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No F1 driver should go through this again, says Hamilton after Abu Dhabi controversy

2022 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says no Formula 1 driver should have to go through the same experience he had when a controversial decision by race control led him to lose the world championship on the final lap of the season last year.

The Mercedes driver was speaking in his first press conference in over two months after his defeat in the 2021 season finale at Abu Dhabi, in which Max Verstappen passed him on the final lap after a controversial restart.

The FIA yesterday announced sweeping changes to officiating in F1, including the departure of F1 race director Michael Masi who was behind the disputed call. Hamilton said he considers the changes a first step.

“I think, from yesterday, while we cannot change the past, nothing will ever really be able to change the way I felt at the time and how I feel about the situation,” he said.

“It’s good to see that the FIA are taking steps to make improvements. I think that accountability is key. We have to use this moment to make sure that this never happens to anybody else in this sport ever again.

“Everything that’s been said by the FIA yesterday, I welcome that. We have to make sure that we keep a close eye on and make sure that we actually are seeing those changes and that the rules are being applied fairly and consistently.”

Hamilton’s future was the subject of speculation as he disengaged from social media for several weeks after the race. He said he had not thought of retiring from F1 in response to the controversy, but admitted he often considers his future between seasons.

“At the end of seasons the question is whether you’re willing to commit the time and the effort that it takes to be a world champion. I think a lot of people underestimate what it takes to be a world champion. There are so many moving parts – it’s not just turning up and driving the car.

“So the question is do you want to sacrifice the time, do you believe you can continue to punch at the weight you are punching? That’s a normal mental process for me, but of course this one was compounded by a significant factor.

“I think, ultimately, a sport that I’ve loved in my whole life, there was a moment where I kind of lost a little bit of faith within the system. But I’m generally a very determined person and I’d like to think to myself that while moments like this might define careers, I refuse to let this define mine. So I focused on being the best I can be and coming back stronger.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 70 comments on “No F1 driver should go through this again, says Hamilton after Abu Dhabi controversy”

    1. F1 managed the penalties throughout the 2021 season to ensure that the fight between Lewis and Max was close. The management became more absurd during the last 1/3rd of the season. The finale became a snooze fest until luck provided F1 with an opportunity to have an “exciting” last lap. Lewis and Max benefited from the penalty management by F1 throughout the season, so I don’t feel too badly for Lewis.

      1. Well said. It wasnt about one race. The staging was throughout the season.

      2. Jim, your feelings are far more important than the correct application of rules / regulations.

        1. I have no feelings. The application of the rules throughout the season perplexed everyone including the drivers. Danny Ric summed it up on the last lap on the final race when he dropped an f-bomb and wondered aloud what happened.

    2. Fair play Lewis. Few of us mortals can even begin to comprehend the investment it takes to pursue the level of performance he has operated at, and yes he is no doubt doing his dream job, but what happened to him the way it did was some blow below the belt. Sport can oftentimes be a cruel thing, but i can’t recall a similar situation where the authorities have messed up so badly to make such an impact in such a final moment.

      Let’s hope we get to see Lewis end his career in F1 racing on a more positive note this season and maybe beyond

      1. World cup ’66 anyone?

        1. I’m guessing there are more recent examples, even for Germans…

        2. I’m not sure how that is similar? Not sure where the rules were changed by the ref? For sure, terrible referee decisions are made all the time, but I’m not sure they are changing the rule book for entertainment sake?

          1. You obviously aren’t familiar with American sports then…

        3. Ah yes, that was the match where the referee awarded Germany a ridiculously unfair free kick that produced the German goal and sent the match to extra time. Watch the videos and you will see that the free kick should never have been awarded. It was a good job that Geoff Hurst’s goal put a conclusive end to the match and avoided any thought that England won because of the later goal that some, and I emphasise some, say should not have stood. Whilst numerous attempts, including possibly (probably?) faked up Russian (!!!!!????) pictures and all sorts of animations and projections that purport to show that the ball could not have crossed the line, it has NEVER been PROVED that it didn’t. The referee made a monumental cock up in that match, as did Masi in AD. The biggest difference is that England, deservedly, won despite that, and Hamilton was illegally deprived of a well deserved win.

