Max Verstappen explains why he "hated" Lewis Hamilton before F1 title win

Max Verstappen has explained why he "hated" rival Lewis Hamilton before they reconciled after his World Championship success.

The Red Bull driver won the 2021 Formula One title in controversial fashion last weekend, overtaking the Mercedes man on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi GP following an usual safety car procedure.

Nevertheless, the pair shared a heart-warming moment after the race where Hamilton congratulated Verstappen on his victory.

They had fought tooth and nail over the course of the longest F1 season in history, coming together on several occasions as neither man wanted to give an inch.

But any ill feelings have disappeared as they were solely about their on-track battle, according to Verstappen.

Speaking about the post-race meeting with Hamilton, he told BBC Sport: "You look each other in the eye. You don't say a lot but you do relate a lot and you really appreciate the fight.

"Sometimes we did hate each other, but that's fine. That's the competitive spirit of both of us. He is an incredible driver."

Verstappen is still waiting for confirmation of his first championship, but Mercedes are said to be considering dropping their appeal against race director Michael Masi's decisions on Sunday.

Was Verstappen right to hate Hamilton? Let us know in the comments section.

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Despite admitting he got lucky with the safety car coming out and then then lapped cars between him and Hamilton being let go, the Dutchman felt it was balanced over the course of the year.

"We have won it on track," he said. "People say it was a lucky win. Absolutely, the win was very lucky.

"But we also have been very unlucky throughout the season, otherwise the championship would have been decided way earlier, even with the dominance Mercedes had towards the end of the season.

"I'm like, 'Well, sometimes a little bit of luck in your life is nice as well.'"

Masi has faced significant criticism for his decision making, with the argument that he prioritised entertainment over sporting integrity front and centre.

Verstappen sympathised with Australian official, who had the eyes of the F1 world on him with little time to make up his mind.

"It's a really tough job he has," Verstappen continued. "People say maybe he needs help. Yeah, fair point. Everyone needs help. I need help as well.

"Michael is a nice guy and he tries his very best and it's very unfair to now start hating on him because it is a very tough job."

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