Russell brands last-lap Abu Dhabi procedure as 'unacceptable'

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Future works Mercedes driver George Russell has criticized the late safety car procedure that allowed Max Verstappen to overhaul Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, insisting the epilogue was "unacceptable".

Hamilton was on course to securing a record eighth world title, having dominating the event at Yas Marina from the start.

But a safety car deployed with five laps to go following a crash by Russell's Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi turned the race on its head.

Verstappen opted to pit for a set of soft tyres during the safety car period which gave him a theoretical advantage over Hamilton.

However, five cars stood on track between the Mercedes driver and the Red Bull charger.

But FIA race director Michael Masi, after initially ordering those cars to remain behind the SC, eventually allowed them to overtake the latter and to resume the race with one lap to go and with Verstappen right behind Hamilton.

The final one-lap shootout saw the Dutchman overtake his arch-rival and conquer the win and the world title.

But Russell was unimpressed with how the end of the race had unfolded

"This is unacceptable," Russell tweeted.

"Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable.

"I cannot believe what we've just seen."

An angered Toto Wolff retreated to Mercedes' office to ponder the team's fate, furious that Masi had allowed those cars directly behind Hamilton to overtake the leader after initially telling them to remain in position, a decision that likely influenced Mercedes' choice not to follow Red Bull and pit Hamilton for a fresh set of tyres.

However, in the wake of the confusion, Mercedes has lodged two protests with the FIA disputing the race's official results and the process surrounding the final laps.

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