Verstappen doubted he could finish F1 title decider due to leg cramp | F1

Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap at the Yas Marina Circuit to win the title in dramatic circumstances.

In an interview with The Guardian, Verstappen opened up about the pain he suffered during the dying stages in Abu Dhabi.

“If you go back over the data you will not see a very smooth throttle input. I was screaming on the radio [after he had won] but the whole lap my foot was going like that,” Verstappen said.

“It was completely done. One more lap and I couldn’t have finished the race like that. The stress levels were so high in the final lap that probably your body reacts to that. But you cannot give up.”

Verstappen ultimately overtook Hamilton into Turn 5 on the final lap to take the lead of the race.

Reflecting on the final lap in Abu Dhabi, he explained: “I was like: ‘I need to overtake him [Hamilton]. There’s only one option here. I’m not going to finish second.’ I tried to be really on it with the restart. It was all working well until I crossed the line and started to feel cramp in my leg. It’s one of the most painful things that can happen because you’re going full throttle for a long time.

“You feel the muscle clenching and becoming like a tennis ball. Of course, the adrenaline helps because, if it were to happen when you’re just walking around, you cannot move. It’s impossible.

“But there was no option; I had to. So I was just keeping it full throttle and I could feel my leg hurting more and more. Luckily, turn five arrived and I went for the [overtaking] move. I had like three seconds off throttle.

“You then have two very long straights and, on the second one where Lewis came back at me, I could feel my foot vibrating. I couldn’t control it because the muscle was having a spasm. My foot on the last sector was like this [he indicated a juddering motion].”

The circumstances in which Verstappen won the title have dominated the headlines in the off-season with FIA race director Michael Masi heavily-criticised for his handling of the Safety Car period. 

The Dutchman doesn’t believe the controversy has overshadowed his success in 2021.

“Not at all,” he replied. “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.”


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