UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. Abu Dhabi: Red Bull Honda driver Max Verstappen won Abu Dhabi Grand Prix defeating seven-time champion Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Sir Lewis Hamilton on Sunday. The epic finale race was held at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
With this win, Max Verstappen claimed his maiden Formula One World Championship Title. Meanwhile, Team Mercedes won the Constructors’ Title for an eighth successive year.
Max Verstappen has now become the first ever F1 driver from the Netherlands to win the world championships title.
Final results of the Abu Dhabi GP
Ferrari driver, Carlos Sainz took the final podium place giving his best performance of the 2021 season.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda secured P4 while his teammate Pierre Gasly came fifth.
Lewis’s teammate, Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Valtteri Bottas managed to take P6. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon collected points by taking up eighth and ninth position respectively.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the tenth position. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen retired on Lap 26 and his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi 10 laps later. Williams’ driver Latifi and his teammate George Russell also retired out midway to the race.
Haas’s Nikita Mazepin missed the finale as he was detected as COVID-19 positive. So Sunday’s race started with 19 cars on the grid with Red Bull Honda driver Max Verstappen on the pole.
The final race of the 2021 season was also the last race for Kimi Raikkonen who retired after being in the game for two decades.
This season also witnessed the loss of legends of the game like Sir Frank Williams, Murray Walker, Max Mosley, Johnny Dumfries, Carlos Reutemann, and Mansour Ojjeh who will be remembered as icons of the Formula One family.
How the race unfolded
As the lights went out, Sir Lewis Hamilton took an initial lead at Turn One leaving Verstappen behind. The pair almost collided at turn seven on the first lap, with Sir Lewis Hamilton running wide to stay in front as Verstappen pushed to regain the lead.
By lap 13, Verstappen was five seconds behind his title rival Sir Lewis Hamilton when he pitted to take on hard tyres. Mercedes quickly followed through and Sir Lewis Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 14 to take on hard tyres.
Over the next few laps, Red Bull Honda’s Sergio Perez kept engaging with Sir Lewis Hamilton by going back and forth. This allowed Perez’s teammate Max Verstappen to lessen his gap with Sir Lewis Hamilton and by lap 33 it narrowed down to five seconds with both of them on hard tyres.
But as the race moved towards a crucial final few laps, the gap between the two favorites for the Championship Title increased, and with 10 laps left Verstappen was 12 seconds behind Sir Lewis Hamilton.
On lap 53 Williams’ driver Nicholas Latifi crashed and the Safety Car was released. Taking this opportunity, Verstappen quickly pitted and took a set of soft tyres but Sir Lewis Hamilton stayed back on track. When the track went green Max picked up the attack and closed on to Sir Lewis Hamilton and then the actual race began between these two title aspirants.
Both of them drove alongside till Max got an edge over Sir Lewis Hamilton and took a lead until the finish line winning the race eventually.
Post-race, the Team Mercedes lodged two protests against the result. As this article goes into a publication we get to know that Mercedes decided to drop its appeal into the FIA’s handling of the late-race safety car restart in the F1’s final race in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes’ announcement followed a statement from the FIA on Wednesday evening, in which the sport’s governing body proposed to conduct a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” around the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The team Mercedes also decided not to send its championship-winning F1 and Formula E cars to Paris for pre-gala photographs. The company confirmed that Toto Wolff, CEO and Team Principal and co-owner of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and Sir Lewis Hamilton will give a miss to the prize distribution gala by FIA.
Mercedes’s Chief Technical Officer James Allison will represent the company to receive the constructors’ championship trophy.
Quotes from the post-match interview
“All the things come back through your mind throughout all the years you spent together, traveling for that goal… and everything comes together in the last lap. Insane, these people, my whole team, my family, my friends, the people… who want to push me to where I am today. They’re all here – most of them are here. It’s just insane; I lost my voice, but yes. I don’t know, it just sounds amazing, honestly” , said Max Verstappen, 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ world champion, Red Bull.
