Lewis Hamilton was forced to fight Max Verstappen for the world championship with “one hand behind his back”, says former F1 driver Mark Webber, who believes both drivers have “scars that need healing”.
Hamilton and Verstappen fought a long and at times ferocious battle for the F1 crown which went down to the last lap of the last race, where a controversial application of safety car procedure cut Hamilton’s lead and created a shootout between the pair, which Verstappen won on fresher tyres.
The 37-year-old Hamilton only re-emerged on social media last week, amid speculation that he has been considering his future in the sport before the new season.
The Australian former Red Bull driver Webber, now a pundit and analyst for Channel 4, says they need time to come to terms with the intense rivalry.
“It’s hard, I think we need a year off,” Webber told Wide World of Sports. “They need a year off. There’s still some old scars there that need some healing
“That might be done after their careers, they can have a red wine together. But while they are racing against each other they will be big rivals, and that’s what we want in the sport.”
Race director Michael Masi is the subject of an investigation into the final grand prix of the season after such an unprecedented conclusion, and Webber says it was not the right way for the season to be decided.
“For the sport, we were all disappointed it ended like that, it’s not how we wanted it to end. Both of them deserved to lift that trophy but we didn’t want it to finish like that at all,” he said.
“We wanted a straight fight, a clean fight, and unfortunately there was one guy with his hand tied behind his back. Of course, in hindsight they would all agree we could have done something different. What happened wasn’t the ideal scenario.”