FIA boss Michael Masi’s decision to allow the cars occupying the space between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix effectively handed the Dutchman the Drivers’ Championship title. And in a telling interview, McLaren star Lando Norris has offered insight as to why Masi may have made such a huge call.
Hamilton led for 57 of the 58 laps in Abu Dhabi as he looked to claim his sixth-straight Drivers’ Championship and eighth overall – both of which would have become a new world record.
With the Brit in the home straight on lap 53 by a period of 10 seconds, it appeared the title would be coming back to Britain.
Yet a crash by Nicholas Latifi signalled a safety car to be issued, allowing Hamilton’s nearest title rival Verstappen to catch him and pit for new tyres.
The Mercedes team didn’t pit Hamilton so that he wouldn’t lose his place at the front of the pack.
Yet with one lap left, the decision that cars couldn’t lap was turned over – much to the dismay of many of the public, who believed the race thus became unfair.
And in new footage, Lando Norris has offered his outtake on the matter.
“So the reason at the beginning we weren’t allowed to overtake but at the end we were is because they didn’t want to let us pass while the incident was still there,” Norris explained.
“We were effectively allowed to go almost flat-out under the safety car.
“Once we passed it’s ok.”
“I am in a daily dialogue with him. But there is not a lot to talk (about) at the moment. Each of us copes in their own way with the feelings we have at the moment.
“I just need to do the utmost I can to help him to overcome the feelings that he has in order for him to return strong with a love of the sport and trust in the decision-making of the sport next year.
The new season gets underway in Bahrain on March 20.
And with new regulations on tyres, it remains to be seen how well the duo will fare under the circumstances.