Max Verstappen secured his maiden World Championship with victory in the season-ending 2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton finishing second as the race ended in a nail-biting one-lap sprint after a late Safety Car. The result, which saw Valtteri Bottas finish sixth and Sergio Perez retire, means Mercedes have clinched a record eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.
Medium-tyred Hamilton jumped soft-shod Verstappen at the start of the 2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while the Dutchman came back in Turn 6, nudging him wide and over the run-off, but the Mercedes driver continued in the lead. Stewards decided not to investigate. The pit window opened when Verstappen came in on Lap 13, Hamilton a lap later, leaving Sergio Perez in the lead with the mission to hold off Hamilton.
Perez did exactly that, on Laps 20 to 21 – being dubbed a “legend” by his teammate as he let him past to continue the chase, before pitting on lap 22. The podium looked certain until he retired on Lap 56 under a Safety Car, which was brought out for a Nicholas Latifi crash.
That Safety Car, during which Verstappen pitted for soft tyres, left the race with just one lap of green flag racing remaining, producing another memorable moment in this epic season. Verstappen did make the pass on Hamilton into Lap 5, the decisive move, and while Hamilton attempted to come back towards Turn 9, there was nothing doing. History was made, as it was always going to be, and the trophy went to the Dutchman for the first time.
Carlos Sainz took the final podium place ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P4 – while AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly rounded out the top five.
Valtteri Bottas struggled to P6, running as low as eighth, and losing a potential podium spot from fourth to sixth under the final Safety Car.
Alpine took points with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon eighth and ninth respectively, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc rounding out the top 10.
Alfa Romeo suffered a double retirement as Kimi Raikkonen bowed out on Lap 26, teammate Antonio Giovinazzi 10 laps later. Latifi was Williams’ second retiree after George Russell bowed out from his tenure with the team with a loss of drive on Lap 27.
Mercedes and Red Bull, therefore, shared the spoils in this incredible season-ending 2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, fit for a season that will no doubt go down as one of the greatest ever.
Duncan Bagshaw, Partner at the law firm Howard Kennedy commented on the 2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix results:
There was a challenge to the FIA last night which was resolved very quickly. The FIA, marking its own homework, perhaps unsurprisingly said that they stood by the decision of the race director Michael Masi. Mercedes do have a case and I think it is quite likely they will take it to a court of arbitration because so much turns on the outcome of these races they may feel they really have no choice.
This decision was by the race director himself applying a rule under the regulations which is, I would say, very clear and quite explicit about what has to happen in this situation.
Everybody wanted to see that race finish in racing conditions but the rule makes it very clear that any cars that have been lapped by the leader have to be allowed to pass the leading cars and the safety car before the race is restarted and he did not allow that to happen. It’s very important for Mercedes to give the message that racing is the most important thing to this sport and that they respect the outcome of the race on the track but they must also accept the fact that commercially this is a sport that revolves around money. They have obligations to Lewis Hamilton, their team, their sponsors and many other people, it may be not so much they want to challenge this decision, that they want this season to be decided before a committee of arbitrators but simply that they don’t have any choice.
Mario Isola – Head of F1 and car racing at Pirelli commented:
We had a tense and strategic battle for the championship at the 2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when a virtual safety car and then a full safety car provided two pivotal moments. Max Verstappen pitted for new tyres on each occasion and tried to hunt down Lewis Hamilton, who stayed out and managed his tyres well to the finish but could do nothing about the effect of Verstappen’s fresh soft tyres on the final lap. From the beginning, the two title protagonists had diverging strategies, starting on different compounds and adopting different strategies, which we saw all the way down the field; thanks also to the unpredictable nature of this race. All three compounds played an important role, standing up extremely well to the challenge of this new track layout and contributing to a thrilling finale.
Congratulations to Max Verstappen for winning the 2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and for his first title and to Mercedes for clinching the constructors’ championship. It’s been an absolutely incredible season with some of the most intense competition we can remember: a fitting way to close the chapter on 13-inch tyres before starting a new one with 18 inches.
2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi GP Race Results
|1.||33||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:30:17.345||26||395.5|
|2.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+2.256s||18||387.5|
|3.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+5.173s||15||164.5|
|4.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+5.692s||12||32|
|5.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+6.531s||10||110|
|6.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+7.463s||8||226|
|7.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+59.200s||6||160|
|8.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Alpine F1 Team||+61.708s||4||81|
|9.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+64.026s||2||74|
|10.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+66.057s||1||159|
|11.||5||Sebastian Vettel||Germany||Aston Martin F1 Team||+67.527s||0||43|
|12.||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||McLaren Racing||+1 lap||0||115|
|13.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+1 lap||0||34|
|14.||47||Mick Schumacher||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||0|
|15.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing Honda||DNF||0||190|
|16.||6||Nicholas Latifi||Canada||Williams Racing||DNF||0||7|
|17.||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Italy||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||DNF||0||3|
|18.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Williams Racing||DNF||0||16|
|19.||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||DNF||0||10|
|18.||9||Nikita Mazepin||Russia||Haas F1 Team||DNS||0||0|
2021 Constructor Standings
|1.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||613.5|
|2.||Red Bull Racing||585.5|
|5.||Alpine F1 Team||155|
|7.||Aston Martin F1 Team||77|
|9.||Alfa Romeo Racing||13|
|10.||Haas F1 Team||0|