Site logo

Verstappen claims his crown amidst controversy


Trump, Brexit, Global Warming, the pandemic... all have divided us in recent times, with no little help from that cesspit of anger, bitterness and hate, social media.

Now we can add to that list the 2021 Formula One World Championship, for whatever the outcome today, be the title decided on track with no incidents or a first corner clash that sees both title protagonists eliminated, there will be deep division between 'fans' of the sport and those with merely passing interest.

In the moments before qualifying a very close friend said that the shambles of Spa had benefitted Verstappen and that if those points were what ultimately decided the title it would be wrong.

In a comment in reaction to our race report, readers suggested that allowing Sergio Perez to give his teammate a tow in Q3 was wrong.

In other words, in the eyes of many (?) whatever happens today they will not agree with the outcome.

Add to this the media hysteria and bias and though this has been one of the most exciting and entertaining seasons in years it has become somewhat toxic.

Racing drivers are the most competitive people you will ever meet, and their determination to be the best is not confined to the race track. And as for all that talk about "the team" and "we", make no mistake, deep down each driver is out for himself. And in a way that is totally understandable.

Yet despite a largely thrilling season, and whatever might happen today, it will be good to get it over with, for all too often the wrangling, the behind the scenes machinations, the politics, the bile, the tinkering, the hyperbole, the 'for the cameras' approach has become too much.

With the news early this morning that Nikita Mazepin has had to withdraw from the race after testing positive for COVID, at least that particular corner of social media will remain quiet, but rest assured the mob will soon find someone else to target.

Other than the title, there remains the little matter of 'best of the rest', though with a 38.5 point advantage, McLaren would need a score-line of Monza proportions to overhaul its Italian rival. Then again, with Lando Norris starting third...

Alpine has a 29 point advantage over AlphaTauri, which again isn't impossible, while the remaining positions appear settled.

As we say Sayonara to Honda, we also bid farewell to Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, while Valtteri Bottas makes his final outing for Mercedes and George Russell prepares t leave Williams. We also say goodbye to the current generation of race car... and 13 inch tyres.

Each, especially the Iceman, brings back good memories, which, for a while, takes away the bad taste that has been there for much of the latter stages of the season.

Having shocked everyone by taking pole - and what a fabulous lap that was, surely the lap that would have been in Jeddah - Verstappen faces the problem of starting the race on softs - as do six others in the leading ten - which means that though he has the advantage off the line and in the opening laps, things will then swing in Hamilton's favour.

While Mercedes will look to an aggressive tyre strategy, Verstappen's best hope is an early safety car or VSC, as at Jeddah, thereby giving him a free stop.

Although the Yas Marina circuit now has a faster and more flowing layout that puts more lateral energy through the tyres than before, a one-stopper is still the fastest way to approach the race.

Both medium to hard, as well as soft to hard, are about as quick as each other over the full race distance. Starting on the soft helps to enable a quick getaway - which could be an advantage on a circuit where track position is still important - but starting on the medium gives a bit more flexibility around the pit stop window.

A two-stopper is slower but might play a role if there is a safety car. In this case using all three compounds could be an option or (for the drivers with two medium sets available) an opening and closing stint on medium with a middle stint on hard.

While Lando Norris admits to being nervous and not wanting to become embroiled in the battle ahead of him he has little choice, what with 16 cars starting behind him, not least Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas.

Under parc ferme conditions, the RHS front brake caliper blanking panel and RHS rear brake duct drum lower tri-dair receptical have been replaced on Hamilton's car, while the RHS front trackrod anti-rotation bracket and engine oil pipe bolt have been changed on Verstappen's

43 minutes before the start, Hamilton is among the first to climb into his car before making his way to the grid.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out.

Air temperature is 25.2 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30.9 degrees. There is 0% chance of rain.

"Everything OK with the car," Verstappen is asked. "All good," he replies.

As they head off on the formation lap, like the Mercedes pair and Tsunoda, Stroll, Giovinazzi, Vettel, Latifi, Russell and Raikkonen have opted for mediums, while Alonso and Gasly are on hards and Schumacher on softs.

Verstappen takes his place on the grid as his 18 colleagues slowly take their places.

The grid forms.

They're away. Despite his harder tyres, Hamilton gets the better start and leads Verstappen into Turn 1. Behind, Perez and Norris are side-by-side, the Mexican having the inside line. Norris runs wide in Turn 1 but hold on to fourth, rejoining just ahead of Sainz as teammate Leclerc moves ahead of Bottas.

At Turn 6, Verstappen is on the inside of Hamilton and as he asserts himself the Briton has to take avoiding action and runs wide. Cuting the corner hje rejoins ahead of Verstappen.

As Verstappen claims the Mercedes driver will have to hand back the position, Hamilton heads off into the distance.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Norris, Leclerc, Norris, Tsunoda, Bottas, Ocon and Ricciardo.

Mercedes tells Hamilton to hold station confident that Hamilton did not gain an advantage. Indeed, the stewards say no investigation is necessary, which will not go down well with Red Bull.

