Sainz happy ‘nothing dirty’ happened between Verstappen and Hamilton

Carlos Sainz joined Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on the podium after a chaotic and controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz is happy that Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen kept it clean during the championship-deciding 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The pair entered the final race level on points, with Verstappen leading by virtue of having won more races. This led to cynical suggestions that the Dutchman may emulate Ayrton Senna in 1989 and deliberately crash with his rival to claim the title.

There was indeed contact on the opening lap as Verstappen tried to dive down the inside of the Mercedes driver, but Hamilton had plenty of run-off to utilise and there was no further contact.

Ultimately, the end of the race was littered with controversy when race director Michael Masi appeared to contravene Safety Car procedure by letting only five lapped cars through the past leader Hamilton in the closing stages.

READ: Ferrari pained in watching Verstappen celebrations

Verstappen then passed the Briton on the very last lap of the race to claim the championship, and Sainz is relieved that the on-track fight was ultimately a clean one.

“I actually believe that the championship had a good outcome in sight of all the possibilities that there were coming into this race. I think, personal opinion, it was a great battle up front and they managed to keep it clean, no crashes, no contact,” Sainz said.

The Spaniard was not living the championship vicariously through either one of the drivers, nor was he in the battle himself, and he affirms that either driver would have been a deserving winner.

“[It was] just a good battle that this sport deserved for this last race and the first thing I did was congratulate both Max and Lewis on the podium because I believe that whoever was winning this weekend was going to deserve it because they’ve both driven incredibly and they both would have deserved the title,” he said.

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“For me, the important thing is that nothing dirty, or nothing strange happened on track today and they both kept it clean.”

READ: Hamilton taking ‘social media break’ after Abu Dhabi controversy

Sainz managed a third-placed finish in Abu Dhabi, securing his fourth podium in an extremely impressive debut season in red. The 27-year-old was surprised to end up in that position given his tyre situation.

“It was certainly a very strange situation for me because I was obviously battling for a podium with Valtteri [Bottas] and some AlphaTauris behind with a medium tyre while I was on a very used hard,” he said.

When Masi decreed that only five lapped cars would un-lap themselves, Sainz was confused upon seeing that there were still lapped runners ahead of him.

“At the beginning I was told they were not going to be allowed to un-lap themselves, the people in front of me. Then they decided to un-lap themselves and some people un-lapped themselves but there was still, I think it was an Aston Martin and a McLaren, [Daniel] Ricciardo, between the two leaders and myself,” he explained.

“This I’ve never had before having to restart the race with these two guys in front of me, one fighting for a P3, so I do admit it was a strange one and maybe something to look at because it was very strange to see and it nearly cost me my podium, to be honest.”

Max Verstappen wins the 2021 F1 Championship.v1

Sainz finished fifth in the Drivers’ Standings while aiding his Ferrari team to third in the Constructors’ Championship.

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