Abu Dhabi, December 17: Max Verstappen says he sees no reason why Lewis Hamilton would walk away from Formula One after the Dutchman controversially dethroned him in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton looked destined to win a record eighth F1 title as he dominated the decisive season-ending race at the Yas Marina Circuit last Sunday (December 12), having made a great start to pass pole-sitter Verstappen.
There was a dramatic late twist, though, as the safety car was deployed after Nicholas Latifi crashed and Red Bull called Verstappen in for fresh tyres in one final throw of the dice.
Race director Michael Masi then made a contentious call to let the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen – running first and second but separated by a series of lapped rivals – pass the safety car and allow one lap of racing, opening the door for the Dutchman to snatch his maiden title.
Mercedes launched a double protest of the outcome, which was dismissed, and then lodged an intention to appeal against the stewards' decision, before finally accepting Verstappen's triumph on Thursday (December 16).
Lewis, you are the greatest racer in the history of Formula 1 and you drove your heart out for every lap of this incredible season.
You're a flawless sportsman on and off the track and you delivered a faultless performance. pic.twitter.com/fCCmO0qwkj— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 16, 2021
Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff said Hamilton was disillusioned after being "robbed" of victory and the Brit will never get over what happened in Abu Dhabi, stating that there were no guarantees the 36-year-old would be back to try to regain the title next year.
Yet Verstappen would be surprised if Hamilton decides to call time on his incredible career.
He said: "I can understand the first few days after a race like that you're not happy.
"But you should also understand this is racing and these things can happen. He should just look back at what he has achieved already.
"That should give him a lot of comfort, and it should also be that drive to keep on going because he is still trying to challenge for that eighth title and for sure he can do that next year, so I don't see any reason to give up just now."
Verstappen added: "I don't feel sorry [for Hamilton] but I can understand that it can be very painful. But at the end of the day, he also won a championship like that."