The season ended with a final on the last lap, Max Verstappen as the new world champion and two protests from Mercedes. The sports commissioners rejected both objections. Max Verstappen celebrated twice. What do our experts think of the Abu Dhabi GP? Michael Schmidt and Andreas Haupt discuss.
Whenever you thought it couldn't get any crazier, more extreme, this Formula 1 season proved otherwise. For 52 laps, Lewis Hamilton stormed towards his eighth world title. He drove as world champion as in the previous races. That was great cinema from the record winner of Formula 1 and from Mercedes. No matter what Max Verstappen and Red Bull did after losing the start – you had no chance against the superiority.
Until an accident involving Nicholas Latifi in the Williams one lap later turned the script upside down. Verstappen got a free stop and fresh tires as a gift. Strategically, Mercedes' hands were tied. Hamilton had to endure chewed tires to the bitter end. His team hoped the race would end under safety car. It looked like it at first. But race director Michael Masi made a decision that displeased Mercedes and Hamilton fans, but made Verstappen's supporters and Red Bull cheer.
Long video for the grand finale
He got the five laps between Hamilton and Verstappen out of the way: The new world champion was already in the rear-view mirror of the Mercedes at the start of the last lap – and overtook with a typical Verstappen maneuver in the fifth Curve. Masi's handling of the whole situation raised a few questions. Why were only five and not all eight lapped drivers allowed to pass? Why did the safety car come in on the penultimate lap? Wouldn't a red flag have been a better option? Or in summary: Has Hamilton lost the world title?
The outcome led to an aftermath. Mercedes felt cheated and lodged two protests. Both were turned down. Since then, tempers have still not calmed down. Some observers are calling for Michael Masi to vacate his post. Our experts agree: The Australian could only leave the racetrack as a loser that day. No matter how he would have decided. One would always have felt fooled. In this case Mercedes.
In our "Formula Schmidt" for the Abu Dhabi GP, Michael Schmidt and Andreas Haupt talk in detail about the dramatic events and twists and turns in the season finale. They give their verdict and explain why the race director actually needs at least one assistant to manage communication with the teams. And why do you think the FIA should stick with the Australian.
What do you think of the radio messages from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner? Do you think that Mercedes will actually appeal to make Hamilton world champion at the green table after all? And why do you think that Carlos Sainz might have lost a (small) chance of winning? Find out in our Formula 1 video.