Mercedes had a rather heartbreaking end to the 2021 F1 season, as they helplessly watched Lewis Hamilton lose his drivers’ title to Max Verstappen barely a lap away from the chequered flag. But, weeks after the championship defeat, former F1 CEO, Bernie Ecclestone, is not ready to accept the fact that Mercedes were actually helpless.
The British businessman reckoned that Mercedes had lost a trick that could have easily fetched Hamilton his record-eighth title. And the plan involved the other Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas.
With Sergio Perez out of the race, Mercedes had already won the constructor’s championship. Hence, Bottas was almost of no use to the Brackley outfit at the Abu Dhabi GP. But, could Mercedes have made better use of the Finn? Definitely.
Ecclestone opined that Mercedes could have used Bottas to keep the safety car out on the final lap after the string of controversial decisions from the stewards. Ecclestone reckoned that Mercedes could have demanded Bottas to park his car on the track which consequently would have forced the safety car out on the track.
Of course, Ecclestone acknowledged the potential backlash from Red Bull and other rival teams, but he felt that the fans would have missed out on the unpredictable ‘current finale’.
“Pretty clever. I thought of that too, and there would have been some ideal places for the safety car to stay outside. Many would have been upset, but nobody would have had the current finale in the back of their minds without restarting the race,” Ecclestone said.
Mercedes needed support from a driver like Perez to win Hamilton the championship in Abu Dhabi, but, what they had was Bottas, who, unlike in any other race weekend, was struggling to put on a strong show. In the end, he was en route to claim the final podium spot, and all he needed was to overtake Carlos Sainz.