Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Lewis Hamilton saw this season’s F1 title snatched away from him as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ended in controversy last Sunday. Max Verstappen claimed his maiden title after overtaking the Briton on the final lap of the race.
Tensions ran high at the season climax in the desert, with Mercedes and Red Bull both heard lobbying race officials following incidents on the track.
Red Bull weren’t happy that Hamilton was allowed to hold onto his lead after going off track at turn nine on the first lap of the race.
Mercedes, meanwhile, were infuriated by the events which followed Nicholas Latifi’s crash after team principal Toto Wolff had already been heard putting his views across to race director Michael Masi earlier in the race.
Such exchanges are currently broadcast live during races for fans to hear.
The Silver Arrows have apparently suggested that these conversations between team chiefs and race officials are made private.
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But Red Bull chief Christian Horner says he is against the idea of preventing fans from hearing what is being discussed.
“I fought very hard to get these messages broadcast,” Horner said.
“Charlie Whiting was never in favour, but Stefano Domenicali, when he became F1’s chief executive, thought it would be interesting to hear the dynamic.
“It makes you think twice about hitting the button, because you know it’s going live.
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“It surprised everybody, the amount of lobbying that was going on – particularly from some quarters.”
Hamilton was denied a record eighth championship victory when Masi reversed an overtaking decision in the final stages of the desert Grand Prix.
The 42-year-old had initially told lapped drivers that they couldn’t unlap themselves but changed his mind to allow five cars between the two title rivals to move out of the way.
That set-up a one-lap sprint between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the Dutchman having fresh tyres after taking the opportunity to visit the pits while the safety car was on the track.
Hamilton wasn’t afforded the luxury of being able to change his tyres without losing track position and Verstappen overtook the Briton to claim the title.
The fallout has been immense, with Mercedes initially intending to appeal the decision, before changing their mind.
Express Sport readers have called for Masi to be sacked, while Wolff has been scathing in his reaction to the events.
“I am not interested in having a conversation with Michael Masi,” Wolff said.
“The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of this race have dropped Lewis Hamilton from a deserved world championship.
“Robbing him in the last lap of the race is unacceptable. My values and my sense of integrity just isn’t compatible with the decisions that have been made.”
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