F1 witnessed a titanic battle between Red Bull and Mercedes this year as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton went head-to-head for the drivers’ championship.
The drivers entered the final race tied on points, and the title was settled on the last lap of the season following a controversial restart after Verstappen overtook Hamilton to clinch the title.
It was a year filled with drama both on- and off-track. Hamilton and Verstappen were involved in accidents together at both Silverstone and Monza, and had other run-ins in Brazil and Saudi Arabia when they battled wheel-to-wheel.
F1 enjoyed a strong year in terms of viewership and welcomed fans back in large numbers for the majority of races, including the United States Grand Prix, where 400,000 spectators attended the Circuit of The Americas over three days.
It marked a booming first year for F1 under the stewardship of Stefano Domenicali, who took over as CEO and president of the series from Chase Carey over the winter break.
Horner joked that he thought Domenicali “needs to buy Red Bull an enormous Christmas hamper for the excitement, for the racing, and for the drama that he’s had in charge” this year.
“I think it was 47 years ago that this championship last went to a race where drivers were tied on points,” Horner said.
“I don’t think even a Hollywood script writer could have come up with the ins and outs of this year. And Formula 1’s popularity as we’ve seen has gone through the roof.
“He’s probably got the biggest sporting event in the world this year as the finale.
“And the amount of new fans that we’ve welcomed into the sport has been astounding, phenomenal.”
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, arm wrestle over the trophy on the grid
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
Ferrari F1 boss Mattia Binotto was full of praise for the work that Domenicali – a former colleague at Ferrari – and F1’s owner, Liberty Media, have done to expand the series’ reach.
“He’s doing very well,” Binotto said.
“I think that as well Liberty Media is doing very well. Since Liberty Media started, they have improved a lot the show and the way that we are presenting the show to the fans, not only in terms of broadcasting but social media and all of that.
“Certainly we have stepped up the level of communication and the way we are engaging with the fans.
“I think that Stefano simply after a year is doing very well. It’s not easy for him after Chase to keep the level, because Chase has done a fantastic job.
“But I know Stefano and I’m pretty sure even in the future he will continue doing very, very well.”