Mercedes' Toto Wolff shut down by Michael Masi after Verstappen beats Hamilton in Abu Dhabi

  • Kobe Tong
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Mercedes are absolutely seething at the events that led to Lewis Hamilton finishing second at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.

In one of the most dramatic Formula 1 finales in the history of the sport, Hamilton locked horns in a one-race shootout against Max Verstappen to try and win his eighth World Championship title.

And it looked as though the British driver was going to achieve exactly that as he entered the final laps in the United Arab Emirates with a comfortable lead over his Red Bull adversary.

Verstappen wins in Abu Dhabi

However, a late safety car in response to Nicholas Latifi crashing out changed everything with Verstappen able to change tyres and close the gap to Hamilton as the race prepared to restart.

And with Latifi's car removed in time for one more lap of racing action, Verstappen was able to get the better of Hamilton on the fresher tyres to make history as the new F1 world champion.

Seems very dramatic, but pretty straightforward, right? Well, not exactly because there was controversy surrounding the way in which Verstappen was allowed to bunch up to Hamilton.

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Controversy surrounding F1 finale

Mercedes were absolutely livid that the lapped cars were able to move past the Dutchman despite the FIA's official decision during the safety car appearing to suggest that it wouldn't be possible

As a result, Mercedes naturally lodged two formal protests about the decision, leaving F1 fans biting their nails in anticipation of the official classification of the Grand Prix.

But regardless of the FIA's verdict on the goings-on at the Yas Marina circuit, it couldn't have been any clearer that Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff was absolutely livid with the result at the time.

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Tot Wolff livid with race result

Wolff spoke for the entire Mercedes team in his confusion at Michael Masi's handling of the situation, which ultimately started the chain reaction of events that led to Verstappen's triumph.

In fact, remarkable audio from Wolff's radio communication with the FIA documented him protesting: "No, no, Michael, that was so not right," as Hamiltion made a last-ditch attempt to retake first place.

And an even more astonishing chat between Wolff and FIA director Masi after Verstappen had taken the win gave a glimpse into what the race directors were thinking with their decision-making.

According to the Daily Mail, Masi was left raging and protested: 'We need to go back to the lap before."

To that, the FIA chief simply replied: "It's called a motor race."

Did the FIA make the right call?

Oof. It's fair to say that the powers that be felt secure in their orchestration of the race as the events unfolded, but only time will tell whether reflection and reassessment has changed their inclination.

However, what we can unpack from the radio audio is that Masi was angling to ensure that the season closer was won with, well, a motor race as opposed to marching on under a safety car.

Quite why that meant that Verstappen was allowed to skip past lapped cars when other drivers appeared not to be remains to be seen, but there's no denying that the drama and debate is rife.

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You can rest assured that Wolff will have sweated out just as much as the drivers zipping around the Yas Marina Circuit with his protests tonight.

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