The remarkable scenes that saw Max Verstappen claim his first world championship title and the controversy prompted strong reactions from drivers across the motorsport world.
Obviously, on one side, I want to congratulate Max, first time world champ. And obviously Red Bull, a team I know very well. So I am, of course, happy for them.
But I can’t say that in the same sentence and not say I feel for Lewis because he had the race under control and sometimes that doesn’t swing in your favour, the Safety Car. And it didn’t not only swing in his favour, it obviously cost him the title. So I do feel for him. It’s a crazy end to the year.
Daniel Ricciardo, multiple grand prix winner and Verstappen’s former team mate
Congratulations to both Lewis and Max because both deserved the world championship this year.
Sebastian Vettel, four-time world champion and Aston Martin F1 driver
Congratulations to Max Verstappen for winning the title. It was only a matter of time that he won the trophy and whilst there was some fortune in the incidents today, I think he is a deserving champion.
Fernando Alonso, two-time world champion and Alpine driver
I want to congratulate both Max and Lewis for their great season. I’m happy for Max, so a special congratulation for the Championship title.
Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari driver
What a showdown! I love champions, records and stories that make my heart beat 300 beats a minute!
Congratulations world champion Max Verstappen. And to Lewis Hamilton for an epic season and a story that surely continues.
Mario Andretti, 1978 Formula 1 world champion
This is unacceptable! Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.
George Russell, 2022 Mercedes F1 driver
Congrats Max! What a phenomenal season! Really well deserved. Enjoy the party.
Nico Rosberg, 2016 Formula 1 world champion
Congratulations Max Verstappen for becoming the first Dutch F1 world champion.
Mika Hakkinen, two-time Formula 1 world champion
I’m extremely happy for Max and for this team because they have worked so hard throughout the year and for many years. Max really deserves this championship with the level he has driven at. I’m very happy to contribute to his title, he’s been a tremendous teammate and a great guy, I couldn’t be happier for him.
Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s Red Bull team mate
Huge congratulations to Max for winning the title. We raced with each other as kids as far back as karting. I know how strong he has been from the very start. It was just a matter of time before he achieved this and he deserves it.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari driver
I’m really pleased for Max, we grew up racing together, we knew he would have been world champion one day and he did it today. It’s well deserved.
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri driver and Verstappen’s former team mate
All my congratulations to Max Verstappen for an amazing season.
Esteban Ocon Alpine driver
Huge congratulations to Max, it was such a tough battle throughout the season and I think he really deserved it today. I want to thank him also for giving this great result to Honda, as he’s given them the best way to celebrate their last year in F1.
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri driver
Wow what did just happen? What a hell of [an] F1 season! Congrats to an exceptional Max Verstappen. You’ve definitely shifted the boundaries this year. Also congrats to Lewis and Mercedes for this epic title battle and show!
Nico Hulkenberg, 12-year veteran of Formula 1 as race and test driver
So happy for Max Verstappen and everyone at Red Bull Racing. Fortune went our way today, but I must say the whole team deserve all of it! At the track and at the factory together we put so much work into this season. And huge respect to Lewis Hamilton, a class act on and off track.
Alexander Albon, Red Bull reserve driver
Legend. You’re a F1 World Champion. Congratulations, very proud of you.
Giedo van der Garde, World Endurance Championship LMP2 driver and F1 commentator
Neither driver deserved to lose that title yesterday.
Both have been outstanding this year but ultimately we must all congratulate Max Verstappen on his first world championship.
Karun Chandhok, former F1 driver and Sky F1 analyst
Michael Bay wouldn’t write a better scenario…
What a champion you are! The example of never giving up, beating, on a season like this, Lewis who was on top of his form is truly exceptional! Congratulations – so happy for you.
Jean-Eric Vergne, two-time FIA Formula E Champion
Congratulations Max Verstappen! Well deserved. You are a legend.
Pastor Maldonado, 2012 Spanish Grand Prix winner
Obviously Max Verstappen deserved it just as much this year, but I don’t love any of the way that went down.
