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Formula 1

Hakkinen backs Masi's decisions: Anti-climactic to finish behind Safety Car

Two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen has defended Michael Masi's choice to restart the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a lap to go, saying the alternative was worse...

Verstappen Abu Dhabi
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To news overview © Michael Potts / RN365

Mika Hakkinen says the decision made by FIA Race Director Michael Masi to restart the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a lap to go was the right one, as the season finale would have ended in anti-climactic fashion had the Safety Car stayed out.

Hakkinen, writing in his column for UniBet, backed the decisions made by Masi, which have divided fans ever since the dramatic conclusion of Sunday's race.

"I think it would have been much worse if this World Championship had finished behind a Safety Car," Hakkinen wrote. "That really would have been such an anti-climax.

"The Race Director's decision, later supported by the four stewards, is based on his understanding of the rules including his responsibility for deciding when the Safety Car returns to the pits.

"Balancing decisions between ensuring safety and promoting racing is the toughest job facing the Race Director."

Hakkinen expects Verstappen to keep title

Hakkinen said he doesn't expect any result or verdict to change, and that Max Verstappen will be the championship winner no matter that Mercedes do.

"Looking at the result, in terms of safety and promoting racing, Michael did his job," he wrote.

"If Mercedes decides to protest the result of the race, and the World Championship for drivers, the decisions which were made and the way the rules were applied will be examined in detail.

"I don't believe the results will change. Max and Lewis [Hamilton] are both champion drivers. Lewis has seven titles to show for it and Max now has one."

Constructors' title solace for Mercedes

With the two titles split between Red Bull and Mercedes, Hakkinen believes the Constructors' Championship will, eventually, assuage Mercedes' anger.

"I think Red Bull-Honda did a really fantastic job to take the fight to Mercedes this year and Max's World Championship is deserved," he said.

"Lewis missed out on an extraordinary eighth title by the smallest of margins. I think the fact that he and Valtteri Bottas won the Constructors' Championship provides some balance. The largest slice of the prize money will also help.

"This was the closest possible fight, a season which seemed to be going Red Bull's way until Lewis began his push towards the end of the season. His victories in Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia showed why he is such a star. I believe he really lifted the team."

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