Max Verstappen was the big winner on Sunday night as he celebrates 2021 title after incredible drama in Abu Dhabi.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen snatched his first Formula 1 world title by beating Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of a thrilling season finale in Abu Dhabi; then had to wait as Mercedes lodge intention to appeal after F1 stewards reject their two protests as Lewis Hamilton loses race and championship.
Hamilton was in control of the race and looked on course for the title himself, despite a late crash which reduced it to a one-lap shootout – and Verstappen’s fresher tyres made the difference and the Dutchman swept by to win.
But the drama is not over yet, as Mercedes have lodged their intention to appeal the verdicts, which were released long after an extraordinary and controversial race finale. Mercedes lodged two official protests following an incredible title decider that ended with Verstappen passing Hamilton on the very last lap. One was regarding the restart procedure from F1 race director Michael Masi, and another alleging that Verstappen overtook Hamilton under the Safety Car although the stewards deliberated for over three hours before dismissing both protests.
They now have 96 hours to launch an official appeal which Coincidentally takes them up to Thursday night when Verstappen is due to be crowned champion at the FIA Awards Ceremony.
The victor screamed with delight and Red Bull celebrated, while Hamilton sat in his Mercedes for several minutes, disbelieving at the way events had turned against him in the final minutes. On Sunday night at least, Red Bull and Verstappen were celebrating his maiden F1 title.
“It’s disappointing we had to go through that,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who three times went to see stewards after the race along with Mercedes team representatives, told Reporters.
“It’s been an amazing year, I’m proud of Max and the whole team. He’s the world champion and the deserving world champion.”
“Relieved,” said Verstappen. “It’s been a very stressful day.”