Gareth Bale admitted he stopped watching Formula 1 in his anger over how Lewis Hamilton was denied the 2021 world title.
That season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will forever be one of the sport’s most infamous moments. It was supposed to be the glorious showdown between two drivers who had provided one of the best title races the sport has seen for decades.
Instead, it ended acrimoniously thanks to race director Michael Masi’s decisions in the final few laps. He sped up the safety car procedure to allow racing on the final lap and Max Verstappen passed Hamilton to take his first F1 crown.
He was able to do it so easily because he had been able to stop for fresh tires while Hamilton had to stay on his worn rubber to keep the lead. Then, Masi allowed the lapped cars between them to move out of the way so Verstappen had a clear run at the Mercedes driver, who was a sitting duck.
Mercedes were apoplectic at the time and were seething over the result for months. Eventually, though, Hamilton and his team were happy to put it behind them after the FIA admitted Masi’s “human error” had changed the outcome and he was replaced as race director.
But not everyone has been so willing to forgive and forget. The controversy is still a hot topic of discussion on social media with some fans adamant that Hamilton should be an eight-time world champion.
And it appears retired footballer Bale counts himself among those. The former Tottenham and Real Madrid star declared he no longer watches F1 over how angry he was at the outcome of that title race.
Gareth Bale says he no longer watches F1 because of the controversy
“You know, I don’t after what happened to Hamilton a few years ago. It wasn’t fair,” he told the Random Golf Club YouTube channel when asked if he tunes in to F1. “The fact [Hamilton] had to go through all the traffic and he couldn’t pit stop… It was never a race.”
Some of those who have found the controversy tough to leave in the past have even gone as far as to try to get the result retrospectively changed. One such petition, started by Hamilton fan Patel Gordon-Bennett, has more than 100,000 signatures.
“If you are an advocate of justice, honesty and fairness, please sign this petition,” urged Gordon-Bennett, who asserted: “Leaving this decision as it stands will send a very wrong message to youngsters and future racers.”