Lewis Hamilton’s controversial F1 defeat branded ‘bad for the sport’

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Lewis Hamilton celebrates his birthday as uncertainty surrounding his F1 career remains. He turns 37 today, making him one of the oldest drivers on the grid. The youngest drivers on the grid are Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda at 21 years of age, while Fernando Alonso is the oldest at 39. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo admitted this week he is “envious” of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton after their epic title fight.

He said in an end-of-season press call: “Of course, I’m envious.

“But I’ve been envious for eight, nine years. It’s nothing new, but of course, it’s exciting the thought of it.

“For me, like everyone, I’m a fan, I’m a driver, but I’m still a fan of the sport. It’s been great and take the envy aside, it’s awesome for F1 to have the battle.

“I can’t recall a year where two guys found themselves side by side on so many races.

“I feel like 75 percent of races they’d gone wheel to wheel at some point, so it’s pretty awesome.”

Hamilton may not feel he is someone to be envied after he had the world championship snatched away from him on the last lap in dramatic and controversial fashion.

A late safety car allowed Verstappen to pit for fresh soft tyres, but the controversy surrounded race director Michael Masi’s decision to allow some lapped cars to overtake the safety car, giving the Dutchman a clear run to overtake the Briton.

Labour peer Lord Peter Hain, who is also Vice-Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Formula 1, told Express.co.uk that the outcome was bad for the sport.

He said: “That’s not good for the sport. It may be exciting and it may be dramatic. It may gain the audiences that Formula 1 craves, but you have to think of the credibility and the integrity of the sport in the longer term.

“As a lifelong Formula 1 fan, I thought it was a perverted outcome.

“The finish was effectively rigged by the stewards in order to produce a dramatic finale for the theatre rather than a racing outcome.

“I think it has left a sour taste unless you are a die hard Verstappen fan, but even many of them have admitted that it has left an unpleasant taste in their mouth.

“Ok, the rules are very complex for the average fan, but at least there is a consistency there. This was clearly contrived and manufactured to allow that kind of finish.

“I thought Lewis behaved with enormous dignity afterwards, going to the Red Bull pits to congratulate them, but he must feel absolutely gutted and that the rules are rigged against him.”

Other drivers also voiced concerns over the season finale, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz branding the restart “unfair”.

The Spaniard finished the race in third, but felt the restart could have cost him his podium position.

He said during the race: “I think it would be unfair to restart this race. We should stay behind the safety car.

After his race engineer acknowledged his message, Sainz added: “It gives a massive advantage to some people.”

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The 27-year-old clarified his comments further after the race, saying: “It was certainly a very strange situation for me.

“I was obviously battling with Valtteri [Bottas] and the Alpha Tauris behind with medium tyres while I was on very used hard tyres.

“At the beginning, I was told they would not be allowed to un-lap themselves, the group in front of me, then it was decided to un-lap themselves and some people un-lapped themselves but there was still, I think, an Aston Martin and a McLaren, Ricciardo, between the two leaders and myself.

“I’ve never had it before, having to restart the race with these two guys in front of me while fighting for a P3.

“I believe it was a strange one and something to look at because it was just very strange to see and it nearly cost me a podium, to be honest.”

Meanwhile, George Russell, who is joining Mercedes for next season, took to social media to condemn how the race was handled.

He said: “THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!

“Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.”

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