F1 chiefs slammed for ignoring obvious solution to Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton drama

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson has taken aim at FIA racing director Michael Masi for refusing to choose the obvious solution to what happened in the final lap of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton looked to have his eighth world championship sewn up after dominating in Yas Marina for the entire race.

But a safety car was deployed in the final few laps of the race after Nicholas Latifi crashed into the wall, allowing Max Verstappen to pit for fresh soft tyres.

Confusion followed when Masi initially announced the five lapped cars in between Hamilton and Verstappen wouldn’t be allowed through for the final lap of the race.

But he then changed his mind late on to the utter dismay of Toto Wolff and the Mercedes garage.

Verstappen then had a huge advantage as he hunted down Hamilton before eventually making his move stick to take the chequered flag and his first F1 world title.

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Masi came in for strong criticism from pundits and former drivers while Mercedes also lodged two unsuccessful protests to the FIA after the race.

The FIA racing director was in the spotlight on a number of occasions for key decisions he made during the season.

And Johansson, who drove for Ferrari and McLaren in the 1980’s, still can’t understand why Masi didn’t choose to do what he did in Saudi Arabia where he red flagged the race.

“Whether it’s intentional or not, the entertainment value of this controversy has gone through the roof,” he wrote in his blog.

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“But I think there has to be a balance somewhere because the decisions Masi made make no sense on any level.

“His decision completely ignored any level of common sense as to what would have been a fair way to handle the situation.

“The only way it should have been done was by doing what you’d normally do and indeed what he did in the race prior.

“As soon as they deployed the safety car with five laps to go they should have red flagged the race.

“That’s the only way to keep it level and keep the excitement until the end.

“You would have had everyone come into the pits while they clear the track, put new tires on and go from there like they did at the Saudi Grand Prix when Red Bull rebuilt half their car and put new tires on.

“Had that been done you could have had a fair five-lap shootout for the championship.

“Making the decisions he did and then changing his mind completely at the very last moment absolutely handed the race on a plate to Max and Red Bull after Lewis had done a flawless race.

“He did everything he had to do to secure the championship, including making a perfect start.”

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