Lewis Hamilton could not help himself from aiming a thinly-veiled dig at the FIA and Max Verstappen after the Italian Grand Prix was forced to end under the safety car following Daniel Ricciardo’s late retirement. Verstappen managed to clinch yet another victory to move closer to sealing this year’s Drivers’ Championship crown but was able to cruise over the line unopposed, with the safety car remaining on track until the chequered flag after the marshals failed to clear Ricciardo’s car in time to allow the race to continue.
The situation at Monza led many onlookers to draw comparisons with the FIA’s controversial handling of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Verstappen overtook Hamilton to win his first title after a final-lap safety car restart in which the rules were not applied correctly by former race director Michael Masi. Hamilton, who managed to secure a fifth-placed finish on Sunday, alluded to last year’s incident in Abu Dhabi when reflecting on the closing stages of the Italian Grand Prix during a post-race interview with Sky Sports.
“It always bring memories back,” said Hamilton. “That is the rule that it should be, right? So only one time, in the history of the sport, that they haven’t done the rule.”
The FIA received plenty of criticism in the aftermath of Sunday’s race for allowing it to end under the safety car, with a large portion of fans having suggested that the race should have been red-flagged and restarted from the grid after Ricciardo broke down on the edge of the circuit. The decision that was made by the stewards denied Charles Leclerc the opportunity to fight Verstappen for a late victory in front of his adoring supporters at Monza, with Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto venting his fury after the race.
JUST IN: Max Verstappen caught talking about Lewis Hamilton move
“I was a bit disappointed for the ending, finishing behind a safety car is never great for F1, the show,” said Binotto when quizzed on the way the last few laps of the Italian Grand Prix unfolded.
“There was plenty of time for the FIA to act differently today. It was fully safe to run on the track towards the end, to wait so much is simply wrong.
“We need to have discussions on how to improve because the aim should be to restart the race as soon as possible. The FIA need more experience, but they need to do a better job because F1 deserves it.”
The FIA went on to explain that Sunday’s race was completed behind the safety car because Ricciardo’s stationary car was not enough of a hazard to warrant a red flag being issued.
“While every effort was made to recover Car Three quickly and resume racing, the situation developed and marshals were unable to put the car into neutral and push it into the escape road,” said an FIA spokesperson, as reported by Autosport.
“As the safety of the recovery operation is our only priority, and the incident was not significant enough to require a red flag, the race ended under safety car following the procedures agreed between the FIA and all Competitors. The timing of the safety car period within a race has no bearing on this procedure.”
Follow our new Express Sport page on Instagram here.