Verstappen no longer 'desperate' after 2021 F1 title win, unfussed by tainted claims

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Max Verstappen admits his "desperate" feeling has gone after his Formula 1 championship success in 2021.

The Dutchman ended seven years of Mercedes domination by beating passing Lewis Hamilton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi to give Red Bull their first title since Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

Of course, that last race has since been shrouded in controversy based on the decision by now-former race director Michael Masi to only allow the lapped cars between Verstappen and Hamilton to overtake during a Safety Car period in the closing laps.

That has led fans of the seven-time world champion and Mercedes to label Max as a 'fake champion' as a result, but the 24-year-old isn't bothered.

“It could be, but if they know me well, they know I don’t care," he told De Telegraaf on if those fans were trying to take the "shine" off his win.

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"At the end of the day, it was a crazy and epic Formula 1 season, the losing team will try to take the shine off it a bit. But on the winning side, it still feels good, I can assure you.”

Verstappen is also regularly criticised for his aggressive driving style, with Hamilton insinuating he was a "bully" during the latest series of Netflix's Drive to Survive.

But now he's achieved his dream, the Dutch lion admits the pressure to win has eased.

“I will always want to win, but the desperate 'must-win' feeling is gone," he was quoted as telling the Daily Mail.


“It doesn’t mean I am less motivated. I have the same level of motivation, maybe more, to do it again.

“But it feels nice. It is a relaxation. There is less of a rush.

“I was already in my seventh season. I had never really had a shot at the title before. I had my first chance and, of course, I wanted desperately to do it.

"Winning a championship is one of those things that doesn’t happen often. It may never happen again, who knows?

“Now I need some luck, the right car, to do it again.

“For now, I am happy.”

As for 2022, the early signs of a potential repeat are good with Verstappen setting the best time in pre-season testing in Bahrain.

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But now with the No.1 on his car, how does that impact his approach to the new season?

“It really doesn’t matter,” he told “Every year I go into my season trying to beat everybody else.

“It’s the same this year. You can’t really influence these things as you’re dependent on the car.

"If it’s slow, you’re not going to be beating anyone – except maybe your teammate. The rest you can’t really know until you know…”