Formula 1

Max Verstappen: “It feels incredible to be World Champion”

2 Mins read
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Max Verstappen says it feels incredible to be World Champion after securing the title with victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, even if it was under controversial circumstances.

The Red Bull Racing driver appeared to have lost the chance of taking the crown after trailing title rival Lewis Hamilton for much of the evening at the Yas Marina Circuit, but a late safety car and an inspired change of tyre gave him the advantage.

Initially it looked as though Verstappen would be hindered by lapped cars as the stewards declared that the five cars between him and Hamilton would not be allowed to unlap themselves, however, that decision was reversed on the penultimate lap, with the safety car then coming in at the end of the same lap.

This gave Verstappen the time needed to make an attack on Hamilton and take over at the front of the field into the hairpin at turn five, a position he would hold on to until the chequered flag.

“It feels incredible to be World Champion and I couldn’t have asked for a more insane last race of the year,” said Verstappen.  “It was a bit of a rollercoaster, from not really having a chance of winning until the last lap, everything came together, and we had to go for it.

“I kept saying to myself, I am just going to give it my all and I have until the end and that is what we did. Of course, with that safety car restart in the last lap we had the fresher tyres but you still need to do the move – luckily it worked out.”

Verstappen took time to thank and praise team-mate Sergio Pérez for the efforts he put in during the weekend in Abu Dhabi, with the Mexican giving him in a tow in Qualifying before holding up Hamilton in order to allow the Dutchman to catch up just after the first round of pit stops.

“I want to say a big thank to Checo, because of his performance today, I won the Championship, he was driving his heart out for this Team,” said the Dutchman.  

“Today showed exactly what great teamwork is, he’s an amazing team-mate.”

The Constructors’ Championship may have gone the way of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, but Verstappen says it was a hard-fought battle with them, and in particular against Hamilton, and he believes it was a great fight between two strong teams and two amazing drivers.

“Mercedes won the Constructors’ and we won the Driver’s Championship so it really shows that throughout the whole year we pushed each other to the very end,” Verstappen said.  “Lewis is an amazing driver, there is no discussion about it.

“Of course, we had our moments throughout the season but I think you know that after everything we had an amazing fight this season and I think both teams gave it their all.”

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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