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Max Verstappen After Winning Disputed Title in 2021 Could Have Avoided Being a Villain, Claims Ex-F1 Driver

Vidit Dhawan

Max Verstappen After Winning Disputed Title in 2021 Could Have Avoided Being a Villain, Claims Ex-F1 Driver

While Max Verstappen dominated last year and won the championship fairly, the same cannot be said about the season before. The Drivers’ Championship in the 2021 season was decided in one of the most contentious fashions.

The Dutchman beat Lewis Hamilton for his maiden title in 2021 after winning a controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi. After both drivers headed into the race level on points, it was winner takes. It was the Briton’s title to lose, as he had a substantial 12-second lead over Verstappen.

However, Nicholas Latifi’s crash changed everything by bringing out a safety car. Consequently, Hamilton’s lead over Verstappen with five laps remaining in the race was reduced to less than a second.

While there was no controversy surrounding the decision to bring out the safety car, the calls made once the race resumed were highly contentious.

Since Verstappen went on to win the race, many labelled him and his team as villains. Former driver Karun Chandhok has shown how the Dutchman and his team could have avoided this villain tag. Chandhok believes that Red Bull Racing just needed to choose their words carefully and explain how they made the most of the opportunity they were presented with.

Chandhok explains how Max Verstappen could have avoided the villain tag

In a conversation with Autosport, Karun Chandhok explained how Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing would have simply avoided the ‘villain’ tag if they just publicly accepted that they got ‘lucky’ in the 2021 season and that the events that transpired in the race had nothing to do with them.

The former Indian driver added that the Milton Keyes outfit could have defended themselves by stating that they just played by the rules and ran their own race. If Mercedes were furious at the events that transpired, it needed to be discussed with the FIA and not them.

Chandhok concluded his remarks by explaining how Red Bull Racing could have avoided being a part of this controversy by just ‘choosing their words carefully’ at the Abu Dhabi GP 2021.

The 39-year-old believes that the team could have told Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes that they had a great fight with each other and that the latter was unfortunate not to win the title despite being agonizingly close to doing so.

Also Read: Max Verstappen Who Earned $50 Million in 2022 Thinks FIA Demanding $1 Million from Him Is Absurd

Why was the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 controversial?

Considering the animosity between the two teams and the two 2021 title protagonists heading into the season finale in Abu Dhabi, it is safe to say that it would have been difficult to avoid controversy no matter what decisions were taken by the race director and the FIA.

However, what made the scenario worse was the lack of clarity in the information given to both teams on how the race would resume. Race director Michael Masi initially stated that lapped cars would not be permitted to pass the safety car before reversing his decision a few seconds after. With lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen permitted to unlap themselves, the Dutchman could get right on the tail of the Briton’s car.

While Hamilton was still in the race lead, he knew he would be a sitting duck as the safety car allowed Verstappen to pit and get behind the Mercedes driver on fresher tyres.

Even though the race resumed with just one lap remaining, the Red Bull Racing driver easily got past the Briton to win the race and his maiden title in F1, much to the frustration of Hamilton and his Mercedes team.

Also Read: Max Verstappen Refuses to Treat Neck Pain Because His Father Says It’s for ‘Cry Babies’

About the author

Vidit Dhawan

Vidit Dhawan


Vidit Dhawan is the F1 writer and Editor at The SportsRush. He fell in love with the sport at first sight when F1 visited India in 2011. The noise and the racing action from lights out and away we go to the chequered flag are what keeps him at the edge of his seat at all times. Vidit has been a lifelong Fernando Alonso fan and sees Charles Leclerc as the future of the sport. Other than F1, he also follows football and tennis closely.

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