Alexander Rossi, 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner
Man, racing is wild when Netflix is making the calls! Both drivers put in championship seasons. Whoever won it was deserving. Regardless of how it ended, the fans were the biggest winners. It has to be said that Hamilton’s class in the face of what happened – and how it happened – is remarkable. Young drivers should take note. They should’ve thrown a red, let them change tyres (which is still a bad rule), and given everyone a five lap shootout to the end. They should look at IndyCar’s rule of dropping lapped cars to the back within a certain number of laps from the end.
James Hinchcliffe, IndyCar race winner
Max, you’re incredible. The whole country is proud of you and your historic season! Enjoy it mate.
Rinus VeeKay, 2020 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year
And we give Steve [O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President] a hard time… [What the fuck] was that?
I said from the beginning of the season that it was gonna be tough for Lewis to get number eight! Boy was it, crazy way to end it! Congrats to Max Verstappen – What a season!
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jnr, NASCAR Cup Series race winner
Trophy is not needed to recognise a champion.
Tatiana Calderón, World Endurance Championship LMP2 and Super Formula Championship driver
This sport is unbelievable sometimes.
Oscar Piastri, 2021 Formula 2 Champion
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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- I spoke up for Hamilton because he speaks up for others says fan behind Abu Dhabi petition
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83 comments on “‘Congratulations to Max but I feel for Lewis’: Drivers’ takes on the title-decider”
14th December 2021, 8:32
Sometimes it sucks when there are 2 exceptional drivers and only 1 title to give….
14th December 2021, 9:07
Yep. The more I think about it, the more I wish there didn’t have to be only one … but then again, had that been the case, we wouldn’t have the kind of championship we had, right?
I think in the end Max had a little less help from his car than Lewis had from his – so I can live with Max winning the WDC, and Lewis, as part of his team, winning the constructor’s … we all know the perceived difference in status between the two titles is BS – it’s time we put our hearts where our mouth :) Hats off for Max – he was the better driver, by just enough to grab the cup. Hats off for Merc (*) and Lewis – they were the better team, by just enough to grab the cup.
(*) (mildly) dishonourable mention for Toto losing his marbles so publicly when it happened and then, afterwards, miss the chance to show he’s graceful in defeat. I cringed when I saw it and I cringe every time I see it again … come one Toto, you’re better than that!
William Stuart (@williamstuart)
14th December 2021, 10:21
The Red Bull was the faster car throughout the year, so how did Max have less help?
14th December 2021, 11:47
Maybe cause the telemetry confirmed the continued domination of Mercedes? Or simply cause Perez was nowhere to be found, yet Bottas right behind?
John H (@john-h)
14th December 2021, 18:19
And… this is why we don’t take you seriously.
It’s been pretty evenly balanced, Red Bull had the faster car at the start on average (with the odd race slightly favouring Merc), then Mercedes came back and have been quicker (with the odd race like Mexico slightly favouring Red Bull).
Keep pedalling your nonsense. Mercedes did not ‘dominate’ this season, everyone can see that except you and maybe Erikje and Barry too.
14th December 2021, 13:08
I sure didn’t see the Red Bull being the faster car throughout the year. It certainly wasn’t in the last races and several others I didn’t see Max getting anywhere near as much help from his teammate. Max suffered more than Lewis for things outside his control.
Gonna go out on a limb and guess you’re a Lewis fan more than a racing fan.
14th December 2021, 22:11
Agree, mercedes was faster, but I wouldn’t call it dominant, marginally faster, I have a feeling this isn’t the strongest car that went against merc in the hybrid era, that must be the 2018 ferrari, too bad it didn’t have a proper driver.
Kerry Maxwell (@kerrymaxwell)
14th December 2021, 15:38
@williamstuart – “The Red Bull was the faster car throughout the year” What objective measurements can you cite for this assertion? All the data I’ve seen does not support this as a blanket statement.
14th December 2021, 17:36
That’s weird, because the person who actually designed the car, who has intricate and infinitely more knowledge than yourself on the subject, disagree’s with you. He stated it live on TV, if you want to go and check.
