Verstappen sees no reason why Hamilton would quit after Abu Dhabi heartbreak

By Sports Desk December 16, 2021

Max Verstappen says he sees no reason why Lewis Hamilton would walk away from Formula One after the Dutchman controversially dethroned him in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton looked destined to win a record eighth F1 title as he dominated the decisive season-ending race at the Yas Marina Circuit last Sunday, having made a great start to pass pole-sitter Verstappen.

There was a dramatic late twist, though, as the safety car was deployed after Nicholas Latifi crashed and Red Bull called Verstappen in for fresh tyres in one final throw of the dice.

Race director Michael Masi then made a contentious call to let the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen – running first and second but separated by a series of lapped rivals – pass the safety car and allow one lap of racing, opening the door for the Dutchman to snatch his maiden title.

Mercedes launched a double protest of the outcome, which was dismissed, and then lodged an intention to appeal against the stewards' decision, before finally accepting Verstappen's triumph on Thursday.

Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff said Hamilton was disillusioned after being "robbed" of victory and the Brit will never get over what happened in Abu Dhabi, stating that there were no guarantees the 36-year-old would be back to try to regain the title next year.

Yet Verstappen would be surprised if Hamilton decides to call time on his incredible career.

He said: "I can understand the first few days after a race like that you're not happy.

"But you should also understand this is racing and these things can happen. He should just look back at what he has achieved already.

"That should give him a lot of comfort, and it should also be that drive to keep on going because he is still trying to challenge for that eighth title and for sure he can do that next year, so I don't see any reason to give up just now."

Verstappen added: "I don't feel sorry [for Hamilton] but I can understand that it can be very painful. But at the end of the day, he also won a championship like that."

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    Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

    The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

    That left Verstappen unable to fight his way up the order and instead had to see off pressure from Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who secured a first points finish in F1, and the Dutch ace says the incident "destroyed" the side of his car.

    "I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.

    "As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

    "Within two corners, I felt like the car was falling apart. I thought initially I had a puncture, which was not the case, but even after that the car was a handful to drive."

    The issues saw Verstappen's lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship drop to 34 points, with the Mexican driver coming second, but Verstappen believes the result was still a positive one after the issues he sustained.

    "I think overall to finish seventh with that car, it was still a good result. It's better than zero points that's for sure," he added.

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    Nissany wrote on Twitter: "Thank you all so much for the concern. I'm ok, it’s part of racing and luckily the halo was there for me. We'll recover and come back stronger for Austria."

    Yet Formula Two race stewards imposed a punishment that will take effect in next week's race at Spielberg, handing Nissany a five-place grid penalty and saying he had "fully accepted blame".

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    His Ferrari took the glory at Silverstone, some 12 years after Sainz won on the track in his fledgling Formula BMW days, a world away from the elite level of motorsport.

    The 27-year-old overtook team-mate Charles Leclerc after a safety car delay, which followed a lap-39 breakdown for Esteban Ocon.

    While Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso fought for the lower steps of the podium, Sainz stayed out of trouble and powered to the chequered flag.

    This was his 150th grand prix, and despite achieving a flood of podium finishes, a win had been elusive until now.

    "It's amazing. A first race win, 150 races later, with Ferrari in Silverstone. I cannot ask for more," Sainz said.

    "It's a very special day, a day I shall never forget. Lewis was on it today, I heard, but we managed to hold on and I'm incredibly happy.

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    "All of a sudden the safety car gave me the opportunity to get back on it, and we did it. You can imagine the nerves on the safety car restart knowing it was my chance and getting it done and then the win."

    Reflecting on the drama behind him, Sainz said: "There was a lot going on, yeah?

    "Silverstone has been a bit of a special place for me. I had a first ever race win for me in Formula BMW in 2010, first pole position here back in 2010, and suddenly 12 years later I achieve exactly the same but in Formula One with Ferrari."

    Perez took second place, with Hamilton third

    Mexican driver Perez suffered damage to the front wing of his car on the first lap, finding himself sandwiched between Verstappen and Leclerc, but recovered admirably from having to dive into the pits for repairs.

    "It was a great comeback," Perez said. "We didn't give up, and we kept pushing. Then the opportunity came at the end, and we took it.

    "It was a great fight with Charles and then with Lewis. It was an epic final lap, and it was a good fight within us."

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