Max Verstappen makes honest admission about reigniting Lewis Hamilton F1 battle in 2022

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Max Verstappen is refusing to get ahead of himself as he prepares to defend his F1 drivers’ title in 2022. Verstappen, 24, won his maiden championship in dramatic fashion when he overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ecstatically screaming as he took the chequered flag nearly three weeks ago.

However, the finish doesn’t even begin to tell the story of a controversial race at the Yas Marina Circuit, or even the season, after the two rivals arrived at the final Grand Prix level on points.

Hamilton seemed destined to take the title when he led by 11 seconds in the closing laps, only for Williams driver Nicholas Latifi to crash and spark a chaotic chain of events, altering his original safety car instructions and gifting Verstappen the opportunity to pass Hamilton on that already infamous last lap.

Even then the drama wasn’t done, with Mercedes duly launching two protests over the procedure, and although both were dismissed they immediately served notice of intent to appeal.

However, four days later they stated they wouldn’t be pursuing that avenue, allowing Verstappen to officially be crowned champion at the annual FIA prize-giving gala in Paris.

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The events denied Hamilton, 36, a record-breaking eighth world title, and despite being magnanimous in defeat after the race he is still yet to speak publicly since his heartbreaking loss.

That’s prompted speculation he may not return to the sport, although F1 fans have already been relishing the prospect of him again battling it out with Verstappen, 24, for the championship.

However, in an interview with Ziggo Sport, the Dutch protege refused to predict that he would even be the best Red Bull driver next season, let alone the best on the circuit.

Asked if he’s the team’s No 1 driver, he replied: “I do not like to say it like that, as we both have equal opportunities. You make your own luck but I do not want to be favoured.

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“I don’t need that, and it is not good for the team. Of course, I am world champion, but I will have to start from scratch again next year.”

Verstappen partnered Sergio Perez in 2021, and while the Mexican endured a disappointing season of his own, winning just won race and finishing fourth in the standings, he did play a vital role in his teammate triumphing in Abu Dhabi.

Before the late drama unfolded, temporary leader Perez held up Hamilton as he tried to lap him, allowing Verstappen to close the gap from behind and reignite the race as a contest.

And sure enough, Verstappen was full of praise for the man who replaced Alex Albon at the end of the 2020 campaign.

“He was super, I had no idea he’d be so good,” Verstappen said.

“I knew of him as a driver in F1 but now we spend a lot more time together, you notice what a good guy he is.”

The pair did however fail to land the constructors’ title, with Mercedes taking that honour for the eighth straight season.

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