Verstappen’s title-winning last-lap pass on Hamilton was “very painful” due to cramp

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen revealed he was in agony as he performed the last-lap pass on Lewis Hamilton which clinched the world championship.

The Red Bull driver overtook his rival at turn five as the final lap began, following a late restart which was the subject of post-race controversy lasting several days, until Mercedes dropped its threat of an appeal.

Verstappen collected his championship trophy at the FIA prizegiving ceremony yesterday. The Red Bull driver, who trailed Hamilton throughout the race until the final lap, admitted his chances looked lost until its contentious resumption on the final lap.

“Throughout that whole race we didn’t have the pace,” said Verstappen. “It didn’t look like we were going to win because the last few races we were just a bit behind.

“But I never gave up. I always said to myself I’m not going to make it look easy for them. I’m just going to keep pushing and I’m going to try everything I can to at least keep the gap close. And that’s what we did.”

Red Bull “did a great job with the strategy always putting new tyres on at the right time”, said Verstappen. That left him on fresh set of soft tyres at the end of the race while Hamilton had 44-lap-old hard rubber for what turned out to be a one-lap restart.

“You do need a bit of luck sometimes,” Verstappen admitted. “When you look throughout the whole season, we had a lot of bad luck and I actually lost a lot of points already. So otherwise it would have been a completely different championship. But that’s always, you have the ‘ifs’.

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“So, going into that race and then seeing it was not happening, I wasn’t very happy at the time for 55 laps or something. But then we had one lap to go and I knew I had the better tyres on. I was like, ‘well, I have nothing to lose now.'”

However, as he restarted the race in Hamilton’s slipstream, Verstappen was struck by a sudden pain. “I started to cross the line for the last lap and I got a massive cramp in my leg,” he explained. “So I had to deal with that in my throttle leg as well.

“So when I was going to go for the move into turn five, I had a massive cramp. I was actually very happy there was a corner coming up because I could actually brake. But that was also then the move to go into the lead, which was great.”

Having got ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen had to keep him behind through the runs to turns six and seven and again to turn nine. “There were two long straights to defend and to deal with a cramp like that is not very nice,” he said.

“But I also knew that I’m fighting for a world championship here, and it’s always been my dream. So I was just biting through that moment. On TV you don’t see these kind of things but it was very painful.

“Of course to then come over the line all the emotions came out. I didn’t even know what to say. We were just screaming. I never had so many people screaming into my earpieces. I think I’m still a bit deaf.”

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Verstappen’s title-winning last-lap pass on Hamilton was “very painful” due to cramp”

  1. Coventry Climax
    17th December 2021, 13:18

    He ‘revealed’ that last sunday already.

    1. True. But this site first needed to cater to the outraged “fans”, loosing all sense of nuance and contributing very little to any form of balanced dialogue.

      1. Hahaha, @vvans. Nice one! :O)

    2. Did he? Where? I must have missed that, so I am happy that Keith published this.

      1. @hahostolze He mentioned that he had cramp in his post-race interview with Jenson Button. I don’t previously recall him saying that he developed it during the race, though.

        1. @red-andy

          Well, that’s pretty obvious, right?

        2. @red-andy, I didn’t notice him saying that to JB. I guess I didn’t pay enough attention, LOL.

    3. Maybe but without details.

      He has the champion mentality that to be fair Sore Lew had also at times.

      You don’t give up or assume anything until the line has been crossed.

      Many lesser competitors/fanatics forget that and when they lose, their entitled behaviour and mental gymnastics are, well… there for all to see.

      Let’s hope he doesn’t fall for that mentality and become entitled too.

  2. Disappointed that Red Bull chose to celebrate whilst their driver was clearly in need of medical attention! 😀

    1. Ahah, good one.

    2. I guess this sounds right:

      Scary Terry (@hatebreeder)
      18th December 2021, 3:16
      Disqualify Red Bull from the championship and ban him for 6 months.

