Carlos Sainz was pleased that Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton ensured a clean on-track battle in their Abu Dhabi title decider.
Several on-track collisions and controversial wheel-to-wheel battles between the pair earlier in the season had created concern that the final race of the season, and the outcome of the World Championship, could be decided by a crash.
Both drivers were level on points going into Abu Dhabi, but Verstappen topped the standings due to having more race wins that season, and so he did not need another point to be crowned champion.
As it turned out, it would be race director Michael Masi who provided the controversy, but on-track, Sainz was pleased to see both drivers keeping it clean.
He would join them on the podium after crossing the line P3.
“I actually believe that the championship had a good outcome in sight of all the possibilities that there were coming into this race,” he said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“I think, personal opinion, it was a great battle up front and they managed to keep it clean, no crashes, no contact.
“Just a good battle that this sport deserved for this last race and the first thing I did was congratulate both Max and Lewis on the podium because I believe that whoever was winning this weekend was going to deserve it because they’ve both driven incredibly and they both would have deserved the title.
“For me, the important thing is that nothing dirty, or nothing strange happened on track today and they both kept it clean.”
Sainz though was not supportive of Masi and his controversial interpretation of the Safety Car rules, after he allowed only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves before restarting the race with one more tour of Yas Marina Circuit to go.
“It was certainly a very strange situation for me because I was obviously battling for a podium with Valtteri [Bottas] and some AlphaTauris behind with a medium tyre while I was on a very used hard,” he explained.
“At the beginning I was told they were not going to be allowed to unlap themselves, the people in front of me. Then they decided to unlap themselves and some people unlapped themselves but there was still, I think it was an Aston Martin and a McLaren, [Daniel] Ricciardo, between the two leaders and myself.
“This I’ve never had before having to restart the race with these two guys in front of me, one fighting for a P3, so I do admit it was a strange one and maybe something to look at because it was very strange to see and it nearly cost me my podium, to be honest.”
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