Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Max Verstappen’s win in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered for years to come due to his daring antics on the final lap to overtake Lewis Hamilton. But to many his tactics were surprising with his dad Jos Verstappen even admitting he was shocked at his son’s driving technique.
Verstappen played second fiddle to Hamilton throughout the race, with the Brit leading for most of the race.
Yet on lap 53, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed, meaning a safety car was issued.
This allowed Verstappen to catch Hamilton and pit for new tyres, although there were five cars in between the duo after Verstappen had pitted.
But FIA chief Michael Masi controversially allowed those cars to unlap themselves, setting up for a grandstand finish.
When the safety car released the pair, there was just one lap to go.
And Verstappen’s brave driving paid dividends as he raced to a first world title – although he left those closest to him surprised, including his father.
“You think ‘why there?’ because you have two straights after that,” Jos said in an interview hosted by David Coulthard on CarNext.
“I think a lot of people were surprised. I think [Lewis] didn’t expect that, and that’s why he did it in that spot.”
It resulted in Max’s first title of his career, with many believing he deserved it after winning 10 of the 22 races that season.
But despite his excellence in the season’s previous races, the Dutchman’s slow start in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix raised eyebrows.
And the 24-year-old admitted he was nervous for the season finale.
“Normally, I’m not nervous at all for any race, but yesterday I was,” the world champion admitted.
“Everyone was tense, and the race itself was not really looking great.
“We did not really have the pace, but then everything went upside down with the last lap.”
The Dutchman will start the battle to reclaim his title at the season opener in Bahrain on March 20.
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