Mercedes ace George Russell has made a cheeky comment about Max Verstappen's 2021 title victory over Lewis Hamilton.
Russell implied that Verstappen's win may not have been entirely legitimate, considering the controversial last-lap overtake in Abu Dhabi and the role of former FIA race director Michael Masi in the incident. The battle for the championship was one of the most thrilling in F1 history, with the fate of the title being decided on the final lap of the final race at Yas Marina Circuit.
The outcome of the championship was heavily influenced by a safety car intervention and Masi's decision to bring it into the pits with one lap remaining. Verstappen took advantage of the situation and passed Lewis Hamilton to secure his first F1 world title.
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However, many people believe that Hamilton should have been the rightful winner, which would have made him the all-time leader with eight Drivers' Championships, surpassing Michael Schumacher. In a recent interview with Beyond The Grid (via the Express), Russell backtracked on his initial statement about Verstappen's championship win.
He said: "You've only got to rewind back to 2020, when Mercedes built one of the most competitive cars of all time. Then in 2021, Max won the Championship. Or at least there was a battle between Max and Lewis for the Championship."
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Verstappen proved his critics wrong by winning his second consecutive world title in 2022, and he is currently within three points of potentially securing a third consecutive championship at the upcoming Qatar Grand Prix. Russell believes that he and several other drivers on the grid have what it takes to replicate Verstappen's success if given the opportunity to drive the best car.
He added: "I can very, very confidently say that there are five drivers on the grid who, if you put them in the best car, would win a Championship. I have no doubt about that. Of course, Lewis is one of those guys. If I'm going head-to-head with him every week, that gives me the benchmark. To see that I'm swimming and swimming well gives me so much confidence."
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