F1 news RECAP: FIA admit to ‘misunderstandings’ as Max Verstappen explains last lap issue

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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The clock is still ticking for Mercedes to appeal the FIA’s decision to throw out their earlier protests over the final few laps of Sunday’s wildly controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows will have until Thursday evening to decide whether to follow through with their plans to dispute the handling of the race, in which Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton to Drivers’ Championship glory in dramatic fashion.

The Dutchman reaped the rewards of FIA race director Michael Masi’s decision to allow the five lapped cars in between the two leaders to unlap themselves under the safety car.

Masi initially declared that no drivers would be allowed to overtake the safety car before changing his mind just moments before the green flags were waved for the one-lap shootout that followed.

This allowed Verstappen, who was on much fresher tyres than Hamilton, to close up and pass his Mercedes rival on the final lap to clinch the title at the end of an extraordinary contest at the Yas Marina Circuit.

The drama appears to be far from over, though, with many still outraged at the manner in which Masi effectively decided the race result at Hamilton’s expense.

Express Sport is on hand to provide live updates throughout the day as the dust continues to settle on Sunday’s historic race.

JUST IN: Daniel Ricciardo’s blunt post-race radio message on Abu Dhabi drama


  • Hill weighs in on Wolff and Horner’s rivalry16:46
  • Verstappen given hero’s welcome16:24
  • ‘Super Max’ flying in the song charts15:49
  • Alonso agrees with Brundle15:18
  • Masi receives praise14:56
  • End of testing14:25
  • Hakkinen weighs in13:21
  • Arise Sir Lewis!11:49
  • Max: We did nothing wrong11:30
  • Mercedes refuse FIA photoshoot10:58
  • Lewis ‘doesn’t want to talk’10:37
  • Schumacher questions Mercedes10:25
  • Horner thanks lucky stars09:56
  • Palmer: Bottas let Mercedes down09:07
  • Brundle offers Masi advice08:32
  • Mercedes given hope08:09
  • Verstappen on last lap issue

    Max Verstappen has revealed that he suffered with cramp during his tense final lap against Lewis Hamilton.


    It certainly did not look like there was anything wrong with the Dutchman as he roared over the finish line and wildly celebrated his first world championship title.

    But speaking to BBC Sport he said: “The problem I had when I crossed the start and finish line to try and attack him, I got a massive cramp in my leg so I had to deal with that as well.

    “You see all the footage of people going crazy in the garage or on the pit wall but I had to first go for the title and deal with a cramp in my leg as well which is very painful.”


    FIA admit to ‘misunderstandings’

    The FIA have released another statement discussing the ‘misunderstandings’ that took place in the wake of Sunday’s race.

    “The 2021 FIA Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has prompted a large number of reactions from the F1 community and from motor sport in general, as well as in the public,” it read.

    “The circumstances surrounding the use of the Safety Car following the incident of driver Nicholas Latifi, and the related communications between the FIA Race Direction team and the Formula One teams, have notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula One teams, driver and fans.”


    Herbert wants change

    Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert has said events at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix left a “bitter taste” in a scathing attack on FIA officials.

    Herbert, who raced for seven different teams in an 11-year F1 career, was left angered by the manner in which race director Michael Masi appeared to panic and speed-up the safety car procedure in order ensure one final lap of racing.

    “What we’ve had this year has been very positive for F1 because it has got people talking about it again, which hasn’t been the case for a long time. We didn’t need the last lap to make it exciting,” he said.


    Verstappen outlines future plans

    Max Verstappen has admitted he broke down in tears after winning his first ever world title on Sunday.

    The Dutchman said he was “super emotional” as the full extent of what he had achieved sunk in.

    He has also been speaking about how much longer he intends to race before calling it a day.


    Mercedes told to ‘shut up’

    The animosity continues following the big race after former vice president of Mercedes motorsport activity Norbert Haug said his old team need to “shut up”.

    In the view of Haug, it’s time for Mercedes to concede defeat and move on.

    “You can only say s*** happens,” he told ServusTV.

    “A word on it afterwards, the motorsport fan doesn’t want to see that. It’s about having the size to shut up.”


    Verstappen has no sympathy

    Max Verstappen has ruthlessly claimed that he has no sympathy for Lewis Hamilton following the dramatic finale on Sunday.

    Much has been made of the controversial way in which the Dutchman sealed glory in Abu Dhabi.

    But speaking today Verstappen said: “I think in a way it’s difficult to compare myself to him. I was fighting for my first title and he already had seven.

    “In a way, you can take a bit of comfort out of that.”


