Max Verstappen Hails Perez’ Role in Title Victory Against Lewis Hamilton

Published 12/18/2021, 4:49 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Mexico City Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 7, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the race with third placed Red Bull’s Sergio Perez Pool via REUTERS/Francisco Guasco


One would reckon Max Verstappen won the 2021 world championship title with the help of the safety car that showed up late in the race. However, that certainly isn’t true. Instead, it was the lap 20 battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez that brought Verstappen back into the game.

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Let us assume Perez let Hamilton by without putting up a fight. In that case, Hamilton would have managed to extend his lead by over 8s, meaning even when Verstappen pitted under the VSC, the Briton would have had enough time to pit as well on the subsequent lap and still hold on to the lead.

Instead, that brilliant defending from Perez brought the gap down to less than 2 seconds as Mercedes were left with their hands tied from thereon. There was absolutely nothing they could do, as they had everything to lose by making a pit stop.

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Hence, all Mercedes could do was watch while Verstappen had the freedom of pitting under both the VSC and the safety car periods.

Max Verstappen reacts to Perez’s battle against Hamilton

Verstappen watched the battle that started on lap 20 and went on till halfway through lap 21. The Dutchman admitted that it was no normal battle, considering Perez was defending against someone like Hamilton. It wasn’t just defending, but also reducing his pace so that Verstappen could close the gap down to the leaders.

Yeah, brilliant! This just isn’t normal. How he was defending there. Yeah, that was insane. How many seconds he [Hamilton] lost. Yeah, unbelievable how he’s defending here [turn 6],” Verstappen told Ziggo. “Insane! Because of him, I’ve also won the championship.”

Max watching the Checo Lewis battle (with subtitles, credits to @formulademi) from formula1

Verstappen further affirmed that Hamilton had to be careful against Perez as he had a championship to lose at that point. Hence, pulling off any kind of an aggressive move against Perez would have led to catastrophic consequences.

Lewis also had to be careful. For me, it was great,” he said.

I saw them fighting at one point: Verstappen

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Verstappen revealed that he saw a glimmer of hope when he noticed Perez and Hamilton tailgating each other after having found himself over 7s away from him at the beginning of the lap.

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 12, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates winning the race and the world championship with the Netherlands flag on the podium REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

It’s not normal. I thought it was unbelievable how, for one lap, or longer than a lap, he could hold on. I saw them fighting at one point. I was coming really close,” he said.

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Overall, while the stewards played a part in Verstappen winning the title, if it wasn’t for Perez, even those bizarre decisions would not have done enough for the Dutchman. But let’s hear it from you – Was Perez’s one-lap defense the title-deciding moment of the race?

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Rohit Kumar

1672 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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