Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the 2021 season finale at Abu Dhabi to win his maiden championship.
Lewis Hamilton had controlled the race from the start and was looking set to win the race and secure his record-breaking eighth driver’s championship.
In the closing stages of the race, Nicholas Latifi crashed and brought out the Safety Car. Verstappen pitted for fresh softs while Hamilton kept track of position and stayed out.
Michael Masi, the race director, however, did not follow FIA’s sporting regulation and allowed lapped cars only between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves rather than all lapped cars. This allowed Verstappen to easily pass Hamilton and win the title.
This created a huge controversy with widespread consequences. FIA conducted an investigation into the matter and it resulted in Michael Masi losing his job.
After 8 months, Horner reflected on the events of Abu Dhabi.
“I always tend to look forwards so Abu Dhabi seems to be a long time ago,” Horner said. “The page always turns. I can understand if you’re a Lewis fan or a Mercedes fan that you’d feel pretty aggrieved by the events of Abu Dhabi. If you’re a Max fan, you feel it’s redemption for what happened earlier in the year.
“That’s where sport is always going to be polarising. Last year, wasn’t just about Abu Dhabi. Last year was about 22 races. Do I think Max deserved that championship? Absolutely. I am never going to get too hung up on Abu Dhabi.”
Horner also expanded on his intense rivalry with his Mercedes counterpart, Toto Wolff.
The two team bosses exchanged blows in the media and were always at each other’s throats. However, Horner clarified that it was not personal.
“It’s not personal in any way,” Horner explained. “Toto is Toto. He’s done a phenomenal job with Mercedes. Toto obviously came into the sport from a very different background than me. He’s from a financial background and it’s very easy to pull his chain, and you can see it sometimes affects him.
Though, both Horner and Wolff said that they have moved on from the past and are now focused on what lies ahead.
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