Lewis Hamilton says Italian GP finish brings back memories of Abu Dhabi: ‘What were the rules’

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Italian Grand Prix as the race ended behind the Safety Car.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Italian Grand Prix as the race ended behind the Safety Car.

Lewis Hamilton admitted Sunday’s Italian GP finish brought back memories of his Abu Dhabi title decider against Max Verstappen, with the Mercedes driver this time agreeing to a Safety Car application.

The 2022 Italian GP is similar to the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP in that there is a Safety Car called with a few laps remaining.

At Monza, however, the race ended behind the Safety Car – with Max Verstappen beating Charles Leclerc – while at Abu Dhabi, the race was incorrectly restarted with one lap remaining.

Verstappen would overtake Hamilton, on older tyres, on that final lap, claiming an impressive world championship.

Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi to win the 2021 F1 Championship!

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Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi to win the 2021 F1 Championship!

Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi to win the 2021 F1 Championship!

said Hamilton, who finished fifth on Sunday Sky in Italy that he would “want to fight the guys behind me” if given the chance to restart but said he ultimately agreed with the finish given in last year’s finale.

“It always brings back memories,” Hamilton said. “That’s how the rules should be, right?

Sky F1's Karun Chandhok explains why the Italian Grand Prix ended behind the Safety Car and the options available to the FIA ​​in situations like this.

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Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok explains why the Italian Grand Prix ended behind the Safety Car and the options available to the FIA ​​in situations like this.

Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok explains why the Italian Grand Prix ended behind the Safety Car and the options available to the FIA ​​in situations like this.

“There is only one time in the history of the sport where they have not made the rules like that today and that’s the one where it changed the result of the championship. But it is what it is.”

Michael Masi, who has since left the FIA ​​governing Formula 1, did not allow some cars to un-lap in Abu Dhabi last year, with the race restarting earlier than it should have – leaving the door is open for Verstappen.

While both Red Bull and Ferrari said they wanted to restart the race on Sunday, FIA Race Director Niels Wittich, who was one of the replacements for Masi, correctly applied the rules.

“I think this time they followed the rules,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff Sky Sports F1. “Maybe they could have done it a lap earlier, and they accepted the end of the race under the Safety Car.

“This is how it should be.”

What happened at Monza and why the fans rejected the finale

Verstappen was cruising to his fifth straight win – 16 seconds ahead of two-stop Charles Leclerc – when Daniel Ricciardo stopped his McLaren on Lap 47 of 53, stopping his car between Lesmos.

While the yellow flags were waved immediately, there was a slight delay before the Safety Car time signaled.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is unhappy with the FIA's enforcement of Safety Car regulations in the latter stages of the race.

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Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is unhappy with the FIA’s enforcement of Safety Car regulations in the latter stages of the race.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is unhappy with the FIA’s enforcement of Safety Car regulations in the latter stages of the race.

However, Verstappen and Leclerc followed many of their rivals into the pits on the following lap, fitting on soft tires as the teams hoped to restart the race shortly for an epic finale.

However, valuable time was wasted when the Safety Car came out in front of George Russell’s car, in third, and not Verstappen’s. Nor did it initially release Russell and the 11 vehicles between him and the leader.

Mercedes told Russell to overtake the Safety Car, although the British driver held back, with no green light in sight giving him the confidence to do so.

Another obstacle was the fact that the marshals could not move Riccardo’s car, and only a cherry picker began to recover it with three laps remaining.

Soon after, Russell and the other cars were allowed to pass the Safety Car, but Verstappen only reached his required position at the front of the Safety Car queue at the end of Lap 51 of 53.

Christian Horner admitted they would have preferred Max Verstappen to win the race under normal racing regulations, rather than behind the Safety Car.

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Christian Horner admitted they would have preferred Max Verstappen to win the race under normal racing regulations, rather than behind the Safety Car.

Christian Horner admitted they would have preferred Max Verstappen to win the race under normal racing regulations, rather than behind the Safety Car.

“At this point it became clear that there would not be enough time for all the cars to circle back, join the train, and then release the lapped cars to finish the race under green flag conditions,” said Sky Sports F1’s Karun. Chandhok.

Verstappen and Leclerc were split by two lapped cars – Yuki Tsunoda and Valtteri Bottas – on the penultimate lap, when the Monegasque was told before the final lap that this was how it would end.

That prompted shouts of “come on, the track is clear” from Leclerc, and boos from the fans. Verstappen was also booed on the podium.

The FIA’s explanation and how it ended

Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz revealed the explanation from the FIA ​​afterwards.

“They said the marshals can’t push it, they hope to recover the car faster but doing so takes time,” he reported.

“They also said it was important to get the cars to allow the marshals space to recover Ricciardo’s car.

“If there’s a question, it’s about the lost Lap 50, why Russell wasn’t shown the green light earlier, especially when his Mercedes team says they think he can get through.”

Chandhok agreed that “procedurally, the Race Directors did everything right… they followed the rulebook, there’s no question about it” – but came up with an alternative scenario that would have provided a better ending.

“My personal view is that in light of what happened in Abu Dhabi, if we have an incident in the last five laps, it becomes an automatic red flag with a standing start,” he said. “I think for all of us, it’s a little bit of an anticlimactic finish.”

Meanwhile, Ted concluded: “Is the Race Director still playing? Yes. Is he faster? Yes.

“But was it a fair result in a way that Abu Dhabi wasn’t? Yes.”