New Lewis Hamilton Abu Dhabi 2021 swap theory as Felipe Massa action begins

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton looking contemplative on the grid at Abu Dhabi 2021 with a menacing-looking Max Verstappen in a small circle

Lewis Hamilton has not won a race since being dethroned by Max Verstappen at the infamous 2021 Abi Dhabi Grand Prix

F1 commentator Peter Windsor believes Lewis Hamilton would happily concede his 2008 title to Felipe Massa in order to change the outcome of his Abu Dhabi 2021 defeat to Max Verstappen.

It emerged last week that Massa has commenced legal proceedings against Formula 1, its governing body the FIA and former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone over the outcome of the 2008 World Championship.

Could Lewis Hamilton contest Abu Dhabi 2021 after Massa action?

Massa’s complaints centre on that year’s Singapore Grand Prix, where Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr crashed deliberately to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race.

Ferrari driver Massa had led comfortably from pole position until the moment of Piquet’s crash, but ultimately finished 13th after a chaotic pit stop during the ensuing Safety Car period.

Those lost points would prove pivotal at the title decider at Interlagos five weeks later as he missed out by a single point to Hamilton.

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Massa’s action has led to suggestions that more drivers could come forward to contest other controversial moments from F1 history, including the infamous 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where Hamilton was denied a record eighth World Championship in highly controversial circumstances.

Michael Masi, then the FIA’s race director, failed to apply the Safety Car rules correctly in the closing laps of the race, setting up a one-lap sprint between Hamilton, on old hard tyres, and Verstappen, who had pitted for fresh softs.

Red Bull driver Verstappen proceeded to overtake Hamilton and sprint away to a maiden title, with Hamilton heard describing the race as “manipulated” over team radio as the finish line neared.

Speaking via a recent YouTube stream, former title-winning Williams team manager Windsor – who has given his support to Massa’s legal action – claimed Abu Dhabi 2021 has an obvious similarity with Singapore 2008 as a single in-race incident had a transformative effect on the destiny of the title.

And he even reckons Hamilton would happily give away the 2008 crown to Massa in order to change the result of the Abu Dhabi 2021 race.

He said: “What about Abu Dhabi ’21?

“That was an absolute error of a huge proportion, made at the wrong time and it resulted in Max Verstappen winning the World Championship.

“That was a one-race error, but as a result Max won the World Championship.

“So on the basis of what Felipe’s doing about 2008 in Singapore, in theory there is certainly a lot more discussion to be had about what happened at Abu Dhabi ’21.

“In my view, the last lap should not have been counted and Lewis should have won that race and he should’ve been World Champion. It’s an interesting point, isn’t it?

“You could never ask him this in a press conference because he would never give an honest answer, because it’s so hypothetical and doesn’t want to go down those paths again.

“But, deep down inside, if you said to Lewis Hamilton: ‘If you lost the 2008 World Championship to Felipe Massa, but you got the ’21 Championship back, would you be comfortable with that?’

“I think he’d be very comfortable with that.

“Not to say that he didn’t want to win in 2008, because he drove really well in 2008 and had some great races, but it was very different circumstances and he knows how well Felipe drove that year and how competitive Felipe was.

“It was very, very close.”

Windsor feels Massa’s legal proceedings could open the door when it comes to other administrative errors in F1’s past such as the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, where supermodel Winnie Harlow waved the chequered flag before the scheduled end of the race.

That meant the results were taken from Lap 68 of 70, with Daniel Ricciardo’s successively fast laps rendered null and void and Sergio Perez’s overtake on Kevin Magnussen reversed in the final classification.

He explained: “I think that’s quite big news and quite an interesting precedent for what we may see in some other race results.

“I’m just thinking also of other stuff the FIA have done over the years, about the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix when that supermodel started to wave the [chequered] flag at the wrong time and what a mess that was.

“And what about the ’82 Swiss Grand Prix at Dijon? This was not a supermodel, this was an FIA steward guy who started to twitch and get the flag ready two laps from the end of the race.

“He started unfurling the chequered flag and my buddy Peter Collins, who was running Lotus at the time, was very near Race Control and saw this and with very quick thinking just ran to Race Control and put a V-sign up, meaning there’s still two more laps to go.

“There was radios everywhere and people waving hands and there was enough distraction to stop this guy waving this chequered flag.

“But the interesting thing is that they then didn’t wave it at the end of [the race] and everybody then drove [another lap] flat out until they saw the chequered flag, as you would, even though in the regulations once the race has reached the exact finishing point it’s over regardless of whether the chequered flag is shown or not.

“If you go back to Canada 2018, I think a couple of overtakes were deleted because the race was stopped early.

“I remember Daniel Ricciardo, who was driving for Red Bull at the time, set his fastest lap on the lap that was then taken away from him and one of the overtaking manoeuvres involved Kevin Magnussen.

“There’s lots of weird, inexcusable things that have happened in terms of administering the sport and doing it correctly.

“This case by Massa is the first time a driver has decided to do this.”

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