Lewis Hamilton pointed out how the Italian Grand Prix‘s safety car finish contrasted sharply with the conclusion of last season’s finale in Abu Dhabi, where he was denied an eighth title in controversial circumstances.
In Monza, Max Verstappen won despite a safety car being deployed five laps from the finish after Daniel Ricciardo‘s McLaren came to a halt on track. It took some time to remove, and there were not enough laps left for the field to catch leader Verstappen and resume racing.
In Abu Dhabi last year, the FIA race director, Michael Masi, improvised around the rules to ensure a final lap of racing, where Hamilton lost to Verstappen, who was on fresh tyres. Masi was fired by the FIA, which blamed the incident on “human error.”
Hamilton couldn’t help but think of Abu Dhabi, “It always brings memories back,” he said. “That is the rule that it should be, right? So only one time, in the history of the sport that they haven’t done the rule.”
Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s Mercedes team principal, was equally harsh. “They followed the rules this time,” he said. “There are rules, and whether I’m traumatised by Abu Dhabi or not, these rules have been followed to the letter today.”
With Abu Dhabi still fresh in his mind, Wolff was adamant that the FIA could never improvise again. “If one is dissatisfied with the regulations and wants a big bang show and two laps of racing and mayhem, I’m absolutely up for it,” he said. “But then we have to change the rules.”