Marko: Mercedes must accept defeat after making 'mistake'

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says Mercedes must accept defeat in the 2021 Formula 1 world championship after making a “mistake” in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 
Masashi Yamamoto (JPN
Masashi Yamamoto (JPN

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the world title in controversial circumstances after a late Safety Car period set up a one-lap shoot-out and left Hamilton under threat from Verstappen despite dominating the race. 

Red Bull called Verstappen in to the pits for fresh softs under the Safety Car, while Mercedes did not have enough of a gap to bring Hamilton in and retain his lead, meaning he stayed out on very old hard tyres for the final lap.

Verstappen passed Hamilton at Turn 5 once the race restarted and went on to clinch his maiden F1 world championship. 

Mercedes believes the normal Safety Car procedures were not followed in Abu Dhabi and is currently weighing up whether to push ahead with an appeal against the race stewards’ decision to dismiss its initial protest. 

“I can understand that they are unhappy,” Marko told BBC Radio 5 Live. 

“But what I don’t understand is: they had the possibility also to go to the pits. They didn’t. So it was their mistake.

“And to influence Michael Masi, the race director, not to give a safety car. That’s not in their competence.

Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B wins the race ahead of second placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.
Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B…

"We were really disappointed to see that they showed up with a barrister, one of the highest-paid barristers from England, to show up to the last race.

"We take the best paid engineers to the race to get out the maximum of the car. So the way they acted after the race is for us not really understandable.

"We understand the frustration - they believed until one lap from the end they would be accepted. If you lose, you have to accept it.”

Meanwhile, Marko believes Verstappen will only continue to get better following his first world title success and has backed the Dutchman to win more championships. 

"He is a driver who I'm sure is not at the end of his abilities," Marko added. 

"We saw his qualifying performance at the last two races, in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. He did qualifying laps that were so much more than the car could deliver.

"And that's why we believe we haven't seen the climax of Max Verstappen. The more he wins, the more relaxed he gets."

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