More than 150 days on from the final race of the 2021 Formula One season, the debate over the controversial way in which Max Verstappen claimed his maiden championship shows little sign of abating.
Despite now being, at the time of writing, five races into a brand new era of the sport, social media remains awash with wacky conspiracy theories that Abu Dhabi was "fixed", and claims that Verstappen's title is forever tainted. It is perhaps little surprise to discover that most of these come from diehard Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes fans - their frustration perhaps compounded with the realisation that due to Merc's current struggles, Abu Dhabi may well have been 37-year-old Hamilton's last shot at eighth-title glory.
However, these fans seem to have forgotten - perhaps conveniently so - the controversial manner in which Hamilton won his first title, in what was arguably a far bigger injustice than what took place last year.
Most people will be aware of the story of the 2008 season. It was one of the all-time classics, which saw Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa contest the championship right up till the final corner of the final lap of the final race of the year - Hamilton passing Toyota's Timo Glock to secure the fifth place finish he needed, as the latter struggled on slick tyres in deteriorating conditions, to win the championship by a solitary point. Martin Brundle's call of "Is that Glock? Is that Glock going slowly?" has gone down as one of the most iconic moments in the sport's history.
That finish in itself was controversial - for many years, some fans incorrectly believed that Glock had slowed deliberately - however this is not the incident which can call into question the legitimacy of Hamilton's first title. That came three races earlier, at the very first Singapore Grand Prix night race.
Again, the events of Singapore 2008 will be familiar to some. Renault entered the race on a winless streak that dated back to 2006, and there was increased speculation that the French manufacturer was preparing to leave the sport at the end of the season. But on track, things had looked promising in Friday practice - Fernando Alonso setting competitive times - before a mechanical failure in qualifying condemned him to a lowly 15th place grid position at a circuit where overtaking looked to be difficult, to put it mildly.
A seemingly fortuitously timed safety car, caused by none other than Alonso's team mate, Nelson Piquet, elevated him up the field - and by the time the chequered flag flew at the end of the 61st lap, Alonso had taken an improbable and highly unexpected victory.
A few held suspicions at the time at what had taken place, but it wasn't until the very next year - 2009 - that the truth finally emerged. After being fired by Renault midway through the season for poor performance, Piquet ‘fessed up, and confirmed that he had been ordered to crash deliberately to aid Alonso's race. Renault was later found guilty of deliberately fixing the race and given a penalty of disqualification from the sport, but suspended for two years. To this day, it remains one of the worst cases of cheating, not just in F1 or even motor racing in general, but in sporting history.
But what has seemingly been largely forgotten in the ensuing 14 years is the effect that Piquet's deliberate safety car had on both the outcome of the Grand Prix for other drivers and, in particular, the title protagonists.
For context, Felipe Massa had taken a brilliant pole position at Singapore - and, in the early laps, had begun to pull away. Whilst it was not a given that Massa was certain to go on and win the race, it is very likely that without the safety car intervention, he would, at least, have finished far higher up the order than his eventual finishing position of 13th and outside the points.
Back in 2008, rules dictated that the pit lane was closed during a safety car period, meaning that anyone who pitted just before a safety car was called would be at a massive advantage compared to those who hadn't yet stopped and were waiting for the pits to re-open.
It was here where everything went wrong for Massa. Again, during that season, refuelling was still permitted, and in a chaotic rush to return to the circuit with team mate Raikkonen queuing just behind, Massa was released from his pit box with the fuel hose still attached to his car. Despite pulling up at the end of the pit lane, the Brazilian had to wait for his mechanics to arrive, and then remove the errant hose, before he could finally re-join the track - by which point, his race was completely ruined.
But what of his championship rival, Hamilton? He had been less affected by the pit stop chaos, and by the end of the race had recovered to a third place finish, and with it claimed a valuable six points. In those days, points were awarded to the top eight finishers only, with a maximum of 10 points for a win, rather than 25 as it is today.
A reminder of the winning margin of the 2008 World Championship? One point. Equivalent to a tenth place finish in today's money.
By the time the race fixing allegations came to light in 2009, it was far too late for the FIA to really do anything about it. Excluding Fernando Alonso as race winner could have been an option, although it would have made little difference to Massa. Voiding the race entirely would have surely changed the outcome of the championship as well, and so it was left that the results from a deliberately manipulated, fixed race were allowed to stand. In other sports which have seen instances of match fixing, that may well not have been the case.
Of course, there will be some reading this who will claim this is just a case of cherry picking from a season that featured misfortune and multiple incidents for both Massa and Hamilton. The former lost a certain race victory with only a couple of laps to go in Hungary due to engine failure, whilst the latter was penalised harshly at Spa - but that's racing.
However, due to Singapore being the 15th race on an 18 race calendar; it is hard to deny that the events of a fixed race influenced the outcome of that year's championship. Massa himself, perhaps unsurprisingly, definitely thought it had - claiming in an interview in 2009: "All of what happened was robbery - but regarding the race, nothing has happened, the result remains the same. This is not right. The robbery changed the outcome of a championship, and I lost (the title)."
Why to revisit this again, all these years later? Well, amid all the absurd claims and conspiracy theory nonsense posted on social media in recent months, it is perhaps worth providing some perspective, and reminding people that Lewis Hamilton has benefitted from a situation that was arguably far worse than what took place at the end of last year. Abu Dhabi 2021 is not, as one individual attempted to argue, the "worst ever" moment in F1's history - a bizarre claim at the best of times, considering the sport's 72 years of existence, in which drivers, marshals and spectators have lost their lives.
As he proved that day in Sao Paulo, when he stood atop the podium having just lost the World Championship, Felipe Massa is a far more magnanimous individual than many of us would ever be under similar circumstances. But, you have to wonder, if in the last few months since Abu Dhabi whenever he's logged on to social media, he has read some of what has been posted with a wry smile?