Max Verstappen does not expect his 2021 title rival Lewis Hamilton to walk away from Formula 1 in the wake of the Abu Dhabi controversy.
Following the controversial conclusion to the title battle in Abu Dhabi, question marks were raised over Hamilton’s future in the series, with the seven-time champ saying “we’ll see about next year” when quizzed on his plans going forward post-race.
The disappointment had stemmed from a late Safety Car appearance in Abu Dhabi, with Verstappen passing Hamilton on the final lap when the cars were released, after only the lapped runners between Verstappen and Hamilton had been allowed to unlap themselves, seemingly in breach of Article 48.12 of the sporting regulations.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff spoke publicly about the ordeal for the first time on Thursday, and could not give any assurances over Hamilton’s F1 future.
However, Verstappen does not see any real possibility that Hamilton is finished with the series.
At the FIA’s prize-giving gala, which Hamilton and Wolff did not attend, Verstappen said: “Of course, I can understand that the first few days, after a race like that, you’re not happy.
“You should also understand this is racing and these things can happen to you.
“I think he should just look back at what he has achieved, and that should give him a lot of comfort and that drive to keep on going.
“He is still trying to challenge for that eighth title, and he can do that again next year, so I don’t see any reason why to give up or stop now.”
Verstappen went on to explain that he does not feel sympathy for Hamilton and how his title challenge ended, but reiterated that he can understand the initial frustration.
“No, I don’t feel sorry [for him] but I can understand it can be very painful,” he said.
“At the end of the day, that’s racing as well. You just have to keep fighting until the end and you know that in racing anything can happen.
“He also won a championship like that. I think he can understand as well.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner had said that the prize-giving gala would provide the chance for Verstappen’s achievements to truly sink in.
Between the season ending and now though, Verstappen said he and Red Bull had been celebrating their success which was earned on-track, batting away any suggestions that they feared a further Mercedes appeal other the result was coming.
Two Mercedes appeals were dismissed post-race by the stewards, while on Thursday Mercedes confirmed that they would not follow through on their intention to lodge a further appeal.
“Not really,” Verstappen responded when asked if the Mercedes appeal threat had been on his mind.
“We were having a really good time as a team because we knew we won it on track.
“And there was a green light or a green flag [with the stewards’ verdict] and nobody could ever take that away from us, so I was in a good mood.”
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