    Perez called out for ‘dirty tricks’

    Sergio Perez has been accused of using ‘dirty tricks’ to help Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Former F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais took to Twitter to vent his fury at the Spaniard for appearing to deliberately hold up Hamilton.

    Bourdais wrote: “I can’t begin to understand how Perez can be happy with himself and how people applaud him for what he did.


    Masi defended

    FIA chief Michael Masi is certainly a man who has come under heavy scrutiny in recent days for the part he played in Sunday’s controversy.

    Some have even suggested that the Australian could soon lose his job as a result of the farcical scenes in Abu Dhabi.

    But not everyone is of the same opinion, and McLaren boss Andreas Seidl has insisted they are “very happy” with the job Masi has done so far.


    Hill weighs in on Wolff and Horner’s rivalry

    Former F1 world champion Damon Hill has questioned the authenticity of an ongoing feud between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner.

    Tensions reached a crescendo between the Mercedes and Red Bull team bosses during Abu Dhabi’s season finale, with the latter coming out on top as Max Verstappen sealed his maiden world title.

    The two team bosses have been at each other’s throats all season, but Hill believes it might all be a show.


    Verstappen given hero’s welcome

    Max Verstappen was given a hero’s reception by the Red Bull team at their team headquarters on Wednesday afternoon. 

    The Red Bull driver became the 34th F1 champion after defeating Lewis Hamilton in the dramatic Abu Dhabi season finale.

    ‘Super Max’ flying in the song charts

    Max Verstappen’s song ’Super Max’ continues to soar in popularity after the Dutchman spectacularly secured his maiden Formula 1 world championship on Sunday.

    He won the title in dramatic and controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.

    Verstappen is known for being a popular driver with a devoted fanbase, with his ‘Oranje Army’ often raucous in their support of the 24-year-old.

    They proudly cheer on their superstar around the world with orange flares or even a hit song.

    After he won the championship in dramatic circumstances, Verstappen’s fans have taken it to new heights with their new song, called ‘Super Max’ by the Pitstop Boys – and it’s proving to be VERY popular.


    Alonso agrees with Brundle

    Fernando Alonso agrees with Martin Brundle in that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen deserve to share the F1 world title.

    Barring a late Mercedes appeal, Verstappen will go down in the history books as the victor of a dramatic season, which ended in even more dramatic circumstances.

    But Alonso believes Hamilton and Verstappen both had brilliant seasons and couldn’t separate them.

    He shared the same view as Brudle by claiming that the trophy should have been split in two to honour both drivers.


    Masi receives praise

    McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has jumped to the defence of under-fire race director Michael Masi in the wake of Sunday’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    “From our point of view without commenting on what happened, we appreciate the open and transparent dialogue we had all year, and also in previous years with Michael,” Seidl told Autosport.

    “And we were really happy also with the way how he is dealing with things, not just with us but in general, with all the teams in the paddock.

    “So I think we need to be very careful that this intense battle for the championship, which was very intense on and off-track, that triggered obviously a lot of heated comments as well, is not giving the wrong picture also of the reality.

    “Again from our point of view, we’re very happy with how Michael is dealing with us, he’s asking for our input, always has an open ear for improvements as well. That’s how I see it.”

    End of testing

    Day two of post-season testing in Abu Dhabi has drawn to a close, putting an end to F1’s official running for the year.

    F2 ace Robert Shwartzman topped the timesheets for Haas, with the Russian driver putting in a best lap time of 1:25.348.

    The likes of Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly, Guanyu Zhou and Fernando Alonso were also in action at the Yas Marina Circuit.

    Russell: A strange feeling

    George Russell has explained that it felt surreal to jump back into the cockpit for Mercedes on day one of this year’s post-season test in Abu Dhabi.

    The 23-year-old, who will join Lewis Hamilton at the Silver Arrows next season, was tasked with running the new 18-inch tyres around the Yas Marina circuit during yesterday’s session.

    “It’s a strange feeling because I’ve tested with the team numerous times after races, end-of-season and now here we are again,” Russell told the F1 website.

    “But obviously it’s my first time as an official driver for the team, so it was a really great day to be back with the guys and learning about these new tyres.

    “It’s obviously always a pleasant experience driving a world championship-winning car, the 2019 Mercedes, and with these 18-inch Pirellis which seemed to react pretty positively so yes, it was a nice day.”

    Hakkinen weighs in

    Mika Hakkinen has defended Michael Masi’s controversial decision to end Sunday’s decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a final lap of racing.

