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‘I really deserved it’: Max Verstappen rejects claims F1 world title is tarnished

Max Verstappen insists his maiden F1 world championship is not tarnished by the controversy which surrounded the final race of the season.

Verstappen clinched victory at the decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on a dramatic final lap in which he overtook reigning champion Lewis Hamilton. While the Dutchman’s racing was fair, the circumstances caused much contention, after race director Michael Masi hurried through the restart protocols following a safety car intervention in order to manufacture an entertaining finale.

Hamilton was magnanimous in defeat before stay quiet in the wake of the race, which had been in his grasp and would have seen him clinch a record eighth world title, surpassing Michael Schumacher. Only this weekend did he finally emerge on social media with a message saying: “I’m back.”

Race director Michael Masi received criticism after he was accused of bending the rules to allow a one-lap shootout, and while an FIA inquiry has been launched, it will not be made public until the eve of the 2022 season opener in Bahrain on 20 March.

Verstappen says the outcome of the investigation will not change anything and that his achievements are not tarnished by the uproar. “Not at all,” Vertsappen told the Guardian. “I had a very good season and I think I really deserved it. I have been really unlucky as well. People always remember the last race but, if you look at the whole season, the championship should have been decided way earlier.”

Vertsappen said he has had no contact with Hamilton since being congratulated by his rival after the race. “That’s quite normal,” Verstappen said. “We live our own lives and see each other quite a lot already [when racing]”.

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