The Last Two Times the Formula One World Championship Had A Final Race Decider

Last season wasn’t the most exciting one in the long history of Formula One, although many thought it would be following Ferrari’s bright start to the campaign. Charles Leclerc led home a one-two for the Scuderia in the curtain raiser in Bahrain last term and followed that up with another victory in Australia three weeks later. Reigning champion Max Verstappen didn’t finish either of those races, but eventually, the Flying Dutchman would roar back into the championship.

A string of poor decisions from the pit wall as well as a number of reliability issues saw Leclerc and Ferrari fall out of championship contention, allowing Super Max to romp to a second consecutive world title. And with the way the 2023 season has started, he looks to be well on his way to a third. Online bookmakers such as Bovada, which provides bitcoin sports betting, have made Verstappen the overwhelming favorite for a third consecutive championship this season, and it’s clear to see why.

His Red Bull team has already picked up back-to-back one-twos in the first two races of the campaign, with Verstappen leading home the first in Bahrain before teammate Sergio Perez returned the favor in Saudi Arabia. The Austrian team appear to be so much faster than their opposition that seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton recently branded their car as the fastest he’s ever seen. As such, it’s unlikely that we will have a multiple-team title fight this season.

We could however see a civil war between the two Red Bull drivers, just as we saw between the Hamilton and former teammate Nico Rosberg at Mercedes years ago. The aptly named Silver War saw the title go down to the wire on two separate occasions. Without further ado, here are the last two times the Formula One World Championship was decided in the final race of the season.

Verstappen Controversial Beats Hamilton to Seal His Maiden Crown

Prior to last season getting underway, there was a giant asterisk next to Max Verstappen’s 2021 Formula One World Championship victory. Throughout the course of the season, the Dutch driver went toe to toe with Lewis Hamilton, who was aiming for a record-breaking eighth title. It was Red Bull’s main man that started brighter, however, the seven-time champ came roaring back in the latter stages of the season.

Victory in Brazil meant that both Hamilton and Verstappen went into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi level of points, setting the stage for a winner takes all display. Verstappen took the pole position but Hamilton jumped him at the start and controversially maintained the lead after Verstappen was adjudged to have forced his rival off the track in an attempt to retake the lead.

As the race progressed, Red Bull threw everything they could at Hamilton, but it wasn’t enough, and with just seven laps remaining, Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams into the barriers, bringing out the safety car. Verstappen pitted for fresh tires while Hamilton stayed out on old hard tires, hoping that the race would finish behind the safety car. And it initially looked like it would.

Race director Michael Masi decided that lapped cars would NOT be allowed to overtake the safety car, virtually guaranteeing Hamilton his crowning moment. However, then in a moment of madness – which would eventually cost Masi his job – the race director suddenly decided that the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen on track would be allowed to overtake, allowing the young Red Bull man to close up to the back of the veteran race leader.

The safety card period ended with just one lap remaining, and Hamilton was a sitting duck on his much older tires. Verstappen would manage to overtake his rival in one of the most shocking moments in the history of Formula One, before storming to race victory and his maiden World Championship.

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Nico Rosberg Finally Has His Crowning Moment

Between 2010 and 2013, Red Bull – just as they are today – was the dominant force in Formula One. They romped to four consecutive constructor’s championships, while their lead driver Sebastian Vettel picked up the driver’s title in each of the same four seasons. Their dominance evaporated in 2014 however, when a string of rule changes ushered in the turbo-hybrid era.

Mercedes suddenly became the top team in the sport, and by some distance. Their driver pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg regularly finished as first and second in each of the next three seasons, however, it was Hamilton who would come out as world champion in both 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the pair traded victories once again, and the destination of the title would be decided in Abu Dhabi at the final race of the season.

Rosberg led the championship and only needed to finish second behind Hamilton to secure his maiden world title. And as the race reached its conclusion, that’s exactly where he was, in a championship position behind race leader Hamilton. But then, his teammate began to slow down.

Hamilton’s plan was to back his teammate into third place Sebastian Vettel, in the hopes that the Ferrari man would overtake Rosberg handing Hamilton the title. Rosberg would hang on however, securing the second place he needed to win the World Championship for the first time in his career.