Lando Norris is undecided as to whether or not the Safety Car restart at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was fair on Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton lost the win – and with it his eighth world title – after a Safety Car following Nicholas Latifi’s crash allowed Max Verstappen to pass him for the Dutchman’s first F1 world championship.
Norris was one of only five cars allowed to un-lap themselves, placing Verstappen directly behind Hamilton for the restart.
And, on a fresh set of soft tyres, the 24-year-old was able to quickly overtake the Mercedes driver on the final lap of the grand prix.
Norris reckons that if Mercedes decided not to pit Hamilton because of the stewards’ decision to maintain the initial order, then allowing lapped cars through afterwards was wrong.
“If that then made Lewis or made Mercedes make the decision to not box, but then later on they suddenly said now they’re allowed to overtake, then I guess that’s not acceptable,” Norris said.
“I don’t know exactly what was said or what was done or so on, but [it was] a controversial end, that’s all I can say.”
Initially, the McLaren driver was unaware that the remaining lapped cars behind Sebastian Vettel, who was in P11, were not allowed through by race director Michael Masi.
“I didn’t actually know it was only the first three or four up to Max, so it was obviously made to be a fight,” he added.
The 22-year-old suggested that Masi manufactured a situation for the benefit of entertainment:
“It was for the TV, of course, whether or not it was fair, it’s hard for me to decide. Sometimes they let you go, sometimes they don’t. It’s just fifty-fifty, half the time.”
Continuing, Norris said he was left surprised by the sudden change of direction from Masi.
“But the call, they said they’re not going to let us pass. So I’m guessing that was a message to say they were just not going to let us pass at all.
“But then to suddenly do it just for the final lap and for a one-lap shootout, I’m a bit surprised by.”
Norris finished sixth in the 2021 Drivers’ Championship, 4.5 points behind former team-mate Carlos Sainz in his maiden season with Ferrari.