The stewards decided not to investigate a controlversial first-lap incident between championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Were they right to wave “play on” after the pair clashed at turn six?
At the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton passed pole-winner Verstappen on the run to the first corner. As the pair headed down the back straight towards turn six, Verstappen attempted a very late move under braking. The pair almost collided at the apex, with Hamilton taking to the escape road and missing turn seven.
Verstappen remained within the confines of the track limits at all times throughout the sequence, while Hamilton rejoined the track on the straight following turn seven.
Hamilton appeared to back off slightly in an attempt to negate any advantage gained by cutting turn seven, with the gap to Verstappen dropping to just over a second. On the third lap of the race, race control announced that there would be no further action taken into the incident.
How it happened
What they said
In the cars
Lewis Hamilton defended his actions, claiming that Verstappen had “pushed me off track.” Hamilton’s engineer, Peter Bonnington, told his driver that Mercedes were “happy with the gap you have reinstated”.
Verstappen was incredulous that race control had deemed no further investigation was necessary into the incident. “That is incredible,” said Verstappen. “What are they doing here?”
The official verdict
FIA race director, Michael Masi, confirmed to Red Bull sporting director, Jonathan Wheatley, that there would be no further action into the incident. “He’s forced him out there, that’s why we asked them to give back all of the advantage,” said Masi. “All the advantage was given back prior to the first lap ending.”
Wheatley pressed Red Bull’s case. “That was a hard, aggressive pass by Max but Max stayed fully on the track and he was ahead at the apex,” he said. “He did everything right, he stayed on the track. At some point the second car has to back out.”
Masi reiterated the stewards’ position, stating Verstappen had forced Hamilton off. “The stewards have reviewed it and determined that all of the lasting advantage was gained and that Max forced that position there,” he said. “They say that they have reviewed it and aren’t investigating it.”
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Should Hamilton have been penalised for the incident? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.
Do you agree the stewards were right not to penalise Hamilton for the incident with Verstappen?
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- Strongly disagree (37%)
- Slightly disagree (19%)
- Neither agree nor disagree (6%)
- Slightly agree (10%)
- Strongly agree (27%)
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58 comments on “Did the stewards take the correct decision over Hamilton and Verstappen on lap one?”
12th December 2021, 14:03
12th December 2021, 14:12
John H (@john-h)
12th December 2021, 14:13
Let them race ;)
12th December 2021, 14:33
12th December 2021, 15:01
A driver gaining a second over everybody outside of the track is not racing.
Hamilton just cut the corner and pressed the gas pedal.
12th December 2021, 16:04
None of this is racing. Brazil. Saudi. UAE. This is all “show”.
12th December 2021, 20:00
Yeah, by now, I really don’t see much sense in penalising these moves anymore, since the FIA has made such a mess of making it wholly unclear what really should be allowed and what not @john-h, so then we resort to more or less “let them race” and accept that both go past what we thought was normal or acceptable in recent years as long as they avoid barging the other into the barriers.
12th December 2021, 14:20
How about if Lewis gave the place back, and Max got 5 sec penalty to serve during pit stops?
12th December 2021, 16:03
Agreed. It was a late lunge that was never going to work as an overtake. Max was nowhere near the apex. Lewis gained by going off track, but the move was never on. Lewis shouldve given the place back. The reality is that halfway through the stint he was almost a second a lap faster so he wouldve been by anyway.
12th December 2021, 17:42
Well, it actually worked. Completely fair overtaking maneouver. Did not know late braking, dive bombs, late lunges, overtaking in a corner etc are illegal maneouvers now!!! HAM is a joke and manipulator, thank God is not champ, he got used so much to having a rocket of a car, DRS etc, overtaking everybody long before the corners that whenever a driver has the car to keep up with him and know how to race too, he complains on the radio. He said PER was racing dangerously. Even Brundle got fed up taking his part on Sky and said in his day “that was called racing”. HAM did the same maneouver to RAI in 2018 Austria – 1st corner 1st lap, nobody considered that maneouver illegal in any way.
12th December 2021, 18:38
Agree with you. HAM should have defended the inside. VER made the corner.
12th December 2021, 22:45
This is even dicused by some racers on F1 TV they all agree Lewis should have give the place back. That was very rare (even the Mercedes test driver said it)
The rules should be rewritten with clear picture what doesn’t is allowed and what is allowed.
12th December 2021, 14:31
What the hell. Thats exactly what got max a 5s penalty in saudi arabia.
12th December 2021, 14:36
The most foolish decision ever. They gifted the championship almost :)
12th December 2021, 14:37
Well bye bye Lewis, Masi is a terrible director and I guarantee Lewis will retire after this, not sure I’m happy about this. Was cheering for Max but this sums everything up about this year. The refs have put too much into the racing this year.
12th December 2021, 15:32
I think you are correct in your assessment that Hamilton will retire.
juan fanger (@juan-fanger)
12th December 2021, 14:39
Stewards having a blinder on both first and last laps
12th December 2021, 14:39
How on earth was that even remotely a penalty for Hamilton. Verstappen just dive bombs into Hamilton
Same as Monaco where Verstappen drove into Hamilton and Hamilton was allowed to cut the corner.
