Two-time F1 champion Max Verstappen has reflected on the final 10 laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, admitting that he conceded defeat to Lewis Hamilton.
Nearly 12 months on from one of F1’s most controversial moments, Verstappen has added 14 grand prix victories and another title to his name.
The controversial events of Abu Dhabi 2021 linger on, particularly with Hamilton recently asked about the differences between his dramatic triumph in 2008 against Felipe Massa versus his loss to Verstappen last year.
The what in which Abu Dhabi was decided will probably continue to be a talking point for years to come given how the title was decided due to the FIA’s inability to follow their own rules with the Safety Car restart.
In a recent interview with GQ, Verstappen spoke about the laps leading up to the Safety Car, where he was on course to lose the title to Hamilton.
Verstappen was widely regarded as the best-performing driver in 2021, with fewer mistakes than Hamilton, and he said “it would’ve still been an amazing season” even if he didn’t end up taking the title.
“Yeah, I was like, it might not happen,” Verstappen said. “But I just kept on pushing till the end, you know? And even if it wouldn’t have worked out, it would’ve still been an amazing season.”
With the final lap giving Verstappen an easy opportunity to overtake Hamilton, the Dutchman stormed to his first F1 drivers’ title.
Naturally, there were contrasting emotions over team radio as Hamilton voiced his disgust: “This has been manipulated, man.”
On the other hand, Verstappen was understandably emotional – something we don’t see too often.
“It was all very emotional,” he added. “A lot of things flash back from all the years. I’m not really an emotional guy, but my in lap was pretty emotional.”