Formula 1: Verstappen celebrates World Cup triumph

“It’s amazing, it’s crazy. This year was unbelievable, “said Verstappen, after ending the reign of Hamilton with his tenth win of the season and fulfilling his childhood dream:” My goal when I was young was to be a Formula 1 driver. And now you stand here and are world champion. It all comes back to your head. The trips, everything we’ve done together. My family, my friends, almost everyone who has always pushed me, are here. It’s just fantastic. “

On Sunday evening, Verstappen’s triumph was official. Mercedes filed two protests, but both objections were rejected by the stewards at the racetrack. The Silver Arrows, however, still have the option of taking action at a higher level at the FIA, the World Motorsport Federation.

Verstappen takes World Cup in the last round

The memorable final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was not for the faint of heart.

Double Mercedes protest unsuccessful

Once it was an alleged violation of Article 48.8 of the sports regulations. This states that a driver is not allowed to overtake during a safety car phase. Verstappen was actually once shortly before Hamilton, but not at the end of the safety car phase, according to the judgment.

Mercedes saw a second alleged violation in Article 48.12 of the sports regulations. According to the Silver Arrows, the protocol should not have been observed during the safety car phase. Six laps before the end of the race, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi had a crash, whereupon the safety car hit the track. There were five cars between the then leading Hamilton and Verstappen.

The race management around Michael Masi initially reported that the lapped drivers were not allowed to lap back between the two. But then she announced that these five cars were allowed to overtake, so that Verstappen was suddenly right behind Hamilton.

Set of rules with interpretation options by the race management

In the opinion of Mercedes, however, the safety car should not have come back to the pits on the same lap. The rule says that this is only allowed at the end of the following lap – and that would have been with the finish line. Verstappen, on the other hand, had just enough time with one lap to push Hamilton out of the lead. This objection was also rejected with reference to the rules and the interpretation options of the race management.

While Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had sent a message to Masi about the latter situation, “That’s not right, Michael”, Red Bull had apparently also intervened. “Thank goodness the team reacted immediately. And the race management finally decided to use the regulations as a basis, ”said consultant Helmut Marko.

Perez surrender for tactical reasons

The task of Sergio Perez, who was in third place, also had a tactical background. The Mexican had oil pressure problems on his Red Bull and would probably have triggered another safety car phase if he had broken down on the track. That would have ruined Verstappen’s chances. Red Bull therefore waived a possible podium and better options in the constructors’ championship.

Roller coaster of emotions

Verstappen experienced a roller coaster of emotions on the way to his first world title: First the Red Bull star slept through the start and had to let Hamilton go first, then the now dethroned defending champion fended off the counterattack. In the situation in question, Verstappen was unlucky with the race management, because the stewards did not consider Hamilton’s shortcut to be an illegal maneuver after the two cars had touched.

In the final lap, however, in the safety car phase triggered by Latifi’s accident, the pendulum swung dramatically from Hamilton’s point of view. Race director Masi released a final lap of the race amid the horror of Mercedes team boss Wolff, giving Verstappen the chance to turn the tables again.

“Finally a little luck for me,” said the new world champion after various controversial scenes this season. “After all the bad luck we had, luck has to turn,” said Red Bull advisor Marko on ORF. At this point in time, the first driver’s title since Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 was still unofficially tainted with the addition of the Mercedes protest.

Long aftermath threatens

Both teams had already made arrangements in advance for an aftermath of the World Cup decision and had traveled to the Yas Marina Circuit with lawyers for the season finale. A protest from Mercedes had already emerged during the last lap. Because Wolff had criticized the decision to reopen the race several times. “That’s not okay,” the Viennese radioed audibly excited to the race management. Both Mercedes and Red Bull also indicated that they would challenge the judgment if it were to their disadvantage.

Reuters/Andrej Isakovic

After the race was released, Mercedes team boss Wolff didn’t have much to say about those responsible

While Wolff did not want to comment or publicly admit the defeat until the outcome of the protest, his defeated defending champion took the defeat at least outwardly like a real champion. “Congratulations to Max and his team. You did a great job, “said Hamilton,” but I’m so proud of my team, we gave absolutely everything. I’ve felt great in the car over the past few months. Let’s see what happens next year. We are still in a pandemic, I wish that everyone stays safe ”.

Cheers in the Netherlands

While there was a hangover mood at Mercedes, the Verstappen fans celebrated the success of their compatriot extensively in his native Netherlands and in Abu Dhabi. The fact that the 24-year-old secured the world championship title in an exciting race to catch up brought Dutch sport “a historic day,” tweeted Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “Congratulations on this phenomenal achievement. Really fantastic!”

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) after his win in Abu Dhabi

Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah

Not only in Abu Dhabi, but also from his home country congratulations for Verstappen

Hundreds of fans of the new champion burst into jubilation in the Zaal Housmans restaurant in the southern Dutch city of Montfort when Verstappen crossed the finish line in front of Mercedes driver Hamilton, reported the ANP news agency. The restaurant achieved fame in the Netherlands and nearby Belgium because Verstappen’s grandfather Frans had watched several races by grandson Max on television here until his death in 2019.

Verstappen’s father Jos, who was not even able to win a race in 107 races in Formula 1 during his active career, was also very proud. “It was a very nice trip in my eyes. The years I spent with him when he was little are coming out now. I am very proud of what is happening there. And he deserves it too. I think Max was the best driver this year. Maybe he didn’t have the fastest car in the end, but he won the world championship with his style, ”said the 49-year-old in an interview with ORF.

Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi

Final result after 58 laps (306.2 km):
1. Max Verstappen NED Red Bull 1:30:17,345
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes + 2,256
3. Carlos Sainz ESP Ferrari 5,173
4. Yuki Tsunoda JPN Alpha Tauri 5,692
5. Pierre Gasly FROM Alpha Tauri 6,531
6. Valtteri Bottas END Mercedes 7,463
7. Lando Norris GBR McLaren 59,200
8. Fernando Alonso ESP Alpine 1:01,708
9. Esteban Ocon FROM Alpine 1:04,026
10. Charles Leclerc MON Ferrari 1:06,057
11. Sebastian Vettel GER Aston Martin 1:07,527
12. Daniel Ricciardo OUT McLaren 1 round
13. Lance Stroll CAN Aston Martin 1 round
14. Mick Schumacher GER Haas 1 round

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Formula 1: Verstappen celebrates World Cup triumph