Paddy Power, an Ireland-headquartered bookmaker, have decided to pay out on bets placed on Sir Lewis Hamilton winning the championship following the extremely controversial end to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton and Verstappen headed into the final round of the season level on points after a enthralling year that saw them exchange the lead in the title race multiple times.
Victories in Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had allowed Hamilton to close the gap to the Dutchman, and we were all set for a dramatic championship finish heading to Abu Dhabi.
Fans who had placed wagers on the Briton claiming the championship at the season finale looked set to profit, with Hamilton comfortably leading the race, before Nicholas Latifi put his Williams in the wall and brought out the Safety Car.
Race director Michael Masi initially opted not to allow any lapped cars through past the Safety Car.
This was crucial, as there were five lapped runners between leader Hamilton and second-placed Verstappen, who had just pitted for fresh soft tyres under the Safety Car.
In a dramatic and strange turn of events, however, Masi then ruled that only the five between the leaders would be allowed to go through owing to time constraints that would have prevented a finish under green flag conditions had the Australian allowed all of them to un-lap themselves.
Verstappen would then pass Hamilton on the final lap of the race to claim his maiden F1 title, prompting an appeal from Mercedes.
This was denied, and the Silver Arrows eventually retracted their intention to appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but Paddy Power have decided to pay out after what they feel was an injustice.
“Max Verstappen needed a miracle to win, and one duly arrived in the form of a dodgy decision from the race organisers who appeared to rip up the rulebook and go rogue for the final lap of the race,” the bookmaker said in a statement.
As a result, not only did they pay out on Verstappen’s success, but they also decided to reward punters who had backed the 36-year-old to claim victory in Abu Dhabi and win the championship.
“We have decided to pay out on both Max Verstappen AND Lewis Hamilton to win the World Drivers’ Championship. And, for good measure, we’ve paid out on both Verstappen and Hamilton to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix too.”
They concluded their statement by saying, simply: “Consider justice served.”