World rally champion Sebastien Ogier has chimed in on the controversy surrounding last month's dramatic F1 finale in Abu Dhabi and says that Lewis Hamilton was properly "robbed" of the title.
While the focus is switching to this year's campaign, the debate continues to rage over the events that unfolded at Yas Marina that allowed Red Bull's Max Verstappen to pip Hamilton to the title and deprive the Mercedes driver of a record eight world championship.
Since that infamous day, the Briton has been nowhere to be seen or heard, with speculation still rife that the 103-time Grand Prix winner could suddenly announce his retirement, although few insiders believe such a decision will come to pass.
"I think he will come back," said Ogier on RMC’s Super Moscato Show. "He is in an ultra-competitive environment with the best team of the moment.
"It must have been very difficult for him. He really felt like he was robbed. He was robbed, let’s not be afraid to say that."
The eight-time world rally champion, who finished second to fellow rally veteran Sebastien Loeb in last weekend's Monte-Carlo Rally, didn't hold back his criticism of how race director Michael Masi had handled things in the race's closing stages that led to an unfair outcome in his view.
"Although I have a lot of respect for Max Verstappen, he had a great season, but at the last weekend Lewis dominates the race, he is in front until the end. Unfortunately for him, a few laps from the finish, there is this famous safety car.
"One or the other, either of them was a deserving champion but on the face of that weekend alone, it was theft. It’s hard to swallow for Hamilton."