Lewis Hamilton said the finish to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza brought back memories of last season’s finale in Abu Dhabi, when Max Verstappen won the Formula One title in controversial circumstances.
The last few laps of the Italian GP were all behind a safety car after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren stopped on the track and had to be removed.
Verstappen won the race just as he did under different circumstances in Abu Dhabi, when then-FIA race director Michael Masi allowed racing to resume on the final lap rather than finishing with a safety car.
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Verstappen overtook Hamilton to snatch the title and Masi was relieved from his role after making a “human error” with his decision.
"It always brings memories back," said Mercedes driver Hamilton after finishing fifth at the Italian GP.
"That is the rules how it should be, right? There's only one time in the history of the sport where they haven't done the rules like that today and that's the one where it changed the result of the championship. But it is what it is."
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had the same view as Hamilton.
“I think this time they followed the rules," he told Sky Sports.
"Maybe they could have done it a lap sooner, and they accepted the race ends under the safety car. This is how it should be.
“There are rules and whether I’m Abu Dhabi traumatised or not, these rules have been followed to the dot today.”
The decision to finish behind the safety car denied Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc the chance to try and overtake Verstappen.
Leclerc said it was a "frustrating" finish while Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto was critical of the safety car decision.
“Today we had all the conditions to have a restart of the race, I don’t know why they waited so long,” he said.
“The FIA has been caught sleeping, maybe they are not yet ready to deal with these situations.”
Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner was also not happy despite Verstappen taking another win to close on the title.
“We don’t want to win a race under a safety car,” he said.
“That’s something that we’ve talked about for many, many years, that they should finish racing. There was enough time to get that race going.”
McLaren boss Andreas Seidl said there were talks over how to handle safety car finishes after last season but there was no agreement between teams.
“After what happened last year in Abu Dhabi, there were a lot of discussions between FIA, Formula 1 and all the teams involved in order to see how the rules could be modified to make sure that races never end under a safety car,” said Seidl.
“But despite the FIA and Formula 1 really pushing us all to find solutions, it was down to the teams, and pretty much all teams we couldn’t agree on any better solution which is then also still a fair solution in terms of the sporting outcome. “That’s why I guess we simply have to accept that unfortunately, situations like this can happen.”
The next race is the Singapore Grand Prix on October 2.
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