Christian Horner has revealed that even in his worst moment of F1, Lewis Hamilton had the grace to shake the Red Bull boss’ hand.
When Hamilton finally hangs up his helmet, the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will undoubtedly be the worst moment of his career as an error by the race director saw him miss out on an eighth world title.
But even in that despair, Hamilton kept his composure and Horner revealed the Mercedes man congratulated him on the team’s success.
Christian Horner reveals Lewis Hamilton Abu Dhabi 2021 moment
While pretty much everyone around him lashed out, Hamilton cut a calm figure after the race and was seen congratulating winner Max Verstappen before hugging his dad Anthony.
But Verstappen was not the only Red Bull staff member who received a congratulations from Hamilton with team boss Horner revealing a moment away from the cameras in the cooldown room.
“I felt the way that Lewis handled that disappointment after the race, hats off to him,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“Because he would have been even more disappointed. Record-breaking World Championship has just disappeared but he handled himself with dignity and respect.
“I shook his hand in the driver’s room after the race and he had the good grace to say well done.”
While the events were caused by the race director’s decision, Horner also suggested Mercedes left Hamilton vulnerable with a “very defensive” approach.
“A lot is made about the final lap,” Horner recalled. “But Mercedes went into that race and they were quicker than us.
“In the grand prix, Lewis was able to manage the gap to Max pretty comfortably but then they went very defensive, they went very conservative.
“They left Lewis out on a set of tyres that were 43 laps old so he was only ever a Safety Car [from being] hugely exposed.
“I think in being defensive, they exposed themselves to the situation that unfolded.”
Reflecting on the whole season, Horner described it as “a heavyweight bout from the first race in Bahrain to the last race in Abu Dhabi.”
“Two drivers and two teams that raised themselves to probably levels that they didn’t know that they had,” Horner said.
“And for us to go into that final race, tied on points with Mercedes, with Lewis, was a huge achievement.
“I got the whole team together before the race and spoke to them and said ‘guys, whatever happens today, we’ve had an incredible journey to get to where we are today and what will happen today will, will happen but the most important thing is to go out there, that we give our best and we enjoy it.
“‘It’s not just about today, it’s everything that you’ve done in the 21 races preceding that’s put us in this position.
“‘So let’s go out there, give it everything and let’s enjoy it and what will be will be at the end of it, but let’s not come out of this race thinking we haven’t given our best, that we looked back and we said what if we gave it everything?'”