Red Bull boss Horner says Mercedes got majority of FIA decisions despite Abu Dhabi drama

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen’s controversial end to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the “first” bit of luck they’ve had all season. In one of the most contentious season finales in F1 history, Verstappen stormed to victory at Yas Marina after a late safety car completely turned the race on its head.

Lewis Hamilton had driven a commanding race after leapfrogging his main title rival at the start of the race.

The pair very nearly tangled however later that lap, as Verstappen tried to edge himself up the inside of the Mercedes at Turn 6, with Hamilton forced wide and cutting the corner at the chicane before retaking the lead.

At the time, the stewards didn’t investigate the incident, with both drivers furious at the other.

With five laps remaining, Hamilton had pulled out a 10-second lead over Verstappen before Nicolas Latifi’s Williams hit the wall and the safety car was called out to neutralise the race.

At first, the FIA informed teams that no one would be able to un-lap themselves, with the race director Michael Masi keen to get the race back underway, before the Australian changed his mind and allowed the five cars that were between Hamilton and Verstappen to clear the way for the title battle to resume.

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Verstappen, who had significantly fresher tyres, pounced on Hamilton during the last lap sprint to the finish line and reclaimed the lead of the race and sealed his fate as the 2021 world champion.

Asked if he felt there could be some lessons learned by F1’s governing body ahead of the new season, Horner replied: “I think that there are always lessons you can learn as a team and in life generally, but I think we felt that the decision at the beginning of the race went against us.

“We obviously felt that the decision at the end of the race was right and it’s been a season like that.

“There have been marginal calls and some we’ve benefitted from, some, the majority of which we have lost out from.

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“Max was finally due a bit of luck and Latifi causing that safety car just gave us the opportunity and it felt, after Silverstone and Budapest and Azerbaijan, he felt that his luck wasn’t with him.

“For the first time, he had a bit of luck and it came at the right time but he had to make it happen.”

Mercedes were furious however and lodged two protests that were dismissed by the stewards, and now have until Thursday to decide if they are to take further action.

Horner added: “We never wanted to end up in front of the stewards. We don’t go racing with barristers. It was a shame it ended up there but the stewards made the right call.

“We have talked about ‘let them race’. [The late Mercedes non-executive chairman] Niki Lauda was the guy who 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.”

He added that Mercedes’ original protests felt “a little bit desperate”.

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