Valtteri Bottas explains why Lewis Hamilton lost to Max Verstappen in F1 decider

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen analysed by Coulthard

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Valtteri Bottas believes bad luck cost Lewis Hamilton during Sunday’s epic F1 showdown with Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. The British driver went into the race looking to win an eighth Drivers’ Championship of his career. However, it was his Red Bull rival who ended up reigning supreme instead.

Hamilton led for the majority of the race in Abu Dhabi, with the Brit surging towards the prize until the last lap.

However, after an incident involving the safety cars, Verstappen was then able to pip him to both first on the grid and the F1 title.

The Belgian-Dutch driver scooped the prize in controversial circumstances, with Mercedes then unsuccessfully launching two appeals.

It’s since emerged the Silver Arrows have given up on protesting the decision, meaning Verstappen has now officially etched his name into the history books.

While it was joy for the 24-year-old, it was agony for Hamilton.

And Bottas, speaking after the race, expressed a belief that bad luck had cost Hamilton the chance to move ahead of Michael Schumacher on eight titles.

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“I’m sure they [Race Control] make the decisions for safety,” he said.

“If there’s a car sideways next to a barrier, there were men on the track… normally you need a Safety Car, so [it was] just unlucky.

“I really feel gutted for him, because I feel like he deserved it today. He had a great start, great race. Then things change like this.

“But you know, that’s the sport, that’s how it goes.

“Sometimes it goes against [you], or sometimes it goes for you, but today was not our day.”

Bottas also sent an emotional message to his Mercedes team-mate, admitting he’d have loved to have seen Hamilton reign supreme.

“I haven’t seen anyone yet, but I can feel it. We wanted to get both titles,” he said.

“Getting the Constructors’ [Championship] again is huge.

“But at the same time, it hurts that Lewis didn’t get the Drivers’ [Championship] because, even for me, I feel like I lost the championship because he lost it!”

The race in Abu Dhabi was Bottas’ last with Mercedes, with the Finn poised to move to Alfa Romeo.

And he’s opened up on the new challenge that now awaits him, admitting to ‘mixed emotions’ over his departure from the Silver Arrows.

“It’s time for something new. I’m really, really proud and thankful [for] what we’ve achieved together, we’ve done great things,” he added.

“It maybe wasn’t the best race to finish it, but we need to look at the big picture.

“We won five Constructors’ and with Lewis we are the most successful teammate pairing in the history of Formula 1, so it’s kind of sad to leave. But of course, I look forward to the future.”

Hamilton sent a classy message to his Red Bull rival after missing out on more F1 glory.

“A big congratulations to Max and to his team,” said Hamilton.

“We did an amazing job this year. It’s been the most difficult of seasons, we gave it everything, this last part of the season, we never gave up and that’s the most important thing.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, chose to reflect on his sensational achievement.

“It’s just insane – my goal when I was little was was to become a Formula One driver and you hope for wins, to be on the podium,” he said.

“When they play the national anthem you one day hope they play yours and then when you stand here and they tell you [that] you are world champion it is incredible and special.

“All the things come back through your mind throughout all the years you spent together, travelling for that goal… and everything comes together in the last lap.

“Insane, these people, my whole team, my family, my friends, the people who want to push me to where I am today. They’re all here – most of them are here. It’s just insane, I lost my voice, but yes. I don’t know, it just sounds amazing, honestly.

“It’s incredible to see all this orange here but all over the world, they’ve supported me throughout my whole career… and I hope I can do this for a very long time of course with the support of my great fans.”

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