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Verstappen reveals gracious Hamilton and Wolff text messages

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

Abu Dhabi, December 14: New Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has revealed he was graciously congratulated by both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff following Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix triumph.

The Dutchman ripped his first-ever world championship from Hamilton's grasp after overtaking the Briton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi after a controversial late-race safety car period.

Mercedes protested twice about the circumstances around Verstappen's triumph after Hamilton appeared to be coasting to victory with an 11-second lead with 10 laps to go.

Max Verstappen edges Lewis Hamilton in last-lap thriller to be crowned new F1 championMax Verstappen edges Lewis Hamilton in last-lap thriller to be crowned new F1 champion

Despite that, Red Bull driver Verstappen said that Hamilton and Wolff had been gracious in defeat.

"Toto sent me a text - congratulations on the season and that I deserved to win, that was very nice," Verstappen said.

Verstappen added: "Lewis is a great sportsman in general."

Verstappen confirmed as champion as Mercedes fail with Abu Dhabi protestsVerstappen confirmed as champion as Mercedes fail with Abu Dhabi protests

He continued: "Of course it helps if you have already seven titles," Verstappen said. "That comforts him a bit. I think if it was the other way around, it would have been more painful for me because I didn't have one.

"Lewis came up to me and congratulated me. It must have been very tough in that last lap. It also shows the respect we have for each other.

Fireworks from start to finish – how Verstappen became F1 champion in 2021Fireworks from start to finish – how Verstappen became F1 champion in 2021

"Of course we had our tough times through the season but we respect what we're doing and we were pushing each other to the limit and it has been very enjoyable racing against him."

Meanwhile, a message aired via car on-board channels has surfaced with Hamilton claiming on radio message "this has been manipulated" with four corners to go when trailing Verstappen on the final lap.

'Mad Max' evolves into Formula One world champion'Mad Max' evolves into Formula One world champion

Hamilton made the remark to race engineer Peter Bonnington, angered by Race Control's handling of the safety car restart with only the five lapped cars between the seven-time world champion and Verstappen permitted to be overtaken, allowing the Dutchman a clear run in the final lap.

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Story first published: Tuesday, December 14, 2021, 6:30 [IST]
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