Netflix are surely cackling to themselves after witnessing the incredibly dramatic finale to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
He’s done it. He’s finally done it. Max Verstappen is the newest World Champion after an incredibly dramatic duel with Lewis Hamilton all season long. But was it contrived? Was the drama so tasty because, really, this isn’t the ending that should have happened.
Lewis Hamilton was winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by a large margin. He had the pace advantage over Verstappen. From the start to the end, Hamilton was the better driver on track. But the decision to allow the two to race again after a safety car restart for just one more lap will go down as one of the most controversial moments in the history of the sport.
What led to this controversy? It starts with Nicholas Latifi of all people.
Latifi crashed with just a handful of laps to go and so a safety car was naturally deployed. This erased the 11s lead Hamilton had built over the course of the race but Mercedes weren’t worried. Why would they be when they thought that the race would end behind the safety car? Instead, race director, Michael Masi, made the decision to allow the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the safety car and allow the two to race for one lap. Verstappen on fresher tyres managed to clinch first place from Hamilton, earning him his first World Championship title.
How dramatic is that? It’s almost too perfect to believe. In fact, many people online are finding it hard to believe. Actually, you don’t even have to look into an angry comment section, you can hear it right on the grid.
Upcoming Mercedes driver, George Russell, took a very strong stance on Twitter, “THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!! Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.”
Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) December 12, 2021
Lando Norris was skeptical in a post-race interview too saying, “I’m not too sure… Of course Max won, and congrats to that, but in terms of the decision? For it to end like that, I’m not too sure.”
Sports reporter Andrew Gamble thought that the decision was fine but a little bit dodgy, “Michael Masi decided he didn’t want the greatest title battle in F1 to end on a safety car, which I’m all for as a neutral. He definitely bent the rules though.
Trevor Noah, however, summed it all up quite well, “Terrible result for Lewis but great result for F1. Championship decided on the final race, everyone arguing about the rules online and a dramatic ending for the next season of Drive to Survive. Better to be a controversial sport than a boring one.”
Terrible result for Lewis but great result for F1. Championship decided on the final race, everyone arguing about the rules online and a dramatic ending for the next season of Drive to Survive.— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) December 12, 2021
Better to be a controversial sport than a boring one. 🤷🏽♂️😄
Mercedes didn’t take this lying down. No, just thirty minutes after the race the team protested the final classification and calling into specific question an “alleged breach of Article 48.12 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations” and a further breach of Article 48.8 in another, separate protest.
The FIA released a document in response that read, “Article 15.3 allows the Race Director to control the use of the safety car, which in our determination includes its deployment and withdrawal.
“Although Article 48.12 may not have been applied fully, in relation to the safety car returning to the pits at the end of the following lap, Article 48.13 overrides that and once the message ‘Safety Car in this lap’ has been displayed, it is mandatory to withdraw the safety car at the end of that lap.
“That notwithstanding Mercedes’ request that the Stewards remediate the matter by amending the classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap, this is a step that the Stewards believe is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate.
“Accordingly, the Protest is dismissed.”
Red Bull defendants have claimed that it wasn’t the FIA who handed Verstappen the victory, it was Mercedes poor decisions during the safety car as one Twitter user said, “Hamilton should’ve pitted when they had the chance and changed tyres. That cost them the championship, not the FIA.”
We will be hearing about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for days, maybe even weeks to come. It is incredibly unlikely that the result will be changed for any reason though Mercedes do have 96 hours to decide if they want to launch an appeal to try and overturn the result.
Mercedes are absolutely adamant that if the rules hadn’t been bent by allowing three cars to go ahead of the safety car instead of the five that should have gone, Hamilton would have won. And in a sense, they aren’t wrong. Not entirely anyway. Had the other two cars had to overtake the safety car, there wouldn’t have been any laps left to race. Still, the way that it did turn out, it’s not like Mercedes’ hands were tied during the safety car, they could have pitted and put on a new set of softs just like Verstappen did but maybe the decision came too late for Mercedes to adjust their strategy? This is what I mean, there are so many “if’s, and’s, or but’s” that it’s impossible now to come to a consensus.
What do you think? Are you happy with the result and care little for how it was gained, or are you furious? Do you feel cheated or entertained? Let us know because all we really know is that Netflix are the real winners of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
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