Verstappen victorious as Hamilton loses title in finale soured by restart row

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review

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The 20 human beings that are afforded the most exclusive privilege in motorsport – to compete for the Formula 1 world championship – are almost entirely unparalleled in their transcendent abilities behind a steering wheel.

Not simply in their mastery of the inconceivable challenge of commanding these unfathomably rapid racing cars at speeds exceeding 330kph while hitting every braking point, every apex and powering out of every corner exit with laser-focused precision and metronomic consistency. What separates Formula 1 drivers from any other class of pilot is in their supremacy at racing.

For ‘drivers’ is a misnomer – what these athletes truly are, at their core, are ‘racers’.

Through years of karting, honed by hundreds of races in junior formulae and complemented by hours in simulators either at the factory or at home, a champion is forged through their racecraft. It is their ability to keep composed under the most impossible of pressure. It is in applying an iron will to succeed, molded by unshakable self belief. It is in making millions of decisions throughout a two hour race – and have none of them be the wrong one.

The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will always stand out in the annals of the sport’s history. Regretfully, to an unfortunate extent, not for the most deserving of reasons.

Start, Yas Marina, 2021
Hamilton’s superior start was a blow for Verstappen
But cast aside the controversy over race control and put appeals and protests out of mind, because what those thousands at the track and many millions watching witnessed, beyond a new world champion crowned, was a demonstration of phenomenal racing prowess from all of the key protagonists.

A race – and title – almost lost at the start

As the only two racers who had ever held any realistic chance of competing for the championship in 2021, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had regularly represented two deeply contrasting philosophies on-track throughout the 6,103 kilometres of racing completed through the season before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ahead of their ultimate encounter around the Yas Marina circuit, the final qualifying session of 2021 ensured that they would be taking a differing approach to the most important race of the season – and arguably, of both their careers.

Verstappen had secured pole position, but at the cost of using the soft tyres in the second session of Saturday’s qualifying hour. An uncharacteristic lock-up into turn one earlier in Q2 had flat-spotted his medium tyres. That raised rival Hamilton’s suspicions – was this a Red Bull ruse, intended to disguise their preference for the softer rubber?

Unintentional or otherwise, Verstappen was now likely locked into an early first pit stop for the opening phase of the race, whereas Hamilton had more freedom to extend at his leisure. Not that Verstappen was bothered. “I felt good [on Friday] on the long run on the softs,” Verstappen said. “So it was not a difficult decision to make to say ‘okay, we will focus on the softs.’”

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Unlike most sporting pursuits, motorsport is unusual in how the start of a contest can often prove its most critical point. With Verstappen on the less-durable compound compared to Hamilton, he was not only under pressure to hold onto the lead on the short sprint down to the first corner to maintain the crucial track position he needed to make the best of his strategy, he had the benefit of grippier tyres off the line to do so.

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Yas Marina circuit, 2021
Verstappen made an audacious bid to re-pass Hamilton
But his practice starts had not gone well. And as Verstappen lined up on the prime grid slot for the tenth and final time in his most successful ever season, waiting for the rest of the field to join him, he knew that of the hundreds of competitive standing starts he had experienced in his racing career, this was the most important of all. When the five red lights extinguished, however, he almost instantly realised he had been bested.

On the short run to turn one the Mercedes’ rear wing was beyond the Red Bull’s front wing before they had even reached the braking zone for the first corner. Hamilton could afford to take an easy line through the left-hander as the Mercedes garage roared their approval, just metres away.

Behind, Lando Norris’s third place – won through a remarkable qualifying performance the day before – was taken by Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull. At least Verstappen would have the luxury of his team mate covering his six. That could not be said for Hamilton, however, as his wingman, Valtteri Bottas, only helped to further justify his team’s decision to replace him with younger blood following that weekend when he surrendered sixth to Charles Leclerc, then seventh to Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.

Verstappen had spent too many races over his many years at Red Bull watching Hamilton disappear into the horizon to be under any illusion of how urgently he needed to reclaim the early advantage. The remodelled Yas Marina offered better opportunities to do so. Verstappen took a deeper entry into the widened turn five compared to Hamilton, priming himself for a strong exit along the protracted back straight.

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Yas Marina circuit, 2021
Hamilton took to the run-off to preserve his lead
With no DRS to assist him, Verstappen had to rely on the the superior purchase of his tyres, the punch of his Honda power unit and the slipstream generated by the Mercedes to pull him near. He was not close enough to pass. Not even in the realm of where one should consider trying a pass. But this was for a world championship and this was the moment to call on every measure of his late-braking ability not to fail him now.

Verstappen flung his car to the inside, hammering down the gears and only just flirting with the apex before running outrageously deep into the corner. But as the world held its breath, Hamilton was forced to make space for the charging Red Bull. Unlike so many instances this season, however, Verstappen kept to the confines of the turn while Hamilton tweaked his steering wheel to the right, choosing to bail out to the safety of the copious run-off before opting out of turn seven entirely.

“He has to give that back!,” Verstappen promptly ordered over team radio. But with race control satisfied that Hamilton had relinquished enough of the advantage he gained, it was up to the Red Bull driver to reclaim the position himself.

Such a task is challenging enough at the best of times in Formula 1, but especially so when it is a seven-time world champion who must be overcome. With clear air in front of him, Hamilton quickly settled into a rhythm, lapping in the mid 1’28s while his adversary behind tried to match him without burning through his softer tyres in the dirty air.

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Perez’s best defence is Red Bull’s best offence

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2021
Hamilton drew clear as Verstappen’s tyres faded
It was not long before Verstappen began to feel the strain from the rubber underneath him. “Rears are starting to struggle a little bit,” he reported to engineer Gianpiero Lambiase as his lap times crept up into the higher 1’28s. Sensing an opportunity to build his advantage, Hamilton began lighting the timing screens purple as his margin to Verstappen grew wider with it.

With Bottas mixed up in the pack and not a factor for Red Bull to contend with, an inviting gap was opening up between third placed Perez and Carlos Sainz Jnr in fourth. It would not be enough for Verstappen to pit and resume in clear air, but Red Bull were confident they could back their racer’s ability to make light work of any cars he came out behind – especially knowing they would have no intention of intruding on the title fight.

Verstappen pitted at the end of lap 13, switching to the hard tyres that, theoretically, could see him to the chequered flag. That would be unlikely, given that it would make it all too easy for Mercedes to cover them off and leave Red Bull powerless to take the fight to their rivals when they needed to most.

“You will be racing [Yuki] Tsunoda and Leclerc,” Verstappen was told. But after almost scaring Leclerc completely off the circuit when rejoining at pit exit, Verstappen resumed in fifth place. That soon became fourth as he breezed by Norris along the back straight thanks to DRS.

With the luxury of being able to cover off the Red Bull, Mercedes opted not to keep Hamilton out in clear air. Instead, Hamilton was pitted immediately after Verstappen to move him onto the hard tyres. If all panned out as planned, the services of Mercedes’ pit crew would no longer be required for the number 44 car that season.

Hamilton was met by wide, open asphalt upon climbing out of the pit lane and rejoining the circuit at the start of lap 15, five seconds to the good over Verstappen, who was dealing with Sainz’s Ferrari, and ten seconds behind Perez. With the Mercedes now isolated and presumably soon to be sandwiched in the order between both Red Bulls, the Milton Keynes team sensed an opportunity to help play the numbers game.

Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021
Red Bull told Perez to contain Hamilton
“Plan A – Hamilton’s pitted,” Perez’s engineer Hugh Bird instructed his driver before checking himself. “Correction – plan B.“

Perez had not been shy about his ambitions to support his team mate’s championship challenge in this final showdown. As he breached the upper limits of Pirelli’s suggested lifespan of their soft tyres, Perez began to drop seconds a lap to Hamilton behind on his much fresher hard tyres.

As Verstappen eventually dispatched Sainz for third on the track on lap 18, he sat 12 seconds behind his leading team mate. Hamilton, was just 3.8 seconds from Perez. The next time they crossed the line, Hamilton was barely a second behind.

Perez’s radio made no secret of his team’s intentions. “We’ll be looking to hold up Lewis,” Bird confirmed as the Mercedes began to fill the mirrors of the Red Bull driver.

The skill of defensive driving has been relegated to something of a dark art in the age of DRS-assisted, motorway-style passes. But with his team mate’s nemesis stalking directly within his wake and the championship hopes of the hundreds of Red Bull team personnel sitting squarely on his shoulders in this vital moment, Perez produced an exhibition of defensive driving and deliberate – yet fair – obstruction of a competitor that will surely rank among the best the sport has seen.

As the pair began to dispute the lead, Hamilton’s advantage over Verstappen was 8.5 seconds.

Hamilton cruised up behind Perez and was comfortably tucked up behind his rear wing with his fingertip already on the DRS trigger as they exited turn five. As the Mercedes powered by on the inside before drifting back towards the right, Perez lunged left and dived back ahead of Hamilton, making sure to take the chicane nice and leisurely as he did so.

Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021
Robust driving by Perez helped Verstappen gain ground
7.5 seconds.

Hamilton’s tighter exit from seven allowed him to drive around Perez along the straight, but this time it was the Red Bull who had DRS and squeezed against the inside barriers to cut in front once more, hogging the middle line of the long turn nine left-hander to hold him up further.

6.2 seconds.

Making use of the tight, twisty nature of the corners that flank the marina, Perez lazily lagged on the throttle, safe in the knowledge there was little room for Hamilton to do anything about it.

4.8 seconds.

Perez closed off the inside line heading into the final corner of the lap in a bid to delay Hamilton further. But he compromised his own exit, allowing Hamilton a run down the pit straight. Again, Perez claimed the inside line as they both blasted past the cheering grandstands, fending off the Mercedes once more – Hamilton forced to keep in line behind him through the sweeping turns of two, three and four.

2.8 seconds.

Increasingly frustrated, Hamilton considered a dive up the inside into turn five before thinking better of it, perhaps realising that DRS along the following straight would be a far more effective option. Perez used his car to shield Hamilton around the outside of the corner once more, as they both entered the straight.

1.1 seconds.

By now, Verstappen was almost close enough to strike at Hamilton. The Mercedes went by by Perez for the second time in two laps, this time covering off the inside for the chicane. Perez tried to come back once more, but this time he didn’t need to. Just like in qualifying almost 24 hours earlier, Perez offered a tow to his team mate before blending out of the throttle and allowing Verstappen to slingshot by into second place on the approach to the new turn nine.

In the space of just one lap, Perez had gifted his team mate the best part of eight seconds advantage in pursuit of his world championship rival. Verstappen fully understood what his wingman had done for him and paid tribute over radio. “Oh, Checo is a legend,” Verstappen praised his team’s second racer. Having done his duty, Perez was rewarded with a pit stop for new hard tyres.

Mercedes stick while Red Bull twist

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Yas Marina, 2021
Raikkonen’s final F1 race ended before half-distance
While the heat was building up front, further back there was heartache for a number of drivers competing in their final races for their respective teams. First, Kimi Raikkonen saw the longest ever career in Formula 1 by number of race starts end in unceremonious fashion when his car suddenly snapped under braking for turn six, pitching him into gentle contact with the barriers. Raikkonen was forced to park his Alfa Romeo, closing the book on a career that spanned 349 race starts, 21 wins, one world championship and zero regrets.

Soon after Raikkonen vacated his car, George Russell joined him into pulling out of the race, his final outing for Williams curtailed by a gearbox problem. As disappointed as Russell was not to end his tenure with the team that gave him his start in Formula 1 on a high, he will likely be comforted by the knowledge he will have a works Mercedes at his disposal from now on – starting with Wednesday’s tyre test.

At the mid-way point of the race, Hamilton’s advantage to Verstappen had gradually built back to 3.6 seconds. The race leader was beginning to question whether his tyres would indeed last the second half of the race. Mercedes had little reason for concern, however, knowing they were in the exact same position as Verstappen and should be able to keep one step ahead of Red Bull.

That was until Antonio Giovinazzi became the third driver to bow out of the race, joining his team mate in what could well prove to be his final grand prix of his F1 career. Pulling off track on the high-speed exit of turn nine, there was little surprise when race director Michael Masi triggered a Virtual Safety Car to allow marshals to safely recover Giovinazzi’s car.

With no desire to voluntarily give up track position, Mercedes were quick to tell Hamilton to “stay out.” Meanwhile, Red Bull immediately called Verstappen in so they could replace his hard tyres with another, newer, set of hards.

With only Perez behind Verstappen, Red Bull could take advantage of the reduced speeds to give their challenger brand new tyres compared to Hamilton’s 23-lap old set without any compromise to their own track position, banking on Verstappen exploiting that difference in tyre life to hunt down Hamilton over the latter laps.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021
The Red Bull pit crew serviced Verstappen three times
In the cockpit, the race leader was suddenly nervous. “Are we going to be in trouble?,” Hamilton questioned his team. “Is he going to catch us up? A bit of a risk to leave me out, no?”

When the green flags flew, Hamilton’s lead had grown to 17 seconds, with Verstappen tasked with the mission of making up that gap over the final 21 laps of the race if he was to become the 34th person in history to earn the honour of calling themselves a world champion.

As capable as Verstappen surely was, the most important pursuit of his racing career did not develop the way that he hoped. Red Bull needed Verstappen to eat away Hamilton’s advantage at a rate of around eight tenths a lap, but even with the substantially fresher rubber underneath him, Verstappen’s rate of progress subsided, and he was soon only managing half that rate.

