A petition to make Sir Lewis Hamilton the 2021 Formula 1 world champion has now reached over 65,000 signatures, as fans continue to protest the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton was leading title rival Max Verstappen by over 14 seconds in the dying laps of the season finale, but a late crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi bunched up the pack as the Safety Car was deployed.
Verstappen pitted for fresh rubber, leaving five lapped cars between himself and the Briton.
With time constraints threatening to see the race end behind the Safety Car, race director Michael Masi initially ruled that none of the lapped runners would be allowed to pass.
However, with one lap to go, the Australian only permitted the five between the leaders through past the Safety Car, putting the Dutchman right on the back of Hamilton, on much fresher tyres.
As a result, he was able to dive down the inside of Hamilton on the final lap, and claimed his maiden F1 title.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was instantly on the radio to Masi to exclaim that the situation was “so not right,” while Hamilton himself said that the grand prix had been “manipulated.”
The Silver Arrows immediately protested the race result, but this was rejected by the stewards.
They then withdrew an intention to appeal several days later, instead affirming that they would hold the FIA “accountable” for an investigation they have pledged to carry out into the events of the final race of the season.
Many fans feel equally aggrieved about the situation, and as such a petition was formed in a bid to earn Hamilton his record-eighth championship.
The creator of the petition, Patel Gordon-Bennett, 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.”
After the race, Hamilton was magnanimous in defeat, saying: “Firstly, big congratulations to Max and to his team.
“But I’m so proud of my own team and we gave it absolutely everything. I’ve felt great in the car the last couple of months. We’ll see what happens next year,” he added.
Rumours have been afloat that the 37-year-old is considering retiring from Formula 1 following his controversial defeat, but multiple drivers – including Verstappen – have affirmed their desire for him to remain and fight for the title again in 2022.