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Max Verstappen Wins Controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won a controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – and with it, his first-ever Formula One world championship – over the seven-time defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen began the race on the pole position and with the grippier soft tires – versus longer-lasting medium tires for Mercedes’ Hamilton, but it was Hamilton who beat Verstappen to the first corner and took the lead. However, on the next corner, Verstappen lunged into the corner and forced Hamilton off track, where he then cut the corner and maintained the lead. Race stewards decided there was no investigation required of the incident since Verstappen’s lunge caused Hamilton to avoid a collision.

From there, the two stayed in the same positions until Lap 14 when Verstappen pitted and dropped to fifth place. Hamilton immediately pitted on the next lap and dropped to second behind Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, who then fought off Hamilton for two laps before finally ceding the top spot – though that battle allowed Verstappen to close the gap enough to stay close behind Hamilton initially.

Once again, the two drivers stayed in those positions for the next 14 laps until a virtual safety car allowed Verstappen to pit and put on fresh hard compound tires while Mercedes elected to keep Hamilton in first place on his older hard tires. After a restart, Verstappen was 17 seconds in arrears and although he gained a few seconds of time, was still 11 seconds behind with five laps to go when Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed and brought out a full safety car.

That allowed Verstappen to pit and put on fresh soft tires while Mercedes once again elected to keep Hamilton on track to ride out what was expected to be a finish under a yellow flag – but race officials not only cleaned up Latifi’s crash in record time, they also controversially allowed lapped cars to pass the safety car while the crash was being cleaned up – which allowed Verstappen to have no cars between him and Hamilton on fresher, soft tires for a one-lap restart.

With the controversial victory, Verstappen defeats Hamilton for his first-ever F1 world title while Mercedes claims the constructor’s championship.

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Top 10 Finishers

1] Max Verstappen Red Bull
2] Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3] Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari
4] Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri
5] Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri
6] Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
7] Lando Norris McLaren
8] Fernando Alonso Alpine
9] Esteban Ocon Alpine
10] Charles Leclerc Ferrari

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