Horner praises ‘the dignity and respect’ of Hamilton in Abu Dhabi in 2021, after the tumultuous finale. Christian Horner fondly recalls the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the day Max Verstappen clinched his first World Championship. The Red Bull team principal remembers the pressure his team faced, and the speech he delivered in the garages before that final race, marked by an error from Michael Masi that decided the title.
“This season was a heavyweight fight, from the first race in Bahrain to the last in Abu Dhabi,” Horner stated on the Secrets of Success podcast. “These were two drivers and two teams elevating to levels they hadn’t imagined.”
“For us, approaching the last race tied in points with Mercedes and Lewis was a great achievement. I gathered the team before the race and told them ‘whatever happens today, we’ve been on an incredible journey to get where we are today, and whatever happens, will happen, but the most important thing is to go out there, give our best, and enjoy.'”
“‘The most important thing is to go out there, give our best, and enjoy it. But thanks to the work and effort, it’s not just about today, it’s everything you’ve done over the previous 21 races that has put us in this position. So let’s go, give everything we have.'”
Horner Lauds Hamilton’s Graceful Conduct
The Brit acknowledges that the race did not go as Red Bull had hoped, with Hamilton appearing in a winning position for a long time, until Nicholas Latifi’s accident brought out the safety car, leading to the race director’s mistake.
“For a large part of the race, things didn’t seem to be going our way. But we took risks with pit stops and strategy, choosing to attack rather than defend, because we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Mercedes made a “too conservative” decision
Horner commends Hamilton’s conduct after the race, who showed up on the podium and congratulated his rivals: “The way Lewis handled his disappointment after the race is to his credit, because he had every reason to be truly disappointed.”
“The world championship title record just slipped away, but he behaved with dignity and respect. I shook his hand in the drivers’ room after the race, and he had the grace to say ‘well done.'”
The Brit looks beyond Masi’s error, noting that Mercedes took a considerable risk with Hamilton: “Much is said about the last lap, but Mercedes was in this race and was faster than us at the Grand Prix. Lewis managed the gap with Max quite comfortably.”
“However, they then became very defensive, very conservative, and left Lewis on a set of tires that was 43 laps old. Thus, he was only exposed to a safety car. I think by being defensive, they exposed themselves to the situation that unfolded.”
Horner Hamilton Abu Dhabi Respect F1 2021. Horner Hamilton Abu Dhabi Respect F1 2021
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