Damon Hill points finger at Mercedes after Hamilton suffers F1 title heartbreak

Former F1 champion Damon Hill slammed Mercedes' "conservative" approach after Lewis Hamilton was pipped to the world title by Red Bull rival Max Verstappen in dramatic fashion.

Hamilton had led for the majority of the race after making a dream start in the first lap, nudging past Verstappen, who started the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pole position.

But the introduction of a safety car late in the race presented the opportunity for Verstappen to outgun Hamilton in an enthralling one-lap shootout to clinch his first-ever world title.

And Hill blasted Mercedes' cautious gameplan after Hamilton was denied what would have been a record-breaking eighth title.

“Red Bull took the gamble," Hill told Sky Sports. "Mercedes were conservative.”

What did you make of Verstappen's thrilling F1 title win? Have your say in the comments section.

Former F1 champion Nico Rosberg also admitted that he understood Mercedes' frustration after Michael Masi's controversial decision to allow certain cars to lap the safety car that was deployed following Nicholas Latifi's late crash.

"First they said they're not allowed to un-lap themselves, then they changed their message once they saw that the track was safe to do so," said Rosberg, who won the title back in 2016.

"But the thing is, in the written document all cars will be required to un-lap themselves and yet they only let those five cars that were between Lewis and Verstappen un-lap themselves, the others not.

"That's why Mercedes are thinking, is that ok?

"I guess it's just going to be in the end Michael Masi can decide what he wants, he's the director. He wants to go racing, they go racing, in a safe way, and they did that."

Despite the controversy, Red Bull chief Christian Worner backed Masi's decision after the race following Verstappen's stunning win.

"We were screaming at him [Michael Masi] 'let them race'," explained Worner on Sky Sports.

That's what we've been talking about all year and this championship came down to the last lap. A great strategy call to make that pit stop, to take that set of softs and then it was down to Max and make it happen.

"It's unheard of to leave the cars unlapped. You could see they wanted to get the race going again and they don't need to catch up the back of the paddock. They made absolutely the right call – difficult circumstances and they called it right.

"I'm just so proud of Max, so proud of the team for what we've been through and what we've achieved against some fierce and great opponents."

Masi had shared his hopes earlier in the week for the F1 championship to decided on the track rather than in the steward's room.

ut Mercedes lodged two protests immediately after the conclusion of the race after the controversial finish in Abu Dhabi, with the fallout set to rumble on.

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