Sam Bird compares Abu Dhabi to what happened to Senna in 1989

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Formula E driver Sam Bird says at the Italian Grand Prix the FIA “followed the protocol correctly”, and had they done so in Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton would “be an eight-time World Champion”.

Formula E racer Sam Birds says he understands how Lewis Hamilton could have flashbacks to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after seeing the way the FIA handled the Safety Car at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix.

Bird adds that the governing organization “followed the protocol correctly” at Monza, and had they done so in Abu Dhabi, Lewis would be the champion.

“Of course,” Bird said during his appearance on BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.

“For him, it’s a horrible situation, because now they’re following the protocol correctly.

“If they had followed the protocol correctly [in Abu Dhabi], he’d be an eight-time World Champion, to be honest, and Max Verstappen would be about to be a first-time World Champion, a very impressive first-time World Champion.

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The Jaguar FE driver then said the Abu Dhabi controversy reminds him of what happened to Ayrton Senna after the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, when his championship was taken away.

The Brazilian had been disqualified for driving down an escape road after his collision with title rival and McLaren team-mate Alain Prost.

“[What happened in Abu Dhabi] reminds me a lot of Senna, when he was driving,” Bird said.

“You had the FIA changing the rules of the final chicane at Suzuka, and Senna stormed out of the drivers’ briefing saying ‘This isn’t fair, you guys completely destroyed me last year, you took my licence away from me, you banned me. So I’m walking out’.

“It’s a little bit similar. I can certainly understand why Lewis Hamilton feels a bit aggrieved.”

He was then asked to give his comments on how the FIA handled the Safety Car at Monza.

“I feel like what happened again was the FIA’s worst nightmare at the moment, because of what happened last year and the fallout of how it all transpired last year.

“A Safety Car going out and picking up the wrong car, and you had lapped cars in between the leader and second place, both of whom had just pitted and you have got a race that could get going with two laps to go.

“And it could be extremely exciting. You’re in Italy in front of the tifosi with a Ferrari in second with the chance to win.

“[But it would have been] very brave to let the two lapped cars go and get the racing going again, because can you imagine the fallout from that kind of situation again?” the Briton concluded.

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