It appears that the King of the Netherlands is a bit of a fan of two-time World Champion Max Verstappen, with King Willem-Alexander having revealed how “nervous” he was whilst watching the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 2021 season finale is arguably one of the most controversial races in the history of Formula 1, as Lewis Hamilton lost an unprecedented eighth World Championship following a ‘human error’ by former race director Michael Masi.
Verstappen and Hamilton entered the finale on the exact same number of points, meaning it was a straight shootout between the pair to claim the 2021 crown.
The Red Bull driver started from pole with Hamilton alongside him; however, it was the 38-year-old who led into the opening corner.
Hamilton went on lead the vast majority of the race, until the race was turned upside down after Nicholas Latifi crashed in the closing stages.
A crash for Latifi resulted in a late Safety Car, meaning Hamilton lost his healthy lead after having looked set for the win and the title.
Verstappen opted to pit seconds after the Safety Car was called, with Hamilton having remained on the track but on very worn Hard tyres.
Verstappen re-joined the circuit on Soft tyres and in second place, putting him in an excellent position should the race be restarted.
Had the rules been followed, then the race wouldn’t have been restarted; however, this is where Masi’s error came into play.
On the penultimate lap, it was initially stated that lapped cars wouldn’t be allowed to un-lap themselves, meaning five cars would remain between Hamilton and Verstappen at the start of the final lap.
Following a complaint by Red Bull, though, Masi then allowed only the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap themselves, to which Hamilton labelled the race as “manipulated”.
Once those five cars had gone past, it was then declared that the Safety Car would return to the pits, meaning the final lap would be completed under green flag conditions.
Had Masi followed the rules, then all the lapped cars would’ve been allowed to un-lap themselves, whilst the final lap would’ve also been completed behind the Safety Car, making Hamilton champion.
Verstappen ultimately overtook Hamilton on the final lap to claim the win and his maiden title, something the King didn’t think was going to happen mid-race.
“I was watching at home,” the King told the Through the Eyes of the King podcast.
“I had been nervous all day and I had also gotten the children to go and have to see. During the race, it didn’t look like Max was going to win.”
The race was so tense that the King considered walking away; however, out of principle he decided to watch the entirety of the race.
“And then I thought to myself, ‘Little good parenting, I’m not leaving television now. I’ve been working on it all day and whipped up the whole family to be here. If things don’t go well now, you have to stay put too’,” the King added.
“You can’t make it to your children to get up and walk away in a bad mood.”