Title win not overshadowed by long-running Abu Dhabi inquiry – Verstappen

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In the round-up: Max Verstappen says his 20212 world championship triumph has not been overshadowed by the ongoing controversy around the title-deciding race.

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In brief

I deserved earlier title win – Verstappen

Over seven weeks since the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, F1 is still awaiting the outcome of an FIA inquiry into the controversial manner in which the season ended. The handling of a late restart by race director Michael Masi, which appeared to be at odds with both the rules and past practice, is a focal point of the investigation.

The FIA’s findings are not expected to be made public until shortly before this year’s season-opening race. But Verstappen, who passed Lewis Hamilton to win the race and deny his rival the title on the final lap, does not believe the ongoing controversy detracts from his achievement.

“Not at all,” he told The Guardian in an interview. “I had a very good season and I think I really deserved it. I have been really unlucky as well.

“People always remember the last race but, if you look at the whole season, the championship should have been decided way earlier.”

Race director lacks same ‘tools’ for decisions that teams enjoy – Horner

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he supports the Formula 1 race director receiving “better support” in helping to make decisions on race matters as teams often have more data available than race control.

Horner told Sky Sports that new FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, had indicated that the Formula 1 race director should have more resources available to help respond to incidents on the track.

“The new president’s put a key focus on this and I think there’s a big drive to make sure that the race director has better support,” Horner said.

The data instantly available to teams means that they are often have a clearer picture about incidents that take place than Masi, was able to draw from last season, Horner explained.

“The tools that we have at our disposal are far in advance of that of Michael and his team,” he said. “So I think there’s a lot of focus on that over the winter and I think you will see that role better supported which will hopefully enable decisions to be easier and swifter. But I think we also need to look at the regulations, to simplify some of those as well.”

Palou – Better qualifying the “priority” for title defence

Alex Palou, Ganassi, IndyCar, Detroit, 2021
indyCar champion Palou says he needs to qualify better
IndyCar champion Alex Palou says he is looking to improve his qualifying performances ahead of the upcoming season.

The Ganassi driver won last year’s IndyCar title with three victories at Barber Motorsports Park, Road America and Portland, but with only two poles in Portland and the first Texas race, compared to rival Josef Newgarden’s four pole positions.

Palou says he is looking to do a better job in qualifying sessions for the upcoming season.

“Starting more up front and getting one lap speed should be a priority for us,” Palou said. “We’ve constantly able to be around the Fast Six or top ten, which is great, but we only got two pole positions. So hopefully that’s going to improve and that’s going to make our life easier during the races.”

The 24-year-old also believes his relative inexperience on oval tracks gives him room for improvement in that particular element in the series.

“I think I’ve done maybe a bit less than ten oval races during my career between 2020 and 2021,” he said.

“I have a long way of getting more experience, knowing how to race and getting the confidence once we get to a new track or a different track. So yeah, ovals is a good part.”

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Comment of the day

With Guenther Steiner saying that his two drivers must both prove themselves that they are the right drivers for the team in 2022, @Petebaldwin believes Mick Schumacher could have more to lose than team mate Nikita Mazepin…

The problem Mick has is that there is now a narrative (rightly or wrongly) that Mazepin is absolutely awful. If he doesn’t beat him every week by a considerable margin, it looks bad on Mick.

In reality, we don’t know how fast either are because the 2021 Haas was so bad and neither have gone up against a known quantity. Is Mazepin as slow as people think or was he made to look worse by coming up against a really fast team mate? Hopefully we’ll learn a bit more this year.
@petebaldwin

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Straightline, Sandlefish, Yogesh and Manox!

On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1932 Cliff Allison was born. He pushed his Lotus across the line at Monaco to score a point for sixth on his F1 debut in 1958, peaked with second for Ferrari in Buenos Aires two years later, but retired in 1961 after two huge crashes.

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  • 134 comments on “Title win not overshadowed by long-running Abu Dhabi inquiry – Verstappen”

    1. The data instantly available to teams means that they are often have a clearer picture about incidents that take place than Masi, was able to draw from last season, Horner explained.

      I don’t know what to say about this. Whether the FIA must have access to the data of the teams or not. But this appears to be crazy to know that the FIA does not have all the data. Oh wait a second, they actually penalized Hamilton after gaining access to his onboard camera in Austria two years ago, and they only accessed Verstappen’s onboard at Brazil after the race last year. So somehow they do not have all the technology at their disposal. One another that needs to be fixed is the duration they take in these decisions. Hamilton’s DSQ after Brazil qualifying was quite crazy in terms of the length of the decision making.

      1. Yeah I’ve not understood this, in Whiting’s era I clearly remember them saying they have access to all onboards, circuit CCTV and telemetry at the time of the accident. I wonder if it’s an impact of the reduced setup they’ve been bringing due to reducing climate change footprint, or reduced kit due to covid.

        Either way it’s been a huge step back from what they have supposedly had in the past.

        1. @krichelle @skipgamer The FIA do have access to all of the telemetry data from every car, all the team radio, GPS, timing & tracking data, onboards from every car, all trackside cameras both tv & cctv as well as some analysis tools.

          I’m not actually sure what Christian is refering to unless it’s that teams are now going to share some of the analysis tools they have developed over the years with the FIA.
          He could also be talking about the race director having access to new tools rather than the stewards because right now the stewards have all the tools as its them rather than the race director who analysis the incidents and makes the decision on penalties etc..

          Going back to the onboards. Since 2016 they have been able to get a live feed from an onboard camera on every car (Which are also all available for fans via F1TV). However they aren’t able to get a feed from every camera on each car due to bandwidth limitations (Its not just the onbaord feeds that goes through the system). This sort of limitation is the same in every category with F1 currently the only one able to have cameras and live feeds from every car (Most categories have less than 10 with no ability for the broadcast system to record to local storage).

          The issue in Brazil was that at the time of the incident it was the rear facing camera on Max’s car so they didn’t have access to the forward facing shot until the data was downloaded from the car which took longer than usual due to everything having to be packed up to be flown to Qatar.

