A FRENCH magazine declared Lewis Hamilton as the winner of the 2021 Formula 1 season following the controversial finale in Abu Dhabi.
Lewis Hamilton surpassed Michael Schumacher by winning his record eighth Formula 1 world title in 2021 – at least, according to a French newspaper. Red Bull star Max Verstappen snatched a maiden world title in dramatic circumstances after he arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit level on points with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
The Dutchman passed Hamilton – who had dominated for much of the race – on the final lap as a late Safety Car and tyre change swung momentum in his favour.
Mercedes’ fury was largely aimed at Masi after he decided to not allow cars to unlap themselves, as is tradition, only to change his mind to set up the final lap showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.
It was an unprecedented move by Masi and it ultimately cost Hamilton the world title with Verstappen making the pass at Turn 5.
Hamilton appeared all set to win his record-breaking title before Nicholas Latifi’s crash brought out the Safety Car – and the controversy has gripped the sport’s offseason.
Fans became embroiled in bitter arguments over social media, while the general F1 community was left divided by the controversial championship finale.
French media outlet Grand Prix Mag unveiled a cover page last month crowning Hamilton as the title winner, with the headline reading: “Lewis Hamilton, champion of the world 2021.”
The magazine expanded on their dramatic statement, outlining why they believed the Brit was the deserving champion of the contentious season.
“Sport and fair play make Lewis Hamilton the only eight-time world champion in F1 history,” their statement read.
“He thus exceeds the seven titles of Michael Schumacher and should display 104 victories on his list.
“And that it was decided that it was better for F1 that the race resume for the sole needs of television without the conditions for this resumption being met is neither normal nor arguable.”
Unfortunately for Hamilton and Mercedes fans, Verstappen remains world champion following the dramatic end to the season.
Former F1 world champion Mario Andretti confirmed to PlanetF1 that he thought Masi did the correct move to allow lapped cars to unlap themselves to ensure the Grand Prix finished under racing conditions, as this was the most anticipated race of a sensational season.
He believes it would have been a ‘tragedy’ to finish the season under Safety Car, and thinks the ending was fair.
The 23-race 2022 campaign begins in Bahrain on March 20, with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars underway from February 23.