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"It was very painful for Lewis," admits Verstappen


As Mercedes announces that it is withdrawing its appeal, Max Verstappen admits that he understands Lewis Hamilton's pain, disappointment and frustration over Abu Dhabi.

While the news that Mercedes has withdrawn its appeal against the Abu Dhabi stewards' decision to dismiss its protest might appear to draw a line under the sorry affair, the reality is that it is unlikely to do so.

Even the news that the FIA is setting up an investigation into the events of those fateful final laps will do little to appease the millions of fans worldwide who feel the sport had been tarnished.

While it is entirely possible that the findings will never be made public, much like the controversial decision in the wake of the investigation into Ferrari at the end of 2019, there is also the possibility that Michael Masi will be thrown under the bus, the Australian serving as the sport's sacrificial lamb.

Until this morning's statement from Mercedes there hadn't been a word from the German team since Sunday, nor its star driver, and ahead of tonight's prize-giving gala in Paris, Lewis Hamilton will probably be wishing that Emmanuel Macron had imposed his ban on British travellers to France 24 hours earlier.

Max Verstappen admits that he can feel his rival's pain, and respects him even more now than he did before in terms of the way he reacted in the moments after Sunday's race.

"It was very painful for Lewis and I would also be hurt in the way he lost it," says the Dutchman. "But in a way, still between us it's a bit different because I was fighting for my first title and he already had seven.

"He has been in the same position where he has won it in the last lap and it was very painful for Felipe at the time," he added, referring to that unforgettable day in Brazil in 2008.

"The little moment we had after the race already, you look each other in the eye... you don't say a lot but you do relate a lot throughout the whole season and you actually really appreciate the fight.

"Sometimes we did hate each other," he admits, "but that's fine, that's the competitive spirit both of us have.

"It's been a tough season," he admits, in a masterpiece of understatement. "We had definitely some dominant races, but also in general, I think Mercedes was a stronger team.

"But it's been a really enjoyable," he laughs, "having two teams fighting and pushing flat out to the end. Of course, at times you think, this might not be it, we might not hang on until the end. But there are always surprises.

"Some races I think we have won which we shouldn't, but then also I had quite a bit of bad luck, of course, with the tyre getting taken out and these kind of things. So we lost also saw a lot of points by that. But all in all, it's been intense but a crazy season.

"We were pushing each other, but we were pushing the whole team behind us as well to another level, which they maybe didn't think was possible. For everyone it was very intense.

"To be fighting every single race, everyone had to be so perfect with strategy, preparations before a weekend, no mechanical failures, and all these kind of things. There was a lot of pressure and stress for everyone involved."

One thing fans won't be aware of in terms of that epic final lap is that Verstappen was suffering cramp.

"I was behind Lewis going to Turn 3, Turn 4 and I had a massive cramp," he reveals. "So it's like full throttle, but barely, just having the force to push anymore.

"I was happy at Turn 5 so I could brake and relax for a few seconds, and then back on it for two long straights, which was very, very painful. But of course, for that last lap, you just bite through it."


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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/12/2021 14:02

"@Stitch431 - I think most people are agreed that the RBR car was quicker for at least the 1st half of the season & the Merc only achived superiority during the last 1/4 or so and even then not always. Neither team's 2nd drivers performed very well so neither Bottas' nor Perez's performances an indicator of anything other than the superiority of their team mates. The truly telling factor was Bottas' inability to back-up Hamilton, wheras Perez, at least latterly, was usually available....

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 16/12/2021 18:20

"If Lewis walks away it won't be sour grapes over Max beating him for the title. It will be in disgust over the actions of Masi, et al. Had Max won without manipulation I've no doubt Lewis would have taken it just fine. He'd be unhappy losing obviously, just as Max would have been. But he'd be at the awards ceremony, he'd have gone to the post race press events, etc. Massa was no doubt totally gutted when Lewis managed that last corner pass to get the points to win the WDC. But that's racing. Last Sunday title deciding decision wasn't racing."

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3. Posted by dejan, 16/12/2021 17:06

"Either Verstappen or Hamilton deserved to win. What happened was that the title was decided by the FIA wanting a show and making itself the story."

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4. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 16/12/2021 16:55

"Felipe lost it due entirely to on-track racing, not the inept actions of an official. Time should ease the present pain, but the injustice of that - not against Verstappen or Red Bull - will remain, I am sure."

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5. Posted by Stitch431, 16/12/2021 14:55

"Of course. It would have been painful for anyone of them after such a season. Still I believe Max is the right champion this year. Despite his bad luck (Baku, Silverstone, Hungary etc. he had the resilience to fight back. He has been driving a less powerful car but was competitive anyway. His teammates show the real pace of the Red Bull. Lewis will be back because finally, after all those years he has what he always said he wanted, a real fight. We will have to see who will surface on top with the new rules. It would be great if it is not just one team but several teams fighting. A battle between Max, Lewis, Fernando, Lando, Charles or Carlos, and even old Sebastian would be great to see. I hope it will be as close as that, however, most of the time when the rules change this is not the case."

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