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Max Verstappen’s F1 title win was ‘unsatisfactory’, says Damon Hill

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-01-19

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Damon Hill has branded Max Verstappen ’s Formula 1 world title win as “unsatisfactory”, and said that he believes the manner in which it was won was “unfair”.

Verstappen claimed his first Drivers’ Championship in dramatic and controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi, passing title rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap.

The Red Bull driver was able to attack Hamilton after race director Marco Masi allowed the cars between the pair to unlap themselves, a decision that has been heavily criticised since.

And Hill believes it was the wrong call.

“I think ultimately the Lewis Hamilton fans feel very aggrieved because, and Lewis Hamilton may well do and Mercedes do, the way the decision went disadvantaged them and they feel robbed,” the 1996 world champion told Sky Sports .

“So there is a lot of ill feeling obviously. But in the Dutch camp, was it a satisfactory way of deciding a championship? You have to say it was unsatisfactory.

“I think it might have even been unfair because if you look at it from the point of view of how the decision was made, it allowed some cars to unlap themselves and not others. That in itself is unfair.

“What it resulted in was a focus on the two title protagonists and I don’t think you can run a motor race or a championship like that – you have to apply the rules equally to all competitors.”

In the immediate aftermath of a defeat that cost him a record-setting eighth world title, Hamilton was heard on race radio describing the denouement to the season as “manipulated”.

Though not fully supporting Hamilton’s claim, Hill does think that Masi let the prospect of a last shootout between the title rivals cloud his judgement.

“Manipulated is a very strong word,” Hill cautioned.

“[But] I think in some sense it was manipulated because I think that Michael Masi was under pressure to allow this exciting thrilling race to happen between the two drivers.

“He caved into pressure from both sides but possibly more from the attempt to let Max come through the field. And that’s why he let only the cars between Max and Lewis to unlap themselves.”

While it has been suggested that Hamilton may not return for the 2022 season, Hill does expect his compatriot to be back on the grid in a Mercedes for the first Grand Prix in Bahrain in March, suggesting that the prospect of securing the eighth world title will prove too “tempting”.

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