Max Verstappen and Red Bull team celebrate, 2021

Verstappen’s championship worth missing out on constructors’ title – Horner

2021 F1 season

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Not a single Red Bull staff member would trade Max Verstappen’s drivers’ championship for the constructors’ title, according to team principal Christian Horner.

Verstappen became Red Bull’s second world champion after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend, but the team lost the constructors’ crown to rivals Mercedes.

Speaking at the FIA prizegiving gala in Paris where his driver formally received his championship trophy, Horner said missing out on the financial bonus of winning the constructors’ championship was of little concern to his team.

“The constructors is where the money is,” said Horner. “That is where the revenues that come into the sport are distributed based on your performance in the championship. And I think every employee within our team, probably most of the teams, is rewarded on where they are in the constructors championship as opposed to the drivers.

“Now the drivers’ [championship] obviously has the popularity and it has the prestige. I don’t think there’s a single employee within our business that would have traded a first place in the constructors for this drivers championship. Everybody – when you see the reaction that Max had when he visited the factory yesterday – is so proud of what he’s achieved. The prestige of the drivers world championship – that’s the big one. That’s the one that you really want. And that’s why it meant so much achieving that on Sunday evening.”

Verstappen received his prize from the FIA free from any concerns about Mercedes contesting the results of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after they announced they would not pursue an appeal earlier in the day.

Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, claimed his driver, Lewis Hamilton was “robbed” of his eighth title by FIA F1 race director Michael Masi after a late safety car restart to the race during which only a select number of lapped cars were permitted to overtake the leader.

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Horner says that Red Bull were confident that Mercedes’ threats to appeal would not amount to anything and that both Verstappen and Red Bull also had reasons to feel aggrieved by decisions made against them this season.

“We didn’t really feel that there was the grounds for a threat,” said Horner. “We obviously were in front of the stewards for quite a while and there was a great deal of discussion over what happened. But safety cars are usual in Formula 1. We’ve seen it throughout this season.

“The determination of the race director is always to get the race going again. That’s been a clear mandate for many, many years now. So a lot was made of it. But that’s the way it is.”

Red Bull “had so many decisions go against us” during the season, including earlier in the Yas Marina race, said Horner. “We felt some of those decisions in Saudi had gone against us.

“We felt that we’d had bad luck, for example, in Imola. Lewis is in the gravel trap, out of the race, a lap down and his team-mate crashes with a Williams and he gets the lap back and he’s second on the grid and he finishes second.

“The crash at Silverstone – a red flag, he gets a penalty, but he still wins the race with the fastest lap. So we felt that many things have gone against us this year, but things have a habit of working themselves out and balancing themselves over the course of the year.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 81 comments on “Verstappen’s championship worth missing out on constructors’ title – Horner”

    1. I think most people – those who are not blinded by the dramatic conclusion to the season, anyway – probably agree that the results of this years’ championships are the right ones. Over the course of the season, Verstappen was marginally the better driver and Mercedes had marginally the better car. In particular Red Bull seem to have realised this in the championship run-in, and sacrificed Perez on a few occasions to prioritise the drivers’ championship.

      1. Tommy Scragend
        17th December 2021, 7:28

        You’ll never get anywhere on this site with sensible comments like that!

      2. Max wasn’t marginally better, he was just on another level to the rest, it is also a wake up call to Red Bull how Mercedes were still able to have such a pace advantage since silverstone, yeah RedBull showed dominance only in Mexico because of the turbo issue, the difference was Max in the 2nd half.

        1. @illusive RB obliterated the opposition in Zandvoort, scoring a 1-2. They were also dominant in Austin.

      3. @red-andy

        – those who are not blinded by the dramatic conclusion to the season, anyway –

        Wrong site dude

        1. You better hope dude is red-andy’s preferred pro-noun!

      4. @red-andy take your sensibly reasoned comments somewhere else, they have no place here!

      5. Constantijn Blondel
        17th December 2021, 8:06

        I read that Mercedes signed a deal to provide F1 with the official FIA Wahmbulance

      6. Same persons like you also say Rosberg earned his title in 2016 despite having poorer results overall except points, and more luck on his side.

      7. Agreed. Personally, looking back, I enjoyed everything about this season even the controversy. I wouldn’t change a thing. Call me Netflix dude or a non-purist F1 fan. I don’t care.

      8. @red-andy
        At the end of the day I’d probably agree that Verstappen is the “right” champion, because that is what the results show and they are not going to change, no matter how unjust the ending of Abu Dhabi was in my opinion.

        But stating that Verstappen was the “right” champion because of his performances seems very biased to me. I believe most fans (blinded or not) are probably divided on this subject.

        I think both Hamilton and Verstappen would’ve deserved the championship. Saying who is the “right” champion based on their performances is always subjective. Especially on this kind of season, when sometimes Mercedes was the best car and sometimes Reb Bull was.

        1. even if cars were equal max had the horrid luck of Baku, Silverstone, and Hungary. Lewis enjoyed the well timed red flag at imola and extra room at turn four in Bahrain as well. And he still lost. Objectively he outperformed lewis.

          1. Absolutely, who knows why those defending hamilton are completely ignoring the bad luck verstappen had.

          2. @realnigelmansell Not only luck, but also Mercedes using 6 engines where Red Bull used only 3 (4 if you include the one damaged in the Silverstone crash).

            So, Red Bull not only had a big share of bad luck but also Mercedes unfair, but legal, use of extra performance of fresh engines.

        2. @hotbottoms

          If you’d equalize the luck, Max would have easily won the championship.

          1. @aapje
            Most likely yes, but these calculations of luck are always somewhat incomplete: If Max had a bigger point gap, then Hamilton and Mercedes would’ve taken more risks etc. It’s impossible to say how the season would have turned out, if Verstappen didn’t crash out in Silverstone for example. In fact, we can’t even know what would have happened at Silverstone, if Verstappen didn’t crash out.

            1. @hotbottoms

              What happened to Silverstone was pretty much the unluckiest thing that could have happened to Max, aside from personal injury, though. One can easily imagine a scenario where both went off or both could have continued with damage.

              Also, desperate moves to close a large gap are more often than not going to leave you worse off, because if it was the choice that on average resulted in more points, you’d typically have done it anyway. So if Mercedes had chosen to gamble on long shots, Max would most likely end up with more lead of a lead.

            2. Silverstone was pretty much the unluckiest thing

              Sorry Aapje I disagree, Luck has nothing to do with it
              If the Knighted One skills at racing where anywhere near its awesome skills at punting and DNFing the opposition while keeping its car intact, it would be a 16-time WDC by now.

      9. Great comment that perfectly encapsulates my feelings on the season. For all the talk and speculation that was there during the season regarding which title both teams want more and how they would prioritize, the emotions of both teams gave us a very clear answer at the end. I think there was a suggestion from an Italian publication that Mercedes basically turned Valtteri into a guinea pig to create the ‘spicy’ engine for Lewis which only reinforces that, don’t know the full story though.

        I attribute the ‘both drivers deserved the title equally’ narrative to recency bias, Lewis did have a monumental finish to the season, but you can’t disregard his somewhat pedestrian (by his and this year’s title fight standards) first half. Luck aside, Max would’ve won the title with two races to spare.

        I suggest everyone looks at media driver ratings by u/emkaerr on Reddit. They are averages of ratings from AMuS, Autosport, crash, f1i, Planet F1, and The Race for each driver for each race. It’s not perfect, but it’s probably the closest thing to an objective evaluation of each driver that we’re going to get. Over the season, the gap between 3rd-place Lando and 2nd-place Lewis is smaller than the gap between Lewis 1st-place Max (8.1, 8.4, and 8.8 respectively). The last lap was a travesty, Masi needs to go, but the right man and team won, there are no two ways about it.

        1. I suggest everyone looks at media driver ratings by u/emkaerr on Reddit. They are averages of ratings from AMuS, Autosport, crash, f1i, Planet F1, and The Race for each driver for each race.

          I think there is a problem with this kind of rating, especially on this season: Mercedes has dominated Formula One since 2014 so everyone assumed at the start of the season that they had the best car again. At the start of the season everyone was talking about Verstappen overperforming his car and Hamilton underperforming his. In hindsight, I’m not sure if that was the whole truth.

          But yes, I agree with you that recency bias is a real thing and it effects me also.

          1. @hotbottoms

            I clearly remember quite a few people arguing that RB had the better car. Some of them argued that Mercedes would catch up and then easily win.

        2. Even the official f1 website has verstappen slightly ahead and you can bet verstappen WILL be ahead on this website too, not because he won the title, if you check back the last few years, but simply cause on balance he performed better.

          1. He performed better because he had a faster car over the season. Before you argue, Adrian Newey and Helmut Marko confirmed it.

            Verstappen even led more laps than all the other drivers put together.

