Former Formula One boss Bernie Eccleston has rubbished Lewis Hamilton's claims that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was 'manipulated' and congratulated Max Verstappen on his first title win.
Hamilton lost out on a record-breaking eighth world championship crown in controversial fashion after race director Michael Masi allowed lapped cars to un-lap themselves on the penultimate lap at the Yas Marina circuit.
That decision gave Verstappen the chance to attack Hamilton on the final lap – a chance he duly took to clinch his first crown at the expense of the British driver and Mercedes.
After the Dutchman had edged past him, Hamilton could be heard on the team radio claiming that the race had been "manipulated."
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But Ecclestone, who ruled F1 for 40 years, dismissed claims of a fix and did not appear to have much sympathy for Hamilton either.
Asked his views about the race on Sky News, Ecclestone said: "About being robbed it's complete and utter nonsense.
"If you want to think about it carefully, on the first lap of that race he (Hamilton) went off the circuit and came back on again and Verstappen stayed on the circuit and did absolutely nothing wrong.
"Lewis wasn't punished at all for this so he shouldn't be complaining too much.
"These things happen all the time in sports. We shouldn't blame the race director, he did exactly what was the right thing to do."
Ecclestone then added: "I'd like to know who has been manipulating and is clever enough to do that.
"This was just a set of circumstances that happened and it ended an incredible world championship that I'm sure everyone was more than happy to watch."
Do you think the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was 'manipulated'? Let us know in the comments section.
There are suggestions that Mercedes could still appeal the result of the race, although rumours on Monday indicated the constructor may think twice about such a move for the good of the sport.
Regardless, Ecclestone believes it would be the wrong thing to do.
He continued: "I think an appeal would be the worst thing they could do. It would look like they are bad losers.
"It was very level. Two guys racing each other and one was quicker than the other one. It's a lot of nonsense. It took them four hours to decide if they had a case or not so it couldn't have been that clear.
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"Max won it fair and square which is a good thing to do. People are just as happy to see a new face win it. I personally was happy that Lewis didn't win an eighth championship because of Michael Schumacher. I wouldn't like to see that broken."
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