Aside from being entertaining, the race in Abu Dhabi was mired in controversy, with the FIA’s interference within the race leaving a nasty style in a single’s mouth. Max Verstappen deserved the F1 2021 title, did Lewis Hamilton deserve it extra?
Components 1’s much-touted season finale on the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi lived as much as the hype as Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to clinch his first-ever Components 1 Drivers’ World Championship. In a ‘winner takes all’ setting, Verstappen gained his tenth race of the season to grow to be the first non-Mercedes driver to win a title within the hybrid-turbo period (2014 onwards). Surprisingly, that is additionally Verstappen’s first championship victory ever!
After breaking into the Components 1 scene in 2015, Verstappen’s spectacular however crash-kid methods evoked two questions — may he ship constant performances to struggle for a world championship? And if that’s the case, by when? He had the tempo to win races, however may he sew collectively a championship problem?
Verstappen’s efficiency in 2021 was superlative — barring the race in Hungary the place he was the sufferer of a gap lap incident, the younger Dutchman completed in both first or second place in all of the races he completed; one of the best efficiency for any driver on the grid. Because the well-known saying goes on the planet of motorsport, ‘you’re allowed one mistake in a championship 12 months’, Verstappen’s solely mistake (the place the blame might be totally apportioned to him) could possibly be his error in qualifying in Saudi Arabia final weekend.
By successful the race in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen introduced Hamilton’s run of race wins to a halt. After an engine change in Brazil, Hamilton scored a hattrick of race wins (Brazil, Qatar & Saudi Arabia) to beat a 19-point deficit within the title battle and enter the ultimate spherical of the season degree on factors with Verstappen. Actually, Hamilton’s kind and Mercedes’ superior equipment made them the favourites for the season finale.
My coronary heart goes out to Lewis Hamilton & Mercedes. I can’t imagine that there’s a set of #F1 followers which have labelled them as ‘dangerous losers’.
— Kunal Shah (@kunalashah) December 17, 2021
‘You Yield Or We Crash’
‘What would Verstappen do?’ was the query on everybody’s minds. Would he resort to unsportsmanlike ways to win his maiden title? Verstappen’s ‘you yield or we crash’ method required the FIA to difficulty a pre-race reminder of their powers to intervene with the title battle through penalties ought to the necessity come up. However after all, this reminder was directed to each of the title protagonists.
Aside from being entertaining, the race in Abu Dhabi was mired in controversy. Funnily sufficient, it wasn’t Verstappen’s questionable driving requirements, however the FIA’s interference within the race that left a nasty style in a single’s mouth. Within the race, neither workforce driver put a foot fallacious. They performed to their strengths to attempt to power a outcome of their favour.
After snatching the lead at first from Verstappen, Hamilton was cruising to victory in what gave the impression to be the quicker automobile. Purple Bull Racing used all instruments accessible to help Verstappen’s technique in a bid to problem Hamilton. Nevertheless, it was solely a late-race Security Automotive (courtesy Nicholas Latifi’s shunt) that introduced Verstappen into play.
The one different time when Verstappen seemed to problem Hamilton was on the opening lap — a well-planned lunge on the within of Flip 6 solely to the touch wheels together with his rival after the apex. The Mercedes driver took the escape highway and this was the primary occasion of the FIA getting concerned within the race — they dominated ‘no investigation obligatory’, a name that introduced again recollections of the FIA’s inconsistent selections by the season.
I’m unsure what leverage the FIA & it’s newly-elected President Mohammed ben Sulayem have towards Mercedes & Lewis Hamilton for not attending the FIA Prize Gala.
— Kunal Shah (@kunalashah) December 17, 2021
Enter Michael Masi
Within the race in Brazil, an audacious defensive transfer by Verstappen was deemed authorized underneath the FIA’s ‘allow them to race’ angle. Nevertheless, within the race in Saudi Arabia, an identical transfer by Verstappen noticed him requested to return the place to Hamilton. By the precedent set by the FIA, Verstappen’s opening lap transfer on Hamilton ought to’ve been allowed, nevertheless it wasn’t.
