The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix closing laps which saw Max Verstappen win F1 title

The Red Bull driver took the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi after the protagonists had entered the final round level on points.

Mark Mann-Bryans
Sunday 12 December 2021 17:00
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Verstappen wants to race with Red Bull for 'rest of his life' after dramatic world title win

Max Verstappen sealed a maiden Formula One world championship as he overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the last race of an enthralling season.

The Red Bull driver took the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi after the protagonists had entered the final round level on points.

Here, we look back on the closing laps which saw Verstappen steal the crown from the grasp of Hamilton.

How the final laps unfurled

Max Verstappen claimed victory on the final lap of the season to clinch the title (PA Wire)

With the field proceeding behind the safety car while the stricken Williams of Nicholas Latifi was cleared away, race director Michael Masi made the decision not to allow lapped cars to pass leader Hamilton and the pace car.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner radioed Masi saying he should change his mind and allow at least one racing lap.

Masi then changed tact, sending the quintet of cars which sat between Verstappen and Hamilton through to unlap themselves and leave the two title protagonists up front as the safety car peeled off with just a single lap remaining.

On newer and faster tyres, Verstappen was ready to pounce and was straight on the back of Hamilton, even before the safety car had disappeared back into the pit lane.

He would duly spring on Hamilton, flying past into turn five and – although the seven-times world champion did battle back at turn nine – that was his last chance as he saw Verstappen pull away.

As the unbelievable action unfurled on track, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff fumed at Masi over the radio for his change in decision.

The two drivers shared a fist pump as they met ahead of the podium but, with further messages broadcast from Wolff and two appeals lodged in the immediate aftermath of the race, the title could yet be stripped from Verstappen’s hands.

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