The Red Bull driver overtook Hamilton on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to clinch his maiden F1 world championship in controversial circumstances after FIA race director Michael Masi failed to apply the correct rules during a late Safety Car period. 

 

It came after a spellbinding season-long battle in which momentum dramatically swung back and forth between Verstappen and Hamilton as the pair pushed each other to the maximum, leaving the rest of the field in their wake. 

“We had some dominant races but also in general, I think, Mercedes was a stronger team,” Verstappen told select media including Crash.net the day after winning the title. 

“It’s been a really enjoyable battle having two teams fighting and pushing flat out until the end.” 

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Asked if the battle with Hamilton had pushed him to a higher level, Verstappen replied: “I think not necessarily only ourselves pushing each other, but we were pushing the whole team behind us as well to another level, which maybe they didn’t think that was possible. 

“For everyone this was very intense. To be fighting every single race, everything had to be perfect, or try to be near-perfect with strategy outcomes and preparation before a weekend, no mechanical failures - all these kinds of things. 

“So there was a lot of pressure and stress I think for everyone involved.” 

So did Verstappen feel the drivers’ and constructors’ title split between Red Bull and Mercedes was a fair result at the end of a pulsating 22-round campaign?

“With the drivers it could have gone either way,” he said. 

“Lewis and I had an amazing season, both of us. We were pushing each other to the limit and I think it’s fair in the constructors’, they were the faster team. 

“So there are no regrets. We really tried everything we could as a team to do well, but I think it’s a fair result.”