Mercedes left Lewis Hamilton ‘very exposed’ in F1 finale, Christian Horner claims

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Horner has laid blame at Mercedes’ door (Getty Images)
Horner has laid blame at Mercedes’ door (Getty Images)

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has accused Mercedes of leaving Lewis Hamilton “exposed” at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a safety car was deployed following Nicholas Latifi’s crash, Horner’s team pitted Max Verstappen and put him on a new set of soft tyres. However, Hamilton remained out on the track to protect his position out in front.

When race director Michael Masi controversially allowed a certain number of cars to unlap themselves and thereby enable a final lap shootout between the title rivals, Verstappen was left right behind Hamilton and easily overtook the Briton to clinch the world title.

Horner said Red Bull made the right tactical call. “If you look at the season as a whole, we had a lot of bad luck and we got fortunate with the incident at the end of the race,” Horner toldWION.

“The safety car was the inevitable response to that and tactically we made the right call. We pitted Max, Mercedes left Lewis out and he was then going to be very exposed at a restart.

“Of course when the race did get started – which was always going to be the intention of the race director – you know Max had to go for it.

“He had one lap to make the pass, he did it and managed to convert the championship so it was an amazing feeling, and an amazing end to an incredible year.”

Mercedes lodged two appeals after the race and, although they were dismissed and the following legal case was dropped, the dust is yet to settle, with Hamilton refusing to publicly confirm he will return for the 2022 season.

An inquiry is set to be published about the Abu Dhabi race in March and Masi could be replaced in the role of race director.

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