          In Austria with Hamilton i think the issue was that the live onboard camera system on his car failed when the t-cam suffered damage due to a debris strike meaning no data could be downloaded from it after that point. However the cars now also carry a 360 degree camera on the nose which isn’t capable of live broadcast but does record to sd card & it was that footage which was used.

          1. it was the rear facing camera on Max’s car…

            …. That was live.

          2. Sky did a feature inside the stewards room which included them looking at what data is available and how they can use it in the software. It’s a few years old now but they have access to all the same things plus a few more.

            https://www.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/f1/11069148/exclusive-access-with-the-fia

            1. Yeah I went looking for some footage too, shame it’s geo-locked.

      2. @krichelle

        There is a difference between having the raw data and having the tools to quickly make sense of it. For example, the teams surely have predictive software where they can determine the risk of certain failures (tyres, engine, gearbox, etc) based on the sensor data.

    2. suuuuuuuuuure Max lololololol

      1. What else is he going to say? I shouldn’t have won? His position is completely understandable, people at the top level of a competition are 100% out to get the best result for themselves. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there.

        1. Some champions can be relatively humble about it. This ‘bad luck’ story is half true at best: Bahrain was a mistake, Copse was his mistake, Baku was the tyre pressures his team chose for performance, and Jeddah was pretty lucky scoring at all, as was Hamilton having long Covid and F1 hobbling the Mercedes’ performance. Then the brazen gift. And all the time saying the stewards gave him no presents and he’d have won easily in his rival’s car.

          Great pace, but not a great personality.

          1. @zann Your comment is far less than half true at best. Bahrain? Sure ok Max’s mistake, but lets not make it sound like he did something daft. Copse? LH’s mistake when his hand was forced and he didn’t back off and rather hit Max. He was the penalized one as such, not Max. Baku? Pirelli found them not to have been messing with tire pressures, and of all parties interested you’d have thought if RBR was doing that Pirelli would have happily laid the blame on them, but they couldn’t. Hamilton with ‘long Covid?’ Yeah ok sure that might be the case…a mild case, but if it was an issue it sure didn’t prevent LH from racing, so no excuse there. If he was not up to it he shouldn’t have been endangering himself and others. F1 ‘hobbling’ the Mercedes’ performance? Exactly how? Let me guess…because as soon as they saw how fast RBR was in the first race, LH, TW, and Aston Martin only then started the narrative that the floor change was meant to favour high rake cars, when in fact all along it was meant to relieve the cars of some downforce for the sake of the Pirelli tires that wouldn’t have withstood the forces otherwise. Mercedes at the same time did everything in their power to also spread a narrative of RBR’s flexy wings, engine upgrades, tire pressures, too fast pit stops…

            And Max saying “he’d have won easily in his rival’s car?” Perhaps you could provide a quote and the context around it. You sure you’ve gleaned that from 2021? Perhaps he said something like that in 2020 when LH was cakewalking it unchallenged? I think for that season all drivers but LH and VB would have said the same.

            1. And Max saying “he’d have won easily in his rival’s car?” Perhaps you could provide a quote and the context around it.

              @robbie – I don’t want to go into the rest of the argument since those are things that have been hashed over and over but he actually did say that just before Abu Dhabi. Google it – you’ll get lots of quotes and context.

            2. If I had been in his car, the season would have been decided long ago

              You didn’t notice this? Or did you blank it? It’s not the most attractive thing, I could imagine any fan wishing it away.

            3. Emma @zann https://www.grandprix247.com/2021/12/24/verstappen-if-id-been-in-that-car-of-his-the-season-wouldve-been-decided-long-ago/

              Yup, asked and answered. Well, I had to find it myself and now I know why @zann didn’t want to actually provide the whole set of quotes. Couldn’t find it on ‘mainstream’ sites but I’m sure this must be what you are talking about. As the article says this interview was under the radar. Nonetheless, I don’t see the issue or how it relates to zann’s erroneous litany of “half truths.” The context is that he was asked if he is a better racer than LH. What else would you have expected him or any (particularly WDC level) driver to say? Why would I as a fan wish his comments away? We all saw the mistakes LH made last season. Max likely thinks he wouldn’t have made those. We all have seen LH enjoy a dominant car for 7 seasons. Max likely thinks imagine where his career would be if/when he too was in the 8th season of a car that was so dominant for so long. Max would not be the only driver thinking/imagining what they also would have been able to do in that car. Keep in mind from Max’s perspective he had one season with a WDC capable car, and on the eve of the final race he was certainly not thinking the WDC was guaranteed him, as strong as they were, but against the Mercedes dynasty that had come on so strong in the end.

              Note also in the article the things you would prefer not to highlight, that being how much Max enjoys this kind of intense racing and rivalry and how much he is able to respect LH and his abilities. It’s understandable you would wish those comments away as they wouldn’t fit your “Great pace, but not a great personality” narrative.

      2. It doesn’t take much, go look at the points in silverstone, hungary and baku and you can see why verstappen says this.

        1. I disagree with Verstappens “bad luck” he made out all year that he had bad luck. He didn’t have bad luck in Baku as Hamilton would have likely secured p1 and at least p2 minimum had he not fluffed up his brake magic. This would have secured the championship for Hamilton in The penultimate round regardless of Verstappen finishing first in abu dhabi. As for Monza and Silverstone both or those were racing incidents in my book

          1. He had a lot of decisions go his way too and a sure disqualification with his brake testing if rules were followed correctly, he’s very lucky he won but wouldn’t admit that

          2. I think the bad luck in Baku was about the blown tyre while running comfortably at 1st place. With Verstappen finishing in #1 and Hamilton in #2, the championship would won on count back…

            1. Yes, that’s what I meant. Hamilton made a mistake, he can’t claim bad luck for baku, verstappen can because of the exploding tyre. Silverstone was a racing incident, you say, but the fact of the matter is that hamilton was deemed guilty by the stewards, you can say it works the same for verstappen at monza, but why did verstappen end up racing hamilton at monza? The slow pit stop, again bad luck.

