Motorsports fans were glued to their TV or computer screens last night to watch the final race of the 2021 Formula 1 season. It's the most exciting season in years, and it's all because of the heated rivalry between defending champion Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. As if the previous races couldn't be more exciting, the two drivers went into the final race with equal points. The last time that happened in F1 was during the 1974 season.
The final race of the season didn't exactly go Verstappen's way. Despite taking pole position during qualifying, he was quickly overtaken by Hamilton at the start. Even before the first lap ended, there was already controversy when Hamilton supposedly gained an advantage over Verstappen by taking a shortcut and didn't return the place. The race stewards even decided that no investigation was necessary.
After the first round of pit stops, Sergio Perez cut the gap between Hamilton and Verstappen with some excellent defense. However, that wasn't enough as the 7-time world champion managed to increase the gap once again. By that time, it looked like Hamilton had secured his 8th world championship. However, everything changed when Nicholas Latifi crashed out in the last few laps of the race, bringing out the safety car.
The race director, Michael Masi, first decided that lapped cars will not be allowed to overtake the safety car, making it harder for Verstappen, who pitted for a fresh set of soft tires, to overtake Hamilton. However, that decision later changed, allowing only the cars in front of Verstappen to overtake the safety car. With only one lap left, it was a final shootout between Hamilton, on older hard tires, and Verstappen on new soft tires.
Verstappen managed to overtake Hamilton, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and also claiming the 2021 World Driver's Championship. Since Perez retired, the Mercedes-AMG F1 team claimed the constructor's championship.
Some question whether Masi's call to let lapped vehicles through was the right one. It effectively handed Verstappen the win following Hamilton's faster pace. The Mercedes-AMG F1 team also lodged a protest, but these have since been dismissed by the stewards.
Whatever the case, it was a crazy show for everyone who watched it last night, and it will be talked about for weeks to come. One thing we're excited about is watching the 2021 F1 season on the upcoming season of Drive to Survive on Netflix.