2021 F1 Championship: Showmanship Fans Live For
Verstappen’s dramatic win is Hamilton’s painful ‘almost’
We watch the sport for moments like yesterday’s F1 Championship – the heart-pounding, get on your feet and pump your fist action that race enthusiasts tune in for. If the whole thing got too technical, and perhaps Hamilton pulled off another victory, the sheen would have been lost. Verstappen was cast as the cold and calculating Belgian and Hamilton the hot-blooded Brit, both with an insatiable drive to win it all. The clash came to booming crescendo yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Verstappen “The Stare” taking it all in dramatic form that did not disappoint.
The whole thing was a nail-biter through the final seconds, with the winner completely unclear until the very last stretch of the last lap. With Verstappen echoing, “Throughout the whole race I kept fighting, and then of course that opportunity in the last lap ... it’s incredible ... it’s insane, it’s insane.”
The opportunity he’s talking about of course is Red Bull’s last pit to outfit Verstappen with soft tires, while Hamilton stayed in position to keep his small lead on older ones. After the pit, race control controversially ordered the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to get behind opening the door for the final two laps. And of course, the final overtake on turn five of the track. That little extra grip the fresh set gave Verstappen helped him win, almost as if the team had a supernatural foresight. Cold and calculating, indeed.
The Mercedes team was of course in a rage at the call to put the lapped cars in the queue, which they saw as FIA intervening in the race and giving Verstappen the advantage with those new tires. Mercedes’ argument was that the move was in contravention of Article 48.12 of the Sporting Regulations.
In the end, Verstappen beat Hamilton by a razor thin margin of just under two and a half seconds, coming in at 1:30:17. That’s a single whisker’s breadth of difference as the checkered flag fell on what is sure to be remembered as one of the most contentious seasons in F1 history. And now Belgium has a star besides Jean Claude Van Damme that it can celebrate.
Lewis Hamilton is heartbroken. Shutterstock Hamilton on the other hand was hoping to celebrate a victory as the most victorious driver in the sport, but remains tied with Schumacher for the top spot with eight wins overall. But he nearly pulled it off.
Regardless of the sport, the most painful word for an Athlete to hear: Almost.