Max Verstappen crossed the checkered flag in Abu Dhabi this morning, closing the season and the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Championship. Lewis Hamilton finished P2, while Carlos Sainz completed the podium. Mercedes consolidated its place as the winner of the constructors’ championship.
Max Verstappen dominated qualifying on Saturday ahead of Lewis Hamilton with Lando Norris completing a surprise lap for P3. Verstappen qualified on the soft rubber tire, which turned out to be a worrying decision for the Red Bull team. Nikita Mazepin was the only driver who did not take the start, due to having caught the coronavirus before the race. Hamilton and Verstappen entered Abu Dhabi with equal points.
Verstappen got off to a horrific start allowing Hamilton to take the lead as Norris pulled away from P3 giving way to Sergio Perez. Verstappen stuck to the back of Hamilton’s car and between turns 6 and 7 rushed to regain the lead and made contact with the Mercedes. Hamilton went wide and cut much of the running track to keep the lead. No investigation was necessary, according to the commissioners.
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz made his way into P4 behind Norris, as Sebastian Vettel passed teammate Lance Stroll on the inside at the end of the back straight. Verstappen stopped for hard tires on lap 13 and as he came out of the pits Charles Leclerc passed him off the track, losing 6th place to Yuki Tsunoda. Leclerc took the place well on the same lap.
Sergio Perez backs Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton took a dive and emerged behind Perez, who defended Hamilton for as long as he could, closing Verstappen’s gap to 1.5 seconds. Eventually, Hamilton passed Perez, who provided Verstappen with DRS allowing him to enter P2. Verstappen ultimately couldn’t keep pace with Hamilton and lost ground after just a few laps. Lap 27 saw Kimi Raikkonen retire from his final F1 race after brake failure to massive applause from the crowd to celebrate his career. George Russell followed suit with a technical problem and withdrew from the race.
Valtteri Bottas’ last race for Mercedes was calm until his pit stop put him in P9. He struggled behind Leclerc’s Ferrari for a few laps but eventually passed him on lap 35. Antonio Giovinazzi had to abandon his Alfa Romeo on lap 36, causing a virtual safety car. Verstappen pulled over for a new set of hard tires and Hamilton stayed away. At the end of the virtual safety car, Verstappen threw a load on new tires, Lewis on 25-lap old tires. Fernando Alonso and Tsunoda had a collision on lap 40 when Alonso slipped off the track trying to pass Tsunoda from the inside before the rear chicane. On lap 42 it was Hamilton and the Red Bulls in Carlos Sainz’s top 3, with Norris in P5 and Bottas just behind in P6.
On lap 53, Nicholas Latifi smashed his Williams against the wall, causing a safety car with only 5 laps to go. Perez had to give up the race under the safety car, handing Mercedes the manufacturer’s trophy. The safety car arrived with a lap to go and Hamilton led Verstappen, who passed Hamilton after a few short turns. Hamilton tried to get it back but Verstappen defended and took the checkered flag to win his very first Drivers’ World Championship.
Formula 1 evolves and becomes the perfect championship for Volkswagen.
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