“Since Senna / Prost I don’t remember that it was so toxic between two drivers and teams”: This is how McLaren CEO Zak Brown described the Formula 1 title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton from an observer’s perspective and was with it Assessment not alone.
Numerous other experts also felt reminded of the legendary duel between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost during the intense rivalry. The latter has been the Renault ambassador for many years and followed the 2021 season closely.
When asked whether it was the best Formula 1 season in history, the four-time world champion said: “If you look at the bigger picture, I think yes. And by that I mean the show, the sport, the human Seite, the popularity of Formula 1 and the fact that young people are starting to see Formula 1. Then yes, that was for sure the best season ever. ”
Title fight like 2021 blows everything that has been there before
It culminated in a season finale that not only featured a new world champion in Verstappen, but also a lot of controversy – a novelty even for an experienced driver and expert like Prost. He has never seen anything like it.
“No! People keep asking me what we’ve been through in the past. You could make all kinds of predictions this year, but it was impossible to predict that it would turn out that way. That’s why it’s good for the show.”
But that does not mean that Prost approves of everything that has happened: “The decision regarding the safety car rule may not have been the right one. In my opinion, it was too harsh. It is very difficult to hear exactly and to know what they said to the teams. But it’s definitely a bit strange. ”
Prost wonders about the safety car phase
The ex-Formula 1 driver means the fact that during the safety car phase in the final phase of the race not all drivers lapped were allowed to lap back and the safety car was brought in one lap too early according to the regulations.
“Normally in a situation like this you would have had to wait until all the cars had overtaken, so we almost had to end the race behind the safety car. But I don’t want to be 100 percent judged,” says Prost. “In any case, I can understand the frustration from Mercedes’ point of view very well.”
The team had lodged two protests after Hamilton’s defeat and announced an appeal after they had failed. Ultimately, the appeal was waived.
F1 expert: “Both would have deserved the world championship title”
Prost acknowledges that Mercedes was “dominant” and “faster” with Hamilton in Abu Dhabi than Red Bull with Verstappen. “There is no doubt about that. So I can understand your point of view,” said the Frenchman. “On the other hand: Sometimes you need a bit of luck. I think Max wasn’t very lucky this year and now he finally had luck on his side.”
“And then it’s still like in real life: if you have an opportunity, you have to take it.” Verstappen undoubtedly did that. “Both deserve to be world champions and both put on an incredible show. At the end of the day, it’s good for Formula 1 and good for Max.”
Alain Prost in conversation with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner
Photo: Motorsport Images
“It’s a bit sad for Lewis, of course,” says Prost. “This season you can’t decide between Max and Lewis. They are equal. You can say something about everything, for example about (the collision; d. R.) Silverstone, but at the end of the day they both have the world championship deserved.”
Prost sees Verstappen as a driver more mature and stronger
It is a bit of a shame that there was this controversy in the end. “Without them Lewis would have become world champion, because he was dominant in Abu Dhabi, but both deserve it,” said the Renault brand ambassador. Of course, that doesn’t diminish the success of the new Formula 1 world champion Verstappen.
“He had a perfect season. I remember him when he started in Formula 1 and we said a lot: ‘He has the speed, he has everything, but he may do a little too much and that’s why mistakes happen.’ “, Prost remembers the beginnings.
“But that’s normal when you’re still very young. Now he’s getting better and better, and in 2021 he didn’t make many mistakes. Maybe one of them in qualifying in Jeddah, but then he pushed so hard and that can happen.” At that time, Verstappen was on pole course, but crashed on the last flying lap.
In the future, Prost is certain, one can expect a lot more from the Red Bull driver: “When you have a title in your pocket, you drive differently and think differently. As soon as you have won it, the pressure increases He’ll know even better when to push and when to take less risks, and he’ll be an even better driver in the end. “
With images from Motorsport Images.