Hamilton looked on course to land a record-breaking eighth world championship having controlled the season finale in Abu Dhabi until a late safety car flipped the race and title battle on its head when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. 

The safety car wiped out Hamilton’s 12-second advantage and also enabled Red Bull to pit Verstappen for fresh soft tyres, with Mercedes keeping its driver out to retain track position with only a few laps remaining. 

Verstappen went on to pass Hamilton during a controversial last-lap sprint to the flag to clinch his maiden F1 world championship. 

“There was one side that was incredibly happy, and one side that was disappointed,” Verstappen said during a chat with select media including Crash.net on Monday. 

“Of course, I felt for Lewis. He did everything right throughout the whole race. 

“But F1 can be very unpredictable and it can go either way. It could have been the other way around as well, where I would be controlling the race and then I lose it on the last lap. 

“Unfortunately, it’s also part of racing.”

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Verstappen admitted he did not have the pace to challenge Hamilton without the intervention of the safety car but stressed he was determined not to give up despite the outlook appearing bleak for his title prospects. 

“Of course I saw that I was not catching enough,” he explained. “So I told myself to just keep pushing until the end, because I'm not gonna give up. And that's what we did.

“The safety car came out of course. We needed a miracle and it did happen, but you still need to then capitalise on that. 

“You need to go for the overtake. That's what we did. And yeah, it was a dramatic end for sure.”

Verstappen revealed he was congratulated by both Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after winning the title. 

The Dutchman also tipped Hamilton to bounce back strongly from his title disappointment next season. 

“Lewis is a great sportsman,” he said. “It’s racing and we all have to deal with it, if it’s positive or negative.  

“But he will come back again very strong because he’s an amazing driver.”