A M (@amam)
14th December 2021, 22:40
Adrian Newey says RB had the fastest car overall
14th December 2021, 9:19
@macleod This sums it up quite well. Without either Max or Lewis*, this season would have been a walkover. But thanks to both of them we have witnessed one of the most exiting years in the sport.
* and not an equally talented replacement
F1 is fixed
14th December 2021, 10:26
Dont know about you, but I witnessed one of the greatest stitch ups in sporting* history.
* I use the word sporting loosely as it is now apparent that F1 is a form of staged reality TV…
14th December 2021, 16:48
@macleod and Constantijn Blondel
Agree with both of these, and what some of the driver’s quoted above. Both of these driver’s deserved the title, and neither deserved to lose it imo, and absolutely no one deserves to win or lose a title in circumstances like this. I do feel for both Max and Lewis, who find themselves shoulder-deep in this controversy despite it being out of their hands. Both of them drove excellent seasons, and I still feel uneasy that it had to end like that.
My take on the season is that Max was the faster driver (18 top two finishes in 22 races and 10 poles, albeit 2 of them were sprint race wins counting as ‘pole’) over the course of the season (and yes the car has some part to do with this, especially earlier on in the season), but Lewis was a slightly better racer (and he’s admitted that he feels his experience in past championships has helped him with that).
Constantijn, I agree that both the WCC and WDC are equally prestigious, but personally by the end of the season I really couldn’t have cared less about it. Both Toto and Horner drive me up the wall. Yes I get that they’re in a very close championship battle but they both spent large portions of the season acting like 5 year olds. Something tells me someone like Jost Capito or Andreas Seidl might actually be tolerable in this sort of situation (mind you, I’m a McLaren fan so I may be biased here).
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
14th December 2021, 8:50
Huge congratulations to Max. He outdrove the field this season, in my view, controversies aside.
Also, the more I think about it, the more it amaizes me that he won it. How lucky have you got to be to have a Safety Car saving your life at the very end of the season? forget the controversy that followed, the fact that it was even possible for this to happen is mindblowing. The title was lost, Lewis was cruising to it…
Red Andy (@red-andy)
14th December 2021, 9:05
@fer-no65 I’ve always said that in racing your luck tends to even out over the course of the season. And boy, did it ever even out for Verstappen.
I think the shock and suddenness of it all is why we’ve seen the visceral reaction we have from a lot of people who really should know better (and quite a few who don’t). Hamilton had that absolutely sewn up. He was 10+ seconds ahead and keeping pace with Verstappen on much older tyres. As Horner said to Sky at the time, they needed a miracle…and, incredibly, they got one.
Jelle van der Meer (@)
14th December 2021, 9:53
Think back to 2008 with Hamilton and Massa, Massa was world champion for a few seconds till Lewis overtook Timo Glock in the run to the finish line.
Had the rain not intensified in the last minutes Massa would have been champion and Lewis career might have gone way different.
Lewis deserved to win the race but over the whole season Max was the better driver with a record 18 1st/2nd finishes. The only reason there was even a last race battle is the in balance of luck during the first 21 races.
Mr Fabulous (@mrfabulous)
14th December 2021, 10:45
Different scenario in 2008. Lewis was cruising to the title in Brazil ’til the rains came down. Pitstops propelled Massa into a position to win the race and snatch the Championship. The events of the last lap meant that he did the former, but Lewis recovered sufficiently to reinstate his claim on the latter.
That was a case of genuine racing and ‘acts of God’, without the need for the race directors to try to spice things up a bit.
BTW, never really bought this whole ‘Massa was briefly World Champion’ thing: it’s completely non-sensical.
14th December 2021, 22:18
I think if you see it in a wider context you can see a similarity: hamilton was about to win the title in brazil, then rain came and propelled massa into a championship winning position, then glock and hamilton got back what he was about to lose.
Same thing this year but across the season, with verstappen ahead, then baku, silverstone, hungary and then recovered with the SC.
