Title win not overshadowed by long-running Abu Dhabi inquiry

In the round-up: Max Verstappen says his 20212 world championship triumph has not been overshadowed by the ongoing controversy around the title-deciding race.

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In brief

I deserved earlier title win – Verstappen

Over seven weeks since the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, F1 is still awaiting the outcome of an FIA inquiry into the controversial manner in which the season ended. The handling of a late restart by race director Michael Masi, which appeared to be at odds with both the rules and past practice, is a focal point of the investigation.

The FIA’s findings are not expected to be made public until shortly before this year’s season-opening race. But Verstappen, who passed Lewis Hamilton to win the race and deny his rival the title on the final lap, does not believe the ongoing controversy detracts from his achievement.

“Not at all,” he told The Guardian in an interview. “I had a very good season and I think I really deserved it. I have been really unlucky as well.

“People always remember the last race but, if you look at the whole season, the championship should have been decided way earlier.”

Race director lacks same ‘tools’ for decisions that teams enjoy – Horner

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he supports the Formula 1 race director receiving “better support” in helping to make decisions on race matters as teams often have more data available than race control.

Horner told Sky Sports that new FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, had indicated that the Formula 1 race director should have more resources available to help respond to incidents on the track.

“The new president’s put a key focus on this and I think there’s a big drive to make sure that the race director has better support,” Horner said.

The data instantly available to teams means that they are often have a clearer picture about incidents that take place than Masi, was able to draw from last season, Horner explained.

“The tools that we have at our disposal are far in advance of that of Michael and his team,” he said. “So I think there’s a lot of focus on that over the winter and I think you will see that role better supported which will hopefully enable decisions to be easier and swifter. But I think we also need to look at the regulations, to simplify some of those as well.”

Palou – Better qualifying the “priority” for title defence

IndyCar champion Alex Palou says he is looking to improve his qualifying performances ahead of the upcoming season.

The Ganassi driver won last year’s IndyCar title with three victories at Barber Motorsports Park, Road America and Portland, but with only two poles in Portland and the first Texas race, compared to rival Josef Newgarden’s four pole positions.

Palou says he is looking to do a better job in qualifying sessions for the upcoming season.

“Starting more up front and getting one lap speed should be a priority for us,” Palou said. “We’ve constantly able to be around the Fast Six or top ten, which is great, but we only got two pole positions. So hopefully that’s going to improve and that’s going to make our life easier during the races.”

The 24-year-old also believes his relative inexperience on oval tracks gives him room for improvement in that particular element in the series.

“I think I’ve done maybe a bit less than ten oval races during my career between 2020 and 2021,” he said.

“I have a long way of getting more experience, knowing how to race and getting the confidence once we get to a new track or a different track. So yeah, ovals is a good part.”

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