"I knew I had better top speed" - Max Verstappen explains last-lap overtake on Lewis Hamilton

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Max Verstappen has his eyes on the prize.
F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Max Verstappen has his eyes on the prize.

Max Verstappen claims he knew he had higher top speed whilst attempting to overtake Lewis Hamilton at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last Sunday. Verstappen made the move stick heading into Turn 5 of the final lap of the championship-deciding race after a late safety car erased the 11-second gap between the Dutchman and his rival.

In an interview with former F1 driver David Coulthard, Verstappen described his mindset during an intense final lap battle with rival Lewis Hamilton. Coulthard felt the 24-year-old overtook the Briton in the wrong corner, risking the position at a later part of the track. The first-time winner responded by saying he wanted to take control of the lap early on rather than waiting for the end. He said:

"I knew I had better top speed, so as soon as I am ahead, I can control the defense. When you're behind, they can always close the door and you aren't fully in control. So I felt like I need to send it [in] there and then I am in control."

Max Verstappen's father Jos Verstappen shared the same opinion as David Coulthard. The former driver also believes Verstappen Jr. took a risk by overtaking Hamilton going into Turn 5 and felt he should have left it for later on in the lap. In the context of the overtake, he said:

"I was like, 'Whoa, why there?' Because then he had two straights after that. So I was thinking he was lining up to pass him at the end of the straight."

Max Verstappen had a massive leg cramp during the intense final lap at the Yas Marina Circuit

Max Verstappen was nearly unable to go full throttle in his fight against Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday due to a severe cramp in his right leg.

For the uninitiated, the right foot controls the throttle in an F1 car, and losing subtle control of the pedal could result in an accident.

As for the cramp, 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."

Red Bull is all set to return with Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the 2022 season of F1, with the Dutchman racing with car #1 instead of #33.

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Edited by Anurag C