F1: Mercedes ‘would look like bad losers' says Ecclestone
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Max Verstappen’s win over Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi on Sunday stopped the Mercedes driver clinching a record eighth Drivers’ Championship in the most controversial of circumstances. And the Brit’s agonising loss means that he can no longer break another record set by Michael Schumacher.
Verstappen was allowed to catch Hamilton despite the 10-second difference he had initially fallen behind the seven-time champion after a safety car was issued.
A crash by Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi on lap 53 gave Verstappen the chance to change his tyres and end up just six places behind Hamilton with the safety car leading the vehicles around the track.
It appeared the Dutchman would not overtake Hamilton given the safety car was set to carry them over the line with Hamilton likely to end up six points ahead of Verstappen in the overall standings.
But the FIA’s decision to allow those between them to unlap themselves let Verstappen to close in, eventually winning the title by eight points.
And that has all but ended Hamilton’s hopes of recording a sixth-consecutive title win – meaning he will share the record of five with Michael Schumacher.
The duo are tied on seven overall wins, with Hamilton’s coming between 2008 and 2013.
Schumacher was formerly the holder of that record with seven wins from 1994 to 2004.
But with the German having won every title from 2000 to 2004, Hamilton was set to break that record having won every championship since 2016.
And if he is to do so again, Hamilton will now have to win the famous accolade every year until 2027 – and at the age of 42, that will be nigh on impossible to do.
Hamilton remained gracious in defeat after his dubious loss in the United Arab Emirates.
“Firstly, congratulations to Max and to his team,” Hamilton told Sky F1.
“I think we did an amazing job this year. My team, everyone back at the factory, have worked so hard this whole year, it’s been the most difficult of seasons.
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“I’m so proud of them and I’m so grateful to be a part of the journey with them.
“This last part of the season we gave it absolutely everything and never gave up.
“Of course I’ve been feeling good, great, in the car these past couple of months, particularly at the end.
“If I’m honest, we’re still in the pandemic and I just really wish everyone to stay safe and have a good Christmas with all their families. Yeah, we’ll see about next year.”
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