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2021 Abu Dhabi GP Race Recap : And then, there were Two...

The 2021 F1 Season finale got held at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The circuit on Yas Island is famous for hosting a race at dusk, with the Chequered Flag getting waved under lights. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the track has been the venue for season finales for several years since its inception. Recently, the circuit got awarded a ten-year extension up until the 2030 F1 Season. 

The Abu Dhabi GP has seen several farewells over the years, and this year was no different. Kimi Raikkonen bid goodbye to the world of Formula 1, ending a career that spanned two decades. The Iceman had been one of the most popular drivers of the sport, endearing himself with his straightforward approach to life in F1. The Finn would complete 349 race starts, the most by any F1 driver, leaving behind a legacy like no other.

Meanwhile, his teammate Giovinazzi would end a three-year tenure with Alfa Romeo Racing, only to switch to Formula E for 2022. Williams said its farewells to Russell, who would replace Bottas at Mercedes in 2022, while the Finn would move over to Alfa Romeo to replace the retiring Raikkonen. Meanwhile, Haas F1 announced Pietro Fittipaldi as their reserve driver for 2022. Logan Sargeant ( F2 Driver ) got a chance to drive an F1 car with Williams at the young drivers' test, scheduled after the Abu Dhabi GP weekend. 

The season finale was a tense affair for the title contenders. With Verstappen and Hamilton level on points in the Drivers' Championship, the stakes were as high as they could be. This feat got repeated for the first time since 1974. Abu Dhabi had been a happy hunting ground for Verstappen, but Hamilton had the momentum going into the weekend.

Although Red Bull trailed Mercedes by 28 points, their focus was to win the Drivers' title. Bottas and Perez had their work cut out for the weekend. A DNF for both Verstappen and Hamilton would crown Verstappen the 2021 Champion! 

The Yas Marina Circuit promised better battles and closer racing, having gone through a reconfiguration at certain turns.

Which driver proved himself worthy of the crown? Time for a recap of the final race of 2021!

Practice :

Williams gave Jack Aitken, their reserve driver, a chance to participate in FP1 in place of Russell. It was an eventful FP1 for Ocon, who narrowly escaped hitting the wall and got stuck in neutral after going over the kerbs. A settings change quickly resolved the false-neutral issue. The McLaren and the Ferrari drivers took to the run-off areas on a few occasions. Hamilton had several lap times deleted for exceeding track limits. Leclerc was unhappy with Verstappen, who drifted into his path in the final sector. Raikkonen suffered a spin at turn nine, while Vettel lost the rear of his Aston Martin near the end of the session. 

Verstappen topped the timesheets, with Bottas and Hamilton P2 and P3 for Mercedes. Perez was P4 in the other Red Bull, while Alonso split the Alpha Tauris of Tsunoda and Gasly in P6. The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz were P8 and P9, and Vettel completed the top 10.

Ocon was P11 in the other Alpine, followed by Norris and the Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. P15 was the best that Stroll could manage, with Ricciardo P16. The Williams of Aitken and Latifi were P17 and P18, with Schumacher and Mazepin completing the rear of the field in the Haas cars. 

It was time for the race simulations in Free Practice 2, and all eyes were on the lap times set by Verstappen and Hamilton. Bottas locked up his tyres at turn 12 and tapped the barriers at 14. Meanwhile, Latifi damaged his rear wing after a spin at turn 13. Alonso suffered from several lap time deletions after exceeding track limits.

The session got Red Flagged at the end after Raikkonen wrecked the rear of his Alfa Romeo at turn 14. Thankfully, the Finn was ok and returned to the pits in the medical car. 

Hamilton ended FP2 the quickest, from Ocon and Bottas. The Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez were P4 and P5, followed by Alonso and Tsunoda. Leclerc and Sainz were P8 and P9 for Ferrari, with Gasly completing the top 10. 

Giovinazzi split the McLarens of Ricciardo and Norris in P12. The Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel were P14 and P15, respectively, with Raikkonen 16th in the other Alfa Romeo. Russell and Latifi were P17 and P18 for Williams, with Schumacher and Mazepin completing the rear of the field.

While Hamilton had the better one-lap race, Verstappen looked menacing in race trim. Which team was masking its actual pace remained a mystery. Saturday promised to be an intriguing day. 

