F1 changes needed after ‘bitter taste’ of season finale

British former racing driver Johnny Herbert has said that Max Verstappen’s controversial final lap victory over Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi “should never have happened” and left “a bitter taste”.

Verstappen clinched his maiden world championship after race director Michael Masi appeared to break the FIA’s own regulations by allowing the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves under safety car conditions.

Masi’s decision created a shootout between the title rivals but with the benefit of fresh tyres, Verstappen had a clear advantage and duly denied Hamilton a record-breaking eighth world championship.

Herbert said the outcome was unfair and echoed other drivers’ sentiments that the sport is in danger of sacrificing sporting integrity for the sake of entertainment.

“This should never have happened and it should never again,” Herbert wrote in Motor Sport Magazine. “This one leaves a bitter taste.

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“Lewis had done absolutely nothing wrong, Red Bull had made the right calls on the strategy. Then it just seemed unfair that Lewis lost it when he had no chance of a fight.

“So what should have happened? The track was clear, but there wasn’t time to let the unlapped cars past. They should have been released to race with the five unlapped cars remaining in between Hamilton and Verstappen. That way it could have been a two-lap shootout, with Max having to pass those cars before he got to Lewis.

“That’s more racey than giving Max such an advantage.

“What we’ve had this year has been very positive for F1 because it has got people talking about it again, which hasn’t been the case for a long time. We didn’t need the last lap to make it exciting.”

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