Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2021

Hamilton: “My worst fears came alive” in Abu Dhabi finale controversy

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton says the controversial conclusion to last year’s season, in which he lost a potentially record-breaking eighth world championship on the final lap, left him “sitting there just in disbelief”.

In brief

Hamilton ‘knew something wasn’t right’ in Abu Dhabi finale

Hamilton described his feelings after losing the championship after FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi broke the rules to arrange a final-lap restart.

“You see things start to unfold,” he told Vanity Fair, “and my worst fears came alive. I was like, there’s no way they’re going to cheat me out of this. There’s no way. That won’t happen. Surely not.”

Asked whether he felt cheated, Hamilton said: “I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. Yes, I knew that something wasn’t right.”

Piastri should have shown more loyalty – Szafnauer

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has criticised the team’s reserve driver Oscar Piastri for showing a lack of “loyalty” by declaring he will not drive for them next year as Fernando Alonso’s replacement.

“There should be some loyalty to the fact that we have invested literally millions and millions of euros to prepare him,” he told El Confidencial.

Szafnauer said he has had phone calls from 14 other drivers who are interested in Piastri’s seat, but is adamant they have a valid contract with Piastri.

“Alonso is going to Aston Martin,” said Szafnauer. “We had a contract with Piastri and we have to understand where he takes us legally. We believe, and that is why we issued the statement, that we have a binding contract. Let’s spend some time studying where this takes us.”

Ganassi spoke to Palou for first time in weeks after podium

Palou returned to the podium in Nashville
Chip Ganassi and Alex Palou broke weeks of mutual silence after Sunday’s IndyCar race in Nashville as they celebrated third place in the race. The team and driver are involved in legal action over Palou’s attempt to join rivals McLaren SP last year.

“We didn’t really have a chat one-to-one since then,” said Palou. “I mean, it’s good, right? We just finished on the podium. It was a good day. It was a good day for the team overall as well with Scott [Dixon] finishing P1.”

Flooding hits Seoul ahead of Formula E finale

Formula E is due to hold its season finale double-header in Seoul this weekend, but parts of the South Korean capital have been hit by floods due to extremely heavy rain:

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Comment of the day

Vettel bowing out while Hamilton races on makes sense to @Matthijs:

As much as I like Vettel, it was obvious that he is well past his prime and that he only seldom shows the talent that was once there. Just like Raikkonen was last year.

With Hamilton (and also Alonso) my opinion is very different. They show on regular basis that they still are amongst the best in the field. I am glad that they are still racing, because they add to the excitement.

I am confident that Hamilton can still win a world title if Mercedes provides a car that is good enough. The only question is, how patient will he be when the Mercedes is not improving into a race-winning car.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Bustertje!

On this day in motorsport

  • 35 years ago today Nelson Piquet won the Hungarian Grand Prix after a wheel nut came off Nigel Mansell’s car while he was leading

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 130 comments on “Hamilton: “My worst fears came alive” in Abu Dhabi finale controversy”

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      9th August 2022, 0:32

      Hold on there Otmar…. Ok, so perhaps you do have a binding contract with Piastri. Fair enough. Perhaps you do feel that as you have invested money in him, he should show some loyalty to the team. Not going to argue with that….

      Where I’m a bit confused though is it seems like one of two things has happened here. Either you didn’t bother to speak to Piastri and just put a Tweet out saying he was your new driver which is a really strange thing to do or you did speak to him, he said “No thanks” and your response was to post a Tweet announcing him as your new driver anyway.

      Either way, it seems like really unprofessional behaviour from the Alpine team.

      1. I agree – it certainly seems like a mess created by a whole lot of assumptions being made instead of having a couple of simple phone calls before you put out announcements.

        That being said, I truly hope that Piastri has things properly sorted and signed or he’s potentially completely destroyed his future as a F1 driver. I guess we’ll find out over the coming days/weeks when the other side makes its announcements.

