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Formula 1

Susie Wolff: Hamilton F1 title ‘robbery’ leaves me feeling sick

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Venturi Formula E CEO and ex-Formula 1 test driver Susie Wolff says she has been left with a “sick feeling” since Lewis Hamilton was “robbed” of the 2021 F1 title by the FIA’s handling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton was on course to seal an eighth world championship before a late safety car period and a controversial decision by FIA race director Michael Masi to restart the grand prix immediately after allowing the five lapped cars between Hamilton and his title rival Max Verstappen on the road to unlap themselves.

Verstappen, who had been able to pit for soft tyres under the safety car while Hamilton had to stay on badly worn hards, had a decisive advantage when the race was restarted for one final lap – after Masi had fast-tracked the removal of the safety car.

Had the safety car process been followed as outlined fully in the sporting regulations, it would not have been withdrawn until the end of the final lap of the grand prix and Hamilton would have won the race and the championship, not been overtaken by Verstappen.

Max Verstappen Lewis Hamilton Red Bull Mercedes F1 Abu Dhabi GP

Susie Wolff, who is married to Mercedes F1 boss Toto, shared a statement on social media on Thursday morning, the day of Mercedes’ deadline to decide whether it will commit to an appeal to the FIA’s international court.

“Going into this final race weekend, I believed both teams and both drivers deserved to win,” wrote Susie Wolff.

“It was going to be a spectacle, an historic race that we all hoped would end without controversy. That wasn’t to be.

“What happened is still hard to comprehend and leaves me with a sick feeling.

“Not the losing – and not Max or Red Bull, they are deserving winners and we always knew it was a strong possibility we may not win – but the way in which Lewis was robbed has left me in utter disbelief.

“The decision of one person within the governing body who applied a rule in a way which has never been done before in F1 single-handedly decided the F1 drivers’ world championship.

“Rules are rules, they can’t be changed on a whim by one individual at the end of a race.”

Abu Dhabi Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Max Verstappen Red Bull

Mercedes protested the outcome of the grand prix based on how the safety car was used.

It was rejected and the 96-hour window to decide whether to commit to appealing that decision expires today.

Mercedes is believed to have a strong case given the explicit nature of the sporting regulations but the FIA will be loath to alter the outcome of the race and the championship because of a courtroom decision and is widely expected to have pushed for a way to convince Mercedes to drop the appeal.

On Wednesday evening the FIA pledged to launch a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” into what happened in Abu Dhabi and for any “meaningful feedback and conclusions be made before the beginning of the 2022 season”.

But it also seemed to try to shift the blame for the debate that is “tarnishing” F1’s since Sunday’s finale with a message that what happened has “notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans”.

Susie Wolff added: “Lewis Hamilton, you have shown incredible integrity and dignity in the face of injustice. You are the greatest there has ever been.

“The outcome of the last laps on Sunday? Those who know, they know, even those who can’t quite bring themselves to admit it.

“Congratulations Max and congratulations to each and every member of Mercedes-AMG F1 on your record-breaking eighth constructors’ title.

“I hope by March of next year there is a governing body with sporting integrity and fairness at its core so I can fall back in love with F1.”

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