Aston Martin F1 driver Sebastian Vettel has said the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix felt “strange”, and revealed that he had suggested lapped cars be allowed through as soon as the late Safety Car was deployed.
Race director Michael Masi made a surprise call to allow only five lapped cars through towards the end of the race, giving Max Verstappen the opportunity to pass Sir Lewis Hamilton for the title.
Masi had initially declared that no lapped cars would go through, leading many to believe that Masi was more focused on the show than a fair, sporting end to the championship.
Vettel says he was quick on the radio to suggest that Masi allow all lapped cars to un-lap themselves.
“The whole thing left quite a strange impression. The field behind the Safety Car should have been sorted much earlier. I made the suggestion on the radio after the first lap,” the 34-year-old said.
Once the four-time world champion saw the reaction of the Dutch fans, he knew who would be champion.
“I had only seen that on the last lap the Dutch fans jumped up. Then I knew: Max is in front. And Lewis had no chance with his tyres.”
While opinion has been split over the way in which the championship was settled, there is a general consensus that both Hamilton and Verstappen were worthy of the championship in 2021.
Vettel shared this sentiment, saying: “Well, both deserved the title. It’s a shame for Hamilton, because he had a really strong second half of the season. Now I just congratulate both drivers.”
Vettel took a podium finish in Baku, and had one at the Hungarian Grand Prix taken away from him due to a fuel infringement.
He said he would have liked to have scored more points in his debut season with Aston Martin as opposed to winning Formula 1’s inaugural overtaking award.
“I would have preferred more championship points and, above all, I wouldn’t have lost my second place in Budapest. They say that 0.3 litres of fuel were lost in the tank.”
Vettel finished 12th in the Drivers’ Standings last season, while his Aston Martin team slumped to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship.