Revealing audio was released this week from the 2021 championship-defining Formula 1 Abu Dhabi GP that established Max Verstappen as the fastest driver by winning the trophy from Lewis Hamilton on the final lap. That exciting race that had the fans in suspense until the last second, still continues to generate controversy.
Twitter user F1_Jordan, who describes himself as an avid Mercedes fan, posted a conversation between Red Bull boss Jonathan Wheatley and race director Michael Masi as the safety car drove around the track.
It is worth remembering that Hamilton was the leader of the race when Nicholas Latifi suffered an accident that forced the safety car to intervene. At that moment, Vertsappen took the opportunity to change tires (he put on softer ones for more speed), while there was still speculation that the Safety Car would complete the last lap. But it was not like that and the fans were able to enjoy a spectacular outcome between the two best drivers in the category.
What the audio reveals is that Wheatley told Masi that the best thing would be for the vehicles between Hamilton and Verstappen (that is, those in the worst positions) to pass the Briton, while he maintained a low speed, behind the safety car. In this way, Verstappen could make up for the time lost in the pits, close the gap and be within a shot of the then leader of the race just for the last lap. As it finally happened.
“Obviously you don’t need those overtaken cars to immediately turn around and catch up with the pack behind,” Red Bull boss Wheatley tells Grand Prix II director Masi, who replies: “Got it.” The way in which this brief, but forceful dialogue was carried out seems to indicate that it is the leader of the team that was ultimately champion who gives the orders. “You must let them go. Then we will have a motor race on our hands”, he insists.
Ultimately, that is exactly what happened. Hamilton and Verstappen disputed a final lap at full speed that started with the Dutchman just behind the Briton, when with the race neutralized, there was a difference of 14 seconds between them. With newly fitted hard compound tyres, the young driver went all-or-nothing on the final lap. In one of the corners, he managed to overtake the leader and escape towards the finish line to win the glory.
In December, a video had been leaked of the dialogue that Hamilton himself had with the Mercedes team, when the seven-time world champion is surpassed by his opponent: “This is being manipulated,” he shouted angrily, warning that something extra-sports had happened. The one who had declared something similar before the microphones was Lando Norris, McLaren driver: “Obviously, it was made to be a fight, it was on television, of course, it was because of the result,” he said in statements published by British media. “Whether it was fair or not, it’s not up to me to decide,” he said.
Now, it was Damon Hill, a former Formula 1 star, who referred to the audio between Wheatley and Masi: “It is not new news. However, it makes listening uncomfortable, as it happened at the time. Nobody (except Red Bull) is happy about this. The question is, what can one do about it? (Infobae)