The icing on the cake was the FIA’s calls underneath the Security Automotive. Michael Masi, the race director, adopted the rule guide when deploying the Security Automotive and issuing directions for lapped vehicles to not unlap themselves whereas the observe was being cleared to renew racing. Nevertheless, it was the choice to permit lapped vehicles to unlap themselves that sparked an issue. Sometimes, all lapped vehicles can be permitted to unlap themselves and rejoin behind the order. Nevertheless, this time solely the 5 vehicles between Verstappen and Hamilton have been permitted to unlap themselves.
Ricciardo: They mentioned vehicles can’t move. Then they mentioned that a few of them may. I couldn’t. Then there was a restart. It was fascinating, I used to be questioning why am I right here.#F1 #AbuDhabiGP
— Kunal Shah (@kunalashah) December 12, 2021
Did the ultimate determination meddle with the eventual race outcome and trigger Hamilton to lose the title? Mercedes thinks so. Was Masi proper in his actions? He (together with race management) thinks so. In spite of everything, he wished the title rivals to have one racing lap to resolve the winner between themselves.
So then why the bitter after style?
It was most likely due to the style during which the choice to have the ultimate racing lap was reached and naturally, the lobbying through radio between Purple Bull Racing, Mercedes and Masi.
Masi’s intent to not see the championship settled with a Security Automotive end could appear to be a good name nevertheless it most likely led to a breach of the sporting laws. With a handful of laps left, it was all the time going to be tough to get all of the vehicles to unlap themselves and into place earlier than the Security Automotive was known as in.
#MichaelSchumacher’s report of 1813 consecutive days as world champion will stand for one more half-decade at the very least. Will Max Verstappen or another person ever break this report?#F1 pic.twitter.com/l5zkkD63kN
— F1 StatsGuru (@f1statsguru) December 20, 2021
Why Mercedes Protested
Mercedes’ protests have been comprehensible. They have been gunning for Hamilton’s record-breaking eighth title; with the laws altering in 2022, there are not any ensures whether or not they are going to be as aggressive because the earlier years. They led a majority of the race solely to see a unprecedented determination convey their title chase to an abrupt halt.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton got here anxiously near a report eighth F1 title on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. AP
The FIA rejected Mercedes’ protests on seemingly honest grounds. First, Verstappen did keep behind Hamilton earlier than the Security Automotive interval ended. This regardless of being marginally forward within the buildup to the restart. Second, the race director can use the Security Automotive at his discretion — regardless of selecting to let solely a choose group of vehicles unlap themselves and calling the Security Automotive within the pit lane a full lap earlier. After their protests have been dismissed, Mercedes instantly lodged an intention to enchantment the selections of the FIA.
Regardless of whether or not Mercedes undergo the enchantment course of, one needs that the rollercoaster of a Components 1 season didn’t finish this fashion. Verstappen spent a majority of his first hours as ‘world champion’ ready for race management to verify that he had truly gained. Hamilton, who misplaced his eighth title on the ultimate lap of the ultimate race of the season, would’ve felt equally helpless. Worse off was Components 1 and the legion of followers which have cheered each drivers for the 22 races of the season.
— F1 StatsGuru (@f1statsguru) December 15, 2021
A Worthy Champion
Lastly, the FIA’s controversial methods shouldn’t dim the truth that Verstappen is a worthy world champion regardless of some questionable actions at choose races within the season. Had it not been for his retirements in Azerbaijan, Nice Britain & Italy, Verstappen could have sealed the title a couple of races in the past.
En path to his title, the Dutchman claimed 10 pole positions and an equal variety of race wins, has led extra laps than the remainder of the grid mixed and accrued as many as 18 podiums this 12 months, a report in itself.
Going by numbers alone, Verstappen deserves the title greater than some other driver.
Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited print & TV journalist for Formula 1. He’s additionally the Components 1 Editor for the NENT Group, the official broadcaster for Components 1 in Norway & a number of different European markets. He has been contributing to Firstpost since 2015.
Sundaram Ramaswami, additionally known as the F1 StatsGuru, is a Components 1 statistician and author. He’s a social media content material creator and in addition a stats contributor for the Motorsport Community, F1inGenerale, Pits To Podium, amongst others.
This put up was first printed on Firstpost.