The controversial deciding finale of the 2021 F1 season ended in disaster for Hamilton but a blessing for his young rival, Max Verstappen, clinching the championship in the final lap of the final race.




Going into the race, the top two, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, were both equal on points after 22 races. This meant whoever finished highest would win the entire season’s Driver’s Championship.

After an intense qualifying session, Verstappen took pole position with Hamilton right behind him. Both had entered the race with a positive attitude and seemed ready to race not fight.

As soon as the five red lights went out Hamilton’s speedy reaction let him take the lead of the race away from Verstappen. However, not everything went smoothly on the first lap.

At the turn 9 hairpin, Max Verstappen decided to break later and went down the inside of the corner, hardly leaving Hamilton with any space. With Verstappen now ahead, Hamilton drives onto the runoff area overtaking Verstappen while off track.

Under most circumstances, Hamilton would be required to give the place back, but did he? No. Then stewards controversially announced, “No investigation necessary” citing Verstappen’s aggressive overtake.




The rest of the race then went on smoothly with Hamilton slowly increasing the gap to Verstappen lap after lap. Hamilton pitted on lap 15 with Verstappen pitting the lap before.

Once the duo made their stops, Sergio “Checo” Perez (Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate) took the lead of the race. Despite that, Hamilton was able to quickly catch up to him, but what happened next would seem unprecedented.

With the help Perez’s experience, he was able to keep Hamilton behind him, closing the gap to Verstappen who was 8 seconds behind Hamilton. Perez’s defensive manoeuvres and jostling with Hamilton earned him the nickname, “the Mexican Minister of Defence”.

After two laps of struggling behind Perez, Hamilton gets past, but now the gap to Verstappen was 1.2 seconds, a whole 7.8 second loss, thanks to Perez. Once Verstappen drove past his teammate he said to his engineer, “Checo is a legend!”, to which his engineer replied, “Absolute animal!”.




On lap 54 out of 58, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed in a wall when chasing Haas drive Mick Schumacher. Suffering from the dirty, turbulent air from the Haas, a lack of grip meant that when Latifi accelerated his car spun out.

In order to be able to safely clear up the track of debris, a safety car was called. This meant that the gap between Hamilton and Verstappen would be greatly reduced, hugely helping out Verstappen who was now 12 seconds behind Hamilton.

Hamilton was in the lead, with how now old, worn tires. However, Verstappen behind him decided to pit for a set of soft tires – tires that produce high grip but wear quickly. But why didn’t Hamilton pit? According to Hamilton’s race engineer, there was too high of a risk of “losing track position” as they didn’t know whether Verstappen would pit.

After 2 laps under the safety car, it is announced that the Safety Car is ending. But it wasn’t just that. Race Director Michael Masi decided to let only the lapped car between the rivals to unlap themselves. This meant that on the restart, Verstappen would be directly behind Hamilton, with his fresh soft tires, unlike Hamilton with his old worn tires. Typical protocol however would require the Safety Car to go for another lap if cars are unlapping themselves. This didn’t happen

And finally, the race restarted on lap 58 of 58. Hamilton in the lead, Verstappen with his better tires, anything could happen.

At the turn 5 hairpin, Verstappen brakes later than Hamilton with the additional grip of his new tires and gets past Hamilton in an unexpected move.

Verstappen was able to defend from Hamilton and led the rest of the lap, leading to his first World Championship.

5 laps previously, Hamilton had a gap of 12 seconds to Verstappen. 5 laps later, Verstappen got ahead. Mercedes’ outrage over this could be summarised by what Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff told Race Director Michael Masi, “No Michael! No! No Michael! That was so not right!”.

Within the subsequent hours, Mercedes appealed. The FiA responded saying the Race Director has complete control over the Safety Car and can use it at their discretion.




Lewis Hamilton has had little presence since the events only appearing publicly to receive his knighthood and to say farewell to his teammate of five years, Valtteri Bottas. Some theories suggest he may retire. His brother Nick has said that he is in a good state, he’s just taking a break.

Max Verstappen has been the opposite making multiple appearances to celebrate the win such as collecting his trophy for the championship.

It seems that many people have decided that the race is finished and now are only looking forward to next year and the surprises it brings