Sir Lewis Hamilton got on the radio during the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to tell his race engineer he thought the race “has been manipulated.”
With just a few laps to go in the final race of the season, Hamilton saw himself in a comfortable position to win the grand prix and thus secure the 2021 F1 championship.
However, after Nicholas Latifi’s crash on lap 53, and the ensuing Safety Car drama, Hamilton found Max Verstappen right on his tail for the restart, on a fresh set of soft tyres.
With Hamilton being left out on an aging set of hard tyres, he was powerless to defend against the charging Red Bull of Verstappen.
This led to the Dutchman passing Hamilton on the final lap, and a new radio message from that lap has emerged.
After being passed by Verstappen and nearly recovering the place at Turn Nine, the Brit got on his radio with only a few corners to go.
As he was following Verstappen through the hotel section, the Mercedes driver told his engineer: “This is getting manipulated man.”
Mercedes were left in shock after the final lap, with Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington telling the seven-time world champion: “I’m just speechless Lewis, absolutely speechless.”
That reflected the overall mood in the team on the last lap, with the only other communication being that of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff shouting at race director Michael Masi.
This carried on after the grand prix, where, after congratulating Verstappen on his win, Hamilton only conducted a short podium interview before skipping the post-race press conference.
Mercedes were busy in the post-race, however; lodging two protests that were ultimately unsuccessful. The team has stated their intent to appeal these decisions and have until Thursday to do so.
Thursday is also the day that both Hamilton, second in the Drivers’ Standings, and Mercedes, who won the Constructors’ Championship, are set to receive their trophies at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony.