Christian Horner roasts Mercedes for season-defining blunder to deny Lewis Hamilton elusive eighth world title

The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is perhaps one of the most highly-debated events in recent years, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton losing out to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in somewhat controversial circumstances.

As things panned out, the win gave Verstappen his first world championship and in a sense, gave rise to a modern-day F1 great as the Dutchman has wrapped up the next two titles with far more ease.

While a huge group of F1 enthusiasts blamed former race director Michael Masi for the events that transpired in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner felt Mercedes was at fault.

Hamilton was comfortably in the lead for most of the race and had he kept his position at the front of the pack, he would have picked up an elusive eighth world championship.

However, a safety car just two laps before the race culminated put his hopes in jeopardy. It allowed Verstappen to pit for fresh tyres, while Mercedes decided to keep Hamilton out on the same set that had already raced 43 laps.

It naturally saw Verstappen come out with greater speed and left Hamilton with little chance of defending his lead as the cars headed into the final lap.

In a recent Secrets of Success podcast by Sky Sports F1, Horner was critical of the approach taken by Mercedes.  

“I think I lot is made about the final lap,” Horner said.

“They left Lewis out on a set of tires that were 43 laps old. So he was only ever at a safety car gonna be hugely exposed. I think him being defensive, they exposed themselves to the situation that unfolded.”

Mercedes potentially felt that if they made Hamilton pit for new tyres, he would lose his position at the front of the track. However, Horner believes that it would have arguably given him a better chance of winning the race since Mercedes was displaying better pace than Red Bull through the weekend.

The defeat was so painful for Hamilton that he took a break from social media in its aftermath and although he promised to return with greater hunger, things haven’t gone as per plan ever since.

2021 remains the last year Hamilton managed to get a Grand Prix win and his winless run which now stretches over two seasons has put him in a rather uncomfortable position.

With Mercedes almost completely changing its design for the upcoming season and with Hamilton taking an active role in overseeing the W15’s development, the early signs seem promising for the Brackley-based outfit.

Read more: Aston Martin makes wholesale changes ahead of officially unveiling 2024 challenger – “Don’t want a hangover from last season”

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