Max Verstappen admits ‘luck came at right time’ in F1 title-winning season

Max Verstappen has admitted that luck turned in his favour at exactly the right time after he clinched his maiden Formula 1 world championship in such controversial circumstances.

Bitter feelings still linger weeks after Verstappen dramatically snatched victory from Lewis Hamilton at the season-deciding race in Abu Dhabi, where race director Michael Masi appeared to break regulations in order to manufacture a final lap shootout between the Red Bull and Mercedes rivals.

Hamilton has remained tight-lipped over his future in the sport since the race, skipping the FIA’s prize-giving gala, and failing to respond to messages from the governing body’s new president.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Verstappen acknowledged that he had benefitted from a huge stroke of fortune, but also pointed out that he had endured plenty of adversity himself during the season, including when he crashed out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when victory appeared almost certain and was hit at the first corner by Hamilton’s then-Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in Hungary.

“It’s always difficult to really use the right word for it but you need a bit of luck in your life, and I think up until that point I didn’t really have a lot of luck in the season – otherwise I think the championship would have been decided way earlier,” said Verstappen.

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“Luck came at the right time for me and then of course you still have to take the opportunity, which we did as a team.”

Verstappen admitted that he feared his chances of winning the title were all but lost until Nicholas Latifi’s late crash at the Yas Marina Circuit but insisted he had never given up entirely.

“It looked very tough out there,” he added. “Of course I could see they (Mercedes) were quicker. I think we tried everything as a team and then I said to myself ‘I’ll just do everything I can here, drive to the limit, give it all, not make it look easy for them’.

“We took the tyres. Maybe in hindsight you could say if they had taken the tyres I would have stayed out and then you have the scenario the other way around.”

The 24-year-old Dutchman also reserved praise for his Red Bull team, who were finally able to deliver a car capable of dethroning Mercedes’ stranglehold on the drivers’ championship.

“The team always had to try to be perfect,” he said. “That brings a lot of pressure and stress for everyone and I think that’s quite extraordinary because I had seasons before when I was on the podium but I wasn’t really tired because there was nothing to push for, they (Mercedes) were too far away from me and I was quite comfortably third or whatever. So to have a season like this was pretty intense.”

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