Max Verstappen won his first championship title in an incredibly dramatic way after overtaking Lewis Hamilton in the final lap thanks to a lucky combination of circumstances that allowed Verstappen to attack Hamilton on much fresher and faster tyres.

Hamilton had a great start from the inside and took the lead before the first corner, and Perez overtook Norris who came out wide at the exit of the first corner while Bottas lost two places and fell behind Leclerc and Tsunoda.

But a controversial moment occurred in the Turn 6 of the first lap when Verstappen launched a late attack from the inside, Hamilton had to avoid a collision and cut the chicane, and the stewards very quickly announced that there was no need to investigate the incident.

Red Bull complained to race director Michael Masi that Hamilton did not regain his position even though he cut the Turn 6, but Masi replied that Verstappen forced Hamilton to drive off-track and slowed down enough after cutting the corner and thus did not gain a lasting advantage.

Sainz overtook Norris and held fourth place for Ferrari behind Hamilton, Verstappen and Perez, while Norris held fifth place ahead of Leclerc, Tsunoda, Bottas, Ocon and Ricciardo.

Hamilton started to build an advantage over Verstappen and in the 11th lap he drove a second faster lap and increased his lead to 6.3 seconds after 13 laps – Red Bull then called Verstappen into the pits and put a new set of hard tyres.

2021 Abu Dhabi GP start of the race Hamilton leads Verstappen Photo Red BullPhoto: Red Bull

Verstappen returned to fifth place and overtook Norris in the first DRS zone and Mercedes reacted immediately and called Hamilton at the end of lap 14 when he too gets a new set of tyres and returns to second place, 11 seconds behind Perez who was not yet in the pits.

Verstappen managed to overtake Sainz in the 18th lap on the sixth turn after previously going wide in the penultimate corner and had to postpone the attack on Sainz. When he finaly overtook him, Verstappen was 8.5 seconds behind Hamilton who was then 2.5 seconds behind leader Perez .

Hamilton attacked Perez for the first time before braking for the sixth turn in lap 20, but Perez strikes back in the second DRS zone and regained first place ahead of braking for the ninth turn. After that, the Mexican further slowed down the Briton in the third sector, which helped Verstappen catch the leaders.

Hamilton overtook Perez in the lap 21 braking late for Turn 6 and the Mexican then released the throttle to let Verstappen by and at the end of the lap he entered the pits for hard tyres.

2021 Abu Dhabi GP Hamilton battles Perez with Verstappen behind Photo Red Bull
Photo: Red Bull

Raikkonen lost control of the rear end on braking for the Turn 6 in the 26th lap due to problems with the braking system, then enters the pits and finishes his last appearance in Formula 1.

In the same lap, Russell, who lost power in the Mercedes power unit, also retired, but managed to get to the pits while Bottas entered the pits for the first time at the end of the lap 30 and returned to ninth place.

Giovinazzi stopped on the track due to hydraulic problems that caused the conditions of the virtual safety car and Red Bull took advantage of this, invited Verstappen to the pits for new hard tyres after which the Dutchman returned to second place, 19 seconds behind Hamilton.

Ten laps before the end Hamilton had an 11.7-second lead over Verstappen who failed to be significantly faster than Hamilton despite significantly newer hard tyres, and Norris had to box from fifth place due to a slow puncture and returned to tenth place.

Norris managed to overtake Ocon and Alonso in the Alpine on much newer medium tyres and break into eighth place behind Tsunoda and Gasly, but after Latifi’s collision at the exit of the Turn 14 in the lap 53, a safety car comes out on the track.

Red Bull invited Verstappen the pits for a set of soft tyres while Mercedes could not call Hamilton because they would lose the position to Verstappen.

The FIA ​​announced at the last minute that some of the drivers who were a lap behind could overtake the safety car even though they initially announced it would not happen, which meant Verstappen returned to second place on the track behind Hamilton.

2021 Abu Dhabi GP Verstappen Red Bull podium with Dutch flag Photo Red Bull
Photo: Red Bull

Hamilton tried to fight back in the two straights, but on much older and two-step harder tyres he had no chance and Verstappen achieved the victory he needed for the title.