Despite Red Bull giving Verstappen an opportunity to spark into life like he so often can, Hamilton appeared to have an answer for all of it – his only headaches being the packs of quarrelling lapped cars he had to dispatch as he ticked off the laps. A record-breaking eighth world title edging ever closer with every trip over the timing line.

Then, with six laps to go, Peter Bonnington opened the radio.

Fortune favours the brave

Safety Car, Yas Marina, 2021
Lapped cars initially followed Hamilton behind the Safety Car
“So we have a double-yellow, double-yellow. Turn 14. Stay left, stay left.”

Nicholas Latifi’s wrecked Williams was lying on track at turn 14.

“Safety car, safety car. Staying out, staying out. Keep the delta positive.”

Hamilton’s nerves returned. “Shit, Bono man… I can’t box?”

“Negative.”

Hamilton immediately knew what this meant. “Ugh, that’s unbelievable, man…”.

Once again, Red Bull snapped into instant action. They wasted no time bringing Verstappen in for soft tyres – an obvious choice with five laps to go and a restart behind Hamilton now awaiting them.

Back in the Mercedes, realisation was beginning to wash over the race leader. “What’s the situation, behind me?”

“So, the situation is that Verstappen has pitted – he had a free pit stop,” Bonnington told him straight, before offering an explanation for why Mercedes did not do the same.

“We would have lost track position to him.”

Restart, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021
At the restart, Verstappen had a clear shot at his rival
This call by the Mercedes strategists may unknowingly have decided the fate of the world championship. Yet, at this stage, neither Hamilton, Mercedes or even Red Bull and Verstappen will have realised it. What was just over a 12 second gap when the safety car was deployed grew to just under 15 seconds by the time Verstappen crossed the white line to enter the pitlane. By the time Verstappen reached the exit, that had become 18.7 seconds, before he was able to begin to catch up the train behind the safety car.

Whether Hamilton would have been able to pit and resume ahead of Verstappen is a question that may well haunt Mercedes throughout the winter months or even beyond. But in their leading car, Hamilton was feeling haunted by the threat of his title rival.

“Oh fuck…” exclaimed Hamilton as a sense of dread hit him. “Is he right behind me?”

Bonnington, apparently expecting race control would move the lapped cars aside before the restart, replied: “He will be.” There was no way of sugar coating this. “Once they’ve sorted out all the order. This is going to take a while to sort out.”

What transpired next, with the decisions made by race control and the furore that followed, is already being furiously debated and may well still be long after both these incredible racing talents have reached the end of their careers. But what matters most – and what ultimately decided the destination of the championship – is what happened out on the track when the racing began again.

After race control took their controversial and late decision to move only the lapped cars between the championship contenders out of the way, Verstappen was freed to sit directly behind the man who would deny him the biggest prize in motorsport for the first time that evening since their close encounter on the opening lap. With new, soft tyres on his car compared to Hamilton’s old, hard tyres – Verstappen was the most empowered he had been all race.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021
Verstappen’s last-lap pass won him the world championship
He had been put there because his team had not hesitated to react when presented with the opportunity – first through the support of his team mate, then through two crucial strategy changes made on the fly. And now, tucked up behind a vulnerable Mercedes, Verstappen had finally been given his opportunity to repay them.

A desperate Hamilton was staring at odds stacked firmly against him, but with only one single, precious, lap of green flag racing to endure, if there was any driver who could somehow find a way, they may not have been any racer who has ever been better equipped to do it.

Hamilton did what he could to try and unsettle Verstappen ahead of the restart as he leaned on his raw racing instincts to tell him when the best time would be to floor the throttle, but when he eventually did through turn 14, Verstappen was right there to shadow him.

At the end of an impossibly close, season-long battle between the pair, it had all come down to one final, ultimate lap of pure racing.

The sheer grip advantage offered by Verstappen’s fresh soft tyres were obvious from how he was able to stick so close to his target through the first corner, the car turning in sharper and with more bite than he had felt all race. Maybe that one corner was all he needed to have the confidence to make his move into turn five.

It was bold. It was late. It was brilliant. With total faith in his car, Verstappen launched up the inside of his nemesis for the final time, holding him to the outside of the long left hander. Hamilton did what he could to try and immediately respond, knowing he was losing hope. Verstappen weaved to break the slipstream in a way that flirted with the confines of the rules – just as he had done with Hamilton throughout the season.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021
While the celebrations began, Mercedes prepared a protest
Hamilton did a remarkable job to retaliate as much as his did, even pulling back alongside Verstappen on the run to turn nine. As the ‘final boss’ of Formula 1, it was perhaps fitting that Verstappen would have to put away Hamilton just one final time, even when he might have already considered him conquered.

Once Verstappen took his line into turn nine ahead of Hamilton, though, it was all but over. In front of his loved ones, his team, thousands of frenzied orange-clad fans in the grandstands and in front of what would surely be the biggest TV audience for perhaps any Formula 1 race, Max Verstappen crossed the finish line, took the chequered flag, became world champion and realised his destiny.

The Red Bull camp erupted with joy as the sky above them exploded with fireworks.

“It’s unbelievable,“ the new world champion said afterwards. ”Throughout the whole race I kept fighting And then, of course, that opportunity in the last lap. It’s incredible.“

Despite the acrimonious end, Hamilton was dignified in defeat
Red Bull’s eight-year wait for another world champion was over and team boss, Christian Horner, was brimming with pride in the driver they had ushered into a Formula 1 race seat at the absurd age of just 17 years old. “He’s had to convert it with that last lap pass on Lewis,” Horner said. “So a wonderful way to win this world championship, and we’re incredibly proud of him.”

In defeat, possibly the most devastating of his career, Hamilton found it in himself to put aside any burning sense of injustice he may have felt and shake hands with the rival he had battled so relentlessly over the year. “Firstly a big congratulations to Max and to his team,” Hamilton offered after the race. “We gave it everything.”

Beyond the madness that unfolded up front, Carlos Sainz Jnr capped off a superb first season for Ferrari with third, while Yuki Tsunoda secured his best finish of a tumultuous rookie season in fourth ahead of team mate Pierre Gasly. Bottas concluded his tenure at Mercedes by finishing sixth, having been a complete non-factor in his team mate’s title fight throughout the weekend.

The end of the race of the season was only the start of the arguments, the social media bickering, the protests and the appeals. Formula 1 had managed to generate the ultimate scenario for a championship showdown and the most remarkable narrative it could have imagined through sheer circumstance. But instead of a satisfying conclusion, the context around the events that decided this race and this title robbed the moment of the purity it so richly deserved.

Safety Car, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021
Report: Mercedes give notice of intention to appeal decision they believe cost Hamilton title
After all the races, the battles, the controversies, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes had not lost the world championship – Max Verstappen and Red Bull had won them. Two giants of the sport had fought tooth-and-nail over 22 rounds and, in the end, a deserving world champion was crowned because of what happened on track.

The debates and the appeals and the angst will continue for long to come. But what cannot be taken away is the fact that the titanic title battle between two of the sport’s elite talents was determined by a clean overtake on the final lap of the final race.

No contact, no penalties, no quarter given. Just two remarkable racing drivers, both pushing each other and themselves to the absolute end, until one of them won.

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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241 comments on “Verstappen victorious as Hamilton loses title in finale soured by restart row”

  1. “Vanquished”

    Lewis was dominating that race, he had a hand on the trophy and would have sealed it with ease had the FIA followed the rules of the sport instead of cheating to put Max in contention.

    Lewis wasn’t vanquished, he was cheated.

    1. As the old saying goes, it doesn’t matter how many laps you lead, as long as you lead the last one.

      Hamilton had 3.2 miles to keep Verstappen behind. A tall order, given the tyre delta, but Perez had done similar earlier in the race, and had DRS to contend with. Hamilton failed, and now we have a new champion.

      1. @red-andy Hamilton had an ice creams chance in hell against Verstappen and Massi knew it when he made the call. Horner told him “we only need one lap” just prior to the decision being made.
        In my opinion Massi has tainted the WDC this year.

        1. No, really, Perez did it. Why do you say there was no chances? Or do you think there is a bigger difference between Verstappen and Hamilton than between Hamilton and Perez in terms of racecraft?

          1. IvanErohiim in what universe could a any driver with a car wearing well used hards be able to fend off a car with new softs?

          2. The same universe where a driver with extremely old worn softs fended off brand new hards.
            @johnrkh

          3. “The same universe where a driver with extremely old worn softs fended off brand new hards.”

            You’re going to say that with a straight face?

            You think Hamilton wasn’t being 100% cautious while in close proximity to Verstappens teammate who was all over the road like he was fighting for the title himself. Clearly Hamilton was just biding his time for a clean pass on the straight.

        2. Mercedes lost the championship in the 1st half of the season with their car not being as good as the Red Bull, only with Pirelli introducing stiffer tyre walls to benefit them directly did they manage to get back into a position to fight for the WDC.

          1. The only reason Red Bull was in contention was the FiA changing the rules about the rear of the floor to hamper Mercedes low rake design. :)

        3. @johnrkh It is almost impossible to make decisions that benefit both. Yes there have been some really controversial decisions. But in the end Michael is not the guy who makes the strategy or drive the car.

          1. “It is almost impossible to make decisions that benefit both.”

            Keeping the lapped cars in place would have been fair. Max was 11s behind before the SC and would have had a small gap to make up as the lapped cars dive out of his way on the restart.

    2. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
      13th December 2021, 7:44

      No, Mercedes cheated max in Silverstone and Hungary. Really the whole hybrid era the fia has protected them and especially Hamilton. Lewis winning this title would have been a travesty, so I’m glad justice was served in the end

      1. How did Mercedes cheat Vestappen in Silverstone or Hungary? Did they encourage Vestappen to try diving around the outside of a lost corner? Did they do a rain dance and set up several cars to be skittled?
        They have not “protected” Mercedes in any way, but they’ve frequently ignored their own rules to benefit Vestappen, as they did in Abu Dhabi. It doesn’t matter who ends up with the title, it’s been tainted.

        1. In Silverstone Hamilton put the car in the racing line that was dangerous driving, but FIA protected him as he was at home.

      2. I agree with this wholeheartedly. If you look at the whole season, Ham’s luck was far, far better than Max’s. About time his luck ran out.

    3. Lambert, I agree. @willwood pretty biased take, Masi appears to have ignored the rules because the rules allow him to do so, giving Max an unfair advantage. It is Hamilton’s loss the “most devastating of his career” when race control hands the race to Max on a plate by ignoring the rule that safety cars should end on the lap after cars have unlapped themselves i.e. after the final lap of the race.

      Looking forward to Lausanne. And if the result isn’t reversed, I’m done after 29 years of following the sport. Not a Lewis fan but this officiating is crazy. That you’ve backed it with this take is even more unbelievable.

      1. Masi appears to have ignored the rules because the rules allow him to do so

        Read again: conclusion Masi followed the rules and did what he did all season long. Try to resume racing as soon as possible. It’s a race, not a rule party.

        1. What nonsense. I promise you would not have this stance if the tables were turned. Why then not let all lapped cars through slightly earlier on that same lap so that Sainz can try a move on Max and Lewis as he too had better tyres. Why only the lapped cars between the front two?

        2. erikje that’s a COMPLETE LIE, its infuriating when people with a clear bias leave 1 sentence drive by replies and not back anything up with facts, this isnt the formula 1 subreddit page!
          If that was the case to “just let them race asap” why not do the most logical and simple solution and leave lapped cars in place if masi was desperate for 1 lap under green?
          Race direction did not do that because it does not benefit max as he cannot overtake lapped cars under a restart until max passes the finish line and with only 1 lap left Lewis would be clear air and gap early to win the race. race direction was fully well aware of this hence the made up on the fly rules last minute that ONLY benefit max by moving cars infront of him out of the way but no other car that was not lapped received the same treatment like carlos in 3rd..

          Lets just call it what it is, race direction made up new rules to artificially place max behind lewis moving some cars out of the way and broke rules forcing a last green lap .

          Mercedes deserve their day in court to hand the WDC to Lewis. People say its sad to fight this in court and you shouldn’t win WDC like this but this isnt the WWF, if it wasn’t for the end of the race screw up and meddling by race direction Lewis would’ve been crowned WDC so it would be a disservice to the 800+ staff and a waste of 100s millions invested in the team if they don’t legally challenge this.

          1. If Masi wanted to help VER why didn’t he make HAM give the place back after turn 6 on lap one. Almost all journalists and driver commentators have said VER made a legitimate overtake?

        3. It’s a race, not a rule party

          In a sport, rules apply. If those rules are not enforced or adhered to, it is not a sporting competition.

          I also still fundamentally and vehemently disagree with the stewards’ interpretation of those rules. Take as they have, it is basically “The race director is allowed to change, delete or create any rule he wants for any or no reason and with no protests or appeals allowed”. That’s both ridiculous and dangerous.

    4. +1

      poor article, trying to wash away the cheat

    5. It’s funny how Mercedes wins a constructors championship by throwing PUs at it. I’m wondering how much engines they have used in this season compared to Honda (with client teams included). Anyway, Bottas showed more consistency than Perez. I think Russel will do better against Hamilton and I don’t think he will be so willing to be “the second driver.”

    6. Its no use talking about the last race when looking at the overall season. So, the last race was drenched with bad luck for him. That’s nothing compared to Silverstone, Hungary and Baku for Max. An undeserved victory for sure, but a deserved championship nevertheless.

