Bahrain GP Scam: President Al Khalifa was pushing for Max Verstappen to beat Lewis Hamilton in 2021 opener

The Netflix docuseries titled Drive to Survive may not be to everyone’s liking, but it does provide massive insight into the inner workings of F1.

The latest revelation from the show is nothing short of that. You might even argue it is borderline corruption.

The 2021 season was highlighted by the final race fiasco that helped Max Verstappen claim his maiden F1 title. It also denied Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton the chance to go past the legendary Michael Schumacher and win his eighth drivers’ championship.

On that occasion, race director Michael Masi — who has since been sacked — made a rather controversial call that allowed Max Verstappen a golden chance to bridge a 10-second gap on Lewis Hamilton.

However, few eyes have been cast on other races in recent times, with most just pointing fingers at the dubious decision-making that took place in Abu Dhabi.

The first episode of season 4 of Drive to Survive has certainly added plenty of more drama to the events that unfolded throughout the course of the campaign.

Here, Bahrain Motor Federation’s president Shaikh Abdulla Bin Isa Al Khalifa delivers arguably the most controversial moment of the entire series.

As is the case this year, Bahrain was the destination of the first race last year as well.

Experts believed at the time that a combination of some great work behind-the-scenes by Red Bull and a recent change in regulations had put Mercedes on the back foot for the first time in a number of years.

Al Khalifa wanted Hamilton to lose

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton. Credit:

A conversation between Red Bull boss Christian Horner and Shaikh Abdulla Bin Isa Al Khalifa is captured in the first episode.

“Come on, kick their a**,” Al Khalifa tells Horner.

Horner is visibly caught off guard by this comment. He consciously attempts to change the topic.

“You’ve wintered well by the looks of things,” he says to Al Khalifa.

As if not to catch Horner’s hint, Al Khalifa reiterates his views.

“Kick their a** today, please,” the head of the Bahrain Motor Federation tells Horner.

As things panned out, Al Khalifa was left disappointed as Lewis Hamilton won the race and Max Verstappen finished behind him in second position.

It got personal

Shaikh Abdulla Bin Isa Al Khalifa. Credit:

With such blatant bias coming from a person of such authority, it does beg the obvious question of whether lack of consistency in officiating across F1 is not solely down to individual errors.

Corruption is a big word and it should only be used sparingly, but surely such exchanges warrant a thorough investigation by the sport’s governing body.

Even if it wasn’t corruption and simply just a personal preference, it does not sit well when it comes from a person who is in such an influential position.

To put things in perspective with the current season, the first race is set to take place in the same location in just over a week.

Will Al Khalifa get his wish this time? Let us know in the comments below!

Read more: Susie Wolff delivers scathing Christian Horner verdict following war of words with husband Toto

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