Lewis Hamilton got ripped off.
That’s what Sebastien Ogier believes.
The eight-time World Rally Champion has repeatedly watched the replay of the 2021 Formula 1 finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and studied how Max Verstappen received help to set himself up to make the title-clinching, last-lap pass.
His conclusion: Verstappen executed a clutch move, but Hamilton was “robbed.”
Sebastien Ogier believes Lewis Hamilton will not retire from F1
Ogier, the king of World Rally racing, said he expects Hamilton to eventually channel his disappointment, focus on next season and join him as an eight-time series champ. According to Autoweek, he doesn’t think Hamilton will retire as he threatened before extending his media blackout through the offseason.
“I think he will come back,” Ogier said. “He is in an ultra-competitive environment with the best team of the moment. It must have been a very difficult situation for him.
“He really felt like he was robbed. And he was robbed; let’s not be afraid to say that.”
Ogier continued to say, Hamilton, F1’s all-time leader with 103 wins, did enough to earn the season-ending checkered flag. He may have done enough, but he didn’t do everything. Mercedes officials could have called for a tire change after witnessing Verstappen pull into pit row. Instead, they left it to Hamilton to hold off the challenger with tires worn from 23 laps of racing.
Mercedes officials continue to protest the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP
The controversial Abu Dhabi GP started with Hamilton passing the pole-sitter, Verstappen, early. Hamilton settled into the lead and controlled the field throughout much of the opening 57 laps.
Lap 58 remains under scrutiny.
The details remain well-documented. With Hamilton pacing the field, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi lost control of his machine late while battling Haas’ Mick Schumacher for 15th place, starting a caution period. With the Safety Car on the Yas Marina course, Verstappen pitted for fresh tires. Hamilton did not.
Before the last lap, embattled FIA Race Director Michael Masi summoned the five lapped cars to pass the Safety Car and ordered the race to resume. With a clear road ahead of him, Verstappen caught Hamilton and passed him along Turn 5, claiming his first drivers’ title.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff issued at least two post-race protests, but they were quickly denied. Team officials want Masi fired.
Ogier: ‘That’s very hard to swallow for Hamilton’
Since hinting at retirement during his post-race press conference, a disillusioned Hamilton has remained silent on social media and consistently denies media interview requests.
“Although I have a lot of respect for Max, and he had a great season, on that last weekend Lewis dominated the race and was in front all the way until the very end,” Ogier said. “Unfortunately for him, there was the famous safety car only a few laps from the finish. So whether it was one or the other, they are both great champions, but looking just at that weekend, it was theft.
“And that’s very hard to swallow for Hamilton.”
It still is.