Sebastian Vettel said the dramatic end to the season left a “strange impression” on him, after the action unfolded as it did in Abu Dhabi.
Vettel was driving one of the lapped cars allowed to overtake the Safety Car ahead of the final lap of the race, in which Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton to win the World Championship in controversial fashion.
Opinion has been firmly split about whether or not the race should have restarted and debate has continued since the chequered flag dropped in Abu Dhabi, but Vettel said previously that he hoped to see the stewards left alone after criticism was levelled at them this season.
The four-time World Champion said he only saw what happened when he looked up to the fans and saw the sea of orange erupt in celebration, and felt the situation involving him and other lapped cars should have been sorted with more than one lap to spare.
He added that he felt for Hamilton in that situation, but congratulated Verstappen on his first title.
“The whole thing left quite a strange impression,” the German told Blick. “The field behind the Safety Car should have been sorted much earlier. I made the suggestion on the radio after the first lap.
“I had only seen that on the last lap the Dutch fans jumped up. Then I knew: Max is in front. And Lewis had no chance with his tyres.
“Well, both deserved the title. It’s a shame for Hamilton, because he had a really strong second half of the season. Now I just congratulate both drivers.”
On his own season, Aston Martin had an underwhelming time of things over the course of the year – despite Vettel finishing on the podium in Azerbaijan, and having a second one taken away from him in Budapest for a fuel infringement.
He won Formula 1’s award for the most overtakes in the season, reacting to the news by jokingly asking if the prize was ‘one million jelly beans’, adding that he would have prioritised points over prizes that aren’t trophies.
“Well, if you have to start at the back of the field most of the time, you have a better chance of winning that overtaking title,” he said with a laugh.
“I would have preferred more championship points and, above all, I wouldn’t have lost my second place in Budapest. They say that 0.3 litres of fuel were lost in the tank.”