            1. That’s not what the performance stats tell.
              Mercedes did a little better then last year, Redbull did slightly worse..

      10. I don’t think think Max undeserving at all, he drove outstandingly and personally I certainly don’t want the championship result changed.

        I do want those in charge to recognise that they completely, royally screwed the pooch and clarify that the race director is expected to follow the rules not make them up on the spot. I also want things put in place to ensure such a farce cannot occur again. Nothing I have seen since has convinced me that the officials even recognise that they are completely in the wrong here, everything has pointed towards them believing it to be just us who misunderstood the rules….

      11. :D “most people”.. just not here.

        Verstappen was on another level, we can all agree, he enjoyed much greater margin over teammate than Hamilton.

        Who else was this good? Russel in Williams until contract signing?

        For sure, a brave comment, but history will show that this season will be marked by exceptional Verstappen and loads of questionable FIA/steward decisions.

        And who knows how RedBull will be next years. Verstappen might not win again.

      12. Not marginally but very clearly.

        With the points lost due to situations he could not control, he would have won with 1/2 races to spare.

        Clearly superior in the mental category too.

    2. The world is tired with both Christian and Toto

      1. Yes indeed – the FIA should suspend team bosses and other key staff for 1 or more races when going beyond the acceptable in their public comments or behavior.

        In case of drivers a direct suspension might not be desired but a reprimand or grid penalties should be given to drivers for similar offences.

        Many other sports have suspensions, fines or other disciplinary actions already in place for years.

    3. I hope people got their bonuses anyway!

      1. If Toto has too much integrity to attend the award ceremonies, I’m sure he wouldn’t withhold any bonuses anyone was expecting if Lewis had won the driver’s championship.

      2. @fer-no65

        I wonder if the bonuses will be going away due to the budget cap. Or are they excempt?

        1. @aapje I can’t imagine bonuses would be exempt, or that would be an incredibly easy way to circumvent the cap. Every employee would be on minimum wage but with enormous bonuses.

    4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      17th December 2021, 8:50

      As it becomes apparent that a title is slipping away the boss has to say something positive.

      1. Red bull always preferred the driver title above everything else.
        Nothing new there for people following this sport for some years.

      2. Horner always preferred to secure the WDC over WCC as lets be honest, people will remember the former

    5. Of course, Red Bull don’t need the money — with the budget cap, they’ve got enough to pay their surplus staff to go yacht racing.

      1. “We went yacht racing!”

    6. Ah, some salt.

    7. Congratulations Max Verstappen, as a huge Lewis fan I really wanted (and want) him to get his 8th WDC. But I tried to watch the race as a ‘neutral’ (for the sake of my nerves).

      It was actually pretty easy watching it as a neutral. I felt both drivers deserved the championship but felt Max deserved it a little more. I think Lewis should have won the last race (I agree with Toto on that) but I’m pretty conflicted because ultimately I think the right driver won the championship.

      For the last few years Max has felt like a driver who will win a championship and it would have been terrible if he never had the machinery to do it. But he’s done it now, he’s immortalised as a champion and I hope next year is a superb season for all the right reasons and that we have several drivers challenging for the title.

      My Hollywood ending for next year is for Lewis to win WDC#8 and retire as the one of the all-time greats (and *the* greatest for many).

      But as this Article is about Max and Red Bull – the last race has fogged the view of everything, but on balance I have to say that Max won it over the course of the season, he’s a superb driver and is a worthy champion.

      1. Thank you for a great comment! 👏

      2. +1 well said.

        My Hollywood ending for next year is for Lewis to win WDC#8 and retire as the one of the all-time greats (and *the* greatest for many).

        And this would be the ultimate racing movie!

      3. Barath Raam B B
        17th December 2021, 18:17

        Beautifully put!

    8. Odd bunch the Red Bull crew. They seem happy to work for a boss who constantly tells the world their car’s rubbish and if it wasn’t for their driver they’d be nowhere…..

      1. If the alternative is a team principal with 8 wcc that tries to play the underdog card every time.

        1. Adrian Newey claimed the RBR car this year was better than the Merc.

          At certain tracks it absolutely demolished every other car that is for sure. Mexico was a blinder of a result.

        2. A difficult one. Do I want to be part of a team where my boss and our drivers publicly and privately congratulate me and my fellow co-workers every chance they get, and we win a never achieved before 8 WCC on the bounce? Or do I want to be part of a team that hasn’t won diddly squat for years and my boss says quite openly its because me and my fellow workers haven’t produced the goods? And when we do finally win my boss tells the world it was down to one man not us.
          Mmm. I’ll need to think about that one a bit.

