Mark Webber believes last year’s Formula One title fight has left both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton with ‘scars that need healing’ ahead of the upcoming season
- Max Verstappen won maiden F1 world title in controversial circumstances
- Lewis Hamilton was pipped on the final lap of the final round in Abu Dhabi
- Race director Michael Masi has been criticised for his handling of race
- Masi has been accused of giving into pressure from Red Bull at Abu Dhabi GP
Mark Webber believes Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen could both benefit from a year out of F1 after a bruising season left both drivers with ‘scars that need healing’.
Mercedes and Red Bull went toe-to-toe in one of the most memorable F1 seasons in recent history, which culminated in a thrilling and controversial finale at Abu Dhabi in November with Verstappen clinching his maiden world title.
‘It’s hard, I think we need a year off,’ Australia’s Nine Wide World of Sports. ‘They need a year off.
Max Verstappen won his first world title in controversial circumstances in November
‘There’s still some old scars there that need some healing
‘That might be done after their careers, they can have a red wine together. But while they are racing against each other they will be big rivals, and that’s what we want in the sport.’
The final race of the season in Abu Dhabi has gone down in the sport’s folklore for a controversial ending, which continues to remain a hot topic of debate four months on.
Mark Webber said Hamilton was ‘fighting against an outside force’ at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Hamilton looked set to win the race and claim an unprecedented eighth world title, until the safety car was deployed after Nicolas Latifi hit the wall with five laps left.
Race director Michael Masi subsequently decided to allow the cars standing between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves from behind the safety car ahead of the final lap, effectively turning it into a title shootout.
Verstappen made his fresher tyres count by overtaking Hamilton with a few corners to go to seal his first world championship crown.
Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi to win his first F1 title
The Dutchman became the fourth-youngest driver in history to win an F1 world championship
Masi has since been accused of giving into pressure applied by Red Bull chief Christian Horner and sporting director Jonathan Wheatley, resulting in his decision not to follow the FIA rules and allow lapped cars to pass on the final lap.
Earlier this week, video footage of a conversation between Masi and Wheatley emerged and appeared to provide further evidence of the race director reacting to Red Bull’s demands.
Webber admitted the ending of the season finale may have delivered incredible entertainment, but was far from the perfect scenario from a sporting standpoint.
The FIA are conducting an inquiry into the events of the race with Masi’s position at risk
‘For the sport, we were all disappointed it ended like that, it’s not how we wanted it to end. Both of them deserved to lift that trophy but we didn’t want it to finish like that at all,
‘We wanted a straight fight, a clean fight, and unfortunately there was one guy with his hand tied behind his back.
‘Of course, in hindsight they would all agree we could have done something different. What happened wasn’t the ideal scenario.’