Red Bull complains but Michael Masi insists that Hamilton slowed down enough to give back any advantage gained.

Verstappen is told the decision and advised to "keep his head down". "It's incredible," he responds, "what are they doing?"

After 5 laps, Hamilton has a 1.7s lead, as he and Verstappen trade fastest sectors.

Ocon warns that his tyres are "hot".

Lap 7 sees Hamilton post a new fastest lap (28.550) as he extends the lead to 2.3s. Perez is 3s down on his teammate but 8s clear of Sainz. Bottas is 8th, 20s down on his Mercedes teammate.

The camera cuts to the Red Bull garage where Jos Verstappen appears to have left the building.

"Rears are starting to struggle a bit," warns Verstappen on lap 9.

"We can push more on the front tyres now," Tsunoda, currently 7th, is told.

Lap 10 sees another fastest lap from Hamilton (28.216) as he builds a 3.2s comfort cushion.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Yas Marina, here.


more news >



galleries >

  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images


or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment



1. Posted by kenji, 13/12/2021 21:12

"@ Spindoctor...At last. Yes, it is the point as to agree with that suggestion highlights the hypocrisy. In all of this you have conveniently put aside the fact that Mercedes could have given Hamilton fresh rubber but they made the wrong decision as it turned out. You reap what you sow.

Never make assumptions re my predilections. When it comes to media you couldn't be more wrong but I do know which side is up and it's not what used to be labelled the 'Fleet St.' approach.

Wrong again. For me to access F1 I have no choice other that the global Sky feed. The fact that you do not watch that same feed renders your comments invalid. Let me let you in on a secret...Wolff can speak English...think about it.

As for your final point. Should such a scenario eventuate I would look at the facts and then make a decision..just like I always do. What you need to consider is that some people have differing opinions and not everyone is suckered into blindly following the herd. The bandwagon is for those that choose not exercise independent thought. Have a nice Xmas and New Year."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Spindoctor, 13/12/2021 15:48

"@Kenji - Of course Mercedes would have "grabbed" your hypothetical result. That's not the point, though, is it. Once Masi allowed Verstappen to close on Hamilton with fresh soft rubber the result (barring divine intervention) was inevitable. The Fastest car & driver on the day loose out to a very "dubious" call.

The "Netflix" quip is perfectly valid: you are clearly addicted to mass media, so let me characterise this in an appropriately straightforward way: "Its Formula One Jim, but not as we know it"

The removal of the commentators you cite would affect me not one jot, nor improve the "show" for me. I am not a Sky subscriber.
As to your imagined "cabal" of "bigoted, so-called pundits", as I recall from reading comments elsewhere & listening on YouTube, they have, mostly espoused the "let them race" mantra and been full of admiration for Verstappen's aggressive driving. I'm intrigued also as to how Wolff (an Austrian) can "grace" the "jingoistic" cabal of English commentators. Please do elucidate.

I know how you love a hypothetical. Let's imagine that at the end of next season instead of RBR vs Mercedes, it's Ferrari vs RBR. Ferrari are in the place of RBR & RBR where Mercedes were this year. At the last race Masi effectively waves Leclerc on to victory.
I anticipate that various pundits of varying nationalities & ethnicities might criticise this. Would you be attacking the usual suspects or maybe some other cabal of "jingoistic" pundits should they demur. Do tell....."

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by TokyoAussie, 13/12/2021 12:10

"I’m astonished. The race director has bent the rule book to stage a TV event. Not a good look. "

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by kenji, 13/12/2021 10:53

"@Spindoctor....what is your response to my query re a possible outcome...if 'Hamilton had beaten Verstappen in that last lap dash' ? Would Mercedes have waived the result and then challenged the FIA 's decision? C'mon, lets debate that point. It's my guess that Mercedes would've grabbed the decision with both hands and disappeared into the surrounding dunes on their F1camels looking for the first oasis they could find for an all night party on the arak, in amongst the date palms. Yalla ya habibi.... As for the 'Netflix' quip I happen to enjoy the series and view it as a supplement to the racing despite the oft bit of Hollywood fluff. Why the rigid outlook? Just relax and enjoy. I'm sure that no one is holding a PPK to anyones head. If you want to improve the show then remove the likes of Herbert, Hill and the other bigoted so called pundits who go weak kneed and flushed every time Wolff graces their jingoistic cabal. Now that I would endorse."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Spindoctor, 13/12/2021 7:09

"The outcome of a race & Championship was decided by Masi's decision to SELECTIVELY implement the implement the rule whereby unlapped cars may pass the SC. Driving skill & technical excellence are now subjugated to "excitement" & "Drama". I believe Mr Editor described this as "Netflix" racing.

Just to be clear, as soon as Masi changed THAT call, there could be only one outcome. Max was comprehensively beaten on-track, so the script writers put in a particularly shoddy "fix" to ensure the outcome ensured the "right" driver (in terms of their Story Arc) "won".

