After a dramatic and controversial final race in Abu Dhabi, F1 has a new World Champion.
The two title leaders, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton went into the final race of the season level on points, with everything to play for it as always going to be a tense battle to the end.
After a brilliant qualifying time Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took pole position ready for the race start, but Hamilton soon went on the attack once the lights were out and took the lead. Verstappen’s tough racing style came into play as the two drivers came pretty close on the first lap sending Hamilton wide in turn six and back onto the track ahead of Verstappen, despite Red Bull’s protests Hamilton didn’t have to give the place back.
By Lap 14 Verstappen needed to pit on the soft tyres, soon followed by Hamilton pitting for new tyres. Red Bull driver Sergio Perez managed to hold Hamilton off for a few more laps to allow his teammate to catch up, but by lap 20 Hamilton had the lead once more.
On lap 36 Antonio Giovinazzi was forced to retire the race, his last for Alfa Romeo, causing a virtual safety car and the perfect opportunity for Red Bull to pit Verstappen once more. Mercedes made the decision to keep Hamilton out with his track position and so the race was on with the final few laps for Verstappen to start closing the gap.
With just a handful of laps to go the drama began, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed on lap 53 at turn 14 causing the safety car to be deployed, Red Bull had nothing to lose by pitting both cars, whereas Hamilton may have lost track position so again he stayed out behind the safety car. The controversial decision was made to not allow the lapped cars to overtake the safety car leaving five drivers between Verstappen and Hamilton, giving Verstappen the tough task of passing these lapped cars to continue his fight for the World Championship.
However, a last-minute change called the five cars to overtake the safety car putting Verstappen right behind Hamilton on much fresher tyres with just one lap to go. What a dramatic final lap it was, the Dutchman made a move into Turn 5 and took the lead, despite Hamilton’s best efforts Verstappen held on to the chequered flag winning the race and earning his maiden F1 Drivers Championship!
It was certainly an intense season between these two which has given F1 fans an incredible set of races, check out the stats below on the 2021 season.