World Champion Max Verstappen revealed how he almost lost the Abu Dhabi GP, saying he would have lost his lead had his pain continued.
Verstappen won the title-deciding 2021 Abu Dhabi GP in thrilling and dramatic fashion, having launched a last-lap overtake on the race leader to win. He achieved his dream of winning the world championship in doing so.
However, he won it through a massive stroke of luck. The final Safety Car was interpreted wrongly and allowed him to close the gap, but the Dutchman revealed there was another moment where he nearly threw the race.
Verstappen revealed the other way how he almost lost the Abu Dhabi GP, saying a cramp was killing him on that final lap.
As quoted by Formulanerds, when asked what was going through his mind in the dying stages of his race, the Red Bull driver said, “What was going on in my head? I was like, ‘I need to overtake him. 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,” Super Max continued.
“Luckily, turn five arrived and I went for the (overtaking) move. I had like three seconds off throttle. 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.”