Dutchman Max Verstappen was crowned Formula 1 world champion this Sunday, by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, at Yas Marina circuit, beating Briton Lewis Hamilton, in an absolutely frantic end of race, after a « safety car» in the final laps, motivated by a mistake by Nicholas Latifi.
It wasn’t like the 1997 European GP between Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve. It wasn’t like Australia 1994 between Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher either. Or like Suzuka 1990 between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
But it was just as epic. Exciting. Indescribable.
The end of this season’s Formula 1 World Championship proved that it was all down to the last lap.
Everything looked set for Lewis Hamilton to overtake Michael Schumacher as the most titled ever in Formula One and his fifth straight career title since 2017, but Latifi’s crash, four laps to go, put everything on hold until the end. Mercedes won, but only the constructors’ world championship, while Red Bull returns to celebrate eight years after the last of Sebastian Vettel’s four titles.
The ‘safety car’ entered the track, Lewis Hamilton failed to enter the ‘boxes’, something Max Verstappen managed to switch from hard to soft tires and attempt a final attack. The race was not guaranteed to start again, but it was resumed for the last of the 58 laps and Verstappen, with better tyres, managed to attack and overtake Hamilton and defended himself after a final attack by the Brit, to flee towards 10. rd win of the season and for his first career title, in Formula 1.
All this in a sad ending for Sergio Perez, who had also gone to the box to change tires and help Max Verstappen in the possible final attack, but ended up returning to the garage for the withdrawal, which automatically confirmed the manufacturer’s title for Mercedes .
Carlos Sainz thus achieved the podium for Ferrari, taking third place, followed by Yuki Tsunoda, who also took an honorable fourth place in Abu Dhabi, in an exciting race from start to finish.
Hamilton’s Initial Attack That Changed Everything Soon
The Brit started off very well and soon overtook Max Verstappen in the first corner and the Dutchman even responded shortly afterwards. There was a touch between the two that motivated Hamilton to leave the track, in an incident in which Red Bull asked to give up its position, but which ended up not being investigated and everything remained as it was.
Hamilton gained seconds on his medium tyres, while Max Verstappen complained about his soft rears and even ended up stopping on lap 14, re-entering the track in fifth position, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, something that was essential in Red’s strategy Bull to Mercedes.
Verstappen quickly overtook Norris and Sainz, they reached the podium and after that came one of the great moments of the race.
Sergio Perez’s great work to wrap
Hamilton, who in the meantime also made a stop – the one that would become his only one – was approaching Sergio Perez, who did a huge job closing the way to the Brit. The Mexican was passed twice briefly, but managed consecutive saves, in a fight that allowed Verstappen to cling to Hamilton and stay close to a second behind the Brit.