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What they said: Reactions to Verstappen, new world champion

Max Verstappen edged out Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday to win the 2021 Formula One world championship.

It was a controversial last lap that led to a double appeal from Hamilton’s Mercedes team.  

Here are some of the reactions from the pitlane and beyond: 

Jackie Stewart, three-time former world champion

“The sport needed a new world champion and I think it was well done in the end, Max Verstappen has driven very well the whole season.”

Mario Andretti, 1978 F1 world champion

“What a showdown! I love champions, records and stories that make my heart beat 300 beats a minute Congratulations World Champion @Max33Verstappen. And to @LewisHamilton for an epic season and a story that surely continues.”

Alain Prost, four-time world champion

“It’s going to be commented in terms of rule about safety car. I can understand they (Mercedes) are not going to be happy about that. It was exceptional for the show. Always going to be controversial. I try to feel the happiness for Max and the sadness for Lewis.”

Damon Hill, 1996 world champion

“A lot of not very happy people. And a lot of very happy people. This is a new way of running the sport where the Race Director can make these ad hoc decisions. It’s been a bit too ‘guess what I’m going to do now’, I think.”

Nico Rosberg, 2016 world champion and former Mercedes team-mate of Hamilton

“Hats off to Max… big congrats & respect!!! Also an awesome performance by Lewis… it’s been an epic F1 season!”

Sebastian Vettel, four-time world champion

“Both (Lewis & Max) deserved it. Obviously I don’t know what exactly happened at the end, but congratulations to both of them.”

Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate 

“We wanted to get both titles. It hurts that Lewis didn’t get the drivers’.”

George Russell, Williams driver

“Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.”

Lando Norris, McLaren driver

“For it to end like that, I’m not so sure.”

Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool and Netherlands footballer

“WHAT A BOSS! @Max33Verstappen”

Former Netherlands striker Robin Van Persie  

“Wow. What an incredible ending of a Formule 1 season to remember forever! Two fantastic teams going all in for the win but there can only be one winner. A true champion replaced by another true champion. Congrats to @Max33Verstappen. You made us proud.”

Former India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar

“What a race! Congrats to Max for becoming the World Champion for the 1st time & there will be many more.However, my heart goes out to Lewis. What a season he’s had too. If not for the safety car, the trophy would’ve been his. Sheer bad luck. All the best for the next season.”

India cricketer Rohit Sharma

“1 ball 6 required and guess what, Max Verstappen hits it. Unbelievable win.”

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