The 2021 Formula One season, before the final lap of the final race, was set to go down in history for all the right reasons. The campaign had seen Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen go head to head right up until the final race, with tens of millions tuning in worldwide to see who would come out on top. But then came the controversy of that last lap, in that final race in Abu Dhabi.
Verstappen, who drives for Red Bull, started the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pole position, but Mercedes’ Hamilton beat his rival to the first turn and took the lead. From there, you could suggest that Hamilton had the race under control.
At turn six, Verstappen made a move to pass, with Hamilton having to divert across the grass after the Dutchman’s lunge, but after giving up the advantage he had gained, Hamilton continued to be the man to beat.
As the race continued, there was only going to be one winner in the eyes of everyone. Hamilton securing an eight title was in no way under threat as per the Formula One latest betting odds in-play, and then, with seven laps remaining, the safety car was brought out onto the track following a crash involving William’s Nicholas Latifi.
During the safety car period, Red Bull quickly moved to get Verstappen into the pits to get a fresh set of soft tyres on, with Hamilton not being called in by Mercedes.
And then, a chain of events began that first saw the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap, with a final lap shootout being ordered. Verstappen made light work of catching, passing, and fending off Hamilton, going on to secure one of the most controversial titles of all time.
Mercedes was in disbelief
As you will expect, Mercedes were outraged at what had played out, lodging two official protests against the result. They were both dismissed. The belief is that Race Director Michael Masi failed to follow the rules that would sustain the integrity of the sport. Instead, many feel Hamilton was cheated to deliver entertainment over said integrity.
There are still question marks over the safety car being brought in and how the race was allowed to end. And these aren’t just claims loaded with bitterness at losing; multiple legal experts feel Mercedes have a solid case to get the result overturned, even now.
So, what’s next for Hamilton? Well, after a gruelling season that ended in disappointment, there have been rumours the thirty-six-year-old will call time on a glittering career in Formula One. And, his recent decision to not attend the FIA Awards and unfollow everyone on Instagram, even family members, has caused a stir.
But, this is Lewis Hamilton we’re talking about. He wasn’t that eighth world title, and you can bet he will be back with a vengeance in 2022, ready to do it all again.