Lewis Hamilton doubles down on ‘manipulated’ 2021 title claim

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, wears street clothes in the paddock. France, July 2022. Credit: Alamy
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, wears street clothes in the paddock. France, July 2022. Credit: Alamy

Lewis Hamilton reiterated his belief that the 2021 title outcome was manipulated as he compared it to the 2008 title conclusion.

The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix was without doubt an all-time classic, late rain bringing Hamilton back into title contention as he made a pass on Timo Glock in the closing stages.

That was enough to rip the World Championship away from home hero Felipe Massa, meaning that it was Hamilton who clinched the first of his seven titles on that day.

Skip forward to 2022 and Hamilton was back in Brazil, where he now holds honorary citizenship, to contest the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, he and Glock returning to the footage of that dramatic conclusion in 2008 as part of Sky Sports F1’s coverage.

Glock asked Hamilton whether he felt there were similarities in reverse to how the 2021 title race concluded, though Hamilton stressed there was a key difference. He believes the 2021 result was “manipulated”, while in 2008 it was not.

Hamilton is referring to the decision of former race director Michael Masi, who at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, cleared only the lapped cars between leader Hamilton and Max Verstappen before restarting the race for a last-lap shootout, that coming after initially ruling that lapped cars would not overtake.

On fresher tyres Verstappen passed Hamilton on that last lap, clinching his maiden title and denying Hamilton what would have been a record eighth.

“No, it was different, it was different because this one wasn’t manipulated by anybody,” said Hamilton. “Someone made a decision for that result to be the way it was basically.

“There are similarities in kind of the pain of losing in 2007. For the last 17 seconds losing that championship or the last three laps, I’d lost it basically. And then coming across the line for another 17 seconds or whatever it was beyond, still having lost the championship.

“Similar kind of horrible feeling in your heart and in your spirit. I’m so so grateful for it because it was a real proof that for anybody out there when you are facing adversity, just to never give up, keep pushing, keep chasing, keep going.

“Miracles do happen. And that was really a miracle moment for me.”

Glock has since revealed the harrowing experiences which he was subjected to after that race, which included needing a police escort to the airport, while he and his family have received hateful messages and even death threats.

Hamilton told Glock that he was sorry that he did not understand at the time what he was going through, adding that as the more mature person he is now, he would have been there to offer support.

“I’m sorry at the time that I wasn’t able to…I didn’t understand what was going on for you in your world,” said Hamilton.

“So I’m sorry that I was very young as you know, so I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to support you in that time. If that was today, I know I could be there to support you. But anyways, you’ve dealt with it amazing.”

Although Massa so cruelly lost out on the title that day in Brazil back in 2008, that being the best opportunity he ever came across in his career, Hamilton says Massa is a “champion in my eyes” for how he responded in the immediate aftermath.

“That was such an amazing year for Felipe, and for me, the most impressive part of the whole year was the end, how he stood on the podium with pride and dignity,” said Hamilton.

“And he’s a champion in my eyes you know, it’s for something much bigger than just winning the championship.”

Read next – Conclusions from George Russell’s ‘changing-of-the-guard’ win at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix

 

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