“Firstly, congratulations to Max and his team. I think he did an amazing job this year. My team worked so hard all year and I’m so grateful to be part of the journey with them. We gave it everything”, said Sir Lewis Hamilton during a post-race interview.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Top 10
- Max Verstappen (Team RedBull Racing Honda), Time: 1:30:17.345s,
- Sir Lewis Hamilton (Team Mercedes AMG Petronas), Time: +2.256s,
- Carlos Sainz (Team Ferrari), Time: +5.173s, Points: 15
- Yuki Tsunoda (Team AlphaTauri Honda), Time: +5.692s, Points: 12
- Pierre Gasly (Team AlphaTauri Honda), Time: +6.531s, Points: 10
- Valtteri Bottas (Team Mercedes AMG Petronas), Time: +7.463s, Points: 8
- Lando Norris (Team Mclaren Mercedes), Time: +59.200s, Points: 6
- Fernando Alonso (Team Alpine Renault), Time: +61.708s, Points: 4
- Esteban Ocon (Team Alpine Renault), Time: +64.026s, Points: 2
- Charles Leclerc (Team Ferrari), Time: +66.057s , Points: 1
Driver Standing after Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Top 10
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing Honda), Points: 395.5
- Sir Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Points: 387.5
- Valteri Bottas (Mercedes), Points: 226
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing Honda), Points: 190
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Points: 164.5
- Lando Norris (Mclaren Mercedes), Points: 160
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Points: 159
- Daniel Ricciardo (Mclaren Mercedes), Points: 115
- Pierre Gasly (Alphatauri Honda), Points: 110
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine Renault), Points: 81
Constructors Standings after Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Top 10
- Mercedes – (Sir Lewis Hamilton / Bottas), Points: 613.5
- Red Bull Racing – (Verstappen / Perez), Points: 585.5
- Ferrari – (Charles / Carlos), Points: 323.5
- Mclaren Mercedes (Daniel Ricciardo/ Lando Norris), Points: 275
- Alpine Renault (Fernando Alonso/ Esteban Ocon), Points: 155
- Alpha Tauri Honda (Pierre Gasly/ Yuki Tsunoda), Points: 142
- Aston Martin Mercedes (Sebastian Vettel/ Lance Stroll), Points: 77
- Williams Mercedes (George Russell/ Nicholas Latifi), Points: 23
- Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari (Kimi Räikkönen/ Antonio Giovinazzi/ Robert Kubica), Points: 13
- Haas Ferrari (Mick Schumacher/ Nikita Mazepin), Points: 0
Max Verstappen and his achievements
Born in Hasselt, Belgium in the year 1997, Max Verstappen is currently competing in Formula One with Red Bull Honda Racing. Son of Jos Verstappen former Formula One driver, he is the youngest race-winner in Formula One history. Verstappen joined Scuderia Toro Rosso in the year 2015 at the age of 17 years, 166 days and at the age of 18, he debuted for Red Bull Racing and went on to win the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.
Max became the 34th Formula One World Drivers’ Champion and the first Dutch driver to win a Formula One World Championship. As of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he has achieved 19 victories. He will be with the Team Red Bull until at least the end of the 2023 season.
Achievement by Numbers:
- Monaco was one of three races where Max led every lap.
- Max led 652 laps this season, which equates to 50.2 percent of all race laps.
- Max achieved the world title in his 141st F1 start.
- 18 Podium finishes in 2021 out of the 60 in Max’s career to date.
- In 13 Races out of 22, Red Bull Racing had the fastest pit stop 2021 season.
- Max won three races in succession for the first time in the France-Styria-Austria triple-header.
- 6 Fastest laps this season out of the total 16 in Max’s career to date.
- Max is the second world champion to win the title for Red Bull Racing after Sebastian Vettel
- Max will carry the number 1 on his car for 2022 as the Formula One World Champion.
About Yas Marina Circuit and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The Yas Marina Circuit was built by main contractor Cebarco-WCT WLL, under contract from developer Aldar Properties. The circuit has Main Grandstand, West Grandstand, North Grandstand, South Grandstand, and Marina Grandstand and part of its pit lane exit runs beneath the track. The circuit was constructed with a permanent lighting system similar to Losail Circuit in Qatar. Yas Marina Circuit is the largest permanent sports venue lighting project in the world.
The surface of the track is made of greywacke aggregate which offers a high level of grip but at the same time rate of tyre wear is also high. The circuit received final approval to hold Formula One races by the FIA on October 7, 2009. Several upgrades were done before the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The turns 4, 5, and 6 were redesigned, and turns 11, 12, and 13 got reconfigured and made ready for the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 5.281 km long Yas Marina Circuit with a seating capacity of 60,000 is one of the technologically advanced tracks in the world and a hub of motorsports.
Formula One’s new era begins in 2022 with a new set of rules and the drivers are all set to enthrall spectators with a new car based on a revised set of guidelines that will change the dynamics of the game for sure. Only time will tell about which driver and team will reign supreme next season. The next season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain coming March 2022.
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Watch how Max Verstappen Celebrates Maiden Title Win on Podium at 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Formula 1’s YouTube Channel.