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F1 | Verstappen returned to talk about the race that crowned him World Champion and his "fully deserved" title

The Dutch retraced the feelings and the emotion he felt during the last race of the 2021 season, and stated: "If you look at the whole season, the championship should have been decided way earlier".

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F1 | Verstappen returned to talk about the race that crowned him World Champion and his "fully deserved" title
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic - Motorlat

2021 was Max Verstappen’s year, with the Dutchman beating Lewis Hamilton and becoming world champion for the first time in his career.

The Red Bull driver, after weeks of silence, in which he enjoyed a well-deserved rest and continued his physical preparation for the new season, a few days before the unveiling of the new RB18, interviewed by the Guardian, returned to talk about the decisive race in Abu Dhabi.

A Sunday that kept everyone in suspense, due to the events on the track and the uncertain race direction, but mostly for that last lap that saw Verstappen overcoming Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.

But this does not mean that the Dutchman feels lucky for what happened.

“What was going on in my head?” - Verstappen said -  “I was like: ‘I need to overtake him [Hamilton]. There’s only one option here. I’m not going to finish second.’”

"I tried to be really on it with the restart. It was all working well until I crossed the line and started to feel cramp in my leg. It’s one of the most painful things that can happen because you’re going full throttle for a long time.

“You feel the muscle clenching and becoming like a tennis ball. Of course the adrenaline helps because, if it were to happen when you’re just walking around, you cannot move. It’s impossible. But there was no option; I had to.

"So I was just keeping it full throttle and I could feel my leg hurting more and more. Luckily, turn five arrived and I went for the [overtaking] move. I had like three seconds off throttle,” he explained.

“You then have two very long straights and, on the second one where Lewis came back at me, I could feel my foot vibrating. I couldn’t control it because the muscle was having a spasm. My foot on the last sector was like this …”

He described the moment jokingly, even if in his words there were all the tension and all the adrenaline that were flowing in his veins in the final moments of the Yas Marina GP.

“If you go back over the data you will not see a very smooth throttle input. I was screaming on the radio [after he had won] but the whole lap my foot was going like that.”

“It was completely done. One more lap and I couldn’t have finished the race like that. The stress levels were so high in the final lap that probably your body reacts to that. But you cannot give up.”

“I knew I had more grip so I was like: ‘I’m going to surprise them on that corner.’ Even my dad didn’t expect me to do it there. These kind of things make the difference. But two long straights were coming up.”

In the end couldn’t believe it – especially after the whole race when everything looked like it was not happening. Suddenly your emotions swing 100% the other way.

“It’s what we had worked for my whole life. It was always my dream. Once you cross the line you realise you finally have it. I jumped out of the car and all the mechanics and my dad were running towards me.”

Verstappen's triumph animated for months the debate on Michael Masi's race direction, on the role of the FIA and on the rules to be applied on the track, but despite the events, Lewis Hamilton showed great sportsmanship, warmly congratulating the new World Champion right after the race.

“I saw him quickly, when we took our helmets off, and I think it was: ‘Congrats, man.’ I don’t even know the words any more. But it was nice of him, of course, to immediately come over,” Verstappen said, and then explained how difficult for him would be to put himself in Hamilton’s situation.

“For me it’s difficult to picture myself in that situation, because I’m not a seven-time world champion. If I was already a seven-time world champion it hurts a bit less than when I am fighting for my first, leading all the way, controlling it all the way, and then losing it on the last lap. That would be way more painful than already having seven in the bag.”

I had a very good season and I think I really deserved it [the title]. I have been really unlucky as well. People always remember the last race but, if you look at the whole season, the championship should have been decided way earlier.”

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