Christian, the Red Bull team principal, expressed sympathy for Lewis Hamilton after the final lap of a chaotic season in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, complimenting the Mercedes driver’s “graciousness” in defeat.
Horner, on the other hand, maintained that race director Michael Masi made the “correct judgement” by allowing his driver Max Verstappen one lap to try to catch Hamilton at the conclusion of the race during a safety car period.
Hamilton appeared to be on his way to a record-equaling ninth world title in Abu Dhabi, having led from the first curve of the Yas Marina track.
However, a late collision by Williams’ Nicholas Latifi prompted the deployment of the safety car, resulting in dramatic scenes that were broadcast around the world.
When Masi instructed the five lapped cars between the two title contenders to unlap themselves, Verstappen dived into the pits for fresh rubber and was subsequently able to close straight up to Hamilton on the last lap.
Verstappen was given one lap to complete the task. And the Dutch driver, who was driving on brand new tyres, made no mistakes.
“Of course it’s tough for Lewis, and I spoke to him after the race,” Horner said late Sunday night in the Abu Dhabi paddock, following the stewards’ dismissal of two different Mercedes objections.
“It’s been a tough battle.” And he, like his father, was quite courteous. And I’m confident he’ll be back next year with a vengeance. ”
Horner, on the other hand, claimed that the outcome was the “correct one” for the championship and that it was loyal not just to the rules, but also to the spirit of racing.
When questioned about his reaction to the stewards’ rulings, Horner said, “First and foremost, it’s elation.” The verdicts earned Red Bull their first drivers’ title since 2013 and ended a record of seven consecutive Mercedes drivers’ titles. “It’s the proper outcome.” You have to look at the entire championship over the 22 races to see how good Max has been this year.
“I believe he is a truly deserved world champion because he has driven with heart and desire.”
“It’s much more precious since Lewis is the most successful driver of all time.” So, yeah, I’m delighted with the outcome.
“We never wanted to end up in front of the stewards,” he said. There was certainly a lot of discussion leading up to the race. However, we do not race with barristers or other professionals. It’s unfortunate that it ended up there. However, the stewards made the correct decision.
We’ve talked about ‘Let them race.’ Niki Lauda [the three-time world champion and ex-Mercedes non-executive chairman] was the one who pushed for it. We’ve even considered not finishing races with safety cars.
Horner’s remark about barristers was a jab at Mercedes for bringing Paul Harris QC to the stewards’ session with them.
Mercedes was one of the main indicators by Harris of Monckton Chambers in their successful Test gate case in 2013. More recently, he led Manchester City FC’s successful appeal to the CAS against UEFA’s decision to impose a two-year ban from the Champions League.
“We’ll fight them in the appeals court,” says the lawyer.
Mercedes has stated that they would challenge at least one of the stewards’ decisions.
It wouldn’t surprise me if they filed an appeal, but I believe the race director made his stance plain, the stewards made their position obvious, and the judges made their opinion clear.
“Horner said. “I think the race director, under difficult circumstances, made absolutely the right calls today.”
“If they appeal, we’ll fight them in the appellate court and, if they go that path, in the legal court after that.”
Horner explained the day as an “emotional rollercoaster,” explaining the Grand Prix and the five hours that followed it, including walking in to meet the stewards as the world’s press gathered outside.
“It gets off to a poor start,” he said. Lewis is off to a fantastic start. They were also a little faster than we were today. They chose to do a one-stop, we chose to do a two-stop, and when Latifi crashed, we obviously chose to change tyres.
“They [the FIA] resumed the race, and Max had to make the most of it.” He just had one lap to do it, and he did it flawlessly. As a result, we experienced the exhilaration of that moment.
“It’s been a long and tense few hours, but I believe the FIA made the correct decision.”
As a team, there are always lessons to be learned. And in general life. However, we thought that the choice made at the start of the race was against us and that the decision made at the finish was correct. It’s been that kind of season, with a number of close calls. We gained from some, but we missed out on the bulk. ”
Since announcing their decision to appeal, Mercedes has made no public statements. They only have 96 hours to file it.