MAX VERSTAPPEN’S Formula One World Championship trophy presentation at the FIA Awards in Paris was crashed by Lewis Hamilton fans.
The Mercedes driver opted not to attend the gala following Sunday’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which saw him miss out on a record eighth title.
Max Verstappen and Kelly Piquet pose for the camera at the FIA Awards gala in ParisCredit: Rex
A van was parked outside the gala with a message in support of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton, 36, was pipped to the title by Verstappen after being overtaken on the final lap.
The British icon was leading by ten seconds going into lap 54, only for a safety car to be deployed after Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers.
And with fresher tyres having pitted, Verstappen passed his rival on the final lap after stewards decided to allow lapped cars to overtake.
FIA director Michael Masi had initially indicated lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen would stay in their formation, only to change his mind, resulting in the former to claim that the race ‘has been manipulated’.
Mercedes subsequently failed with two protests after Verstappen won at the Yas Marina Circuit, before dropping their appeal on Thursday.
Still fuming with the FIA, Hamilton – and team boss Toto Wolff – decided to against attending the gala in France.
That is despite F1’s sporting regulations stating the drivers who finish in the top three of the championship must attend the prize giving ceremony.
Fans and pundits have agreed that Hamilton was cruelly denied the world title, with supporters voicing their opinion in Paris.
Parked outside the awards presentation was a van, with an interactive message that read: “WeStandWithLewis.”
The message comes after Wolff declared that Hamilton could sensationally quit F1 after being left ‘disillusioned’ by the sport following Verstappen’s triumph.
Speaking during the FIA Prize-Giving gala in Paris, Verstappen insisted his rival has no reason to walk away.
He said: “Of course, I can understand that the first few days, after a race like that, you’re not happy.
“You should also understand this is racing and these things can happen to you.
“I think he should just look back at what he has achieved, and that should give him a lot of comfort and that drive to keep on going.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas attended the gala with girlfriend Tiffany CromwellCredit: AFP
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was all smiles next to Spice Girls wife GeriCredit: AFP
“He is still trying to challenge for that eighth title, and he can do that again next year, so I don’t see any reason why to give up or stop now.”
Asked whether he feels sorry for the seven-time champ, he remarked: “No, I don’t feel sorry but I can understand it can be very painful.
“At the end of the day, that’s racing as well. You just have to keep fighting until the end and you know that in racing anything can happen.
“He also won a championship like that. I think he can understand as well.”