Nico Rosberg explains essential ‘clean up’ job for FIA which affects Mercedes and Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen analysed by Coulthard

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Former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg has slammed part of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s battle in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, pinpointing an element between Mercedes, Red Bull and the FIA which should be rectified next season. Going into the race level on points, the duo settled their title dispute in controversial and dramatic fashion. 

It was Verstappen who came out on top, with a last-gasp overtake sealing his maiden championship crown. 

The title looked to have been sewn up by Hamilton who had barely put a foot wrong, until Nicholas Latifi’s late crash brought out the safety car. 

With one lap remaining, the safety car cleared and FIA race director Michael Masi controversially allowed the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to pass through. 

That paved the way for an epic one-lap shootout, and having opportunistically pitted for a new set of soft-compound tyres, Verstappen capitalised on his advantage to pass the Mercedes man and take the chequered flag. 

But Masi’s decision to clear the cars separating the title protagonists was not without controversy. 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was seen and heard pleading with the race director to reconsider his decision, before being bluntly shut down. 

The Silver Arrows protested after the race and, when they were rejected, announced their intention to lodge an appeal and fight the result. 

An alleged friendly text message between Verstappen and Wolff suggests that Mercedes may soon accept defeat, but the whole ordeal highlighted something which Rosberg, a former team-mate of Hamilton’s, believes should be rectified. 

“We have to factor in the communications – that have been broadcast – between the two teams and the race director Michael Masi,” he told Sky Sports. 

“It sounds like he is being pressured by Red Bull to do stuff.

“Obviously, you hear Christian coming on the radio, to the referee saying ‘hey, we just need one more lap of racing’, that is not ideal.

“That is the type of thing we need to try and sort out for next year and get rid of that.

“They shouldn’t even be speaking to the referee at all. It wouldn’t happen in football. You can’t have the manager during the match calling the referee all the time. That doesn’t work.

“That is the kind of thing we need to really clean out for next year and also with the whole overtaking thing.

“There needs to be a proper framework where we can really keep things understood.”

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