Hamilton called race 'manipulated' over team radio

© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton hinted at foul play on the part of race control in the heat of the moment during Sunday's dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After being overhauled by Max Verstappen on the final lap of the title deciding event and realizing that all was lost, Hamilton buzzed his faithful Mercedes race engineer Peter Bonnington.

The Briton's words to Bono were unequivocal: "The race has been manipulated, man!"

Bono had kept his driver informed of the ongoing process during the safety car period that had been triggered by Nichola Latifi just five laps from the chequered.

Hamilton was initially informed that the train of five lapped cars positioned directly behind him and ahead of Verstappen would not be allowed to overtake.

But the Mercedes engineer then informed the leader that the cars would be let through, which was bad news for Hamilton who was left to fend off his title rival, now running on a set of faster soft tyres, in a one-lap shootout.

"Safety car in this lap, just prepare your tyres, you'll have overtake for each of the straights, one lap to run," said Bono.

But Verstappen quickly gained the upper hand and a mum Hamilton was left to ponder what may have been.

"I'm just speechless Lewis, absolutely speechless," quipped a defeated Bono over the radio.

The Mercedes engineer then reminded Hamilton to park on the grid, by which time an uncommunicative Hamilton was already in the pitlane, heading into parc fermé, where he remained sat in his car for a long time.

However, gracious in defeat despite the evening's very questionable turn of events, Hamilton congratulated Verstappen and then responded to the post-race interview with Sky F1's Jenson Button, but he then side-stepped the official FIA press conference and the TV interviews in the media pen.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also did not meet with the media, nor did any other members of the German outfit with the exception of Valtteri Bottas.

But the Brackley squad is expected to address the evening's dramatic events as it decides its next course of action, having signaled its intention to appeal a protest dismissed on Sunday evening by the Abu Dhabi GP stewards.

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