After a grueling season and an agonizing wait to be confirmed as Formula One champion, Max Verstappen was in a hurry to finally get the party started.
Leaving it proved harder.
The sun was already rising over Abu Dhabi when Verstappen left the celebrations around 7 a.m. local time.
“All the emotions they come out,” the bleary-eyed Dutchman said on a video call on Monday. “So it was a lot of fun. Of course when I woke up it wasn’t so fun. I maybe regretted that final drink.”
Verstappen may get to launch another round of celebrations after a possible verdict from FIA’s International Court of Appeal. Mercedes could yet appeal the outcome of Sunday’s season-ending race that saw Verstappen overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to deny the reigning champion a record eighth world title.
However, a message from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff to Verstappen struck a more reconciliatory tone.
“Toto sent me a text — congratulations on on the season and that I deserve to win it,” Verstappen said. “So that was very nice of him, of course. Emotions run very high to that last lap from both teams. It is what it is. We will see.”
Mercedes lost its initial protests at the track on Sunday. One of the protests centered on whether Verstappen broke rules by passing Hamilton before the safety car period had ended, the other on the restart procedure itself, and the number of lapped cars that were given the green light to overtake the safety car.
Mercedes argued Hamilton would have won the race if all had overtaken the safety car due to the time required, making a final lap showdown impossible.
The confusion over the regulations and application of them has led to calls for greater clarity.
“You’re going to look into what can we do or what should have been done,” Verstappen said. “This is with all kinds of decisions, isn’t it? The same in football with the referee. Should it have been a penalty, shouldn’t it have been a penalty? What can we improve? Should we have had a different camera angle? All these kind of things, you’re going to bring up, for sure.”