September 25, 2022

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has admitted a mistake was made in the controversial restart of last year’s Formula 1 season finale, in which Max Verstappen won the championship of the world.

Verstappen passed title rival Lewis Hamilton to win the race and the world championship after a restart on the last lap. But the outcome of the title fight was plunged into acrimony when it emerged that FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi had failed to follow the rules correctly.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team were eventually persuaded not to appeal the result, meaning the world championship was not decided in a courtroom. However, the FIA ​​agreed to look into the controversial end to the season and, 97 days after the race, issued a report concluding that mistakes had been made during the disputed restart.

In its summary, the FIA ​​noted that Masi had made two errors: he “recalled the safety car into the pit lane without it having completed an extra lap as required by the sporting regulations of Formula 1” and n did not allow all lapped cars to enter the pit lane. head measurement. Masi was replaced as FIA F1 race director ahead of the start of the new season.

Horner has previously described Masi’s criticism as a “smokescreen” and accused Mercedes of a “concerted campaign…to discredit our achievement” in bringing Verstappen to last year’s championship. However, in a new interview, he has now admitted that Masi didn’t follow the rules properly.

Comment: Call F1 championship finale tainted, but not its deserving new champion

“He made a mistake in not allowing all the cars to come off on their own,” Horner told The Cambridge Union. “I think there were three cars that were kept at the back of the field and unable to [un-] turn themselves. It was the only mistake he made. »

Horner did not refer to Masi’s mistake in ordering the safety car to enter the pits one lap earlier than specified rules.

“So I thought it was extremely hard for him to be stripped, especially in public, and then the trolling he went through and the abuse he went through online without really supporting the federation behind him,” continued Horner.

“There were a lot of decisions he made in the last year that we felt went against us, whether it was the yellow flags in qualifying in Qatar or the incident at Silverstone with Lewis. But I felt sorry for him that there should have been more support after this championship because he was in an incredibly difficult position.

Announcement | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Controversy around last year’s final hurt the quality of Verstappen’s performance last year, Horner said.

(L to R), Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Feature: The omission in the FIA ​​report on Abu Dhabi which could create problems for the future

“Obviously a lot has been done from Abu Dhabi. It is a shame that Max’s achievements over the last year have been, if anything, diluted by what has happened. spent in Abu Dhabi.

Horner suspects coverage of the race would have been different had the final lap controversy worked in Hamilton’s favor instead of Verstappen’s.

“I think if it hadn’t all gone through the appeals process and obviously the noise that was made after the event, it would have been much less of an issue if it had gone the other way,” did he declare.

“Sometimes I wonder how it would have aired if Lewis Hamilton had won it on the last lap? Would he have been the hero rather than the villain?

Despite acknowledging Masi’s mismanagement of the race, Horner stressed the result should not detract from Verstappen’s championship win.

“The reality is that a championship is won over a season, not a single race. And I think the way Max drove last year is sometimes not the best car, but some of the performance he drives did last year, he deserved this championship 100%.

“And I think those things happen sometimes. Sometimes there are such close calls in sports.

“For me, I was very disappointed with the way the FIA ​​treated Michael because he was in race control and doing the best he could with the pressure he had. The mantra was always very clear. that he was always going to be under pressure to start that race again. Nobody wanted to see a world championship won under a safety car.

Don’t miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Announcement | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 F1 Season

Browse all articles from the F1 2022 season