      The real issue this year was however the organisation of the circus that can no longer be called a sport imho. It is clear there is a sense of American commercialisation going on on Liberty side and some serious integrity issues at FIA side. Both turned out to be incompetent this year although I think Liberty is probably proud of itself since turnover is all that is measured. My suggestion is to start a new body that organises a new class above F1. Faster cars, no factory teams, just chassis developers. 4 or 5 dedicated engine manufacturers that are not allowed to have a team and deliver equal machinery to their respective customers. The current F1 can then serve as the circus for the football fans & Netflix audience and the real F1fanatics get their sport back.

    7. ** Proposed New Rule From 2022 Onwards **

      In the event that a Safety Car or Virtual Safety Car is required but there are 7 laps or fewer remaining, the race is to be red-flagged, drivers to return to the pits and the circuit to be cleared.

      The race is then to be restarted from the grid.

      1. I’d be all for that. It’d clear up any confusion.

      2. I hate safety cars & red flags. They are not fair and wipe out well earnt gaps between drivers and allow ‘free’ pitstops. The virtual safety car is much fairer as maintains gaps with only minor discrepancies occurring depending on where you were when it was called, however still fall at the hurdle of ‘free’ pitstops.

        Therefore, I have formed a counter proposal to yours, that I believe would be much fairer retaining any gaps, not need the arbitrary 7 laps or fewer statement, and waste the fewest racing laps possible. I’m sure there will be people who complain/don’t like the idea as they like the extra restarts and the excitement that comes with them and these rules would remove all the ‘excitement’ – but I want good clean fair racing even if it is considered ‘boring’.

        ** Counter proposal for new safety rules **

        If an incident occurs that is deemed safe enough to recover/clear whilst cars are travelling past at a controlled speed the virtual safety car will be utilised as it is now, except the pitlane is closed except to those who have damage from the incident (including punctures from running over debris).

        If an incident occurs otherwise (what usually would be a safety car or red flag), then all drivers drive under virtual safety car conditions. Once the lead driver gets to the pit lane he and all remaining drivers then enter the pits and stay in queue at the pit exit. As the lead driver crosses the pit line a timer is started and each subsequent drivers’ time is recorded. No work can be done to the cars*. When the track is clear the green light at the end of the pits goes green for the lead driver who proceeds out of the pit under virtual safety car conditions. The light (automatically) changes between red and green for each subsequent driver at the same timings at which they entered the pits. Once the last car has left the pit and re-joined the track the virtual safety car can end and racing resume.

        Not only is this system fairer and retains the gaps, it is also safer than another standing or safety car restart (how many times have we seen another safety car required just after a safety car?). It also only uses two racing laps to do.

        1. @madman that’s way too complicated. Safety cars happen in this sport, sometimes it benefits you and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s part of the game and the strategy. Without the red flag in Imola probably Max would have already been the champion, seeing how it saved Lewis from a mistake that should have put him a lap down. Wins have been lost due a safety car before and they will be again. For me, it’s part of the suspense.

      3. Man it’s simpler than that actually. Just don’t allow to pit under safety car. That would ultimately avoid free stops and all of that.

    8. Why not make both jointly champions? I know this is an unusual move, but so are the circumstances and not the fault of both drivers, but the FIA.

      1. Mark in Florida
        13th December 2021, 18:39

        Seriously? A participation trophy? I made my kids throw away the participation trophy that the do gooders at the ball field passed out. There is only 1,2,3, place in the tournament play. If you lose suck it up and come back stronger. That’s exactly what Merc or anyone else needs to be doing. Think about Ferrari and all the advantages they had stripped away to keep them uncompetitive with Merc. Mercs had it easy since 14 and I’m tired of all the whining and crying by any of these self intitled clowns. Everyone thinks their intitled to something in life sometimes you can do everything right and it’s still not your day. Ask Felipe about it.

    9. I agree. This has soured and taints the entire championship.

      Either finish under safety while waiting for unlap as per the rules.

      OR (I prefer)

      Race to end without any unlap and let Max charge with fresh tyres.

      Both new the rules, and Max chose to drop for the fresh tyres. He lost out on that gamble.

      Until FIA broke their rules.

      1. If they left the cars in between them I think Max would’ve still caught up and passed. But at least then we wouldn’t have this horrible end to the championship.

    10. Merc should’ve pitted for fresher tyres when RB did, with first VSC. They had a second chance with 2nd SC and failed to do. RB won win strategy. MAX awesome champ!

      1. not worth it 1st time as the pace was good and chances full yellows are super low here, second time if he pitted as he was first max would just stay out, inherit 1st and masi would finish the race under yellows making Mercedes look like fools to pit.

        Its hard to win the race when race stewards do everything to fix the race against you.

        More importantly and what will be used by Mercedes in any protest is during the last lap restart not allowing Sainz to rightfully fight for a victory or challenge Max and only removing the cars between Max and Lewis which is a blatant manipulation of the race by Masi who damaged the integrity of competition by deciding who can challenge for a race and who cannot.
        what if carlos challenged max forcing him to be defensive which buys Lewis time, what if he overtook both lewis and max for an amazing win? we will never know because unlike special treatment max carlos had lapped cars in the way.
        What is at stake should not determine the outcome of a decision by the stewards, the rules should be ‘blind’ with every driver treated equally.
        If the championship was already decided or max was first the race would 100% end under the safety car.

        That is why it is a criminal decision and Mercedes would be stupid to not challenge to reverse this result.

    11. This is Masi on the 2020 German GP…
      From an article on The Race
      Says it all….

      ‘Masi said the lengthy duration of the safety car period was because the sporting regulations require all lapped cars to be let past and as there were so many lapped cars “the safety car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally expected”.

      The sporting regulations do state that if the clerk of the course considers it safe, any lapped cars are required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.

      But that rule also states that “unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap”.

  2. Gutted to see Hamilton lose the championship in this way. Luck plays weird games. Apart from yesterday’s controversy, the thought of how Felipe Massa lost his championship to make Hamilton’s first, should remind that it hasn’t always been like that for Lewis.

    1. Well said. I was unhappy with the result but Lewis has benefitted in the past from safety car timings. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t agree with how this safety car was handled but it is what it is and it won’t change now.

      Hamilton was the driver of the day but he was on his own. Red Bull were the team of the day with Perez’s work and the strategy calls.

      1. Broadsword to Danny Boy
        13th December 2021, 12:44

        I agree to some extent, although the strategy calls were nothing other than ‘do whatever Ham doesn’t do so long as it doesn’t lose position’; and given how far ahead the two were they could easily pit him. Merc did not have that luxury as the gap to Ver was big but nowhere near big enough. Merc would have done the same if the situation was reversed so no real credit for doing the bleeding obvious.
        Losing under the safety car, you are right, it’s swings and roundabouts, although to be fair it’s not often the race director ignores the regulations and makes up his own rules about SC endings after the strategy calls!
        Max will keep his trophy, he did nothing wrong, but Masi and Todt should lose theirs (hardly matters to the latter as he’s headed for the sunset anyway), FIA have been farcical this year and while I think Masi has been unfairly blamed at times, the sum total of this seasons decision making suggests he isn’t up to the job.

      2. It happened to Hamilton in his rookie season when he ran the tyres to the canvas and crashed in the pitlane in China 2007. So he’s no stranger.

  3. A great review, of a fitting end to a wonderful season. Well written. Shame about the headline – the only thing that has “soured” the occasion is Mercedes’ behaviour in the aftermath. But as a racing spectacle, this article captures it perfectly.

    1. Merc are doing absolutely nothing wrong by protesting. It is the exact right thing to do. I would be disappointed in Merc if they were NOT sticking up for their driver.
      Bringing this all the way to CAS is the correct thing to do. Getting this result overturned and having the rightful Champion, Hamilton, take the trophy, is the only correct thing to do.

      Masi cheated to gift Max a win. This is not right.

      1. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
        13th December 2021, 7:50

        Hamilton was only in contention because he had a faster car overall and because he and bottas both wrecked verstappen, as well as Max’s tire failure in Baku and the lucky imola red flag. I think anyone who isn’t British or a drive to survive fan is happy he didn’t collect another undeserved title and grateful to max for restoring the sport’s integrity

        1. I think the cars were pretty much equal overall. Red bull started with the quickest package, Mercedes levelled and then towards the end they were the quickest.
          I can tell from the tone of your comment overall that you’re not going to agree with me though.

          1. one question to you, who do you think had the faster car in France?

          2. Good question @johnever. Probably Mercedes slightly faster if anything, I recall they threw away the race win on strategy, however for qualifing the red bull was fast. There will be ebs and flows according to the track of course, for example at Mexico Red Bull easily had the quickest car and that was well into the back end of the season.

        2. Apart from Newey stating the Red Bull was the faster car over the season.

        3. You just cannot stop can you. What about Max taking Lewis out in Monza, the farce that was the Belgian GP that handed RB a win wihtout even a competitive racing lap. The cars were evenly matched over the season but some tracks favoured Merc and some RB. As for Max restoring the sport’s integrity, is your day job a comedian?

        4. It’s always the same, if Max starts a run of WDCs people will get fed up with it too.

      2. Absolutely right that the Court of Arbitration for Sport need to resolve this. At the stewards meeting Red Bull argued, on behalf of Race Director, that because the Sporting Regulations say ‘any’ lapped cars are required to overtake the leading car and make their way round to the back of the train. Because it did not say ‘all’ lapped cars, Red Bull claimed the Race Director was quite entitled to respond to their request to remove only the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen in the way that he did. The CAS need to clarify whether this is a correct interpretation of the use of ‘any’. When the regulations say that ‘any’ car exceeding track limits should have its lap time deleted can the Race Director decide not to penalise Hamilton because the word ‘all’ is not used?

        Red Bull also said that regulation 15 gives the Race Director absolute over the deployment of the safety car. That is true. Interestingly there is no requirement in the regulations that the officials should act impartially. In the days when the sport was run by gentlemen there was no need to state that. Now money runs the sport perhaps a requirement for impartiality should be explicit.

        1. But then, what is impartially? If all cars would’ve been allowed to pass the Safety Car, the situation would’ve been more clear, but we still would’ve had the same controversy. If the race was finished under the Safety Car while the track was clear, or even if the cars wouldn’t have been allowed to pass, everyone at Red Bull would be angry. A red flag to give a level playing field would’ve been fairest, but can you red flag a race just for the spectacle? Difficult. Hard to swallow for sure if you’re a Lewis fan for sure.

          1. I think the difference is that those were options available under the written rules, this situations was just made up on the spot in a way which handed a massive advantage to one driver. Even if you accept that Masi has the power to ignore the rules on safety cars and do whatever the heck he likes, it still brings the sport into disrepute. The race wasn’t decided on track, it was decided in Masi’s imagination when he dreamed up that procedure.

        2. It is so weird. I’m not even a native english speaker and it’s clear beyond a doubt that “any” in that context means “all”.

          1. There is no debate about the actual meaning, Red Bull are playing politics.

      3. @Lambert

        FIA does not recognize CAS when it comes to sporting matters.

    2. Of course Red Bull would never have protested it @red-andy had roles been reversed? They would have packed their bags and calmly and serenely left the circuit.

      1. I guess there would have been a protest in the stewards’ room @john-h, but taking it to the International Court of Appeal? I’m not sure Red Bull would have gone that far, if I’m honest.

        1. Fair enough @red-andy. I think that from what we’ve witnessed this year, Red Bull would definitely have taken this to the FIA Court of Appeal, but ok we obviously will never know. I try to imagine how things would be if roles were reversed, and being as objective as I can I don’t think red bull would just have let it lie after what Masi did at the end there. Marko just letting it go? Surely not.

      2. @john-h – Do you think the response on here would be the same or do you think people would be calling Horner every name under the sun and saying he’s bringing the sport into disrepute?

        1. Exactly. What Mercedes are doing here is tarnishing the sport and, in my opinion, the Mercedes brand. This is about sport and sportsmanship. The problem with Mercedes is that they are very bad losers.

          1. I don’t think Mercedes are the ones tarnishing, Masi completed that job during the race. If his match fixing is corrected then F1 may save face.

          2. The sport is already in disrepute by the rules being adjusted to suit. Wether fixed (which some believe ) or for entertainment.
            In all my time watching f1 35 years I do not recall a restart being done in the manner or the rules being adjusted on the last 2 laps. That’s the sport in disrepute.
            Merc are doing the right thing as the fia need putting in there place and clarity need to be given. An appeal decided by the fia on wether the fia breached its own rules is a kangaroo court so impartial arbitration needs to be used. This stops this happening again and gives clarity.
            I don’t think max should be stripped as max did nothing wrong but it does look like the fia did so what will happen if it’s judged to be a rule break by the adjudicators. I don’t know

        2. Oh absolutely the responses would be just as bad @petebaldwin there’s no denying it. Personally I think Max thoroughly deserved the championship, it’s just been a shame the drama between Toto and Horner.
          Just to say I didn’t particularly like your comment about laughing over Hamilton fans tears, that was pretty unsavoury given what happened. If it had happened to either side I’m sure there would be some comments about it, it was pretty dodgy stuff.

    3. Broadsword to Danny Boy
      13th December 2021, 12:46

      A fine tradition of races past. You’re kidding yourself if you think Red BUll wouldn’t be protesting and appealing if it had gone the other way, like Merc one wonders if they don’t they have a whole dept. devoted to whining.

