2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report and highlights: Good Verstappen claims maiden title after victory in Abu Dhabi season finale after late Security Automotive drama


Max Verstappen secured his maiden World Championship with victory within the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton ending second because the race led to a nail-biting one-lap dash after a late Security Automotive. The consequence, which noticed Valtteri Bottas end sixth and Sergio Perez retire, means Mercedes have clinched a report eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.

Medium-tyred Hamilton jumped soft-shod Verstappen firstly, whereas the Dutchman got here again in Flip 6, nudging him extensive and over the run-off, however the Mercedes driver continued within the lead. Stewards determined to not examine. The pit window opened when Verstappen got here in on Lap 13, Hamilton a lap later, leaving Sergio Perez within the lead with the mission to carry off Hamilton.

Perez did precisely that, on Laps 20 to 21 – being dubbed a “legend” by his staff mate as he let him previous to proceed the chase, earlier than pitting on Lap 22. The rostrum regarded sure till he retired on Lap 56 beneath a Security Automotive, which was introduced out for a Nicholas Latifi crash.

That Security Automotive, throughout which Verstappen pitted for smooth tyres, left the race with only one lap of inexperienced flag racing remaining, producing one other memorable second on this epic season. Verstappen did make the go on Hamilton into Lap 5, the decisive transfer, and whereas Hamilton tried to return again in the direction of Flip 9, there was nothing doing. Historical past was made, because it was all the time going to be, and the trophy went to the Dutchman for the primary time.

Carlos Sainz took the ultimate podium place forward of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P4 – whereas AlphaTauri staff mate Pierre Gasly rounded out the highest 5.

Valtteri Bottas struggled to P6, working as little as eighth, and shedding a possible podium spot from fourth to sixth beneath the ultimate Security Automotive.


Purple Bull Racing










Alpine took factors with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon eighth and ninth respectively, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc rounding out the highest 10.

Alfa Romeo suffered a double retirement as Kimi Raikkonen bowed out on Lap 26, staff mate Antonio Giovinazzi 10 laps later. Latifi was Williams’ second retiree after George Russell bowed out from his tenure with the staff with a lack of drive on Lap 27.

Mercedes and Purple Bull due to this fact shared the spoils on this unbelievable season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, match for a season that may little doubt go down as one of many best ever.

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Verstappen overtakes Hamilton in epic final lap to win System 1 World Championship

Because it occurred

1000’s of individuals behind the scenes have spent hundreds of hours, made numerous sacrifices, providing their all till the very finish of this longest-ever F1 season. It might all come right down to this: the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Two of System 1’s greatest-ever drivers, Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton going toe-to-toe, to land the ultimate knockout blow in a combat for the ages.

Bowing out after twenty years, Kimi Raikkonen prepped for his remaining Grand Prix – with Alfa Romeo staff mate Antonio Giovinazzi, Williams’ George Russell, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and engine suppliers Honda set to depart for brand new horizons.

Then there have been the legends we’ve misplaced alongside the best way: Sir Frank Williams, Murray Walker, Max Mosley, Johnny Dumfries, Carlos Reutemann, and Mansour Ojjeh amongst these sorely missed earlier than a showdown becoming of their towering legacies.

On the grid could be 19 vehicles (Haas’s Nikita Mazepin lacking the finale resulting from a constructive Covid-19 check) with soft-tyred Verstappen on pole forward of medium-shod rival Hamilton, Lando Norris beginning third on softs for McLaren and sharing second row with Sergio Perez (softs), Bottas (mediums) and Carlos Sainz (softs) on the third row.

And on the road could be a drivers’ championship – Hamilton gunning for a report eighth title, Verstappen going for his first – Mercedes’ 28-point lead over Purple Bull making them favourites for a report eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.

5 lights turned on, 5 went out, and it was – to borrow the inimitable Murray Walker’s trademark phrase – “Go, go, go”, for the ultimate time this season.

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Controversy as Hamilton and Verstappen conflict on Lap 1

And it was Hamilton who had the superior launch off the road, taking the lead effectively earlier than Flip 1 whereas Norris ran extensive and rejoined fourth, however Verstappen got here again on the lengthy straight to Flip 6, nearly taking the lead with a late lunge however nudging Hamilton extensive into the run-off space. The Briton went over the blue strips and retained the lead; the stewards determined to not examine.

