Max Verstappen wins the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to seal his maiden F1 driver’s championship title. This puts an end to Mercedes domination over the last 7 years in the turbo-hybrid era. Although, Mercedes clinched their consecutive 8th constructor championship with a lead of 28 points over Red Bull.

Mercedes wins the 8th consecutive constructor championship
Image Source: F1

The race start 

Max started the race on pole, courtesy of his blistering qualifying on Saturday. Hamilton locked the 2nd place on the grid with over 4 tenths of a second behind max. 

Hamilton’s quick start in the opening lap stole the advantage from Max by the end of turn 1. Lando Norris who went wide in the first corner allowed Perez to move up to third. The other Mercedes driver, Bottas starting 6th on the grid also had a poor start which pushed him down to 8th behind Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. 

Max Verstappen still sticking to Hamilton’s tail lunged into the apex of turn 7 where the championship leaders almost collided. Hamilton had to take the exit route to avoid Max and retain his position. Later which the stewards declared no investigation necessary on the incident as Max forced Hamiltion out of track. 

By lap 14, the soft tyres on Max’s RB16B started to wear when Hamilton had already gained about 5 seconds over Max. Red bull reacted by bringing in Max for a pitstop and giving him fresh hard compound tyres. Mercedes called in Hamilton for a tyre change in the very next lap and the leader came back to the track in 2nd position behind Perez. 

The perfect teamwork 

Perez (right) holding off Hamilton (left), Max (behind) closing the gap
Image Source: F1

Perez after giving the perfect tow for his teammate in Saturday’s qualifying didn’t disappoint the team in the race. Hamilton caught Perez by lap 20 when Max was still 6 seconds behind him. Perez showcased his talent by holding the 7 times world championship for another lap. Both raced wheel to wheel which allowed Max to close the gap to 1 second and get behind Hamilton. 

Perez did his part in the race to help his teammate, unfortunately, the team had to retire his car on lap 56 due to a technical problem. 

With all the help Max got, it still wasn’t sufficient to catch Hamilton. On lap 36, Giovinaazzi spun and brought in the virtual safety car allowing many drivers to go for their 2nd stop. Max received his second fresh hard compound tyre for the race, but Mercedes decided to hold on to the track position and left Hamilton. 

Verstappen had to gain 16 seconds to get behind Hamilton with 19 laps to go. The race leaders caught up with the black markers which didn’t help Max in any way. The gap came down to 12 seconds by lap 48 with Hamilton still leading. 

The Miracle 

On lap 54, Williams driver Latifi crashed onto the barriers at turn 14 which changed the course of the race. Red bull called in both their drivers and gave them a soft tyre to finish the race. However, Mercedes went the other way by keeping Hamilton on track to hold on to the track position. 

With 4 laps to go, FIA decided not to send the lapped cars ahead of the safety car creating confusion in the paddock. RB raised questions against this decision but the race director (Masi) had no answer. 

By the end of lap 57, FIA decided to send 5 lapped cars ahead of Max which put him just behind Hamilton. With so much confusion the race restarted with just one lap to go. Max with fresher rubbers went past Hamilton on turn 5. Hamilton still hesitant to give up made another move on turn 9 but Max Verstappen having the advantage stayed ahead and clinched his maiden F1 world driver championship. 

The entertaining season of Formula 1 finished with a thrilling race for all fans. But the FIA could have reacted quicker and made the last race fair for both the drivers. What do you think about the last-second decision from FIA? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Also, read: 

Lewis Hamilton wins his 100th Formula one race at the Russian GP