Verstappen Became F1 Champion On The Last Lap Of The Season: What Does Schumacher's Son Have To Do With It And Why Did Hamilton Lose?

Alisa Barladyan
14 Dec 2021

We analyze the most dramatic race in the modern history of Formula 1. We saw a new world champion, nervous breakdowns, and Mazepin's teammate decided the title's fate.

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Before the final Grand Prix of the season in Formula-1, everyone considered this championship one of the most intriguing in the history of the main series of motorsport. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, with the last race in Abu Dhabi, turned the outcome of the season into the most dramatic in the history of royal racing. explains what happened in general.

For the first time since 1974 and for the second time in the history of these races, the two title contenders approached the last start with the same number of points. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen each scored 369.5 points. Thanks to the greater number of victories during the season ahead of the driver Red Bull, so many predicted that the Dutchman would try to knock the seven-time world champion from the race at the cost of his withdrawal.

But on the eve of the stage, the race organizers reminded that they could use the maximum penalty, up to the removal of points. So the drivers gave out two hours of real racing beauty in a fair fight.

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Mercedes steadily led Hamilton to the new record

Max had a slightly better position at the start. The season leader won qualification and started from first place, but in his strangely unfamiliar style, he slept through the start of the race. Hamilton got him on the start straight and tried to fly ahead. However, Verstappen quickly caught up with his main rival and almost regained the position.

The reigning world champion had to cut off the track, which is usually punishable by penalty seconds if the pilot himself does not get back the position won by cheating. However, the judges did not see the intent of the Briton here. In their view, Max himself had blocked Lewis and that he had nothing to do but leave the track.

It seemed like the Red Bull dropped his hands already at the start of the race. Max and his engineer grumbled on the radio, but at this time, Hamilton turned on the first space and immediately started to break away.

Lap after lap, the advantage of the leading Mercedes only grew. Red Bull tried to change tactics, sent Max to pit stops, blocked Lewis co-driver Sergio Perez, who sacrificed himself and did not go for new tires. All for the sake of somehow messing with the 7-time world champion.

Lewis, however, turned on god mode and raced at full throttle for the record-breaking title. If he had won, he would have surpassed Michael Schumacher for the number of titles in F-1 history. Everything was going for it. At some point, Mercedes became overconfident. Especially Hamilton's phrase in the middle of the race that he liked the tires should have cut off a lot of morale points from his rival right away.

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The accident affected the outcome

The sweet serenity of the Mercedes was spoiled at the end of the race. Suddenly, a car smashed to pieces by one of the peloton's outsiders, Nicholas Latifi of Team Williams, came on the air. The replay showed that it all started with his confrontation with Mick Schumacher. The duel was a surprise because Latifi's car is very weak against the other teams. Mick Schumacher's Haas, on the other hand, is just a city Peugeot, even compared to the British team's cars.

But the son of the Ferrari legend decided at the very end of the season to squeeze the maximum out of the car. The risk was worth nothing because there were a few laps left in the year, and Mick was the only driver of his team. On the day of the race, it became known that his teammate Nikita Mazepin tested positive for coronavirus. As a result, the Russian did not go to the track and could only follow the epic outcome of the year on TV.

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Back to the Mick and Latifi manoeuvre. The young German tried to overtake his stronger rival and managed to pass the Canadian to everyone's surprise. Before the turn, the cars hit each other a little bit. Maybe it was because of that. Or maybe Latifi was just upset to lose the position to the weaker Haas, but instead of returning to the right track after the turn, he just flew into the wall.

That set off the Tension at the end mode. Latifi's car crashed in a tight spot and scattered debris across the track. After a brief deliberation, the race management decided to release the safety car. All overtaking was forbidden during its appearance on the track, but most importantly, the cars drastically reduced speed. Verstappen could have been almost close to Lewis but decided to make the most of the situation.

The situation with safety cars

Red Bull reacted quickly and sent their driver to a pit stop for a tire change. While Hamilton drove on old and slow tires, his competitor was equipped with the new tires, which were the fastest type. The gap between Verstappen and Hamilton from everyone else was so great that Max, even after stopping, still came back second.

The British man's radio programme was then aired, just five seconds of swearing. Tension was at its highest because the track was being tidied up lap after lap while the safety car was not going away. There was a risk that it would end badly after the impending storm, and the cars would finish behind each other at 100+ kilometres per hour.

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There was another important story. Technically, Verstappen was going second, but he couldn't come close to Lewis. There were several lap cars between them. According to all the rules, you can't overtake your rivals, and you can't outrun a safety car. The only exception is the lap cars. Thus, according to the rules of Formula-1, all the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen could bypass the safety car and leave the two main men of the season alone. But for some unthinkable reason, the race judges wouldn't let the laps in.

Even negotiations of the Red Bull management with the FIA race director Michael Masi were on-air. After nervous negotiations, the rounders were still allowed to pass Lewis and the pace car on the 57th of 58 laps.

The last lap resolved everything

The safety car cleared the track for a fair fight with one lap to go. The final was madness! At this point, Verstappen was right behind Lewis and began his attack from the start of the final lap. The Englishman kept his grip on the Dutchman, but the fresh tires did their job.

Already by the middle of the circle, Verstappen flew to his first title in his career. While 24-year-old Max, with tears under his helmet, burst to the finish line, the head of Mercedes Toto Wolff lost his temper in front of the whole world. He began to accuse Masi and all the leaders of violating the rules.

In this case, the German team has established a unique achievement, taking eight consecutive Constructors' Champions. But that didn't calm Wolff down in the slightest. Anger so knocked him out of the reality that he seriously believed that letting backmarkers go by the F1 bosses was not according to the rules. They probably wouldn't have saved Lewis either, but it would have taken Max some time to get around them in traffic.

Formula 1

Of course, no one was paying attention to the emotions of the Mercedes chief. The main hero of the evening in the UAE was Max Verstappen. He did not become the youngest world champion in Formula 1. But it was him who spent an incredible season with a record 18 podiums and was able to stop the eight-year domination of Mercedes. At the very least, he owes thanks for that to Latifi and Schumacher, who got hammered at the end.

Mick accidentally saved his father's record, but he hardly thinks about it. The main hero of the year was Max anyway. We may have witnessed the birth of a new hegemon, as Hamilton became in the last decade. But it is too early to predict anything because, in the new season, there will be a real revolution in Formula 1 with the new machines, and the chance to break into the lead will have everyone. So a year from now, we can wait for a similar heat in the final.

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