Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap
Max Verstappen has won his first Formula One World Drivers’ Championship after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of rival Lewis Hamilton.
The two drivers came into the final race of the season level on 369.5 points, but Verstappen had secured one more race win (9) compared to Hamilton (8) which meant that the Brit needed to finish ahead of him.
It is only the second time that two drivers have entered the final race level on points since F1’s first season in 1950.
The Dutchman Verstappen secured pole position in qualifying, with Mercedes’ Hamilton in second.
The two drivers chose different tyres for the vital race, with Hamilton opting for ‘medium’ tyres to start with – the expectation being that he would start the race slower over one flying lap, but that he would be faster over a full race stint and also last longer.
On the other hand, Verstappen chose soft tyres, which offered more initial grip and went off quicker.
Hamilton made a brilliant start to the race, overtaking Verstappen at the first corner, but there was early controversy when the Brit was forced off the track after the pair almost collided – with the Dutchman thinking that he should’ve been given the position back.
Stewards decided that no investigation was necessary, much to the anger and annoyance of Verstappen and Red Bull.
Later in the race, Hamilton chose to pit and Sergio Perez was able to take the lead – allowing his team-mate to close the gap on the Brit, who eventually managed to regain the lead.
Away from the title race, Kimi Raikkonen – in his final race – had to come to a stop on the track after getting damage on his front wing following a spin and a brush with the barriers.
Hamilton was able to maintain his position at the front of the pack since he regained control of the race, with Verstappen stuck in a pack of four cars and unable to close the distance on the leader.
It appeared that there could be a dramatic twist to the race when Nicholas Latifi crashed, causing a yellow flag. Verstappen chose to pit, whereas Hamilton remained out, racing on old tyres.
The new tyres benefitted the Dutchman, who was able to overtake Hamilton and win his first ever drivers championship.
MAX VERSTAPPEN. WORLD CHAMPION!!!
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 12, 2021
The overall season has been full of controversial and exciting moments, one of which came just last week when Verstappen was penalised three times for driving offences of one kind or another in Saudi Arabia, with the last coming in the form of a ‘brake test’.
Verstappen hit the brakes with Hamilton right behind him, leading the Briton to hit him, despite his attempt to veer to the side.
Two of Hamilton’s previous three victories saw him pass his rival in dramatic tussles in both Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
However, Verstappen overcame the early controversy to with a spectacular performance – winning the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the World Drivers’ Championship in the process.
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