Christian Horner took aim at Mercedes strategic error in 2021 Abu Dhabi GP that handed Max Verstappen first F1 title

Max Verstappen snatched victory from Lewis Hamilton in the last moments of 2021 and went on to become a Formula 1 world champion for the first time. His victory was the best news for Red Bull in many years and a heartbreaking tragedy for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, a wound that has remained in Toto Wolff’s heart for a long time.

While, the chaos of 2021 is mostly attributed to Michael Masi’s unconventional calls as the race steward, there were many more factors that influenced Max’s victory over Lewis Hamilton. Christian Horner has shouldered the burden to share on of the key mistakes that cost Mercedes and helped Max Verstappen.

Red Bull principal blamed Mercedes for strategic error

For some moments Lewis Hamilton looked all set to win the 2021 title and create a legend in Formula 1 by winning 8 driver’s titles, but all hell broke lose when Nicholas Latifi crashed in the ending moments of the race. This was a sensitive situation and Red Bull decided to pit Max Verstappen for new set of soft tyres. Mercedes on the other hand believed that the race would end under safety car and Lewis would clearly win the world title.

Christian Horner
Horner blames Mercedes via GPBlog

What Mercedes didn’t expect however was that Michael would call in the safety car to provide viewers with exhilarating last lap battle and thus Lewis Hamilton was left to fend off Max Verstappen with his old tyres.

Christian highlighted this fatal error and sympathized with Lewis Hamilton, “Mercedes f*cked up. They left poor Lewis out there on tyres that had done pretty much most of the race and we’d pitted with Max, so he was on a fresh set of tyres. Max made the move and…” He also revealed that Max Verstappen didn’t intend to overtake Hamilton at the decisive turn 5 and he was just trying to fix a cramp in his leg.

Max Verstappen
Lewis loses to Max Verstappen via Sky Sports

Whatever the results of 2021 may have been, the circumstances were favorable for Lewis but a slight probability that was overlooked by Mercedes cost them greatly and now they are not in a competitive situation.

Red Bull ends Mercedes’ season win record with Las Vegas triumph

Red Bull took full advantage of their dominance this year with Max Verstappen and shattered many records alongside the Dutch champion. While many other teams managed to grab a podium place finish this season, they could never beat Red Bull in all but one race for the victory. Ferrari was the only competitor to win a race except Red Bull and not even Mercedes could challenge the Bulls up front.

Max Verstappen
Verstappen wins in Las Vegas via Sporting news

The dangerous dominance of Red Bull however, cost Mercedes greatly as they lost a long-standing record of 17 years. Except that Red Bull also took away Mercedes’ record of most wins in a season with 21 victories in 22 races this season, a feat that might become almost impossible to replicate in 2024. The record was 19 out of 21 races set by Mercedes in their most dominant car.

Red Bull’s 2023 season was salt to Toto Wolff’s wounds and he is set out to fulfill his personal vendetta of making sure Lewis Hamilton get his 8th title soon. The race to the top in 2024 might as well become a battle between Red Bull and Mercedes yet again if the Silver Arrows improve over winter.

What is one team you want to expect more from in 2024 and why? Share your opinions with us in the comments below.


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