Martin Brundle has said the crowd’s booing of Max Verstappen after his comfortable Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victory made him “very sad”.
Verstappen completed a hat-trick of wins at Yas Marina, all from pole position, with his 2020 and 2022 triumphs achieved by 15 and eight seconds respectively after being in control throughout.
But it was the Red Bull driver’s 2021 success that probably contributed to the adverse reaction from the spectators in Abu Dhabi, when he snatched the World Championship from Lewis Hamilton on the final lap aided by contentious decision-making from race director Michael Masi.
In addition, the Dutchman may have received a backlash from the controversies Red Bull found themselves in at the previous three races in the United States, Mexico and Brazil – their cost-cap breach, boycott of Sky TV interviews and the Verstappen/Sergio Perez team orders row respectively.
A similar reaction has happened to Verstappen and Hamilton at other venues this year, but it was the double World Champion for whom the boos rang out when he was called forward for his parc ferme interview with Jenson Button at Yas Marina.
“I was very sad to hear some boos for Max at the end,” wrote Brundle in his post-race column for Sky Sports.
“We have experienced that before for the likes of [Michael] Schumacher, [Sebastian] Vettel, Nico Rosberg and others over the decades for various reasons when fans get a strong feeling about something which has or indeed hasn’t happened.
“Red Bull and Team Verstappen could perhaps have played smarter hands in Mexico and Brazil and over the cost cap, but nothing can take away from their utterly dominant performance this season.”
Talking of Schumacher, the Sky F1 broadcaster – team-mate of the seven-time former World Champion at Benetton in 1992 – said the style of Verstappen’s record 15th win of the season had reminded him of the German.
“In commentary, I described Max Verstappen’s drive as ‘Michael Schumacher-esque’ because it seemed however slow he was driving his car to preserve tyres, he was still pulling away from the field,” said the 63-year-old nine-time F1 podium finisher.
“It was a season dominated by Verstappen and Red Bull. Points-wise, Max finished the equivalent of well over five GP victories ahead of Leclerc in second place, and Red Bull well over four victories ahead of Ferrari.
“A tale of numerous pole positions and victories along with clever strategies, fast pit-stops and strong reliability. Congratulations to them all at the track and in the factories, it was immense.
“Max in particular is at a level which will take some serious beating in the next few seasons.”