In a sense, 2006 is similar too, with schumacher about to win thanks to some unlucky issues for alonso, such as monza engine or hungary wheelnut, then it evened out with the engine and the puncture and alonso got back what was being taken from him, it doesn’t always even out but sometimes yes.
14th December 2021, 8:51
Russell’s is the best. Spot-on.
Red Andy (@red-andy)
14th December 2021, 9:01
@jerejj I believe that quote is taken from some tweets Russell sent while sat in the garage watching events unfold. Tagging him as “2022 Mercedes F1 driver” helps illustrate where his thoughts were at that moment!
I think Hinch’s comments sum it up best of all, although the late-race red flag is more of an established thing in Indycar whereas to do it in F1 would have looked even more contrived than what we actually got.
14th December 2021, 9:55
There has been 6 red flagged races this year, 3 of them to clear debris from the track. It is not contrived, it actually allows for more racing.
Red Andy (@red-andy)
14th December 2021, 10:22
@andyfromsandy On most of those occasions the track was blocked or impassable due to the amount of debris on the track. With Latifi’s accident there was quite a bit of debris but there was still a clear route through on the racing line. The one possible exception is Baku – which was of course very late in the race as well – but I think race control were genuinely concerned about the possibility of further tyre failures and red-flagged the race to give everybody the opportunity to change tyres (although they didn’t say as much at the time to spare Pirelli’s blushes).
The point, though, is that Indycar has an established practice of red-flagging races rather than using a caution when they’re in the last part of the race and there might not be enough time for a restart from under yellows. With the possible exception of Baku above there is no such practice in F1, and this weekend would have been a fairly bad time to invent one.
You might say that what actually happened was similarly “invented,” which is fair enough, though I would note that the International Sporting Code requires the race director to exercise his overriding authority with respect to red flags “in accordance with the sporting regulations” whereas there is no such limitation on his use of the safety car. So the rules appear to give the race director more leeway to use the safety car “creatively” than is the case with red flags.
14th December 2021, 10:34
Red flagging a race doesn’t set a precedent. Allowing only some cars lapped cars through does. At a GP I can’t recall just now Masi has claimed he needs to let all lapped cars through even though Max and Lewis at the time were complaining their tyres were getting too cold for a safe restart.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
14th December 2021, 20:44
@andyfromsandy Of course it sets a precedent. I completely agree with @red-andy: The sporting regulations simply do not allow a red flag for anything other than conditions that are unsafe to run behind the safety car. If Masi had done it in violation of the regs, and Hamilton won after being allowed to change his tyres—a rule in place on safety grounds but with no unsafe conditions to justify it—we would be locked in an equally contentious debate right now.
I think where Hinchcliffe was really spot on was in referencing IndyCar’s late-race rule that allows the race director to simply drop lapped cars to the back of the field. That would have been a helpful option for the race director.
14th December 2021, 9:23
@jerejj I also think Tatiana Calderon has a fitting quote: “Trophy is not needed to recognise a champion”
14th December 2021, 22:22
Which can be interpreted multiple ways, for example verstappen, leclerc, norris, russell don’t need to be champions to know they’re capable of that.
F1 is fixed
15th December 2021, 2:08
Nah, I think there saying Lewis was robbed.
14th December 2021, 8:53
Many good and carefully-worded reactions, and I find no disagreement with any of them.
I liked Alonso’s, but I think it’s Hinch with whom I find myself most strongly in agreement.
14th December 2021, 9:09
After years of endless luck, karma hit back. Lewis was very lucky with red flags this season as well (in Imola and Silverstone). Although I admit that the end of the race was controversial, at least it handed the championship to the best driver of the season.
14th December 2021, 11:50
Nice brief summary
14th December 2021, 13:33
Complete and utter rubbish.
14th December 2021, 22:23
Only a hamilton or merc fan would say that, that comment makes sense.
14th December 2021, 14:34
But that’s the problem– Even with luck on his side, his teammate doing battle royale to slow down Hamilton, and the high ground tactically for the VSC and the final Safety Car– Max was losing the race until it was quite literally, handed to him.