      1. @bulgarian, normally I don’t do this, but I have to this time.

        1. You completely missed the joke I made in the other article.
        2. I’m disappointed by the fact that you decided misquote me for some internet points. You should take a step back and ask yourself what decisions you took to that brought you to this point in your life. Strive to be a nicer human being. It doesn’t take much effort really.

  3. Nothing to the pain felt by any genuine F1 fan, at this blatant fiddle.
    LibFlix will now officially be referred to as LibFix.

    1. Accurate assessment of netflix. I am glad i am not the only one.

    2. LibFix! They must be proud to be able to fix such a formerly great sport.

  4. So it was painful for both then.

    1. Not to mention the pain all the fans had for the days after, or the headache felt by all Red Bull team members, Toto Wolff and Valtteri Bottas on monday morning :D

    2. It should be painful for every fan of the sport, regardless of which driver you support, to see officials ignoring the rules.

  5. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
    17th December 2021, 14:06

    If we go down to this level of ‘news’, there certainly is anything juice or clickbateable at the moment

  6. Why is only the “very painful” between quotation marks?

    1. Why is only the “very painful” between quotation marks?

      Because that’s a direct quote from him. We only use double quote marks for direct quotes.

      1. Aah, ok thanks! :)

  7. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    17th December 2021, 14:14

    Apparently he also had an engine failure on the last lap. It was only his will and sheer determination which propelled the car forward.

    1. Sorry. Hit report button by mistake

      1. @keithcollantine as an extra request, could we please get an “are you sure” confirmation modal for the report function? I’ve lost track of the number of cases of these over the last few days, and I’m sure you and your team are getting tired of it. It would be pretty straightforward to add a tiny bit of HTML and JavaScript to do it.

    2. Fred Flintsone would be proud

  8. I’m sure Hamilton fans would have loved to have seen the final laps finished under the SC in a boring anticlimax but I’m glad we had all that drama. Max should have clinched it a race or two before but his bad luck contributed to a final showdown. The incident at Silverstone started a war for the rest of the season which was enthralling to watch for fans. Hopefully more of the same next year.

    1. That seems like quite a blinkered view.

      What about all the running competitors off the track and driving too aggressively incidents ?

      Silverstone itself, Verstappen could have avoided the collision, it was poor judgment from him. It is also part of the reason Lewis Hamilton managed to catch and was on course to overhaul Verstappen’s points lead, he knows when to avoid such situations.

      Yes it may have been an anti-climax finishing under the safety car, but it was one of possibly two genuine options left, the other not letting cars to unlap themselves.

      Many seasons have ended with an anti-climax if not under safety cars, the eventual drivers champion may not win the race or even within the points but that is no reason to manipulate how a race should end, especially not outside the rules.

      That includes deploying a red flag when there isn’t good reason to do so.

      I think many who think it is ok have a skewed perception of what is right and just !

      I wonder if the ‘E’ will be making a comment on this soon ?

      1. So you counter a blinkered view with a blinkered view? :-)

  9. Confusing cramps with guilt maybe ?

  10. Come on Max.
    You’ve won the title, no need to go after the sympathy vote as well.
    Let Lewis at least have something ;)

  11. Constantijn Blondel
    17th December 2021, 19:18

    Max has a point here, and it’s one I grokked through Bathurst 1000, Indy 500, and Nascad: you still have zo _be_ there to rake tge advantsfe

    1. It appears that you got keyboard cramps on your last lap there.

  12. Ahh, so that explains why he was weaving all over the track after he got past Hamilton

  13. There is no doubt that those 57 out of 58 laps behind Lewis were more painful for Max.

  14. What a champion!

  15. Spells? / Voodoo? High stakes players do that, politicians do this as well, regardless the lack of scientific evidence in its pure true form. The comment may lead to jokes and disqualification but it’s part of our society / civilization.

Comments are closed.