Max Verstappen won his first-ever Formula One world championship title last night, in a showdown with Lewis Hamilton that dramatically (and controversially) went down to the final lap, with some F1 fans declaring Hamilton was “robbed.”
The two racing drivers were neck-and-neck on points heading into the highly anticipated final race of the season and Hamilton appeared to be taking home his eighth title with a comfortable lead over Verstappen in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
But of course, you have to expect the unexpected in motorsport as a late crash from Williams driver Nicholas Latifi with just six laps to go threw a curveball and ultimately changed the course of the race.
As stewards cleared up the Williams car, race director Michael Masi made the decision to not allow lapped cars to pass leader Hamilton, nor the safety car, meaning the lapped cars remained in between Hamilton and Verstappen.
With newer and faster tyres, Verstappen had the advantage over Hamilton who had been using the same tyres since lap 14. So when the time came the Dutch driver pounced, driving wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton before he flew past the Mercedes at turn five.
As this last-minute drama unfolded, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff expressed his anger at Masi over the radio over changing his mind.
That extraordinary final lap of the 2021 title race in full 😮
#AbuDhabiGP 🇦🇪 #F1 https://t.co/kknTMDfpAF
While the race may have finished, the drama continued off the track as Mercedes immediately launched two appeals against the result – one appeal against Verstappen for allegedly overtaking under a safety car and a second claiming regulation was breached in regards to race restarts by not allowing all the lapped cars to overtake Hamilton and the safety car.
However, both appeals were dismissed and Verstappen was confirmed as champion, hours after he crossed the chequered flag.
BREAKING: The FIA Stewards have dismissed Mercedes' protests against the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix final classification… https://t.co/35vGhntkTS