Lewis Hamilton leads Max Verstappen into the last lap of the Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Marina December 2021.

Paddy Lowe ‘pretty happy’ Max Verstappen won 2021 title in ‘sport of risk’

Former Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe admitted he was “rather happy” to see Max Verstappen win the world championship in 2021, even though it came under controversial circumstances.

The events in Abu Dhabi in 2021 sparked widespread outrage and debate when a late safety car was brought back for the final lap of the race, when FIA rules at the time legislated that the race would have could, and perhaps should, end under Safety Car. conditions due to the requirements for lapped cars to overtake.

But the race restarted for its final lap and Verstappen, on cooler soft tyres, was able to overtake race leader Lewis Hamilton and hold on to the lead, winning his first world championship in the process amid a controversy that culminated in a lengthy investigation by the FIA, before race director Michael Masi finally left his post on the governing body.

Lowe, who has since joined Mercedes McLaren Just months after Hamilton and was present in his squads for his first three world titles, including his triumph in 2008, spent more than 30 years in Formula 1 in total – and he explained why his love of ‘peril’ in the sport automobile played a part in an opinion he acknowledged would be “controversial”, recounting his own experiences when he’s been on the wrong side and on the right side of regulation.

Speaking exclusively to PlanetF1.com and starting with what he enjoyed about the just-concluded 2022 season as a whole, before expanding on his views on 2021, Lowe replied: “I liked see the resurgence of Ferrari, they have developed a super car.

“I think it’s a real shame that it didn’t end up translating into better results. So that was kind of a good thing and a bad thing, I think. Good to see them with a good car, but not so good that it didn’t get all the wins it could have.

“It’s great to see a change in the world order around the top three teams. You know, I think it’s worth noting, which is absolutely not to my surprise, that the same three teams are at the top despite the cost cap, due to their built-in engineering excellence and the tools to design great cars, which don’t start out with a cost cap.

“So I think it was good to see some disruption but in other ways it’s always a shame there’s so much scatter on the grid.

“I love the risks in racing, so I love seeing different things happen and people struggling but succeeding.

“There has been a lot of variety in the season, I know Max has won a lot of races but despite that there has been a lot of variety. So I think that’s good.

“It’s good to see Max win a championship without any arguments. I was quite happy that he won it last year, actually – which is probably controversial, but Formula 1 is a risky sport. It always has been.

“Nothing is fair in Formula 1. I have been on the wrong side of fairness many times and then [on] the right side of good luck too.

“It’s the nature, it’s the interest, it’s the excitement of the sport, in fact. It’s not a sport where everything should go according to plan and where always the best person according to an analysis should winning. That’s why we watch and love sports and there’s never a right answer to anything.

“I felt sorry for the race director [Masi] in fact, I think he was wrong in a way that was really unfair to me. There was no right or wrong answer. He did his job, he was the referee.

“But going back to this year it’s good to see my former Mercedes colleagues obviously they didn’t hit the ground in the right place but a tremendous job of recovering for a very respectable performance by the end of the season – and it’s a team that [you] should never underestimate, and we’ll see where they come back next year.

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