Max Verstappen claims first F1 Drivers' Championship title

Max-Verstappen-wins-F1-Driver’s-Championship-title

Formula 1 fans were treated to one of the most intense and dramatic title deciders in the organization’s history, as long-time rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battled it out at the final race of the 2021 Formula 1 season. And as the dust settled, Verstappen claimed his first World Drivers' Championship after he passed Hamilton to take the lead and the race win on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Who won the 2021 F1 Drivers' Championship title?

    Honda Red Bull's Max Verstappen won the 2021 F1 Drivers' Championship title.
  • Why did Mercedes protest Verstappen's win?

    Mercedes lodged protests after a late Safety Car was called in, allegedly affecting the outcome of the race.
  • What happened to Mercedes' appeal to overturn the decision?

    The FIA ultimately dismissed Mercedes' protests, cementing Verstappen's win.
  • Max-Verstappen-wins-F1-Driver’s-Championship-title-1

    The Dutchman’s win did not, however, come easy as the Brit got the better start and took the lead into Turn 1 ahead of Verstappen.

    As the racers — with Red Bull’s Verstappen and Mercedes’ Hamilton leading the pack — approached Turn 9, Max Verstappen cut Lewis Hamilton, sending Hamilton off the track. The Brit rejoined the track in the lead and the incident prompted the stewards to take a closer look. Ultimately, they ruled that there was “no investigation necessary” and Hamilton was free to march on in the lead.

    Verstappen by now was suffering from tire wear and headed towards the pit lane. The Dutch switched to hard tires, exchanging the sticky soft set of tires for tougher, hard-wearing ones. Hamilton followed suit and took on similar hard tires. At this point, Sergio “Checo” Pérez was now the new race leader and Hamilton began to reel in the Mexican Red Bull driver.

    Checo, in an impressive display of team play, defended against Hamilton, allowing Verstappen to catch up. And when the British driver finally made it past the Mexican under DRS on the next lap, Pérez quickly moved aside to let Verstappen power through to second place, just a few seconds behind Hamilton.

    It was lap 36 when Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi pulled over at the side of the track due to gearbox issues. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed and with Hamilton staying out on track, the Red Bull Team quickly called Max in for a fresh set of Hard tires. It gave Verstappen some advantage but was not enough to put him ahead of Hamilton who was now leading the race.

    On lap 53, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi unfortunately crashed, prompting the Safety Car to be released. Seeing his chance to finally take the lead, the Dutchman pitted, looking to get the most out of the traction he could get from a set of Soft tires.

    On lap 57, race control decreed that the five cars on track between Hamilton and Verstappen would be allowed to unlap themselves and that the Safety Car would come in to provide for a single lap of racing.

    As the track went green, Max immediately went to work closing in on Lewis on Turn 5, diving down the inside to claim the race lead.

    Hamilton fought back on the next straight and drew alongside the Dutchman and almost got past, but Max held the line, held his nerve and kept the lead until the finish line, and until he had claimed his first FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Championship title.

    As the race concluded, Mercedes lodged two protests against the result. The FIA has dismissed Mercedes' protests but a spokesperson from Mercedes said that the Mercedes Team has intentions to appeal the decision.

    However, word on the web now says that Toto Wolff — Team Principal of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — sent Max Verstappen a text message congratulating the Red Bull racer in his win, saying that Verstappen fully deserved the victory.

    Photos from FIA

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