Max Verstappen says he definitely believes reports that Lewis Hamilton wanted Mercedes to withdraw its protest because he believes his rival in the title fight is a great athlete. Hamilton lost the world title to Verstappen in controversial circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the last race of the season in which the title was decided: whoever wins, wins the championship.
The Briton was the one until the 57th lap. The turnaround came after the release of a safety car caused by Nicholas Latifi. During this period, the Dutchman put on fresh soft tires to immediately attack the Briton and come away with the win.
Although in the first moments Verstappen could not get to the position he had before going to the pits because the race management did not allow it, that soon changed. The Red Bull driver along with several cars occupies the existing positions, which enabled the Dutchman to overtake Hamilton and reach the title.
Mercedes filed protests after the race, but f1maximaal.nl claims that "sources from the world of racing in Britain" told them that Hamilton "asked Wolff to withdraw the protests against Verstappen and Red Bull"
Verstappen on Hamilton
The FIA soon rejected all protests in Abu Dhabi, but Mercedes announced that they were considering an appeal against the rejection due to their protests. Verstappen believes that Hamilton did not want to protest against him after winning the title because he thinks it is easier for a Mercedes driver to already have seven titles, but that for him it would be a little different.
"Yes, I am definitely thinking the same way. Of course it helps that you already have seven titles, I think that comforts him a bit. I think if it would be the other way around for me, it would be much more painful because I didn't have it, "explains Verstappen.
Despite all the tensions that existed during the season, Verstappen praised his rival, for whom he had only words of praise and about whom he did not want to say anything bad. “But overall, Lewis is a great athlete.
He approached me and congratulated me. It must have been very difficult in that last round, but it also shows the respect we have for each other, "he added. “Of course we had hard times throughout the season, but in the end we respect what we did and we pushed each other to the extremes of the whole season. Therefore, it was really pleasant to race against him, "Verstappen told Sky Sports.