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Lewis Hamilton said over his team radio that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had been 'manipulated' after being overtaken on the last lap. Watch here:
Lewis' final lap radio 📻— Sir Lewis Hamilton Updates (@SirLewisUpdates) December 12, 2021
"This is getting manipulated man"
If you haven't heard yet, Max Verstappen clinched the Formula One championship for Red Bull yesterday (Sunday 12 December) in dramatic but controversial fashion.
Verstappen stormed past Mercedes' title rival Hamilton on the last lap of the season-ending race at the Yas Marina Circuit, having benefited from a late safety car that bunched up the pack.
Hamilton appeared to be charging to glory, easily holding Verstappen at bay in the closing laps, only for a crash for the Williams of Nicholas Latifi to change the course of events.
Confusion reigned as under-fire race director Michael Masi changed his mind to allow lapped cars to pass the safety car – meaning Verstappen had a clear run at Hamilton in the final lap and, on much faster tyres, made his move to claim a first F1 title.
Despite having lost out on an eighth championship in the most cruel fashion, Hamilton was magnanimous in defeat after the race; however, speaking over his radio after he was overtaken, he made it clear that he felt he had been unfairly robbed of victory.
The 36-year-old said: "This has been manipulated, man."
Indeed, even people from outside the sport were shocked by what they'd seen and felt an injustice had been done.
Gary Lineker tweeted: "Imagine Man City and Liverpool going toe to toe for the title. On the last day of the season they meet & City are 3 up with just minutes to go. The referee decides it would be more exciting to have a penalty shootout. What’s more the City players have to be barefooted. That’s @F1"
Piers Morgan added: "I don't know what I've just watched but it can't be right. Hamilton's been robbed, surely?"
I’m new to F1 and it’s been amazing to watch Lewis and Max battle it out. I’m no expert on it but I feel like there’s some bizarre rules that give an unfair advantage like today ? Why should Hamilton be penalised for somebody else’s crash?— Harry Kane (@HKane) December 12, 2021
Mercedes immediately launched two appeals against the result - one against Verstappen for allegedly overtaking under a safety car and a second claiming a breach of rules regarding race restarts following a safety car period.
Both were dismissed after the two teams spent hours in the stewards’ office, with Verstappen finally able to celebrate his title more than four hours after crossing the finish line.
However, Mercedes have already lodged an intention to appeal against the decision relating to restarting the race for the final lap.
Christian Horner, team principal at Red Bull, said it was tactical decisions that won the day.
He said: "We needed the intervention from the racing gods and thank you so much Nicholas Latifi. The safety car came at a crucial moment in the championship.
"It was an important strategy call. The other discussions are a distraction. Mercedes made a mistake by not pitting with the safety car.
"We made the right call, he made it work, we used it to our advantage, he made the pass, he’s the world champion."
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