Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix ended in anti-climatic circumstances after it finished behind the Safety Car, prompting an angry response from the home crowd and leading to suggestions the final laps had been mishandled.
Although a grandstand finish between race-winner Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was denied, the correct Safety Car procedures were followed, unlike at last year’s controversial title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Former race director Michael Masi’s failure to apply the correct Safety Car restart rules had a direct consequence on the outcome of the world championship and ultimately cost the Australian his job.
Hamilton had dominated the race and was on course to seal a record-breaking eighth world title before the Safety Car period enabled Red Bull to pit Verstappen for soft tyres, giving him a huge advantage.
The Dutchman went on to pass Hamilton during a one-lap shootout to clinch his maiden world championship in a dramatic and controversial climax to the 2021 season.
Speaking about the accurate Safety Car finish at Monza, Hamilton told Sky: “It always brings memories back, that is the rule that it should be, right?
“So only one time, in the history of the sport, that they haven’t done the rule.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also couldn’t resist a reference to the contentious showdown at Yas Marina.
“The race director’s call will be criticised,” Wolff told Sky. “This time, they followed the rules.
“Maybe they could have done it a lap earlier or let [George Russell] through. But at least they followed the rules.
“They accepted that the race ended with a Safety Car. This is how it should be.”