Lewis Hamilton robbed of title after a controversial F1 finish today at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen snatch victory from the Jaws of defeat.
A season of simmering interest boiled over into full-blown immersion; F1 officially broke in America.
It wasn’t just the fandom has slowly been growing throughout the year, but the way the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finished was almost poetic. Not only did American fans get a wild season full of driver drama and a tight championship race, but a near overdose of controversy polished things off in ways that can truly only be scripted.
And there are many that believe that’s indeed what has happened after Max Verstappen captured a world championship against a backdrop of very questionable decisions.
Okay, what’s the big deal about the F1 finish today?
This entire season has been defined by two main characters: Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Both have been neck-and-neck in the race to win the F1 title this year, and the dramatics extended beyond the racetrack. It wasn’t quite House of Gucci-levels of soapy drama, but there seemed to be not a ton of love lost between either driver or their racing sponsors.
The season finale on Sunday leaned all the way in, and perhaps too far. Hamilton appeared to be running away with things in Abu Dhabi until Nicholas Latifi crashed which forced a safety car to be called. This allowed drivers to return to the pit, something Verstappen did but Hamilton didn’t.
While in the pit, Verstappen got new tires on his car while Hamilton — who didn’t return to the pit — kept the tires he already had.
The rabbit hole of controversy goes way deeper than that. Verstappen is totally allowed to do what he did, but it ended up helping more than he could have known when combined with what F1 decided to do coming out of the Latifi wreck.
At the time of the crash, as many as five cars had already been lapped by both Verstappen and Hamilton. The question was whether or not those cars should clear out (See also: unlap themselves) before the restart. If they didn’t unlap, Hamilton would have surely won as it appeared he would prior to the race being halted. If they did unlap, Verstappen had the miracle opportunity he needed on better tires to overtake.
Guess what F1 decided to do?
With the rules — as loose as they seemingly were, to begin with — changed, Verstappen was able to overtake Hamilton on the last lap and win both the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the F1 title.
The instant takeaway was that of collective shock and awe after witnessing the absolutely bonkers way the F1 season came to an end.
The biggest takeaway seemed to be a collective agreement that F1, much like Disney and the latest Star Wars trilogy, simply decided to make things up on the fly:
Was Lewis Hamilton robbed?
The short answer seems to be yes while the long answer seems to be absolutely, hell yes.
There doesn’t seem to be any way to slice this finish that doesn’t indicate in some way that Hamilton was robbed.
Despite F1 being a relatively new fandom in the United States, American fans are no strangers to controversial finishes seemingly robbing a would-be victor. As F1 officials snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, the question of was Lewis Hamilton robbed became a major talking point.
Not only that, but the grace with which Hamilton accepted his controversial defeat was something that stood out.