Across the three final races of the DTM season, van der Linde caused collisions with Lawson in each race, with a crash in the finale destroying his rival’s hopes of the claiming the 2021 title which was won by Maximilian Gotz – but only after Mercedes team orders’ gave the German the race win to seal the drivers’ championship by three points.
Red Bull junior Lawson, who began the Norising final round as heavy title favourite, put the blame on van der Linde, calling him an “idiot” and the “dirtiest guy” he has ever raced against while Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko felt he deserved a ban for his actions.
Van der Linde, who was given a five-second time penalty for leaving the track in an unsafe manner at Turn 2 during their crash in the final race at Norisring, has taken to social media to provide a public apology to Lawson having spoken to him on the phone on Tuesday night.
“After Sunday’s race, I decided to turn away from social media and reflect on everything that happened,” van der Linde wrote on his personal social media accounts. “In that time I wanted to make sure to contact the person who most deserved an apology. Liam and I spoke last night.
“We spoke about everything that happened and I apologised for the actions that cost him the championship.
“I also apologised for how I handled the media directly after the race. I was full of adrenaline and had a microphone stuck in my face as I got out of the car without seeing what happened on TV. I didn’t handle it well and I’m not proud of that.”
The Abt Sportsline driver has also opened up on the abuse he has received via social media after the DTM finale.
“On a sporting side everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” he wrote. “Us drivers are forced to make high stake decision within a split second of time. Those are not always the right ones and they often have serious consequences.
“The social abuse which I received during the last week leave a sad taste in my mouth and will take time to process. The only thing I will say to those that felt the need to write those things: You don’t know me, you don’t know my family and you definitely haven’t walked a day in my shoes. Sport is sport. But never ever forget that there are real people behind it all. I do not wish any of that on any human being.
“I will be back here next year. And I will do many things better. Kelvin.”
Van der Linde ended the 2021 DTM season in third place in the drivers’ championship, 22 points off title-winner Gotz and 19 points behind Lawson.