The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been nominated for a BAFTA award following the thrilling title showdown between Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton.
The pair headed into the final race of last season level on points after a dramatic and chaotic year, and the Dutchman took pole position on the Saturday.
Hamilton sailed past him off the start, but a late move into Turn Six that was symbolic of Verstappen’s ruthlessness sent the 37-year-old off the track to give us the first bit of controversy, and the race had barely begun.
After the pit stops had shaken out for the protagonists, Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was left out to fend off the seven-time world champion, and push him back towards the 24-year-old.
This partially mitigated the superior pace Mercedes seemed to have on the day, and Verstappen would catch right back up the leader.
Hamilton managed to open his lead back out, and looked comfortably on for his record eighth world championship before Nicholas Latifi crashed, bringing out the Safety Car.
A legacy of Perez’s earlier work was that Hamilton was unable to make a pit stop and rejoin ahead of his rival so, with Mercedes unwilling to take that risk, Red Bull pitted Verstappen with nothing to lose.
That left five lapped runners between the leaders, and race director Michael Masi initially ruled that none of them would be permitted through.
But after some strange conversations with the Red Bull pit wall, the Australian contradicted his earlier call by allowing only the five between Hamilton and Verstappen to get their lap back.
The Dutchman would then charge past the reigning champion on the final lap to claim his maiden Formula 1 world title, much to Mercedes’ ire.
Masi has since been removed from his position, and the FIA’s report concluded that a “misunderstanding” of the regulations caused “confusion” in race control.
Nonetheless, it sparked a huge interest in the pinnacle of motorsport, and an average of around 8.4 million viewers were attracted to the Drive to Survive series, while over a million American viewers tuned in to ESPN’s coverage of the season-opening 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Over two million UK viewers then watched the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix a week later, and the BAFTA awards now have it listed as one of the contenders for their sport category.
It sits alongside the Grand National on ITV, the Tokyo Olympics, and England’s dramatic semi-final Euro 2020 victory over Denmark, as a late Harry Kane goal sent the Three Lions to the final.
The BBC’s coverage of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also earned a nomination after Sebastian Vettel’s title success as the German, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Hamilton all went into the final race in with a chance of claiming the crown.