12th December 2021, 15:59
Strangely enough, I think the same, he maybe should’ve given 1 sec back for cutting the track too much, but he was pushed off the track.
12th December 2021, 17:43
If a driver is ahead and you don’t leave space on track does that even make sense. Brundle and most of these ex drivers know how it has been all these years but they just talk asine logic.
Tommy C (@tommy-c)
12th December 2021, 14:44
Slightly agree. Max undoubtedly ran him out of road but Lewis floored it back to the track using the run-off. Lewis could definitely have made a better attempt to get back on the track sooner. On the balance of things, probably best let it go. Ultimately I don’t think it would have mattered. Lewis was just so much faster today.
12th December 2021, 15:59
Yes, this sums it up, could’ve done a better attempt to get back without gaining an advantage.
12th December 2021, 17:19
Agree with this but would like to add that the only reason it looked like hamilton had gained on verstappen is because verstappen royally screwed up the corner. hamilton lifted to nullify his advantage compared to a normal racing lap (i assume) and thus the stewards were happy about that
12th December 2021, 14:51
I think the decision is correct, but in my opinion the outcome was wrong. Hamilton was able to give himself quite a lead by cutting the corner. I think the track layout has to change, so that when you cut the corner you cant get yourself an advantadge. If both would have been close together after the incident i think nobody could complain.
12th December 2021, 15:12
Any chicane is going to allow corner cutting, unless there is wall, sand or gravel, but we know why they don’t want those.
12th December 2021, 15:21
Sure, cutting the corner was absolutely necessary here. But there are possibilities to reduce the advantadges and still allow drivers to cut the corner: sausage curbs at the exit of the run of area e.g. With the current layout Hamilton was able to normaly accelerate and i think that is wrong.
12th December 2021, 15:14
Yes exactly. It’s ridiculous that there’s asphalt everywhere and you can just go straight and suddenly be second ahead. Those tracks are horrible and ruin everything.
12th December 2021, 17:22
imo the only reason why it looked like hamilton gained a big advantage is because max screwed up the corner and ran way too deep. lewis took to the runoff and lifted on the straight. i assume the stewards were happy he lifted enough to correct any gains he made over a normal racing lap. so looking at it that way, lewis in effect took the corner normally and max screwed it up by braking too late, hence the increase in their gap
12th December 2021, 15:00
Lewis did get penalised…by Masi allowing the lapped cars between him and Max to overtake and nobody else.
12th December 2021, 15:03
Somehow I think Mercedes would trade this decision for the one at the end of the race…
12th December 2021, 15:05
Max was ahead at the beginning of the turn and made the apex. Hamilton should have braked earlier since he was on mediums and Verstappen on softs. Wrong decision and not consistent with earlier moments this season.
12th December 2021, 15:06
Even if they had 5 second penalty, MERC would have covered it. They had the pace today.
12th December 2021, 15:07
This was a classic dive bomb, that Ricciardo is famous for and has always been allowed as long as you are equal or in front at the apex, which Max was.
12th December 2021, 17:23
ricciado actually used to make the apex though while max does not…
12th December 2021, 15:10
That was a fair move. Villeneuve did that on MSC in Jerez all those years ago.
Euro Brun (@eurobrun)
12th December 2021, 15:12
I hate this terminology. How do you define a review vs an investigation? If the stewards have reviewed footage and determined that they are not investigating, is that not in itself an investigation?
Scary Terry (@hatebreeder)
12th December 2021, 15:17
That is all about letting them race, that is all about letting them race.
12th December 2021, 15:17
It was a fair move from Max. Ricciardo made a career out of it. Hamilton should had been required to give the position back.
12th December 2021, 15:21
No, even as a Lewis fan I think that was a bad call. It was, however, consistent with many others earlier in the season.
12th December 2021, 15:32
Yes – Hamilton should have been penalised but what goes around, comes around. Cheers.
12th December 2021, 15:46
Max drove so aggressively that if Hamilton had tried to brake and fall in behind he would probably have flat spotted his tyres and still gone off.
12th December 2021, 15:47
Hamilton should have been penalised but its not surprising that he wasnt.
We’ve seen Michael Schumacher (Hungary 2006) and Fernando Alonso (Monaco 2005) keep positions in a similar manner before and not be penalised so why would Lewis on this occasion.
The thing that annoys me most. The thing that makes it seem unfair. Is that Max made the corner and was essentially penalised for it. Had Max repeated Interlagos and driven off the track and followed Lewis, he would have been better off and closer going into the next corner.
He took the corner correctly, and ended up seconds behind. Thats not right.
And it wouldnt have mattered anyway. Lewis had the better car, he probably would have gotten back past as soon as the DRS activated.
What this did also was rob us, the fans, of further racing.
