Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Max Verstappen says it would be different if he’d been in Lewis Hamilton’s shoes and suffered final-day heartache in the very last seconds of the season because he is yet to win the world championship. Instead, the Dutchman has pointed towards the fact rival Hamilton has already been there and done it – winning seven titles – something that he claims will soften the blow and feeling of disappointment.
Verstappen snatched the world championship from Mercedes in the dying moments of last Sunday’s finale in Abu Dhabi following an extraordinary sequence of events.
With Hamilton well in front, a crash involving Nicholas Latifi during lap 55 saw the safety car take to the track.
The FIA then decided to allow the five cars on track between the two favourites to unlap themselves.
That set up a straight one-lap shootout between the duo and with Verstappen boasting the fresher tyres, he overtook his rival to cross the finish line in jaw-dropping scenes.
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Verstappen has continued to face criticism in recent weeks for his ‘win at all costs’ mentality that has ultimately enabled him to get over the line.
But when asked if he feels any pity towards Hamilton for the soul-destroying climax to the campaign, Verstappen made it clear he felt he deserved his moment, despite praising his rival’s sportsmanship.
“For sure it’s a very tough situation losing the championship in the last lap,” Verstappen said, in a new interview with Sky Sports.
“I think in a way it’s difficult to compare myself to him.
“I was fighting for my first title and he already had seven.
“In a way, you can take a bit of comfort out of that but nevertheless, it’s a painful situation.
“Still, what was very nice was that Lewis came straight up to me out of the car and congratulated me.
“That’s what real sportsmen do, so that was nice. And also Lewis’ dad by the way.”
Following the controversial end to the campaign, Mercedes initially saw two protests rebuffed by the stewards.
The Silver Arrows now have until Thursday to launch an official appeal, should they wish to continue fighting their corner.
Verstappen now believes the title is his and he admitted he needed every piece of luck he could get along the way.
He added: “It’s always difficult to use the right words for it but you need a bit of luck in your life.
“Up until that point, I didn’t really have a lot of luck in the season otherwise I think the championship would have been decided well earlier.
“So yeah, luck came at the right time for me and yet you still need to take the opportunity, which we did as a team.”
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