Lewis Hamilton only used his radio to communicate with his team once during the dramatic final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after the Safety Car restart.
With Hamilton left out on aged Hard tyres under the Safety Car, he was powerless to prevent the newly Soft-shod Max Verstappen from passing him on the final lap after it withdrew within sight of the chequered flag.
It was an agonising way to lose the F1 Drivers’ Championship after controlling the majority of the race, but Hamilton kept his composure at the chequered flag.
Remaining silent over team radio, Hamilton parked his Mercedes in parc ferme and collected himself. Upon getting out of the car, he approached Verstappen where the pair hugged and Hamilton congratulated him.
However, aside from a short congratulatory podium interview, Hamilton did not otherwise speak to the media, nor attend the post-race press conference.
A short radio message from Hamilton has since been uncovered, in which the disappointed seven-time Champion could be heard saying: “This has been manipulated, man.”
Radio silence from Mercedes
Mercedes have been near-silent ever since the chequered flag fell, with team boss Toto Wolff also declining to speak to media before leaving the track.
Mercedes lodged two protests with the stewards of the race, both of which were later dismissed by the stewards. As it stands, Mercedes have confirmed that they intend to appeal the ruling regarding the race classification, and have until Thursday to do so (96 hours after the chequered flag fell).
Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin, who usually speaks with media after a race, also declined that usual opportunity, while there was no post-race press release from the team. Even the Mercedes social media accounts have been largely silent, only tweeting documents related to the protests and posting a statement of an intent to appeal.
Both Hamilton and Wolff are set to pick up their FIA trophies (Hamilton for second in the Drivers’ Championship, Wolff as representative of the winning Constructor) on Thursday at the FIA prize-giving ceremony.