FIA Race Director Michael Masi’s reasoning as to why Verstappen needed to concede the lead was thus: “He [Verstappen] pressured him [Hamilton] on the market. That is why we requested him to provide again the benefit.”

Verstappen’s radioed reply was that the choice was “unbelievable”, and on Lap 8 he started to notice that his rear smooth tyres have been beginning to drop off a little bit, sitting 2.5 seconds behind Hamilton forward. The reigning champion would stretch that hole to three.5 seconds simply a few laps later.

In the meantime, within the opening lap, Sainz took P4 off Norris on the primary lap with Bottas dropping to P8 behind AlphaTauri’s medium-tyred Yuki Tsunoda. Norris’s P5 could be beneath risk from Leclerc.

Verstappen pitted on the finish of Lap 13 from softs to hards and emerged fifth, thundering out of that pit exit and catching Leclerc off guard, the Ferrari driver working extensive and locking up quickly after. Verstappen made up a spot courtesy of Norris on the run to Flip 6 quickly after; Leclerc pitted from softs to hards on the finish of his fifteenth lap to emerge fifteenth.

The Purple Bull driver’s pit cease triggered Hamilton to do the identical a lap later, switching from mediums to laborious tyres, rising second. Perez due to this fact inherited the lead, Verstappen then working extensive at Flip 15 in frenetic chase earlier than swiping third off Sainz on Lap 18 – maybe a lap later than he would have favored.


Verstappen misplaced a little bit of time in his chase of Sainz after pitting

By Lap 20, Hamilton was in DRS vary of Perez and the Mexican had been informed to carry up Hamilton. So, bearing down on the lead Purple Bull, Hamilton made it previous him in the direction of Flip 6 however Perez led into the nook. Nevertheless, the Mercedes driver had a greater exit and led into the next. One other twist within the story as Perez made his well beyond the seven-time champion going Flip 9 and led into Lap 21.

MUST-SEE: Perez holds up Hamilton in epic battle to play Verstappen again into combat in Abu Dhabi

Perez led by a whisker beginning the twenty first lap, Hamilton once more getting a superior exit out of Flip 5 and pinning the Purple Bull to the skin going into Flip 6, lastly taking the lead of the race. However Perez had achieved his job, and achieved it admirably, holding up the Mercedes sufficient for Verstappen to make up 5 seconds and letting his staff mate cleanly previous earlier than pitting from P3 for hards on the finish of the tour.

“Checo is a legend” got here Verstappen’s response on the radio, the Dutchman now two seconds behind Hamilton.

Hamilton re-ignited the afterburners, nevertheless, and continued to steadily construct his hole, three seconds forward by Lap 26 of 58, one other second added to that by the midway level, and the hole steadily growing.

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: ‘Absolute animal’ Pérez holds up Hamilton in superb wheel-to-wheel duel

Simply because the season had began, Verstappen bearing down on Hamilton in Bahrain utilizing newer tyres, how it will finish? Effectively, it will be naïve to suppose this season didn’t have one other shock in retailer.

When the race restarted on Lap 38, Hamilton had a 17-second hole in his favour; Verstappen had new tyres and eight-tenths per lap to make up if he was to win his first title. He made up half a second alone because the VSC ended, closing right down to inside 12 seconds with 10 laps left as backmarkers started to return into play – a practice of midfielders from Alonso to Leclerc costing Hamilton precious time.

When Verstappen got here throughout that midfield gaggle on Lap 51 he was simply over 11 seconds behind Hamilton, the lead now wanting insurmountable. That was, till Nicholas Latifi crashed on Lap 53 exiting Flip 14, bringing out a Security Automotive. Verstappen once more took the prospect to pit – this time for smooth tyres.

It had turned out that Latifi spun and crashed having fought with Haas’s Mick Schumacher for P15, choosing up dust and mud working extensive in Sector 3, and spun leaving Flip 14.

