Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Max Verstappen has highlighted three things that he can improve upon as he defends his F1 world title next season. The Dutchman finished top of the pile in 2021 for the first time, but knows that he cannot become complacent as he looks to add to that maiden trophy in the years ahead.
A huge stroke of luck in the Abu Dhabi finale helped him to become champion, as a safety car let him change to newer, faster tyres and close in on Lewis Hamilton, ready to overtake on the final lap.
Despite Mercedes’ protests over the way the title had been decided, Verstappen was eventually declared the champion.
Though the title battle ended in controversy, it had thrilled fans throughout the season and Verstappen had more than played his part in that.
He has clearly matured from the the super-fast but immature teenager who first came into the sport, and now looks set to challenge at the front for years to come.
But even though he has already come a long way, the 24-year-old knows there are still things he can and must improve upon if he is to continue to compete for race wins and world titles.
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“I always say that I’m never perfect in any area,” Verstappen told David Coulthard for CarNext.com.
“Tiny things, how can I prepare myself better or make sure I understand the balance of the car better. How I can understand the tyres better.
“You always look at these kind of areas to try and understand or learn from the experience that I’ve had so far.”
Verstappen also opened up on the way the title had been decided, and praised his team for the quick strategy decision in reacting to the safety car and bring him in for the new tyres.
But he did admit that the overall circumstances would not have been how he would have liked to have won, given the choice, and conceded that Hamilton and Mercedes had been faster on the day.
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“It’s amazing how everything turned out, but if I had to do it again, I’m not sure if I would choose that. It’s also not good for my heart,” he added.
“They were clearly faster. But I said to myself, it doesn’t matter, I’m just going to push regardless and I’m not going to give them a big gap.
“Because of that, they never had a free stop. That always gave us the opportunity to fit new tyres. Even though we were too slow, we were still within that pit window.
“We kept hoping for a miracle and that came.”
While Verstappen was in control of his own car and in the thick of the action, his father Jos was stuck helplessly in the garage watching on.
Speaking in the same interview, Verstappen Snr described what those fateful final few laps after Nicholas Latifi’s crash had been like from his perspective.
“I left the pit, and I went upstairs to sit quietly [before the Latifi crash],” he said.
“I didn’t want the cameras on me because I had a feeling it wasn’t going to happen. Latifi crashed and we were hoping, we were jumping, we were happy.
“Then the cars between them could pass like they normally do. Everybody knows that if Max is behind with one lap to go, he will try, whatever happens.
“What I didn’t expect is that place to overtake, because then you have two long straights coming.”
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