He didn’t earn the win. It was gifted to him.
14th December 2021, 14:47
He still had to fight for it. The faster mercedes but the gripier redbull with his softer tires.
If Mercedes made the correct call when SC was called out they too could have new tires but they did not .
Conclusion, the SC was lucky but the battle true and fair.
You can blame FIA/Masi for it. But max won fair and well deserved the title.
14th December 2021, 22:24
Yes, and a championship isn’t decided in 1 race, they need to keep in mind also the 3 races where verstappen lost more points than here through bad luck.
14th December 2021, 9:17
I was really impressed how Hamilton handled the situation after he stepped out of the car. There must have been so many emotions running through him. Instead he was very composed and lets Mercedes fight the fight with the FIA. The way Lewis and his father were one of the first to congratulate Max and Jos was sheer class. I respect him/them even more after this race.
Red Andy (@red-andy)
14th December 2021, 9:29
Agree @matthijs, after a couple of minutes alone in the car to compose himself (completely understandable, given what had just happened) he conducted himself admirably. It is a shame his team chose not to behave in the same way.
14th December 2021, 9:52
@red-andy do you think that Horner and Red Bull would have done any different to Mercedes if the roles were reversed? I don’t blame them for doing what they did, it was an awful way for the title to be decided. And I wouldn’t blame Red Bull for contesting it if it had happened to them – Horner did expressly say he didn’t want this race to be treated any differently from the rest.
My prediction (hope!) now though is that they are looking for financial compensation for what happened and a confirmation of the rules, or maybe a set of new rules governing these situations, rather than looking to change the result of the championship. They’ve won the constructors, and I can’t imagine Lewis would want to have his 8th title given to him by the courts.
An acknowledgement from the FIA that although technically no rules were broken (because of the race director has final say clause), there needs to be work done to the rules to bring credibility back to the sport, is much needed I think for everyone to start moving on.
14th December 2021, 10:00
Red Andy can couch his replies any way he likes to make him look magnanimous but had the lapped cars not been let through and Lewis won out he would of been fuming that rule 48.12 was not adhered to.
What are your thoughts to how admirably Max handled himself when he left the podium in Jeddah? rhetorical question. I don’t really care.
Red Andy (@red-andy)
14th December 2021, 10:12
@oweng It’s a fair question. I think Red Bull would undoubtedly have taken the issue to the stewards’ room. I’m unconvinced they’d have taken it any further than that. I also think they would have played the media game and put their narrative out there, rather than refusing to talk to the media at all, though whether that’s better or worse than what Mercedes did probably depends on your point of view.
Finally, I don’t think those hypothetical actions would have been right either – the right thing to do would be to congratulate your opponents, point out that the situation was caused by ambiguous rules, and offer to work with the FIA to ensure that the regulations are revised to ensure similar scenarios in future are handled much more transparently. I think that probably also addresses the second part of your comment about what Mercedes are hoping to get out of the action – there are much more constructive and less damaging ways to achieve the same thing.
14th December 2021, 10:23
@red-andy thanks for the reply. My hope is that the next step by Mercedes is pretty much what you say, and I think that we’re in agreement with what should happen there – no further attempt to change the result of the race or championship, but to clarify what they want to happen when it comes to the rules and the stewarding as a result of all this, which should open a discussion between all drivers and teams with the FIA about how they can improve and clarify things. My understanding of submitting the notice of appeal is that that was a process that needed to be done to leave the door open to further action. So I don’t begrudge them that either really.
But what happens next is key. This year has a cloud over it because of stewarding and the rules and it needs sorting out before the start of next season.
14th December 2021, 16:40
@red-Andy after Silverstone, I think there’s no question that Red Bull would take it as far as possible to get the result overturned. Especially after they had Sergio test out theories in the test after the race.
14th December 2021, 11:31
The biggest unanswered question for me is – does the Race Director actually have authority to override the rulebook when it suits him? If he does, it seems that he has the ability to contrive a race result and leaves him open to allegations of impropriety or, if you’re cynical, to the strong allegation of bias.
