But despite the fact that he was going to overtake the late cars according to the initial decision of the race management not to allow cars behind a lap to pass the safety car, the decision came later to allow Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel to pass the safety car.
Verstappen was directly behind Hamilton as a result, and managed to overtake him at Turn 5 to take the lead and, with it, the world title.
Verstappen later said: “I think they know how much I love them. I hope we do this for another 10 or 15 years together. There’s absolutely no reason to change. I want to stay with them for the rest of my life. I hope they’ll let me stay, but yeah, that’s crazy.”
“I’m very happy, Christian and Helmut Marko, they trusted me and put me in the team in 2016. Our aim was to win this tournament, of course, and we’ve done that now.”
Verstappen said the way he won his first title was “unbelievable” and felt he hadn’t given up all the time despite what the race looked like before the Latifi accident.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I kept fighting the whole race, and then came the chance on the last lap. That’s amazing. I still had a strain in my leg.”
“But it’s crazy. I don’t know what to say, these guys deserve it, and so does Honda.”
Horner told Sky with 10 laps left that his team “needs a miracle”, with Verstappen accepting it was “a bit of luck”.
Verstappen became the first Dutch Formula One world champion, and he also praised his colleague Sergio Perez, whose fierce defense against Hamilton after Hamilton’s first stop helped reduce the gap between the Briton and Verstappen from 9 seconds to two seconds.
“Finally I had some luck,” said the Dutchman. “It’s crazy.”
He concluded, “I would also like to thank Chico. He drove with all his heart today. It was an amazing teamwork. He’s an amazing colleague.”
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