Home » Was Lewis Hamilton Robbed Of Victory At In Abu Dhabi? Max Verstappen Snatches F1 Title On Last Lap

Was Lewis Hamilton Robbed Of Victory At In Abu Dhabi? Max Verstappen Snatches F1 Title On Last Lap

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Mercedes were last night ‘discussing’ taking the fight for the Formula 1 world championship to court as the controversy over the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix continued to rage on.

British fans were left claiming Lewis Hamilton was robbed of an eighth World Championship after a decision by race directors to allow some of the lapped cars to overtake a safety car and set up a one-lap drag race between the British driver and his arch rival Max Verstappen.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton to claim the win and also snatch the World Championship.

Hamilton’s team launched a pair of protests against Verstappen’s title-winning victory amid the highly contested decision, but they were quickly dismissed and Verstappen was confirmed as the world champion in the second defeat of the night for Mercedes.

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was last night locked in talks with the team’s barrister, Paul Harris QC, a distinguished sports lawyer who has acted for Premier League football clubs, including Manchester City and Liverpool.

Mercedes confirmed: ‘We have lodged our intention to appeal.’ That was after their initial protest into the safety car incident that cost Hamilton victory was rejected by the stewards four hours after the end of the race.’

One insider indicated that no legal option was off the table. Mercedes now have 96 hours to confirm whether they will press ahead with the appeal.

Hamilton led the entire race and was in total control after overtaking the Red Bull driver at the first corner of the race, but a safety car in the dying moments gave the Dutchman the opportunity to wrest the title away from the British driver’s grasp.

Hamilton appeared to be cruising to an eighth championship, before Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the wall amid a duel with Haas’ Mick Schumacher just five laps from the end of the Grand Prix.

A virtual safety car was initially called and Verstappen and Red Bull used the opportunity to pit and fit fresh soft tyres, while Hamilton had no choice but to keep track position and stay out on his deteriorating hard tyres.

However, a full safety car was subsequently called by Race Control, bunching up the field and all but wiping out Hamilton’s lead.

For a moment it looked as though the race could finish behind the safety car with Hamilton and Verstappen separated by five back-markers, but on the penultimate lap of the race, race control allowed the lapped cars to pass the safety car.

This meant that Verstappen was right behind Hamilton going into the final lap, which allowed the Dutchman to make full use of his soft tyres and racing guile, executing a heart-stopping pass to take his first World Championship.

Lewis Hamilton (left) congratulates Max Verstappen (right) following a thrilling final race of the season in which Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap of the race amid major controversy

The Dutchman pipped Hamilton to his first World Championship on the final lap of the race in Abu Dhabi with a heart-stopping pass after a controversial decision from race control

Max Verstappen embraces girlfriend Kelly Piquet, daughter of three-time F1 champ Nelson Piquet, in parc ferme following his World Championship win in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton is consoled by his father Anthony Hamilton moments after losing the World Championship on the final lap to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing shares a teary embrace with his father and former F1 driver Jos Verstappen in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit

Second placed and championship runner up Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes looks dejected in parc ferme

The drama-filled race began with the two title rivals nearly colliding on the very first lap of the race

Race winner and 2021 F1 World Driver’s Champion Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Red Bull Racing (left centre) celebrates with Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner (right centre) in parc ferme moments after winning the World Championship

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates winning the race and the world championship with the Netherlands flag on the podium

A dejected but respectful Lewis Hamilton shakes the hand of Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner on the podium

Newly-crowned World Champion Verstappen celebrates with British Team Principal of the Red Bull Racing Formula One Christian Horner on the podium of the Yas Marina Circuit

Christian Horner celebrates with his wife Geri Horner in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit

Verstappen screamed with elation as he crossed the line, and was mobbed by his Red Bull pit crew who were clamouring to congratulate their star driver as soon as he jumped out of the car in parc ferme.

A dejected Hamilton, meanwhile, sat in his Mercedes for several minutes, seemingly in shock at how events had transpired against him in the final laps.

Fellow Brit George Russell, who will join Hamilton at Mercedes next season, was the first to lead the backlash over the circumstances which allowed Verstappen to dramatically seal the title.