          Whilst we are on the subject of comparisons and England’s football, Masi’s illegal decision ( and surely nobody now disputes that it was) was also right up there with that of the referee who ignored Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in a later world cup. Charlie Payne’s comment is true, the referees did not change the rules but they did ignore them.

    3. He could that have said 5 minutes after the race. Why such drama? Now he just woke up the kids.

      1. But I’m generally a very determined person and I’d like to think to myself that while moments like this might define careers, I refuse to let this define mine. So I focused on being the best I can be and coming back stronger.”

      2. Has nothing ever happened in your life that has needed long term deliberation @pietkoster ?
        Perhaps you are very young ;)

      3. @pietkoster

        He could that have said 5 minutes after the race.

        If he hadn’t cared much, yes. Given he clearly did care, no.
        We’ll wait while you process that idea. Will two months do?

      4. Whilst you might not intend it, your recent comments on this site make you sound like quite an unthinking and unpleasant individual. Perhaps some more thought and empathy for those involved might lead to a less pejorative tone in your comments

        1. Pure ad hominem stuff.
          Try to use arguments next time.

          1. Why? Pjotr didn’t.

          2. Pure ad hominem stuff.

            Latin was not among my studies, but I suspect “casus ediderit” may be correct, and really, really applicable.

      5. What? He was super gracious after the race (far more than Max at the previous one) and then said nothing until now. Where’s the drama in that? Some people will have a go at Hamilton for absolutely anything he does.

        1. Or doesn’t for that matter!
          It’s mind boggling; whatever he says, does, doesn’t say or doesn’t do is NEVER going to be enough for some people. They will always FIND FAULT no matter what and have a go when it comes to Lewis; it’s incredible!

        2. Its Hamilton. If he talks then he talks too much, when he keeps quiet he is being manipulative and grumpy.

    4. Good lad Lewis, glad you are sticking with it ;)

    5. Yet all FIA did was to replace one F1 controversial title decider with one DTM controversial title decider and one WEC controversial title decider.

      1. You read the full report and list of changes already? Link it for us please!

    6. No driver should be left out to dry by their own team’s poor strategy choice?
      Yeah, I agree with you, Lewis. The team blew it by not pitting you for new rubber. Twice. Fresh tyres would have rendered you unbeatable at the restart.
      But that’s sport. You’ll bounce back.

      1. -1 people like you would have been the one who laughed and called them stupid when the race then ended under SC, which for sure it would have. This was cheating by the RD, but obviously biased VER fans are unable to admit it. Be happy with you paper champ.

        1. Noframingplease (@)
          18th February 2022, 18:08

          I didn’t here lewis fans complaining about the 29 times he had each lap an advantage by driver over the tracklimit. I didn’t here them complain when the rules for bending rearwings where changed during the season. I didn’t hear them when the frontwing flapped all season of the MB. I didn’t here them complain about the sudden change in pitstop rules. All I see is fans who believe the framing that Toto and Lewis do about RB and Max. Yes, and they are framing like a real pro. Yes, and I see a lot of fans here who suddenly write about ‘the rules that must be followed’, but what I see is haughtiness behavior about fans from that little country. F1 at their smallest.

          1. Your track limits argument is ridiculous go and read the directive regarding track limits for that race event.

          2. I’ll take the assumption you’re deaf then.

      2. Er, race strategy is not your strong point is it.

      3. This has been discussed over and over and the answer is always the same; Mercedes’ strategy was absolutely the right thing to do and all decisions were made before Masi started interfering, at which point it was no longer sport but a farce. You cannot strategize around the race director changing the rules your strategies are based around.

    7. Masi fixed the race to help max win fake unworthy champion

      1. Unworthy Champion?

        How long have you been following F1?
        Since the last lap of Abu Dhabi?

        1. I understand the sentiment, but perhaps I’d say “Max deserves to be a champion, just not this years champion.”

          1. Well Max had a very good year, otherwise he would not have started Abu Dhabi on equal points with Lewis. A season is not only the last race.

