BBC pundit sides with popular fan sentiment and lays into FIA for providing anti-climax

As Max Verstappen celebrated his world championship, things got ugly behind the scenes.

Verstappen took a stellar yet incredibly controversial maiden world championship at the Abu Dhabi GP. It was an absolute shambles, and was a very anticlimactic ending to the season.

Lewis Hamilton was inches away from an eighth world title, but had it taken away from him thanks to Michael Masi and the FIA. Controversy reigned supreme, and it left a sour taste in the mouth of most fans in the world.

BBC’s Andrew Benson gave his take on the race, and he was in agreement with the fan sentiment.

“The race ended with intense controversy – about whether the rules had been correctly followed when it was restarted for one final racing lap with Hamilton a sitting duck on old tyres, a lap that turned the world championship upside down,” he wrote in his article.

“It was a bad-tempered way to end what had become an increasingly bad-tempered season.

“But then Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed with five laps to go. A safety car was deployed and Verstappen pitted again for fresh tyres. Hamilton immediately realised the potential consequences – if the race restarted, he would be a sitting duck on old tyres with Verstappen right behind him on fresh ones.

Max Verstappen
Your 2021 world champion, terms and conditions apply. Source: Getty Images

“What followed was unprecedented.”


“Race director Michael Masi initially said lapped cars would not be allowed to overtake, which would have left five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen for the one lap of racing that it looked like would be left,” he continued.

“Masi changed his mind and let those five cars overtake – but not the other three. This put Verstappen and Hamilton together but left two lapped cars between third-placed Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and Verstappen and one between Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.

“The race was restarted with one lap to go and the inevitable happened. Verstappen, with so much extra grip, passed Hamilton into Turn Five. Hamilton tried to get him back down the two subsequent straights, but was never likely to.

“The world championship had changed hands – as a result of a questionable call from the race director,” he concluded.

Read more: FIA offers explanation for rejecting both Mercedes protests and explains why Verstappen won fair-and-square

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