After designing winning World Championship cars in the 1990s and 2010s, legendary Red Bull tech chief Adrian Newey added another one to his remarkable CV at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix thanks to Max Verstappen’s last-lap pass on Lewis Hamilton to claim the title.
The 62-year-old admitted that the way Verstappen won it was the closest he’s come to having a heart attack on the pit wall during a title showdown, as it went down to the final lap of a thrilling season.
''It’s the one I’ve come closest to having a heart attack and going unconscious afterwards,'' he said.
''I’ve had other ones that have gone down to the last race of course but never to the last lap. Yes, amazing, absolutely amazing.
''You have so many emotions in a race like that.''
While admitting Red Bull got lucky with the Safety Car, he feels his driver deserved to take the crown. He also referenced how Silverstone still stings him after the controversial clash between Hamilton and Verstappen at Copse.
''In the laps before the Safety Car, it looked as if it is slipping all away from us,'' he said.
''Inevitably you start thinking about the year and what we could have done [better]… some unlucky moments. Copse [when Hamilton hit Verstappen which saw the Dutchman end up in the tyre barrier at high speed] in particular, which, personally, still really grinds with me what happened there.
''And then the Safety Car happened. Obviously we’ve got lucky in that sense, there’s no two ways about it.
''If I reflect, of course I’m biased I know, I think Max thoroughly deserved it, on balance.''
Newey has worked with the likes of World Champions Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in the past. The Brit believes Max Verstappen is among the best in the history of the sport.
''He’s got to be right up there,'' he said.
''You go across different periods but he’s the real deal.
''Yes, he’s aggressive but generally I think he’s very fair. He’s got such talent, such drive.
''He’s still so young; he’s on a steep learning curve still. He’s just amazing.
''The best thing about him is he’s just so easy to work with. There’s no airs, no pretentious; he just comes in and gets on with it.
''I love the guy. He’s amazing.''
2021 was expected to be another year of Mercedes domination. However, changes to the floor area to slow the cars down plus big improvements from Red Bull and engine partner Honda allowed them to properly fight Toto Wolff’s squad.
Newey thanked the people back at the factory for their mega work, believing the RB16B was faster on balance through the course of 2021.
''We all voted for the regulation changes,'' Newey said.
''Did it suit us more than Mercedes? It seems so, certainly earlier in the year, then in the last few races they came back very strong.
''But I think on balance we’ve probably had the quicker car, and that’s a tribute to everyone back at the factory.
''We are all in the limelight here but what the guys have done back at the factory: my colleagues, engineers, everyone in the whole place... the support we feel when we are out here and that they give us, it’s amazing.''