SportF1Horner: "We needed the help of the gods in...

Horner: "We needed the help of the gods in the end"

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race crowned Max Verstappen as Formula 1 world champion for the 2021 season. However, to achieve this, he had to overcome Lewis Hamilton, a tough rival who will have to wait at least one more campaign for his eighth World Cup.

When all seemed lost for the Dutchman, an unexpected safety car revived hopes at Red Bull, but it was not going to be easy. A few lapped cars got in the way between the two title rivals but, before the race resumed, Michael Masi ordered them to make up the lost lap and left Hamilton and Verstappen to go one-on-one on the final lap of the race.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner , still celebrating his driver’s spectacular overtaking at the end of the race, said: “I think this sums up the year, I’ve said it before, we needed the help of the racing gods in the last 10 laps, and it was thanks to Nicholas Latifi or that safety car. I have to say that we felt hurt by the stewards at the start of the race, but they did a great job allowing the race to resume again.”

“It was a crazy drive by Max to win the championship, but not only did he do it here, and I have to give credit to Lewis as well, he has been a phenomenal rival this year, he is a true world champion, and that makes this victory even better”, he commented.

In the energy drinks team, they wanted race management to give the green light to the laps to overtake the safety car, and it is something that Mercedes claimed after the checkered flag. Horner explained how he experienced the situation: “We were yelling at him to let them race, it’s what we’ve been talking about all these years, to let them compete.”

“This championship came down to one lap and a great decision to make that stop to put on the softs, and then Max made it possible. It’s unheard of to leave the cars without splitting, but they don’t need to catch up with the pack again. They made the decision correct, these are difficult circumstances for the stewards, we all pushed, but they did well,” he said.

Max Verstappen has become the 34th driver to be world champion, and his boss was more than happy: “I am very proud for Max and for the team, for what we have been through this year and for what we have achieved against some great and fierce rivals. I lost my voice, I was screaming from turn 5, and when Hamilton was in the slipstream, I thought I passed him.”

“It had cost this campaign, but to see Max become world champion after all these years, it’s an incredible feeling.”

In Abu Dhabi, Red Bull won its first world title with Vettel in 2010 , and it was also after a race with a lot of suffering, but they managed to beat Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari: “It’s up to the first with Sebastian [Vettel], also for the quality of the rivals we have had this season, they have put a lot of pressure on us and we have fought”.

However, the whole race was not in the hands of Verstappen, and everything was decided in the end: “The last few laps I was thinking about what to say to Max, what I was going to say to the team to cheer them up, but a stroke of luck with the safety car made it all work, and it’s not just about one race, it’s about a whole year.”

“Mercedes is a top level team, and they have gotten stronger as the seasons have gone by, and that is what has made it so intense on and off the track, between the drivers, the teams, the strategy, development and between Toto [Wolff] and myself.

“From the first race, Max has worked hard and without a doubt it is the most important championship we have won,” said the leader of the energy drinks group.

When the lights went out, one of the most tense moments of the season was experienced, because the poleman lost the lead in favor of his rival from Mercedes, and the two carried out a controversial action on the back straight.

Verstappen tried to recover the place, but Hamilton chose to go off the track to avoid the crash. Red Bull spoke to Masi on the radio, but the race director confirmed that the stewards would not investigate the incident.

“The start was shocking, it skidded too much between first and second gear. Lewis nailed it off the start but Max benefited from the soft he had and took advantage of it into turn 5, got good traction and stayed inside the white lines Horner said.

“He didn’t go off the track, so we couldn’t understand why he didn’t get the position back, but that’s history now.”

One of the keys to this championship was Sergio Pérez, who held Hamilton back before making the first stop so that Max could catch Hamilton again: “Checo has been incredible, we talked about it before the race, how can he help Max “The way he blocked Lewis made Max come back, they had a faster car today, and we could only play with strategy.”

“In Monza we also used slipstream like yesterday, and it’s teamwork, and it’s a big part of this victory. You couldn’t ask for more from a teammate, he made it difficult for Lewis, he didn’t give up, and he did a job wonderful,” he concluded.

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