Lewis Hamilton says his ‘worst fears came to life’ after Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title race against Max Verstappen

The seven-time world champion saw a possible record eighth title slip away after being beaten by the 24-year-old Red Bull driver after a controversial season finale in December 2021.
“You see how things are going,” Hamilton said in an interview with Vanity Fair published Monday.

“My worst fears came alive. I figured there’s no way they’re going to cheat on me. No way. That will not happen. Certainly not.”

Hamilton was on track to win his eighth world title until Williams Racing’s Nicholas Latifi crashed into the guardrail with four laps to go, prompting the safety car to be called.

Former F1 race director Michael Masi allowed the race to restart on the final lap and Verstappen was allowed to start almost alongside Hamilton, despite the Mercedes driver having previously held a sizeable lead.

Verstappen eventually overtook Hamilton on fresh tires to win his first F1 world title.

Hamilton was on track to win his eighth world title last season until Verstappen took advantage of a late safety car and passed the Mercedes driver to claim his maiden F1 crown.

Hamilton said after the race he remembered sitting in his car “in disbelief”.

“I don’t know if I can really put into words how I felt,” he added.

“I remember just sitting there in disbelief. And I realized I need to unbuckle my belts, I need to get out of there, I need to climb out of this thing, I need to find the strength,” he added. “I had no strength. And it was one of the toughest moments, I would say, that I’ve had in a long, long time.”

“Something was wrong”

The outcome of the race drew mixed reactions on social media.

“Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but great respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I can’t believe what we just saw,” said fellow Mercedes driver George Russell tweeted back then.
Former F1 champion Damon Hill also expressed his disbelief at Masi’s decision. tweet: “This is a new way of doing the sport where the race director can make these ad hoc decisions. It was a bit of ‘guessing what I’m going to do now’ I guess.”
However, Liverpool FC footballer Virgil van Dijk congratulates Verstappen wrote on Twitter: “WHAT A BOSS!”
Mercedes initially appealed the ending of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but eventually withdrew its appeal and congratulated Verstappen on his win.
Hamilton congratulates Verstappen on his first world title after a dramatic season finale.

Asked if he felt betrayed by Masi’s decision and the controversy that followed, Hamilton told the magazine, “I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions were being made and why. Yes, I knew something was wrong.”

After a feverish end to an intense season, Hamilton said he found solace in his father’s arms.

“He hugged me and I think he said, ‘I want you to know how proud I am of you.’ For your dad to hug you like that is one of the most profound things,” he said.

“Especially since you didn’t grow up with it much.”