  4. While the final SC will be debated to death; don’t forget that it didn’t nullify the advantage Max got due to Checo’s stellar defence. The 7 seconds that Checo caused Lewis to lose on lap 20 closed off Hamilton’s VSC pit window on lap 36. Had Checo not done what he did, Hamilton would have been on 22 lap-old hards / mediums vs 44 lap-old hards and the last lap overtake could perhaps have not happened!

    In contrast, Hamilton didn’t have Bottas’ help for anything.

    1. @sumedh

      Indeed. For me, Checo was driver of the day.

  5. A controversial win to say the least, no ill will towards Verstappen though. Further criticism of Massi to add to the list of “interesting” calls he made during the year.

    1. People can say what they want about Masi but a guy able to say straight to Toto that they had all come to Abu Dhabi to do some motor racing can’t be all bad

      I believe that part where Toto had the apoplectic fit and wrecked all the furniture was censored in TV. At least the auricular wreckage from Jeddah is pretty hard to find in YouTube now, with hundreds of movie clips withdrawn

      1. That view of Toto doesn’t exactly gel with the almost constant video feed of him from race start to crowd surfing at the party. If you could let me know when this alleged furniture trashing occurred , I’ll see if I can find the footage of that moment for you, to put your mind at ease.

  6. Max surely can’t be satisfied with being given the championship on a plate by the FIA. This will always be known as the Safety Car Champion. I fear for the FIA in the upcoming court case, especially as Mercedes have got Paul Harris QC involved. That guy doesn’t lose court cases.

    1. Nah. It’s rather Hamilton who would be known as the guy who clearly benefited from the unusual and suspicious refusal by the FIA to let the lapped cars overtakes, before the FIA changed its mind :)

      1. If the Race Director had allowed EVERY lapped car to overtake, which is the obvious interpretation of regulation 48.12, they would not have completed that for another lap and the race would have finished under the safety car with Lewis winning. Given the way he had outperformed Verstappen up to then, there would have been no controversy.

        Verstappen has had a good season and it is a shame that this will always be tainted as a rigged victory, through no fault of his own.

        1. The really stupid thing is that, had lapped cars not been cleared away, Max would still most likely have won. They’d have been blue flagged, he’d have made it past, and Hamilton had little defence against him. There would have been little controversy then as the rules would have been followed, and the end would likely have been even more exciting (instead of just a foregone conclusion as yesterday).

          1. Would it have been safe though? What is the chance of accidents if you combine a restart with a blue flag situation, especially when so much is at stake? I’m not sure but I can imagine that such considerations influenced the decision.

    2. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
      13th December 2021, 7:47

      Max had a much more impressive season than any of lewis’s titles against weak competition. This has confirmed lewis’s critics are correct–losing a wdc with a wcc winning car demonstrates he needs a big car advantage to win a championship, unlike max (and Schumacher, among others)

      1. Very true. Non of hams paper titles have seen him take on even half the challenge that Max was up against battling those mighty Mercs this year. His efforts should be praised universally.

        He really his ready to take that GOAT title from Fernando, who took it from Schumacher.

        1. The bias in this comment is nauseating.

      2. I think Hamilton’s first F1 title was hard-earned against Ferrari, and Rosberg was no slouch in 2014 & 2015 when Hamilton beat him. His GP2 title was certainly well-earned too, in equal equipment.

        1. You mean the 2014 title which both Wolf and Lauda threw Rosberg under the bus publicly after Spa to placate Lewis as their number one driver even though Rosberg was leading the WDC at the time?

      3. That has been my feeling all along yes. Difficult to prove however. What we can see is that he couldnt beat Rosberg one year and Bottas (who really is nowhere near a great driver) overall can keep up pretty easily. So that speaks against Lewis. On the other hand I do remember having thought ‘Mercedes would not have won that one without Lewis in that car’ quite often. So, hard to say. I feel if we put the dominance of the car aside Lewis would be good for 3 WDC titles. He does handle the platform well setting it up for corners, he is consistent, never gives up. Dont underestimate his driving skills, that are top notch but a bit undermined by a lack of mental strength. He is in doubt immediately when things go wrong, often not friendly to his team under these circumstances. Playing mind games to get ahead is another sign of insecurity. So overall a great driver and true athlete with some serious skills. WDC material for sure. I guess George will deliver us more input into this question next year. The goat claim is ridiculous, only heard in the UK and quite frankly an insult to drivers of the past who never ever had 8 straight years of clear car advantage.

        1. The Red Bull was the faster car this season, yet Max had to rely on match fixing to win the title? Lewis dropped him for dead in a slower car in the race – that says it all.
          Max is overrated by having the best car and a team that will sacrifice everything for him.

          1. Well, let’s see. Ham will get a new team mate so we will get new information next year

      4. Although Newey states RB had the best car this season. And 2008, 2017 and 2018 Ferrari challenged in comparable cars

        1. @amam

          It’s in his interest to exaggerate, though, because if they had the best car, he did a great job. I think that the cars were so close overall that other factors could and did play a much bigger role.

          1. @aapje It’s more in his interests to play up the “Merc was faster” narrative for the team. He’s already confirmed as one of the all time great engineers in F1, he doesn’t need to self-congratulate.

          2. @drmouse

            I don’t think it works that way. People want to be recognized for what they do, even if they already have been in the past.

            It’s quite basic, a driver’s incentive is to downplay the car so their performance looks better than it is and an engineer’s incentive is the opposite.

      5. If Max is so great where was this super human racing ability in 2020 or previous seasons where the RB was winning but overall in race trim it was a 2-4 / lap tenths off the Mercs. How come super Max did not tracend this gap with his amazeball skills? The truth is all drivers need the machinery underneath them to win a title beit Lewis, Max Schumi etc.

        Oh and the case of Schumi, the dude had brought over from Benneton all the best brains, Ferrari had Bridgestone in their pocket, Schumi could pound round the private Ferrari test track to build a superior car and team mates who were never allowed to challenge him. Barrichello spoke about this after leaving. That is why they both had that close call with the pitwall in Hungary when Schmi tried to put him in the wall.

      6. lexusreliability?
        13th December 2021, 13:25

        @realnigelmansell

        Non of hams paper titles have seen him take on even half the challenge that Max was up against battling those mighty Mercs this year

        Pity Adrian Newey said they had the better car all season. Also, if you want to cheapen Hamilton’s titles because of his team mates fine. But we also need to cheapen Max’s not only because of the huge assist from Masi, but because Checo isn’ even better than Bottas. In fact the last time Max had a credible team mate (Ricciardo), he was defeated twice.

  7. Whether Hamilton would have been able to pit and resume ahead of Verstappen is a question that may well haunt Mercedes throughout the winter months or even beyond.

    Among the many ways this is a fitting end to this year’s championship, I feel that this wasn’t the first time that, under unexpected and changing conditions, Red Bull had the better of Mercedes when it came to snap decisions and pit calls.

    1. It’s much easier to take these risky calls when you have nothing to lose. And RB had absolutely zero to lose: manufacturer’s championship was already gone and Max was behind.

      1. Absolutely true. Though it’s my feeling (I know, little science there) that when it came to snap decisions Red Bull were better at thinking on their feet than Mercedes, even if they weren’t in the hunt. At least more prone to take the risky attacking option.

  8. But what matters most – and what ultimately decided the destination of the championship – is what happened out on the track when the racing began again.

    Is it? Did it? There’s a lot of finality to this, but if I’m not mistaken the final classification is pending appeal. It is arguable that what decided the destination of the championship is not what happened on the track, but what was decided in the stewards room and is yet to come in court.

    1. The problem is that lots of press and critics want to appear neutral and impartial. In these reporting style articles they are trying not to give an opinion, unfortunately the way that comes out it usually to give an opinion that then aligns with whatever happened in the game/race whatever, which is just as wrong.

      I do understand however how that happens as it’s hard to write around these things.

      But no. What mattered didn’t happen on track for me, it happened in Masi’s head.

      1. Absolutely 100%.

    2. @skipgamer – It’s absolutely about what happened on track. If Verstappen hadn’t been taken out by Bottas in Hungary, he would have won the title by finishing 2nd in Abu Dhabi. If his tyre hadn’t exploded, he would have won the title by finishing 2nd in Abu Dhabi. If Hamilton hadn’t been able to have his car repaired under red flag conditions in Imola, Max would have won the title by finishing 2nd in Abu Dhabi….

      Similarly, if Mercedes had found whatever they’ve found to be comfortably the fastest car at the of the season earlier, he could have won the season by finishing 2nd in Abu Dhabi. If he hadn’t pressed the wrong button and gone off in Baku, he could have won the title by finishing 2nd…

      The season isn’t won or lost by one lap of one race.

      1. Very selective choices @petebaldwin! If Max hadn’t crashed in Jeddah quali, if Max hadn’t dive bombed his car at Brazil, if Max hadn’t brake tested Hamilton, if Max had given more room at Silverstone, if Max had made the overtake stick at Bahrain, if he would have waited a bit to overtake at Monza instead of crashing, etc.

        Personally over the season I think Verstappen made slightly less mistakes, but the driving in bully style towards the end of the season that left a bit of a sour taste, especially when he then moaned at the stewards, the same ones that gave ten seconds only for a brake test, a complete no no in motorsports.

        I think it was evenly balanced, I just wish the final race was decided on the track. It wasn’t.

        Anyway, I need to get back to work!

        1. @john-h Yeah I mean I could go on all day about every single incident that happened this season but I assume there’s a word limit on each post here. The point is that the title wasn’t decided solely by the last race – it was decided by everything that happened over the season on track.

          I admit the selection of incidents probably looks a bit skewed one way but I can’t really take the comments section on this site seriously anymore so it’s good to have a bit of fun. If I want a serious conversation about F1 (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), I head to Reddit or Twitter where things are considerably less toxic.

      2. COTD

        Well spoken.
        Of course it’s heartbreaking for Lewis how it went. But putting this last race in the perspective of the full season you can’t conclude Max was luckiest.

        1. I don’t think it was luck, I consider Max to be a worthy champion. I dislike his “driving style”, and think he still has a lot of growing up to do, but he has driven well and deserved the WDC.

          The problem is that, though no fault of his own, he won the championship in a manner unworthy of any sport. The officials binned the rules book and made up new rules on the spot. I cannot accept that as being even close to fair or sporting.

        2. It is said that “luck is what you get when preparation meets opportunity”. RB prepare strategies they can deploy at a moment’s notice so when the opportunity arises their drivers are lucky. Mercedes do not seem so well prepared so their drivers are less lucky when opportunities arise.

  9. Max won it over the entire season and can be proud of that. Without his misfortune in Baku, Silverstone, Hungary he would have won this title a few races ago.

    Well done him for taking on the mighty Mercs and defeating them fairly!

  10. Strat calls for Hamilton were fine, the only debatable one is the decision they made under the sc.

    Rbr had nothing to lose, it was 2 cars vs 1 and had all the options for running second and third.

    The gamble to pit under sc for Mercs was an incredibly difficult one but the logic of the number of laps remaining and Race control dealing with the accident makes me think they (Mercs) did the right thing.

    However, they clearly didn’t anticipate Masi exercising his “power” over how to do the restart.

    What I’d like to know is why Rbr retired Checo’s car?

    1. @icarby I believe Checo retired through an oil pressure issue.

      Although the cynic in me says it’s so Alpha Tauri could get the better championship points, if Gaslyband Tsunoda could have made some last lap moves they may have gotten Alpine in the constructor standings

      1. @captainpie – thanks, so for argument sake, if Checo finished the race (probably 3rd) how would that have affected the WCC?

        1. @icarby Mercedes only needed 17 (I think) points to guarantee the WCC regardless of what Red Bull scored. Perez would’ve needed to pass Hamilton and hope that something bad happened to Bottas to take the WCC. I guess with both RBs behind Hamilton (and both ATs behind Bottas) on new softs they might have had a shot at doing it in the last lap, assuming all the lapped cars were out of the way and had Perez not needed to retire.

        2. @icarby nothing actually got effected – merc got the win as was expected – but bare in mind with these finishing positions Alpha Tauri ended 13 points behind alpine and this happened before anyone knew what was happening to end the race there was an (extremely) outside chance for AT to take it – for example if Alpine had issues and ended on no points (-6) it would have been up to TSU to move up to 2nd and GAS to get fastest lap to make them even on points. Very outside possibility, but anything can happen!

    2. Perez’ engine was on the go. They decided to pit him in order to prevent another (V)SC.

  11. And, since it’s a comment section, some of my personal takes on the rest of the matter.
    A) I first thought they’d never be able to clear Latifi’s car in time. After they did I was sure they wouldn’t let this season end under a safety car. At least the second time I was right.
    B) If, at the time the call “lapped cars can’t pass” was made, instead would’ve let them unlap there would be less confusion on track and afterwards. To Hamilton and Verstappen the playground was always clear – in this case most important.
    C) A red flag would’ve been the fairest to the title battle. Not sure if you can just red flag a race if the track is clear, but it seems the race director can do a lot within the rules.
    D) The race director can do a lot within the rules. Apparently.
    E) I suppose the race director has to act however is best for F1. A new world champion is better for F1 than making the most successful legend of the sport slightly more successful with a seventh title in a row. Controversy is good too, also for this website. And with that…I’m gonna find a safe place to hide ☺️

  12. Race control have the option of letting lapped cars through on the restart, or not doing so. They decided to let only the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen through. The only possible reason they could have for not letting all the lapped cars through is that they feared there wouldn’t be time for a restart. Therefore, race control deliberately bent the rules to allow for an exciting conclusion to the championship, and it changed the outcome. And that does not fit with my definition of a sport.