12th December 2021, 17:17
But Max forced LH off the track, it was LH corner until Max went late on the brakes. There is no way he would have made the corner and also allowed LH the racing room he was entitled to. IMHO the only reason they didn’t crash was LH bailed into the run off.
12th December 2021, 17:27
‘IMHO the only reason they didn’t crash was LH bailed into the run off’
THIS. imo if max had the same attitude at silverstone he had the car and skill to win the championship one race early
for the record i still think hamitlon is 100% at fault for silverstone. but ultimately imo he still has a better racing attitude of ‘live to fight another day’
12th December 2021, 16:05
I think Hamilton shouldn’t be forced to give position (although that was my first thought) but it seemed to me that he keep his time advantage over Max even though Race Direction mentioned he had given that back! I never noticed the gap going back down…
12th December 2021, 16:43
As others have said, I think it would have been enough for Hamilton to give the time back, not the place. Had he been ordered to give the place back, that would have been fine (imo) as well.
But the time he gained was a joke. Even if you think Verstappen’s move was never good, they went from a couple of tenths to Hamilton 1.2 to 1.4 ahead. HAM needed to give back about a second, imo.
12th December 2021, 18:40
Hamilton won’t retire he’s after Schumacher record not a hope in he’ll of him retiring
12th December 2021, 16:55
Since Brazilian GP 2021 the rules of F1 are different. It makes no sense to search for a sense into them.
12th December 2021, 17:13
LH had the corner, Max dive bomb LH who was in front of him. Max left zero room for LH as he drove right out to the outside line. Where was LH supposed to go?
He did shoot out in front of Max and on my TV it looked liked he slowed to close the gap to Max, I thought he was going to let Max by. If they weren’t going to rule on the dive bomb in Brazil then they were consistent in a no call today.
When is the FIA going to call Max on his dive bombs that force the other car off the track? The dive bombs are fun to watch when they work and everyone stays on track.
12th December 2021, 18:12
Lewis ”had the corner”?! What that really means?! Is dive bomb illegal somehow? Or there’s a rule that says overtaking in a corner is not permitted, overtaking is only allowed before the corner etc? No, HAM wasn’t in front at all, they were side by side like more than 1 car length before the actual corner, in the middile of the corner HAM was like half the car behind. So, this was actually a lot worse than VER’s move at the restart of the SA GP. At the restart of the SA GP, VER attempted a perfectly OK overtaking maneouver on the exterior until HAM decided to leave him no space anymore altough VER was side by side.
12th December 2021, 20:08
@mg1982 +1 it is called racing within the confines of the race track. Something Max did at that time perfectly.
12th December 2021, 18:48
Ham seems to have forgotten that an alternate strategy is to brake early and get a better run out of the corner. He seems to only have one answer to Max – try to stick it out side by side until they go off – not smart at all.
12th December 2021, 18:57
No, Hamilton gained lasting advantage.
And then according to stewards returned it..
Might as well not have stewards.
That part of racing was superb.. Also Hamilton did the only thing possible – gained advantage off track.
But steward inactivity voided the race, and Masi did what he could potentially to repay that one.
12th December 2021, 19:21
It doesn’t seem like anyone here has ever watched MotoGP. This is a plain and simple block pass executed by Max. They are completely legal in the world of motorbikes which are inherently more dangerous. 0 issues. Other driver needs to back off. That’s the entire point of the move.
12th December 2021, 20:15
If it was Max who would gain advantages over 2 second after the cutting the corner – then he would definitely be punished like it was always before.
So, LH should be punished too as he gained the advantages. He even didn’t turn the wheel to the left to make the corner he make it straight to cut it.
12th December 2021, 20:28
We need some mechanism to stop a car that’s running wide from gaining an advantage over the car that stays on track.
Until this is addressed, it’s bound to happen over and over again!
Matt Buck (@thenewno2)
13th December 2021, 17:16
Seemed reasonable to me – VER dive-bombed (legit), but didn’t leave him any room on the outside to stay on the track (not legit – see previous examples in Austria this year). I think maybe HAM could have given back a bit more time, but that he stayed ahead was correct.
14th December 2021, 8:28
I find it hard to believe that Mercedes are allowed 3 drivers on the track when all the rest have only two. It appears that Micheal Masi is the third driver in the Mercedes team at the last two races of the season at the very least. Irony is that if Masi the third Merc driver had made the first lap judgement correct in the beginning, Lord Hamilton would have his eighth world championship now. But as the race/ fiasco went on Masi realised he had made a very stupid and unjust call on the first incident and when the opportunity arrived later he decided to give back the chance he stole from Max in the beginning. Max deserved the win due to all rhe bad decisions throughout the year from Race no control. I can understand Toto Woolf’s attitude on this whole race, it is against the rules for anyone to beat Mercedes at all. The stupid thing is that if he could just shut his mouth and play the game and accept that Hamilton is not god He would have won hands down. Red Bull could never have matched The Mercedes on pace at all. It was a just and deserved win for Max who has consistently cheated out of results since he came into F1, Max has always been the best driver throughout.
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