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Horner let down by Italian GP safety car finish

Max Verstappen took his fifth consecutive Formula 1 win at Monza but Red Bull boss Christian Horner wasn't happy with the way the final laps played out.

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Christian Horner said he was disappointed that the 2022 Italian Grand Prix finished behind the safety car, despite the situation giving his driver Max Verstappen his eleventh win of the 2022 season.

After Daniel Ricciardo pulled up on Lap 45 at Monza, the top four all pitted for soft tyres and it looked like there’d be a showdown to finish the race, but instead Ricciardo‘s stricken McLaren couldn’t be recovered in time and the race finished as a procession.

“Personally I was disappointed, no one wants to see a race finish under the safety car like that,” Horner told the press after the race.

“We felt there was enough time to get the race going again, for what was a reasonably trivial incident – a car wasn’t in the barrier or anything like that.

“Despite there being a risk with it all being bunched back up, we’d have preferred to win the race under racing conditions rather than under a safety car.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after winning the 2022 Italian Grand Prix | REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

“You could hear the displeasure of the crowd at the end there cause it just felt everybody had been robbed of that finish.”

Verstappen was greeted by boos when he took the top step of the podium at Monza after home favourite Charles Leclerc had to settle for second place.

Verstappen had the upper hand over Leclerc across the race but there was still optimism in the stands that the Ferrari driver could challenge for the win over the last couple of laps.

“I think that one could’ve been sorted out,” Horner added. “It was just about the one car, the safety car didn’t collect the leader and then, I think you could’ve at least got one racing lap in there, probably two.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after the start of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix | REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Learning curve from Abu Dhabi

The situation instantly drew comparisons to the 2021 title showdown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali picked as his most satisfying moment in his current role.

There, race director Michael Masi went against the regulations in order to construct a last-lap racing battle between title challengers Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Despite Hamilton controlling most of the race, Verstappen had much quicker tyres and blew past the Brit to win his maiden championship, and the fallout eventually cost Masi his job.

Horner dodged a direct comparison between the two situations but did address how the decision-making is still changing, ten months on.

“I think it’s all a process and there’s been a huge amount of change,” Horner added.

“There’s obviously lessons that are being learned and you could hear the displeasure of the crowd.

“So they’re sitting down tomorrow, all the team managers, the president’s getting involved in that as well to talk about certain aspects and I’m sure this will now be near the top of the agenda.”

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