Max Verstappen won his first Formula 1 World Championship in 2021 after a dramatic one-lap sprint in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, taking the lead on the last lap following a safety car period and ending Lewis Hamilton‘s dominance in the race.
‣ Max Verstappen won the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship after a one-lap sprint in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
‣ Verstappen took the lead on the last lap of the race following a safety car period, ending Lewis Hamilton’s dominance.
‣ Mercedes won the Constructors Championship for the eighth consecutive season.
‣ Verstappen’s victory was aided by a virtual safety car period, which allowed him to pit and gain a 17-second lead with 20 laps remaining.
2021 was a memorable year for Max Verstappen. He claimed his first Formula 1 World Championship in a thrilling finale. The race was filled with drama, a spectacle that GPblog revisits in a race report from December 2021.
Verstappen clinched the World Championship in a nail-biting one-lap sprint in Abu Dhabi. He won the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship in a thrilling finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Dutchman snatched the lead on the final lap, ending Lewis Hamilton’s reign.
Hamilton had a flying start, taking the lead before the first corner. A controversial moment unfolded at turn seven, but the stewards decided not to investigate. Verstappen made a daring inside move, and Hamilton ran wide but managed to hold onto the lead.
Verstappen got lucky. He scored a cheap pit stop thanks to a virtual safety car when Antonio Giovinazzi retired on lap 36. With a 17-second gap and 20 laps to go, Verstappen couldn’t catch Hamilton. But then, the safety car came out. The season ended with a one-lap sprint, and Verstappen seized the lead on the last lap, winning the title.
Mercedes bagged the Constructors Championship for the eighth consecutive season. Meanwhile, Raikkonen’s Formula 1 career ended on lap 28 due to a brake issue. Russell’s time at Williams also ended on the same lap with a power issue. Nikita Mazepin didn’t start the race after testing positive for COVID-19.
Tyres played a significant role in the race. Verstappen was forced to start on the less robust soft Pirelli compound due to a medium tyre flat spot in Q2. Hamilton, with the medium tyre, was just one place behind Verstappen on the grid. Sergio Perez started on the second row, but it was Lando Norris in third. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas started from sixth.
Verstappen didn’t have a great start, and Hamilton took the lead into the first corner. The stewards were called into question at turn seven when Verstappen tried to overtake. The rivals touched slightly, but the stewards decided no investigation was needed. Red Bull Racing appealed to Michael Masi, but nothing changed.
By lap five, Hamilton had a two-second lead. The question of tyre strategy arose. After a series of fast lap times, Hamilton extended the gap to 3.6 seconds. Verstappen reported his rear tyres were struggling around lap 10.
Verstappen pitted on lap 14 for hard tyres. He returned to the track in fifth place but overtook Norris within one lap. Mercedes matched Verstappen with hard tyres just one lap later. Hamilton emerged in second, behind Red Bull driver Perez. Verstappen got stuck behind Carlos Sainz for a few laps. Once clear, the Red Bull driver had a ten-second gap to Hamilton.
Perez played a crucial role in bringing Verstappen back into the race. He made it tough for Hamilton to regain the lead, reducing the gap between the two Championship rivals to one second on lap 22.
At the halfway point, Kimi Raikkonen’s career ended with a brake issue. He touched the wall but managed one more lap back to the pit lane. On the same lap, Russell lost all drive in his final race for Williams.
Hamilton pulled away, creating a 4.3-second gap on lap 31. On lap 36, Antonio Giovinazzi stopped on the circuit, and a virtual safety car was deployed. Verstappen used this opportunity and pitted for a new set of hard tyres. With 20 laps to go, Verstappen had a 17-second gap.
With ten laps to go, Verstappen reduced the gap to 13 seconds. Nicholas Latifi crashed with five laps remaining. Verstappen opted for the soft tyres for the restart, and the rest is history.