Red Bull’s Max Verstappen holds off Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in final lap to claim the F1 World Driver’s Championship.
Max Verstappen has secured the Formula 1 driver’s championship after winning at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of rival Lewis Hamilton.
Max Verstappen celebrates 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix win
The Dutch 24-year-old claimed victory in his final-race shoot-out with Lewis Hamilton to claim the Formula One world championship after a dramatic turn of events in the final lap.
Speaking after the race he said,
“It’s insane. I don’t know what to say. I’m so pleased for the team and for all these guys. I love working with them so much.
“Finally today I had a bit of luck. My team know I love them and I want to do this with them for the next 10 or 15 years!”
Verstappen (Left) and Hamilton (Right) were level on points before the race in Abu Dhabi
Both drivers headed into the season finale with one hand on the trophy as they found themselves level on points (369.5).
Before the winner-takes-it-all race began, Verstappen found himself in an advantageous position as he started in pole position after Saturday’s final qualifying.
The Red Bull driver looked out of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at various points .
However, after a safety car came on to deal with a Nicholas Latifi crash, he was given a reprieve.
With 19 laps to go, Hamilton led Verstappen by a little under 16 seconds.
Verstappen did manage to bring down the advantage to about 12 seconds as Hamilton’s tyres aged to 34 laps by lap 48.
Pirelli, the tyre manufacturers with F1, claimed that on this Abu Dhabi circuit, the hard tyres were good enough for 50 laps.
The Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, while speaking to the commentators during the race, admitted that Mercedes drivers’ pace was too strong throughout the race and that they needed something of a “miracle”.
“We are going to need a miracle in the last 10 laps to turn it around but the clock is ticking. Max needs some luck from the racing Gods,” Horner said.
Things got interesting once again, this time in favor of the Red Bull driver, as Williams driver, Nicholas Latifi crashed out of the race by running into the barriers at turn 14.
Lewis Hamilton twice stayed out of Pit stop to sustain his lead against Verstappen in the final race in Abu Dhabi
Verstappen pitted immediately for a set of fresh of soft tyres to begin the final and ultimate chase down of Hamilton who twice ignored the pit stop.
The “safety card” had ended by the end of lap 57, leaving just one racing lap.
And 24 year old Verstappen made the most of it.
Using his fresher tyres, he eventually overtook Hamilton in the final lap to win an absolute thriller.
The minute Max Verstappen was told he was the winner of the Abu Dhabi GP
Hamilton would be disappointed he would have to wait longer to surpass Michael Schumacher’s Champions record but congratulated F1 Champion on the win.
Lewis Hamilton (Left) congratulates Max Verstappen (Right) on his Championship win
“Firstly, big congratulations to Max and to his team.
“But I’m so proud of my own team and we gave it absolutely everything. I’ve felt great in the car the last couple of months. We’ll see what happens next year”, the 34-year-old Mercedes driver said.