Former FIA president Jean Todt revealed that both Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner got in touch after the controversial Abu Dhabi 2021 ending.
That infamous race was the one which brought the curtain down on an epic battle between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen over the 2021 World Championship, that visit to Yas Marina Circuit ultimately going in Verstappen’s favour to crown him World Champion for the first time.
It was the interpretation of the rules behind the Safety Car and the race restart which caused fury in the Mercedes camp, ultimately leading to Michael Masi’s exit from the race director role.
For Todt then, this final race during his tenure as FIA president was perhaps one of the most barmy that he had ever witnessed.
And the Frenchman has revealed that Wolff and Horner went beyond Race Control with their interventions, also getting in touch with him too, though he made it clear that he was not in a position to get involved.
Asked by Corriere della Sera if in hindsight he would have handled that Abu Dhabi situation differently, Todt replied: “I didn’t do anything.
“It’s not the role of the president of the FIA. Referees must be autonomous, have you ever heard [FIFA president Gianni] Infantino say, ‘here there was a penalty, but not here?’
“In the documentary [Jean Todt, la méthode] it can be seen that I am watching that race in the country house together with the crew. They call me, Horner and Wolff, and I answer to them, ‘I can’t interfere, it’s the responsibility of the marshals and the race director’.”
Abu Dhabi 2021 proved to be something of a foreshadowing of what was to come in Formula 1, with Verstappen going on to add a second World title to his CV in 2022 in dominating fashion.
And the signs from the opening three rounds of F1 2023 suggest that a drastic change of fortunes will be needed to stop him becoming a three-time champ in an even more comfortable manner, Red Bull having started out as an unstoppable force with Verstappen winning two of the opening three races.
Hamilton meanwhile has not had another sniff of that record eighth World title since Abu Dhabi 2021, as Mercedes fight to rediscover their championship-winning form.