Lewis Hamilton congratulates Max Verstappen on dramatic F1 world championship victory

Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap and held off his rival in a thrilling joust around the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi

Lawrence Ostlere
Sunday 12 December 2021 17:23
Verstappen wants to race with Red Bull for 'rest of his life' after dramatic world title win
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Lewis Hamilton congratulated Max Verstappen on his maiden world championship after an extraordinary last-lap finish to the season.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap and held off his rival in a thrilling joust around the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, in what was one of the most tense climaxes to a Formula 1 season in history.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was furious with race director Michael Masi for allowing the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the safety car moments before the final lap began, but Hamilton was magnanimous in defeat.

“A big congratulations to Max and to his team,” Hamilton said. “We did an amazing job this year. It’s been the most difficult of seasons, we gave it everything, this last part of the season, we never gave up and that’s the most important thing.”

Asked if he would return next year to compete for a record eighth world title, Hamilton said. “Of course [I’ll be back]. I’ve been feeling good the past couple of months … We’ll see about next year.”

Hamilton appeared to be charging to glory, easily holding Verstappen at bay in the closing laps only for a crash for the Williams of Nicholas Latifi to change the course of events.

Confusion reigned as under-fire race director Michael Masi changed his mind to allow lapped cars to pass the safety car - meaning Verstappen had a clear run at Hamilton in the final lap and on much faster tyres.

Verstappen celebrated “finally a bit of luck” as he reacted to his maiden title. “My team know that I love them and there’s no need to change ever. I want to stay with them for the rest of my life. Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] trusted me to be in the team in 2016 and our goal was to win this championship and now we have done that.”

Verstappen’s father, the former driver Jos Verstappen, said: “He will always be fighting, that’s in his DNA. He said to me he went flat out every lap. Then he had one chance, one lap, and that’s what he took.”

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