Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Christian Horner has made it clear that Red Bull are prepared to take every measure possible in their fight to defend the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix result. Max Verstappen finished in P1 under controversial circumstances, snatching his maiden Formula 1 world title from Lewis Hamilton’s grasp in the process.
Mercedes were left reeling after Verstappen profited from a late safety car after Nicholas Tafiti’s crash in the closing laps.
Team Principal Toto Wolff was furious at FIA F1 race director Michael Masi for changing his mind on waving lapped cars past the safety car before restarting the race in the 58th and final lap.
The decision was enough to bring Verstappen – with fresh tyres – level with Hamilton, who had only pitted once and led most of the race.
In the deciding lap, the Dutchman unsurprisingly overtook Hamilton on his worn tyres and secured his first title in shocking style.
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After the race and Verstappen’s initial celebrations on the podium, Mercedes approached stewards with two protests over the outcome.
However, both were rejected late on Sunday, confirming Verstappen as the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Championship winner.
Mercedes have since notified the FIA of their plans to appeal the handling of the controversial restart, which cost Hamilton a record-breaking eighth title.
But Horner has come out fighting, and Red Bull are determined to settle the turbulent end to a turbulent season in their favour.
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Horner has aimed a dig at Mercedes for their ‘desperate’ attempt to alter the race’s conclusion.
And the Red Bull boss has insisted the team are ready to fight in the appeal and legal courts to ensure the outcome stands.
He said: “It obviously felt a little bit desperate, but we didn’t want it to finish in front of the stewards.
“We never wanted to end up in front of the stewards; there was obviously a lot of debate before the race.
“As it turns out, it was obviously very different after the race, we don’t go racing with barristers and so on – it was a shame it ended up there, but the stewards made the right call.
“We have talked about ‘let them race’, Niki Lauda was the guy who pushed hard for it, and we’ve always talked about not finishing racing under safety cars.
“The race director in difficult circumstances made absolutely the right call, and strategically we got it right.
“If they appeal, they appeal. We’ll fight them in the appeal court and then in the legal court after that if they were to go that route.”
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