    The Finn, who clinched the end-of-season honours in 1998 and 1999, insisted that it would have been a crying shame for the Drivers’ Championship to have been won and lost behind the safety car.

    “That really would have been such an anticlimax,” wrote Hakkinen in his column for Unibet.

    “The race director’s decision, later supported by the four stewards, is based on his understanding of the rules including his responsibility for deciding when the safety car returns to the pits.

    “Balancing decisions between ensuring safety and promoting racing is the toughest job facing the race director. Looking at the result, in terms of safety and promoting racing, Michael did his job.”

    Ricciardo: No regrets

    Daniel Ricciardo has insisted that he never asks himself what might have been if he had stayed at Red Bull instead of leaving the team in 2019.

    The 32-year-old established himself as one of F1’s biggest stars during his time with the Austrian outfit but has endured a mixed bag with Renault and McLaren in the years since.

    “I don’t have any [regrets],” Ricciardo told ESPN.

    “People probably thought: ‘I wonder what Daniel thought this year, would he also have been fighting for a championship?’.

    “Up until right now I haven’t actually thought about that. I think it’s hard to answer in a way that… the easiest way to say it is, I really did, and not in a negative way, I detached myself from it.

    “Once I closed the book with Red Bull I really tried to put all my energy into the next part. I really didn’t have any over-hanging, like, what could’ve, what should’ve.”

    Festive Seb

    Sebastian Vettel appears to be getting into the Christmas spirit at post-season testing in Abu Dhabi this afternoon…

    Arise Sir Lewis!

    Lewis Hamilton has officially been knighted in a ceremony at Windsor Castle this morning.

    The 36-year-old received the knighthood for services to motorsport after being named in last year’s New Year Honours list.

    Catch up on the full story here.

    Max: We did nothing wrong

    Max Verstappen has insisted that he is not losing any sleep over the backlash surrounding his maiden Drivers’ Championship triumph because neither he nor Red Bull were responsible for the farcical scenes that took place in Abu Dhabi.

    “I mean, it’s quite typical looking at the season that it happens,” the Dutchman told Motorsport.com when quizzed on the controversial safety car restart.

    “It is what it is. I mean, we were still happy and enjoying it. And we, as a team, didn’t do anything wrong.

    “We raced when there was a green light and green flag, so we went for it and we did it on track.”

    Mercedes refuse FIA photoshoot

    Mercedes have rejected the opportunity to appear in an official FIA photoshoot to commemorate their latest Constructors’ Championship triumph, according to RaceFans.

    It is said that the Silver Arrows were invited to join a group photograph commissioned by motorsport’s governing body along with a number of other title-winning teams.

    However, they were the only ones who refused to allow either of their cars to feature in the photograph.

    The German outfit are still considering whether to proceed with their appeal following the rejection of their initial protests after Sunday’s race.

    Lewis ‘doesn’t want to talk’

    Lewis Hamilton’s brother, Nicolas, has revealed that the Mercedes ace is still trying to come to terms with the manner of his cruel defeat in Abu Dhabi.

    “I don’t actually know [how Lewis is] because I haven’t spoken to him,” he told a live stream.

    “I’ve tried to speak to him but I think I’m just going to leave him for a bit, we all know what it’s like when things don’t go to plan.

    “My mum and dad are with him and they say he’s okay, so yeah, I think he’s just in a place where he doesn’t want to talk to anyone.”

    Schumacher questions Mercedes

    Ralf Schumacher has hit out at Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff’s post-race antics after Max Verstappen’s historic Drivers’ Championship triumph on Sunday.

    The Silver Arrows boss was heard asking Michael Masi to declare the result from the lap before the last-gasp restart in the immediate aftermath of the contest.

    “He really wanted to make sure the last lap wouldn’t count,” Schumacher told Sky Germany.

    “Of course, you have to pull out all the stops, but Max and his team did a really good job in an insanely exciting race. He won fairly at the restart.

    “I’m sorry, but I think it leaves a bitter aftertaste when you try to win the World Championship like that.”

    Horner thanks lucky stars

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has admitted that Max Verstappen was fortunate to benefit from the last-gasp safety car that flipped the trajectory of Sunday’s race with only a few laps remaining.

    However, the 48-year-old suggested that it was the only piece of luck received by the Dutchman in a year that saw plenty of controversial decisions being made over the course of the campaign.

    “There have been marginal calls and some we’ve benefitted from, the majority of which we have lost out from,” said Horner.

