"Couldn't go full throttle" - Max Verstappen claims leg cramps hindered championship-winning lap of F1 2021 season

Formula 1 Testing in Abu Dhabi - Max Verstappen focuses on the task ahead.
Formula 1 Testing in Abu Dhabi - Max Verstappen focuses on the task ahead.

Max Verstappen claims he had a massive leg cramp during the epic final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which won him his first-ever F1 world title on Sunday. The Dutch driver said he was almost unable to go full throttle during the final lap due to the excruciating pain he experienced.

In an interview with former F1 driver David Coulthard, Verstappen gave a walkthrough of the intense final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he pulled off an epic late lunge overtake on Lewis Hamilton, clinching his maiden title victory in the sport.

The 24-year-old had a cramped calf muscle in his right leg, affecting the amount of throttle he could apply during the lap. He said:

"That last lap for me also, you know, you see me do the move and everything but like I said I had this cramp. All the time I was going full throttle, I basically almost couldn't go full throttle because my leg was really painful so I also had to deal with that."

This isn't the first time Verstappen has experienced a bad cramp during an intense racing moment. The Dutchman had a similar experience during the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, which was also his first race for Red Bull. He won the race after both Mercedes drivers crashed out early on. The current world champion had a cramp in his leg whilst defending from Kimi Raikkonen, who at the time drove for Ferrari. He talked about his battle with Raikkonen, saying:

"I also started cramping a little bit with like five laps to go. Because of the excitement and focus. It was very crazy."

Max Verstappen won his first race for Red Bull on his debut for the team, making him the youngest race winner in history at only 18 years of age.

Watch the full interview below:

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Jos Verstappen was unsure why Max Verstappen pulled off overtake at Turn 5

A late safety car coupled with confusion from the FIA saw Max Verstappen right behind Lewis Hamilton. With Hamilton's lead erased, the Dutchman found himself in the perfect position to clinch the title from his rival.

His father Jos Verstappen, a former F1 driver himself, was unsure why Max lunged down the inside of Hamilton at Turn 5 instead of waiting to do it on the last straight of the track, assuring the Briton wouldn't get the position back.

Verstappen Jr made it clear that he wanted to be in control of the race and stood a better chance at defending from Hamilton instead of desperately trying at the end of the lap.

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Edited by Anurag C