    If the Abu Dhabi GP had been a 59-lap race, and all the lapped cars had been released in time, with the race restarting at the end of lap 58, I would have said it was fair. Mercedes gambled on there not being time for a restart when they didn’t pit, and it lost them the title. But, as it stands, Mercedes gambled on there not being time for a restart, and there wasn’t time for a restart, but the race restarted anyway, and they lost the championship. Mercedes have been absolutely robbed of the championship and completely have a right to take this to court.

    1. The bad luck or injustice of this single race cannot be translated to the overall title. The season was much longer than just yesterday

      1. That’s true, but this was the last race in a situation where the winner takes all. This would never have happened in an earlier race, and the direct intervention of the race director ignoring the rulebook in the penultimate lap of the final race decided the WDC.

        I don’t take anything away from Max, he has driven brilliantly, did nothin wrong himself here and deserves the WDC. The way it happened, though, is an absolutely disgusting disgrace and brings the “sport” into disrepute. Of course, this is only the latest example of Masi (and the stewards) just making things up as he goes, but it’s the most blatant and controversial because it directly changed the result of the WDC.

        1. I believe Merc might leave the sport as Damon suggested might happen, Dr Mouse

        2. We are certainly aligned on the race director part. And I observed he swings either way. The initial unprecedented ‘lapped cars will not overtake’ decision handed it to Lewis. I remember thinking, wow how’s that for impartiality. And then he took a total opposite stand. Maybe there was some live bidding going on in his ear set. Lewis also drove brilliantly and deserved the win yesterday. He was pounding on it lap after lap, purple after purple. But overall I would have felt cheated if he won this years WDC. Max drove more consistent, finished all 1st or 2nd place bar 4 incidents (of which I personally rate 3 of them beyond his control), had the most wins, had the biggest gap to his team mate and was always ahead of his team mate. Did crack under pressure in Brasil and Saudi when he saw it slipping away.

  13. Lewis complaining about Perez’s driving as “dangerous” was a highlight of the race for me, amount of complaining from this guy is just amazing. Some of the best driving I have seen all season, well done Perez.

    Anyways, I’m glad this season is over, bring on the new generation of cars.

    1. Yes, but thats Lewis default. If I cannot beat them it is because they are dirty drivers. I am a saint.

      1. If Lewis does not say your driving is dangerous, you are not doing it right

    2. In fairness @schmi Hamilton is not used to slower drivers defending from him, really.

      But my favourite radio moment has to be Toto’s at the end of the race. “Michael, no! This isn’t right … MICHAEL!” If you added some dramatic echo it would make the perfect last line for a dying villain in some so-bad-it’s-good B-movie from the past.

      For reference, my previous favourite radio moment this year was Alonso in Qatar: “Tell Esteban to defend… like a lion!”

      1. Lovely! Totos and hams usual tears were truly pathetic yesterday.

        Perez was impeccable in his defence and all ham could do is complain because he didn’t leave the door open like every other lame driver on the grid except for Max.

        Merc and hams entitlement shone brightly and for that reason alone I’m glad the title went to Max

      2. @red-andy exactly, i would just love if this was how all the drivers would fight.

        Yes haha, it was hilarious! It’s just so embarrassing to hear grown man (both Toto and Lewis and some others) speak this way in a top level competition. At least Max and Horner have bit more relaxed and sarcastic tone, but they too could do some work on it.

        Also, they should just abolish communication from teams to race director and leave the option for race director to contact teams.

  14. What a champ what fight this season, he deserves this championship, after Baku, Silverstone and Hungary, this guy needed some rub of the green. I can understand the feeling on the other side, it wont be easy. Lewis has been lucky throughout the championship but it all balanced out in the end. He fought like a champion he is and he had the grace of a gentleman that apparently is missing from his team principle.

    This championship has been an eye opener though, not every championship will be like and I feel FIA was lacking in the officiating department. It is a mess of a much bigger problem than just making Massi a scapegoat. What we do know is there is a lot lot of lobbying from power teams and it screams of a much larger issue here. It has been on from the Ferrari days but there has to be checks and balances.

    Congrats to Max once again, you have beaten one of the greats in this sport Lewis at his absolute best.

    1. @illusive – Good to see a balanced comment amongst all the rage!

      There are clearly major problems with how the championship is officiated and that’s reflected in the strange decisions we’ve had throughout the entire season. I’ve said constantly that there needs to be a major overhaul of this and the final race was just another example of how the current process just doesn’t work – there is too much grey area in the rules and it results in an extreme lack of consistency.

      The rules need to be simple and measurable – no “lasting advantage” or “let them race” subjective concepts…

      I think I’m in the minority here as most are baying for blood but I actually feel bad for Masi. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his position – instead of simply applying the rules, Masi was forced to make a decision. Did he let lapped cars past? Did the race finish under a safety car? Did he red flag it? All of this with team managers screaming at him over the radio whilst trying to ensure the track was safe and find a way to end the season under green flag conditions. His decision would have massively affected the Championship whatever option he took.

      It’s easy to say “he should have red flagged it” but then that hands Hamilton a massive advantage as he can change his tyres after Max had already pitted. He could have ordered the lapped cars to remain in place but that would hand Hamilton a massive advantage and as shown, it was safe to get them out of the way and under the banner of “let them race” and with a clause stating that he can do what he wants, surely the best option is to move them? He could have let the race finish under safety car but why do that when the track is clear?

      He shouldn’t be in a position to have to make a decision like that – the rules should be clear. For example “Final 5 laps of the race so the pits are closed and the race is immediately red flagged. Changing tyres means a 5 place grid-drop for the re-start.”

    2. Lewis has been lucky throughout the championship but it all balanced out in the end

      I think you forget that Max, despite his narrative that everything goes against him, had several decisions go unexpectedly his way, too.

  15. Ah damn, I see we are back to the 2016 level of commentary on this site. How Rosberg was a cheater back then. Mercedes sabotaged Lewis. Hamilton was unlucky while the team orders in Monaco were the bomb etc etc

    The rules were relaxed this year for sure. I don’t understand why the race control didn’t let all the drivers pass 1 lap earlier. (In his team radio Alonso for instance was fuming.)

    I think both Mercedes and Masi even didn’t expect the car and debris to be cleared so fast. So while he messed up not giving a signal earlier for cars to pass, he at least didn’t wanna influence the title fight and took some liberties plus he said that the teams agreed to not end the race with the safety cars and favour racing in such scenarios.

    Should the race not be resumed and Lewis is crowned champion behind a safety car due to race control misjugement after this terrific season we were having? In my opinion, they picked both the least costly and the more exciting scenario of the 2.

    1. Exactly this. They’d been caught out, and made an initial poor call to not allow the cars to immediately unlap themselves. Once they realised it was the wrong call they tried to correct it as much as possible within the confines of time available. It ended up looking clumsy, but better a clumsy attempt to right a wrong than keeping a fully wrong decision to the end.

      1. So we are allowing cars to unlap themselves whilst marshals are still working the track now?

    2. IIRC, a lap earlier marshals were still out on the track. The problem wasn’t the indecisiveness, but the fact that everything was cleared way too late to follow normal procedure and still get in one racing lap. Personally, I believe the correct way to handle it would have been to leave the lapped runners in place and restarted, which would have been in line with the rules and would still probably have led to a VER victory: He’d have breezed past the backmarkers under blue flags, caught Hamilton quickly and passed him without too much trouble. The other option available within the rules, and in line with any dry race in recent history, was to let all lapped cars past, which would have ended the race under the SC with Hamilton.

      1. @drmouse By Mark Hughes in the official F1 website

        By Lap 56, with two laps to go, the scene was close to being cleared. In this situation, lapped cars are usually allowed to unlap themselves and the Safety Car then pits at the end of the following lap, giving those cars the chance to join the back of the pack before the race becomes live.

        Jolyon Palmer in the post-race event also said the cars don’t even need to go all the way behind the back just far off into the distance to not interfere with the leaders and it happened in many races in the past.

        1. @cobray In that case it is even worse for Masi. His indecisiveness cost us the chance for a racing lap fully within the rules, and he then made up a rule on the spot to try to claw it back. That’s complete and utter incompetence.

  16. Perhaps not the done thing to post the same comment in 2 articles, but since this article seemingly seeks to sweep the farce under the carpet for the sake of celebration…

    If this was one, honest, mistake by a race director with integrity, I’d be inclined to let it go.
    But it isn’t. It isn’t a mistake, it isn’t honest, he has no integrity, and it isn’t singular.
    There has been a string of poor decisions through the year, with no logic according to the rules of the sport. The only logic is in the promotion of ‘the show’, which is not what the competitors put so much money into the sport for. And not what the proper fans want.
    The “I’ll see what I can do” to Horner, before reversing the decision to allow lapped cars to pass, then restarting the race a lap too soon is just hilarious.
    I love this sport, but will (as of Brazil, actually) not be watching live any more until I feel that it is a sport once more. No more meddling for no reason and no more failures to apply procedures to sanction drivers who break even the most basic rules. Pre Pandemic, I spent thousands every year to follow this sport and would do again – but no more. Not a single penny.

    I truly hope Mercedes take this to the highest possible legal level and win. Because what the FIA have done here is nothing short of result manipulation, not for the first time this year in my opinion, and they need to be stopped.

    To be clear, I’m not against Max being world champion – he drove really well, as did Lewis – both of them so far superior to anyone else. But they deserve a far better sport to participate in. And the fans deserve a result we can be confident is just.

  17. Vanquished? Lewis had the race won, he dominated it from lights out. How the race director can make rules up as he goes along, as stated all lapped cars passed by the lead car must unlap themselves before a race restart. It’s not Lewis’s or Merc’s fault that there wasn’t enough laps left, I hope Merc win the appeal.

  18. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s final fight of 2021 could have been Formula 1’s greatest ever title-decider, but was marred by a controversial call which swung the outcome.

    Masi release ruling during presscon. Denied Lewis penalty on practice and during the race. Announced specific regulation before the race for no reason. Out ruled back marker to overtake SC then let five drivers to do so.

    He shamelessly done it all for the show. Something Charlie Whiting wouldn’t do for 20 years. Yet people here complain when Alonso said regulation should be black and white.

    So, no. This is Formula 1’s greatest ever title-decider nothing controversial about it because it always has been consistently controversial.

    1. Well, the second best. The 30seconds massa was Champion were legend to.

      The call for not unlapping was more of a disgrace then the call for 5 cars to unlap themselves. The first was a real blow in the face of RB and just as controversial. Was the call made a lap sooner nobody would have complained.

      1. @hannesch As I’ve said elsewhere, I still think Max would have won if they’d left the lapped runners there. They’d have been blue flagged, it would have put Max on Lewis’ tail within a few corners and straight past with the tyre advantage. I’d have been upset, but it would all be within the rules as written and fair.

    2. This is much more controversial than any I have seen before. I don’t know of any title-decider where the race director so blatantly ignored and made up rules.

  19. This article reads like a Netflix script. The last lap was far from “pure racing”, and it was far from won by Verstappen and Red Bull.

    It’s quite telling that the usual pro-Max comments are saying it’s justified because Max had bad luck earlier in the season, and not that Masi’s actions were fair.

    1. @oweng There’s a distinction to be made between saying Masi’s actions were fair and that Max deserved to win the title because on the balance of the season, bad luck cost him more points than good luck gained him. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

      Max absolutely deserved the title in my opinion but there are far too many grey areas in the rules and it forced Masi to make a decision that would ultimately be viewed as unfair by whoever lost. I don’t think there was a decision Masi could have made at the end that wouldn’t have resulted in protests and appeals with one set of fans claiming it was a fix.

      1. @petebaldwin I don’t have a problem with Max winning the title, over the season he’s been brilliant and even though I don’t agree with his style of racing, others do and that’s just a difference of opinion.

        Masi could have stuck to the rules and had a few options that wouldn’t have caused controversy or appeals…

        1. if there wasn’t enough time to let all lapped cars past then he should have let none past and just restarted the race as soon as the track was clear
        2. if there was enough time to let all the lapped cars past after the track was cleared then he should have done
        3. he could have red flagged the race as soon as the crash happened

        There may have been people grumbling about bad luck etc, but all those options were within the rules. What happened was totally unprecedented and the actions weren’t equally applied to all, just the front 2 drivers. Why was P2 allowed to have lapped cars behind him therefore no rear threat? Why was there a lapped car allowed between P3 and P4 reducing the chance for P4 to attack. And again between P4 and P5 reducing the chance of P6 overtaking. Tsunoda probably would have had a decent shot at a podium if no lapped cars inbetween him Bottas and Sainz.

        I’m angry not because of who won the title, but of how this particular race was decided. The race, and in particular 2 of its drivers, were treated differently because of the championship situation. Funnily enough, this is something Horner had argued strongly against happening pre-race. It needs addressing before the start of next season.

  20. What frustrated me the most immediately after the race was the knowledge that precisely this sort of feel-good article would be written celebrating Verstappen’s victory.

    There was absolutely nothing meritorious about how Max won this race. Nothing. Circumstance gifted him a win he had done nothing to earn.

    Did he deserve to win the WDC? Yes, in the abstract. In many ways, he has been the better driver throughout the 2021 season.

    But he did not deserve to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and he did not deserve to win the WDC the way he won it.

    1. It was getting boring with Mercedes winning all the time but fit goodness sakes they could have found a better way to give Max the championship.
      I knew Max was going to win it this year, but I didn’t expect the FIA to insult the viewers.
      In broad daylight they did this.
      Happy for all those who feel great.
      Sorry to all those who feel let down.
      They have gone for the Facebook generation and the Netflix squid games aficionados.
      It is the new normal.