      2. G (@unklegsif)
        9th August 2022, 6:58

        It was reported st the time, from team statements and I think from Otmar, that repeated attempts were made to contact “camp Piastri”, but they had gone dark and could not be contacted and not wanting to get caught out again, they then released their statement about Piastri

      3. The only reason for rushing out that statement (with or without a phone call to Piastri) was to pretend to the world that you are in control.

        It’s poor management to focus on what others might think of you rather than actively managing the situation at hand and communicating with all people involved.

      4. You forgot the third option – where Alpine genuinely believe the contract is settled, and Piastri is wrong.

        Also unprofessional is Piastri tweeting (that’s enough, but there’s more) that he will not be driving for them.
        Settle it privately first, or risk becoming the new Alonso.

        1. You forgot the third option – where Alpine genuinely believe the contract is settled, and Piastri is wrong.

          Pete, didn’t forget it; he mentioned it in his first sentence :P

          Also it’s not a ‘third option’ as the unprofessional behaviour is not agreeing with your driver what to announce to the world about his future (a third option could be that his phone was out of reach).
          And it’s a tad childish too then accuse Piastri of unprofessionalism when he is merely reacting to an incorrect announcement about his future.

          1. Pete, didn’t forget it; he mentioned it in his first sentence :P

            Where I’m a bit confused though is it seems like one of two things has happened here.

            That makes 3 things, unless I can’t count…

            Seems pretty silly to say one side is being unprofessional when both sides have done exactly the same thing.

            Piastri’s post seemed far more ‘childish’ to me that Alpine’s. He could easily have said nothing public at all, as those who need to know what’s going on already do, without any need for playing media games.

            1. I’m a bit concerned about your counting as well.
              But it seems a simple case of you not understanding that Pete is confused about other things than you want him to be confused about.

              I did not check the level of ‘childishness’ of the posts, but I fully agree with Pete on the ‘unprofessionalism’ on the part of Alpine(‘s team principal).

      5. I disagree with the first part. Any notion of loyalty went out the window when they failed to get the F2 champion onto the F1 grid.

        1. @tommy-c Alpine couldn’t really do much. Because of the way F2 was last year, there had only been 4 weekends of F2 before the summer break. And of those 12 races, Piastri had won only 1 and wasn’t even the highest Alpine junior in the standings. Although it was clear that he was doing a really good job, it was only in the second half of the season starting from Monza that Piastri really took off on a pole and winning spree. You can’t really blame Alpine for not getting him a seat for 2022 in that regard. Perhaps though, Webber and Piastri expected Alpine to put up more money for the Alfa Romeo and Haas seats when they were available, but that was unrealistic, to be honest as evidently, Alfa wanted the Chinese backing from Zhou and Haas wanted someone experienced.

          Personally, I think Alpine’s plan of loaning Piastri out to Williams made perfect sense. He would get the chance to learn the ropes of F1 without the pressure of being with a big outfit, and Alex Albon is a decent reference who isn’t going to dominate the team dynamic. Going to McLaren means that he is stepping onto Norris’ turf, with a car that every single driver who has ever driven it (Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo) says is extremely tricky to handle, and immediately with the expectation of having to deliver P4 in the WCC.

      6. Elsewhere Otmar is quoted: ‘We have a contract with Piastri, which he signed in November’…’Part of that contract allows us to put Oscar in one of our cars in 2023’. Which is a curious way to refer to a driving contract with Piastri. Perhaps Oscar is only contractually bound to pop over after his day job to run simulator laps?

        1. Reminds me of that anecdote from the Beyond the Grid podcast with Briatore. He and his lawyers argued that their contract with one of the Benetton drivers (I forget which one) stipulated that he would have a car, but that this did not necessarily mean he would be among those Benetton selected for the F1 races. Classic Briatore shenanigans.

      7. Piastri is Otmar’s property.

    2. In sports we often see the team claim that the athlete is bring disloyal by seeking out the best business decision for themselves, whereas if the team seeks out the best business decision for them then somehow it is different.

      We’ll probably never know what language is really in the contract to make Otmar believe they have secured Piastri’s services for next year but I don’t like the idea of a driver seeking out the best opportunities for them of being disloyal.

