Like he did throughout the season, Max Verstappen was pushing his Red Bull Racing car to its limits. But try as you might, there was no one to catch the race leader and his rival Lewis Hamilton in the winner-take-all Formula 1 final in Abu Dhabi.
With six laps to go, Hamilton took an 11-second lead – an eternity in Formula 1 terms – and seemed destined to claim his record eighth world title, with Mercedes heading towards the line. , which he skillfully played in the closing part of the season. Erase Verstappen’s early lead.
As the laps in the cockpit of his car rolled down what would have been a crushing stretch in a promising season, Verstappen refused to rest, believing in the racing’s ability to throw surprising scenarios.
“Slow down certainly didn’t look like it was going to happen. But I also say don’t stop believing until the last lap is driven and that’s exactly what I did,” Verstappen said on Wednesday. “And then, of course, I was expecting miracles in my head, but I was also very focused on trying to do the best I could.”
The miracle duly arrived. Along the coast to Hamilton, Nicholas Latifi, driving to the back of the field, crashed his Williams, dumped debris across the track and deployed the safety car. But even then, if the regular rules are followed, Verstappen’s hopes of winning one of the toughest championship battles look slim. To Hamilton’s dismay, the race director took a different step, paving the way for a final-lap shootout. This gave Verstappen the advantage of having a new set of tyres, chance to beat hamilton,
The controversial conclusion has since hung over Verstappen’s victory, with Mercedes indicating its intention to continue its appeal after failing to reverse the race result hours after Verstappen took the checkered flag, winning the world championship by 8 points. Won from The deadline for Mercedes to file an appeal ends on Thursday, around the same time Verstappen will be presented with the Formula 1 championship winner’s trophy in Paris.
“I don’t think about it too much because I feel like a world champion,” said 24-year-old Verstappen sporting a cap on top of his head, which says a lot. “It doesn’t matter what they try to do. You know, we won it on the track. When it was the green light, the green light we won it and we passed them on the track and they never Can’t take it away from me.”
on Wednesday, A statement from Formula 1’s governing bodyThe Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile acknowledged that the conditions at the end of the race had caused problems.
“The circumstances surrounding the use of the safety car after the driver Nicolas Latifi incident, and the related communication between the FIA Race Direction team and Formula 1 teams, have generated significant misunderstandings and reactions from Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans, an argument Which is currently tarnishing the image of the championship and celebrating the first Drivers’ World Championship title won by Max Verstappen and the eighth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship title won by Mercedes,” the statement said.
The controversy came at the end of a testy season. As Hamilton approached Verstappen’s championship lead late in the season, eventually tying him on points by winning the final race of the season at the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the tension between the two drivers and their teams began to be publicly broadcast. done. Hamilton’s fury, perceived by his challenger as dangerous driving, was broadcast on the team’s in-race radio. Still, Verstappen said, both Hamilton and Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, congratulated him on his title win.
“You must accept the loss, no matter how much the pain,” Verstappen said. Hamilton and Mercedes have not said much since the race ended on Sunday. Hamilton was absent from post-season testing at the same Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, where he was denied a win. Briton Hamilton, 36, received his knighthood during a ceremony at Windsor Castle with Prince Charles on Wednesday.
The intervention of Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, may have been instrumental in convincing the race director, Michael Massi, to deviate from normal practice, giving Verstappen a last-lap chance to pass Hamilton. In a radio broadcast broadcast during the race, Horner can be heard asking Massie to allow racing to resume and not end up behind the safety car, which would have guaranteed Hamilton’s victory.
Crying from the days of the celebration, Horner presented himself as a spectator to a dispute that pits Mercedes against the FIA. “This is not a dispute between Red Bull and Mercedes,” said Horner, who had raced commented that Verstappen needed a miracle from “The Racing Gods” to stand a chance of victory as Hamilton seemed like an unassailable lead. “When you look at the whole season and a lot of people get caught up in the activities of the last five laps of Abu Dhabi, but when you look at the 22 races Max is without a doubt an extremely deserving world champion.”
In a post-race interview, however, Horner gave a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of Latifi’s role in providing Verstappen a last-gas opportunity to win, giving Latifi a lifetime supply of energy drinks named after his team. offered. This sparked a new wave of social media posts criticizing Latifi, which has not subsided since the end of Sunday’s race.
Verstappen said the criticism was unfair, and urged Latifi, who was not until the moment it hit the headlines, to refrain from reading the post. “If that’s the case, I’m very sorry for Nicolas,” Verstappen said. “But yeah, I think the important thing for him is to just turn off his phone and don’t listen to it.”
The climax of the end of an entertaining season was witnessed by millions of new converts to Formula 1 drawn to the sport behind the success of the Netflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”. The show, which is completing its fourth season, has drawn criticism from some drivers, including Verstappen, who said earlier this year that he would no longer participate, taking aim at what they said was its producers. The efforts were made by Stories about rivalries that don’t exist.
He also doubled down on his criticism of the show after winning under conditions that he acknowledged would be a perfect ending for the show’s writers. “I’m not a big fan of that for sure,” Verstappen said.