Max Verstappen Reveals an Unknown Last Lap Detail That Almost Cost Him the Abu Dhabi F1 Thriller Win

Published 12/17/2021, 4:28 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 12, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen arrives at the circuit before the race REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


The 2021 F1 season has concluded and Max Verstappen has been felicitated with a much-deserved championship trophy. It didn’t come easy for the Red Bull driver though. His rivalry with F1 ace Lewis Hamilton went down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, where he managed to pull off a solid last lap to clinch his maiden title.

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M0re recently, Max Verstappen shared details of what it felt like to be in the RB16B cockpit during the final moments. Because of the safety car debacle, the Dutchman surely got a second bite at the cherry. However, he still needed to execute that final lap perfectly to bring home the title. As per Verstappen, he suffered a leg cramp in that crunch moment which made it a tough row to hoe.

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

Max Verstappen suffered a cramp in the final lap

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Lewis Hamilton was on an absolute flyer in the final race at Abu Dhabi. The gap between the two title protagonists was over 10 seconds for the better part of the race. However, Lewis Hamilton was on a one pit-stop strategy, which cost him dearly in the end. A few laps before the end, the Williams of Latifi went into the barriers and the safety car came into play. Verstappen got a second chance, and he made the most of it.

In a recent interview with BBC, the Dutchman reflected back on this exceptional season and his rivalry with Mercedes. He also revealed something about his condition in the final moments of the race. The Dutchman suffered a leg cramp ahead of the final lap and had to drive probably the most important lap of his career, enduring that pain.

“I wasn’t even sure when it was going to restart. Then I heard it was going to restart and I was behind him [Hamilton]. The problem I had when I crossed the start/finish line to try and attack him, I got a massive cramp in my leg so I had to deal with that as well,” said the 24-year old. 

“You see all the footage of people going crazy in the garage or on the pit wall but I had to first go for the title and deal with a cramp in my leg as well, which is very painful. Because of the adrenalin, you have to deal with it. It wasn’t easy but that last lap was pretty intense.”

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“I knew I had the grip advantage but you still need to go for the pass. Luckily it all worked out,” expressed Verstappen.

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The rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen gave us a unique piece of racing history. The teams are already looking forward to adapting to the new cars for 2022, starting with the 18-inch tires in post-season testing. What are your predictions for the 2022 season?

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Rituraj Tripathi

254 articles

Rituraj Tripathi is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. A true lover of speed, he is big fan of Lewis Hamilton and finds a future world champion in Lando Norris. Rituraj eagerly looks forward to the paddock moving to the Circuit de Monaco, and he finds Portier corner as the most exciting part of the track.

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