New Formula One world champion Max Verstappen says that he couldn’t have asked for a more insane last race of the season which saw the Dutch driver claim his first Formula One world championship in an absolutely epic season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Sunday.
Max Verstappen started the race from pole position and had an absolutely incredible battle with Lewis Hamilton and it was the first time in 47 years that the pair went into the race on equal points.
Speaking about being confirmed as world champion following his race win he said:
“It feels incredible to be World Champion and I couldn’t have asked for a more insane last race of the year. It was a bit of a rollercoaster, from not really having a chance of winning until the last lap, everything came together, and we had to go for it. I kept saying to myself, I am just going to give it my all and I have until the end and that is what we did. Of course, with that safety car restart in the last lap we had the fresher tyres but you still need to do the move – luckily it worked out. I want to say a big thank to Checo, because of his performance today, I won the Championship, he was driving his heart out for this Team. Today showed exactly what great teamwork is, he’s an amazing teammate. Mercedes won the Constructors’ and we won the Driver’s Championship so it really shows that throughout the whole year we pushed each other to the very end. Lewis is an amazing driver, there is no discussion about it. Of course, we had our moments throughout the season but I think you know that after everything we had an amazing fight this season and I think both teams gave it their all.”
Sergio ‘Perez’ had a fantastic race has he fought hard with Lewis Hamilton which helped Max Verstappen close in on Hamilton in the race and allowed the Dutch driver to claim his first championship and speaking following the race, Perez said:
“First of all, I’m extremely happy for Max and for this Team because they have worked so hard throughout the year and for many years. Max really deserves this Championship with the level he has driven at. I’m very happy to contribute to his title, he’s been a tremendous teammate and a great guy, I couldn’t be happier for him. Lewis was in control of the race and Max was 10 seconds or so behind so I am extremely happy I could do something to help the outcome. I was on extremely old tyres so there was not much I could do but I managed to take a couple of seconds of out of Lewis, which was critical and had an impact on the race. You don’t want to get involved in their Championship and their battle, they’ve worked so hard for to be in this moment, but this is my Team, I did that for my Team and for Max. I think finishing second was possible for me today with the way the race ended up concluding, but I had to retire because my car was not looking great and it could have ended up creating another safety car. It’s a shame in the end that we didn’t get the Constructions title, but I’m extremely happy with the job we’ve done this season.“
Red Bull Racing Team Principal and CEO Christian Horner commented saying:
I said it was going to need something from the racing Gods in the last ten laps and thank goodness for that safety car. It has been a great competition this season and for Max to win the World Championship, it is not just about the race here, it is about the whole year and how incredible and consistent he has been as a driver. All credit to Lewis too, he has been a phenomenal opponent all year and a great World Champion, he has been formidable and that is what makes it even more of a monumental achievement to win this. This Championship came down to the last lap and it was a great strategy call by the Team to make that pit stop onto the set of softs and then it was down to Max to make it happen, which he did in typical Max style. I was screaming from turn five all the way down that back straight. He got the job done. I am just so proud of Max and the team for what we’ve been through this year and what we have achieved against some fierce and great opponents. Checo was the perfect teammate today, what he did keeping Lewis behind, on totally worn tyres, was just super driving. Without him today Max probably wouldn’t be World Champion, the whole Team executed their strategy, flawlessly. On balance after 22 races we have won this World Championship on the facts. I would also like to thank Honda for their teamwork and support over the last few years. We will continue our partnership in a different way, but we look forward to continuing the success.