      1. Sadly, you are correct. There is no triumph for Max and Red Bull (and, even as they celebrate, they know this), and no satisfaction of being beaten fairly having done all they can do for Lewis and Mercedes.

        All concerned deserve better.

        But I fear it is only the beginning if the teams and fans tolerate it. See how IndyCar and NASCAR are run? Do we really want F1 heading down this road with manipulation in the races to steer things to a false crescendo? Really? Is that how we will accept this sport turning out?

        1. If Masi wanted to help VER why didn’t he make HAM give the place back after turn 6 on lap one? Almost all journalists and driver commentators have said VER made a legitimate overtake?

  21. Great story but sorry it was not Verstsppen’s fresh Tyres that gave him the win, neither was it Redbull’s strategy.
    If Hamilton had changed Tyres, Masi would finish the race under the safety car.
    We knew the outcome of this race since the previous week.

    1. If so why did they wait until the last lap, having had to rely on a crash from a Mercedes powered car to set it up, when Hamilton should already have been punished for the lasting disproportional advantage he gained from cutting the circuit on lap one? If they wanted to rob him they might as well have punished him then when valid justification was readily available… apparently the overarching evil masterplan relied on a last minute accident?

      1. I think that rather hits the nail on the head. I for one am thoroughly sick of the constant insinuations that there is some conspiracy at work to give Verstappen the title, that he doesn’t deserve it, that everyone will recognise Lewis as the real champion etc.

        I don’t say this to wind anyone up or cause an argument but I really do feel that there are a large number of Lewis and Merc fans out there who are extremely sore losers. For years I have seen forums full of hate and comments that his rivals are ‘undeserving’ of their success. It happened with Button in 2009, Vettel with his titles, Rosberg in 2016 and now with Verstappen. I feel that however Verstappen might have won the title last night, the same bitterness would have reared its ugly head yet again.

        Controversial decisions have worked in Lewis’ favour in the past, last night they did not. It is not a fact that the Race Director broke any rules, merely a matter of interpretation. Masi had provision within the rules to release ‘ANY’, not necessarily ‘ALL’ lapped cars, and had overiding authority over the use of the Safety Car. If it is a controversial regulation that needs amending, then it should be looked at but it in no way alters the fact that this is a simple difference of opinion and thought on how the regulations are applied, and that the championship was won with an on-track pass and a stategy gamble. Tyre sidewall regulations changed mid-season and it benefitted Mercedes; is this proof of an FIA conspiracy to hand the title to Hamilton? Of course not. It suits some fans to say rules were broken, there was a conspiracy etc because it means they don’t have to accept reality. It is never nice when the driver you support loses out, particularly on the last lap of a title decider, but it happens.

  22. Max was lucky this race. Both drivers have got their shares of luck and bad luck this season. It is good to see that Max became the champion, since he is the real racer of the two. Given the fact that he had to drive a car that was significantly slower than the Mercedes, it is all the more special. As Alonso stated: “Max has taken the Red Bull car to another level”, whereas Lewis seemed to be driving the bus over the last seasons.

    1. All sport depends on luck. If it did not there would be no sports gambling.

      Max has not had the best of luck this season, but you make your own luck.

      That said, it is not luck when the Race Director acts at the request of manager of one team to fix things so that team has an advantage.

    2. Driving the bus? I feel really sorry for Hamilton that people feel this way. Both Max and Lewis are amazing drivers I would put them equal, but I’m probably in the minority it seems in this polarised world.

      1. Only a minority on here maybe.. Most reasonable people don’t put a foot in these forums because they are so toxic.
        Adrian Newey stated publicly live on Sky that the Red Bull was the slightly faster car over the season.
        Doesn’t fit with a lot of the agendas on here but we have it from the horses mouth now.
        Lewis over time will be recognised as one of the greatest drivers ever, maybe Verstappen will one day. Who knows?

        1. It is remarkable that Newey said that – he has nothing to gain by doing so. Certainly reflects impressively on Hamilton.

          1. @williamstuart

            Of course he has something to gain by talking up the car. Newey designed the car, so the better the car, the better he did his job.

    3. Utter delusion, the Red Bull was the faster car, Newey said so and he would know.

  23. Unpopular opinion but I think the end of the race was stewarded well (except for anyone who wasn’t allowed to unlap themselves, the call to unlap all could’ve been made earlier in the penultimate lap with no problems as far as I can tell). If you can safely restart the race before the final lap you should. I thought it was widely understood that finishing a race behind the safety car is to be avoided wherever possible, do you really just want to watch the cars trundle across the finish line? I don’t know about everyone else but I came to watch a race.
    Hamilton drove brilliantly but his team blew the stratergy, they were so concerned about track position that they forgot to ensure he had the pace when he needed it. His car had much better race pace overall and rather than trust the driver’s skill and car’s ability to get back past Verstappen on aging hard tires (if VER didn’t pit under the VSC) they choose to just hope that the rest of the race would be incident free. If I were a Mercedes shareholder I would be furious, why spend the money hiring a driver of Hamilton’s talent if your not going to trust in his abilities. I’m certain if Hamilton had those younger hard tires at the end he would have been able to hold off an attack from Verstappen at the end.

    1. Hold off!!!
      He would have been behind Verstappen.
      The outcome would have been a crash assuming Masi decided to restart.

      1. It was made abundantly clear that any kamikaze antics would have resulted in the stewards taking the championship away. Verstappen would have just handed Hamilton the championship if he pulled that.

        1. If Hamilton pits and is behind Max, Masi would have ended the race behind the safety car. They wanted a new champion and they had Mercedes in checkmate.

  24. Regardless of the Championship outcome, Abu Dhabi was Hamilton’s race to win. He has lost the race because the rule book was overwritten on a whim at the penultimate lap by the race director. It does set yet another dangerous precedent in this otherwise epic season.

    The FIA has some explaining to do (in court) for Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes team, the fans, and the F1 community. It is not over yet.

  25. I though this was Dieter or Kieth at first, then I scrolled up after finishing to see Will Wood! Great right up, glad I took a break from work duties to read it in peace…
    The Perez defense part was sublime

  26. People can argue the rights/wrongs of this race until the cows come home but it is largely irrelevant – both drivers did little wrong in this race and the luck happened to fall Max’s way, for a change. Both have been superb this year, but overall, undoubtedly the right person won the championship.
    It was great to see Lewis gracious in defeat directly after the race, but equally, it would be nice to seem him follow this up by pulling the whinging MB leader into line and getting them to withdraw their pathetic appeal. If TW really thinks there is anything to appeal based on Masi’s rulings, then they may as well also give LH a 25s post race penalty (alla Spa 2008) for gaining an unfair advantage on lap one.
    It was a splendid race and championship, with ups and downs for both, and it ought to be remembered as that – not as some fiasco decided by people with suits and ties who have never turned a competitive steering wheel.

    On a separate note – was Bottas in Abu Dhabi yesterday?

    1. @deliberator genuine question, if the roles were reversed exactly, do you think Horner and Verstappen would be graciously accepting the result or do you think they would be appealing?

      1. Probably doing much what MB is doing now (with slightly less whinging). But I wouldn’t endorse their behaviour either.
        In any case, the fight happened on the track (as it should) and over 22 races, MV got the most points with somewhat less of the luck. So he is the deserving champion.

        1. I think any TP whose driver lost out on a WDC due to a decision which did not comply with the regulations like this would be appealing. The race director cannot be allowed to just make up the rules as he goes.

          1. Whether rules were broken by the race director is a matter of opinion, not a statement of fact. Lapped car regulations specifically state ‘ANY’ and not ‘ALL’ lapped cars, and that the Race Director also has ‘overriding authority in the use of the Safety Car’.

            Granted, I can understand why people feel agrieved and hard done by; it makes no sense to allow some and not all lapped cars by, but it is the regulation that needs looking at and perhaps changing going forward and that does not invalidate what Masi did or the result of this race. No rules or regulations were ‘broken’.

            Lewis was incredibly gracious and magnanimous in defeat and I have even more respect for him after how he handled last night. It would be nice to see Toto Wolff and a large number of fans doing the same. My respect for Toto this season has sunk to rock bottom and the man comes across as a petulant, immature individual.

          2. Sigh!! It says `ANY` and not `ALL` because when a safety car is deployed there may not actually be ANY lapped cars at all! This would be the case with a safety car deployed on Lap 1 as a result of a first corner accident.

  27. Hamilton gracefully accepted his defeat, as should some commenters on this site do as well.
    Verstappen said after the race to Button that Hamilton has been an amazing opponent this year.
    Respect.

    1. I agree – I think that, given his understandable frustration with how things turned out, Hamilton’s conduct post-race was exemplary. It’s only a few years since he publicly accused his own team of sabotaging his car when he retired from a race with engine failure, so it shows how much he has grown as a person since then. Almost uniquely among the Mercedes crowd, Hamilton can end this season with his head held high.

    2. Lewis was not aware of all the data and the conspiracy behind the scenes with the farcical restart and new rules created out of thin air.
      fans should gracious? This isnt a fanboy salt issue but clear deliberate conspiracy to break of the rules and global FIA protocol by race control to benefit one driver . Teams expect an unbiased consistent application of FIA protocol where every competitor is treated equally.
      what about the other cars behind max who couldn’t battle due to traffic ? Are they salty mercedes fanboys? What bout Carlos Sainz in 3rd who couldn’t challenge Max into T1 because he had lapped traffic in the way? So masi can make new rules to move cars out of max’s way to have a clear run on Lewis but other drivers like Carlos do no get equal treatment? I guess carlos is a fanboy(!)

      Daimler wouldn’t be prepared to go to court (CAS) over this if they didn’t have a strong case so don’t dismiss this as sour grapes.

    3. I accept defeat, and think Max is a worthy champion who, through no fault of his own, won in an unworthy manner. Masi’s behaviour was disgraceful, but that isn’t Max’s fault. I view Max’s WDC as completely legit, but the result of this race to be beyond farcical. That the race director would purposely invent new rules and ignore the written ones in a way which hands the race, and the championship, to one driver over another is outrageous.

      This race wasn’t won on track, it was won in race control.

  28. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    13th December 2021, 9:09

    Merc have roped in Paul Harris QC, the same guy who bailed out Man City against the UEFA. Things are going to get spicy, probably a hefty monetary fine or something along those lines, but I don’t think they will snatch away the championship from Max.

    On a side note, considering the WCC was wrapped up, Bottas should have binned it citing low tyre temps to prolong the SC.

    1. @asleepatthewheel a fine aimed at who? Masi? FIA fining itself? Red Bull aren’t a party in the protest, they can’t be fined.

      1. Red Bull did insert themselves into the protest. They are legally an “interested party”, and by doing so, can share liability.

        That said, no, Red bull will not share any liability unless someone pops up with evidence of little brown envelopes being pushed under the table.

        Masi is an FiA official, it is his decision that has been deemed illegal so it will be the FiA who has to pay up if they succeed. Assuming the CAS get involved obviously. The IAC will have the power to change the race outcome so that’s what Merc will ask for, when that’s turned down, because who wants the death threats for making that decision, Merc will sue the FiA into bankruptcy (given how little money they have relatively) – if they win, ultimately Liberty Media will bail them out.

        So basically, Liberty shareholders are the ones who will ultimately pay. Who are Liberty medias shareholders? By quite a large percentage, our pension managers.

        1. Will Jones – I have never, ever heard of an interested party being fined for anything other than gross misconduct. And that’s clearly not at stake here.

          FIA is paid for by 240 national associations and has money out the wazoo for parts of F1 and other series rights. No way can Mercedes substantiate any damages that would remotely threaten them – after all, Mercedes only lost 1 race win.

  29. A well balanced and fair race report.

    This race was a metaphor for a lot of what happens in ‘real life’. Once the result is declared and the media report it, the deal is done, the lesser of two evils is then to accept the result. We see it all the time.

    As a former Lewis fan I wasn’t sitting on the fence about this one, Max has driven better than any other throughout this year and thoroughly deserved the title of ‘best’. F1 is however an engineers sport and the winning card is dealt by them, usually. This time it was different and Masi gave those who risked everything through bold strategy the chance to succeed. That the legality of this was challenged by Mercedes is predictable, they have a case, but ultimately disappointing, as was Toto’s absence in the post race conflabs. He has fallen in my estimation, it was Lewis who lost the most, but he steeled himself and presented a class response to a disappointing outcome.

    Well done to both drivers.

  30. I understand the pain of the Mercedes team and fans and that they feel robbed and i hope that all the dust settles they will reconsider. It was just luck swinging the opposite way. FIA was consistent at least in one thing – they wanted to end the session under green flag. Have the positions been reversed (HAM behind with fresher tires) the choice would be exactly the same. They need the show, they need the ratings and to be honest they delivered. This last lap nearly crushed me, so intense. Even now when i watch for multiple times it i can’t take it.

    Imagine Hamilton being behind Max, losing the title and being denied at least one clear shot in the closing stages. It would have produced the same heated discussion, even worse.

    I do fell like that Hamilton won a little bit too much with little to no resistance over the years. And because of Max and RBR this season i do now regard him higher, because actually when he had to really fight he did and to be honest in the last 4 races he did so flawlessly. But the season was 21 races and we often say – luck evens out in the end of the long season.

