It’s been literally all over the news these past couple of days. No NOT the fishing forecast off the coast of Italy, but rather the conclusion of this year’s Formula 1 World Championship. Late on Sunday night, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton faced off in an epic battle to claim the mantle of greatest F1 driver for 2021.
While Verstappen ultimately walked away the Champion, it wasn’t quite as simple as winning the race. But why exactly? Let me to fill you.
It began with the forging of the great rings.
Hang on…wrong franchise.
Well, moving right along, coming in to the Season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, both Hamilton and Verstappen were sitting even on 369.5 points. Whoever finished ahead of the other would be the 2021 World Champion, and having claimed Pole position on Saturday night, things were looking pretty good for Verstappen.
Things didn’t quite pan out that way though. Hamilton made a super strong start and overtook Verstappen into the first corner. From there on out, the Mercedes driver dominated, with Verstappen never close enough behind to be a threat.
Come Lap 53 of 58, a crash at the back of the pack brought out a Safety Car, with Verstappen making a super quick pit stop for fresh tyres whereas Hamilton stayed out on his old ones. The catch for Verstappen though? Around 5 lapped cars were stuck between him and the leading Mercedes. Here’s where things get a bit finnicky.
The Race Director decided to allow only those 5 lapped cars to pass and unlap themselves, rather than the standard practice of letting them all through, thereby allowing Verstappen a clear shot at Hamilton. With Hamilton on much older tyres, well, I think you can figure out what happened on the final lap.
While Red Bull celebrated long into the night for Verstappen, Mercedes predictably weren’t happy despite winning their Eighth consecutive Constructors’ Championship. An initial protest against the Race Director’s decision was dismissed, and only yesterday decided they wouldn’t appeal after the sport’s governing body announced an investigation into the whole situation.
So which driver truly deserved the title? Whichever side of the fence you sit on, this whole situation was absolutely unprecedented and hopefully one we don’t see repeated down the track.
If you want to read Mercedes’ statement, head here.