Lewis Hamilton claimed the controversial finish to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was “manipulated” in a previously unaired message over team radio.
Hamilton was denied an eighth world title in remarkable circumstances as Max Verstappen passed him on the final lap of the last race of the season.
The move was made possible after a safety-car period brought all the cars close together for the finale.
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The controversy stemmed from the fact that race control initially said lapped cars would not be allowed to overtake during the safety car period, before changing their position and announcing the lapped cars between Verstappen and Hamilton would be allowed to overtake.
It has emerged that Hamilton told team radio after being passed by Verstappen: “This has been manipulated man.”
The comment was not broadcast on the world feed during the race but was heard on Hamilton’s onboard channel on F1TV.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team lodged two protests on Sunday but saw both rejected by race stewards. They have lodged an intention to appeal over the handling of the race.
The decision to allow the final lap shootout caused confusion among the drivers.
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Daniel Ricciardo admitted he was left “speechless” by the move, while his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris said: “It was obviously made to be a fight, it was for the TV of course, it was for the result.
“Whether or not it was fair is not up to me to decide.”
Fernando Alonso added: “When the safety car was out, I thought we were able to overtake quickly, because normally it is what happens. You see the green light of the safety car, and then you are un-lapping yourself until they remove the car.
“But we didn’t have that green signal, and then, two laps after, the engineer told me that you will not be able to un-lap yourself, and the positions would stay like this.
“One corner later, the green light came on and I said, ‘But we have a green light?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, yeah, you can do it now, follow Norris’. And I followed Norris. So it was a little bit confusing.”
Race director Michael Masi came under fire from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who branded his decision as “unacceptable”.
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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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