Max Verstappen admits ‘terrible’ Lewis Hamilton feeling

Max Verstappen cruised to victory number 15 of the season at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen’s 2022 campaign has been one of superiority, with the Dutchman having reached new heights following on from his success last season.

He claimed victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix once again on Sunday to wrap up another year of Formula 1, with his 15th win of the year having come under considerably less controversial circumstances than the same race last year.

As is very well documented, the 2021 season finale saw a titanic battle between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, with it being a winner-takes-all event.

Following former race director Michael Masi’s ‘human error’, Hamilton, of course, lost the title to Verstappen, with the Dutchman having incredibly opened up on ‘that’ Safety Car and how the race unfolded 12 months ago.

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Incredibly, Verstappen opened up on how he “felt” for Hamilton, given the way in which the championship was ultimately decided.

“Of course, it was all looking great [for Lewis],” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1’s David Croft.

“And something like that happens… it is tough.

“You know, there was always going to be one winner and one loser. If you’re on the losing side, it’s going to be bad no matter what. And it also doesn’t matter how, if you lose, you lose. And that it’s just terrible when you’re so close, right?”

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“The only thing I did say to myself at the time was, he has seven world championships. And he has also won one where it looked like he was losing out, and then in the last corner, he didn’t [referencing the 2008 Brazilian GP]. So I hope that he could understand at least a little bit the difference in emotion.

“But yeah, I felt for him and especially, you know, we had our moments when we got together that year, but I always respected him and I think we did have a great battle.

“And also finally, we had two teams fighting for a championship. I really hope that we can appreciate that someday.”

Verstappen, of course, made his overtake to win the championship at Turn Five on the final lap, a move that seemingly surprised everyone, including, his father Jos Verstappen.

“My Dad didn’t expect it, Christian didn’t expect it, nobody expected me to do it there because they thought, there’s such a long run on the two straights,” Verstappen revealed.

Had the rules been followed at the season finale last season, then the race would’ve actually ended behind a Safety Car, something that would’ve dampened what was one of the most incredible seasons.

People complained that the rules weren’t followed last season but then also complained at the Italian Grand Prix this year, where the rules were followed, with the race at Monza ending behind a Safety Car.

With that in mind, Verstappen believes it would’ve been a “shame” if 2021 ended under neutralised conditions, but that it’s “hard to please everyone”.

“I think is always hard to please everyone,” said Verstappen.

“Because here we did race, then in Monza [in 2022], we didn’t. And then people are also complaining. So, what is right, not racing or racing?

“It is always the one who loses out will complain that it’s wrong, not the one who benefits from it. That’s how it works.

“To just cross the line under the Safety Car always feels like a bit of a shame, really.”

The last lap of 2021 was by far the most important of Verstappen’s career, given that he had to overtake Hamilton to become World Champion.

Astonishingly, the 25-year-old suffered from cramp on the last lap and that he was suffering from a “lot of nerves”, an emotion that actually many began to think the Dutchman didn’t suffer from.

“I’m nervous, there were a lot of nerves,” Verstappen stated when asked to talk through the final lap.

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“This was the most important lap of my career up until that point… it’s going to be a world championship or not.

“And then the worst thing what happened was I crossed the line [for the final lap], and I got a cramp in my right leg.

“It was the most nervous a lap of your life and then also dealing with a cramp struggling to stay full throttle. I couldn’t control my leg! It was terrible.”