Max Verstappen has revealed how he struggled to finish the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, believing even a single lap more would have been too difficult to complete.
Verstappen has previously explained how a bad leg muscle cramp set in on the dramatic final lap, but has since explained in more detail just how close he came to being unable to complete the crucial lap leading the race.
Reliving the dramatic final moments of the title decider, with Verstappen diving up the inside of rival Lewis Hamilton when the race resumed with a lap remaining, the Dutch driver said he could feel the cramp setting in as the excitement unfolded on track.
"I tried to be really on it with the restart," he told UK newspaper The Guardian.
"It was all working well until I crossed the line and started to feel a cramp in my leg. It's one of the most painful things that can happen because you're going full throttle for a long time.
"You feel the muscle clenching and becoming like a tennis ball. Of course, the adrenaline helps because, if it were to happen when you're just walking around, you cannot move. It's impossible. But there was no option, I had to.
"So I was just keeping it full throttle and I could feel my leg hurting more and more. Luckily, Turn 5 arrived and I went for the [overtaking] move. I had like three seconds off the throttle."
One more lap would have cost Verstappen the title
It was those few seconds off throttle that allowed Verstappen a moment for his muscle to relax, before the intense duel between himself and Hamilton up the two long straights.
"You then have two very long straights and, on the second one, where Lewis came back at me, I could feel my foot vibrating," Verstappen explained.
"I couldn't control it because the muscle was having a spasm. My foot on the last sector was like this (shaking his leg up and down)…"
Verstappen revealed the telemetry data from his car showed he was struggling to hold down the throttle
"If you go back over the data, you will not see a very smooth throttle input. I was screaming on the radio but the whole lap my foot was going like that," he said.
With Hamilton losing the title on the final lap of the race, Verstappen admitted another lap would probably have resulted in the title swinging back to the Mercedes man.
He added: "It was completely done. One more lap and I couldn't have finished the race like that.
"The stress levels were so high in the final lap that probably your body reacts to that. But you cannot give up."
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