Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber has backed his old team’s rival Lewis Hamilton, as the debate over the way the 2021 title was decided rages on after two months
Retired Formula 1 star Mark Webber has claimed that Lewis Hamilton was “fighting against an outside force” in trying to win the 2021 world title.
Hamilton was denied an eighth world crown by a late safety car and some questionable decisions by race director Michael Masi at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which helped Max Verstappen to overtake and eventually win the race and the championship.
At first Masi did not allow back markers to unlap themselves, but later reneged and let those cars between Hamilton and Verstappen move past the safety vehicle
That allowed the Red Bull racer, who had pitted for fresh soft tyres, to move right up behind his rival, helping him to overtake when racing resumed on the final lap.
Considering his best years in F1 came with Red Bull, many fans might have expected the Australian to firmly back Verstappen as the debate rumbles on.
Instead, Webber has revealed he feels Hamilton was “robbed” by Masi’s actions as it meant he had to fight against an “outside force”.
“He felt he was robbed on the last lap, because he couldn’t fight,” the Australian told Nine Wide World of Sports .
“He had nothing to fight with, and it wasn’t through his own doing. He was fighting against something that was an outside force.”
Webber later added: “For the sport we were all disappointed it ended like that, it’s not how we wanted it to end. Both of them deserved to lift that trophy, but we did not want it to finish like that at all.
“We wanted a straight fight, a clean fight, and unfortunately there was one guy with his hand tied behind his back.
“Of course in hindsight they would all agree we could have done something different, what happened wasn’t the ideal scenario.”
Webber’s assessment of what happened comes after the FIA confirmed it was investigating radio messages from the race which appear to show a Red Bull employee pressuring Masi into making a decision.
In a clip which circulated on social media earlier this week, the team’s sporting director Jonathan Wheatley can be heard saying: “Obviously those lapped cars, you don’t need to let them go right the way around and catch up the back of the pack.”
Masi then replies: “Understood.”
Wheatley goes on to press home the point, adding: “You need to let them go. And then we’ve got a motor race on our hands.”
Shortly after, those cars were allowed to move through and, when the furious Mercedes chief Toto Wolff later claimed it was “not right”, Masi’s response was: “Toto, it’s called a motor race.”
The FIA is due to reveal the findings of its investigation into those events in Abu Dhabi on February 14, around five weeks before the start of the new season.