F1 fans have gone into conspiracy mode by claiming that the son of Michael Schumacher played a huge part in Max Verstappen’s thrilling championship win over Lewis Hamilton.
Pipped to the post on the final lap by his Dutch rival, the Brit’s loss in the last race of 2021 in Abu Dhabi meant that he did not surpass Schumacher in all-time world titles.
The pair are tied on seven wins each as things stand, and in the aftermath of what has been widely dubbed the most thrilling season finale ever, detectives have gone to work in trying to ascertain how events unfolded in the way they did.
Here’s how the season ended with Max Verstappen crowned the 2021 F1 Champion pic.twitter.com/5CO2qDIMgE
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) December 12, 2021
One theory is that Schumacher’s son Mick, in his maiden campaign at Haas, “protected” or “saved” Michael’s record.
This was done by pushing Nicholas Latifi wide and forcing him into his dirty air, which then caused the Canadian to crash into the barrier with five laps remaining at the Yas Marina circuit.
Huge drama as Nicholas Latifi goes into the barriers – he reports that he is ok
But the Safety Car comes out and Max Verstappen immediately goes into the pits for some fresh tyres
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 12, 2021
With the safety car brought out, Verstappen was able to come to the pits for fresh tires and also took advantage of some confused decision-making by race officials to overtake Hamilton.
The stunning finale handed Verstappen, 24, his first championship while Hamilton denied the chance to clinch his eighth and surpass Schumacher’s record.
“The man was playing 4D chess today,” was a popular assessment of Mick’s move on Twitter.
Basically Mick Schumacher has saved his father record of 7 titles.
Mick Schumacher hit Latifi.
Latifi got damage to car, and later on lost control, letting safety car entering.
The rest is history#AbuDhabiGP
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) December 12, 2021
— Mr. Deadpan (@CfcDeadpan) December 12, 2021
Mick Schumacher pushed Nicholas Latifi wide to protect his dads record.
The man was playing 4d chess today pic.twitter.com/IRoUK8adLv
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) December 12, 2021
— detre racz (@detreee) December 12, 2021
Mick Schumacher really said this one's for dad when he took out Latifi
— Rohit (@dontcallmerohit) December 12, 2021
“Mick Schumacher really said ‘This one’s for dad’ when he took out Latifi,” joked someone else.
But such posts triggered further discussions that inconsistent F1 officiating had influenced events the most.
Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher were the first drivers to console Lewis Hamilton after the race ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Y9dZUa7Zd7
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) December 12, 2021
This aside, Hamilton’s former arch-nemesis Sebastian Vettel and Mick were the first to console the tearful 36-year-old after he had come up short.
Last year, Mick also touched Hamilton by presenting him with one of his father’s crash helmets after he equalld Michael’s tally of 91 F1 victories, which is now broken by 103 overall GP triumphs.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) October 11, 2020
Ahead of Sunday’s race, Mick couldn’t tell the F1 official website how he felt about Hamilton potentially surpassing his father – who is still recovering from a 2013 ski accident that saw him put into an induced coma – in world championships.
“Whoever wins will win,” he said. “I can’t do anything about that.”
Yet plenty believe he did.