          1. I’ll need to think about that one a bit.

            never thought this would happen :)

    9. I really don’t like all this ‘deserved’ talk.

      This is sport, its competition, nobody ‘deserves’ anything. You earn what you get, and Hamilton earned that 8th title on the race track, he outraced Verstappen in the final race that counted.

      I don’t care which driver ‘deserved’ it, Hamilton should have finished the season with more points, so he earned the title. Verstappen, did not. There is no ‘deserved’ about it.

      I know Verstappen fans won’t agree, because they need to justify it to themselves for not feeling bad about it being robbed off Hamilton, but it is what it is.

      1. That’s absolutely untrue, as a verstappen fan I agree hamilton was robbed about the last RACE, I disagree he was robbed of the title, verstappen would’ve been robbed if hamilton had won when you consider silverstone etc.

        1. Silverstone was 2 racers going for a corner, they collided, it took 2 to tango, that’s part of the ‘sport’, people crash, engines blow up (Malaysia 2016 etc), tires blow up (Silverstone 2020 etc), this is part of the sport, you cannot pick n chose incidents and say someone ‘deserves’ it because of this or that, no one deserves anything in competition, they earn it, and Hamilton earned his right to claim that title by virtue of collecting more points by the time the season completed.

          1. Last time I looked Hamilton did not collect more points by the time the season completed.
            And the disregarding of the rule book has been a part of the game since long ago (Ferrari fuel system, anyone?) and in this fight since the very first race of the season, where Masi was totally all right ignoring track limit violations in turn 4 by Lewis for 29 times (the team was warned a few times but no action was taken at all when Mercedes ignored the warning), only to suddenly change his stance completely when Red Bull told Max it was apparently OK to do so. Maybe not as spectacular as AD and already some time ago, but this too was blatantly ignoring the race rules. Impossible to prove, but seeing that race I think it would have been very improbable that Lewis would have beaten Max had Masi not ignored the rules for one driver but enforce them at the end of the race.
            I’m not saying two wrongs make a right, but it really has gone two ways and therefore Max earned the title.

            1. At the start of the race turn 4 was called out for track limits. As I recall RBR got on the phone to Masi and asked about track limits. Masi then declares turn 4 limit. Lewis stops going there.

            2. At the start of the race turn 4 wasn’t called out for track limits.

              wasn’t called out for track limits.

          2. Silverstone was Lewis fault. He received a penalty for it.

        2. That’s absolutely untrue, as a verstappen fan I agree hamilton was robbed about the last RACE, I disagree he was robbed of the title..

          Verstappen would’ve been robbed if hamilton had won when you consider silverstone etc.

          The duplicity and double speak in these quotes from the SAME person, and in the SAME comment is legendary.

          @Esploratore not making any sense as usual.

          1. At least you do not play the discrimination card. That’s profit!

    10. Agree with those saying the best driver and team won, hamilton was lackluster the first half, verstappen was almost flawless, and mercedes was on balance the best car (marginally) across the season.

      1. According to Red Bull their car was faster.

        Do you remember the start of the season, with the floor reg changes, when Aston Martin were considering taking F1 to court about rule changes that destroyed their performance? That change had the same effect on Mercedes, it took them a long time to regain the performance they lost.

        Even then the Red Bull was the faster car at many tracks at the end, but Lewis is exceptional at managing the car and tyres through the race, which is why Lewis was on course for the title.

      2. As for what car was best we can leave it as the cars were closely matched in the hands of verstappen and Hamilton. You only have to look at the other two cars to see that it’s both the car and driver in this sport. It’s about the performance of the driver and the team and the package.

        I would also say that for Mercedes’ the way they woke up at the end of the season, a lot of organizations with so much success could have collapsed into infighting and finger pointing. People get spoiled and lazy with success. They get entitled. They start to fight over who gets the laurels. You never got a whiff of that in public.

    11. Both drivers performed very well, but I can’t go with with a bazaar argumentation “over the whole season”. Masi did wrong, in my opinion, and that’s the point. But eh, i got a new saying, when I first say no and than yes: “I do the Masi.”

    12. Of course Red Bull didn’t and don’t care about the WCC. What were they going to do if they won, release a special WCC edition can of Red Bull?