      3. He isn’t wrong he had very bad luck last season or that Lewis had massive luck (depends on how you look at the facts)

      4. Its simple. You dont win a championship over one race. You win it because you finish 1st or 2nd in every (bar 4 races in which you dont finish…of which at least 2 beyond his control) race over a season. Time to stop the UK dragging this on modus. Seriously, it’s beyond childish by now.

    3. typo on mick schumacher at cotd @willwood

      1. Well in my head “little schumacher” is still Ralf than Mick.
        Mick is more like Schumacher jr.

    4. Verstappen is absolutely talented enough to be a WDC. But he like many of his fans have been drinking the Redbull cool-aid and believe he deserves to be WDC just for being good at his job. His title will, unfortunately, have an asterisk and the word controversial attached to it.
      Mainly because of the Abu Dhabi incident, but also the brake testing incident in Bahrain (proven) along with several other incidents that he was at least partially responsible for over the course of the season.
      It could well turn out to be his only WDC.

      1. There’s no asterix next to his win in any official sense and certainly not in my books, or any of his fans, or the vast majority of non-english F1 fans. Verstappen capitalised on a controversial ending he had no hand in creating.

        It was a 22 race season and max won fair and square, despite a number of controversial moments throughout the season, including one in the last race. Unfortunately the driver you support lost out due to bad luck (Latiffi crashing and causing a safety car), circumstance (Mercedes not pitting for fresh tires) and a referees call that didn’t go his way (Masi’s restart procedure).

        You can hold on to that hypothetical asterix for as long as you like, but it doesn’t mean anything.

        1. @aussierod well said. And with a season with so many controversial calls, that so called “asterisk” would have been claimed by Verstappen “triggered fans” as well, in case Hamilton had won. I want to think I’m not that kind of horrible fan that blinds themselves so much into “fandom” to the point of lambasting great drivers (Hamilton and / or Verstappen) or even threatening a driver online.
          And I’m sure that if the roles had been reversed, many of those Verstappen fans would have also sent the same kind of message to poor Latifi. I think f1 online “fanbase” has become too aggressive, blinded and arrogant to be called fans anymore.
          I think it’s common sense, more than some virtue signaling from my part.
          If you think I’m wrong, sorry. But it’s the truth. And if this season other drivers go for the title, you will see many other “fans” lambasting what has been achieved by the rival driver.

        2. “and max won fair and square” when a win needs several rule breaches its anything but fair and square, its also not luck, but gifting someone, and robbing someone else. It’s Masi’s title, and not a true one.

          1. It doesn’t matter it’s was not gifted at all as Lewis was still leading the last lap. Then Max overtook him make him clear the winner. Massi didn’t put Max in front or Lewis behind Max so you can’t say Massi gifted Max a title.

            1. I’m actually still awed by how feisty Lewis’ attacks were on the last lap, on old hard tyres. Everyone seems to think it was a done deal that Verstappen would win once the green flag was waved, but if it wasn’t for the neat attack where Hamilton didn’t expect him I’m not 100% sure he would’ve made it.

            2. Hamilton’s ‘attacks’ were the result of him being in the draft, Ruben.
              He had no grip, but he still had plenty of power from his fresh engine.

        3. Making the AD incident about nationality is the most disingenuous argument. Fact of the matter is Vestappen would not have won the title if Masi didn’t break the rules, disadvantaging 4 drivers (Hamilton, Saniz, Stroll and Riccardo) when Masi’s job is to run the race fairly for all drivers.

          1. Well, if Masi had let all lapped cars un-lap themselves a lap earlier and restarted the race on the last lap following correct safety car procedure, then logic would say Verstappen would still have won. So no, I don’t accept Masi ‘breaking the rules’ certainly lost Verstappen the title.

            Now if Latiffi hadn’t crashed, then for sure Verstappen wouldn’t have won the title. But you can play ‘what if’ games all day. What if Verstappens tire hadn’t blown out in Baku, what if Hamilton hadn’t punted him into the barriers in Silverstone, what if Bottas hadn’t collected him in Hungary, what if Russell and Bottas hadn’t collided in Imola and Hamilton scored 15 points less.

            Fact is it was a 22 race season and Verstappen won fair and square, on the track. With a good dose of luck in those last few laps.

            1. if Masi had let all lapped cars un-lap themselves a lap earlier and restarted the race on the last lap following correct safety car procedure, then logic would say Verstappen would still have won

              That’s true, and (assuming the track was clear and it was safe to do so) that would have been completely acceptable. Correct and precedented procedures which are predictable and known by everyone would have been followed, and it would just have been the luck of the draw.

              That does not apply in this case, as he didn’t call it a lap earlier (according to some sources, this was because it was not safe to do so). When the race director has ignored all written and precedented procedures, including one which would have met all the informal agreements in place, and made up something brand new which radically altered the probabilities in favour of one, and only one, driver on the track (when compared to applying any of the available written and precedented procedures)…. I cannot understand how anyone could consider this acceptable in a sporting competition.

              Please note that I do not think that MV’s WDC win “has an asterisk” or was undeserved, but I honestly cannot see how anyone can believe that the behaviour of the race director in those final laps is even close to acceptable. I don’t believe that anyone would have said, before that race, that such an action would ever have been taken, and I don’t believe it is right that anyone has such massive power to override rules (except in situations where it would be dangerous to apply the written rules).

        4. @aussierod I keep having to say this, I’m a Ricciardo supporter. But that doesn’t mean I’m so one-eyed about it that I can’t recognise the skills and determination of other drivers. Including Hamilton and Verstappen :)

          1. @johnrkh Lol at ‘I keep having to say this, I’m a Ricciardo supporter’. Yes last season has polarized everyone into one camp or another, whether it was intended it or not :P

            It’s a shame that two drivers drove so exceptional last season yet only one could win, with all the glory that comes with it, and one had to lose, despite there being so little between them. It really was a titanic battle in every sense.

