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Rosberg feels for Hamilton: That's a horrible way to lose the title

Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Nico Rosberg has given his thoughts on the events leading up to Lewis Hamilton's title defeat and where the seven-time World Champion goes from here.

Nico Rosberg says he feels for Lewis Hamilton over the way in which he lost the 2021 world title to Max Verstappen, describing the situation as "horrible". Hamilton and Verstappen entered last weekend's season finale in Abu Dhabi level on points, with the Mercedes driver dominating the race until a late Safety Car turned proceedings upside down. Verstappen, having pitted for fresh Softs, came out behind a train of lapped drivers, who were initially told to hold position by Race Director Michael Masi, before he changed his mind and waved them through. As the race restarted, Verstappen stormed past Hamilton, who was on old Hard tyres, meaning the Dutchman grabbed the race win and the title, much to Mercedes' dismay. Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff missed Thursday's FIA Prize-Giving Gala, with Wolff admitting that the pair are feeling "disillusioned", while making no guarantees over Hamilton continuing in the sport .

"That's horrible, horrible, horrible!"

Speaking to RacingNews365.com at this weekend's Extreme E round in Dorset, UK, Rosberg gave his take on the controversial finale and how former teammate Hamilton will be feeling as he tries to comes to terms with the defeat. Asked about the talk that Hamilton could quit F1, and whether that's a realistic outcome in his eyes, Rosberg said: "I don't know. I'm sure it's so hard at the moment to live through this. "He was the World Champion in his head, 99 percent sure, and then it gets taken away from him like that, so that's hard. "I don't know what his thinking is, but of course we all hope that he's gonna be there next year." Pushed on how a driver can overcome a situation such as this, the 2016 World Champion added: "It's so hard, because also he got overtaken. Yes, he had s**t tyres, but he got overtaken on that last lap. "It's not like his car broke down or something. To see the championship slip away like that… man, that's horrible, horrible, horrible! That's so painful. "If you're in the lead like that, you're stressed like crazy, and then the guy overtakes you, my goodness…"

"Both drivers deserved the championship"

Putting the finale to one side, Rosberg described Verstappen as a "deserving champion" after his year-long battle with Hamilton and says the pair contributed to "the most incredible season". "Both drivers would have deserved the championship," Rosberg said. "Of course, it was heartbreaking for Lewis to lose it like that, with a like - in the moment - change of procedure that was not in line with the regulations. "Max, nevertheless, is a deserving champion. We've had the most incredible season, let's not forget that. Now it's just about getting over it and moving on - you can't change it anymore." Rosberg added, however, that Formula 1 should use the opportunity to grow ahead of the 2022 season. "It's important for the sport to learn from that, and also from all the wheel-to-wheel racing," he went on to comment. "[They need to] tighten the framework there so you just have these ultra-fast, clear decision, 'Yes, that's okay. No, that's not okay', and then we get on with it. That's also possible, to really tighten that up."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix - Sprint Shootout