FP3 got underway, and gusty conditions at turn 12 unsettled some cars. While Norris ran wide, Hamilton had to take corrective action on his flying lap. A pit marker almost fell on Gasly's car as he exited his pit box. Meanwhile, Mazepin wasn't pleased with Hamilton ending up in his path ( again ). Thankfully, the Briton got away without an investigation.

Hamilton topped the timesheets, and Bottas split the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez in P3. Norris was P5 for McLaren, followed by the Alpha Tauris of Tsunoda and Gasly. Ricciardo split the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc in P9. 

Stroll was P11 for Aston Martin, followed by Ocon and the Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. P15 was the best that Alonso could manage from Vettel and Russell. Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin completed the rear of the field.

Qualifying :

The lights went green for the start of Q1, and, barring the Ferraris who chose the mediums, everyone else persisted with the softs. Schumacher ran wide at turn one, and many drivers had fuel for multiple runs. 

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Norris, Alonso and Gasly were the top 6, with Stroll, Vettel, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin in the drop zone, halfway through Q1. 

Verstappen improved to P2, while Gasly had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 16. Schumacher's eventful Qualifying continued as he hit the bollard at the final turn, followed by Norris driving over it. The session got Red-Flagged for safe extrication of the bollard. Replays showed that Vettel clipped the wall at turn 14, and then Ocon impeded him at the end of his lap. The incident got flagged for investigation. 

Everyone switched to the soft tyres for their final runs, and Giovinazzi locked up his brakes at turn one. Vettel complained about traffic in the last sector again. 

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Tsunoda and Gasly were the top 6, while Latifi, Russell, Raikkonen, Schumacher and Mazepin got elimiated at the end of Q1.

Q2 got underway, and the Aston Martins ( used ), Ferraris, Alpines and Ricciardo chose the soft tyres for their first runs. Verstappen began his flying lap but locked up at turn one, which resulted in a flat spot on his tyre. Nevertheless, the Dutchman set a representative lap time. At the end of the first run, Sainz, Hamilton, Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas, and Tsunoda were the top 6, with Ricciardo, Stroll, Giovinazzi, Vettel and Gasly in the drop zone. 

With Verstappen flat-spotting his medium tyres, Red Bull saw it prudent to send him again on a set of softs. Barring the Mercedes and Alpha Tauri drivers, everyone chose the soft tyres for their final attempts of Q2. A queue of cars began to form up in the last sector. As the drivers jostled for track position, Vettel stopped to clear himself off the traffic. Alonso was unhappy with a McLaren in front, while Gasly reported brake-by-wire issues which hampered his lap time.

The following drivers made it to Q3 - Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton, Sainz, Leclerc, Bottas, Norris, Tsunoda, Ocon and Ricciardo. 

Alonso, Gasly, Stroll, Giovinazzi and Vettel got eliminated. 

It was time for the final shootout of 2021 ( Q3 ), and everyone bar Ricciardo emerged from the pits with a fresh set of soft tyres. Red Bull deployed a strategy to help Verstappen gain time in the second sector. His teammate Perez used his Red Bull to give Verstappen a tow down the straight, and the Dutchman didn't falter. He was the quickest ( provisionally ), half a second clear of Hamilton. Perez was P3, eight-tenths adrift. Meanwhile, Tsunoda had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. 

Hamilton and Bottas emerged earlier than the rest for their final attempts of Q3. Hamilton couldn't improve in sector one but set personal best times in two and three. However, his lap time wasn't enough to dethrone Verstappen at the top. The Briton got within three-tenths of Verstappen's time, though. Verstappen was improving on his 2nd attempt but backed off as soon as it got confirmed that he would be on pole position. Meanwhile, Perez got bumped down to P4 by Norris in the dying minutes of Q3!

So the Championship contenders lined up on the front row, with Verstappen starting on pole position. Norris was P3, followed by Perez. Sainz and Bottas were on row 3, with Leclerc and Tsunoda on 4. The top 10 got completed by Ocon and Ricciardo.

Ocon got a reprimand for impeding Vettel, while Ricciardo got let off for holding up Alonso.

