Wolff says Hamilton wasn’t cheated out of 2021 championship

Toto Wolff said his “heart and soul still cry with every pore” over what happened in the dying stages of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.

Lewis Hamilton in 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.v1

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said he doesn’t think Sir Lewis Hamilton was cheated out of the 2021 F1 World Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Instead, he believes an inconsistent decision by race director Michael Masi regarding the late Safety Car restart “took the title away from Lewis.”

Specifically, after Nicholas Latifi brought out the Safety Car following a crash in sector three, Masi opted to allow the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Max Verstappen to un-lap themselves.

This meant that Verstappen was directly behind the seven-time world champion for the final lap, on a fresh set of soft tyres (while Hamilton was on worn hard tyres.)

McLaren boss defends Michael Masi amid criticism.v1

This allowed the Dutchman to overtake the Mercedes driver on the final lap of the 2021 season to claim his maiden F1 title.

READ: Verstappen reveals what would make him immediately quit Formula 1

Commenting on the controversial end to the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, Wolff admitted he and Hamilton hadn’t yet healed from what they consider to be an injustice.

“It is definitely on a par with the ‘Hand of God’ by Diego Maradona or the Wembley goal from 1966,” Wolff said in an interview with Bild, referencing Maradona’s infamous goal against England, which he scored after touching the ball with his hand in the build-up.

Asked if he believes Hamilton was cheated out of the title – which would have been his eighth world championship – Wolff replied: “No. An inconsistent decision by the race director took the title away from Lewis.”

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‘Defendant and judge’

The Austrian went on to explain why Mercedes and Hamilton opted not to lodge an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), saying that they would have felt powerless as the FIA would have effectively been the defendant and the judge.

“We decided together that we would protest and wanted to carefully consider a possible appeal,” Wolff said.

“We decided together not to do this. The FIA would have been a defendant and a judge at the same time.

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“This releases a feeling of powerlessness. Just like on Sunday in the last lap, that’s how I felt as a child.”

Principles of F1 were ‘disregarded’

The Mercedes F1 boss and co-owner stressed that he and Hamilton remain dissatisfied with what happened in Abu Dhabi.

“Lewis and I are still completely disaffected. My heart and soul still cry with every pore.

“When the principles of sport are disregarded and the stopwatch is no longer worth anything, one begins to question whether all the work, blood, sweat and tears are worth it.”

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