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Former F1 champions Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button both backed the decision not to penalise Lewis Hamilton as controversy struck early in Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The season-deciding race got off to a frantic start as Hamilton pipped Max Verstappen to take the lead in the opening stages of the race, despite Verstappen setting off in pole position.
But the duo came within a whisker of colliding later on in the lap after Verstappen attempted to reclaim the lead; forcing Hamilton off the track.
Stewards decided there was no need for any action to be taken – much to the fury of Red Bull chief Christian Horner.
But Rosberg and Button were both in agreement over the incident, backing the call made by the stewards.
"So difficult," said Rosberg discussing the incident. "I think it's OK what they've done. Max was a little bit too lungy and too aggressive, forcing Lewis out too strongly, even though he had a right to the corner there.
"Then I would also say Lewis didn't give back everything that he gained."
And Button, who won the world title back in 2009, adopted a similar stance as he backed Hamilton.
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"It was a very late lunge but it was always going to happen, Lewis knew he was coming. He pushed Lewis off the track – I guess – but he stayed on the track.
"I'm struggling to understand the regulations right now because obviously in Brazil there was no penalty, but they both drove off the circuit. Max stayed on the track this time."
But Horner was left raging by the incident, a point he made clear in a heated radio message to race director Michael Masi.
But his pleas were ignored and later said on Sky F1: “We’re a little bit shocked at that.
“As you can imagine we’re not best pleased. It’s a total lack of consistency [from the stewards]. We’re focused on the race and doing it the hard way.”
Hamilton held a five-second lead over his title rival following the pair's first pit stop.
- Lewis Hamilton
- Max Verstappen
- Formula One
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