Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey says there is no way to avoid the fact that his team got lucky in its hunt for the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship in Abu Dhabi.
Max Verstappen won the title, beating rival Lewis Hamilton after successfully completing a last-lap overtake on the Mercedes driver.
Verstappen was put in a position to make the overtake due to a late Safety Car, which was deployed following a crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.
It marked Red Bull’s first title since 2013, and the first time in the turbo-hybrid era that Mercedes has been defeated in a championship fight.
Prior to the Safety Car intervention, Hamilton looked to be in control of the race and on course for a record-breaking eighth title.
“In the laps before the Safety Car, it looked like it was slipping away from us,” Newey told Sky F1.
“Inevitably you start thinking about the year and what we could have done, some unlucky moments, Copse in particular which personally still really grinds with me what happened there and then the Safety Car happened.
“We’ve got lucky in that sense, there are no two ways about it, without the Safety Car [we wouldn’t have won] but if I reflect and of course I am biased, I know, I think that Max thoroughly deserved it, on balance.”
Newey is no stranger to championship success and is one of the most successful car designers in F1’s history.
However, the Briton admits that Verstappen’s run to the title is the one that has stressed him out the most due to the close nature of the fight.
“It’s the one where I’ve probably come closer to having a heart attack and going unconscious afterwards,” he said.
“I’ve had other ones that have gone to the last race but never the last lap. It was amazing, absolutely amazing. He’s [Verstappen] got such talent, such drive, he’s still so young.
“He’s on a steep learning curve still, he’s just amazing, and the best thing about him is that’s he’s just so easy to work with. There are no pretences, he just comes in, gets on with it.”