Max Verstappen was crowned 2021 World Champion in Abu Dhabi, but not without disagreements. Many decisions taken by racing director Micheal Masi during the last round of the season have been heavily criticised.
In particular, many didn't believe fair the choices of not ending the race under the safety car and then letting some cars unlap themselves, which didn't help the race leader Lewis Hamilton on worn tyres, but paved the way for a last minute overtake by Verstappen, who had recently pitted for softs.
However, in the opinion of Red Bull' team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, this controversy won't stain the memory of Verstappen's first F1 title, the team's fifth after Sebastian Vettel's drivers' championships.
The reason for it being that such image issues didn't surround only him, but title contender Lewis Hamilton as well, and that it was evened out by the unluckiness he suffered from in certain Grand Prixes, probably thinking about the Azerbaijan GP, when Verstappen's tyre exploded while he was leading comfortably, or the two times, at Silverstone and Hungary, where he was involved in crashes with Hamilton and Bottas respectively.
Team Principal Christian Horner disclosed what Mateschitz thinks of the Dutch driver in an interview to racingnews365.com:
"No. I think there's been so much controversy throughout the year, [and] I think there's been so much bad luck that we've had during the season that these things tend to balance themselves out," he responded when asked if his boss was unsatisfied with the way the title was won.
Horner added that the team owner strongly believes Verstappen proved his worth in the season: "He felt Max was very deserving. He was very proud of what he'd done and what the team had achieved."
Such a heated title fight won't be shortly forgotten, as Horner said that the 2021 championship held the "most competitive" title fight in the recent history of the sport.
"I think that it was such an epic year! It was probably the most competitive season in Formula 1 in the last 30 years, and I think, for Red Bull, for Max, for Honda, to come out on top..."
The Englishman shares Mateschitz's view on the theory that the end of season Abu Dhabi racing direction choices that advantaged the Bulls in the title deciding round are balanced out by the mishappenings suffered from Verstappen throughout the whole season:
"Yes, we got a little bit lucky with the Safety Car at the end of the race, but so much bad luck [had] gone against us throughout the season."
Another reason for which the Dutchman is "deserving" of his maiden title is given to Horner by statistics, as Verstappen has led more laps than everyone else (652), scored more pole positions (10) and race wins (10).
"These things, I've always said, tend to balance themselves out over the course of a season, and I think Max, he led more than 50 percent of the laps in the year, more than every other driver combined. He had more pole positions, he had more race wins, and for me he was totally deserving," he concluded.