Max Verstappen Claims First F1 Championship With Stunning Last Lap Victory

Formula One / 27 Comments

It wasn't the only thing that happened at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, however.

The Formula 1 season is over, and we have a new world champion. Max Verstappen proved to be a massive obstacle in Hamilton's way to his eighth world championship.

It was a controversial ending, but an ending nevertheless. Our prediction that Lewis Hamilton would win was wrong, but fair play to Red Bull and a huge congratulations to Max Verstappen.

While some people are still sour enough to lick after a shot of tequila, there is one thing we can all agree on: This has been the most entertaining F1 season in years. The last time we can remember being this enthralled by a season was back during Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso's rookie years. And even that wasn't as good as this.

While the day belongs to Max Verstappen, his victory overshadowed a few other key moments during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. We'll end with a few comments on the race and the controversial ending, but first, a few things you might have missed.

Red Bull
Red Bull
Red Bull
Red Bull

Goodbye And Congrats To Honda

Honda is ending its status as an F1 engine supplier, but what a way to bow out.

There have been many ups and downs for Honda in F1. It struggled to find its groove for many years, leaving the door wide open for Mercedes to claim eight straight constructor's titles. This year, it delivered a stunning engine that allowed Verstappen to be competitive. Yes, the Mercs were still faster, but the combination of Verstappen powered by a Honda engine proved to be a winning one. We hope this results in a limited edition Honda of some sort. An F1 Edition of the upcoming Civic Type R would properly celebrate a worthy victory.

The last time Honda won a championship was back in 1991, and Ayrton Senna was behind the wheel. Yet another interesting connection between two drivers with a highly similar driving style.

Red Bull
Red Bull
Red Bull

Goodbye To The Iceman

Kimi Raikkonen has left F1, and the sport won't be the same without his cold presence. His disdain for the attention that comes with being an F1 driver is well documented, but we loved him precisely for that reason. The fans feel the same way, voting him the driver of the day even though he retired from the race.

When asked what he was looking forward to the most, he stated, "the end of the race." What a legend. His departing statement on Instagram was short and sweet. "Goodbye Formula One."

Thanks for everything, Kimi. Your courage will never be forgotten. Any man who tackles Eau Rouge blind is a hero in our book.

Perez Was The Undisputed MVP

Kimi may have won driver of the day, but that was a sentimental vote.

The most valuable player of the day was Sergio Perez, who did the most to help his teammate win. We hope Red Bull gives him a fat bonus and a brand-new Honda NSX.

He helped Verstappen close the gap on Hamilton. The dual between him and Hamilton was beautiful to watch. Once again, Checo proved why he deserves that seat. He confirmed that he could go head-to-head with a seven-time champ and keep a cool head at the same time.

Perez is still only 31 years old. He still has a few years left, and we hope Red Bull keeps him as Verstappen's partner. The two seem to have the best working relationship on the grid.

Red Bull
Red Bull

Carlos Sainz On The Podium

Carlos Sainz made his fourth appearance on the podium, though many people missed why he was there. Red Bull retired Perez's car leaving many people wondering why. The reason is quite simple. Red Bull's engineers noted that Sergio's engine was on the verge of blowing up. It would have resulted in a virtual safety car, so they retired his vehicle to give Verstappen a clear run.

As a result, Sainz finished first in the mid-field championship, which is a huge accomplishment. The four top-tier drivers (Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas and Perez) locked out first to fourth place, but Sainz nabbed fifth.

Scuderia Ferrari/Twitter
Scuderia Ferrari/Twitter

Overall, the young drivers performed spectacularly well this season. Lando Norris finished in sixth place, beating his older, more experienced teammate. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) finished in seventh, Daniel Ricciardo in eighth, Pierre Gasly in ninth, and Fernando Alonso in tenth.

The only team to score zero points was Haas. Nikita Mazepin also placed 21st out of 20 drivers after Robert Kubica ran one race as a replacement driver for Alfa Romeo Racing and finished higher up the grid.

Red Bull
Alpine F1 Team/Facebook

Congrats To The Constructors

Mercedes can look forward to a fat bonus after winning the constructor's championship. Red Bull still had a slight chance given Valtteri Bottas' poor performance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Red Bull pulled Perez's car, fearing the safety car's deployment. Mercedes ended the season with 613.5 points, with Red Bull on 585.5 points.

Ferrari did the most during the second half of the season, beating McLaren to third place. McLaren performed stunningly earlier this year, scoring its first win in more than a decade. But after Ferraris received engine upgrades, the McLarens couldn't touch them.

Still, fourth place is something to be proud of, and we look forward to this battle continuing in 2022. Alpine Renault finished in fifth place, not just because of Fernando Alonso. His teammate, Esteban Ocon, finished just five points behind the two-time world champion.

Mercedes F1
Mercedes F1
Mercedes F1

Hamilton Showed Verstappen How To Lose With Grace

A lot has been said about the epic battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. After their childish performances at the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, we wanted to give the championship to Bottas.

Max Verstappen acted up on that podium, taking his champagne and leaving. Nobody likes a poor loser, Max.

But Hamilton was graceful in defeat, and he gave the world a perfect example of what it means to accept defeat. He sat in his car, composed himself, spoke to his dad, and congratulated Max Verstappen. In the post-race interview with Jensen Button, he threw down the gauntlet for next year. Epic.

Seeing these two men shaking hands on the podium was special. After everything that has happened this season, it was great to see one driver bow out and accept defeat. We hope Verstappen took note of Hamilton's excellent demonstration.

Red Bull
Red Bull

The Controversial Final Lap

So, this debate will rage on for years. Was Race Director (akin to a referee) Michael Masi correct to do what he did? In our opinion, he chose the best out of two challenging options. He could either let the best season in modern F1 history end behind a safety car, or he could let the two top racers go all out for one final lap.

Just think about it for a second. These two men were tied going into the race. That hasn't happened since 1974. It was historic. To have it all come down to one final lap is, in our minds, the perfect conclusion.

Yes, Hamilton was on older tires, but Mercedes had the same opportunities as Red Bull. Red Bull gambled heavily, and lady luck smiled on them. Luck plays a significant role in F1, and the final race in Abu Dhabi is proof.

We've heard some conspiracy theories, but there's no way Red Bull could have known. They actively tried to avoid a safety car by pulling Perez from the race.

Latifi binning it was sheer luck, handing Verstappen the win he needed to claim the championship.

Red Bull
Red Bull
Red Bull

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