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Latifi crash brings out Security Automotive in closing levels

On Lap 56, Security Automotive nonetheless circulating, Perez was introduced into the pits to retire, denying him a deserved podium and selling Sainz. Verstappen had boxed for recent softs beneath the Security Automotive, and because the laps ticked down and the lapped vehicles have been allowed to filter out of the best way of the combat for the lead, it will come right down to a one-lap shoot-out between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Hamilton led, till the 2 went into Flip 5 and that was the place Verstappen made the profitable go. The Briton tried to make it previous however his probability at taking a report eighth World Championship was slipping away. And that’s how it will finish, Verstappen profitable his first title by 2.2 seconds on the chequered flag: an epic send-off for this period of F1 and a Hollywood end to this most dramatic of seasons.

The ultimate podium place went to Sainz, the Ferrari driver having pried P4 off Norris and been promoted when Perez retired, whereas Tsunoda took fourth, the Japanese rookie having began on medium compounds on P8, battled with Fernando Alonso in defence of P7, after which made it as much as fourth on softs within the remaining Security Automotive restart when Perez retired, Bottas falling again to sixth. Pierre Gasly was promoted to P5 on the end (having gone lengthy in his first hard-tyred stint) with a late swap to softs for the restart, to provide AlphaTauri an enormous double factors end.


Verstappen turned the Netherlands’ first F1 world champion after an intense combat

Norris had a late puncture, pitting on Lap 50, and ended up seventh forward of the Alpine duo – Fernando Alonso having gone lengthy on his beginning laborious compounds to complete eighth and forward of staff mate Esteban Ocon.

Leclerc misplaced out early on with a lockup after Verstappen emerged from the pits and ended the race tenth, taking the ultimate level. Nevertheless, as Sainz took the ultimate podium place, he leapfrogged each his staff mate and Norris to take P5 within the drivers’ championship, in his first season with Ferrari.

On the run to Flip 6 on Lap 6, Lance Stroll was handed by Aston Martin staff mate Sebastian Vettel, who was nearly squeezed off the monitor. The four-time champion ended up eleventh, Stroll thirteenth, with Daniel Ricciardo between them having beforehand been in competition for factors.

In final was Mick Schumacher, the only real Haas driver, along with his staff mate not beginning resulting from Covid-19.

There have been 5 retirees together with outgoing Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 26, outgoing staff mate Giovinazzi 10 laps later, Mercedes-bound Williams driver George Russell on Lap 26, Purple Bull’s Perez on Lap 56 and naturally Williams driver Latifi, whose crash introduced out the race-defining Security Automotive.

Whereas Hamilton got here away with no report eighth championship, Mercedes did, nevertheless take a report eighth consecutive constructors’ championship in an unfrogettable end to 2021.

Max Verstappen: System 1’s model new world champion

Key quote

“It’s simply insane. I imply, my objective once I was little was after all to grow to be a System 1 driver and also you hope for wins, to be on the rostrum, once they play the nationwide anthem you someday hope they play yours after which whenever you stand right here and so they let you know [that] you might be world champion it’s one thing unbelievable and particular.

“All of the issues come again by means of your thoughts all through all of the years you spent collectively, touring for that objective… and every thing comes collectively within the final lap. Insane, these individuals, my complete staff, my household, my buddies, the individuals… who wish to push me to the place I’m right this moment. They’re all right here – most of them are right here. It’s simply insane, I misplaced my voice, however sure. I don’t know, it simply sounds superb, actually.

“It’s unbelievable to see all this orange right here however everywhere in the world, they’ve supported me all through my complete profession… and I hope I can do that for a really very long time after all with the help of my nice followers.

“Lewis is a tremendous driver, a tremendous competitor, he actually made it actually laborious for us and everyone likes to see that. In fact the 2 groups run in opposition to one another and we’ve got robust occasions however I believe that’s a part of the game, it’s emotion, everybody desires to win. It might have gone both method right this moment however for certain subsequent yr we’ll attempt once more, come again, and hopefully do it once more.” – Max Verstappen, 2021 System 1 drivers’ world champion, Purple Bull.

What’s subsequent?

System 1’s new period dawns in 2022 for one more groups’ and drivers’ title combat. Who will reign supreme subsequent season? The subsequent season begins with the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix subsequent March.


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