Fernando Alonso feels sorry for Lewis Hamilton as new F1 champion Max Verstappen lucky

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Fernando Alonso believes Lewis Hamilton was hard done by in the way he lost the F1 title race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Spaniard also labelled Max Verstappen “lucky” to have come out on top, after benefitting from a huge slice of good fortune in the form of the late safety car which changed everything.

After overtaking his pole-sitting rival before the first corner and escaping punishment for going off the road to retain the lead in a first-lap battle, Hamilton dominated the race.

His pace proved too strong for Verstappen to keep up with, even after an early pit stop for fresher tyres.

His Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez did him a huge favour by staying out after Hamilton had pitted so he could try to hold up the Mercedes ace.

And the plan worked well, with the Mexican battling fiercely but fairly with Hamilton over several corners, while Verstappen made the most of the fight to cut his deficit from 10 seconds down to around two.

But once Hamilton got past Perez, the lead was building again.

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Even a cheap second stop for Verstappen, during a virtual safety car period in which he was fitted with even newer tyres, did not help, as he closed to within 14 seconds but then Hamilton found the pace to keep his rival at arm’s length.

It was only when Nicholas Latifi crashed – forcing a safety car as his stricken Williams was left lifeless on the track – that Verstappen could close right up to his rival.

And Red Bull were even able to squeeze in a third stop to give him fresh soft tyres in case there was time for a lap or two of racing at the end.

There was, courtesy of race director Michael Masi’s controversial call to bring in the safety car earlier than the sporting regulations say should be the case so that the season could be decided under race conditions.

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Hamilton’s heavily worn tyres were no match for Verstappen’s new soft rubber, leaving the Briton virtually powerless to defend his lead and a bystander as the Red Bull roared past and across the line.

Alonso, who was one of those allowed to unlap themselves during the safety car period, believes Verstappen was very fortunate to win the title in the way he did.

But he did go on to say that the Dutchman deserved his maiden F1 crown for the performances he had put in across the season, and that the most fair result would have been if they could share the title.

“Today he was lucky – without the safety car Lewis was world champion and with safety car Max is world champion, so it’s a pure luck thing what happened,” the Spaniard told The Australian.

“And it’s going to be a big topic I guess but if you take the 22 races as I said on Thursday, any of the two could be a world champion.

“I think more than any other year, if you can split the trophy in two, this was the year to do it because both of them were outstanding.”

Alonso went on to say he felt for his former McLaren team-mate Hamilton as he had shown his talent to take full control of an incredible quick Mercedes car and attack the title in the final weeks in the way he did.

“Sure [I feel sorry for Lewis] because Lewis was driving at another level, especially the second part of the championship,” the Alpine star added.

“The Mercedes was a faster car, yes, but Valtteri [Bottas] was not second, it was Lewis putting that performance.

“So when you lose the championship because of a safety car in the last moment, for sure you feel a little bit sorry.”

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