As usual, Abu Dhabi delivered a massively thrilling final race of the season with a long and tough fight for Max Verstappen who eventually bagged the win despite a massive cramp that did not make the battle any easier for the Dutchman. When the opportunity to finally pass race leader Lewis Hamilton presented itself, the cramping in Verstappen's calf was definitely "not a nice feeling", especially under all that pressure.
Here's how Verstappen described his condition whilst making the final, title-deciding move on the seven-time world champion:
"When I actually went for the move I had a massive cramp. I was actually happy that in Turn 5 there was a breaking zone so I could come off the throttle but then, of course, I was at the front and then the whole straight... You know you have this massive cramp and your muscle is just cramping on and getting worse and worse."
At a time when Max Verstappen was struggling with pace compared to his title rival, and the pressure of having stayed behind throughout grew further, the Red Bull driver's persistence and thought process that "you just have to bite through it [the cramps]" is what brought the 24-year-old his first championship victory.
Max Verstappen shares credit with teammate Sergio Perez for race win in Abu Dhabi
Describing his team-mate as "an absolute animal", Max Verstappen was all praise for Sergio Perez after his thrilling victory at the Yas Marina Circuit. Lap 20 onwards, an unbelievable defense by Perez against Lewis Hamilton to delay the Briton's lead from Verstappen, played an indispensable role in the Dutchman's subsequent victory.
Here's how Verstappen expressed his appreciation towards Sergio Perez:
I also want to say a big thank you to Checo. I mean he was driving his heart out as well today, it was great teamwork and he's an amazing teammate."
"Insane. Because of Checo, today I won the championship as well.
While Checo was unfortunately unable to complete the race and had to retire the car, his contribution to the victory is something he can be proud of.
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