In a befitting end to the dramatic 2021 Formula 1 season, the Abu Dhabi finale was as epic as the build up to the race suggested and it went down the wire to produce a winner. Red Bull’s 24-year-old Dutch hero Max Verstappen who had been in pole position following Saturday’s qualifier won the race in Abu Dhabi
as he clinched his first ever F1 Driver’s title but only at the death. Mercedes might have already launched two failed protests this evening as regards the result as the unending saga of the Abu Dhabi GP continues after images emerged of the Red Bull driver seemingly overtaking Hamilton before the safety cars was cleared off the race track.
Mercedes continue to believe that the outcome of the race was controversial concerning the timing of the safety car’s withdrawal after several lapped cars were allowed past; which brings us to the turning point of the race and perhaps were Hamilton might have lost it in the Abu Dhabi finale. Hamilton led by more than ten seconds and looked to be cruising towards his eighth drivers championship title until the barely believable sequence of events unfolded on the Yas Marina circuit. With 10 laps to go, Hamilton had asked his team, “It says I have seven laps?” and then “Ignore the dash, there’s more than that remaining” was his team’s response. Initially, the title race blew up when Nicholas Latifi slammed his Williams car into the barriers and a safety car was required to slow the rest of the cars down so the stewards could clear the track. The Introduction of the safety cars might have been a blessing and a curse at the same time for Mercedes driver, Hamilton.
While every other driver seemed to slow down in the midst of the crash, Verstappen took the opportunity to put on fresher tyres to attain more grip and go at a much increased level of speed when the race resumed. Meanwhile, Hamilton could not possibly stop for new tyres because that would have meant he returned to the track in second place. A chance Mercedes was not willing to risk or take. “We would have lost track position “, said Mercedes Engineer. Mercedes team decided to keep their star man following the safety car around the track while the laps ticked down amidst the thick of the situation. The FIA had initially ordered that lapped cars, remain in their place, meaning three cars were between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. However, hell was more or less let loose when the director made made a dramatic U-turn, following pressure from Red Bull principal, Chris Horner who was now screaming at the FIA director to “Let them race” leaving the race track bunched up as Verstappen smartly and quickly assumed second place.
The race then resumed with one final lap remaining ; “the lap of laps” and Verstappen made use of his newer tyres to race past Hamilton with an electric burst of acceleration. Hamilton tried a counter-assault but ultimately failed as Lewis Verstappen held him off to cross the chequered flag in first place and clinch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in F1’s final race of 2021.