Russell tweeted: ‘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.’

The drama-filled race began from the very first lap when the title rivals nearly collided.

After Hamilton overtook Verstappen on the first corner, the Red Bull driver launched his Red Bull up the inside from several car-lengths back at Turn Seven, with Hamilton forced to take evasive action and leave the track to avoid a collision.

Verstappen is mobbed by Red Bull’s pit crew after sealing his first Formula One World Championship in the dying moments of the race

Britain and McLaren’s Lando Norris (L) congratulates his friend and fellow competitor Max Verstappen (right) on his World Championship winning victory moments after he jumped out of his car

Race winner and 2021 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates with fellow Dutchman DJ Martin Garrix (L) on the podium

The Brit however kept his momentum and drove straight across the run-off area to retake the lead, with what appeared to be a small time advantage.

Stewards did not tell Hamilton to return the advantage he gained and ruled there was no investigation necessary, much to the dismay of the Dutchman and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Verstappen said on team radio: ‘That is incredible. What are they doing here?’

From there, Hamilton was relentless and his lead continued to grow as he drew ever closer to a coveted, record-breaking eighth title.

FIA Formula One World Champion Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium of the Yas Marina Circuit

Verstappen celebrates with his girlfriend Kelly Piquet after winning his first Formula One world championship

Max Verstappen and Red Bull reacted angrily after his first-lap collision with Lewis Hamilton

Verstappen (right) dived up the inside of Hamilton (right) at Turn Seven, the cars touched, and the Brit was forced off track, running wide up the escape route and easily retaking the lead

Team Principal Christian Horner (right) celebrates alongside wife Geri following an enthralling final race of the season

There was a brief flicker of hope for Verstappen 22 laps from the end when the broken Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi caused a brief Virtual Safety Car phase.

Red Bull took the opportunity to pit Verstappen and fit fresh tyres to hunt down Hamilton, who stayed out. It was a final throw of the dice.

When racing resumed, the gap was 18 seconds with 22 laps remaining.

Hamilton appeared worried over his team radio, but put in stellar laps to ensure Verstappen would run out of time to catch him.

But in a dramatic moment in keeping with the rest of this incredible season, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the wall with five laps remaining, triggering a late safety car.

Verstappen took yet another free stop, fitting soft tyres for maximum attack. But time was running out. Would the safety car even come in?

It did. Verstappen powered through at Turn 5, and though Hamilton pursued his foe valiantly down both straights, he was helpless on his old, worn rubber and the young Dutchman powered away to cross the line and take his first ever World Championship.

Will Max Verstappen be STRIPPED of his first ever World Championship title?

The celebrations will continue long into the night for Red Bull and Max Verstappen, who won his first ever F1 Driver’s World Championship – but Mercedes have already lodged an appeal against the official results.

At the time of writing, team principal Toto Wolff is yet to comment on the drama, but Mercedes appear to have a clear case against the FIA.

Mercedes’ case looks to question a decision made by race director Michael Masi, who allowed five cars in between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the safety car on the penultimate lap of the race – and may also argue that Verstappen briefly overtook Hamilton behind the safety car.

In the rulebook, Article 48.8 says ‘no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.’

There is also Article 48.12, which says that ‘any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.’

Regarding the first point, Verstappen looked to pull up alongside Hamilton approaching Turn 12 on lap 57, ahead of the race restarting on lap 58 – the final one.

And for the second argument made by Mercedes, Race Control told Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel to pass the safety car ahead of the drama-filled restart.

However, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher were not given the same instruction.

Article 48.12 also says: ‘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.’

Mercedes’ case looks to question a decision made by race director Michael Masi (pictured at Yas Marina circuit yesterday), who allowed five cars in between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the safety car on the penultimate lap of the race – and may also argue that Verstappen briefly overtook Hamilton behind the safety car.

It is unclear what action could be taken, but the investigation is already underway.

Ultimately, if any punishments are meted out, they will single-handedly change the complexion of the title fight – and potentially strip Verstappen of the trophy.

The fact that the tussle came down to the final race of the season means that if there are any alterations to the race result, Hamilton may take home an eighth award.

