This weekend’s 2022 season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has resulted in many mixed emotions resurfacing for Mercedes in particular, and the German’s fanbase, following the “manipulated” 2021 finale.
In the closing laps of the finale last season, former race director Michael Masi went against the FIA rulebook when dealing with a late Safety Car following Nicholas Latifi crashing in the final sector.
With Lewis Hamilton leading and on-track to claim an unprecedented eighth World Championship, Masi decided to allow only the cars between the Brit and Max Verstappen, who was P2, to unlap themselves.
As well as this, Masi then decided to restart the race as soon as those between the two had moved ahead of the Safety Car, resulting in another rule being broken.
Under the rulebook, all cars are supposed to be allowed to unlap themselves, with the Safety Car supposed to then complete one additional lap.
That ‘additional lap’ would’ve been the final lap of the season, which instead saw a last lap duel between Hamilton and Verstappen.
Given that Hamilton was on old Hard tyres and Verstappen was on fresher Soft tyres, the Mercedes driver had very little chance of maintaining the position, something he failed to do.
Verstappen dived down the inside of Hamilton at Turn Five, before completing the remainder of the lap to become a World Champion.
In memory of that overtake, Red Bull uploaded an image of it to their social media accounts, something that was described by Motorsport.com as “brave”.
The post hasn’t gone down well on social media, with many labelling the Austrians as ‘hypocrites’, given that the side released a statement ahead of this weekend condemning all online abuse that has been targeted at Verstappen and his family.
Some have jumped to the defence of Red Bull, insisting that they have every right to post content regarding the 2021 season finale.
The majority of the comments were negative, though, with one user saying: “Wow, this is disgusting. You literally are the most toxic and revolting team ever to grace F1.”
Another wrote: I’m curious, why post this? What were you hoping to see in the comments? Didn’t you lot put out a press release earlier saying you deplored toxic behaviour – aren’t you feeding it here? A bit hypocritical if you ask me.”