    “Max was finally due a bit of luck and [Nicholas] Latifi causing that safety car just gave us the opportunity and it felt, after Silverstone and Budapest and Azerbaijan, he felt that his luck wasn’t with him.

    “For the first time, he had a bit of luck and it came at the right time but he had to make it happen.”

    Max named ‘fastest driver’

    AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost has declared that Max Verstappen fully deserved his maiden Drivers’ Championship title after establishing himself as the grid’s quickest driver ahead of Lewis Hamilton over the course of the entire campaign.

    “Congratulations to Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and Honda for winning the world championship title,” said Tost in AlphaTauri’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review.

    “They did an incredible job during the year and Max really deserved this. This year he was the fastest driver and the team did a fantastic job.

    “We are also happy from our side because we brought home a very good race result, the best of the year, and collected 22 points with Yuki [Tsunoda] in P4 and Pierre [Gasly] in P5, having started the race in P8 and P12.”

    Palmer: Bottas let Mercedes down

    Jolyon Palmer has slammed Valtteri Bottas after the Finn failed to assist Lewis Hamilton’s title charge by slowing the progress of Max Verstappen during Sunday’s race.

    “Bottas had a shocker,” Palmer told the BBC when quizzed on the man who finished sixth at the Yas Marina Circuit.

    “Now, did that cost Hamilton the title? If Bottas is within a pit-stop window of Verstappen, Verstappen is not having ‘free’ stops willy-nilly.

    “A great driver for the team for so many years, his last race he went missing and it meant Verstappen had a ‘free’ stop at the Virtual Safety Car, ‘free’ stop at the Safety Car.

    “If you’ve got another Mercedes there within 23 seconds of him, in a car that’s quicker with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel, he can’t do it and Hamilton is the champion.”

    Testing resumes

    Today’s action as the Yas Marina Circuit is already well underway, with a number of teams in attendance for day two of post-season testing.

    There are two separate tests taking place, with several non-F1 drivers out on track in 2021 spec cars as part of the dedicated Young Driver Test.

    Meanwhile, a number of current F1 stars are present to run the new 18-inch tyres on specially-designed mule cars.

    Brundle offers Masi advice

    Martin Brundle has urged race director Michael Masi to appoint a trusted and experienced wingman in order to assist him in making important decisions from the control room next year.

    The F1 legend also suggested that teams should be strictly limited in the number of times they can challenge decisions over the radio during races.

    “[Former race director] Charlie [Whiting] had his ultimate wingman Herbie Blash, a man who had attended more F1 races than anybody else, by his side,” wrote Brundle in his Sky Sports column.

    He went on to add: “It’s totally unacceptable to hear team bosses and team managers even pre-empting situations and lobbying. They are only doing their jobs but in earlier days would have been given short shrift by Charlie.

    “Toto Wolff’s outrageous call to Masi to lobby for no safety car for Antonio Giovinazzi’s stricken Alfa Romeo in Abu Dhabi, and Christian Horner telling the world seven days earlier how much F1 missed Charlie Whiting because the restart grid in Saudi Arabia felt like a ‘Souk negotiation’, which didn’t age well for him, simply wouldn’t have happened before.

    “They are super competitive and under pressure people using all the tools available to them, and the power base and direction of communication has totally changed. Those tools need to be more regulated.”

    Mercedes given hope

    Mercedes have been told that a fresh appeal to change the outcome of Sunday’s race could ultimately be successful, with sports law specialist Nicholas Bamber suggesting that the Silver Arrows could make a convincing argument to see Lewis Hamilton retrospectively awarded the Drivers’ Championship title.

    “In response to Mercedes’ protest, they [the FIA] concluded that Article 15.3 gives the race director carte blanche to control the use of the safety car and overrides the procedure for the safety car stipulated at Article 48.12,” Bamber told Racefans.

    “This interpretation seems, on its face, to be inconsistent with a plain language view of the regulations.

    “It also directly contradicts Michael Masi’s approach in similar circumstances at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, where he stated ‘there is a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past’ before the safety car returns to the pit lane and the race recommences, ‘therefore the safety car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally wanted’.

    Good morning

    Hello and welcome to Express Sport‘s live coverage of all the post-race fallout and best reaction to Sunday’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Mercedes will have until Thursday evening to submit a fresh appeal to the FIA after declaring their intention to do so following the rejection of their initial protests.

    The Silver Arrows were left incensed by under-fire race director Michael Masi’s handling of the situation that saw Lewis Hamilton miss out on a record-breaking eighth world title at the Yas Marina Circuit.

    Stay tuned for all the latest news and updates from the world of F1 throughout the day!

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