F1 commentator Peter Windsor believes the red flag stoppage at the Dutch Grand Prix is what should have happened when Max Verstappen took the F1 crown from Lewis Hamilton in the infamous Abu Dhabi 2021 race.
Heavy rain at Zandvoort saw the race suspended within eight laps of the finish, with all drivers forced by governing body the FIA to restart on intermediate tyres after an extended delay.
Verstappen went on to win his home race for a third successive year, equalling Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 record of nine consecutive victories to take another step closer to a third World Championship.
Zandvoort scenario should’ve been applied at Abu Dhabi 2021
The Red Bull driver won his first title two years ago in highly controversial circumstances when the FIA race director failed to implement the Safety Car rules correctly and set up a one-lap duel between Hamilton and Verstappen.
Hamilton, who had led the race comfortably until that point, saw his reign ended after Verstappen, on significantly faster and fresher tyres, overtook him.
After a red flag delay was followed by a finish behind the Safety Car in Australia earlier this season, Windsor argued “that’s the finish we should have got in Abu Dhabi in 2021” when Hamilton was “robbed” of a record-breaking eighth title.
And following the events of the Dutch GP, the 1992 title-winning Williams team manager says Zandvoort proved there was another alternative available to the race organisers that night at Yas Marina with red flags allowing all drivers to make a free tyre change in the name of safety.
Asked by a viewer during a recent YouTube stream how evenly matched the Red Bull and Mercedes cars were in 2021, he said: “They were very, very closely matched.
“The Mercedes was usually a bit quicker in a straight line, but it was close. It was very close. I think we saw Mercedes definitely with a very competitive car in the last few races.
“I still say that race of Lewis’s at Abu Dhabi was one of the best races he ever drove and, considering the state of the Championship, it was a really impressive performance from Mercedes as well, I think, to do as well as they did.
“I was just thinking actually, to go on about it again, when the whole red flag thing came out at Zandvoort and they all stopped and then they told everybody what tyres to be on, why didn’t they do that at Abu Dhabi?
“If they’re going to stop the race, why didn’t they do that? Everybody must be on a new set of soft tyres, one-lap sprint to the finish – that would’ve been OK.
“But to allow pit stops and then have the race start when it shouldn’t have? It still sticks in the gullet, that one.
“Nothing to do with Max deserving it or not, I just think it was an insanely bad decision at the wrong time.”
Hamilton remains without a victory since the penultimate round of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia, while Verstappen has now won 36 of the last 57 races for the dominant Red Bull team.
A 10th straight triumph at this weekend’s Italian GP would see Verstappen take all all-time record for the most consecutive wins by a single driver in F1 history, with Red Bull aiming to extend their record winning streak – stretching back to the 2022 season finale in Abu Dhabi – to 15.