      1. * being accused of being disloyal

    3. Hamilton ‘knew something wasn’t right’ in Abu Dhabi finale
      You should have written an article about this at the time Keith. Missed opportunity I say.

      1. Is that a joke?

        Every week has an article or snippet about it.
        And multiple comments sections full of it.

      2. As soon as I saw the article headline I thought “here we go again…..”

      3. Hamilton wasn’t speaking.

    4. I knew what decisions had been made and why.


      1. yeah, na. For years I baulked at the quote – until I saw the clip. Respect.

    5. I respect Hamilton as a driver, but the fact that he is still out there claiming he was cheated shows he, Russel, Wolf, they have not changed at all. What an utter disgrace that Mercedes and Hamilton have still not accepted this outcome. The whole team are dead to me. My only hope is that my favourite drivers (Sainz, Perez, Piastri) are never tempted to drive for this team.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        9th August 2022, 3:44

        Say what? :-) I’m not sure how to respond other than I’m sure Sainz, Perez, and Piastri would be pretty glad if you picked another set of drivers to cheer for and wouldn’t mention their names in this post.

      2. lol. Mate go cheer for Lightning Mcqueen that you do better.
        “The whole team is dead to me” how old are you? Eight?

        1. Yeah, the famous “how old are you” argument. Works like a charm every time!

          1. I stopped using it when I turned nine ;)

          2. It’s not about age, but content.

            You can be eight, as long as you don’t act like the world should care about your feelings, like your friend there did.

      3. @paul

        I hope your post is attempted humour! It doesn’t much matter that the drivers involved in the Abu Dhabi debacle were Hamilton and Verstappen. The sport shamed itself and that must never be allowed to happen again. Abu Dhabi must never, ever be ‘accepted’ and will not be by anyone who cares about integrity and truth.

        1. F1 ‘shames itself’ on such a regular basis you could set your watch by it.

        2. It truly was a shame. NEVER Seen this before in a championship deciding race. (Following since the early seventies) – What ever Masi did was close to criminal (in sporting regulations) – I still wonder WHY? Drivers are now punished harshly on white line transgressions (fair), but a major race director can’t ‘at random’ chose the winner by blatantly negating the rules. So, IMO (I’m Belgian) that resulted in a FAKE ‘world champion’. Max is excellent, but could and should never have won this race, so he’s in my point of view he’s on his way to win his FIRST driver’s Championship this year, not his second. And I’m certainly not alone in this opinion. I will congratulate Max on his first driver’s championship this year. But last year’s was ‘fixed’. No hatred or envy, just an observation of facts.

          1. No hatred or envy, just an observation of facts.

            No hatred or envy perhaps, but certainly complete denial of the facts.

            1. The history books show that Columbus discovered America, doesn’t make it true though…

      4. I’m hoping, for your mental state, that this is a joke

      5. Love these type of comments

        ‘Deserved the season’ deserved to win’ deliver3d the season’

        Anyone without obvious bias watching the last half of the season during a rock solid performance by Hamilton and a pretty much shambles by Verstappen without acknowledging they went into the final equal on points when frankly MV would have been disqualified in pretty much any other single seater season due to Saudi then says ‘he delivered a season’

        It’s irrelevant – he absolutely did not deserve to win that final race and had been beaten on all metrics until someone pulled a cheat out of the bag.

        You know for fun and laughs…

        It’s that simple.

        1. You know the car is part of the equation, right? Hamilton only beat verstappen once mercedes took off, oh, and also when he took him out or asked bottas to do so.

          1. Yep that was some driving by Bottas to calculate the angles and velocity on the fly to hit Norris who then hit Max….

      6. this is the first time Hamilton spoke about it, yet you are here claiming he is STILL talking about it. get your act together.

        1. Well, it is 9 months later now, isn’t it….

      7. Ironic how with more information available people only become more ignorant.

    6. Ding ding. Round 18 of the same comments. I will be happy to join explaining once again it is a season that delivers a championship, not a single race. And it was staged that Lewis was on equal points going into the last race. Something way too easy overlooked in all the Abu Dabi narratives. The real fraud happened way before that final race, so I couldnt care less about all the crying over that last race as it was a disgrace there could even be controversy. It was by far the most tainted unfair season I have watched since the Senna/Prost farce.

      1. You can’t explain something to people who refuse to listen.

        1. Such as the fact that being lucky or unlucky in any other race in the season due to things that are part of racing in a world championship, has nothing to do with whether a race director was heard by millions on international television during one of the biggest finales in racing this millennium bowing to the demands of the Red Bull pit wall?

          To the point where he literally made up rules, changed rules, ignored rules set by his own precedent just a year before meaning he understood full well what he was doing and prioritised Max getting close to Lewis as possible over every other driver on the grid.

          Picking and choosing who was worthy of continuing their race on the last lap of a world championship race and who was not. And not for safety reasons either.

          And the FIA having to investigate over the winter break, despite the stewards on the day pretending like race directors literally moving cars out of one drivers way because……fill in the blank…….is just a normal every day thing and that safety car rules were a super complicated thing that nobody really understands. Not even the race director (lol).

          And getting fired for doing it?

          Long story short.

          Championships are won over a season.

          Championships can be robbed by race directors ordering cars to get out of one cars way and ignoring the safety car rules, all to help one driver and screw multiple others over.

          Both statements can be true at the same time and neither cancels the other out.

          You mean that? Yes I wish people could listen also!

          1. What about changing rules mid season cause mercedes asked for it? That’s the same level of cheating to me.

        2. Hmm. No bias there, eh… GrizzleBoy is Lewis Hamilton’s alias here, is it?
          It suits, I guess.

          While you are here, though, can you please explain to me why the FIA didn’t just DSQ Mercedes right from the outset?
          I mean, that would have cleared it all up right from the beginning if it was all so crooked and rigged.
          Why risk Hamilton and Mercedes winning if the outcome was already decided behind closed doors?

          1. It doesn’t really matter that the drivers involved were Hamilton and Verstappen. If it had been Saintz and Perez, or Gasly and Norris, it would have been just as unacceptable. I’m quite perplexed that so many people seem not to understand this.

            1. The particular drivers involved matter a lot for some people, @paulguitar. It wouldn’t be the scale of an issue some people make it if it wasn’t those two.
              How many people would be so vocal about it if it was Ocon and Stroll? They don’t have anywhere near the fanbase…

            2. The point is that the travesty was separate from the specific drivers involved. Those defending what happened or claiming it was no big deal would do well to consider that if it happened again it could be ‘their’ driver that has the title stolen. Then they’d very likely start to care…

            3. I’ve ‘defended’ (or at least, can see and argue the logic behind) most of what happened at Abu Dhabi – and in all honesty I don’t see the big deal.
              I don’t follow any driver or team either – so maybe that’s why I’m not so fussed about it.
              It was a bit of a faux pas, for sure – but it’s a pretty small deal in the grand scheme of things. The restart was fine in accordance with F1’s sporting regs, the only thing wrong was how many cars were unlapped – which I don’t believe would have changed the championship order or race results anyway.

              F1 has a long, strong history of bending and ignoring rules when they feel like it. They are as soft as talc.
              If I rated the FIA’s performance in F1 officiating out of 10 over all the years I’ve been watching, it’d be a solid 3 at most.
              Which probably explains my lack of surprise at what happened pretty well…

              Maybe people’s expectations are just too high?

            4. It definitely does matter that it was Verstappen and Hamilton, because that’s where the only unarguably wrong decision was made: to not let all lapped cars through. Given that letting all cars through would still have put Verstappen right behind Hamilton, the first driver who was really disadvantaged by the decision was Carlos Sainz – and how often does RaceFans or any other outlet ask Sainz if he’s still upset over Abu Dhabi? Never? Definitely not every other week.

            5. @MichaelN Putting aside that Hamilton WAS disadvantaged by only some cars being allowed through, the REAL issue is that the rules explicitly stipulated that the SC was required to do one more lap, meaning the race would have ended under SC conditions.

