Sky Sports presenter ‘paid the price’ for criticising the FIA

Johnny Herbert has been dropped from Sky Sports’ presenter lineup for 2023, as has Paul di Resta.

The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix provided one of the most controversial endings to a season that has ever been seen in Formula 1, with Max Verstappen snatching the title away from Lewis Hamilton right at the death.

Hamilton had built up a significant lead in the race, meaning he had all but secured a record breaking eighth world title, until a late safety car was triggered by Nicholas Latifi.

Verstappen took a gamble on a restart and dived into the pits for soft tyres while Hamilton stayed out, as it appeared that there was not enough time for the lapped cars to unlap themselves and restart the race.

Race director Michael Masi only allowed the lapped cars between the title challengers to unlap themselves, allowing for one final racing lap where, on the fresh tyres, Verstappen easily passed Hamilton.

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Johnny Herbert, who has now been dropped by Sky Sports, has been very vocal on this matter, suggesting that the outcome of the race was unjust.

“For me, they got it wrong, and it’s very simple. In the past, when the safety car is going to come in, all the lapped cars have been allowed to pass, not just a couple,” he told The Times in 2021.

“I suppose it was all a rush to try and make this a one-lap race. But it was wrong and unfair because Lewis did absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever.

“Red Bull had to try and play, going into the pits for fresh tyres. But for the FIA, and especially Michael, to muck it up so badly, just put a bad taste in your mouth once the chequered flag had gone.”

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In the wake of the news that Herbert will not be a part of Sky Sports’ F1 coverage this season, Nick Knowles, who is often found sharing his thoughts on F1 on Twitter, has suggested that Herbert has been let go as a result of his comments about Abu Dhabi.

“So @johnnyherbertf1 has finally paid the price for being the only one to tell the truth about 2021 WDC fiasco in Abu Dhabi; from the moment it happened he refused to toe the @F1 @fia @SkySportsF1 line. Thank you for putting fans first Johnny & being their voice in the pit lane,” tweeted the DIY TV star.

In a statement released by Sky Sports they refused to give a reason as to why Herbert had been released from his role, but it does seem as if he and Paul di Resta will not be replaced ahead of the upcoming season.