‘What do they want?’ Ex-F1 drivers admit feeling sad for Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen was booed at Abu Dhabi after claiming his 15th record-breaking win of 2022.

Max Verstappen had “sadness in his eyes” after claiming his 15th and final win of 2022 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after the Dutchman was booed and jeered by a large portion of the crowd on the start/finish straight.

It was a horrible way to end the season, given how well the 25-year-old has driven this year, where he’s broken the records for most wins in a single season and most points scored in a campaign.

However, this seems to have been forgotten following the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the Dutchman’s team order defiance seemingly remaining very much in the memory of a large percentage of fans.

Verstappen, of course, defied Red Bull’s instructions on the final lap at Interlagos, where the double World Champion was asked to give P6 to Sergio Pérez who was directly behind.

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The instruction came after Checo had originally let Verstappen overtake, with the Dutch driver having been told that unless he could overtake Fernando Alonso or Charles Leclerc, then he’d need to give the place back.

It became clear on the final lap that he wasn’t going to overtake either driver, so was asked to give Pérez the place.

Verstappen refused and told his team defiantly that he had his “reasons” for not giving the place up, with that ‘reason’ believed to be linked to the Monaco Grand Prix earlier in the year.

According to reports, the Dutchman is certain that Pérez crashed on purpose during Q3 in Monaco, to stop Verstappen claiming pole.

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Concerningly, the telemetry does suggest that something peculiar did happen, with Checo having applied the throttle incredibly early prior to the famous tunnel under the swimming pool.

Despite this, Pérez fans have been livid with the Dutchman since Brazil, with the driver having been subject of horrific online abuse.

There was a large number of Checo fans at the season finale, as they watched their driver fail to claim second in the Drivers’ Championship.

Whether this is where the boos and jeers towards Verstappen came from is for the sport to investigate; however, ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle couldn’t hide how “very sad” it was to see Verstappen treated so poorly by the fans.

“I was very sad to hear some boos for Max at the end, we have experienced that before for the likes of Schumacher, Vettel, Nico Rosberg and others over the decades for various reasons when fans get a strong feeling about something which has or indeed hasn’t happened,” Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column.

“Red Bull and team Verstappen could perhaps have played smarter hands in Mexico and Brazil and over the cost cap, but nothing can take away from their utterly dominant performance this season.”

Fellow Dutchman Jan Lammers, who too is an ex-F1 driver, also felt a “bit sorry” for the incredible Dutchman, who had “sadness in his eyes” whilst being subject to boos and jeers during his post-race interview.

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“With all his dominance this year, I still feel a bit sorry for him when he is booed,” Lammers told NOS.

“What do they want from a racing driver? If you’re really a motorsport fan, I wonder – ‘how much better do you want it?’

“When it happens, I think I see a kind of sadness in his eyes. He’s just talking, but you can see him thinking ‘What’s this?’ I think that’s sad, but luckily he can rise above it and perform above it.”