With some fans calling for the final lap of the 2021 season to be scrapped, Daniel Ricciardo feels Max Verstappen “definitely” deserved to win the World Championship.
In a contentious manner, Verstappen won the 2021 Drivers’ Championship despite the fact that he was in no way at fault.
The Dutchman passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a race in which the winner would be declared World Champion.
However, with FIA race director Michael Masi having lost his job as a result of his decision-making in Abu Dhabi, although the FIA did not explicitly state that this was the reason, there are new requests from some fans to reveal the race result before the Safety Car.
That would mean Hamilton would win the race for a record-breaking eighth time. That is not going to happen, as the race result remains unchanged, with Verstappen taking P1 on the day and in the championship.
While the way it all went down was “shameful,” Ricciardo believes Verstappen deserved to win. However, Hamilton did as well.
“That was kind of, in a way, the shame with [what happened in Abu Dhabi],” he said as per RacingNews365.com.
“There was always going to be a winner and a loser last year, no matter how the last race ended, even if it was a boring last lap finish.
“But they both truly deserved a title. They’ve both done phenomenal races, they both come back, and so someone was always going to lose out, I guess.
“Obviously there’s the Lewis side, but there shouldn’t be a ‘Max doesn’t deserve it’ side, because he absolutely also deserved it.”
And as Verstappen’s former team-mate, one who beat the Dutchman in 2016 and again in 2017, Ricciardo jokingly added: “I’m pretty much a World Champion too! I don’t have the bonus, or the big trophy, but I can tell you…”
“Being team-mates with Max, I knew that we were pushing each other to a pretty high level,” he said.
“I knew that, whilst we were team-mates, [even though] we weren’t World Champion[s], I felt like, [with] the way we were driving, [it] could have given us the World title, in some of those years. At least one.
“So to see him do it after, for me, it’s not a surprise. For sure, it’s nice for me to know that we had a pretty close battle for those years [that] we were team-mates.
“But I didn’t really need to see him win the title to show that to myself. I feel like I really [have] felt that or known that for a while.
“It was kind of a matter of time for him to get a title, for sure.”