I’m keen to know if anyone can refer me to the rule which gives the Race Director the final say over the rule book
14th December 2021, 14:07
The job of the race director is specified in the FIA Code and, when necessary, further detailed in the sporting regulations of the respective series. Note however that unlike with various of their other duties, their authority on the use of the safety car (article 11.10.3.e, and repeated in F1’s sporting regulations article 15.3) does not explicitly include the phrase ‘in accordance with the sporting regulations’.
Nevertheless, the race director can issue specific event notes and directives. The full extent of this doesn’t seem to be codified anywhere, but it led to things like previous race director Whiting declaring that a double yellow flag (i.e. there are marshals on the track) could be observed by slowing down by less than half a second in a particular timing sector. F1 has accepted long ago that the race director does indeed have some authority to ‘make up’ rules.
14th December 2021, 9:43
+1,000. In all the excitement this crept under my skin and stayed there for the rest of the day. You can be a 7 times WDC all you want, but to have this outcome is just shattering and to respond like Lewis….wow. Not the 7 titles, but this reaction makes him the GOAT for me, Max has some serious catching up to do in this department (of course he has got some time, he’s 12 years younger), for him to take that title away from Lewis.
14th December 2021, 11:52
Yes, very well done. After all he is a world champion and was so way before Mercedes became successful. Let them do the whining and legal stuff. Lewis is bigger than Mercedes.
14th December 2021, 22:28
I think in the last few years (2016 and 2021) when he had a true championship battle he showed it’s not a joke to beat him, even for a very strong driver, or (rosberg) when luck comes more your way across the season, in both situations he was close enough (5-8 points) that if either of his opponents slipped up in one of the last laps he could’ve taken the title.
This also goes for 2007 btw.
F1 is fixed
15th December 2021, 2:14
2007? the year BMW should of been disqualified for using cool fuel in Brazil, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen Lewis being robbed of a WDC, certainly the last time I’ll be giving any more money to Sky.
14th December 2021, 9:34
I find it remarkable that so many of the reactions are not focusing on the controversy (apart from George’s, but I guess that were his tweets during the race and he’s obviously looking at Mercedes’ interests), but just on the congratulatory part. It seems most drivers have an “sure it’s odd, but that’s racing for you” attitude. I guess it’s logical though, they’re all colleagues in the same business. The fans are the ones throwing a fit, not the ones taking part. Same as football really where fans try to kill each other and the players are only unfriendly when the game is on (mostly, I’ll make an exception for Atletico Madrid ;-)).
On a different note: I was very disappointed with how the track improvements of Abu Dhabi should make for a better race. Wasn’t happening, and it really was a boring race from start to (one lap before) finish.
14th December 2021, 9:53
It may have been different if other drivers/teams had had their finishing position in the race or the championship adversly affected by only allowing certain lapped cars through.
14th December 2021, 9:56
Probably, point is that most (all?) of these guys have a certain stance when it concerns them directly, but don’t seem to think there’s much of a scandal when they’re not hurt by it themselves.
14th December 2021, 9:57
It was less spectacular than I had hoped, but without the turn 4 changes, Verstappen would not have been close enough to try an overtake on Hamilton on lap one and he would not have overtaken Hamilton in turn 4 in the last lap. However, with the tyre advantage he had, it was very much possible that he overtook Hamilton later in the last lap, so I don’t think that the track changes decided the title fight.
14th December 2021, 22:33
And even if they did, don’t forget red bull could’ve likely been more competitive across the race without the changes.
14th December 2021, 12:39
There a quite a few from drivers and others involved in racing dealing with that issue around the social media sites. But apart from the one from George they have selected, I think they have pretty much picked just the congratulations Max ones. Nice follow up from Mario Andretti
Master Class on how to be the best in every way. A champion who wins most days & shows the world how to behave & stay composed when situations aren’t kind to you. LH brings his A-game even when his soul is ripped out. Strength. Control of spirit. Role model
14th December 2021, 14:51
well not quite..
more laps in the lead
more bad luck