Max Verstappen admitted that he felt sympathy for Lewis Hamilton because of the way the title was decided for the 2021 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton started the race on the Yas Marina Bay track equal in points, but the Dutchman had the advantage due to one more victory in the final season.
On the other hand, the seven-time world champion had to finish ahead of the Dutchman in order to be the one to reach the eighth, and the Red Bull driver the first title in his career. Hamilton started the race well because he overtook his rival right at the start, but everything went well for him when Verstappen attacked him.
The Briton went off the track and cut a bend, so a return to position was expected. Referees said they would not put it under investigation, so the Mercedes driver had a clear advantage. Towards the end of the race (lap 54) there was a hit from the Williams Latifi barrier, and soon SC came out on the track.
Verstappen used this period to go boxing and put on soft tires to be faster than his rival on the restart, who was on a worn out set of hard tires (over 40 laps) which allowed him to quickly overtake and reach the title.
"There was one side that was incredibly happy and one was disappointed," said the new world champion. "Of course I sympathized with Lewis. He did everything right throughout the race. But you know, Formula 1 can be very unpredictable, "he added.
"Of course, it could happen in any way. It could have been the other way around, where I would have controlled the race and lost in the last lap. Unfortunately, it is also part of the race, "he explained.
Reflecting on the race phase before the safety car came out, where Hamilton seemed to have things in his hands, Verstappen felt the need to stay behind him and that was the key to success.
"Of course I saw that I wasn't catching him enough, so I told myself to just keep pushing until the end, because I won't give up. That's what I did, "he continued. "Of course, the safety car came out, we needed a miracle and it happened, but you still need to use it.
You have to go overtaking. Yes, it was certainly a dramatic ending. " Although Hamilton has not addressed the public since a brief television interview immediately after the race, Verstappen has no doubt that his rival will return strong in 2022.
"Lewis is a great athlete. As I said before, it’s racing and we all have to deal with it - whether it’s positive or negative. But he will come back very strong again, because he is an amazing driver, "concluded Max Verstappen.