In the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, where all pieces of the puzzle looked to be in place for the Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, taking home another Drivers’ Championship title, a young Dutch driver, and a couple of unexpected decisions from the race director, left a scar on the German outfit.
Following an exhilarating 21 rounds of racing, the middle east was ready to unveil a final showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. As the race panned out, the Brit edged closer to the record-breaking 8th world title lap by lap, but a late safety car presented the Red Bull driver with a win on the silver platter.
An unusual call by the race director, Michael Masi, switched around the fortunes and rewrote the history books with a new champion of the world. Following the incident, the FIA claimed it to be a ‘human error’ which did not settle well with the Brackley outfit and their star driver. Henceforth, they raised their voices for a change that helps to uphold the integrity of the premier class of motorsport.
Toto is such a real one for that. Respect https://t.co/29oAD34uUG pic.twitter.com/XbLAaxsKAO
— Willseh (@Willseh14) August 15, 2022
In an exclusive interview with Autosport, Toto Wolff shared if the Abu Dhabi finale still keeps him up at night. He said, “I think about it every day. But I have my peace with Max winning the championship, because he’s a deserving champion.”
“How it panned out, I think I have values around fairness, and especially sporting fairness. This is what provides my fundamental love for the sport. And then that was kicked with the feet on that particular day.”
Despite the bad blood in 2021, to see Wolff praise the rival is commendable sportsmanship by the Austrian.
Has the Mercedes boss lost faith in the FIA?
The bizarre controversy set up havoc in the F1 world, and many failed to grasp the series of events at the Yas Marina Circuit. The Mercedes protest was in line to have a substantial change in the F1 management, one which would promote authoritativeness and accountability.
📰: Toto Wolff reflects on 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, where Lewis Hamilton lost the title to Max Verstappen, who Toto Wolff sees as a fair champion.
"It was not easy to accept reality"
— F1 Naija 🇳🇬 (@f1_naija) August 14, 2022
After the dust settled, the FIA concluded a meeting where it discussed the controversial race to learn from the experience and ensure no such event is repeated in a future Grand Prix. Around the same time, Mohammed bin Sulayem found himself elected as the new president of the FIA, and he further appointed two new race directors.
The Mercedes CEO further shed light on his belief in the system. “I think Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the way he’s hiring and recruiting, shows for me direction,”
“Every personality has his edges. And I think the primary objective of being transparent, providing good governance and a good framework is what I see happening.”
“Are there going to be bumps on the road because Mohammed’s organisation needs to fall in place and everybody needs to find their roles? Yeah, for sure. But I’m happy with how’s it going.”
“They are open-minded. They’re not opinionated. For me, transparent, honest and have integrity.” Wolff concluded.
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