The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is considered one of the most iconic races in Formula 1 history. It saw championship rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enter the final race of the season tied on points with the championship on the line. The infamous Michael Masi safety car controversy is still a heated topic of discussion among fans on social media.
Irrespective of whether or not the safety car was brought out appropriately or not, the fact of the matter is that the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP marked the dawn of what can only be deemed the Max Verstappen era of F1. Since then, Red Bull and Max have dominated the sport, cementing their place in Formula 1 history.
Horner reflects on Verstappen’s first F1 championship win
In 2022, the iconic energy-drink subsidiary clinched its first Formula 1 constructors’ title since 2013, marking an end to the 8-year dominance Mercedes were enjoying. While competition is healthy for the sport’s overall viewership, the tense aura that plagued the paddock in 2021 can take a toll on team members and drivers, including team principals who are often held directly accountable for a team’s shortcomings.
When Christian Horner was asked whether he would enjoy a repeat of the competition in 2021 amid complaints that the sport is becoming dull and predictable, he said, “There’s not one ounce of me. I think I’m still in recovery from 2021.”
Going on to discuss the team’s success this season with the thus-far unbeaten RB19, Horner described Red Bull’s current performance as a ‘golden moment’ for the team, acknowledging the hard work put in by the team and its members. Verstappen’s brilliant form this season has also not been left unacknowledged by Horner. Since his debut race with Red Bull in 2016, Max has racked up a total of 45 wins and counting.
When did Max Verstappen join Red Bull F1?
Max Verstappen’s raw pace was turning heads much before he joined Formula 1, during his stint at Van Amersfoort Racing at the European Formula 3 Championship in 2014. In 2015, he made his Formula 1 debut at Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso (now Alpha Tauri) at the tender age of 17. What is interesting to note here is that Max was driving a Formula 1 car before he could legally drive a car at all!
Barely over a year later, he was brought up to Red Bull to replace Daniil Kvyat at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. This race was one for Mercedes to forget and one for Red Bull to remember. The race saw Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fall out of the race in a bitter collision, almost paving the way for a perfect debut for Max. Verstappen actually went on to win this race, marking his first win in F1, and also going down in history as the youngest driver to win a Formula 1 race (aged 18 years 228 days), all on his debut race with Red Bull!
Although Horner may not be keen on a 2021 repeat, as viewers of the sport everybody wants a little competition. Do you think Max and Red Bull can be shaken from the throne in the coming years? Comment on what you think below!