Verstappen/Hamilton scars still ‘need some healing’ after 2021 drama

Mark Webber won nine races with Red Bull, and himself missed out on the championship in the final round of the 2010 season in Abu Dhabi.

Former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber reckons that Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen could do with some time to lick their wounds after a titanic title battle last season that took its toll on Mercedes and Red Bull.

The pair became embroiled in a title fight for the ages last year as they battled race by race for supremacy, and with each grand prix the pressure and tensions mounted, culminating in several nasty collisions between the pair.

Notable incidents took place in Silverstone, Monza, Sao Paulo and Saudi Arabia, before 2021 would provide one more dose of inconceivable controversy at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton had been comfortably leading the race heading into the closing stages when Williams’ Nicholas Latifi collided with the barrier, bringing out the Safety Car.

Verstappen thus pitted, leaving five lapped cars between himself and the Briton after Mercedes opted to keep their driver on track owing to time constraints potentially costing them the title were they to lose track position.

Masi would then allow only those five to get their lap back, leaving the rest in position, resulting in a final lap overtake from Verstappen to claim his maiden world championship at the expense of the 37-year-old.

This followed numerous moments of incrementally obvious friction between the protagonists, with Verstappen accusing his rival of disrespect for his victory celebrations in the aftermath of the British Grand Prix after the first lap collision between the pair that landed the 24-year-old in hospital.

The Dutchman would then end up on top of Hamilton’s car in Monza, before the Red Bull driver pushed the Briton off the track in Brazil, swiftly preceding the infamous braking incident in Jeddah.

Verstappen himself has already suggested that traversing such an arduous season again this year would not be “healthy” for anyone at either team, and Webber suggests that both championship protagonists from last year need some time to regroup.

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“It’s hard, I think we need a year off. They need a year off,” he told Nine Wide World of Sports.

“There’s still some old scars there that need some healing.

“That might be done after their careers, they can have a red wine together. But while they are racing against each other they will be big rivals, and that’s what we want in the sport.”

Regarding the chaos at the end of the season in December, the Australian laments the way the title was settled.

“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 didn’t 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.”

Following doubt over Hamilton’s future, the Briton now looks set to return to the grid in 2022 following his lengthy absence from social media, and is set to be joined by George Russell who has replaced the departing Valtteri Bottas.

Verstappen will continue to partner Sergio Perez after the Mexican’s satisfactory debut year with the Milton Keyes side in 2021.