Lewis Hamilton in a ‘horrible situation’ after Italian Grand Prix

Last weekend's Italian Grand Prix finished behind the Safety Car.

Jaguar Formula E driver, Sam Bird, has suggested that the Italian Grand Prix served as a reminder to Sir Lewis Hamilton that he was unfairly denied his eighth world title last year.

Hamilton and Max Verstappen went into the season finale in 2021 level on points after a pulsating 21 rounds that had seen them win 17 races between them.

The Briton was leading comfortably going into the closing stages, before Nicholas Latifi’s crash brought out the Safety Car.

Then race director, Michael Masi, opted not to bring out the red flag because he did not think the clean-up of the Williams would take as long as it did and, with one lap to go, the season was about to end under yellow flags.

READ: Christian Horner disagrees with Lewis Hamilton as he hits out at the FIA

The Australian reneged on an earlier call by allowing only the five lapped cars between the title protagonists through, and Verstappen, on fresher tyres, passed his rival on the very last lap of the race to claim his maiden crown.

There was, technically, not much Masi did wrong within the regulations, as they dictated that “any” lapped cars were to be allowed through at the race director’s discretion.

The argument from Hamilton was that Masi deliberately used an unprecedented interpretation of that law to favour Verstappen, so the end of the season was shrouded in controversy.

Masi was removed from his position, and replaced by a combination of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who have been alternating in that role.

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In Monza last weekend, Wittich did not have enough time to get the race restarted following another late caution period, so he allowed events to finish under yellow flags.

The new regulations state that “all,” not “any,” of the lapped cars are to be allowed their lap back if the race director wants to wave them through, but he did not feel it was safe or practical to do so, and Verstappen won at a canter.

It was perhaps a disappointing end to the race, but the rules were followed, so Hamilton, who finished fifth on Sunday, might feel even more aggrieved about Abu Dhabi as a result.

“Of course,” Bird told the Chequered Flag Podast.

“For him, it’s a horrible situation, because now they’re following the protocol correctly.

“If they had followed the protocol correctly [in Abu Dhabi], he’d be an eight-time World Champion, to be honest, and Max Verstappen would be about to be a first-time World Champion, a very impressive first-time World Champion.”

Ayrton Senna stormed out of the drivers’ briefing ahead of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix after the stewards changed some rules in light of his crash with Alain Prost at the final chicane the year previous – for which the three-time champion he was almost banned.

They then moved pole position to the dirty side of the grid, which enraged the Brazilian more, and he wiped out Prost at Turn One to win the championship.

That type of situation is reminiscent to what happened last year, in the eyes of Bird.

“[What happened in Abu Dhabi] reminds me a lot of Senna, when he was driving,” he added.

READ: Mattia Binotto hits out at ‘sleeping’ FIA, dismisses Abu Dhabi claim

“You had the FIA changing the rules of the final chicane at Suzuka, and Senna stormed out of the drivers’ briefing saying, ‘This isn’t fair, you guys completely destroyed me last year, you took my licence away from me, you banned me. So I’m walking out’.

“It’s a little bit similar, I can certainly understand why Lewis Hamilton feels a bit aggrieved.”

Verstappen’s win in Monza means that he is almost certain to get the title wrapped up by the end of the Japanese Grand Prix this year.