Max Verstappen formally crowned F1’s 2021 world champion at FIA Gala
Max Verstappen has been officially crowned 2021’s Formula 1 champion after receiving his trophy at the FIA’s prize-giving ceremony, which Lewis Hamilton did not attend following the controversial season-decider.
Four days after winning a dramatic Abu Dhabi GP and his maiden title, Verstappen, 24, got his hands on the Drivers’ Championship trophy he has long dreamed in Paris on Thursday night.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) December 16, 2021
“Becoming world champion is my life goal achieved. Everything that comes next is a bonus,” said Verstappen, F1’s 34th and fourth-youngest world champion.
“Of course I am going to keep pushing and I’m going to be in F1 for a few more years yet. While it’s nice to be called world champion, I think more about the long journey and the all the hours I have spent working with my Dad to be here. It’s been a long and tough season and I feel amazing to have finally achieved my goal.
“I hope I can do this many more times. It’s been an incredible battle with Lewis, one of the greatest drivers ever in Formula 1. We really pushed each other. At the end of the day, we can look each other in the eyes and respect each other which is really important.”
Neither Hamilton nor Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff were in attendance.
The event took place hours after Mercedes withdrew their appeal of the race conclusion last weekend, although Wolff said they remain “disillusioned” and that it will “take a long time to digest” what happened.
— FIA (@fia) December 17, 2021
Mercedes, who still claimed a record-extending eighth constructors’ title on Sunday, also did not send their championship winning F1 and Formula E cars to Paris, and were represented by technical chief James Allison.
“I won’t be there because of my loyalty to Lewis and because of my own personal integrity,” explained Wolff earlier on Thursday.
It is unclear whether Hamilton will face consequences for skipping the event, as Article 6.6 of the F1 Sporting Regulations states that “the drivers finishing first, second and third in the Championship must be present at the annual FIA Prize Giving ceremony”.
Outgoing FIA president Jean Todt said he did not want to discuss controversial matters at a celebratory event, adding he felt “sorry” that Mercedes were not there on a wider scale as they deserved “much more reward” for their latest Constructors’ Championship victory.
In addition to Allison, Valtteri Bottas, who finished third in the championship and is leaving Mercedes for the 2022 season, was present.
In a news conference earlier on Thursday, Wolff had admitted that both he and Hamilton felt “disillusioned” following the events of Abu Dhabi and offered no assurances that the latter would definitely return to F1 for 2022.
Those comments were put to Verstappen at the FIA Gala, who said: “I can understand that the first few days after a race like that you’re not happy but you should also understand this is racing.
“I think he should just look back at what he has achieved already.
“That should give him a lot of comfort and should also be that drive to just keep on going because he is still trying to challenge for that eighth title and for sure he can do that again next year.
“So I don’t see any reason why to give up or stop now.”