          2. @johnrkh “But that doesn’t mean I’m so one-eyed about it that I can’t recognise the skills and determination of other drivers. Including Hamilton and Verstappen :)”

            I guess your :) is sarcasm since “It could well turn out to be his only WDC;)”

            1. @robbie absolutely not sarcasm! But based on the hope that the cars are closer in performance as Liberty have promised. Also, I’m not of the over the top opinion that Verstappen is a driving ‘God’ who is head and shoulders above the rest of the grid. There are several other drivers who given relatively equal cars can and will match Verstappen.

              @aussierod I consider Hamilton a bit of a drama queen and Verstappen is unnecessarily aggressive, so I’m drawn to neither of them.
              If I were to barrack for another driver it would be for Leclerc or Ocon, as I consider them every bit as good as Hamilton or Verstappen.

        5. Manoli Moriaty
          8th February 2022, 10:47

          This whole “only the English/British complain” really holds no water. Serious fans across the world still have questions over how last season was managed by race control, and not just for Abu Dhabi. Any unbiased fan of the sport can recognise that Max, while he indeed had some bad luck that was out of his control, was also allowed to pull moves that in previous seasons would have landed him with a severe penalty. In the heat of the battle it’s easy to look over these, but I plea with the hardcore Max base to reconsider and try to look at the moves in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Barcelona, and Max’s part in the Silverstone crash with an objective look. Especially now that he’s crowned, there is no reason to not do that. If this type of play is allowed to carry on, the new generation of drivers will only end up pushing the sporting boundaries even further, which will result with unsporting engagement at best, and serious injuries at worst.

          1. +1
            A fair summary of fan comments in Brazil too.

          2. Yeah I agree that most fans are of the opinion Max overstepped the mark in the back end of the season and was allowed to get away with it, mostly due to race control not wanting to intervene in the championship (notably in Brazil). I don’t think Max will maintain that level of aggression in 2022 and I also suspect race control will deal with similar moves more forcefully in future.

            But I’m also sympathetic to Max’s mindset in the last few races. He and Red Bull were clearly hurt by what happened at Silverstone and Max was desperately trying to defend against a significantly faster package in those last four races. With a points advantage he clearly decided to go for broke each and every time against Lewis.

            I don’t agree with stereotypes (Max is young and aggressive, Lewis is experienced and calculated, etc). Circumstance plays a significant role in a drivers mindset and actions and I can absolutely imagine an alternate version of events where Max doesn’t lose the points he did in Baku, Silverstone and Hungary and plays a much more conservative game at seasons end to close out the championship whilst at the same time Lewis gets more desperate and less calculated in his risk taking. All I know is that I’m looking forward to seeing what 2022 tells us !

            1. Manoli Moriaty
              8th February 2022, 16:01

              That’s a fair assessment, and a well put one. But no mindframe should excuse unsporting conduct

          3. Manoli Moriaty “If this type of play is allowed to carry on, the new generation of drivers will only end up pushing the sporting boundaries even further, which will result with unsporting engagement at best, and serious injuries at worst.”

            I disagree. While I do recall Schumacher using Senna’s indiscretions as an excuse for his own at one point, and then MS took that ball and ran with it for his career of unsporting engagement, I think that drivers find their own way and race according to their own personalities and circumstances. You’d think that if it was otherwise, then a snowball effect would have had us with a smash up derby for F1 by now.

        6. If the bitter minority want to draw on their own asterisk to make them feel better, then so be it. The rest of us witnessed a worthy champion who was indeed nearly robbed by bad luck throughout the season.

      2. Wonder when F1 became Synchronised Swimming.

      3. There’s no way it can have an asterisk when previous events had bigger luck swings than the last race in the opposite direction.

      4. the asterisk is much smaller than any of Hamilton’s titles with the mercedes rocketship or the win he inherited in 08 when massa was the victim of racefixing in Singapore. The title was only close because Hamilton and bottas took him out in Silverstone and Hungary (not saying it was intentional, just two boneheaded moves). If you adjust for that (and for mercedes having a slightly faster car) it should have been over by Qatar or Jeddah (where Hamilton rammed into the back of max but was protected by the FIA’s desire for a close finale)

        1. I wondered when someone was going to bring this up. There are no asterisks against any WDCs, but it does seem that those shouting the loudest that their is no asterisk against Max’s are pretty much the same crowd who can’t make their mind up whether Ham should have six or seven asterisks against his.
          Bit like the ‘time to move on after AD’ crowd are the same ones who are still struggling to ‘move on’ from Glock, and in no way have even got past the first stage of grief re Silverstone.

      5. His title will, unfortunately, have an asterisk and the word controversial attached to it.

        I always wonder if any of the Hamilton titles has an obelix attached to it; he did after all fall into the magic cooking pot brewed by Mercedes.

        recommended reading: Comment Obélix est tombé dans la marmite du druide quand il était petit

      6. Red Bull seems to be an environment that breeds this sort of toxicity into not just it’s fans but it’s drivers as well. For the longest time I really didn’t like Vettel until he left Red Bull and I realised it wasn’t him I disliked, it was Red Bull..

        1. The toxic reactions here are mainly frustrated hamfans.
          Keep repeating the same old story again and the only ones believing their own narratives.
          But I wiil pass…

          1. But it will pass
            (as do i:)

            1. I don’t really think erikje can be considered toxic or rude, again I may be biased since I’m in the anti-mercedes camp, but I’ve seen far more out of line comments on the mercedes camp.

          2. As someone pretty mutual in the Hamilton/Verstappen rivalry I find it funny hearing you talk about toxic comments considering you are normally flat out rude to most people here.

            1. My comments are never toxic and certainly not aimed at one driver.
              But its good you subconscious acknowledged the fact a lot of hamfan comments are indeed toxic.

            2. If anyone perpetuates toxicity, Erikje, if is indeed you. You absolutely cannot scroll past a comment without criticising Lewis, Lewis fans, the British, or anyone else who doesn’t subscribe to your viewpoints.

            3. @bradders,
              Selective perception is not uncommon by some “fans”.

            4. Ops, meant to answer here, not above: I don’t really think erikje can be considered toxic or rude, again I may be biased since I’m in the anti-mercedes camp, but I’ve seen far more out of line comments on the mercedes camp.

