Max Verstappen wins the Abu Dhabi GP and the 2021 world championship after a last-lap pass on Lewis Hamilton.
After 21 races full of drama, controversy, and on-track battles it all came down to this – the final race of the 2021 season that would determine the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Champions in the closest battle in years.
The five starting lights went off for the last time this season and the race got underway. Lewis Hamilton had a brilliant start that allowed him to get to the race lead. However, Max Verstappen, however, had the tire advantage, so he tried to make a pass on Hamilton at the chicane. The Mercedes driver stayed ahead but left the track. The stewards decided that no investigation was necessary for that incident.
Hamiton started building the gap from Verstappen despite being on mediums. After 8 laps, the Mercedes driver was 2.5 seconds ahead of his opponent. The Dutchman started struggling with rear tires, which allowed Hamilton to increase the gap even more. After 12 laps, Hamilton had a 5-second gap.
On lap 14, Verstappen made a pit stop – he got a fresh set of hard tires. A lap later, Hamilton had his stop and he had medium tires too. Obviously, he rejoined the track ahead of Verstappen and the gap stayed the same.
Sergio Perez inherited the race lead and was told via team radio to follow “plan B.” At the same time, Verstappen was chasing Carlos Sainz. However, he had a scary moment in the final sector. On lap 18, Verstappen overtook the Ferrari driver.
Hamilton kept closing on Perez to come back to the race lead. Perez was to do his best to hold Lewis behind. The Mexican managed to do that for a couple of laps but eventually had to let Lewis by. However, that helped Verstappen get much closer to Hamilton. After getting clean air, the Briton started pulling away once again.
Issues hit Kimi Raikkonen on his final F1 race. He had problems with brakes and had to retire. At the same time, George Russell had mechanical issues and therefore had to end his race prematurely as well.
Valtteri Bottas had an intense battle with Charles Leclerc for P8. After numerous attempts, the Finn got ahead. More drama struck Alfa Romeo Racing as Antonio Giovinazzi had to retire from the race. He stopped in a dangerous spot, so the Virtual Safety Car was deployed. Hamilton stayed out, while the Red Bull duo got fresh tires.
On lap 38, the race was resumed. Verstappen got the advantage with the new tires and started chasing down Hamilton. Behind them, Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso had a heated battle for 7th place. The stewards decided that no investigation was necessary for it.
Lando Norris was on the brink of a top 5 finish, but he had to change his tires with less than 10 laps to go due to a slow puncture.
The race got a huge upheaval with just a couple of laps to go. Nicholas Latifi crashed hard at the final sector, bringing out the Safety Car. Hamilton stayed out, while Verstappen had another pit stop. On lap 56, Perez was told to retire from the race.
More drama came in a final couple of laps. At first, the race direction did not allow the lapped cars to overtake the Safety Car. A bit later, the lapped cars got permission to overtake the Safety Car and it left the track for one final lap.
Verstappen got the advantage thanks to his fresh soft tires, overtook Hamilton and won the race to become the 2021 world champion. Hamilton crossed the finish line second, while Sainz completed the podium. Mercedes went on to win their 8th consecutive Constructors’ Championship.
The results of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi GP:
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||Winner|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+1:07.527|
|12||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+1 lap|
|13||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+1 lap|
|14||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+1 lap|
|15||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||DNF|
|17||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||DNF|
|19||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||DNF|