Hamilton congratulates Verstappen after ‘most difficult of seasons’ in F1

Lewis Hamilton has congratulated rival Max Verstappen after he won his maiden Formula 1 drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi.
The podium (L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, race winner, and World Champion; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1, second; Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal; Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari, third.
The podium (L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, race winner,…
© xpbimages.com

Hamilton took the lead from Verstappen at the start from second on the grid, which soon led to the first controversial flashpoint.

As Verstappen tried to go down the inside of the Mercedes driver into Turn 6, Hamilton was forced to take to the run-off, retaining track position.

The stewards didn’t think Hamilton had to give the place back and from then on, he dominated the race.

The grand prix turned on its head with a few laps to go when Nicholas Latifi’s crash in the final sector caused a Safety Car.

Verstappen switched to softs, while Hamilton remained out on his heavily-worn hards.

Hamilton looked to have secured the title when the FIA announce lapped cars wouldn’t be allowed to go past, meaning he’d have had several cars between him and his title rival.

Controversially, the FIA let a handful of lapped cars go past, meaning Hamilton was defenceless to Verstappen’s soft-fitted Red Bull, losing the title on the final lap.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: "Firstly, a big congratulations to Max and to his team.

"I think we did an amazing job this year, with my team. Everyone back to the factory, all the men and women we have - and here - worked so hard this whole year. It's been the most difficult of seasons and I'm so proud of them, so grateful to be a part of the journey with them.

"We gave it everything this last part of the season, we gave it absolutely everything and we never gave up. And that's the most important thing. I've been feeling good ... great in the car this past couple of months, particularly at the end.

"If I'm honest, you know, we're still in the pandemic and I just really wish everyone to stay safe and have a good Christmas with all their families and then we'll see about next year."

Mercedes has protested the result of the Abu Dhabi GP.

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