Verstappen: There was always going to be one winner, one loser

Verstappen: There was always going to be one winner, one loser

Verstappen: There was always going to be one winner, one loser

Max Verstappen is back in Abu Dhabi, the scene of his 2021 Formula 1 Title triumph, and reflected on that day insisting either he or Lewis Hamilton would walk away a winner, the other a loser.

Verstappen won the 2021 F1 Championship, his maiden Title triumph in top flight, at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a controversial Safety Car period, after which the Dutchman overtook rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap, Red Bull reacting to the Safety Car by pitting him for new tyres, Mercedes keeping Hamilton out on used ones.

Much has been said and written about that day, and all the events and the aftermath are well documented and reported, so we will not go into that again.

But in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports F1 – after they kissed and made up of course – Verstappen reflected on that fateful day at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.

“Of course, it was all looking great [for Lewis],” Verstappen recalled. “And something like that happens… it is tough.

“You know, there was always going to be one winner and one loser,” he insisted. “If you’re on the losing side, it’s going to be bad no matter what. And it also doesn’t matter how, if you lose, you lose. And that it’s just terrible when you’re so close, right?”

Verstappen revealed what went through his head as he saw the Championship slip from his grasp and then back again.

“The only thing I did say to myself at the time was, he has seven world championships,” he said. “And he has also won one where it looked like he was losing out, and then in the last corner, he didn’t [referencing the 2008 Brazilian GP]. So I hope that he could understand at least a little bit the difference in emotion.

I felt for Hamilton

Mercedes protest the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix results

“But yeah, I felt for him and especially, you know, we had our moments when we got together that year, but I always respected him and I think we did have a great battle, and also finally, we had two teams fighting for a championship. I really hope that we can appreciate that someday,” the Red Bull ace added.

Verstappen spoke of his emotions as he re-watched that final lap from Abu Dhabi, and recollected that race that will be itched in the history of the sport.

“The first few times it definitely gave me goosebumps, for sure,” he said. “We just didn’t have that pace like they had. And yeah, it didn’t look good. We tried a different strategy as well, but it wasn’t catching enough, you know, to close that gap.

“At the time I was like, OK, we might not win it, but I’m still going to remember this year as an amazing season,” he went on. “I mean, what we have done as a team, you know, to overcome that deficit we had to them over the years, I think we can be really proud of that.

“But I also said to myself, ‘I’m still going to give it everything I have, every lap until the end,” the double F1 Champion pointed out.

He admitted that he felt they needed a miracle at the time, which is exactly what happened, referring to what his boss Christian Horner told Sky from the pit wall during that race.

“Christian even mentioned it on the TV, right?” he pointed out. “We need a miracle right now. And we got it.”

A year on from Abu Dhabi 2021, Verstappen arrives to the same venue already bagging the 2022 Drivers’ Championship, having secured it back in Japan.