Montoya: Abu Dhabi GP drama will bring new fans to F1

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Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya believes the dramatic showdown between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi earlier this month will bring new fans into the sport.

The gripping title decider at Yas Marina and Verstappen's win delivered a massive amount of global interest and record F1 audiences in many countries.

The controversy surrounding the event, marked by a safety period and a restart that turned the race on its head and allowed Verstappen to pip Hamilton to the title, ensured the race's wide exposure which ultimately will have benefitted Formula 1.

"I think they tried to give the fans a really good show at the end of the race, and the people that don't follow the sport every week got to see an amazing race and a great finish," Montoya told

"You're going to get new fans out of it. At the end of the day, [that] is the big picture and people are going to pay more attention to F1 - that is really important."

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B battle for the lead at the start of the race. 12.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina

However, Montoya admitted that the decisions taken by FIA race director Michael Masi in the final minutes of the race left F1 itself with more questions than answers.

"If you're involved in F1, or you're a Formula 1 driver, you have a lot of questions," said the former Williams and McLaren driver.

"You see a lot of drivers and everybody's like, 'Why? What happened here? Why are you only waving the people between the two guys? Why are we not all getting the right position'?

"So they compromised [it] just to put a good show at the end of the race and, honestly, they shouldn't do that. But they did and Red Bull took full advantage of it, and they did an amazing job."

Looking ahead to 2022 and to F1's new regulation platform that has been devised to allow drivers to follow each other more closely and to boost overtaking opportunities, Montoya says that if the new rules reach their intended objectives, then F1 fans are in for an "amazing" season.

"I think with the new cars and new wheels, the cars are going to look amazing, and everybody's expecting the cars to race a lot better," said the seven-time Grand Prix winner.

"It's gonna be an amazing championship. I think if the cars are closer, and the field is closer with the new rules, it is going to be an exciting year. I'm really looking forward to it.

"I think this year brought a lot of new fans, a lot of attention."

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