Lewis Hamilton had 'one hand tied behind his back' by Michael Masi claims Mark Webber

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‘He was fighting against an outside force’: Lewis Hamilton had ‘one hand tied behind his back’ by F1 race director Michael Masi during his controversial title defeat by Max Verstappen, claims former Red Bull driver Mark Webber

  • Lewis Hamilton lost the championship on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi GP
  • Race director Michael Masi has faced much scrutiny since the title-decider
  • He allowed Max Verstappen to move closer to Hamilton on the final lap 
  • That resulted in the Red Bull ace overtaking the Mercedes star on fresher tyres
  • Mark Webber says Hamilton had ‘one hand tied behind his back’ in the decider  


Lewis Hamilton had ‘one arm tied behind his back’ in his controversial title-decider against Max Verstappen according to former Formula One driver Mark Webber.

Race director Michael Masi has faced widespread criticism since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Verstappen pass Hamilton on the first lap to claim his maiden championship. 

Masi’s call to allow some drivers to unlap themselves behind the safety cars, and not others, put Verstappen right on the tail of Hamilton on much fresher tyres as the race was set to resume with one lap to go.

Lewis Hamilton had ‘one arm tied behind his back’ in the F1 title decider claims Mark Webber

A controversial decision from Michael Masi put Max Verstappen on the back of Hamilton going into the last lap

A controversial decision from Michael Masi put Max Verstappen on the back of Hamilton going into the last lap

Verstappen on much fresher tyres passed Hamilton to claim his maiden championship

Verstappen on much fresher tyres passed Hamilton to claim his maiden championship

Webber, who won nine races for the Red Bull team which Verstappen drives for, said Hamilton was fighting against an ‘outside force’.

He told Australia’s Nine Wide World of Sports: ‘He felt he was robbed on the last lap, because he couldn’t fight. He had nothing to fight with, and it wasn’t through his own doing. He was fighting against something that was an outside force.’

The now Channel 4 F1 pundit went on to add: ‘For the sport we were all disappointed it ended like that, it’s not how we wanted it to end. Both of them deserved to lift that trophy, but we did not want it to finish like that at all.

Webber said Hamilton was 'fighting against an outside force' at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Webber said Hamilton was ‘fighting against an outside force’ at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

‘We wanted a straight fight, a clean fight, and unfortunately there was one guy with his hand tied behind his back.

‘Of course in hindsight they would all agree we could have done something different, what happened wasn’t the ideal scenario.’

It comes as the FIA say they are aware of radio messages between Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley and Masi that have raised fresh questions over the outcome of the Abu Dhabi title decider.

Hamilton looked set to coast to victory with five lapped cars separating himself and Red Bull’s Verstappen.

The FIA are conducting an inquiry into the events of the race with Masi's position at risk

The FIA are conducting an inquiry into the events of the race with Masi’s position at risk

However, Masi ordered the lapped cars to unlap themselves behind the safety car, resulting in Verstappen closing the gap on his British rival. With the Dutchman on a fresher set of tyres, he was able to pass Hamilton on the final lap to win the championship. 

Masi has been accused of giving into pressure applied by Red Bull chief Christian Horner and Wheatley, resulting in his decision not to follow the FIA rules and allow the cars to pass.

In the radio messages, Masi is heard receiving advice from Wheatley on how to deal with the lapped cars with Red Bull desperate for a final-lap shootout. 

Wheatley first says: ‘Those lapped cars; you don’t need to let them go right the way around and catch up with the back of the pack. You only need to let them go, and then we’ve got a motor race on our hands.’ 

‘Understood,’ the Australian responds before making his decision. When Mercedes chief Toto Wolff demanded a reason for the controversial call, Masi replied: ‘Toto, it’s called a motor race, OK?’ 

The video has gained traction on social media but is not a new revelation. It was initially released by Formula One four days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but only now has it caused a whirlwind online, with the hashtag ‘#F1xed’ trending as a result. 

The BBC reports that the FIA have access to all radio communication from Abu Dhabi so are aware of the footage. They are due to release the findings of their inquiry into the controversial ending to the season finale at a meeting of the F1 Commission next Monday.

The inquiry was launched to determine how the mistakes in the desert were made, with BBC also reporting that figures within the FIA acknowledge that Masi failed to follow the rules correctly, which consequently had an effect on the title outcome.

The same outlet claims that there is a growing belief that Masi’s position as race director is untenable following his judgment calls in Abu Dhabi.

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