Former Mercedes man Norbert Haug says Mercedes need to “shut up” about the season finale but concedes that is “not always easy”.
Mercedes were furious with FIA race director Michael Masi after the Australia gave the go-ahead for some drivers, only the five between race leader Lewis Hamilton and P2’s Max Verstappen, to unlap themselves to set up a final lap battle for the Abu Dhabi race win and the Drivers’ title.
Strangely Masi did not give the all-clear for all eight lapped cars to pass meaning third placed Carlos Sainz was left with two lapped cars between himself and Verstappen and could not attack for second place.
Masi’s decision meant Verstappen was right behind Hamilton heading into the final lap and, running newer tyres, easily overtook the Brit to take the win, both in the grand prix and in the Drivers’ standings.
Mercedes protested but that was dismissed with the team then stating their intention to appeal.
Haug, the former vice president of Mercedes-Benz motorsport activity, says they should let it go.
“You can only say shit happens,” Speedweek.com quotes him as having told ServusTV.
“I understand that sometimes you freak out. I don’t know what it would be like if it had gone the other way
“A word on it afterwards, the motorsport fan doesn’t want to see that. It’s about having the size to shut up. It was not always easy for me either.”
He does, however, understand why Mercedes were so angry with the result.
“It is clear that it comes out of the emotions,” he said.
“Everyone knew that when the Safety Car came it would be difficult. No matter what you do, it becomes problematic. Then of course the anger comes out.”
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He added: “You don’t do anything wrong and still lose. But one cannot forget that it was a hammer premium season.”
Should Mercedes press ahead with their appeal, they have until Thursday to submit the paperwork, Haug reckons they could be fighting a losing battle.
“As a rule, these not won very often,” he said. “I don’t even want to describe it from Mercedes glasses.
“Motorsport trains you in such a way that you have to accept such defeats.
“I know the feeling of losing the World title by one point with two drivers. This pain comes up five days later.”
But while Mercedes are feeling robbed, Verstappen is celebrating his first F1 World Championship title.
Haug remembered seeing Verstappen’s performance in a rainy Thursday practice at the Monaco Grand Prix back in 2015, his debut season with Toro Rosso.
He finished an impressive P7, Haug saying he knew then that the driver was “really special”.
“I saw Verstappen years ago in Monaco and saw that his tyres immediately got temperature on a wet track,” he recalled.
“There is something very special about it, it was the same with Kimi Raikkonen. With Kimi, the lap times were always green in such a phase – there was always an increase.
“Max is really special!”