It will be nothing short of embarrassing for the sport is the outcome is overturned.

But it may also be more damaging for them to leave the result to stand, with rules seemingly conjured up on the last lap of the season to create a soap opera.

Red Bull will now speak to the stewards this evening, with plenty more controversy expected before the day is out.

Race by race, the key moments that have shaped the title and finally gave Max Verstappen his first F1 world championship crown

By Matt Davies for MailOnline

Much has been made of the incidents between Hamilton and Verstappen at the British, Italian and Saudi Arabian Grands Prix, all of which had a significant impact on the season.

How DID Max Verstappen overtake Hamilton on final lap – and was Hamilton robbed?

Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams car on lap 53, which brought out a safety car. Red Bull brought Verstappen in for fresher, newer tyres, but Mercedes kept Hamilton out on older tyres to keep their track position at the front.

The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) initially announced that cars in between Verstappen and Hamilton would not be able to unlap themselves, which is normal practice in Formula One.

Unlapping: Un-lapping is the process of driving fast to overtake a car which is one whole lap ahead and has just passed by. If a driver is able to pass them, they will have un-lapped themselves

This was a very controversial decision, which Red Bull appealed against.

The race director, Michael Masi, then changed his mind, which meant Verstappen was put right behind Hamilton for the last-lap shootout. The five cars in between them were told to overtake the safety car, meanwhile.

In the sporting regulations, it says ‘no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.’

There is also Article 48.12, which says that ‘any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.’

But there are a number of other incidents and key moments that have also shaped this incredible title race, without which the nail-biting conclusion to the 2021 F1 World Driver’s Championship would never have materialised.

Neither Hamilton nor Verstappen claim points in Azerbaijan

Up first was a drama-filled race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which incredibly saw neither Hamilton nor Verstappen score points, with the race win instead going to Red Bull’s Perez.

Verstappen was cruising towards a certain and stunning victory, one which would have extended his lead over Hamilton by 15 points. He suffered a puncture at 200mph with just five laps to go, however, flying off the track into a concrete wall.

Thankfully, Verstappen was uninjured, though understandably highly frustrated. He kicked his car with rage after exiting his vehicle, with Hamilton – then second behind Perez – set to capitalise.

There was a further twist in the tale, after the race was red flagged. From the second standing start of the race, Hamilton actually got a better start than Perez and appeared to be leading heading into turn one.

However, he locked up and ran straight down the escape road, which saw him drop all the way back in the pecking order, eventually finishing in 15th. An opportunity wasted.

Bottas and Verstappen collide in Hungary

Verstappen and Hamilton have had their fair share of collisions, but this time it was the Brit’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who ultimately wrecked the youngster’s race.

In August, Hamilton regained the championship lead for the first time since May, finishing second behind Estaban Ocon despite being last five laps into the race.

Verstappen finished ninth in the end, but any chances of a win were taken away by Bottas, who lost control of his Mercedes in a huge turn-one incident, crashing into the back of Lando Norris, who then collided into Verstappen. Bottas also managed to take out Perez!

After an extraordinary race, Hamilton revealed he had been struggling since contracting coronavirus in December 2020. He visited the Mercedes doctor following victory due to fatigue and dizziness.

Valtteri Bottas crumpled into Sergio Perez, causing carnage after a slow start from the Finn

Verstappen wins farcical Belgian Grand Prix

What a farce this was. Verstappen was awarded the victory after strolling behind a safety car for just two laps, before the race was cancelled due to the awful weather conditions.

The crowd at the rain-hit Spa-Francorchamps circuit waited three-and-a-half hours for the results as the drivers simply waited in their garages for the weather to clear.

In the end, Mercedes-bound George Russell – now with Williams – took second, with Hamilton in third. That’s how it started, and that’s how it finished.

In what was the shortest F1 race of all time, Verstappen was awarded 12-and-a-half points for his ‘victory’.

Two laps is the minimum required for a classification, while half points were awarded as less than 75 per cent of the race was completed.