It had been an eventful Qualifying for Red Bull. With Verstappen flat-spotting his medium tyres, the team got forced to switch to an alternate strategy. While it wasn't ideal to start the race on the softer tyres, Verstappen would enjoy better traction from P1. Perez, meanwhile, also deserved credit for his role in Qualifying. The Mexican was instrumental in helping Verstappen with the tow that eventually got him the pole position. Having qualified P4, Perez was better placed than Bottas to help his teammate. Red Bull needed to get their strategy right to help Verstappen win the title. Although Red Bull trailed Mercedes by 28 points, they still had a chance of winning the Constructors with teamwork. 

As for Hamilton and Mercedes, it wasn't the ideal situation. Having set the quickest lap times in Free Practice sessions, Hamilton was the favourite to claim Pole Position. The Briton still had a front-row start, and with the medium tyres, could go longer than Verstappen in the race. Bottas had a disappointing Qualifying, managing only P6. Bottas needed to gain positions quickly to negate the Red Bull advantage, but like Hamilton, he too had the medium tyres and was under threat from guys with the faster rubber ( soft ). 

Norris produced a stellar lap to go P3, while Ricciardo struggled to qualify only P10. McLaren had fallen back in the race for P3 against Ferrari but hoped to end 2021 with a strong result for Norris and Ricciardo. 

With Sainz and Leclerc qualifying P5 and P7, Ferrari looked set for a double-points haul and securing P3 in the Constructors' Championship. Who would win the intra-team battle remained a mystery.

It had been a tough day for Gasly, who got plagued by brake-by-wire issues throughout Qualifying. The Frenchman could only manage P12, while his teammate, Tsunoda, did a commendable job to qualify P8. If Alpha Tauri could address Gasly's issues and if Tsunoda could keep himself incident-free, the cars had the pace to achieve a double-points finish in the season finale. 

It hadn't been a strong Saturday showing for Alpine. While Ocon qualified P9, Alonso managed P11. Thankfully, the latter had free tyre choice and could make up places by overcutting those ahead. As for Ocon, he needed to maximise the use of the softer rubber to gain positions at the start.

Aston Martin had had a mediocre second half of a season, and the trend threatened to continue in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers lacked outright pace, and going deeper into the race was the only solution for a finish in the top 10. Vettel felt hard done by traffic in Qualifying, while Stroll hoped to make amends in his 100th race start.

It was an emotional weekend for Alfa Romeo Racing as it bid goodbye to its drivers, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. Giovinazzi, with his Qualifying performance, again showed his mettle over one lap, while Raikkonen's Qualifying got cut short due to an error on his final attempt of Q1. The team needed a potent strategy to give both drivers a memorable finish and a fitting farewell for their time in F1.  The fight for P8 with Williams wasn't over yet. 

An error by Russell took him out of contention for Q2 in his final race for Williams. The Briton also got out-qualified by Latifi. Williams looked quicker only than the Haas cars. As for Haas F1, it was an eventful session, with Schumacher taking out the bollard, which caused the Red Flag in Q1. The German rookie out-qualified Mazepin yet again, the duo destined to remain as backmarkers.

All eyes were on Verstappen and Hamilton. Was Verstappen at a disadvantage by starting on soft tyres, or would Hamilton try and claim track position at turn one with his mediums? If there was a Safety Car, who would benefit from it? Would Norris get into the mix and challenge for a win? The season finale promised a humdinger of a race.

Race :

Mazepin tested positive for COVID-19 and couldn't take part in the race for Haas F1.

Fifty-eight laps separated the F1 world from its 2021 World Champion. C3, C4 and C5 were the tyres available for the race, and there was a mixed choice outside the top 10. While Gasly ( new ) and Alonso ( used ) chose hard tyres, Schumacher opted for the softs while the rest persisted with the mediums. Pirelli predicted a one-stop race. 

The five red lights went out, and Hamilton had a better get away from the line, leading into turn one. Verstappen slotted into P2, while Perez moved up to P3 after Norris ran wide. Meanwhile, Bottas fell back to P8. 

Verstappen, desperate to retake the lead, tried a divebomb at the Turn 9 hairpin. The duo banged wheels, and Hamilton had to cut the chicane to rejoin the race. Hamilton seemed to have gained a visual advantage over VerstappenMercedes acknowledged that Hamilton had "restored" the original gap to Verstappen. The stewards decided against investigating the incident.