          2. One of the best comments that I have read on this. It has been said a few times but not often or loud enough.

          3. I don’t see why, he drove better than hamilton across the season, made less mistakes and was more consistent.

    8. He’s 100% right – it’s still crazy to think that Max accepted the WDC the way it was handed to him. No class.

      As I said, I can’t imagine what was going through his mind seeing the whole thing transpire before his eyes in real time and seeing just a few cars unlap themselves so that Max can be next to him as they restart.

      And the way Lewis accepted defeat will forever remain both one of history’s greatest and most terrible moments in sports.

      1. You do not even understand how a SC situation works.
        Normally all lapped cars would have passed and as always set max behind Lewis.
        Listen to Lewis after the latify crash, he knew he was prey as of that moment.

        1. Unworthy… He’s efforts weren’t worthy enough for him to be crowned champion… Well said

        2. The rules say lapped cars will be allowed to overtake “If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so”. I’ve just watched the replay of lap 56 from Hamilton’s onboard, and there are still Marshalls on the track side of the barriers as he passes on lap 56. Considering we’ve had close calls with marshalls before, I think it’s perfectly understandable for the clrek of the course not to consider this a safe situation, especially in this section of track, which is comparatively narrow compared to other parts of Abu Dhabi. By the time, Gasly, the last car in the queue, gets around, the Marshalls are no longer on track, but the SC is already heading past the Start/Finish line and towards turn 1. So somewhere between Lewis/the SC passing the accident zone, and the end of the queue passing the accident zone, the track can be considered safe. But the rules say “once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap”, so unless the SC had practically stopped on track, and I think we can all agree that is not on, the chances of all the lapped runners being let through before the start of lap 57 (and thus the SC coming in at the end of lap 57) are close to zero. If the rules had been applied properly, it is highly, highly likely that the race should not have restarted.

          1. Noframingplease (@)
            18th February 2022, 18:23

            For months I read your complaints about the outcome of last season. Over and over again.
            I didn’t here lewis fans complaining about the 29 times he had each lap an advantage by driver over the tracklimit. I didn’t here them complain when the rules for bending rearwings where changed during the season. I didn’t hear them when the frontwing flapped all season of the MB. I didn’t here them complain about the sudden change in pitstop rules. All I see is fans who believe the framing that Toto and Lewis do about RB and Max. Yes, and they are framing like a real pro. Yes, and I see a lot of fans here who suddenly write about ‘the rules that must be followed’, but what I see is haughtiness behavior about fans from that little country. F1 at their smallest. Mister Random, I’m getting a bit tired of people who scrape the internet for ‘arguments’ just to base their opinion on. Like the whole season was about the last race. Oh and silverstone? Max cut the corner for lewis? What did Charles then? Charles went for the exact same apex as Max did but the suddenly Lewis went inside the corner.

            1. @nofanboysplease Believe it or not, I spent most of last season supporting Max. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Michael (the OP commentor) or f1osaurus. I had enough debates with them in the aftermath of Baku and particularly Silverstone to last me a lifetime.

              Did Merc get a bit of a benefit in Bahrain? Yes, probably, but at the same time overtaking off track is always going to be a bit more risky than just running wide. And let’s not pretend Max didn’t get some liberties from the stewards either, particularly in Brazil and arguably Saudi as well. It was these displays of driving tactics that started to put me off Max. And whilst I do recognise Max as 2021 champion, and don’t think that can/should be changed, I cannot accept the breaches of procedure that created the situation he won in.

              I’m not of the opinion that the title should be stripped of Max – Merc dropping their appeal I think spelled the end of any chance of that happening – but I want to see positive change for the future, to avoid a repeat the shortcomings 2021 exposed: from track limits, to race control, to driving standards and to the case of sport vs show. There is always room for improvement across the board, and where there is opportunity for improvement, it is my opinion that it should be taken, as long as it has been properly though through and weighed up.

              And please don’t associate me with Wolff. Or Horner. Both of them really irritate me and I honestly feel that both of their conduct last season was poor and childish.