    1. Exactly, this year brought extra flair to the last years where Hamilton had no resistance at all from Bottas.

  31. You win and you lose over the season. Even with the better car, Hamilton couldn’t beat Verstappen this year. Congratulations to Mercedes for winning the constructors champion, they truly deserve it with a car that dominant – especially since the mid-season tyre spec change it really allowed them to run the Pirelli’s seemingly forever on both their cars while Red Bull was forced onto more aggressive strategies. Verstappen was a near flawless driver who did everything in his power to reign supreme over the dominant Mercedes cars, an incredible feat. In not too long the British will be losing in another sport (as they usually do) where they can have their childish outbursts. Although, maybe next time they lose in football they can cry conspiracy again instead of the rampant racism – that was a particularly low moment from the British public.

    1. What a load of poppycock. You are obviously anti-British for some unfathomable reason
      The Red Bull was designed by a British designer who has stated that the Red Bull car was faster this year.
      The team principal is British or did you not realise that.?
      You are a prime example of why these forums have descended into the usual childish rants.
      Even Verstappen had the good grace to call Lewis an amazing driver, and the Hamiltons themselves were incredibly gracious in defeat saying Max deserved it.
      An example to everyone and I am immensely proud of them.

      1. Faster car in some races perhaps, but not overall throughout the year. The MB also had an insane straight line speed advantage. The fact that they won the constructors (with a grossly under-performing Bottas) is testament to the fact that their car was superior. MV drove incredibly well over the season to win. LH drove very well too, but not quite at the same consistent level as MV.
        And in terms of gracious in defeat – well they got it half right so far. To be truly gracious in defeat they would withdraw any further appeals against the result, otherwise the “gracious” sentiment is completely hollow.

        1. Adrian Newey thinks the Red Bull was the faster car over the season, and he would be more likely to have accurate information on that than you.

        2. @deliberator

          The MB also had an insane straight line speed advantage.

          ‘Insane’ as in:

          Red Bull’s RB16B was quickest down Yas marina’s back-straight, with poleman Max Verstappen clocking in at 328.3 km/h, just edging teammate Sergio Perez. Meanwhile, Mercedes’ chargers were relative laggards down the straight, with Lewis Hamilton suffering a 5.5 km/h deficit to his championship rival as measured by the speed trap.

          Even so Hamilton was quicker in the race after Max locked up in Q2 and had to run on suboptimal tyres, then started badly and, trying to recover, didn’t see his latest lunge for P1 work out. And probably the Mercedes car was balanced better in terms of its downforce/top speed configuration. Hamilton and Mercedes just did a better job on the weekend. I think the same applies to most races, the difference between the cars being too little to really decide either way at most of the venues this year.

  32. Verstappen did not win on merit and no amount of faux celebration will change that. This article is a good write up for the most part, and it is from a Max Fan – and it’s his site, so fair enough, but it’s sentiment is shallow.
    The thing is, everyone knows what happened. We all saw in unfold on screen. As soon as you start to deny what your eyes and ears tell you to be true, you’re on a dangerous path to religious fanaticism. If that’s what you want then I hope you enjoy, but I’m keeping my feet firmly rooted in reality. I value integrity and credibility. The Netflix generation is lost.

    1. I think I accidentally reported this post.

      The reality of life is the last race experience. The willful silence and the creation of a monster.
      I remember when Todt was heading Ferrari and all the anguish he caused fans worth his decisions. He just kept a straight face.
      The FIA is keeping a straight face. The feelings of the spectator is of no consequence

    2. Sorry to be blunt, but this argument can easily be cut two ways. What may be ‘clear’ to one side may equally be seen just as clearly in an opposite light. What you see as ‘true’, is merely your opinion, not a statement of fact. At the end of the day, it is not a fact that rules and regulations were broken, no matter how much you protest otherwise. That reasoning is clearly laid out in the Stewards notes published last night.

      Because the above article draws conclusions you don’t like or agree with, you choose to label the site owner a ‘Max fan’. To me, that comes across as exactly the sort of ‘religious fanaticism’ that you accuse others of having. Not everyone supports the same driver you do, or agrees with your opinion.

      I’ve been an F1 fan since long before Lewis entered the sport and I for one am sick to the back teeth of this kind of reaction every time someone else beats him to a title. Lewis is one of – if not THE – greatest F1 drivers of all time, a great ambassador for our sport and a genuinely brilliant human being, but some of his fans could take a lesson in humility and graciousness from him. The reality is that however Verstappen might have won the title, the same bitterness and vitriol would have reared its ugly head. Masi’s decisions have just given it a handy peg to be hung on.

  33. As a lawyer, the ‘any/all’ thing tickled me, thought that was very clever and I agree that it is (unintentionally?) ambiguous.

    I laugh at all the suggestions that this was done to benefit anyone, although I can believe that Masi, Liberty and co will have wanted to end on a racing lap. If Masi does indeed have that discretion, and article 48.13 implies that he does, then there is no issue. It’s frustrating, it’s incoherent, it’s inconsistent, but it’s no grounds for overturning.

    And, well, it overturns other season-defining injustices.

    1. Not ambiguous at all!! If a safety car is deployed on, say, lap1, there won`t be `ANY` lapped cars at all! Therefore the term `ALL` cannot be used to describe the regulation.

  34. The only thing worse than yesterday’s SC debacle would be deciding the world championship in a courtroom.

    1. It’s already been decided in race control by making up new rules, I don’t think it can get any worse. If officials can just change the rules on a whim, this is no longer a sport.

    2. In other sports I tend to view the refs ultimately as part of the court or field and so a terrible call is like a bad bounce of the ball. You just have to take the good bounces with the bad in the end assuming refs are fallible but impartial.

      But this is like a soccer ref making up a new corner kick procedure for a game winning kick on the spot. Or moving the PK mark forward 5 meters. I guess it’s random chance whom that would benefit in the abstract but you expect the refs to be at least trying to apply the known rules.

  35. There was another reason Masi left only the cars between HAM and VER pass to unlap, and no one mention it…

    There was Bottas in the mix.

    If he was to do the restart with Bottas there Valterry would clearly (even with a 5 or 10 second penalty) block MAX , as on blue flag conditions , for just a couple of corners, not talking about Perez defense, just a 2 sec delay as a backmarker.
    Boom, all that HAM was needed.
    Robbed . Clearly.

    1. yes 100% @redhellgr Its a shame you see “vanquishes Hamilton” troll bait headlines that dismiss the seriousness of this incident.
      so its ok to have rb under fueling perez (that’s why they retired him) to weave on the track trying to take lewis out defending position but if there are cars in the way of max under sc race control ONLY move them out of the way whilst leaving other lapped cars in place, masi knew that Lewis could sprint early to get away at the restart(max cannot overtake lapped cars until he crosses the line) and would be safe so that’s why race control moves the cars out of max’s way…a complete joke you would see in WWE.

      This is also why merc did not pit lew because they knew if they did rb would tell max to stay out, he gets track position and masi would just finish the race under sc..merc already witnessed in Saudi race control screwing them over so was smart staying out but they didn’t expect masi to make up rules either with the farcical restart.

      this is why Daimler are should go all the way to the CAS to get the result overturned.

      1. You have a source on the underfueling thing? I suppose that’s their right to do that. But it’s amazing how slow he was even under fueled if that’s true. Unless of course that entire plan was for him to be light to stretch the soft and get in front of Hamilton for his role.

  36. Christopher Wait
    13th December 2021, 10:45

    I support Hamilton/ Mercedes. I’m really upset. That aside, Max is a worthy champion over the course of the year, sometimes you need luck and to be in a position to take advantage. We are all lucky to have witnessed two greats go toe to toe and to be this close.

    Moreover, watching Checo (however personally frustrating) back Lewis into Max was some of the best team racing strategies I’ve ever seen. It was ecstasy and agony all at once.

  37. If the track is clear and there were five laps or fewer to go, then surely it would have made more sense to make the lapped cars go behind all the potential points-scoring cars – all 10 of them.

    Everyone will be effectively running in the same order so nothing really would have been lost, the outcome probably would have been the same anyway, and it would have been a lot quicker to sort out.

  38. Just now it feels like the last Formula 1 season just ended and something new began.

    If the race director can make up the rules any moment, I’m really not sure I want to commit to watching an intense and intriguing season again just for the last minutes to be decided in such a grossly arbitrary way, based on which team shouts in his ear loudest at the last moment.

    That’s no reflection on Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton. I felt that Verstappen was better over the season, but Hamilton had brighter moments and ended the season flawlessly, easily the better driver in the final weekend. The way the title was wrenched away from him despite that performance, not by some hazard but at the dubious whims of Masi, must feel really unfair and wrong.

    1. FIA as always intervening or not to create a show when they didn’t need to since the players could do it themselves. If not by the last lap call, we would have been talking about this: “ He has to give that back!,” Verstappen promptly ordered over team radio. But with race control satisfied that Hamilton had relinquished enough of the advantage he gained” … that’s but one of the bad calls from FIA this season. As exciting as it was, this season ended for me in Silverstone. What happened since soured what would have been otherwise a terrific championship.

  39. Unfortunately this will sour Verstappens first WDC forever in the eyes of a lot of fans.
    Look how the Hami bashers still go on about 2008. Not a patch on this.
    You reap what you sow.

    1. Gazza You cant compare bitter massa fans whining that Lewis who overtook a car racing on slicks on a wet track to the race stewards creating new rules on the fly to benefit max.

      The stewards should’ve allowed all lapped cars to pass or none. They didn’t do this because it did not benefit max, by allowing only some to pass Masi gifted Max the WDC. What about carlos in 3rd? he could’ve challenged max for 2nd but couldn’t because he had lapped traffic.

      I understand liberty media wanted fake artificial drama and hype but you cannot make up rules WWE style to build up the excitement for the next netflix series to bring more casual zoomers into F1.
      This is why Mercedes NEEDS to take this to court, if the FIA protocol is not strictly adhered to and there is no constant application of the sporting code F1 loses all legitimacy.

      1. If Masi wanted to help VER why didn’t he make HAM give the place back after turn 6 on lap one? Almost all journalists and driver commentators have said VER made a legitimate overtake?

  40. “finale soured by restart row” @racefans.net Objective much?

    1. @denis1304 Objectively true given the sourness it generated.

      If the SC procedure gone as normal and the race therefore not restarted, Red Bull would have moaned but wouldn’t have felt unjustly treated. But, again, like the Interlagos decision, the bewildered response of other drivers and teams not in the title battle shows that Formula 1’s rule-based universe started decomposing before everyone’s eyes again. The point is that the ending looked deliberately engineered for Verstappen to be behind Hamilton and have 1+ laps to get past him. Masi and everyone else clearly knew that Hamilton had zero chance in those circumstances. It seems to me they wanted (a) a racing finale, even if against their own regulations, (b) a new champion, and (c) controversy to keep it all spicy.

      I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Hamilton decides to walk away from Formula 1, contact or no contract, new regulations or not. Why compete if what decides isn’t your competence on track but how the ‘show runners’ want to manipulate the races for maximum audiences? It’s verging on making Formula 1 a show not a sport.

      1. @david-br What goes around comes around. First lap defending by running wide came to bit LH on the butt on last lap.

    2. This is a sour way to win or lose, so it is an objective statement.

      1. @Mike At which place did racefans.net finish last race?

  41. Safety Car, virtuel Safety Car and Red Flags are part of motoracing and have and will always cause freak results and benefits massively one guy over the other (yesterday it was Verstappen on softs but it could also be Hamilton cruising home behind the safety car).
    That’s not unfair that’s just bad luck and it’s not the race directors job to create a level playing field for the 2 title rivals in terms of tyre choice.
    I also don’t see a problem that the race director shortens the length of the safety car period by either not letting the lapped drivers through (they shouldn’t be allowed to anyway) or calling the safety in earlier given it’s safe to do so. We all want to see the cars racing.
    But what really annoyed me was that they only released the cars between the two leaders.
    That’s a) artificial and b) degrades the rest to a second division who receive different treatment just because they are not fighting for the championship.
    You cannot do that as race director. Treating all cars evenly and fairly is an absolute mandatory.

    I also don’t see the logic behind why he didn’t let the other cars go. It was only one lap of racing to go. Hamilton would back up the pack sufficiently so the remaining three cars would also be well ahead of the leaders and we wouldn’t have that discussion.

    That was bad decision making in an admittedly difficult situation.

    1. @roadrunner

      Here’s Masi explaining the requirement one year ago.

      https://www.motorsportweek.com/2020/10/13/masi-explains-reason-for-late-eifel-gp-safety-car/

      ”There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past,” Masi said.

      “From that point, it was position six onwards that were still running [on the lead lap], so between 10 or 11 cars had to unlap themselves.

      “Therefore the Safety Car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally expected.”

    2. @roadrunner “I also don’t see the logic behind why he didn’t let the other cars go.”

      THIS is the crux of the argument to why Mercedes have a great case to challenge and reverse the result in court.

      in simple terms the main reason this was not done was because it would not benefit max, the argument is that the race direction conspired to artificially give max the best possible opportunity to overtake Lewis.

      If every car was allowed to unlap themselves there would not be enough time for sc to come in and it would need to stay out for one more lap which would hand Lewis the title by the letter of the law the safety car should only come in ONE lap after the last lapped car passes the sc but Masi threw that rule out of the window because he wanted one last lap at all costs.
      Also as the ‘plan’ was for one green lap racing the “safety car ending” notice when ALL lapped cars gone passed would be too close to the restart cut off point as Lewis needed to back off for the restart so race control panicked and ONLY ordered the cars sandwiched between lewis and max to unlap themselves to save time and not make it not look too obvious, this benefited max because if the lapped cars wasn’t moved out of his way it would slow him down massively during restart (he cannot overtake lapped cars until he cross the line) so basically race direction bent over backwards and broke the rules to give Max the best opportunity to win.