Further down the field, Raikkonen got past Latifi for P16. Hamilton was the fastest man on the track as the DRS got enabled on lap 3. The Aston Martin teammate battle saw Vettel get the better of Stroll for P14. Hamilton began to extend his lead at the front. Red Bull continued its discussions with the Race Director about the opening lap incident, but the justifications got ignored. Meanwhile, Verstappen complained about his tyres losing grip.

Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Norris, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Bottas, Ocon and Ricciardo were the top 10 on lap 10. 

Hamilton continued to set blistering lap times as the field got spread out. Meanwhile, McLaren informed Norris that he had to manage his gearing issues throughout the race. 

The first round of pit stops kickstarted with Verstappen pitting for the hard tyres on lap 14. He rejoined P5. Leclerc, racing behind Verstappen on the track, got distracted by the Dutchman and ran wide. The Monegasque lost P6 to Tsunoda as a result. Verstappen began his charge on the hard tyres with an overtake on Norris for P4. Meanwhile, Leclerc retook P6 from Tsunoda on lap 15. 

Mercedes decided to pit Hamilton for the hard tyres on lap 15 to negate Verstappen's pace. The Briton rejoined in P2, behind Perez. Leclerc and Ocon followed suit a lap later. Hamilton was the fastest man on the track as Leclerc got past Latifi, and Verstappen relegated Sainz to P4. Norris and Giovinazzi switched to the hard tyres on lap 18, while Ricciardo and Sainz followed suit on 19 and 20, respectively. 

Hamilton, meanwhile, had closed upon Perez, who was leading the race. Red Bull extended the Mexican's stint on the soft tyres to hold up Hamilton and allow Verstappen to close the gap. The ploy worked as every attempt by Hamilton got thwarted. Perez made Hamilton lose more than 5 seconds to Verstappen over one lap. The Briton wasn't pleased with the standard of driving, and when he eventually got past on lap 21, Verstappen had reduced the deficit to 1.2 seconds only. 

Verstappen got past Perez without any drama, and Hamilton's advantage got negated. Further down the field, Norris and Leclerc relegated Raikkonen to P13. Perez, Stroll and Raikkonen pitted for the hard tyres on lap 22. Vettel and Tsunoda followed suit two laps later.

Hamilton began to build a gap to Verstappen at the front while Giovinazzi overtook Russell for P14. Disaster struck Raikkonen on lap 26. The Finn suffered from brake failure, got spun around, and hit the barriers at turn 6. He limped back to the pits, the issue being terminal. It was a cruel end to his racing career in F1. Russell, meanwhile, also retired from the race with Williams detecting a Power Unit failure on his car. Latifi switched to the hard tyres on lap 29.

Hamilton was the fastest man on the track, extending his lead at the front. Meanwhile, Bottas pitted for hard tyres on lap 31 and rejoined in P9 behind Leclerc. 

Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Gasly, Sainz, Norris, Leclerc, Bottas and Tsunoda were the top 10 on lap 34.

Bottas, after a few attempts, finally got past Leclerc for P8. Giovinazzi was the next casualty from the race, with what looked like a hydraulic failure on his car. The Italian, like Raikkonen, got robbed of a befitting farewell. The incident caused the stewards to deploy the Virtual Safety Car, and a few drivers decided to pit again. More importantly, Mercedes chose to keep Hamilton on the older hard tyres to avoid giving track position. Red Bull, however, did the opposite and switched Verstappen to another set of hard tyres. Leclerc and Perez were the others who did likewise, while Alonso and Gasly opted for mediums.

Racing resumed on lap 38, and Verstappen trailed Hamilton by 17 seconds. The Dutchman began his charge to reduce the deficit, and with Hamilton carving his way through traffic, it happened quicker. Verstappen was the fastest man on track as Tsunoda and Alonso jostled for P7. Hamilton asked Mercedes if they had made the right decision by not pitting him as he believed he would run out of grip towards the end. The Briton's lead over Verstappen got reduced to 14 seconds.  

Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Norris, Bottas, Tsunoda, Gasly, Alonso and Ocon were the top 10 on lap 46.

Norris was holding off Bottas for P5 when McLaren detected a slow puncture on his car. The Briton pitted for new tyres and rejoined in P10. Mercedes informed Hamilton to avoid the kerbs at turns 15 and 16 ( lap 50 ) as Verstappen reduced the gap to 11 seconds. Norris got past Ocon for P9 and then Alonso for P8. At the back of the field, Latifi was racing with Schumacher for P15 when he ran wide and rejoined the track only to lose grip at turn 14 and clatter into the barriers!

