Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is still in disbelief over Michael Masi's controversial call that saw Lewis Hamilton lose the 2021 Drivers' championship to Max Verstappen. It has been over a year, but the Austrian is still feeling the pain from that fateful night in Abu Dhabi in 2021.

Wolff is still of the opinion that then FIA race director Masi, who has since been sacked, broke the rules to give Verstappen an advantage. The Australian's decision saw Hamilton, who looked on course for an eighth world title, get overtaken on the final lap to lose the championship.

Hamilton was leading comfortably until a safety car was sent out in the final laps. Despite that, the Briton looked on course to win with many expecting the race to finish under the safety car as there were not enough laps for back markers to unlap themselves to resume the race.

However, in an unprecedented move, Masi decided to only let the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen unlap themselves to get one racing lap to close the race. The Red Bull driver, who was on much fresher tyres than his title rival, wasted little time in overtaking him on the final lap to win his maiden championship.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff is hoping for a clean title fight next weekend ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/POOL via AFP

Wolff was furious, and Mercedes appealed his actions, and it was many hours after the race that the stewards declared there were no grounds for an appeal. Mercedes pursued the case with the FIA, who later admitted that it was "human error" on the part of Masi before relieving the Australian of his duties as race director.

"It was tough after Abu Dhabi (the final race of the 2021 season). I have always liked the principle that the stopwatch never lies; the team that wins is the one that deserves to be the champion," Wolff told The Times.

"But this was different. At the end of the race, an individual (Michael Masi) took decisions that were not reflected anywhere in the rule book and were so drastic that they made the outcome unbelievable. That is a moment when you fall out of love with the sport . . . The principle of fairness was breached."

Hamilton and Mercedes were unable to get revenge in 2022 after failing to build a competitive car. Verstappen went on to claim his second Drivers' world title in dominant fashion as Red Bull claimed their first Constructors' title since 2013.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won an epic season-long battle with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP