A petition attempting to make Sir Lewis Hamilton the 2021 F1 world champion has now been signed by almost 40,000 people.
The season-ending 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix drew ire from many Formula 1 fans as race director Michael Masi was accused of manufacturing a grand stand finish between Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
A crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi brought out a late Safety Car, and Red Bull brought their Dutch driver into the pits for fresh tyres.
Mercedes kept Hamilton out on track, fearing that he would lose tack position and could have ended up P2, had there been insufficient time to restart the race.
One of the time constraints appeared in the form of lapped runners, five of whom were between Hamilton and Verstappen – the two race leaders.
Race director Michael Masi initially ruled that none of the lapped cars would be permitted to pass the Safety Car, before in a strange turn of events deciding to let the five at the front pass, but none of the others.
Verstappen was then able to pass Hamilton on the very last lap to claim the championship. It led an angered Hamilton to say on the radio that the race had been “manipulated”, and Mercedes instantly protested the race result.
Upon seeing their protests denied, the Constructors’ Champions lodged an intention to appeal, but eventually withdrew this.
The FIA, however, have pledged to investigate the events of the season finale to work out why and how the chain of events came to happen.
Asked for his thoughts on the investigation, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff affirmed that he wants the governing body to act upon their findings.
“[We] expect the commission to not only come up with words but actually follow it with actions and we will hold them accountable for the actions,” he said.
Other drivers have also spoken on the controversy. Williams’ George Russell took to Twitter to call the final lap “unacceptable”, while McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo joked after the race: “I don’t want you to ask me – I want to ask you. Tell me, tell me what happened,” adding that the final few laps made for a “crazy, crazy, crazy final.”
A petition was then started to overrule the championship result and award Hamilton his eighth championship.
The person who created the petition, Patel Gordon-Bennett, argues that what transpired in Abu Dhabi sends a “very wrong message to youngsters and future racers.”
In his petition, he wrote: “I believe that justice was not served on Sunday December 12, 2021 when the FIA stewards denied Lewis Hamilton of his win of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“With less than 1 lap remaining, some lapped cars were allowed to pass the safety car, which does not comply with the rules of the F1 sport.
“This gave rival opponent Max Verstappen the opportunity to overtake Lewis Hamilton and win the Grand Prix. If you are an advocate of justice, honesty and fairness, please sign this petition.
“Leaving this decision as it stands will send a very wrong message to youngsters and future racers.”