Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has said that team owner Dietrich Mateschitz is not bothered by how the 2021 Formula 1 season ended nor by the controversy that surrounded the final few laps of it.
The off-season in the sport is usually a very quiet one but this year’s has been anything but, with the fall-out from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix still settling over a month on.
Indeed, speculation has been written considerably over the future of Lewis Hamilton, whilst the wait is continuing for the FIA to reveal their results of their investigation into the now infamous closing stages at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Both topics, then, remain open cases as we head towards February but one thing that has been rubber-stamped for a while is that Max Verstappen is the 2021 world champion, and he will be defending that crown with Red Bull in 2022.
Indeed, it’s the first time a non-Mercedes driver goes into a new season as champion (barring 2017 when ’16 winner Nico Rosberg had bowed out) since 2015 and it’s obvious that Red Bull have enjoyed the last month or so celebrating wrestling the Mercs’ iron grip on the Drivers’ championship free.
That said, Christian Horner has revealed how Mateschitz reacted to the way the championship was won, with him revealing that he felt Verstappen was very deserving of the title:
“No [he wasn’t bothered by the season finale.] I think there’s been so much controversy throughout the year, [and] I think there’s been so much bad luck that we’ve had during the season that these things tend to balance themselves out.
“He felt Max was very deserving. He was very proud of what he’d done and what the team had achieved,” the Briton revealed to Racing News 365.
Regardless of what you think of those final laps of the campaign, it is fair to say that either driver would have deserved the championship over the course of the season.
The bad luck Horner is referring to probably consists largely of the blowout Verstappen had in Baku when leading the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as well as the Hungarian Grand Prix where he was shunted down the order and couldn’t recover after a crash caused by Valtteri Bottas badly damaged his car.
Ultimately, Verstappen goes into 2022 as the reigning world champion and he will be eager to defend his crown over the coming months – it just remains to be seen who will be challenging him in the process.