The Williams was a wreck, and there was no option for the stewards but to deploy the Safety Car! Mercedes chose decided against pitting Hamilton! They believed that the incident would last long enough to end the race behind the Safety Car. However, Red Bull switched Verstappen to the soft tyres. Ricciardo, Perez, Stroll and the Alpha Tauri drivers did likewise. The marshalls had to use fire extinguishers to douse the flames from the brakes and the Safety Car period got prolonged.  

The top 10 changed to - Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Bottas, Tsunoda, Gasly, Norris, Alonso and Ocon on lap 55.

Red Bull detected an oil and water leak on Perez's car and called him back to the pits, leading to his retirement on lap 56. Five lapped cars separated Verstappen from Hamilton, and Michael Masi, the Race Director, chose against letting the lapped cars overtake the Safety Car.

The decision attracted the displeasure of the Red Bull pit wall, and on the penultimate lap, Masi overturned his previous decision. Surprisingly, he also decided to end the Safety Car period on the same lap, which paved the way for Verstappen to make one last attempt at victory on the final lap.

Mercedes were livid with the decision making but couldn't affect further change. The Safety Car peeled into the pits, and Verstappen's eagerness to attack Hamilton momentarily put him ahead of the Safety Car-line. Racing resumed, with Verstappen attacking Hamilton at turn five and succeeding in taking the lead. He tried to break the slipstream that Hamilton desired and fended off a challenge at turn six. Hamilton hadn't given up made another attempt to retake the lead at turn nine, but Verstappen had more grip to retain the position.

Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and victory at the Abu Dhabi GP! He became the 2021 F1 World Champion! He also took the point for the fastest lap. Hamilton had to settle for P2 while Sainz completed the podium finishers.

The Alpha Tauris of Tsunoda and Gasly were P4 and P5, with Bottas P6 in the other Mercedes. Norris finished P7, followed by the Alpines of Alonso and Ocon, with Leclerc completing the top 10.

Ricciardo split the Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll in P12, with Schumacher in P14 completing the classified finishers.

Celebrations erupted in the Red Bull garage as they had finally won a Drivers' Championship after eight years. Both Max Verstappen and Christian Horner were in tears, overwhelmed by the joy of winning again. Hamilton cut a forlorn figure in the pits, Mercedes speechless with the events from the last few laps. As other drivers made it to Parc-Ferme to congratulate Verstappen, the new Champion, Hamilton took refuge in the arms of his father. Jos Verstappen joined in his son's celebrations, the dream achieved.

Hamilton was gracious in defeat and congratulated Verstappen for his exploits in 2021. However, Mercedes was unhappy with the result, and Toto Wolff got told off by Michael Masi for his protests. As the podium celebrations kickstarted, Kimi Raikkonen got the "The Driver of the Day" award, the fans recognising the legacy of the Iceman. 

It had been a titanic battle in 2021, but Verstappen finally emerged Champion. The Dutchman had no answer to Hamilton's pace but used the circumstances to his advantage to tip the scales in his favour. Verstappen had repaid the faith that Red Bull had had in him. He also had Perez to thank, who was instrumental in holding up Hamilton, which eventually proved pivotal during the VSC and SC periods. Although Perez ended the race in retirement, he had played the perfect support role to his teammate. Christian Horner had said that the team's focus was to win the Drivers' Championship and enjoy the prestige it carried. Verstappen became the first non-German and non-English Champion since Raikkonen in 2007. It was also a year of redemption for Honda powertrains, who had attracted a lot of criticism ever since their return to F1. They bid goodbye to the sport, having broken Hamilton's domination through Verstappen.

