SPORT: Lewis Hamilton said the race had been “manipulated”.

December 14, 2021, 11:24 am

Lewis Hamil­ton told his team radio that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was “manip­u­lat­ed” after being passed on the last lap.

Max Ver­stap­pen won the For­mu­la 1 cham­pi­onship for Red Bull (Sun­day 12 Decem­ber) in a dra­mat­ic but con­tro­ver­sial way.

Ver­stap­pen stormed Mer­cedes title rival Hamil­ton on the last lap of the sea­son-end­ing race at the Yas Mari­na cir­cuit after ben­e­fit­ing from a late safe­ty car that brought the field together.

Hamil­ton seemed to be rac­ing to glo­ry, eas­i­ly hold­ing Ver­stap­pen at bay in the clos­ing laps, only for a crash by Nicholas Lat­i­fi’s Williams to turn the tide.

Con­fu­sion reigned as race direc­tor Michael Masi changed his mind to allow over­tak­en cars to over­take the safe­ty car — mean­ing Ver­stap­pen had a clear run against Hamil­ton on the final lap and, with much faster tires, end­ed up win­ning a first F1 title.

Although he lost an eighth cham­pi­onship in the cru­elest fash­ion, Hamil­ton was mag­nan­i­mous in post-race defeat; How­ev­er, speak­ing on the radio after being caught, he made it clear that he felt he had been unfair­ly deprived of the victory.

The 36-year-old said: “This has been manip­u­lat­ed, man.”

Indeed, even peo­ple out­side the sport were shocked by what they saw and felt that an injus­tice had been done.

Gary Linek­er tweet­ed: “Imag­ine Man City and Liv­er­pool fight­ing for the title. On the last day of the sea­son they meet and City are 3 min­utes away from the win. The ref­er­ee decides it would be more excit­ing to have a penal­ty shoot-out. In addi­tion, City play­ers must be barefoot. ”

Piers Mor­gan added: “I don’t know what I just watched, but it can’t be true. Hamil­ton got robbed, surely?”

Mer­cedes imme­di­ate­ly launched two appeals against the result — one against Ver­stap­pen for alleged­ly over­tak­ing a safe­ty car and a sec­ond for vio­lat­ing the rules regard­ing race restarts after a safe­ty car period.

Both were dis­missed after both teams spent hours in the stew­ards’ office, with Ver­stap­pen final­ly able to cel­e­brate his title more than four hours after cross­ing the fin­ish line.

How­ev­er, Mer­cedes has already filed an inten­tion to appeal the deci­sion to restart the race for the last lap.

Chris­t­ian Horner, team man­ag­er at Red Bull, said the tac­ti­cal deci­sions won the day.

He said: “We need­ed the inter­ven­tion of the gods.”

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