The drivers managed two laps behind the safety car in thee-and-a-half hours as rain poured

Verstappen takes advantage of the rain in Russia

Lastly, we have the Russian Grand Prix, where Hamilton and Verstappen finished first and second in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Verstappen started last on the grid but managed to finish second, while Hamilton – who started fourth – won his 100th Grand Prix.

How differently it could have been, however. With just two laps to go, it was Norris who was leading the pack and heading towards a famous victory, in fact his first-ever victory.

But the heavens opened and down came the rain. Norris opted against a tire change, which proved the wrong decision in the end. Hamilton – who also wanted to stay out – was instructed to pit and switch to a set of intermediates – which ultimately won him the race.

Verstappen was in seventh at the time the rain started to fall, but in changing his tyres before many others in the field, he was able to capitalise.

Though surrendering his lead to Hamilton in the title race, the Brit opened up just a two-point lead, where it could have been more.

MAX VERSTAPPEN’S 2021 SEASON RESULTS

BAHRAIN: 2nd

EMILIA-ROMAGNA: 1st

PORTUGAL: 2nd

SPAIN: 2nd

MONACO: 1st

AZERBAIJAN: DNF

FRANCE: 1st

STYRIA: 1st

AUSTRIA: 1st

GREAT BRITAIN: DNF

HUNGARY: 9th

BELGIUM: 1st

HOLLAND: 1st

ITALY: DNF

RUSSIA: 2nd

TURKEY: 2nd

UNITED STATES: 1st

MEXICO: 1st

BRAZIL: 2nd

QATAR: 2nd

SAUDI ARABIA: 2nd

Abu Dhabi: 1st

LEWIS HAMILTON’S 2021 SEASON RESULTS

BAHRAIN: 1st

EMILIA-ROMAGNA: 2nd

PORTUGAL: 1st

SPAIN: 1st

MONACO: 7th

AZERBAIJAN: 15th

FRANCE: 2nd

STYRIA: 2nd

AUSTRIA: 4th

GREAT BRITAIN: 1st

HUNGARY: 2nd

BELGIUM: 3rd

HOLLAND: 2nd

ITALY: DNF

RUSSIA: 1st

TURKEY: 5th

UNITED STATES: 2nd

MEXICO: 2nd

BRAZIL: 1st

QATAR: 1st

SAUDI ARABIA: 1st

Abu Dhabi: 2nd

Max Verstappen snatches the World Championship off Lewis Hamilton on the LAST LAP of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after late safety car chaos sees the Dutchman win his first ever title

Jonathan McEvoy for MailOnline

Max Verstappen has dethroned Lewis Hamilton as champion of the world.

In high drama, on the last lap, in bitter acrimony, the Dutchman for the first time in his 24-year-long life is King of the Track.

The circumstances will be talked about for years – a safety car coming in leaving just one lap for Verstappen to pass Lewis Hamilton, who had been in total command over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix until then.

Hamilton appeared to have made the decisive move with his first of the race – a brilliant reaction when the lights went out to rip straight past pole-sitter Verstappen into the first corner.

Verstappen celebrated winning his first Formula One World Championship at the Yas Marina circuit

Fans and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton banners in the stands before the race

Verstappen exits his Red Bull following a thrilling race in which he pipped Hamilton to win on the final lap

Hamilton reacts after being denied an eighth World Championship in controversial circumstances

Hamilton (left), Verstappen (centre), Ferrari driver Carloz Sainz (top right), and Christian Horner celebrate on the podium

That suddenly gave the Briton ownership of event, or so he thought.

There were a number of major heart-in-mouth moments. The first came on the seventh turn of the race, with Verstappen desperate to regain the advantage he had just lost.

He lunged down a gap he spotted and Hamilton was forced off the road and cut the corner.

Verstappen kept himself within the white lines of the track. He asked for the place to be handed back. The stewards reviewed the incident but took no action, leaving Hamilton in first place.

‘It’s incredible,’ said the Dutchman. ‘What are they doing here?’ You could see why he might feel aggrieved but the decision was hardly an outrage.

Hamilton now simply had more speed than Verstappen, the Mercedes holding the whip hand over the Red Bull.

