Verstappen serene over Abu Dhabi F1 fallout as Red Bull ‘did nothing wrong’

Max Verstappen says that controversy over Abu Dhabi’s safety car restart has not taken the shine off his Formula 1 world championship success – because he knows Red Bull did nothing wrong.

Verstappen serene over Abu Dhabi F1 fallout as Red Bull ‘did nothing wrong’
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The Dutchman clinched his maiden F1 drivers’ crown at the Yas Marina circuit on Sunday, after a final lap safety car restart allowed him to overtake rival Lewis Hamilton for the win.

But the way in which the FIA handled the restart, which appeared to be in contravention of its own regulations, prompted a post-race protest from Mercedes that was not settled until many hours after the finish.

Although the FIA stewards rejected Mercedes’ claims, by insisting F1 race director Michael Masi has complete authority over the use of the safety car which therefore supersedes specific rules, the German car manufacturer remains unhappy.

While the controversy over what happened in Abu Dhabi shows no sign of quietening down, and Mercedes has until Thursday to decide whether or not to go ahead with an appeal, Verstappen says he is not too downbeat about the situation.

Asked if the protest and appeal controversy had taken the shine of his title success, Verstappen said: “No, I mean, it's quite typical looking at the season that it happens.

“It is what it is. I mean, we were still happy and enjoying it. And we, as a team, didn't do anything wrong.

“We raced when there was a green light and green flag, so we went for it and we did it on track.”

The Safety Car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

The Safety Car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

While the Abu Dhabi controversy will remain a talking point for a long while, Verstappen says that the whole season has been a rollercoaster for both him and the team.

And while he concedes that there were days like Sunday where fortune went his way, equally there were occasions when he felt he deserved better.

“It's been of course, a tough season,” he said. “We had definitely some dominant races, but also in general, I think Mercedes was a stronger team.

“But it's been a really enjoyable battle, having two teams fighting and pushing flat out to the end.

“Of course at times you think, this might not be it, we might not hang on until the end. But there are always surprises.

“Some races I think we have won which we shouldn't. But then also I had quite a bit of bad luck, of course, with the tyre getting taken out [in Baku] and these kind of things.

“So we lost also saw a lot of points by that. But all in all, it's been intense but a crazy season.”

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Verstappen also thinks that Red Bull and himself had to push themselves to levels even they thought were not possible in trying to beat Mercedes.

“We were pushing each other, but we were pushing the whole team behind us as well to another level, which they maybe didn’t think was possible,” he said.

“For everyone it was very intense. To be fighting every single race, everyone had to be so perfect with strategy, preparations before a weekend, no mechanical failures, and all these kind of things. There was a lot of pressure and stress for everyone involved.”

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