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Montoya expects F1 to gain new fans after dramatic Abu Dhabi finale

Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya believes the drama of the Abu Dhabi showdown will bring in plenty of new fans to Formula 1.

Juan Pablo Montoya says the drama of 2021's season finale showdown between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will bring in plenty of new fans to Formula 1, although the Indy 500 winner questioned the fairness of some of the decision-making. With the Safety Car withdrawing at the end of the penultimate lap, the decision from FIA Race Director Michael Masi to clear the lapped cars out of the way of Verstappen and line the two leaders up for the final lap resulted in massive controversy. "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 - you're going to get new fans out of it," Montoya told Motorsport.tv . "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."

New fans vs the drivers

But Montoya said the way the decisions were made would cause concerns for those participating in the sport. "If you're involved in F1, or you're a Formula 1 driver, you have a lot of questions," he added. "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

Montoya was then asked for his thoughts on the 2022 rules changes, which will see the cars remain almost as fast as the 2021 versions but with a change of design to allow for closer racing. A switch from an aero-dependent philosophy to that similar to ground-effect will mean less turbulent air, with F1 also introducing bigger wheels and tyres. "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," Montoya commented. "[If that happens], 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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