Hamilton fans disagree if it’s time to move on from Abu Dhabi GP drama

A contentious Safety Car restart allowed Max Verstappen to pass Sir Lewis Hamilton to dramatically clinch his maiden F1 title.

Formula 1 fans on social media are not quite in agreement over whether the sport should move on from the controversial events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

Sir Lewis Hamilton looked set to claim his record eighth world championship at the Yas Marina Circuit having been leading Max Verstappen for much of the race, but a late crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi turned the evening on its head.

Race director Michael Masi was forced to deploy the Safety Car onto the track and, having been fearing a loss of track position with so few laps remaining of the race, Mercedes opted to keep the Briton out on track.

Verstappen had nothing to lose and he darted into the pits for a brand new set of soft tyres, leaving five lapped runners between the leaders.

Having initially ruled that one of the lapped cars would be permitted through due to the time constraints, the Australian would engage in a particularly intriguing radio conversation with Red Bull, in which sporting director Jonathan Wheatley attempted to convince him to let the lapped cars through.

Team principal Christian Horner would then tell him that they need just “one racing lap,” and this is exactly what they got.

The 44-year-old appeared to contravene Safety Car protocol and, in an unprecedented scenario, the 2021 championship would end in dramatic fashion as Masi opted to allow the five lapped drivers between the leaders traverse the Safety Car.

Masi has since been removed from his position by new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, but this is not enough for many Hamilton fans who continue to call for the championship classification to be reversed in the 37-year-old’s favour despite the proximity of the 2022 season.

1996 champion Damon Hill has previously told Hamilton supporters to “get over” the cruel defeat, but some are doing anything but.

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“F1 violated their own rules to stop Lewis Hamilton from winning an 8th world championship,” one recently tweeted.

This attracted calls to move on from the incident, with another user replying: “Still on this??? In case you haven’t heard there are more important things to worry about at the moment [referring to the war between Russia and Ukraine].”

Many replies called on fans to focus on the beginning of the new season, as fans begin to turn their attentions away from 2021 and towards the exciting new campaign.

“I can’t believe people still have the energy to talk about this. Yes we know it was wrong but just get over it. The new season is about to start and I’m sure Lewis will smash it, no need to keep waffling on,” was another reply.

Another F1 fan tweeted an extract from the sporting regulations, which suggest that the “lapped cars may now overtake” the Safety Car message enables “any” lapped runners to get their lap back, but it does not specify that all of them are to pass the Safety Car.”

“Maybe one day Lewis fans will finally get around to actually reading the rules they keep incorrectly claiming we’re broken. (They won’t),” they said.

It is virtually impossible now that the FIA will consider reversing the championship classification in the seven-time champion’s favour, but the structural changes – with Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas introduced as race directors – may have gone some way towards appeasing many Hamilton and Mercedes fans.

The governing body will conclude its enquiry into the late events on 18 March – the opening weekend of the 2022 season in Bahrain.