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Eagle-eyed Formula One fans have spotted Max Verstappen’s awkward reaction to Lewis Hamilton receiving praise at the FIA Awards.
Red Bull’s Verstappen attended the ceremony in Paris on Thursday to formally collect his maiden Formula One world title, with Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff skipping the event in the wake of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
A number of other titles were also handed out in French capital, with youngster Kean Nakamura crowned FIA Karting World Champion in the OK-Junior category.
When asked which drivers have inspired him, Nakamura namechecked Hamilton and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel – but not Verstappen, prompting an awkward reaction from the Red Bull driver.
“I grew up watching Lewis drive, [and] Sebastian racing together,” said Nakamura.
“I’ve always looked up to all the top racers in F1 really.”
Reports claim Hamilton may quit Formula One after becoming disillusioned with the sport in the wake of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The British driver, who received his knighthood on Wednesday, was denied a record-breaking eighth world title last weekend after a controversial finish to the race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Hamilton, 36, was pipped to the title by Verstappen after being overtaken by the Dutchman on the final lap following a number of questionable calls by FIA race director Michael Masi.
Masi allowed five cars to unlap themselves during a safety car in the closing stages of the race, effectively allowing Verstappen to wipe out an 11-second gap to race leader Hamilton.
Masi then gave the green light for the race to resume with one lap remaining, with Verstappen – on fresher tyres – overtaking Hamilton for the win.
Mercedes subsequently failed with two protests after the race before dropping their appeal on Thursday.
The Sun claim Hamilton could now be ready to quit the sport but Verstappen has urged his rival to continue next season.
"Of course, I can understand that the first few days, after a race like that, you're not happy,” said Verstappen.
"You should also understand this is racing and these things can happen to you.
"I think he should just look back at what he has achieved, and that should give him a lot of comfort and that drive to keep on going.
#FIAPrizeGiving2021 - To present the @fiakarting prizes welcome @MassaFelipe19 and @Max33Verstappen. A moment, our young champions Noah Milell (KZ), Tuukka Taponen (OK) and Kean Nakamura (Junior) will never forget pic.twitter.com/zmiDXnmPtV— FIA (@fia) December 16, 2021
"He is still trying to challenge for that eighth title, and he can do that again next year, so I don't see any reason why to give up or stop now."
Asked whether he feels sorry for Hamilton, Verstappen added: "No, I don't feel sorry but I can understand it can be very painful.
"At the end of the day, that's racing as well. You just have to keep fighting until the end and you know that in racing anything can happen.
"He also won a championship like that. I think he can understand as well."
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