Max Verstappen has a message for critics who keep bringing up Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen claimed the F1 World title in the most dramatic of circumstances last season. Critics have struggled to get past the manner of his victory in Abu Dhabi.

The Red Bull Racing star overtook Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the last lap in a stunning climax to the 2021 season. However, despite winning Verstappen the Championship, the move came with controversy.

Whilst under safety car rules in the dying moments of the race, race director Michael Masi told only the five lapped cars between the leading Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap themselves. This massively benefitted the Dutchman, who had fresher tyres.

As a result, he had a clear path to overtake Hamilton on the sole remaining lap without the safety car.

Masi’s polarizing decision to only allow a select few of lapped cars through divided opinion in the F1 world. Unfortunately for Max Verstappen, the Abu Dhabi incident has taken the spotlight from an incredible 2021 season.

Understandably, the Red Bull man is fed up talking about it.

Max Verstappen’s message to critics on Abu Dhabi

In this week’s build-up to the season opener at Bahrain, a reporter asked Verstappen if he had anything to prove, given how last season ended in Abu Dhabi.

The Dutchman provided a definitive dismissal.

He said: “No, I proved that with the most wins, most pole laps and most laps led. People forget that. They only look at Abu Dhabi apparently.”

He does have a point. Critics seem to forget that Max Verstappen had a historic season on the way to his first World Driver’s Championship. The Dutchman won ten races and had ten pole position starts; he even broke an F1 record during the season too.

Verstappen broke the record for the most podiums in a single season. He finished in the top three 18 times across the 22 races in the 2021 season. Never mind Abu Dhabi, Max Verstappen had a season for the ages.

Entering 2022 as defending Champion, Verstappen is one of the favourites going into the season opener in Bahrain.

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

A mainstay on the calendar since 2004, Formula 1 gets its new era underway at Bahrain International Circuit.

A raft of rule changes means that this season’s cars feature design differences. There’s also hope that there will be more wheel-to-wheel action to enjoy too.

Read: Formula 1 Bahrain GP: UK start time, how to watch, how much, highlights channel.

Teams will look to make a solid start to a massive 22-race season, which promises drama as soon as the lights go out in Sakhir.