Mark Hughes weighed in on Max Verstappen’s title win, and lamented the means of how it all happened.
Verstappen clinched his first world title in dramatic and controversial fashion. It was celebrated by the fans, but everyone was in agreement over how there was an asterisk next to his win.
What the FIA and Michael Masi did on the last lap has gained infamy less than 24 hours after the race. Hughes weighed in on Verstappen’s win, and suggested that he was unhappy with the proceedings.
In his column for the Race, he wrote, “So the only way to split them after such a crazy close season was the random luck of a safety car timing just when it looked like Lewis Hamilton had it in the bag, his Mercedes faster all evening than Max Verstappen’s Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“Once the mess was cleared up there was time for one lap – but not if they allowed all the unlapped cars to unlap themselves. We’d still have been waiting for that process to play out as the chequer fell.
“But what about the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen? Yes, they could pass! And the safety car would come in immediately, not on the conventional following lap (which would have been as the flag fell).
“That decision put Verstappen on the brand new softs he’d just had fitted on the tail of Hamilton on 20-lap old hards. Hamilton was a sitting duck.”
“He defended but against Max Verstappen with a huge grip advantage and a world title on the line? There was little he could do on his slow-to-warm used hards as Verstappen used the greater grip of his new softs to outbrake him into the Turn 5 hairpin,” he continued.
“Verstappen pulled away for the next few corners to take the winner-takes-all flag as world champion. Or did he?
“Mercedes was pretty sure it had grounds for protest, primarily about whether the correct procedure was followed in allowing the lapped cars through. But also about whether Verstappen may have inched his nose ahead of Hamilton when they were still under the safety car.
“It was a unique situation,” he concluded.
Read more: Button thinks Verstappen is lying in front of the media – “That’s why he started racing in the first place”