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Verstappen explains last-lap Abu Dhabi showdown with Hamilton

Verstappen explains last-lap Abu Dhabi showdown with Hamilton

Verstappen explains last-lap Abu Dhabi showdown with Hamilton

Verstappen explains last-lap Abu Dhabi showdown with Hamilton
GPFans Staff

Max Verstappen has opened up on his last-lap showdown with Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi last year that allowed him to claim his maiden F1 title.

Verstappen's hopes of denying Hamilton a record-breaking eighth championship appeared over with a handful of laps remaining at the Yas Marina Circuit as his Mercedes rival was controlling the race.

Nicholas Latifi's crash and the subsequent decisions by former race director Michael Masi turned the grand prix on its head and allowed Verstappen to make the race- and title-winning move on Hamilton on the last lap with a late-braking move into turn five.

Although Hamilton tried to attack, his efforts proved in vain as on far fresher tyres the Red Bull driver was able to keep the Briton at bay for the remainder of the lap.

Speaking on a documentary entitled 'Verstappen: Lion Unleashed', Verstappen said: "He [Hamilton] didn’t expect me to overtake him there.

‘’We had less downforce that weekend so we had more top speed, so I wanted to be up front because without DRS I can defend.

“Even if he had come alongside me he could never overtake me because of the top-speed advantage.

"With the grip I had, I went for that corner and defended those other corners.”

Verstappen refused to give up

Verstappen claims the Red Bull pit wall was "very nervous" going into that final lap as it had all gone "very quiet" over the team radio.

Prior to Latifi's crash, Verstappen maintains he never gave up hope even though his situation at the time appeared forlorn.

''I knew I wouldn't close an 11-second gap in five laps," added Verstappen.

"But I said to myself, 'I'm not going to give up now and drive slowly to the finish line. I'm going to give it my all to make it not look easy'.

"I wasn't really happy at that moment."

Following Latifi's accident, as Verstappen passed the wreckage of the Williams that had hit a wall, he saw an opportunity, even though it did not materialise as he had hoped for at the time.

"I was hoping for a restart," said Verstappen. "That car was at a tricky angle to get out of there."

As it transpired, the safety car remained on track, with Masi deciding only a certain number of lapped cars could unlap themselves, providing Verstappen with his chance on the final lap.

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