“With the title there is more peace,” the Dutchman said on ServusTV Monday evening. “My dream has always been to win the World Cup once. All that comes now is a reward. But in the first race I want to win again.” Red Bull driver Verstappen became world champion for the first time after a controversial decision by race management and a thrilling final lap just over a week ago in Abu Dhabi. Mercedes initially made several objections, prompting Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to make critical statements. Mercedes has been dubbed a “bad loser”.
“This arose from the whole situation throughout the season. At first perhaps the choice of words was a bit excessive,” Marko said more mildly on Hangar-7. Regarding the tensions between him and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, Marko says: “We don’t go on vacation together. He does a great job. I try to get the best of us. Then there are points of contention here and there.”
Verstappen has now also revealed the interior. So he had a leg cramp on the crucial last lap. “It wasn’t cool,” the 24-year-old said. “When I gave him the full throttle, I felt pain. But it didn’t matter in the last round of the World Cup.”
Teammate Sergio Perez, who slowed Hamilton for a long time on poor tires during the last braking, played a crucial role in winning the title. “In the end he decided to race for us because Mercedes couldn’t stop. Without Chico I wouldn’t have been world champion,” Verstappen said with conviction.
On his personal relationship with Hamilton, Verstappen said: “In the end it was fine. Of course we had our moments and we might have been angry at each other. But we also have nice duels and over-the-top maneuvers. So the respect still exists.”
Verstappen is convinced Hamilton will be back at the start of next year, despite some resignation statements. “Usually he should be back. Those are emotional words after the race.” The fact that Prince Charles was knighted after losing the World Cup was a nice thing for the British. “I can’t be my master in Holland. But I don’t need to either. I’m a racing driver. A world champion title is enough.”
Marko is hoping Verstappen will stay with the team for a long time and has praised his student on Alfalfa. “Seeing Max in a car is so distracting that he pushes his skill to the limit. He is without a doubt the best driver I have ever worked with. He is unique in terms of speed, talent and will.”
2022 will be all about the new cars in Formula 1. So far, Verstappen said he’s only driven next year’s car in the simulator. “I hope the racing will be better, the overtaking will be easier and the teams will get closer to each other.”
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