            2. Charles recklessly and ignorant cut the corner and crashed in Silverstone. Seems I missed that one.

              BTW: No need to always argue its only British people not accepting the manipulated WDC. Its people from all over the world who expect fair sports. Seems Max biased people cannot comprehend they are argueing in favor of a cheating unsportive show, instead of sports.

            3. And what relevance would any of your wittering have?

        3. all

          That’s all.

        4. Your point? All lapped cars were not allowed passed. Besides, redbull knew they would fall behind 5 lapped cars if they pitted so why did they pit? Bad strategy call? It was their choice to fall back behind lapped crasbwith the very real possibility that they might have to restart behind them. Now explain that.

          1. maybe cause they had a free stop with no opponent behind, and nothing to lose anyway? its not rocket science to understand that.

          2. Exactly! I’ve been saying the same thing for 2 months now, but I can’t seem to get them to understand it.

        5. Normally the race would have ended under SC, or the lapped cars would have been between them. But obviously blinded Max fans are unable to comprehend.

      2. Its not only the last race which defines a season. No class is punting your opponent out at Silverstone, or not showing up at the FIA-gala as the number 2. Max just followed the rules as laid down by the Race Director at Abu Dhabi. Lewis would have done the same.

        1. Max didnt achieve to put his opponent out in silverstone. He just put himself out with his ignorant and overaggressive driving.

          1. And he complained when he got hurt because of it, it’s as if the hyper aggressive dive bombs he’s become notorious for didn’t have physical consequences in the online racing world. 1*

    9. I agree with Lewis here. No one deserves to lose a championship in this manner. I think he’ll come back stronger and hungrier than ever.

      Additionally, his conduct in the immediate aftermath of the race was exemplary. To control yourself in that manner after what had just occurred is something I doubt I would be able to do. Highly, highly commendable.

      1. I doubt Max himself would have managed. Or Erikje for instance.

      2. I doubt Max himself would have managed. Or Erikje for instance.

        1. Your comment was so good, I read both of them and enjoyed it just as much the second time.

          1. Please do enjoy reading my previous comments. Don’t hesitate to throw away you good time and have you mind occupied, without rent.

        2. When max was beaten in Jeddah as well as correctly and infact very very leniently penalised in Jeddah he stormed off the podium. Goodness know what his reaction would have been not to mention redbull and the sheep percentage of their followers

          Everyone forgot the seriousness of Jeddah due to AD. Without a doubt should have been dsq or black flagged.

          1. +1

            Jeddah was a clear DSQ, and deserved a race ban at the very least.

            1. Jeddah is best left in the trash hip of race officiating. It was grotesque and a slur on the FIA stewards.

            2. Entirely agreed.

    10. Erikje et al are very committed in casting as much negative light as possible towards Hamilton, long before the last race, as it is the only way to shore up the narrative that Max is the best driver, with the poorer car, with no cheating ever committed, and that he is not a Masi Assisted Champion. The commitments to trash Hamilton is noted and the reasons are very obvious as they are so shallowly disguised. Crucially, they also reveal their sheer fear that people might not adore Max, might not notice his – in their mind -geniuses, that he is not arrogant, that he is just so, so ideal a driver, so strategic, oh that importance of background etc etc.

      So committed they are, they dominate every comment section. Only Keith and his moderators know why Erikje’s and his ilks’ frequent comments were passed through and why they added value, even taking into account of the need for diversity of opinions.

    11. We have to make sure that we keep a close eye on and make sure that we actually are seeing those changes and that the rules are being applied fairly and consistently.

      Probably the last thing the FIA want to hear. Good on Lewis for saying it. A new process doesn’t necessarily fix the problem. I’ll be very surprised if he and other drivers are so quiet about inconsistent stewarding and F1 management in the year to come.

    12. Being disappointed is fine, but stating ‘noone should have to go through this’ whilst being a 50-million plus per year member of the happy few/1% is truly on a next level of narcissistic victimhood.

      1. That’ a pretty petty way of looking at it.

    Comments are closed.