        2. 100% – Red Bull have a very subjective relation to reality. Gaslight, Obstruct, Project. There’s a famous orange person who also used the same tactics, and worked really well for him too..

          1. @Jollama

            Right, as if Mercedes aren’t doing that all the time. “Bono, my tyres are done” followed soon after by “Oops, I set a fastest lap time”

            1. Not quite the same @aapje, and by not quite I mean nothing alike. Respectfully.

      7. @johnrkh “Just for being good at his job?” Lol now whose been drinking Kool-aid? I would say this season Max has shown that he is amongst the elite in F1 at doing his job. An asterisk and controversial? Sure, that’s inevitable. At the same time we have LH trying to break the record of MS who to me is the definition of having asterisks and controversy attached to Championships, and yet he is revered by millions, many of them thinking he is the GOAT, and LH is and will be revered even now but moreso if/when he achieves his 8th, which will have him breaking the record of an asterisk filled Champion.

        Yeah methinks there’s always going to be asterisks to many people to varying degrees, and I’m not sure how much that matters in the long run. If it means some fans hold ‘grudges’ shall we call them, via asterisks, so be it. The teams, the drivers, and millions of fans, seem to be able to take those in stride.

        “It could well turn out to be his only WDC?” Sure ok yeah I suppose there is some chance of that, but really? Does it really seem to you like that was the best Max is going to have to offer, and the relatively best car he’ll have had for his career? You can actually see his level of talent, focus, and commitment which will only grow if one accepts LH has grown through the years, and say that with a straight face? Now I think that is just wishful thinking on your part. Oh, and some Kool-aid of course.

        1. Every time the title is brought up the asterisk will come out. Every single article. Every single time.

          1. And the obelisk..
            Maybe idefix too :)

        2. @robbie

          I would say this season Max has shown that he is amongst the elite in F1 at doing his job.

          And there it is :)) You are pushing the same argument as several others here. Verstappen deserves! the WDC. He will deserve it when he wins it :)

        3. There’s more asterisks next to hamilton’s titles than there are next to schumacher’s, given the level of dominance his car had on average.

          Not that I subscribe to this asterisk thing in general, although I think some years have drivers who deserved more than the one who won (see 2016).

    5. So many stories today!
      I hope this year out work out for Piastri. He’s too good not to get a shot at F1.
      Palou definitely has room to improve on ovals, so it will be fun to see him develop further over the next few years. I don’t actually think qualifying pole in IndyCar means so much compared to F1. Sure, you wanna be fastest and want to start as far forward as possible, but converting a pole to victory is rare in IndyCar.
      Good luck to Abbie Eaton! What a way to put your career on hold. Such an innocuous bounce over a kerb. Had that been an F1 driver injured like that, there would have been outrage.
      At least Vips has been well trained by Red Bull at getting in the excuses early. He’s probably not wrong that Prema are the team to beat, but they’re not unbeatable, especially with Daruvala as lead driver!

    6. He IS a WDC, and he deserves it because he and RB performed better over the season. If this is the only one he wins – which is certainly possible – then he took it when he got his chance. He was there to capitalise when the safety car was called, and he made the overtake even with massive cramp in his leg.

      No one knows what would have happened if the cars between them wouldn’t have been cleared. There would have been a chance for both to win. Max may have thrown his car at LH in the last corner to make sure none of them would finish.

      I wouldn’t even fully blame him, looking at the uphill battle he had fought the second half of the season where mercedes again, seemed untouchable in most of the races. Remember that he has been in this situation for 5 years now, powerless against an unbeatable team.

      All props to Mercedes for creating the best car for 8 years. But winning the WDC, by merit, at the first opportunity, is a huge accomplishment for MV and that can never be taken away.

      1. You say he performed better over the season, but he didn’t. Hamilton did.
        You say he won it by merit, but he didn’t. He won it by mistake.
        You say you wouldn’t blame him for throwing his car at Hamilton in the last corner. That pretty much says it all.

        You don’t care how he won, you just didn’t want Hamilton to.

        1. He won it on merit cause there’s not only the last race (verstappen said so right in this article), there’s the previous races too and he lost way more points than he gained in the last race through luck.

          1. Doesn’t matter, luck is part of motorsports. What’s not part of motorsports is only having half the field unlapped during a safety car. He didn’t win by luck, he didn’t win on merit, he didn’t win over the season, he won by one mistake by officials on the last lap of the last race.

            1. Hamilton was only tied because the fia made a special track just for him at the season opener. Is giving one driver extra track to work with part of motorsports? Is defending part of motorsports (if lewis didn’t leave such a huge gap at turn 6 he probably holds on)?

              Hamilton fans can’t accept his loss because they know this was a make or break year for his legacy and he was exposed

            2. Hamilton was only tied because the fia made a special track just for him at the season opener. Is giving one driver extra track to work with part of motorsports?

              Speaks for itself really…

            3. @realnigelmansell, I don’t think so Max lost more points and Lewis gained a lot just by luck.

              @skipgamer Hamilton didn’t had a beter season just look at the wins Lewis had 8 i think and Max 11 (could be wrong with 1) Max had a much beter one the difference is just the DNF results.

            4. Wasn’t England champion in 1966? It is still in the books and English fans can’t let Germans forget it. And nobody put an asterisk on the title because of England won and the mistake wasn’t on them. It was the referee’s. I wonder what could have happen if Hamilton had won the same way….

        2. Hamilton was only close because the fia rewarded him for using max as a brake in Silverstone. If you factor out luck and car performance max bags it a week or two early. Hamilton finally had real competition, and proved everyone who’s said it’s the car for the previous seven years right

          1. If you factor out luck and car performance

            How can you factor out luck and car performance in an F1 world championship?

            What you can factor out is one clear error that decided it all.

            1. @skipgamer and @realnigelmansell – FIA ruined the 2021 season. Max was the ultimate benefactor. There is literally no point dissecting the season as either way you look at it someone had to lose.

              I’m not happy about a lot of things that happened on track between the drivers, between the principals, between the stewards, the RD, I even picked up Covid-19 from going to Silverstone!

              For me it’s a season to forget.

