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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s Abu Dhabi 2021 drama recalled by Sky Sports a year later: “Mitigating circumstances, no cheats” | F1

A year later at the same location for the 2022 season finale, memories were evoked of the controversial finish where Max Verstappen was able to overtake Hamilton due to incorrectly applied rules by race director Michael Masi, and pip him to the championship.

Sky’s Brundle reflected: “If the rules played out in full, the race would have finished under the Safety Car and Lewis would have been champion for the eighth time.

“There were mitigating circumstances – but no excuses. We had 39 races in 17 months. The system was under pressure. There were chances for Mercedes to put fresh tyres on. Max still had to get the overtake done.

“The championship was won over all of the 2021 races.

“There have been conversations behind the scenes – an urgency to not finish under a Safety Car or a red flag. It was one of the biggest events in F1 history.

“The bottom line is – it should have finished under a Safety Car.

“That championship is not going to change. There are no asterisks. Lessons can be learned and we can talk about it forever. We will never unravel it.”

Damon Hill said: “There were no cheats. But we could be excused for feeling cheated with an ambiguous finish. Everyone was scratching their heads at what happened. Nothing will change the result.

“You can understand people’s anger and Lewis feeling deprived of a title.”

Jenson Button said: “Until the last three minutes of the race Lewis thought he would be 2021 champion. That is mentally tough for a driver. I feel that he has grown as a person – he is a better driver and a better person for it.”

Brundle added: “As I said on the night, there was no remedy to the problem. The ‘referee’ made a mistake, not Red Bull.

“What has changed? They have stopped team principals lobbying race control. That has gone. You can’t pull up behind a driver during a Safety Car restart. That has gone.”

Hill: “If you go through the difficult mental adjustment, it takes enormous mental strength.”

Verstappen won the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as well, completing back-to-back championships. Hamilton finished sixth in the F1 standings, his worst-ever result.

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