Montoya felt Hamilton and Mercedes were too conservative, not only during the Safety Car period but also earlier in the race when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, at which point the same choices were made – Verstappen pitted, Hamilton did not.
Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya comments on the Lap 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, and says the stewards were too lenient with Max throughout the season.
The stewards had some questionable calls in 2021, especially when it comes to wheel-to-wheel racing and track limits, all in the name of the ‘let them race’ philosophy.
The Colombian says this was especially evident with the “super-aggressive” Max Verstappen.
“I think Max was super-aggressive at the end of the year and in my opinion maybe a little too aggressive. And he got away with it,” Montoya told Motor Sport Magazine.
“When you start getting away with it, you start questioning when you get a penalty for something, like ‘why am I getting penalised for this if what I did before was okay?’
“I think the stewards put themselves in that position by not being more aggressive with him earlier in the year.”
Montoya then gave his comments on the incident on Lap 1 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that saw Max attempt an overtake on Lewis, forcing him to go wide, which in turn allowed him to remain ahead.
Some said that Lewis should have given the position back, since he left the track, but the stewards decided it was not needed. Montoya says it’s a 50-50 call.
“I think if Max would have tried to give him a little bit of room, he wouldn’t have given Lewis an excuse to miss the corner.
“He did force Lewis to run wide, he went really deep on the brakes. Lewis tried to avoid it and by trying to avoid it, he could stay ahead.
“He had nowhere else to go, but that was a 50-50 call for me.”
The former Williams and McLaren driver then gave his opinion on Mercedes’ Abu Dhabi strategy that left Lewis on aged hard tyres at the end of the race.
“I think Lewis was way too conservative there at the end. He knew he had to finish the race and if they crashed, Max would get the championship.
“At the end of the race, Mercedes were so afraid of getting involved with Red Bull. They made some strategy errors there.
“It’s very easy to judge from the outside but when you had the Virtual Safety Car and Max ‘pitted’ the first lap, they could have come in the next lap because they were still under VSC.
“If they would have done that, they would have been on better tyres at the end as well,” Montoya concluded.
Verstappen was a little too aggressive – Montoya Verstappen was a little too aggressive – Montoya