Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says claims that Lewis Hamilton was robbed in Abu Dhabi are “complete and utter nonsense”.
Hamilton was the in-form driver in Sunday’s title-decider, the British racer up by more than 10 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen when the Safety Car came out for Nicholas Latifi’s crashed Williams.
Although race director Michael Masi initially said none of the lapped cars, of which there were five between Hamilton and Verstappen but eight in total, would be allowed to overtake behind the Safety Car, he then changed his mind.
But he only let the five that would have stopped a one-lap shoot-out for the title to unlap themselves.
Hamilton was overtaken by Verstappen on the final lap, losing the race win and the Drivers’ Championship title.
Mercedes cried foul, protested, which was dismissed, and have since announced they are considering an appeal.
Ecclestone has a very different perspective.
“About being robbed it’s complete and utter nonsense,” he told Sky Sports News.
“If you want to think about it carefully, on the first lap of that race he (Hamilton) went off the circuit and came back on again and Verstappen stayed on the circuit and did absolutely nothing wrong.
“Lewis wasn’t punished at all for this so he shouldn’t be complaining too much.
“These things happen all the time in sports. We shouldn’t blame the race director, he did exactly what was the right thing to do.”
Footage has since emerged of Hamilton telling Mercedes over the radio that the result was “getting manipulated”.
Lewis' final lap radio 📻
"This is getting manipulated man"
— Sir Lewis Hamilton Updates (@SirLewisUpdates) December 12, 2021
Ecclestone’s response to that: “I’d like to know who has been manipulating and is clever enough to do that.
“This was just a set of circumstances that happened and it ended an incredible world championship that I’m sure everyone was more than happy to watch.”
As for Mercedes’ potential appeal, the 91-year-old feels that would be a huge mistake.
“I think an appeal would be the worst thing they could do,” he said. “It would look like they are bad losers.
“It was very level. Two guys racing each other and one was quicker than the other one. It’s a lot of nonsense.
“It took them four hours to decide if they had a case or not so it couldn’t have been that clear.
“Max won it fair and square which is a good thing to do. People are just as happy to see a new face win it.
“I personally was happy that Lewis didn’t win an eighth championship because of Michael Schumacher. I wouldn’t like to see that broken.”
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