Guenther Steiner explains his true feelings about the controversial end to the 2021 Formula 1 title race in a new book which hits the shelves later this week.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix infamously resulted in Max Verstappen becoming world champion for the first time.
He did so by overtaking rival Lewis Hamilton the very last lap of the race, following race director Michael Masi’s decision to end a late safety car period early.
It remains a sore spot for Mercedes and Hamilton, despite the FIA’s admission that “human error” had played a part in their defeat that day.
The Brit is still regularly referred to as an “eight-time champion” including at some public events and by his most ardent fans on social media, even though the official history books say different.
Steiner had no horse in that particular race. His Haas team endured a dismal 2021 season in which they failed to collect even a single point, having made the decision to simply re-use their car from the previous campaign and focus their development efforts on their 2022 machine.
That doesn’t mean Steiner does not have an opinion on what unfolded that fateful night in Abu Dhabi. And he has given it in his new book, Surviving To Drive, which provides a detailed account of how the 2022 season went for his team.
But the book, seen by Mirror Sport, begins with the aftermath of the previous campaign. Writing that particular section from his family home in northern Italy, a week before Christmas and just a few days after that infamous race, Steiner explained his feelings.
“If I had a dollar from every person who has asked for my opinion on what happened between Lewis and Max in Abu Dhabi over the past six days, I’d be able to poach Adrian Newey!” he jokes. “Not that I would. He’s far too exciting for me.
“After the race I had a few days visiting my mother and every person I saw in the town wanted to know what I thought.
‘Why are you asking me?’ I said. ‘I was too busy concentrating on a Russian who didn’t finish the race and a German who was in fourteenth position’.
“What do I think, then? Well, it was certainly very confusing. I remember sitting on the pit wall listening to the orders from the race director and thinking, ‘What the hell is happening here?’
“At the time it didn’t stack up to me, but at the same time I didn’t know all the facts. It was very entertaining, though. Poor Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team principal] almost had a f***ing heart attack!
“Look, at the end of the day, both teams have won a world championship and good for them. Red Bull won the drivers’ and Mercedes the constructors’. I’d take either of those. Mercedes didn’t protest, so off we go. We move on.”