Max Verstapen became Formula One World Champion for the first time on Sunday after a thrilling end to an exciting season spanning nine months and 22 races.
All of this resulted in Worstappen’s victory in the last-lap contest with Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.
The title chase went into the final race and the two drivers were locked at the same point, the first time since 1974.
Take a look at the other five key moments on the road in Abu Dhabi that mark the most memorable Formula One title fight of the 21st century.
April 18: Emilia Romagna GP, Emola
After Lewis Hamilton won the opening race in Bahrain, there was a feeling of inevitability about the next season: Britain was definitely on course for an eighth world title.
Emola changed that because Worstappen had a great start, starting in third place. On the wet track, “Mad Max” jumped out of the blocks, leaving both his teammates Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton behind at the pole, to take the lead, and to push Hamilton to the grass, which damaged his front wing.
Worstapen and Red Bull then took the race to perfection, and although Hamilton regained second place after finishing ninth at one point, the champion knew he was in the title race.
July 18: British GP, Silverstone
Victory in France gave Worstapen an impressive 32-point lead in the championship but Hamilton struck back dramatically in the next race on home soil.
Worstapen was back on the pole after winning the qualifying sprint race, the first of three to be tried during the season, with Hamilton’s Mercedes next to it.
Also read: Thrissur won the Verstapen ‘Mad’ title
The first lap fight for the lead resulted in a collision between the two in which Verstapen was seen entering the tire wall at a speed of 290 km / h (180 mph) on turn nine.
Hamilton was awarded a 10-second stop penalty but his rivals were knocked out of the race and had a hospital check-up, prompting him to win the race. His celebration did not go well with the Red Bull and the post-race condemnation set the tone for a war of words from the band that resonated throughout the rest of the campaign.
September 12: Italian GP, Monza
There was something about Italian tracks that provoked ‘Crazy’ in the title race – and Monza would not be disappointed.
The tone was set with a nudge between the two on the opening lap during which Daniel Ricciardo slipped ahead of Verstapen to take the lead.
Things got so bad when Hamilton came out of the pit in front of the Dutchman, who made contact with Hamilton’s left rear tire.
He launched Verstapen’s car in spectacular fashion in the air and on top of Hamilton’s car. Britain was saved by its halo but both cars were out of the race, causing further scandal between the teams.
November 14: Brazilian GP, Interlagos
Max Verstapen went to Brazil with a 19-point lead over Hamilton and behind victories in the US and Mexico. The second win will give him the title.
But it was Hamilton who showed his championship. For the first time in a technical breach after qualifying, Britain was sent behind the grid for a sprint qualifier. Hamilton was burned by the pack to stay in fifth place but received five more grid penalties for exceeding his internal combustion engine quota.
But in perhaps the most sensational performance from any driver in 2021, Hamilton chose his path on the field, beating Worstappen to claim the victory, starting 10th on the grid.
Red Bull pulled Sergio Perez for a late tire change until he was on target for the fastest lap, a move that worked and deprived Hamilton of a crucial point. “With penalties, it’s the hardest race weekend I’ve ever had,” Hamilton said.
December 12: Saudi Arabia GP, Jeddah
In one of the most chaotic races ever, featuring two restarts and numerous safety cars, Hamilton won three consecutive wins to level up points with Verstapen.
The inaugural Saudi Arabian GP, on the street circuit in Jeddah, was marked by a fierce battle between two leaders trading lead and got confused on the track when Hamilton ran after the Dutchman who slowed down after ordering the British to allow it. Past following illegal maneuvers.
Worstapen was later given a five-second penalty for allegedly unfairly fined while Hamilton accused his opponent of being “over the limit”. It was an insane race but it perfectly matched the final stages of the season.