Jean Todt believes that Max Verstappen fully deserved to win the 2021 F1 world championship, despite the contentious final moments of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Todt, who was succeeded by Mohammed bin Sulayem as FIA president earlier this week, reckons that Verstappen earned his success over the course of the 22 races, and that the last lap controversy should not detract from this.
“I think he gets what he deserves, he made a great season,” Todt said at the FIA’s Prize-Giving Gala in Paris on Thursday night.
“I mean it’s human. You focus on the last lap. It is true he was really lucky on the last lap. But you should see the whole season.”
Todt also stressed that Verstappen had plenty of bad luck this campaign, particularly in Silverstone, Baku and Budapest.
“Was he lucky in Silverstone? Was he lucky in Azerbaijan? Was he lucky in Budapest? He was not. Tonight we should celebrate rather than trying to [get involved] in any form of controversy, there’s no point.”
The Frenchman was then cautious to speak about the conspicuous absence of Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes just hours after the German manufacturer withdrew their appeal of the race result in Abu Dhabi.
“Then, this young guy [Verstappen] has made an outstanding job, that’s what we should [talk about] rather than saying ‘are we going to punish [Hamilton] because he’s not coming’, honestly, I don’t think that’s the platform to speak, we should be above that.”
Todt served as FIA president for 12 years – the maximum permitted – and has been linked with a move back to the team he led between 1994 and 2007.
Current Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto refused to be drawn in to the rumours.
“I heard and I read about some speculation in that respect. What I can say is so far it is only speculation,” Binotto previously told GPFans.
Binotto was already working for Ferrari before he became team principal in 2019. He said he respects the Frenchman, and would relish the opportunity to work with him again.
“Personally, I have worked with Jean Todt. He has been my boss and I think I learned a lot from him.
“It has been an honour to work with him and I would say that as well, whatever will be the case in the future, it will still be an honour for me to work together with him because I still believe that, as Mattia and as a team, there is still much to learn.”
Verstappen won 10 races in 2021 en route to his maiden championship, and he has insisted he won’t retire from Formula 1 in a similar fashion to Nico Rosberg’s exit from the sport after winning the 2016 F1 crown.