              It confuses me that people are still arguing the nuances of the unlapping decision, while mostly ignoring the early SC withdrawal.

              If a race isn’t run to pre-agreed rules, then it’s not a race. The results stand, but until steps are put in place to ensure a repeat does not happen, F1 has dropped all pretence of it being a sport or being about racing.

          2. Sorry I am not sure where your at s other than happy to tLH beaten.

            Because whether your soft soaping the acknowledge complete screw up of ‘unlapping a few cars’ means little to you the facts are it happened and regardless of your ‘thoughts’ would have changed the result.

            There is little argument about that.

            Because much as you hate it – the right guy would have won that race.

            MV did nothing to deserve that race until he was gifted it.

            He was soundly beaten the last third of the year and despite his antics and some seriously weird race management- lost that race. Full stop.

            That right there says it all.

            1. Because much as you hate it – the right guy would have won that race

              You are completely overestimating how much I care who won.

              The ‘last third of the year’ is only that – but the season lasts for an entire year. There are so many variables throughout a season.
              Perhaps Hamilton needs to ask himself why he wasn’t ahead in the championship going into the final race, when he probably should have been.

        3. All i’m going to say is rember Baku 2021.

          Verstappen get a puncture driving long on old tires. Then there’s that unusual restart, followed by Hamilton and his magic button when the race was there on plate for him to win.

          In my opinion Hamilton was a part of this farce from the get go and contributed to the close even points ending. He contributed to the farce hoping for a story book ending to the hybred era. An historic race where it all comes down to the final race.

          No one could have forseen Horner’s appeal to the racing gods, Nicholas ‘it has to be this lap, mate’ Latifi and Micheal ‘its called motor racing’ Massi.


          1. “Horner said it has to be this lap”, “all right”, *crashes on purpose like piquet junior*! Obviously joking.

      2. Ding dong. Your explanation is crucial to yourself. You need it. These facts remain: Max is a Masi-Assisted champion of 2021. A MAC Max.

        For Hamilton’s answers in interview: Surely you are big enough to ignore a non -champion? Your own “explanation” as to how Max is a champion to you, should give you enough comfort.

        Plus, Max is on the way to be a champion of 2022, thanks to the fastest car in the field. “99% of the field’s drivers could win with that fastest car”. That’s Max’s claim when Merc had a better car. Surely the same claim applies. No? Or let’s hear your ding ding that somehow Max hasn’t got the fastest car. Not content yet, are we?

        1. Sorry, your first sentence works both ways around. Hamilton would have been a FIA assisted champion of 2021 (tyre change mid season, wing gate, pit stop changes, engine regulation). Your second sentence I can unfortunately not follow at all. As to your third I would say Ferrari and RedBull are on same level, but I am fine stating RedBull is the fastest car and that potentially delivers Max another championship. Just like I always said Lewis got this many championships because of the car. Let it be clear that in F1 the driver does not have a great deal of influence, whomever it is. That is what I dislike about Hamilton, his inability to admit this and show some reflection.

    7. Piastri should have shown more loyalty – Szafnauer

      Piastri v Alpine round two, need more Pop-Corn.

      Ricciardo argues 2022 ‘not as bad as it always seems’

      Perhaps not but perception is reality.

      1. @johnrkh – I think Szafnauer forgot he was in F1 if you don’t have solid contract you don’t have nothing. Ruthless is something the drivers need to thrive….

    8. Hamilton described his feelings after losing the championship after FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi broke the rules to arrange a final-lap restart.

      When I read this line it was obvious that Keith wrote the round-up today.

      It’s been determined, and all teams agreed/accepted this, that arranging to restart the final lap was totally legal.
      Merely the partial unlapping (which only the thinnest of straws can link to the eventual race win) was deemed incorrect.

      1. Merely the thing that would’ve either made Lewis win by default due to taking extra time for other cars to start unlapoing or given him an actual chance at winning if unlapoing was decided against is what was deemed incorrect?

        Seems like an awfully big “merely”.

        Seems almost like a stackable offense for bringing the sport into disrepute and delegitimising the integrity of that championship year.

        What is Masi upto these days?