Last Sunday, the Dutchman Max Verstappen became world champion in Formula 1 in 2021 in a memorable way. Thanks to a catch up on the very last round of the season, he was the first to cross the finish line. There we saw an overwhelmed Verstappen, who made his team proud by outwitting Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi. After all Mercedes protests were beaten, it was time for the traditional FIA press conference, but one in a special jacket.
First of all, we looked back at the race itself, which the Dutchman describes as ‘hectic’. ‘In the beginning you saw that we just lacked the speed, I tried at all costs to stay as close as possible to him (Hamilton, ed.). Then Checo (Pérez, ed.) helped me enormously and the gap narrowed again, but he drove away from me again. Under VSC we tried something else but that didn’t work either. But the end was really crazy with that safety car and the restart on the last lap.’
Going back to the very first lap we could already see Verstappen attacking his British competitor in Turn 6. “I had a good run on him and I took the inside. But he chose the run-off lane and took advantage of it. Nothing happened (with the stewards, ed.) so I started to focus on myself again’, the world champion explains.
On the very last lap, the race was turned upside down. At the safety car restart, the Dutchman had to be in good shape to have a chance of overtaking. “I saw that he was having trouble warming up his tires and I had the grip. Of course I had it in Turn 5 but then there were two more long straights where you have a chance to come back, it came so close.”
Verstappen: ‘I’m here now is a world achievement’
This press conference was more special than others. In addition to the traditional setting with all the podium guests – in this case without the absent Hamilton – there was a moment for the champion alone. He can barely realize it, but the Red Bull driver can already look back on a great season. “When we started this season we thought we had a better chance than in previous years, but that I am here now is a world achievement.”
Verstappen also highlights a number of highlights. ‘Monaco was beautiful, especially because I always had a hard time there before. But also two victories in Austria and of course my home victory in Zandvoort. And if you now look at how this race has ended, this will certainly be a highlight as well,” he says.
‘Everything flashes through my head now’
Shortly after the race was over, the whole of the Netherlands caught a picture of Verstappen with father Jos, the Limburger still can’t believe it, but he is really world champion. “Everything flashes through my head now. That I traveled all over Europe with my father for one goal: Formula 1. Then you hope to win a race, you hear the national anthem and then there is only one ultimate goal: the world championship. It is unbelievable that this has now happened. It makes it even more special that my best friends, family and girlfriend are now here with me’, says the Limburger.