Motorsport: In-car audio reveals Lewis Hamilton believes Formula One finale was 'manipulated' to assist Max Verstappen

With 10 laps to go at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports that Max Verstapen needed a motorsport miracle to beat Lewis Hamilton to the Formula One world championship.

That miracle duly occurred, when Williams' Nicholas Latifi crashed with six laps to go, producing the now-infamous safety car call from race director Michael Masi.

During the safety-car period, it became evident to Hamilton, at least, that the world was conspiring against the seven-time champion, who saw five lapped cars pass him, leaving a one-lap shootout for the title.

Verstappen slipped by the Brit midway through the lap and held on for a remarkable first championship victory.

The FIA threw out two post-race protests from Mercedes, who are now likely to take the case to the governing body's appeals court in a desperate attempt to strip the Dutchman of the title, although many within the F1 community have called for the German outfit to let the matter rest.

Newly released audio reveals Hamilton, 36, sitting in his cockpit in disbelief as the ‘miracle’ played out in front of him, telling his race engineer that something was afoot.

"This has been manipulated, man,'' Hamilton said in anguish.

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton drives behind the safety car at the Yas Marina Circuit during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on December 12, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty Images
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Race winner and 2021 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing is congratulated by runner up in the race and championship Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty Images

Engineer Peter 'Bono' Bennington's reply was telling: "I'm just speechless, Lewis, absolutely speechless."

The final moments of the race were hotly debated in the pitlane afterwards, with several drivers commenting on the outcome.

In-coming Mercedes driver George Russell said the result was "unacceptable", while McLaren's Lando Norris felt the one-lap shootout was for commercial reasons.

"It was obviously made to be a fight," Norris said. "It was for the TV of course - it was for the result.

"Whether or not it was fair, it was not up to me to decide."
Norris's teammate Daniel Ricciardo said: "I'm honestly just speechless. I don't know what to make of all that, I really don't. 

“I need to see how it all came about."

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc called the decisions "a bit weird".