Mercedes had been outwitted and outclassed by the Red Bull pit wall. The strategists at Mercedes refused to give up the track position, which eventually brought Hamilton's undoing. The strategy calls in 2021 had let the team down more often than not, and despite having the speed advantage, Mercedes was unable to help Hamilton to his 8th World Title. Poor Race Direction by Michael Masi led Mercedes to lodge two protests - the first being the incident where Verstappen was momentarily ahead and the other where the FIA had broken their regulations concerning lapped cars and Safety Car. The stewards ruled that the Race Director had the right to control the deployment or withdrawal of the Safety Car as per his judgement of conditions. The protests got dismissed, and Mercedes lodged a right to appeal, which meant that the decision would go to the Court of Arbitration. Mercedes had won their 8th Constructors Title, continuing their team domination in the Turbo Era. It was the first time since 2008 ( Ferrari ) where a team failed to win the Drivers' Championship despite winning the Constructors. Bottas, in his farewell race, had a tough day at the office and could only manage P6.

Sainz's P3 saw him leapfrog Norris and Leclerc in the Drivers' Standings ( P5 ). Leclerc managed P10, and the double points haul was enough to seal P3 in the Constructors for Ferrari. Ferrari had been on a resurgence in the second half, and the future looked promising for the Italian outfit.

Tsunoda secured his best finish in 2021 with P4, followed by teammate Gasly, who had remained consistent throughout the season. Although Alpha Tauri couldn't dethrone Alpine from P5 in the Constructors', they finished the season on a high, with a memorable farewell to their powertrain supplier, Honda. 

Norris finished P7, while Ricciardo could only manage P12 for McLaren. It was a disappointing day for Norris, who had qualified P3 and fell backwards in the race. The Briton was nursing an issue with gearing throughout the race. Ricciardo, like Norris, lacked the speed to challenge those in the front. McLaren finished 2021 in P4 in the Constructor standings.

Alpine secured P5 in the Championship with a double-points finish for Alonso and Ocon. The duo finished P8 and P9 after some great wheel-to-wheel battles with those around them. Only 13 points separated Alpine and Alpha Tauri at the end. As a works team, Alpine hoped for an improved showing in 2022.

Vettel finished P11, while Stroll managed P13 for Aston Martin. It was another point-less weekend for Aston Martin, completing a dismal 2021 season. It was back to the drawing board with improvements needed in all departments for 2022.

Williams had a double DNF. While Russell's final race with the team ended prematurely with an engine failure, Latifi crashed out of the race after hitting the wall at turn 14. The Canadian had run off track a few corners earlier and lost grip due to the tyres getting dirty. His incident tipped the scales of the title battle in Red Bull's favour. For Williams, though, a double DNF for Alfa Romeo saw them secure P8 in the Constructors, a marked improvement from the mediocrity of 2020.

It wasn't the fondest of farewells for either Raikkonen or Giovinazzi. While Raikkonen suffered from brake failure, a hydraulics issue cut short Giovinazzi's race. Alfa Romeo suffered a double DNF, ending their challenge for P8 in the Constructors. Be it 2013, 2018 or 2021, all the farewell races for Raikkonen have been DNFs. The Iceman got a standing ovation from the crown as he bid farewell to a sport he had been a part of for the past two decades. Despite a commendable Qualifying performance, Giovianzzi got denied the opportunity to challenge for a top 10 finish. The Italian had a strong 2021 but would ply his trade in Formula E for 2022.

Haas F1 had only Schumacher participating in the Grand Prix after Mazepin tested positive for COVID-19. The German had some wheel-to-wheel battles at the back of the field, eventually finishing P14 and last. Haas F1 failed to score in 2021, finishing last in the Constructor standings.

2021 had been one of the most exciting seasons in the history of F1. Verstappen and Hamilton were in a league of their own and, after 21 races, were inseparable at Abu Dhabi. Although Hamilton looked Champion elect, circumstances swung the title to Verstappen. While Red Bull and Verstappen had produced a racing masterclass to victory, Mercedes and Hamilton felt hard done by the Race Director's decisions and rulings. Neither driver deserved to lose, but there could only be one winner!

The "Dutch Lion" had emerged as the new king of the F1 jungle. Hamilton was hurting but would be back, with a vengeance in 2022, to reclaim his crown. 

Verstappen, the beloved of the Oranje Army, was the 2021 F1 World Champion! The efforts at Red Bull Racing finally bore fruit! 

As the dawn of the 2022 season nears, we remember the legacy of a young Finn who took the F1 world by storm in the early 2000s, became Champion and continued to enthral in the new era of racing.

The Racer, the Champion, the Legend, Kimi Matias Raikkonen!

Kiitos Kimi! Wishing you a happy retirement!