Max Verstappen wins 2021 Formula One Championshipby Jack Gaffney December 12, 2021 0 comments
A once in a lifetime championship battle has officially ended in a, for better or worse, once-in-a-lifetime finish. On a last-lap pass on Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen has won this year’s Formula One World Drivers Championship. Despite this being a monumental accomplishment for the young Dutchman, who was undoubtedly the best driver the entire season, much of the talk will be about the FIA. Race Director Michael Masi managed to make a number of bad calls, one affecting each driver, over the course of this finale. The latter of which will have the racing world talking for months on end. Before we get to that, however, a first-time World Champion has been crowned.
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 12, 2021
It was never a matter of if, but when was Verstappen going to win his first title. He does so here in year seven, but at just 24 years old. He also wins the title while also picking up his 20th career Grand Prix victory in Abu Dhabi. Additionally, this was a year that Verstappen doubled his career win output. Along with breaking the single-season podium record with 18 on the year, and 652 laps led, good for fifth-most ever in a season. Taking all of that into account, Verstappen deserved to win this title. Not even bringing up the points he lost due to things out of his control throughout the year.
The bigger news for Verstappen personally is that he is the first-ever Dutch Formula One World Champion. The Dutch have not had the best luck in motorsports on the world stage historically, but they are in good hands with the likes of Verstappen and World Motocross Champion Jeffery Herlings. In American series, the national aspect of winning a championship in say NASCAR or IndyCar isn’t there for native drivers. For Verstappen to carry the weight of an entire nation en route to a World Title and bring it home must feel indescribable. He even managed to win in F1’s first trip to the Netherlands since 1985 this year as well.
Heartbreak for Hamilton
One man’s victory is another man’s defeat, and that’s the case here for Hamilton. It looked all but certain that he was going to win a record-breaking eighth World Championship down the stretch. Despite having a spectacular long tire stint, one caution changed everything and Hamilton lost it on the final lap of the year. More on that later, but this is hard to put on Hamilton given the hand he was dealt.
Yes, Hamilton got away with blatantly cutting the track on lap one, but Verstappen had nothing for him down the stretch on significantly newer tires. Even after getting past Hamilton managed to pull even with the Red Bull driver one more time before Verstappen rode off. This has to be one of the worst ways to lose a title in any sport. But Hamilton took it extremely well post-race.
LEWIS: "Firstly, big congratulations to Max and to his team.
"But I'm so proud of my own team and we gave it absolutely everything. I've felt great in the car the last couple of months. We'll see what happens next year"#AbuDhabiGP 🇦🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/1X6h4nl0fQ
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 12, 2021
The Only Consistency is Inconsistency
FIA Race Control has been amateur hour all year long, and that did not change for the season finale. On lap one, Verstappen went for the lead on Hamilton down the long straight. Hamilton was forced off track, however, completely cut the course and gained a clear advantage. Despite this, no penalty was called for the driver of the No. 44 Mercedes. Hamilton then led every lap of the race outside of the final one.
With four laps to go, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi ended up nailing a wall near the finish line with four laps to go. With significant debris on the track, a safety car was called out. Verstappen took a gamble and came to pit road to grab soft tires for any potential green flag laps. While Hamilton had the same opportunity, he did not do so. Even if he did, that was a risky venture from the lead. A real lose-lose situation for Hamilton, even with Formula One’s suspect yellow flag pitting procedure rules.
The real drama started when Race Director Masi let the cars in between Hamilton and Verstappen unlap themselves before going to green. The major problem here was that the call was made after Masi ruled that lap cars would not be able to unlap themselves. Furthermore, the call was made with little warning before the race went back green for a one-lap shootout. To be blunt, this was a bush-league way to end a season. If the FIA is a circus then Masi is the Ringmaster. Regardless of how the race ended, something must change with how the FIA runs races. Masi is clearly not good in this role, and the fact that race stewards are different every race is unacceptable for a series that deems itself a ‘World Championship’.
FIA the entire season were a complete joke.
Get rid of Michael Masi immediately.
— Matt Gallagher (@MattyWTF1) December 12, 2021
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images