Lewis Hamilton "deserved" F1 world title declares team-mate Valtteri Bottas

Lewis Hamilton deserved to win a record eighth world title this season, according to departing Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

The Brit was denied the Drivers' Championship when Max Verstappen overtook him on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday to snatch the crown.

Hamilton had a significant lead on Red Bull ace Verstappen when Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed with just five laps remaining.

That led to a safety car being introduced, with Verstappen pitting to put on fresh tyres and Hamilton remaining out on the track.

By the time the debris from Latifi's crash was cleared, there was just one lap remaining and Verstappen was expected to start behind five lapped cars when the race resumed due to his pit stop.

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Although these cars would've been obliged to let Verstappen pass, Hamilton would've had time to restore his advantage.

Race director Michael Masi, however, controversially allowed Verstappen resume right behind his title rival and it was no contest with the Dutchman on fresher tyres.

Many have slammed Masi's decision, branding it unfair and a contradiction of the F1 rulebook.

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And Bottas, who will drive for Alfa Romeo next year, believes Hamilton should've been crowned champion ahead of Verstappen.

"It hurts that Lewis didn’t get the Drivers' [Championship], I feel like I lost the championship because he lost it," the Finn told F1's official website.

"I really feel gutted for him because I feel like he deserved it. Lewis had a great race and then things change like this.

"But you know, that’s just sport, that’s just how it is. Sometimes it goes against, sometimes it goes for you."

Speaking about his departure, Bottas added: "Now it’s time for something new. I’m really, really proud and thankful what we’ve achieved together.

"We've done great things. It wasn’t maybe the best race to finish it, but you need to look at the big picture. "We've won five Constructors' [Championships].

"With Lewis we've been the most successful team-mate pairing in the history of Formula 1, so it’s kind of sad to leave – but of course I look forward to the future."

Bottas' replacement at Mercedes next year, George Russell, also believes Hamilton should've been this year's champion.

"Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him," tweeted Russell.

"But what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen."

TV presenter Piers Morgan added: New F1 World Champion Max Verstappen's Grand Prix win yesterday was thrillingly unpredictable, sensationally exciting.

"And also completely unfair. Lewis Hamilton was robbed by rule-bending officials who wanted to give us all a great dramatic TV moment. That’s not sport."

Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, meanwhile, tweeted: "Imagine Manchester City and Liverpool going toe to toe for the title.

"On the the last day of the season they meet and City are 3-0 up with just minutes to go. The referee decides it would be more exciting to have a penalty shootout.

"What's more the City players have to be barefooted. That's F1."

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