F1- Hamilton talks again about 2021: “Stolen”

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More than two years after the incident, the Abu Dhabi GP Formula 1 continues to be a bitter moment in the career of Lewis Hamilton. At a time when the Englishman was on his way to victory and his eighth world title, Nicholas Latifi left the track, which led the safety car to intervene. Max Verstappenwho was in second place at the time, went to the pits and put on new soft tires, while Hamilton remained on worn hard tires.

The race was heading towards a Safety Car finish, but the FIA ​​insisted on restarting it. To make this possible, the race director, Michael Masiauthorized the stragglers between Hamilton and Verstappen to separate, allowing a duel between the two men, but, to save time, the other stragglers remained in the same position, depriving Carlos Sainz of the chance to enter the fray, which was a deviation from usual practice. Masi also decided to restart the race at the end of the same lap, leaving Hamilton and Verstappen to fight for a lap, contrary to the usual procedure.

The rest of the story is known. With his better tires, Verstappen easily overtook Hamilton to win the race and, more importantly, his first world title. The clan Mercedes expressed his anger at what happened, but the seven-time champion preferred to remain silent for several weeks. The FIA ​​launched an investigation and confirmed errors in the procedure applied at the end of the race.

Over the months and years, Hamilton has tried to distance himself as much as possible from the events, although he acknowledges a “heartbreaking and devastating” time in 2021. He still feels he suffered an injustice, but remains proud of the way he handled the situation, going to congratulate Verstappen after the finish.

“Was I robbed? Obviously,” the Brit told GQ. “You know the story, but what was really beautiful about that moment, what I took away from it, was that my dad was with me and we went through this rollercoaster of life together, with ups and downs.”

Lewis Hamilton with his father Anthony after the end of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“On the day that it hurt the most, he was there, and the way he raised me was always standing up, with my head held high. And obviously, I went to congratulate Max and I didn’t know the consequences that would have, but I was really aware that there was a mini-me watching.”

“It was the defining moment of my life. I really think it was, I felt it. I didn’t know how it would be perceived. It’s like I hadn’t visualized it. But I was really aware of it: those 50 meters that I was going to walk would take me to fall and die or get up again.”

That’s all water under the bridge now, but the injury hasn’t completely gone away for Hamilton: “If I see images, I still feel them. But I’m at peace with that.”

What Hamilton didn’t know on the night of Yas Marina was that he would go two seasons without a single victory behind the wheel of his Mercedes. He was surprised by the unwavering support he received: “My fans are really there to death. At first, I couldn’t understand, “Guys, I’m not winning anything anymore! But I realized that it’s not easy to identify with someone who always finishes first. It’s inspiring.”

The safety car in front of Lewis Hamilton before the backmarkers rejoined the lap

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

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