Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to secure his maiden F1 drivers’ championship.

The Dutchman was able to overtake Hamilton after the late-race Safety Car caused by Nicholas Latifi bunched the pack up and gave Verstappen a free run at the Mercedes driver.

This was only possible after race director Michael Masi failed to follow the FIA’s sporting regulation by allowing all lapped cars to overtake the Safety Car.

The widespread fallout and controversy ultimately cost Masi his job as the FIA conducted a thorough investigation, deeming the decisions made by Masi as “human error”.

In a wide-ranging interview with Sky Sports F1, Horner reflected on the events of Abu Dhabi.

While Horner acknowledged why some people might be frustrated about what happened, he remained firm in his opinion that Verstappen deserved the title, particularly after some misfortune caused by Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix.

“I always tend to look forwards so Abu Dhabi seems to be a long time ago,” Horner said. “The page always turns. I can understand if you’re a Lewis fan or a Mercedes fan that you’d feel pretty aggrieved by the events of Abu Dhabi. If you’re a Max fan, you feel it’s redemption for what happened earlier in the year. 

“That’s where sport is always going to be polarising. Last year, wasn’t just about Abu Dhabi. Last year was about 22 races. Do I think Max deserved that championship? Absolutely. I am never going to get too hung up on Abu Dhabi.”

Throughout 2021, Horner had an intense rivalry with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, often exchanging blows in the media.

Their rivalry was arguably more strained than that of the drivers.

However, Horner insisted it wasn’t personal with his Mercedes counterpart.

“It’s not personal in any way,” Horner explained. “Toto is Toto. He’s done a phenomenal job with Mercedes. He’s obviously come into the sport from a very different background than me. He’s from a financial background and it’s very easy to pull his chain, and you can see it sometimes affects him.