to keep everyone on an even keel, essentially “cheating” this season to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
It might only be a “minor overspend” but it certainly is not aiding the image of F1 right now, nor solidifying the narrative that Max Verstappen is a worthy world champion – which he is.
The fact of the matter is – although done through some dubious means – the Age of Lewis Hamilton is now over, and the Age of Verstappen has begun; and there is no one who has the power to halt that change in power dynamics.
F1 supporters have very little faith in the FIA at the moment, and who can blame them. The association’s interpretation and execution of their own rules and regulations is as clear as mud sometimes, and overall, they are not the most transparent organisation.
It has been noted that some believe that Red Bull and Verstappen could be stripped of their championships, or at least docked points – which is the most likely scenario – but it is also probable that they will just as likely receive a slap on the hand, with a secret deal – ala Ferrari 2019 – negotiated behind the scenes.
Such is the meekness of the FIA currently. They should serve the harshest penalty possible, but they won’t. Sure, some tried, but they ultimately failed.
Despite this recent let-down, there is no doubt that Red Bull are the current force in the sport. They might have gotten to that point through some questionable means, but they have also put in some stellar work.
Hegemony is fleeting, however, but I think it is fair to say, regardless of how they got there, we will have to get used to them dominating for the foreseeable seasons – there is now one, FIA included, who can stop them.
The new epoch has begun, and love him or hate him, it’s face is that of Verstappen.