Lewis Hamilton has lost the 2021 formula 1 world title to rival Max verstappen. The last race of the season which marks a historic moment for both the Mercedes driver and Redbull driver in Abu Dhabi saw Verstappen rejoicing.
Hamilton had appeared to be in control of the race and on course for the title himself, despite controversy on the first lap, until a late safety car.
The race was restarted with one lap to go with Verstappen on fresh tyres and Hamilton on old ones and the Dutchman swept by to win the race.
It was in many ways a fitting end to one of the greatest and most contentious seasons in Formula 1 history – and the arguments over right and wrong will rage for some time to come.
At the end of the race, while Verstappen screamed with delight and Red Bull celebrated, Hamilton sat in his Mercedes for several minutes, disbelieving at the way events had turned against him in the final minutes.
How a historic title unfolded
The race had appeared to surrender to Hamilton after he was controversially allowed to keep the lead he had earned with a better start than Verstappen, despite going off track to retain his position when the Dutchman tried to pass him at the end of the first back straight.
Red Bull and Verstappen were exasperated and disbelieving about it, but Hamilton was imperious from then on, through a pit stop and a virtual safety car, until Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams with five laps to go.
Mercedes felt they could not afford to pit Hamilton because to do so would have been surrendering the lead if Verstappen did not do the same – and he may well not have done because his tyres were relatively fresh after a second stop.
But when Hamilton did not stop for fresh tyres, Verstappen did and that was the decisive call.
There was more controversy as race director Michael Masi initially said lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen would not be allowed to un-lap themselves, as is normal practice.
Red Bull complained and Masi changed his mind, which put Verstappen right behind Hamilton for the one remaining lap of racing.
Verstappen passed Hamilton into Turn Five and held off his attempts to re-pass down the two straights that followed and completed the lap before erupting with joy.
Yet whatever anyone’s view of the various incidents in the race, few would begrudge Verstappen the title after a season in which he and Hamilton have gone toe-to-toe throughout in one of the most remarkable F1 seasons there has ever been.
Hamilton, meanwhile, will have to console himself with Mercedes’ victory in the constructors’ championship – for an unprecedented eighth consecutive year.