Max: ‘I don’t care’ if people take ‘shine’ off 2021 title

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen and Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko embrace. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Max Verstappen embraces Helmut Marko after winning the World Championship. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Max Verstappen insists that he doesn’t care if people feel like his World Championship success is somehow tainted by the events of Abu Dhabi in December.

The Red Bull driver took advantage of a late Safety Car to pit for fresh tyres in Abu Dhabi, in case the race was able to restart after Nicholas Latifi’s crash.

Michael Masi’s decision to ensure one more racing lap could take place caused ructions within the paddock that have long been discussed since that day at Yas Marina, but the Dutchman made use of the situation in front of him to pass Lewis Hamilton and take his first World title.

Hamilton made it clear that the decision “had nothing to do” with his title rival, adding that he did what anyone would have done in the circumstances.

Red Bull celebrate Max Verstappen World Championship success. Abu Dhabi December 2021
Red Bull team members celebrate Max Verstappen's World Championship success. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Swathes of fans have continued to voice their outrage on social media at Hamilton being denied an eighth World Championship in that moment of controversy, but it doesn’t make a difference to how Verstappen sees his first title triumph.

“It could be,” Verstappen told De Telegraaf when asked if certain people are trying to take the ‘shine’ off his title. “But if they know me well, they know I don’t care. At the end of the day, it was a crazy and epic Formula 1 season.

“The losing team will try to take the shine off it a bit. But on the winning side, it still feels good, I can assure you.”

The tension in the build-up to the race provided the backdrop for one of the most dramatic title finales in the history of Formula 1, and Verstappen admitted it still pops up in his head on occasion.

“Sometimes,” he responded when asked if he still thinks about the race. “But that was such a hectic week that I don’t enjoy everything when I think back. It also brings back the tense feeling of that time.

“I enjoy the moments after more. No, I don’t have nightmares about it. I just prefer to think back to the moments when it was all over.”

On the title itself, Verstappen added that he feels that fans who may have only watched the final race that season could have had a distorted view of the season as a whole, with he and Hamilton having headed into Abu Dhabi level on points.

Given the context of the whole year, he feels the World Championship battle could have been over and done with before season’s end – and the manner of his victory does not detract from how deserving he was to win the title.

 

“A championship is won over a whole season, not by one decision in the last race. I also think I deserved the title, absolutely,” said the Red Bull driver.

“There might be people who only watched the last Grand Prix. They might think I was lucky. But normally the championship would have been decided in my favour.

“I lost a lot of points twice after being knocked out by another car and I had that blow-out in Baku. With all that bad luck, it came down to the last race.”

 

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