Lewis Hamilton's sportsman spirit has been lauded by his title rival Max Verstappen. The Dutchman praised the seven-time world champion in an interview with Sky F1 at the Red Bull factory.
Verstappen pipped Hamilton to the finish line at last season's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix under controversial circumstances to become the world champion for 2021.
Hamilton was heard calling the result a 'manipulated' one as he approached the finish line. The Mercedes driver was, however, immensely gracious when he emerged from the car, as Verstappen recalled.
When asked to put himself in the Briton's shoes in the aftermath of the race, the 24-year-old Dutchman said:
“Well, I mean for sure it is a very tough situation, to lose the championship in the last lap. But, I think in a way, it is difficult to compare myself to him because I was fighting for my first title. He already had seven. So, in a way, you can take a bit of comfort out of that but nevertheless I am sure it is a painful situation.”
Verstappen then went on to add:
“But still I think what was very nice was that Lewis (Hamilton) came straight up to me after he was out of the car and he congratulated me and that’s I think what real sportsmen do and especially from Lewis to see that was really nice. And also Lewis’ dad (Anthony Hamilton) by the way.”
Both Lewis Hamilton and his father Anthony were quick to offer their congratulations to Max Verstappen and his father Jos in the pitlane.
Max Verstappen reveals conversation with Lewis Hamilton after 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Max Verstappen revealed the contents of the exchange he had with Lewis Hamilton when the two drivers met in parc fermé after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
In an interview with David Coutlhard for carnext.com, Verstappen said Hamilton was one of the first people to congratulate him on becoming the new world champion. The Dutchman said:
“I was (going crazy) the whole team was going crazy but of course, there is the other side where they are very disappointed and upset. I think what was nice was Lewis (Hamilton) immediately came up to me, walked down, said ‘congrats’ and I said ‘Thank you very much for an amazing season.”
Max Verstappen is the first Dutch champion in the history of F1 and the 34th different driver to achieve the feat. He is also the fourth-youngest driver to ever win a world championship.