Bernie Ecclestone has slammed talk that Lewis Hamilton was ‘robbed’ of his eighth Formula One world title as ‘complete and utter nonsense’ after the dramatic conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Seven-time winner Hamilton missed out on a record-breaking crown after Max Verstappen overtook him on the final lap, following confusion surrounding lapped cars and the safety car which went against the Mercedes driver.
Yet former F1 chief Ecclestone insists race director Michael Masi should not be blamed for the race’s controversial conclusion – and pointed out Hamilton wasn’t penalised after he cut the corner following a coming-together with Verstappen on the first lap.
Bernie Ecclestone has slammed talk that Lewis Hamilton was ‘robbed’ of his eighth F1 title
Max Verstappen claimed the world title on the final lap in a controversial finish in Abu Dhabi
‘About being robbed – it’s complete and utter nonsense,’ Ecclestone told Sky News.
‘If you want to think about it carefully, on the first lap of that race he (Hamilton) went off the circuit and came back on again and Verstappen stayed on the circuit and did absolutely nothing wrong.
‘Lewis wasn’t punished at all for this so he shouldn’t be complaining too much. These things happen all the time in sports. We shouldn’t blame the race director, he did exactly what was the right thing to do.’
Radio recordings of Hamilton has since emerged where he claims the race was ‘manipulated’ at the end – but 91-year-old Ecclestone dismissed these claims out of hand too and then went on to say he was ‘happy’ his compatriot missed out on the title.
‘I’d like to know who has been manipulating and is clever enough to do that. This was just a set of circumstances that happened and it ended an incredible world championship that I’m sure everyone was more than happy to watch.
The Dutchman overtook Hamilton on the final lap as he took advantage of his fresher tyres
Ecclestone added he was ‘happy’ Hamilton did not break Michael Schumacher’s titles record
‘I think an appeal would be the worst thing they (Mercedes) could do. It would look like they are bad losers.
‘It was very level. Two guys racing each other and one was quicker than the other one. It’s a lot of nonsense. It took them four hours to decide if they had a case or not so it couldn’t have been that clear.
‘Max won it fair and square which is a good thing to do. People are just as happy to see a new face win it. I personally was happy that Lewis didn’t win an eighth championship because of Michael Schumacher. I wouldn’t like to see that broken.’
Hamilton is still tied with Schumacher (left) on seven drivers’ championships after missing out