Verstappen felt for Hamilton over nature of F1 title loss

Max Verstappen has admitted that he did feel some sympathy for Lewis Hamilton about the way the Formula 1 world championship was decided at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton had looked on course to grab the win that he needed for an eighth title, before a late safety car was brought out following a crash for Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.

A decision by F1 race director Michael Masi to restart the race with one lap to go gave Verstappen, who had pitted for soft tyres, the opportunity he needed to surge to the front and clinch the crown.

While delighted about the good fortune that helped him win his maiden championship, Verstappen acknowledged that the circumstances were not easy for his rival.

“There was one side that was incredibly happy, and one side that was disappointed,” he said on Monday during a chat with selected media to reflect on his world title success.

“Of course, I felt for Lewis. He did everything right, throughout the whole race. But, you know, F1 can be very unpredictable.

“And, of course, it can go either way. It could have been the other way around as well, where I would be controlling the race and then I would lose it on the last lap. That's, unfortunately, also part of racing.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

While Red Bull team boss Christian Horner suggested that the ‘racing gods’ had looked after his squad in bringing out the late safety car, Verstappen was clear that the win was not just handed to him on a plate.

Reflecting on the stage of the race before the safety car came out, where it appeared that Hamilton had things under control, Verstappen said key for him was in not giving up.

“Of course I saw that I was not catching enough,” he said. “So I told myself to just keep pushing until the end, because I'm not gonna give up. And that's what we did.

“The safety car came out of course. We needed a miracle and it did happen, but you still need to then capitalise on that. You need to go for the overtake. That's what we did. And yeah, it was a dramatic end for sure.”

While a disappointed Hamilton has not spoken in public since a short television interview immediately after the race, Verstappen has no doubts his rival will come back as a strong force in 2022.

“Lewis is a great sportsman,” added Verstappen. “Like I said before, it’s racing and we all have to deal with it: if it’s positive or negative. But he will come back again very strong, because he’s an amazing driver.”

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