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Hamilton title defeat "a very bad thing" but Verstappen "a very worthy world champion"

Hamilton title defeat "a very bad thing" but Verstappen "a very worthy world champion"

Hamilton title defeat "a very bad thing" but Verstappen "a very worthy world champion"

Hamilton title defeat "a very bad thing" but Verstappen "a very worthy world champion"
Kimberley Hoefnagel & Ian Parkes

Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries feels the circumstances around which Lewis Hamilton was denied an outright record eighth F1 title were "a very bad thing".

Dutchman De Vries, however, believes fellow countryman Max Verstappen is "a very worthy world champion" after the Red Bull driver took advantage of FIA race director Michael Masi's decisions over the final few laps of the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP to claim his maiden crown.

The FIA is currently holding an inquiry into the events surrounding the closing stages of the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit after Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed with five laps remaining.

The resultant safety car and the rulings made by Masi resulted in Hamilton losing out to Verstappen on the final lap of the race due to him being on fresh soft tyres.

Speaking in an interview with GPFans' sister site in The Netherlands, the reigning Formula E champion with Mercedes said: "First of all, I want to stress that Max is a very worthy world champion. Everyone, especially me, thinks he deserved it.

"He drove a fantastic season, there’s no doubt about his qualities or the fact that he deserved to win the championship, we can all agree on that. That’s something I definitely want to acknowledge.

"But on the other hand, Lewis also had a really strong season. On that particular Sunday in Abu Dhabi, he did everything needed to win the title.

"They [FIA race control] made some decisions that were not by the book and actually came as a surprise, and that ultimately deprived him of the championship.

"That is, of course, a very bad thing and I don't think that should be possible in sports. But what do you do with it? I don't know."

Hamilton has so far stayed silent since that fateful day, fuelling speculation as to the possibility he may not return this season.

De Vries, who could potentially be asked to fill the vacant seat should Hamilton opt to retire, added: "I understand his feelings very, very well.

"I couldn't imagine what it is like to lose an eighth championship but I respect and understand his feelings. It would have been the same if the situation had been the other way around.

"Anyway, Max is just a really good driver, a hero and deserving of the championship. That's also a fact."

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