      Obviously when this is challenged legally by Mercedes all of the data and timings will be made available and it will be clear that the race directors conspired to break the rules WWF style.

  42. All drivers are racing for contracts and bonuses. It was completely unfair to only unlap a select few. The new rule that the race director controls the position of each car on a restart makes the sport farcical. I will watch the races that have a decent US starting time but I won’t be getting up early to watch F1WWE.

  43. Here’s a cool fact.

    The last person to be Max in a FIA World Championship showdown was an english postman.

    1. *beat Max

    2. I’m stumped.

  44. Personally I think Lewis as come out of this even better. No one really cares if he as 7 or 8 titles.
    We all know that he drove amazingly in the last four races and will have cemented his position has one of the greatest drivers in history.
    The graciousness of him and his family in defeat shows what true sportsmanship is about. Toto and Horner are a disgrace trying to influence the referee.
    The result was akin to the ref making a howler of a decision under ridiculous pressure but the result is final.

    1. @Gazza yes , even most neutrals who don’t like Lewis felt pity clearly seeing him being robbed on live tv.

      For formula 1 to have any credibility going forward the result needs to be decided in the court unfortunately.
      Toto, Daimler, 800+ staff, billions invested just to have a result manipulated by a few stewards who make up rules on the fly is farcical at best and corrupt at worst. You can’t bend the rules and create fake drama for the new drive to survive zoomer demographic.
      Maybe liberty media think dumbing down and the Americanization of F1 turning it into Nascar with fake WWE drama and controversy is normal but it isn’t and the stability and entire legitimacy of F1 stands on adhering to strict FIA protocol and ruleset.

      Remember Lewis can get thrown out of quali for this rear wing slot gap 0.2mm being too big because of ThE RuLeS yet its ‘unfair’ and sour grapes to go to court because of clear rule breaking by the stewards?!

      This is why Mercedes are 100% justified taking this to the CAS.

      1. No result was manipulated @ccpbioweapon. Please move on from this nonsense. If anything with 5 laps to go and fresh rubber Verstappen was at a huge advantage, everyone thought so. Then the race director messed up getting the lapped cars out of the way and panicked when he realized it contradicting himself.

        It was a motor race and we expected to see them race. Cruel and unfair for Lewis yes, but that’s the game. If the race ended under the safety car while the track was clear it would be even worse for F1.

        For me, Massi needs to go, as he clearly cannot handle the pressure. (even if this championship is really something else). But Max deserves his title. A lesser driver wouldn’t have passed Lewis even with the fresh rubber.

  45. I think it’s also important to look further than Lewis and Max. By choosing which cars could unlap themselves, Masi chose who could have a go at who.

    P2 could attack P1, but P3 (Sainz) didn’t get the same opportunity to attack P2. Should a Director have that power?

    That’s where the whole incident moves from unlucky into tarnishing sporting integrity.

  46. The dig at Bottas neglected to mention his role in having his team win the WCC with fewer wins and a massive on-paper statistical disadvantage. He had a duff motor yesterday but still obviously was poor. But over the season he did the job. As for justifying the switch, Russell has not exactly been blowing away the infamous pay driver across the garage lately. Maybe both of them mentally checked out this race looking to their futures. I’m hoping Bottas can regain the sparkle he had at Williams.

  47. How can F1 fix this without a decision for a court?

    Someone has to come out and admit that a mistake was made and that the last lap cannot be taken into account.
    I guess the results up to the SC would have to hold as final results. Do they award full points for the race or partial points?
    Masi has to be allowed to pursue other interests as he literally did what Horner asked verbatim changing his own decision.
    Apologies need to be made to Lewis and Max as they reverse the results.
    Apologies need to be made to Red Bull and Mercedes as they reverse the results.
    Apologies need to be made to the fans for the mistake that was made under pressure.

    I guess that would be the best thing F1 can do to minimize the damage that they’ve inflicted on the sport.

    1. I don’t think this will or should ever happen. As controversial and farcical as this is, it would be absolutely disastrous for the result to be changed months later in court. You can argue that Masi and the FIA brought it on themselves by their disastrous decision making, but the damage to the sport would be such that it may never recover.

      Instead, what I hope is that all this shines a light on the terrible stewarding and race direction this year and forces a change. I think the appeal is needed to do this.

      1. I don’t want it to go to a court or hearing. FIA should “settle” by clarifying the restart rules OR the scope of the 48.13 discretionary grant. It’s too late to save face or to defend the call. Of course you can’t make someone settle without a credible threat of the costs of litigation or a loss on the merits.

        While they are at it FIA needs to scrap the apparent rule that you don’t have to leave space on the outside in a pass. That has been the root of much evil this year. And it’s not just about Verstappen although he has exploited it eagerly. It turns every single pass into a potential argument that devolves into partisan squabbling.

      2. @drmouse Well, I guess the alternative is a new series to replace F1. You can’t have a championship and a race victory going to the wrong team and driver courtesy of F1 as we witnessed here.

        That’s why I think F1 should resolve this asap. There’s almost no ground for F1 to stand on.

        If they don’t reverse the results, what compensation can they offer for a race win and a championship? 150 million is what McLaren lost but it was nothing compared to this and the damage that’s been done or would be done if the results hold.

        400-500 million? F1 would need new ownership to make that sort of payment so it would become a different series anyway.

  48. This is one of the best race reviews I’ve read on this site, and I’ve been reading it for quite some time!

    1. Agree. Keith and staff should take a bow for another great season with this site. Best F1 content on the web. I might ask if they plan to do a YT channel as well for post race stuff. I would smash the like button ad subscribe!

  49. In all this noise another issue that seems to be forgotten about is Max overtaking under the safety car momentarily- which is in Merc’s protestations. People say we can’t unwatch what we saw- but this is F1. Belgium 2008 was reversed after what we saw. So was Japan 1989. What an own goal by Masi though- the guy is just out of his depth.

    1. What occurred to me there was that Max was trying to provoke a crash by keeping Hamilton from warming tires or taking his line into the last corner. I’ve never seen anything like that behavior on a restart. in the end I dint think it’s actionable though.

      1. @dmw

        We have never seen many on track behaviours that Max has shown us. I mean the deliberate weaving as well after he passed Hamilton on the back straight is something he keeps doing because he knows it’s a black and white flag.

  50. How will Merc keep quiet after investing millions to win?
    Masi is reckless. He manipulated the result of the race not only for Lewis but many other drivers as well.
    Merc might leave the sport as they did in the 50’s. They have nothing left to prove anyway.
    Why spend millions and have a crackpot of a race director do unspeakable manipulative things.
    Masi’s decisions remind me of someone being in someone’s pocket.
    All about moral compass.
    It’s just my opinion.

    1. I agree. Being Australian like him it would not surprise me if he is a racist white Australian as his choices against Hamilton this year are hard to understand (I’m white Australian btw). Masi has manipulated the championship result by favouring one white driver over a black driver? It lines up as he broke FIA guidelines in his rules interpretations, at the most criterical point.

      1. @kpcart,

        Maybe I am being colour blind but I never thought Masi was white. But prejudice is not just a white thing- even people of non white ethnicity can be prejudiced.

  51. Who is the better driver? It is impossible to know. Same as with many sports, when you filter down to the limits of human capability, the sport’s inherent signal to noise ratio is not enough to overcome variables.

    F1 has an especially poor signal to noise ratio for drivers, being that it is really an engineering competition of manufacturers. But all sports have noise, which is why there is the saying that they still have to play the game. It is a necessary part of the drama that makes sports compelling.

    Further, humans themselves vary a lot, day to day. Which means often there is no “best driver” in any sense beyond the moment.

    The essence of the joy of sports is built more on seeing what humans can do, along with story and drama. In the end, personally, I don’t care who wins. For my taste, a good overtake is better than the podium ceremony.

  52. The thing that sticks out to me from this review is how clearly Mercedes anticipated exactly the circumstances of the final restart—that Verstappen would be directly behind Hamilton—and seemingly made their decision not to box with full knowledge of that.

    So from a sporting perspective, they have nothing to complain about regarding the restart order. It was the situation that both teams were expecting, that fans wanted to see, and that the rules are intended to allow for. It makes it all the more unfortunate that the procedure to get to that point was botched and improvised. (On the other hand, from a sporting perspective, midfield runners like Sainz certainly have grounds for genuine grievance.)

    I think there’s a decent chance that in a decade or two when we look back on this race, what will stand out is the supreme racecraft of the two protagonists, the astonishing drama of the moment, and the Mercedes’ sheer misfortune of a safety car at exactly the wrong time — and the procedural mistakes that got there will be a footnote (hopefully one that produces real reform in the procedures).

    1. Mark Zastrow
      “So from a sporting perspective, they have nothing to complain about regarding the restart order.”
      untrue merc was worried if they DID pit lewis and max gained track position as rb would always invert mercs strategy what would stop masi from finishing the race under yellows and making Mercedes look like fools?? Also when the crash happened it looked like the race would finish under yellows OR 1 lap with lapped traffic in left place, both of which would benefit Merc hence keeping Lewis out was a smart move.

      What you fail to understand is that the steward should’ve released ALL or non of the cars. This has nothing to do with luck or misfortune.

      if they released all cars to unlap, lewis would win because there would not be enough time as the sc would need another lap and the race would finish under yellows.

      if they started the race with unlapped cars in place it would be highly likely Lewis would win as he would gap max early as lewis could sprint away early whist max was still stuck behind lapped cars and cannot overtake until the start line .
      But masi created a new magic rule never seen before where some could unlap(basically those in max’s way) but not allow any others.
      This is a complete farce and Mercedes are 100% correct in launching an appeal.

      1. On the contrary, I understand it very well. Mercedes have solid procedural grounds to lodge an appeal. I’ve said multiple times here that I think the sporting regs and the role of race director need a hard rethink.

        But since, as you say, Masi could just as well have let all backmarkers unlap themselves a lap earlier, I don’t think it made much difference to the outcome in a sporting sense. The risk of ending under safety car was always something Mercedes would have had to consider, regardless of whether lapped cars were released or not. And judging from Bono’s messages, where he was telling Hamilton to expect Verstappen to be right behind him, Mercedes anticipated that they would be—before any (or all?) of the procedural errors took place.

        That doesn’t excuse those errors, or nullify the need for better procedures that give the race director more options to finish a race fairly under green—perhaps red flags without tyre changes or dropping all lapped cars to the back of the field instead of unlapping themselves, both of which are options available in IndyCar. But I really think that for Mercedes and Hamilton, the cruelty of the situation was the timing of the safety car and the curse of being the leader and not being able to react. It’s possibly the worst bit of racing luck I’ve ever seen in my life.

    2. @markzastrow that’s one of the best comments I’ve read these days.

  53. The fastest man won the championship with a slower car. Big congratulations to MAX.

  54. This season became the Masi show and he really did not disappoint in the season finale. A sporting referee at this level should be so good that you never even notice (s)he’s there. Ironic how Horner was saying a week ago how much the sport misses Charlie Whiting. A week later and he’s in the steward’s office defending his interpretation of the word ‘any’.

    Those people watching F1 for the first time yesterday probably all left feeling more confused and glad they don’t usually watch it.

  55. I am curious as to why the stewards did not have an overnight consultation with the FIA lawyers, as has become normal since Sao Paolo. Perhaps they did that during the adjournment, before Michael Masi arrived for the second part of the hearing.

  56. I do feel that Lewis Hamilton was robbed of his WDC. There are too many comments on this issue so maybe someone else has the same opinion. I feel that Masi made his decision to finish this world championship under a green flag out of a feeling that under his “watch” the last race could not end under yellow because that would be embarrassing to him personally. He did not want to go into history as the race director that finished this race under yellow. I do not think that he was trying to favor Verstappen over Hamilton. Obviously his decision was flawed and absolutely against the rules.

  57. Radio between horner and masi:
    Horner: “Why aren’t we getting these lapped cars out of the way?”
    Masi: “Give me a second. My main thing is to get this incident clear.”
    Horner: “You only need one racing lap.”

    Also a strong argument for Mercedes going into the protest is that the 2 lapped cars between Max and Sainz (in 3rd) was NOT allowed to unlap themselves. Masi and spice boy always talking about the the spirit of “letting them race” and “that’s Motorsport” then surely Sainz should have been given that opportunity to have lapped cars removed as well?

    Or was it simply the case that Masi thought Sainz might get in the way of the “dramatic” showdown between Max and Lewis that he had totally orchestrated for drive to survive netflix series? It all just felt very contrived and this is where he incriminated himself the most

    I hope Mercedes will fix this farce in court.

  58. While I don’t think that the intent was to give Max a title, I do think that the race director chose to engineer spectacle over applying the rules.

    To me this is a terrible precedent to set that truly puts into question the integrity of the sport in the future. Is this something that we have to look forward to every time we have a close championship from now on, jumping through hoops to create drama? Yes, a finish behind a safety car would have been more boring but that’s the sport, it has happened before and will happen again (or will it…).

    I can’t imagine the pressure that Massi was under to feel that this is reasonable to do but if he’s not going to try to keep the sport fair and honest to itself that who will?

    At the end it’s just a sport we enjoy watching and it’s not the end of the world but what are the drivers thinking about this, what’s Max really thinking about this?

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