Max Verstappen disclosed that he felt sorry for his 2021 rival Lewis Hamilton after last year's season finale in Abu Dhabi. The Dutchman claimed he sympathized with the seven-time world champion, despite their rivalry seemingly appearing to be quite the opposite.
Questions were raised about the way the 2021 title decider played out. Now, however, Verstappen claims he understands what Hamilton might have felt upon losing the championship despite coming so close. Speaking to motorsport-total, he said:
"Everything was looking great for him, and then something like this happens. It's tough."
Max Verstappen recalled the time Lewis Hamilton won a championship when his chances were looking slim (2008). Since this was a somewhat similar situation between him and the Briton, he expected the latter to understand that. He said:
"The only thing I said to myself at the time was: He's won seven titles and won one of them when it looked like he was going to lose - and then the situation turned around again on the last lap. So I hoped he would understand."
Verstappen and Hamilton had the rivalry of a lifetime in the 2021 season after both drivers delivered their maximum throughout the season. By the time they reached the final race, they were tied on points.
Hamilton was in control of the race until the very final lap when an unpredicted safety car helped Verstappen get ahead and win his maiden World Championship. The rivalry gave birth to a lot of hate between the fanbases, but now it could be a change of scenery seeing what the Dutchman has revealed now.
Max Verstappen unveils his respect for Hamilton throughout the years
There were many moments in the 2021 season where Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton clashed. The rivalry was quite heated by the time the duo raced each other at Yas Marina. Verstappen, however, revealed that he has always respected Hamilton and that they had a 'great duel.'
The Red Bull driver said:
"But yes, I felt for him. Of course, there were moments when we clashed, but I've always respected him, and I think we had a great duel."
Winning the World Championship was quite the opposite for Max Verstappen in the 2022 season. His assertive driving helped him dominate the entire grid, and he managed to win the title after the race in Japan. His rival, Charles Leclerc, couldn't even come close to him by the time the season ended.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton had a hard time in 2022 as this turned out to be his first season without a pole position or a victory since his debut in the sport due to the Mercedes W13's pace. Both drivers are now looking forward to a more challenging 2023 season.