Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya believes that the stewards backed themselves into a corner as the 2021 season progressed, and that they needed to be stricter with Max Verstappen from an earlier point in the year.
Montoya was asked for his opinion about the opening lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Verstappen seemed to have managed to successfully pass Lewis Hamilton down the straight into the chicane.
Hamilton ended up scampering across the escape area to retain the lead, with the stewards deciding against any further action over the perceived transgression.
"I think if Max would have tried to give him a little bit of room, he wouldn't have given Lewis an excuse to miss the corner," Montoya told Motorsport.tv.
"He did force Lewis to run wide, he went really deep on the brakes. Lewis tried to avoid it and, by trying to avoid it, he could stay ahead.
"He had nowhere else to go, but that was a 50/50 call for me."
"Max was a little too aggressive"
Montoya went on to explain that he feels the 'let them race' ethos has been taken too far, and that the stewards need to rule with a stricter hand to ensure there are no ambiguous grey areas of what's permissible and what isn't.
"The problem is they've been carrying on racing for too many races here," he said.
"I think Max was super aggressive at the end of the year and, in my opinion, maybe a little too aggressive. And he got away with it.
"When you start getting away with it, you start questioning when you get a penalty for something like, 'Why am I getting penalised for this if what I did before was OK?'
"I think the stewards put themselves in that position by not being more aggressive with him earlier in the year. But it's a 50/50."
Montoya questions Mercedes' strategy
Speaking about the end of the race, Montoya went on to say that he felt Mercedes and Hamilton made an error of judgment once the Safety Car was deployed.
"I think Lewis was way, way too conservative there at the end. He knew he had to finish the race and, if they crashed, Max would get the championship," added Montoya.
"At the end of the race, Mercedes were so afraid of getting involved with Red Bull, they made some strategy errors there.
"It's very easy to judge from the outside but, when you had the Virtual Safety Car and Max pitted the first lap, they could have come in the next lap because they were still under VSC.
"If they would have done that, they would have been on better tyres at the end as well."
Video: How much does each Formula 1 driver earn?
RacingNews365.com has called upon inside sources and paddock reporting to bring you the most accurate list of driver salaries that's available!