McLaren driver Lando Norris has admitted he had no idea what was happening in the dying laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Sir Lewis Hamilton was leading Max Verstappen by over 14 seconds when Nicholas Latifi crashed with a handful of laps remaining, forcing race director Michael Masi to deploy the safety car.
Verstappen then pitted for fresh soft tyres, while Hamilton remained on the track, as Mercedes were concerned that he might lose track position should the race have finished behind the safety car.
In the first instance, Masi said that lapped cars would not be allowed through, meaning that there would be five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen during the restart, with likely only one lap remaining of racing.
In a sudden, mesmerising and dramatic turn of events however, Masi decreed that the five cars between the two leaders were to pass the safety car, leaving Verstappen right behind Hamilton.
The Dutchman would then dive down the inside into Turn Five, taking the title in one of the most dramatic finales in the history of the sport.
Mercedes’ lingering question is why only those five lapped cars were allowed through, and not all of them as the Formula One regulations seem to suggest.
Norris, who finished seventh, was one of the cars allowed through, and he was at a loss to explain why the race unfolded the way it did.
“I’m not too sure what was said from the FIA,” said a bemused Norris.
“At first we weren’t allowed to overtake, as the backmarkers, so if that influenced decisions to Mercedes and to Lewis and that’s the reason they didn’t do their pit-stop, but then the FIA suddenly changed their minds and they were allowed to let us past. That’s where I’m not so sure.”
The 22-year-old concluded: “For it to end like that, I’m not so sure.”
Mercedes have lodged an intention to appeal the controversial end to the race – a move that Red Bull have branded “a little bit desperate.”