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The ripples from the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are still making waves in the world of Formula 1, sparking not just discussions but a close look at the strategies used by rival teams. A surprising revelation comes from Christian Horner, the sharp team leader of the Red Bull Formula 1 team. Horner suggests that it wasn’t the controversial late safety car that stole Lewis Hamilton’s eighth world title but rather a strategic mistake by Mercedes.

Mercedes’ Strategic Move Unravels

As the exciting race neared its end, Lewis Hamilton found himself in a tricky situation, desperately keeping Max Verstappen at bay, armed with fresh tires after the safety car period. While the racing world focused on the late safety car controversy, Horner points a knowing finger at the decisions made within the Mercedes team. He says that it was Mercedes’ strategic move, rather than external chaos, that played the crucial role in changing the championship landscape.

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F1/Lewis Hamilton

Horner’s insights, shared during a Secrets of Success podcast episode, shine a light on Mercedes’ better speed throughout the grand prix. However, he emphasizes the change in their strategy, marked by defensiveness and caution. Despite Hamilton’s ability to keep a comfortable gap to Verstappen, the decision to keep him on worn-out tires with 43 laps behind them proved to be their weakness. The careful approach meant to secure victory became the very reason for Hamilton’s vulnerability.

After the race, Horner praised Hamilton for his calm response to the disappointment, recognizing the sportsmanship displayed even when a record-breaking eighth world championship slipped through his fingers.

End Of An Era: Mercedes And Hamilton At A Crossroads?

The aftermath of Abu Dhabi extends beyond the track, with former Formula 1 star Eddie Irvine boldly stating the end of the Mercedes and Hamilton era. Looking at the dynamics of the past two years, Irvine dissects Mercedes’ struggle to adapt to the new F1 aero age, leaving them behind Red Bull. The creative brilliance of Adrian Newey’s designs, especially the powerful RB18 (2022) and the nearly unbeatable RB19 (2023), brought Red Bull to the forefront of Formula 1.

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F1/Eddie Irvine

Mercedes, once the big name in the sport, managed only one win in the past two years, thanks to George Russell in Sao Paulo. Despite Lewis Hamilton and George Russell getting eight podiums, they fell significantly short of Red Bull’s dominance in the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship season.

Speaking candidly to Gazzetta dello Sport, Irvine acknowledges Hamilton’s enduring skill but doubts the feasibility of an eighth world title. The comparison with the younger, faster, and more confident Max Verstappen presents a tough challenge for Hamilton to reclaim the top spot.

Winds Of Change In Formula 1 Dynamics

The big changes in Formula 1 dynamics have happened since the start of the new aero age in 2022. Red Bull’s design mastery, combined with Max Verstappen’s unmatched skill, has brought in a new era. Mercedes, once the big name, struggled with technical challenges, winning only once in the last two years. The changes are clear, and the story leans towards Red Bull’s rise.

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F1/Max Verstappen

Eddie Irvine’s doubts about Hamilton’s pursuit of an eighth title bring a dose of reality into the unfolding drama. Hamilton’s great run of victories has seemingly stopped at 103 since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. While Irvine acknowledges Hamilton’s ability to win with a good car, the dream of an eighth championship appears hard against Red Bull’s dominance.

As Formula 1 races forward into unknown territory, the once-dominant force of Mercedes faces a new reality. The competition has evolved, with Red Bull and Verstappen taking the spotlight. The question hangs in the air: can Hamilton defy the odds and reclaim his throne, or is this truly the end of an era that has shaped an entire generation of motorsport enthusiasts? The stage is set for a dramatic chapter in the ongoing story of Formula 1.