Particularly galling is that the real story of this season is how the Mercedes team & Hamilton chipped-away at RBR's early\mid-season car advantage to achieve approximate parity. Their reward for all this hard work was to have the title snatched away at the last possible second."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Endre, 13/12/2021 3:15

"In my eyes Max was the true champion this year regardless of how this race turned out. It is by luck that (at least for now - pending the Mercedes FIA protest) the record books will show the same.

Lets not forget how many times this year he was unlucky in extending his lead or gaining points. Just to name a few; Imola, where Hamilton drove off the track as a rookie and was saved by the safety car (feels ironic now:)) without which he should not have scored; taken out by Hamilton in Silverston then by Bottas in Hungary, and we could talk about the numerous questionable steward decisions against him ... It would have been utterly unjust crowning Hamilton as World Champion in 2021.

I totally agree with kenji on Mercedes' choice not to stop, I was feeling the same and was not mentioned by anyone in the media. They had exactly the same options as Red Bull, it was their choice not to pit."

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by kenji, 13/12/2021 2:01

"What an amazing finale!!! Am still in shock [ mild ] some 12 hrs later. I was expecting a red flag event and I feel as though that may have been the best solution all round however I have one question to ask....If Hamilton had of won the last lap dash would they, Mercedes, still be challenging the fact of how many cars were allowed to pass before racing resumed? I think we all know the answer to that but other opinions would be most welcome. Remember that Mercedes/Hamilton chose to not pit at the same time as Verstappen. RB rolled the matter the final outcome, Mercedes have been rolled and I'm a happy 'koala' as this is the very best result for F1."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by C5, 12/12/2021 22:56


Mercedes pit crew: +25. The Sakhir fiasco was 2020.
Me: -2 for messing up the F1 seasons. "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by C5, 12/12/2021 22:49

"Well, what a sh*t show on top of a sh*t show season.

If the (in)famous Pitpass ACHQ was still in operation I imagine we'd see the 2021 season final scores resembling something like this:

Max Verstappen: +1000
Lewis Hamilton: +1000
Red Bull pit crew: +25
Mercedes Pit crew: +5 (they're very very good, but mixing up the right tires in the Sakhir GP was not cool)
Christian Horner: 2
FIA: 0
Toto Wolf: -13
Liberty Media: -96
Helmut Marko: -250
Race stewards: -5511
Michael Masi: -1000043

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by jos_eluiz, 12/12/2021 21:06

"«At a time we should be celebrating a new world champion we are instead what appear to be the death of our sport, or at least as we know it.

As we said at the very beginning of this report, today's race was certain to divide opinion, however, we never expected anything as outrageous, indeed, might we say, as obvious as this.»

I fully subscribe this opinion."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

11. Posted by Chester, 12/12/2021 20:04

"Before the race I felt like Toto Wolff (without LH knowledge) and Liberty Media conspired to make the championship tight until the end. My only evidence is the spectacular turn-around in Lewis' Mercedes dominance starting in Brazil.

I am happy Max won the WDC and can see Masi's choice to allow a race on the last lap, but it does all seem movie-like. Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Wow."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

12. Posted by Cobra Driver, 12/12/2021 19:49

"So Max Verstappen has joined the ranks of Formula One World Champions like Ascari, Fangio, Prost and Clark. I will borrow a comment from a past US vice-presidential debate. Mr Verstappen, I knew Jimmy Clark, and you are no Jimmy Clark. Likewise Michael Masi, you are no Charlie Whiting.

Rating: Negative (-5)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

13. Posted by jrbbacct50, 12/12/2021 19:16

"@MVR "What was the “correct” course of action after the safety car came out? Just curious. It would nice to hear the editor’s opinion. Since he has called it scripted and not sport. "

I'm not hte editor however it seems that once the decision to stay under safety car vs a red flag was made then the only two options would be to not let any lapped cars pass teh leader or let all the lapped cars pass the leader. The rules don't have an option to pick some of the lapped cars to pass."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

14. Posted by Batman, 12/12/2021 19:10

"Not being a follower of either driver's religion, I feel sadly that once again Michael Masi decided to be the lead actor. I have no intention of accusing him of having decided in favor of one side but the truth is that his decision (not fully apllying the Article 48.12) can hardly be acceptable in sporting terms. Masi made a decision in favor of the show ( ...and F1 owners/stakeholders), severely changing the sporting context at that moment, pushing the rules beyond the limit of an acceptable flexibility. "

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

15. Posted by jrbbacct50, 12/12/2021 19:07

"I don't know if the rules allow it but it seems if race control wanted let this thing finish under race conditions and also let the result be based on the drivers and not race control then the thing to have done would have been to red flag the race as soon as they knew it would take a while to clear the track. Of course this would have allowed Lewis to change tires but at least then there would have been multiple laps remaining and both cars on new tires.

They way it was done, race control decided the outcome and it seems like it did so without following the letter of the rules two safety car restart options. The problem now is even if Mercedes wins the protest what is the recourse?

Rating: Positive (6)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2023. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms