The Formula 1 World Championship was decided this Sunday in a vibrant race at the Yas Marina circuit, where 24-year-old Max Verstappen won the race and the title, the first of his life. The Dutchman thus cut the impressive winning streak of Mercedes, which saw its driver, Lewis Hamilton, who was first practically throughout the test, was overcome on the last lap. The two drivers who have starred in the championship from end to end also faced each other in a fantastic duel, with less friction than the one of the previous week and in which the strategy counted much more.
The race was marked by an aggressive overtaking by Red Bull on the first lap. The Mercedes started in second position, overtaking Verstappen in the first corner, but he attacked him after a few seconds, with a spectacular interior, and forced him to leave the line. The Briton cut the track outside the track and regained first place. He was not forced to give up the position. And Verstappen no longer had a way to overtake him, not even with a strategic pit stop to change tires, not after a magnificent teamwork by his teammate Checo Pérez, who helped him close the gap with Hamilton in the middle of the race. The grand prize ended with the presence of the safety car on the track due to a Latifi accident, which left the suspense until the end. Hamilton, who had seven world championships, was overtaken in that last lap by Verstappen, who had taken the opportunity to put on soft tires.
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Hello. Whatever happens this Sunday, it will be historic for the Formula 1 World Championship. Are you ready?
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and seven-time world champion arrive in Abu Dhabi, the last race of the year, tied on points. Whoever is ahead of the other will win the World Cup in this 2021.
Max Verstappen will be the man to start from pole position, with his rival Hamilton in second position.
In the picture, the 24-year-old Dutch driver before the race. REUTERS / Hamad I Mohammed
If neither of the two drivers who command the general classification and who have exactly the same points finished the race, then the winner of the championship would be Verstappen, who has one more victory, nine, than Hamilton: with eight.
Of course, the FIA, after the incidents experienced a week ago in Saudi Arabia, has tried to deactivate any inappropriate or misplaced maneuvers of the two candidates for the title. If either of the two exceeds the limits, they will be penalized with loss of points.
The grill is already boiling. The pilots, together with their cars.
Only once before in the history of the World Championship have two riders reached the final race even on points. It was in 1974, with Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni, that they both reached the United States GP with 52 points. Fittipaldi won.
The race begins. 58 laps and about two hours of competition after which it will be known who the 2021 Formula 1 champion is.
Magnificent start from Hamilton, who beats Verstappen in the first corner and takes the lead. The Dutch, second.
ROUND 1/58. Verstappen wins the position to Hamilton in a vertigo interior. Hamilton goes off the track and may have to give first place back to his rival, who rolls second. The commissioners decide that the action does not have to be investigated.
ROUND 4/58. Hamilton, in the lead, has Verstappen’s Red Bull 1.7 seconds behind. According to the messages exchanged by radio, the race director asks that the Briton return the advantage gained by cutting the curve, but not the position.
ROUND 7/58. The race strategy of the two title rivals is different. While Verstappen wears the softer tires and may have to make more pit stops than the Briton. Hamilton is on the medium tires. In addition, he is still in the lead, which benefits him.
ROUND 12/58. Hamilton, despite having the middle tires, continues to open distances with Verstappen, second, but more than five seconds behind the Briton.
There is a lot of career left, but for now, it is Mercedes who has the upper hand.
ROUND 14/58. Stop Verstappen in the pits and swap the soft tires for the hard ones. You need to cut distances with your head.
At his exit, he is placed fourth. But it starts to fly.
ROUND 14/58. Now it is Hamilton who comes in to change tires. And copy the strategy of his opponent. He wears the hard tires with the intention of not allowing Verstappen to overtake him.
Lewis places second. Verstappen is still just under five seconds behind him.
ROUND 17/58. With Checo Pérez in the lead and Hamilton 7 seconds behind him, Sainz, third, slows down the progression of Verstappen, who also makes a mistake and distances himself even more from the Mercedes, his goal. It is already eight seconds away.
ROUND 19/58. Verstappen overtakes Sainz with an excellent interior and regains a position. He follows eight seconds behind Hamilton, with a magnificent pace.
ROUND 20/58. Hamilton on top of Checo Pérez, who makes it very difficult for him. Both star in a delicious battle, curve by curve, for the first place. Red Bull’s Checo’s goal is none other than to retain and slow down Hamilton.
And Verstappen, the great beneficiary of this fight, is placed less than two seconds away.
ROUND 22/58. Two laps and great teamwork from the Red Bulls. Stratospheric performance and the maneuvers of Checo Pérez, who retained Hamilton and later gave his second place to Verstappen.
Hamilton leads the race, with Verstappen just over a second behind. The fight starts again.
ROUND 22/58. Hamilton is still in the lead. Verstappen, second. 3.8 seconds from that. Remember that both fit the same tires, with practically the same number of laps. Will either of you be driving to try to save tires?
ROUND 36/58. Hamilton runs at a fast lap pace. And it takes 5.7 seconds to Verstappen when Giovinazzi’s car is stopped in a loophole. And the virtual Safety Car is announced. Will it benefit Verstappen?
Hamilton, with tires with 23 laps, is still on the track.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.