Of all his title wins, Adrian Newey says Max Verstappen’s triumph was the one that had him closest to “going unconscious”.
Red Bull’s chief technology officer has designed 10 Constructors’ Championship-winning cars in the past, and now a seventh different person has won a Drivers’ title in his cars after Verstappen dramatically took victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The race and championship looked as though it had got away from the Dutchman after Lewis Hamilton streaked clear for the majority of the race, but the Red Bull driver stopped for soft tyres and was able to pass his rival on the one-lap dash to the line.
Team principal Christian Horner admitted with 10 laps remaining Verstappen needed a “miracle” to win, and Newey admitted his team got the rub of the green when the Safety Car was deployed – but thinks the right man won in the end.
“You have so many emotions in a race like that,” Newey told Sky Sports F1 after the race. “Obviously in the laps before the Safety Car, it looked as if it all was slipping away from us.
Amidst all the controversy, let's just take a moment to appreciate these two incredible drivers, both of whom fully deserve to win this year's title and have been brilliant on and off-track today.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) December 12, 2021
“Inevitably, you start thinking about the year and what we could have done, some unlucky moments, Copse [at Silverstone] in particular which personally still really grinds with me, what happened there.
“And then the Safety Car happened and obviously we got lucky in that sense. There’s no two ways about it, without the Safety Car…
“But if I reflect, and of course I’m biased I know, but I think Max thoroughly deserved it on balance.”
When asked about how this title triumph ranks among his previous ones, Newey smiled and quipped: “It’s the one where I’ve come closest to probably having a heart attack and going unconscious afterwards…
“I’ve had other ones that have gone down to the last race, of course, but never to the last lap and it was amazing, absolutely amazing.”
Newey added he believes his team had the faster car for most of the season and admitted the change in regulations had played into their hands in the first part of the season before Mercedes were able to close the gap as the year progressed.
“We all voted for the regulation changes,” said the former Williams and McLaren technical boss. “Did it suit us more than Mercedes? It seems so, certainly earlier in the year, then in the last few races they came back very strong.
“But I think on balance we’ve probably had the quicker car, and that’s a tribute to everyone back at the factory.
“We are all in the limelight here but what the guys have done back at the factory – my colleagues, engineers, everyone in the whole place – the support we feel when we are out here and that they give us, it’s amazing.”