When both the main men had stopped, Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull stayed out. ‘Plan B,’ the Mexican was told. His job was to hold up Hamilton. He did this brilliantly on lap 20. Hamilton passed him and was passed back. They went wheel to wheel.

It was clean but nail-biting. Would Perez punt Hamilton off by accident or design?

He did not, with Hamilton finally breaking free the following lap. Verstappen was only 1.8sec back now such was Perez’s defensive masterclass. ‘Checo is a legend,’ said Verstappen after being let right through to get on Hamilton’s tail.

There was a brief flicker of hope for Verstappen when the broken Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi caused a brief Virtual Safety Car phase. Red Bull took the opportunity to reboot Verstappen. It was a final throw of the dice.

When racing resumed, the gap was 18 seconds with 22 laps remaining. Verstappen drove fantastically well, but time was against him. Hamilton, though, showed a few moments of panic over the radio as he was told his margin of advantage was being eroded. With 13 laps to go it was 13sec between the pair.

As long as Hamilton’s tyres lasted, he would be fine. A warning came in a puncture on Lando Norris’s McLaren. Hamilton was told to watch the kerbs at Turn 15 and 16.

A final twist, Nicholas Latifi crashing outside the W Hotel. A late safety car. Verstappen took the free stop; Hamilton, to his astonishment and nerve-jangling annoyance, didn’t. But time was running out. Would the safety car even come in?

It did. Verstappen powered through at Turn 5, Hamilton helpless on his own rubber with the young new king breathing down his neck.

‘THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!’ Lewis Hamilton’s future Mercedes team-mate George Russell leads widespread condemnation for the ‘disgusting’ and ‘farcical’ rule change which allowed Max Verstappen to sensationally steal the F1 title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

By Max Matthews for MailOnline

Formula One driver George Russell led an extensive backlash over the circumstances which allowed Max Verstappen to dramatically steal the World Championship title in the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton’s future Mercedes team-mate was shocked at the rule change which sensationally allowed Verstappen to suddenly make up lots of ground on leader Lewis Hamilton, and eventually overtake him to grab the championship.

Russell tweeted: ‘THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!

Formula One driver George Russell led an extensive backlash over the circumstances which allowed Max Verstappen to dramatically steal the World Championship title in the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday

‘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.’

The Mercedes Twitter account simply posted: ‘There are no words’.

Piers Morgan added: ‘I don’t know what I’ve just watched but it can’t be right. Hamilton’s been robbed, surely? #F1’

Former footballer Jermaine Jenas said: ‘You know what as much as I love @F1 there’s so much crap they need to sort out! That was a complete robbery for @LewisHamilton’.

Jonathan Liew said: ‘This is what happens when a sport decides to turn itself into scripted entertainment. rules stop being rules. the only guiding principle is what sells the product,’ while fellow journalist Ed Aarons added: ‘What a farce in the F1 by the way. Talk about manufacturing drama…’

Presenter Dan Walker added: ‘Whoever you wanted to win… that is an absolute farce of a finish #F1Finale’.

Former Tottenham midfielder Micky Hazard said: ‘I have to say that is disgusting what’s happened in the F1. I’m disgusted the organisers should be ashamed they changed the rules from the rest of the season disgusting,’ while another user posted: ‘Congrats to Michael Masi for deciding the F1 world title.’

Scores of racing fans also took to Twitter to express their condemnation and anger after the race.

One said: ‘The FIA just committed armed robbery on Hamilton. How was that allowed. They didn’t even allow all the lapped Cars to unlap themselves. Only the ones between Hamilton and Verstappen.’

A second tweeted: ‘I’ve never been more disappointed with the F1 – the best driver won…. No they didn’t…. Who won was someone who got lucky with an incident. What a joke F1, what a joke. #FormulaOne #F1Finale #F1’

Another said: ‘Drive to Survive’ made F1 big from an entertainment perspective so the governing body decides to fix the end of this race purely for entertainment. The only way to beat the best driver in the sport’s history is through blatant cheating.’

A fourth posted: ‘I’ve never seen anything so dodgy in sport. An absolute stitch up,’ with another adding: ‘FIA the entire season were a complete joke. Get rid of Michael Masi immediately.’