Max Verstappen ready for defining moment in ‘epic battle’ for world title

Dutch driver believes changes to Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi will benefit him

 Max Verstappen is confident that the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi will allow for a fast race on Sunday. Photograph:  Tim Goode/PA Wire

Max Verstappen is confident that the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi will allow for a fast race on Sunday. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA Wire

 

Max Verstappen insists he will “give it all” to win the Formula One title this weekend as Red Bull boss Christian Horner defended the Dutchman’s driving.

The 24-year-old is vying for his maiden world championship and goes into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

The pair have put on quite a show this year and have both led the drivers’ standings at different points of a season that will live long in the memory.

Verstappen had been the favourite for the title until Hamilton secured a hat-trick of wins in Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

But he is still determined to take the crown as he aims for back-to-back wins at the Yas Marina Circuit.

“Last year is not always a good reference in terms of result as there were multiple factors that contributed to it,” he said.

“We’ve been lacking a bit of pace for the past few races, but hopefully that won’t be the case this weekend.

“The Yas Marina Circuit has had a few changes and the track is much faster now. It’s going to be interesting to see how it will affect the set-up of the car.

“It has been an epic battle so far. We’ve had a lot of wins and good moments this year and we’ve been a lot more competitive in general, compared to the years before.

“We are level on points and I know that we as a team are going to give it all to win this championship. This is going to be an exciting race and we want to finish the season in the best way possible.”

Hamilton called Verstappen “f****** crazy” after the duo collided at the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last weekend.

The seven-time champions stuck by his claim after taking the chequered flag with a damaged wing to draw level with Verstappen in the title fight.

Verstappen would win the championship if neither driver finishes the race in Abu Dhabi, but Red Bull team principal Horner insists the idea of running Hamilton off the road will not be considered.

“He’s certainly not crazy,” Horner told the Times of London. “Max wants to win this championship on the track. He’s a hard racer but a fair racer and I expect no different this weekend. Nobody wants to win this championship in a gravel trap or in a stewards’ inquiry. For all the fans and the public, you want to see a fair fight.

“We’ve already had numerous discussions about it. To finish first, first you’ve got to finish. That’s been our mantra throughout this season.”

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