The Formula 1 title decision in Abu Dhabi immediately caused controversy on Sunday when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen almost collided on the first lap.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton had taken the lead right from the start, while Red Bulls Verstappen slowly got off the target from pole position, but advanced inward into the seventh corner.
The two drivers are tied with Verstappen, 9-8 in race wins.
Verstappen quickly informed his team over the radio that Hamilton had to give the place back, while the Briton Mercedes said he had been pushed off the track.
The stewards decided no investigation was needed and Race Director Michael Masi said Hamilton slowed enough to give back the time advantage gained.
“That’s incredible. What are they doing here? ”Said Verstappen when he was informed.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports from the pit wall that there was “a total lack of constancy” in the decision of the stewards and that his team now had to “do the hard way”.
His team manager Jonathan Wheatley continued the debate with Masi, saying that Verstappen did everything right and that he didn’t understand the logic.
“Jonathan, the stewards checked and determined that all permanent benefits were achieved and that Max forced that position there.
Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, said he was also struggling to understand the regulations.
“Of course there was no penalty in Brazil, but both went off the track. Max fell by the wayside this time, ”said the Briton, referring to a similar incident in Interlagos last month.
Hamilton’s former team-mate Nico Rosberg agreed: “Max was a bit too long and too aggressive, pushed Lewis too hard, even though he had a right to the corner there,” said the German.
“Then I would also say that Lewis didn’t give back everything he won.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)