              In close, Hamilton is one of the greatest F1 drivers ever, he literally has done it all and Max is an exceptionally fast driver that races too aggressively.

            2. What you can factor out is one clear error that decided it all.

              Was that Mercedes’ decision not to pit at either prime opportunity, @skipgamer?
              Or Mercedes’ forgetfulness about the decision all the teams made together with the FIA to prioritise finishing races under green?

            3. I would say that having the race director making a decision in your favor also counts as luck.

            4. Or Mercedes’ forgetfulness about the decision all the teams made together with the FIA to prioritise finishing races under green?

              Which could easily have been done while still following written and precedented procedures, not making up something new and unseen which massively benefitted one, and only one, driver on the track compared to every other option.

              People keep saying Masi’s decision was made to allow a finish under green flag conditions, but when he was already planning to finish the race under green flag conditions without using a never before seen “god power” interpretation of 15.3 which was always going to be massively controversial… What he actually did was make up a brand new new procedure which he thought would make for a more exciting finish. Please at least try to be accurate and stop this bovine excrement about him doing it to “finish under green flags”.

            5. You don’t say, @drmouse….

              Serious question – if this ‘interpretation’ had been used before, would you still feel so hard done by?
              If they did it repeatedly, it would be normal and accepted, right? Every precedent starts somewhere – with a first time…

              Let me guess – if it had happened before, you wouldn’t have even been watching it last season, right?

            6. @ S

              If there had been earlier precedent that the race director could just ignore a bunch of rules and make stuff up on the spot without need, then no, I likely wouldn’t have been watching. I don’t believe it is right or fair to allow someone that amount of power, especially when that power is allowed to be used just in an attempt to make things more exciting with no regard for sporting ethics.

              You are correct that every precedent starts somewhere. However, surely you can see that doing something completely unprecedented in a way which, effectively, changes the result of a championship is always going to be massively controversial? To use it in such a manner at such a decisive moment is always going to cause massive uproar, and rightly so.

        3. @skipgamer

          You say he performed better over the season, but he didn’t. Hamilton did.

          Nonsense. Lewis made huge mistakes that cost him a lot of points and would have cost him more, if not for huge luck. Meanwhile, Max lost most of his points due to bad luck and fouls by Mercedes drivers.

          Take away the luck factor and Max would have won by a decent margin.

          1. @aapje Even if true (and your hyperbole about ‘huge’ mistakes is debatable, likewise who was lucky and unlucky) it’s entirely irrelevant to the fact that a race official effectively decided the race and championship in the last minutes of a long season when the loser, Hamilton, had no more chance to respond.

            1. @david-br

              No, it is your statement about the last race that is completely irrelevant to the question of who was the better performing driver.

              I understand that you are obsessed, but try to be rational, a little.

            2. @aapje I try to remain pleasant but of course you go for the personal abuse. As usual. My waste of time.

            3. @david-br

              It’s just a bit irritating that it’s so hard to have a normal conversation around here.

          2. It seems the hamilton\merc fans can’t see things from a more neutral point of view. We can concede that masi broke the unlapping rule in the end, but even that doesn’t balance the luck hamilton had over the rest of the year. Hamilton gains 14-15 points when you remove the latifi episode, verstappen gains 18 points by not being taken out in silverstone alone.

    7. Mazepin can’t be entirely useless… He won races in F2.

      The one thing we know from his junior career is that he can take time to get used to a series, and the Haas was a handful.

      I don’t think he’s anything special, but hopefully he can be a bit better in 2022

      1. You could make the same argument about Schumacher too – he has often taken a bit of time to adapt to a new series. So Haas can and should expect a big step up from both their drivers in 2022.

    8. As others have said, Max’s position is completely understandable. What else is he going to say, especially still relatively close to when it’s happened. And I don’t blame him, I’m sure if I was in a similar position I’d probably be very similar.

      I think Horner is talking sense to be honest (I it’s true that the RD doesn’t have all this data).

      Hoping Eaton can get well soon and get back to racing. Still not entirely sure what happened, was it a sausage kerb she hit or what?

      1. Yes, she suffered two fractured vertebrae due to compression, by hitting those curbs in an ugly way.

    9. Those who are still questioning his championship is a vocal minority, who are affected by the echo chamber effect of british media.
      He should have been champion earlier as he is saying, but anyone goes up against Mercedes will be in a headwind. The value of his championship is elevated by the fact that he not only scored it in the 2nd fastest car, basically the team also had to beat the constant opposition from FIA because they were either trying to hamper Red Bull or help their token marketing asset who cant race seemingly wheel to wheel if he is not in a one sec faster car

      1. 100% Agree. Its a shame that the Hamilton fans cant accept defeat as well as their favourite driver. There is no blemish against Max’s title, no asterix, he was the deserving champion. Yes the last race was messy, but so were a lot of other races last year. Its time to move on. its time for 2022. Its time for new cars. Its time for Ferrari and Mclaren to battle at the front with Mercedes and Red Bull.

        1. Many of us can accept defeat. I have no problem with Verstappen winning or Hamilton losing.

          What I do have a problem with is the way Masi handled things, and the fact that the stewards have legitimised the interpretation that he can do whatever the heck he wants with any of the safety car procedures (or race start procedures) whenever he wants. This is absurd in a sporting competition, and needs locking down to prevent abuse in future (whether or not you believe the way it was used in AD was abuse).

      2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        8th February 2022, 9:18

        Why do folk keep writing that the RBR was slower when Newey said the car was faster than the Merc in 2021?

        1. @andyfromsandy

          This site did an analysis of the car’s performance and you can easily claim that the Mercedes was a little faster based on it. Especially if you look at the size of the gaps (when Mercedes was ahead, they seemed to be ahead more on average).

          1. Also it was noted that Mercedes were stronger on long runs than Red Bull, and this won’t show on fastest cars comparisons. Normally they only compare optimal time over a single lap. Most of the circuits on race day Mercedes had more performance on long runs, also more strategic options due to this characteristic of their cars. It’s telling that Max won drivers title with 2nd overall fastest car.

