The final leg of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix entailed for an intense and exciting final. The rivalry between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton would final culminate with one of them being World Champion. As both of them entered the race with equal points, the start and strategy would be crucial in determining the result of the race.
An intense lineup got off to a quick start on the Yas Marina Circuit, as Hamilton took a quick lead to the race. While Verstappen did manage to pick up a place, he had to give it back, and at the end of the first lap the Brit was leading. An incident at the apex ended with no investigation and a very unhappy Red Bull team and Christian Horner.
Max started to struggle with his tyres around lap 9, and the team made the decision to pit lap 14 on hard tyres. Hamilton pitted immediately after, and maintained second place behind Perez. The dirty air saw both Leclerc and Verstappen go off the tracks and Sainz held up Verstappen for quite a long time.
Perez brilliantly defended against Hamilton, allowing Verstappen to make up good time against the Brit, and the former now had to just keep up with Hamilton’s pace. Hamilton however, maintained a gap of 2.4 seconds that continued to increase.
Unfortunately, midway through the race Kimi Raikkonen had to retire due to damage, but ended with an honourable goodbye to his career. Russell was also forced to retire during lap 29, as his last race with the team ended on a mediocre note.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Tyre Strategy Continues to Decide the Race Between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen
Leclerc continued to defend well against Bottas, who came out behind him after the pit stop. Giovinazzi was forced to stop at lap 36 due to technical issues, and a virtual safety car saw Leclerc take a pit stop. Verstappen followed suit, coming out 17 seconds behind Hamilton on a set of fresh hard tyres. Verstappen got to work quickly, and started setting fastest laps, making up time on Hamilton.
With 10 laps to go, Hamilton held a lead of 13 seconds, but Verstappen on the fresher tyres was in a place of advantage. With 6 laps to go however, Verstappen was 11 seconds behind Hamilton with a lot of work left to do. A surprise crash in the 5th to last lap from Latifi meant a yellow flag was in order. Verstappen went into the pits and emerged with a fresh set of soft tyres, while Hamilton decided to stay out.
In dramatic fashion in the very last lap of the race, Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton to clinch first place, and the World Championship along with it. Verstappen has gone on to become the first Dutch formula 1 World Champion after a hard fought and wonderful rivalry with Lewis Hamilton.