Abu Dhabi 2021.
Rate the Race and Driver of the weekend – Round 22
Rate the race: Mean reader score 5.82 Rated 12/22
12th/22 seems pretty good for Abu Dhabi, but seeing as four of the races weren’t polled then it could have been as low as 16/22 (certainly 13/22 as Hungary was rated top race, but seeing as I was the only one that voted, it no longer counts, really). This score of 5.82 is higher than the 5.23 of 2019, 2.62 from 2017, and 4.42 from 2015. Sadly it could not reach the dizzy heights of 6.0 it scored in 2018. Why not? It was, after all the season finale with the two main protagonists entering the race on equal points (369.5) it should have been edge of the seat stuff with the two main rivals going wheel to wheel for the whole race? This was not to be. Hamilton, although starting in P2, led the race from the start and most of the 57 out of 58 laps (except when in the pits). You’ll notice I said 57 of the 58 laps. Well the last lap was nothing if not controversial. Verstappen pipped Hamilton at the post to secure his first WDC and deny Hamilton his record-breaking 8th. The question is, did he jump or was he pushed? (sort of). There were a couple of yellow flags, virtual safety car but the real excitement came at the end of the race , from lap 54 , when Latiffi crashed and brought out a real safety car. It looked as if the season decider was going to finish under a safety car, but no, five lapped cars were allowed to overtake the safety car , which then came in on lap 57, leaving one lap of the season remaining to decide the WDC. Well, Verstappen won, leaving out Driver of the weekend licking his wounds.
Driver of the Weekend: Lewis Hamilton, 52% of reader vote
Well, Verstappen may have won his first ever WDC and the F1 Driver of the Day, but our discerning readers had other ideas as to who should win our Driver of the Weekend. It looked as if Mercedes were on the money all weekend. Hamilton was top of the leader boards in FP2 and FP3 and came P2 in FP1 and qualifying. Hamilton made a fabulous start (even though he was on medium tyres and arch rival Verstappen was on pole on soft tyres) and took the lead of the race by turn 1. He pretty much stayed in front until his one and only pitstop, where he emerged in behind Perez, who was leading the race. A great dog fight ensued between the two for a lap and a half, before Hamilton finally took the lead back again, which is pretty much where he stayed for the rest of the race, until of course, that controversial last lap, when the safety car came into the pits on lap 57 leaving one racing lap to determine the outcome of the 2021 WDC season. It was not to be for Lewis. No record-breaking 8th WDC, no lap of honour, no ‘official’ GOAT status. He was very gracious in defeat and a few days later was knighted by The Prince Charles. Well done Lewis!! The question is, did the best man win? Mercedes won the WCC, Vettel won the most overtakes trophy and Verstapen won fastest lap award. Perez, played a really good team game and was awarded the status of ‘absolute animal’ for his services to Red Bull .