Despite winning more grand prix and comfortably leading more laps than any other driver in 2021, some Formula 1 fans have questioned whether Max Verstappen is deserving of his Drivers’ Championship.
The Dutchman went into the season finale in Abu Dhabi level on points with Sir Lewis Hamilton, but he topped the standings by virtue of having won 10 races, while Hamilton had nine victories.
Verstappen ultimately won the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to clinch his maiden Formula 1 crown, however, his triumph was not without controversy.
The Red Bull driver started the final race of 2021 on pole position, but a fast-starting Hamilton overtook him off the line and looked to have plenty of pace in hand over Verstappen.
During the race, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted that they needed a “miracle” to beat Hamilton – and that’s exactly what they got in the dying stages of the grand prix.
Williams driver Nicholas Latifi brought out the Safety Car after crashing in the final sector, which allowed Verstappen to pit for a fresh set of soft-compound tyres.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was ordered by his Mercedes team to stay out to ensure he maintained track position.
This proved to be the wrong call, as race director Michael Masi ensured that we had one lap of racing by only ordering the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap themselves, keeping the rest in their place in an unprecedented move.
With Verstappen now directly behind his championship rival, he was able to use his tyre advantage to overtake the Mercedes driver on the very last lap of the 2021 season to secure his maiden F1 title.
Hamilton was quick to get on the team radio to suggest that the race had been “manipulated”, while Mercedes filed a protest against the race classification. This protest was swiftly rejected by the stewards.
Mercedes subsequently lodged their intention to appeal this decision, before withdrawing this a few days later following the FIA announcing it would be launching an investigation into the ending of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Mercedes agreed not to proceed with their appeal as part of a “quid pro quo” with the FIA that will see Masi lose his role as race director ahead of the 2022 season.
The Silver Arrows, however, have reportedly denied agreeing such a deal with the FIA.
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