    13. Speaking of boycotting photocalls, I see that they’ve had to make do with a cardboard cut-out of Checo (second row behind the rear of the engine cover)…..

    14. Makes sense, for the target audience that Red Bull wants to reach, Max Verstappen is endlessly more appealing than the WCC. Financially it’s no problem for them either, as they’ve consistently been one of the biggest spenders in the sport. Plus this even helps them somewhat with the WCC-based development restrictions coming into effect.

      1. Red Bull is already everywhere. Of course they want to win both WDC WCC and I think Horner really wants that money but as Red Bull is sponsoring everything from chess to F1 (I don’t know but you get the idea) they can advertise another champion more easily than the company itself.

    15. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      17th December 2021, 12:09

      I think on balance Max was the stronger driver in more of the races. Lewis I think was a bit rusty, having not had a strong challenge for a whole season since 2016, but he came on strong at the end. Saudi was nuts and Abu Dhabi he just destroyed everyone. They both deserved it IMHO but I’m just going to leave y’all with Suzie Wolff’s thoughts which perfectly encapsulate mine:

      “The decision of one person within the governing body who applied a rule in a way which has never been done before in F1 single-handedly decided the F1 Driver World Championship. Rules are rules, they can’t be changed on a whim by one individual at the end of a race.”

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        17th December 2021, 12:21

        And just to add, Max I think was slightly the better driver but unfair in his racing tactics. Lewis was the fairer driver on track. Max had a lot of bad luck but that decision by the stewards not to penalise him in Brazil led to his ridiculous driving in Saudi. He was very lucky not to get worse than P2 that race, and extremely lucky in Abu Dhabi.

    16. If find it really off that Horner keeps equating the actions of the race director at the final race to aspects of bad luck or timing that his driver may or may not have suffered from.

      This has nothing to do with Max vs Lewis, who deserved what, biased brits or sore loser Merc fans, it has to do with the integrity of the sporting competition. That is what the FIA needs to address, and Horner should make himself part of the solution rather than wanting to sweep it under the carpet because of perceived earlier bad luck.

      If you’re happy to turn a blind eye to the actions of the race director because you happened to benefit from it, then be prepared to suffer in silence should it happen again but you be on the receiving end.

    17. I think that Hamilton deserved every one of his Mercedes titles in so far as he drove better than anyone else who had machinery which could realistically challenge for the championship – until this year. He was better than Rosberg for three years, better than Vettel for two years and has been better than Bottas for five years. This year, however, Verstappen was slightly superior.

      Also, I like the idea that no one ever gets more than seven titles. No idea if Hamilton or Schumacher are better, and I don’t mind if Verstappen also gets seven, but the idea of no one ever beating that record appeals to me.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        17th December 2021, 12:23

        Well, Shumi did ram Damon Hill for one and got disqualified from another for trying the same on Villeneuve so I’ll happily see that record fall!

      2. @Sam

        In the bible, the number 7 is also used to signify a large but finite number. So in a way, you are done anyway when reaching it, because under the biblical system, a total of 8, 9, 10, etc wins could all been written as 7 wins.

      3. I like that idea also. In the end F1 is sport as is the sport what we did when we were at school. Someone was slightly better than someone else. In the end all that matters was everyone was having fun. Like Kimi said “I do it as long s I like it.” I think for some reason it would be easier to say who is the ultimate Goat without all those trophies. Those things can get us a little blinded. It is easy to say “but driver A has 1 more title to his/hers name than driver B, thatswhy driver A is better.”

    18. I’m sure Newey cares. It’s his job to construct the best two cars in the field. One of the stories that got no play over the season, because it got shouted down by people defending their national “jerseys” was the battle between motorsports’ (all of it) most decorated and best designer against an entire conference room of technical directors at Mercedes. Newey is a genius. He made a brilliant car once again. He should get some recognition.

      1. In a few months we will see the brilliance of the designers; cant wait.

        1. If it is televised it is something like 68 days until pre-season testing. Maybe sandbagging going on but we will get to see the creations on track.

    19. congrats on the maFIA fixing F1 to give max his asterisk fake world title.

    20. I think the whole “drivers championship being more important” is a bit putting salt in the wound there from him

    21. I have only one question to the article’s photo. Where is Sergio? This is the whole point of this team. Pity.

      1. Maybe Sergio is taking the picture, from up on the roof?
        Teamwork! :-)

    22. Horner, it’s too much praise for a driver who received a championship gift from cheaters.

    23. F1 has more divas than Walt Disney, but none of the cute songs.

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