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Horner reflects on "emotional rollercoaster"

NEWS STORY
13/12/2021

Admitting that Nicholas Latifi's crash was a "bit of luck", Christian Horner pays tribute to Max Verstappen following "emotional rollercoaster" of an Abu Dhabi GP.

While the rest of us tried to come to terms with what had just happened, and Mercedes headed to the stewards with a barrister in tow, Red Bull boss, Christian Horner was in no doubt, Max Verstappen deserved his title.

"It was an emotional rollercoaster," said the Briton. "It started with a bad start, Lewis making a great start and they had a bit more pace than us today.

"They elected to do a one-stop, we went onto the two-stop and then when Latifi crashed we elected to take another set of tyres," he continued. "They got the race going again and Max had to make it count, he had one lap to do it and he nailed it.

"So the elation of that moment, and then obviously the summons coming through for the safety car and another one for other stuff, it has been a tense couple of hours," he admitted, "but hats off to the FIA and the stewards who I believe have made the right decisions today."

Turning his attention to his driver, he said: "You have got to look at this championship on balance over 22 races and Max has been truly outstanding this year. He got unlucky at times but he always kept his head down. He has driven with heart and passion, with great skill and determination and I think he is a really deserving world champion.

"The fact he has managed to take on and beat Lewis, who obviously is a formidable rival, the most successful driver of all time, only makes it more valuable," he added. "All credit to Lewis this season, he has driven outstandingly well and I'm absolutely delighted with the result. I'm sure it will be a long evening.

"We're incredibly proud of Max. You have to remember he's a young man who's living his dream. He's taken on the best in the world, the best that statistically there's ever been, he's fought tooth and nail every single Grand Prix and he's been outstanding this year. For a 24-year-old to do what he's done, I think that's pretty impressive."

In terms of the controversy...

"We felt the decision at the beginning of the race went against us and the decision at the end of the race was right," he said. "It has been a season like that, there has been marginal calls, some we have benefited from and the majority we have lost out on.

"Max was finally due a bit of luck and Latifi causing that safety car gave us the opportunity, and after Silverstone, Budapest and Azerbaijan, he felt his luck wasn't with him. Today he had a bit of luck, it came at the right time and he had to make it happen."

Asked about Michael Masi's handling of the race, the source of social media frenzy, he replied: "I think he made the right decision. He followed the rules procedure if you look at the rules available to him and he's made the right call today.

"We felt he'd made the wrong at the beginning of the race, or the stewards made the wrong call, when Lewis didn't give any time back, but I think it's tough for them in difficult circumstances.

"We've always discussed throughout about ‘Let them race' and about getting the races re-going, and he's done that today. I think it was an exciting finale for all the fans to this world championship."

Finally, asked about Mercedes protest and the possibility of the German team appealing the decision, Horner said: "It obviously felt a little bit desperate, we didn't want it to finish in front of the stewards.

"We never wanted to end up in front of the stewards," he added. "There was obviously a lot of debate before the race but, as it turned out, it was obviously very different after the race.

"But we don't go racing with barristers, and so on. It was a shame that it ended up there, but the stewards made the right call.

"We've talked about let them race," he added. "You know, Niki Lauda was the guy that pushed hard for it, and we've always talked about not finishing races under safety cars. The race director, in difficult circumstances, made absolutely the right call today. And, you know, strategically we got it right.

"They've been great competitors this year," he concluded. "Lewis has been a phenomenal driver.

"It's had its moments, it has been tense. It's been tough. But we're just delighted with the outcome and very proud of Max tonight. He has been phenomenal all year."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Yas Marina, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Pavlo, 13/12/2021 7:32

"@Bill Hopgood - and Wolff would be praising stewards for the brilliant decision. Let's not put too much attention to the words of team principals, they are anyway biased."

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 13/12/2021 6:49

"I'm no mind reader however I can't but help feel if the racing boot was on the other foot and it was Hamilton that was behind at that restart then Horner would have said it was the wrong decision."

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