Sainz finished third for Ferrari after Perez retired three laps before the end, securing fifth place in the drivers’ standings, and Mercedes won the constructors’ title for the eighth year in a row.

Tsunoda and Gasly had a great race for AlphaTauri in fourth and fifth place, and Bottas finished his five-year career at Mercedes in sixth place ahead of Norris at McLaren.

Alonso and Ocon finished eighth and ninth for Alpine and Leclerc was tenth for Ferrari after pitting for the second time during the virtual safety car.

ABU DHABI GP RESULTS

1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 58 1:30:17.345
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 58 1:30:19.601 2.256
3 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 58 1:30:22.518 5.173
4 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 58 1:30:23.037 5.692
5 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 58 1:30:23.876 6.531
6 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 1:30:24.808 7.463
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 58 1:31:16.545 59.200
8 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 58 1:31:19.053 1:01.708
9 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 58 1:31:21.371 1:04.026
10 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 58 1:31:23.402 1:06.057
11 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 58 1:31:24.872 1:07.527
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 57 1 lap
13 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 57 1 lap
14 47 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 57 1 lap
15 11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 55 3 laps
6 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 50 Retired
99 A.Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 33 Retired
63 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 26 Retired
7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 25 Retired
9 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 0 Didn’t start

Fastest lap: Max Verstappen – 1:26.103 (lap 39)

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 22/22 RACES

1 Max Verstappen 395.5   18 25 18 19 25 26 25 26 3 2 12.5 25 2 18 18 25 25 20 19 18 26
2 Lewis Hamilton 387.5   25 19 25 25 7 18 19 12 27 18 7.5 19 25 10 19 18 25 25 26 18
3 Valtteri Bottas 226   16 16 15 12 15 18 16 15 18 10 26 8 18 15 8
4 Sergio Pérez 190   10 12 10 12 25 15 12 8 4 10 2 15 15 15 13 12
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. 164.5   4 10 6 18 4 8 10 8 15 0.5 6 8 15 4 6 8 9 6 4 15
6 Lando Norris 160   12 15 10 4 15 10 10 10 15 12 1 18 7 6 4 1 1 2 1 6
7 Charles Leclerc 159   8 12 8 12 12 6 4 18 2 10 12 12 12 10 10 4 6 1
8 Daniel Ricciardo 115   6 8 2 8 2 8 6 10 6 27 12 10 10
9 Pierre Gasly 110   6 1 1 8 15 6 2 11 4 12 8 12 6 8 10
10 Fernando Alonso 81   1 4 8 4 2 1 6 12 8 4 8 2 2 15 4
11 Esteban Ocon 74   2 6 2 2 2 25 3 2 1 1 4 10 12 2
12 Sebastian Vettel 43   10 18 2 5 1 6 1
13 Lance Stroll 34   1 4 4 1 4 4 6 2 8
14 Yuki Tsunoda 32   2 6 1 1 8 2 12
15 George Russell 16   4 9 2 1
16 Kimi Räikkönen 10   1 1 4 4
17 Nicholas Latifi 7   6 1
18 A.Giovinazzi 3   1 2
19 Mick Schumacher 0  
20 Robert Kubica 0  
21 Nikita Mazepin 0  

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

1 Mercedes 613.5 41 19 41 40 7 30 34 30 43 18 7.5 34 18 35 36 27 18 43 25 41 26
2 Red Bull/Honda 585.5 28 25 30 29 37 25 41 37 34 3 2 12.5 29 12 20 33 40 40 33 31 18 26
3 Ferrari 323.5 12 22 8 18 18 16 14 14 26 15 2.5 16 20 15 16 18 18 19 10 10 16
4 McLaren/Mercedes 275 18 23 12 12 15 12 18 10 21 22 6 1 45 19 6 14 1 1 2 11 6
5 Alpine/Renault 155 3 10 2 2 8 4 2 1 8 37 3 10 5 8 1 2 6 25 12 6
6 AlphaTauri/Honda 142 2 6 1 1 8 21 6 1 2 1 19 4 12 8 2 12 6 8 22
7 Aston Martin/Mercedes 77 1 4 14 18 3 4 4 5 6 2 1 6 9
8 Williams/Mercedes 23 10 10 2 1
9 Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 13 1 1 1 4 4 2
10 Haas/Ferrari 0
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