            1. Indeed, generally red bull was more competitive over 1 lap (in the means the speciality of the car was 1 lap) and mercedes more over a race distance, and in most tracks the 2nd is more important since you have drs.

    10. This is a bit of a rant but I need to get it off my chest. Consider this headline the straw that broke the camel’s back. If I’m completely honest I’m getting tired of this site pandering to the disenchanted Lewis fans. The Abu Dhabi events have been dominating the news cycle on this site ever since they’ve happenned. Much more so than any other F1 focused site that I frequent. There was very little acknoledgement of Max as the new champion (who according to virtually everyone was the better driver, incl. this very site) and maximum effort to milk the controversy and keep it going for as long as possible. This has logically resulted in very toxic comment sections as well.

      Abu Dhabi was a travesty, but it’s time to move on. I understand that it is a painful loss but the result is never going to change at this point. There are other stories in the world of F1 that I want to read about, not just this perpetuated toxicity. I come to this site to read stories about the exciting upcoming 2022 season with a new set of rules and the associated intrigue. The authors here are all capable of delivering quality journalism but instead lower themselves to clickbaity Abu Dhabi headlines. I used to really enjoy coming to this site and reading the analyses but not anymore, the bias just reeks out of almost every article now. I really hope this site gets back to its old self.

      1. @j-l

        Abu Dhabi was a travesty, but it’s time to move on.

        If we, as fans and media, just “move on” we are giving tacit approval of such farcical decisions, and effectively encouraging the FIA to do so again. I, for one, respect those who are keeping the pressure up, in the hope that it encourages changes to be made to prevent such a travesty from ever being allowed to occur again.

        1. @drmouse Fair point, I should have been clearer with my words. I meant it’s time time move on specifically with Max being the champ, not with being okay with how the AD GP went down. There’s a big difference between offering constructive criticism and milking the controversy. The fact that it conveniently and mysteriously took two days to approve my original post only reaffirms my position. This site has gone downhill and I honestly need a break from it. But you are right, there should be meaningful conclusions drawn from what happened at the AD GP and the event should not simply be forgotten.

    11. The championship win would’ve indeed happened earlier without some considerable points losses, either outscoring HAM (Baku, Silverstone, Hungaroring) or still losing (Also Baku, Silverstone, & Hungaroring) but less than he did.
      In Imola, he would’ve outscored to a larger extent without the BOT-RUS crash.
      HAM also lost scoreable points, albeit his losses were more his own doing than being unlucky, but the what-if game works both & many ways + points handed out in Spa & Max only getting ten seconds in Jeddah.
      I decided to leave out Monza because a non-score for both evened out things, albeit this race equally could’ve gone either way round, depending on pit stops.

      Perhaps, but even if Masi lacked some tools, this doesn’t excuse using his discretion right for entertainment purposes or justify unnecessary red-flag stoppages for something that has been manageable under SC before, etc.

      I reckon Piastri’s 2023 chance is mainly down to Alonso.

      For Vips, yes, a championship win isn’t an absolute necessity, but at least a better campaign than last year & preferably as good as possible.

      Finally, I share COTD’s view.

      1. Indeed, it’s nice to see that even a more neutral fan (as you seemed, I don’t read all comments always) recognises the luck factor this season had.

    12. I expect Mazepin to be closer to Schumacher this year, purely because we can expect the HAAS to be a better car. Great drivers can steer a poor car better than others, and a good car can mask a mediocre driver.

      Looking forward to seeing what falls where in 2022!

    13. Verstappen and Hamilton were out on their own in the 2021 championship battle, either would have ‘deserved’ it. There won’t be an asterisk after Verstappen’s name in the championship list. It will though be remembered in much the same way as Schumacher’s win taking out Hill was remembered. Fair? Not to Max, no. But neither was it fair for a FIA official to intervene in bizarre fashion and basically switch who the champion was going to be. That’s what Masi did. Even FIA are pretty much admitting that now. Max is world champion. But Lewis should have had 8 titles already. Just how it is.

      1. I agree on the first part, I however can’t agree with the part about Schumacher taking out Hill in 94 being the same. Schumacher, as driver, took an action that won him a championship (we can debate on deliberate or not, but with hindsight of the rest of his career, it’s unlikely it wasn’t in my book). Max, however, took no such action and therefor none of this blame should lie with him.

        As far as Masi is concerned, yes, he made some errors in his effort to finish under a green flag. But that’s putting all that focus on that one incident. Which I think is unfair. If we go back all the way to the season start in Bahrain, Masi also took an action (ordering Max to give a position back on-track without investigation, as well as to a degree not penalising Hamilton for abusing track limits for several dozen laps in a row) that cost Max a race win, etc. That hammer falls both ways throughout the season, so even with the Masi factor, any asterisk would be ill placed imo.

        1. @sjaakfoo I did specifically say it isn’t fair for Max to be lumped, effectively, into the same category as Schumacher’s own deliberate action to win a championship. And I also said that an asterisk won’t be added (because it won’t!) and neither should it.
          The tallies over a season cut both ways and seriously I don’t see the point in the ‘what if’ dimension. Crashes, penalties, DNFs, mechanical issues, mistakes, post-Covid performance dips (Lewis) – put them all together over 2021 and you end up with Hamilton and Verstappen on equal points going into the final race. Which just about everyone agreed was ‘perfect’ and a fair enough reflection of the season – at least in terms of the overall competitiveness between the two drivers. The expectation (hope) was for the final race to be resolved fairly. I don’t think anyone expected what eventually happened. Sure, I do think, though, that had a Schumacher-type incident occurred, with today’s intense media and social media coverage and feedback, the impact would be even bigger and far less pleasant.

        2. If anything, Lewis’s move on Max at Silverstone was more like Schumi’s move on Hill in Adelaide ’94, not the title decider in Abu Dhabi.

          1. There’s some similarity, but in that case hamilton should’ve had terminal suspension damage and he should’ve been further ahead than he was, in that particular case verstappen’s defense was far less questionable than schumacher’s 94 (still think he fully deserved the title when you consider he was excluded from 25% of the races and was dominating the season before that happening, with a car that at best matched the williams).

