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Hamilton says safety car controversy revives memories of Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton said that the safety car finish at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix revived painful memories of the way he lost last season’s Formula One championship.

Max Verstappen won his fifth race on the bounce at Monza to take his drivers’ championship lead to 116 points but the final six laps were not contested after Daniel Ricciardo lost his engine and was left stranded at the side of the track.

It was Verstappen who snatched last year’s title in Abu Dhabi when the race was restarted with one lap remaining and the Red Bull driver overtook Hamilton in a controversial climax.

“It always brings memories back. That is the rule that it should be, right?” Hamilton said to Sky Sport in Italy.

“There’s only one time in the history of the sport where they haven’t done the rules like that today and that’s the one where it changed the result of the championship. But it is what it is.”

In the Monza stands the massed ranks of Ferrari fans loudly voiced their disapproval when the cars came over the line.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said that governing body FIA had “been asleep” as Ricciardo’s car wasn’t moved in time to allow Charles Leclerc a chance to chase down Verstappen.

But Leclerc said after the race that it would have been “very, very difficult” to catch Verstappen, who had controlled the race and was comfortably in the lead when the safety car was deployed.

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