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Lewis Hamilton

Verstappen steals title from Hamilton amid huge late drama

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and, with it, the 2021 F1 World Drivers' Championship.

Verstappen Abu Dhabi
Article
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool/Getty Images

Max Verstappen has won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit and, with it, the 2021 F1 World Drivers' Championship.

Starting on the Medium tyre compound, Hamilton seized the initiative as the lights went out to start the race as he got off the line better than Verstappen - the Red Bull driver seeming to bog down slightly.

With Verstappen on the Soft tyre, he latched onto the back of the Mercedes down the back straight and attempted a late lunge into the chicane. Making the apex of the corner, Verstappen appeared to have made the move stick as Hamilton took to the escape area and cut the next corner.

The stewards ruled that no investigation of the incident was necessary, with Hamilton permitted to remain in the lead.

From there, Hamilton sprinted away from Verstappen to open up a six-second gap by the time Verstappen pitted for the first time and ditched his Soft tyres.

With Hamilton pitting on the following lap to cover off Verstappen, the race was essentially reset with both on the Hard tyres, but a gap of nine seconds between them.

Red Bull left Sergio Perez out on track and instructed the Mexican to hold up Hamilton and, once the Mercedes driver had caught him, defended aggressively but fairly to hold up Hamilton enough to get Verstappen back within two seconds of his title rival.

With Hamilton slowly easing the gap out again, there was a further sting in the tail when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed with 20 laps to go to cover the recovery of Antonio Giovinazzi's stranded Alfa Romeo. Verstappen pitted for fresh Hard tyres, with Hamilton staying on track on his 23-lap old Hard tyres.

This gave Verstappen a slight pace advantage when the race resumed, and he slowly eased the gap down from 17 to 12 seconds before the crucial moment when a late Safety Car was deployed to cover Nicholas Latifi crashing his Williams.

Verstappen pitted for fresh Softs, coming out with several cars between himself and Hamilton as the Mercedes didn't pit. When the Safety Car withdrew, and lapped cars overtook, there was one racing lap, with Verstappen latching onto and passing Hamilton into the hairpin on the final lap, with the Mercedes helpless to fend off the Red Bull.

Verstappen crossed the line moments later to clinch the win and the World Championship, with a disbelieving Hamilton resigned to second.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz finished in third, as Red Bull's Sergio Perez was forced to retire from the final podium place within sight of the chequered flag.

Result Race - Abu Dhabi

Pos. Driver Team Time
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McLaren's Lando Norris finished in fourth, despite suffering from an apparent gear selection issue throughout, while Valtteri Bottas placed fifth at the chequered flag to wrap up the Constructors' Championship for Mercedes in his final race with them.

Yuki Tsunoda was sixth for AlphaTauri, beating teammate Pierre Gasly across the line, ahead of the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso in eighth and ninth respectively. Daniel Ricciardo took the final points place in the other McLaren.

Further down the field, Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen's career came to a close in ignominious fashion as he was forced out due to a brake issue that saw him hit the barriers. He was able to get the car back to the pits and conclude his career in the garage.

Giovinazzi was another retirement with a technical issue in the second Alfa Romeo, while Williams' George Russell was also forced out with a power unit issue.

F1 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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