    14. A great season with a well deserved winner.
      A fia who made a mess of a season with two drivers driving way better then anyone in the season.
      Let’s focus on 2022 and hope the battles in front are at least the same quality we had last season.
      Let’s hope fia cleans up the mess and gives masi the support he needs and deserves.

      1. I agree with you here

      2. Or support for the race director anyhow, whoever that is.

    15. I see the debate about luck continues. With regards to luck, I’d like to ask a question regarding last year’s schedule: Does having 2 races (back-to-back) at a venue where one’s car is superior count as luck or not?

      1. You mean Silverstone probably.
        Well luck certainly played a major role there.

        1. There was a double header at Silverstone last year? Wow – I must have been unconscious throughout the second weekend then.

          1. You are right.. It was the year before.
            Lots of luck there.. A bit like the red flags

      2. I suppose you’re referring to double austria, yes, that’s some kind of luck for red bull this year ofc, now what about singapore being cancelled? Was gonna favour red bull I presume!

    16. The very fact that we are all still debating and talking about this means there has to be some kind of shadow hanging over Max’s title. I am no ultra Lewis fan but my view is that without that safety car on the last lap, and the consequences of it, Lewis would have his 8th WDC. Lewis was quite a way behind on points compared to Max at one stage but over the last 3 races he and his car caught up. He was on course to be WDC but for Masi’s controversial, and in my view very difficult to justify, decision.

      Both drivers were good enough to deserve the title. Max deserves it as much as Lewis but the course of history was changed. This is nothing unique. We could easily argue that some of titles won by Senna or Schumacher had marks against them. It’s all part of F1 history and F1 2021 will be remembered for this always.

      1. @phil-f1-21 Exactly. Fandom aside, the fact is that the 2021 season and title win will be remembered for the Ab Dhabi controversy, just like the Senna and Schumacher titles. That was the point I was trying to make above. It’s just the reality. I agree it sucks for Max that he won this way, but is he going to say so? No because then he’d have to admit Masi got it wrong.

        1. But he did not win because of Masi.
          There was nothing wrong with the way he passed Lewis. Fair action.
          With better tires as a result of a fitting strategy.
          So, you can keep on going off about Masi, but the victory was deserved and without any doubt.
          A SC in those circumstances always messes up a race. Nothing new there. And without the brake fire it would have been a normal resuming of the race under green.

          1. the victory was deserved</blockquote
            Sure erikje.

          2. But he did not win because of Masi.

            He won because Masi decided not to follow the normal procedures. If he had then the race would have ended behind the SC & Max wouldn’t have had the opportunity to perform the pass.

            That is why there is & will always be controversy over the end of that race & the way Max became champion which is why to many it will always be somewhat tainted.

            And I hate the narrative that many Max supporters keep pushing that the only people that think are are Lewis/Mercedes fans who are simply sore losers. I’m neither a fan of Lewis or Mercedes just as i’m also not a fan of Max or Red Bull.
            I’m a fan of the sport before anything else & couldn’t care a less who won yet for me the end of that race, the end of the championship & the way it was won feels unsatisfying, It feels tainted & it feels like the show was put above the sport in a way that makes it feel manipulated. That is the problem, Not who won but the way things happened because the show was clearly pushed above the sport.

            I feel about the 2021 championship & Max’s win the same way I did Schumacher’s after Adelaide 1994, Senna’s after Suzuka 1990 & Prost’s after Suzuka 1989. The thing that will always be remembered is the circumstances that led to it been decided & that will always be the problem as it will always be tainted regardless of how much Max may have earned or deserved it over the rest of the season.

            1. Nope, Lewis started leading after the SC. They both had the same chances and the fight on track was very fair.
              BTW, you do not loose in the last race only.. It’s a season.

            2. They both had the same chances

              But they didn’t as one of them (Lewis) effectively had one arm tied behind his back with the difference in tire life. It wasn’t a fair fight, It wasn’t a competitive fight, It was one driver been handed a massive advantage over the other as a result of race control not following the normal & correct procedures.

              Lewis earned that win by been clearly the fastest all day, Max had nothing for him on equal terms & again had the correct procedures been followed he wouldn’t have won that race as it would have ended behind the safety car & the fairest, most sporting ending (One where the results wasn’t determined by race control) would have occurred. Facts.

    17. Much the way the FIA can’t/won’t change the results of last year no amount of erudite language will change the actual events and actions of last year. The corollary is the debate/question/asterix/die is cast.

    18. Max is Masis and FIAs world show-champion, but not champion from sports perspective. Sports was sacrified in those last laps, when Masi decided to brake the rules and manipulate the results.

      Embarrasing to see them trying to justify a gifted title like this. #Cringe

      1. Sports’ perspective? Mercedes’ fans perspective more like.

    19. Said every guy who had a favorable result on a bad officiating in every sport. i haven’t watch F1 since the mercs dominated in 2014, but seeing the last two races in Saudi Arabia and Yas was disgusting, Race Control has so much influence on the outcome of the race, too much posturing and politics. If the RD have no clue on how to manage the race incidents, then just escalate it to the stewards.

      But, the last lap of Yas was really offensive to me as a long-time fan who have watched F1 since early 90s. After the lapped cars passed the safety car, the race resumed immediately without having them to properly line-up, just to get 1 racing lap when it should have ended in a safety car.

      I am not a fan of the mercs or Hamilton, but for this was just pure cringe. After leaving F1 and returning to see it because people said the cars were faster, then I see this? A lot has changed for the worse.

      1. Well, if we’re talking strange procedures from masi I think the jeddah race was stranger than abu dhabi with the various red flags, strange penalties, swapping positions orders and hitting the car ahead.

      2. Hang on a second, @sunnysighup…. You are a self-described long-time fan who hasn’t seen a race for 7 years, but then come back to F1 because the cars are faster….?
        And you are surprised that F1 has changed over that time?

        A window into F1 fans…. No wonder F1 and its related media are in such a sorry state.

    20. Max knows clearly he aint worthy 2021 champion

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