Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021

“Finally a bit of luck for me” says new champion Verstappen after stunning finale

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen says his luck finally turned at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, giving him the chance to clinch the world championship.

The Red Bull driver passed his rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the race to win the race and secure his first title. “It’s unbelievable,” said F1’s first new world champion in five years.

Verstappen lost the lead at the start of the race, and was left fuming after Hamilton retained his position when the pair clashed at turn six and the Mercedes driver ran wide.

“Throughout the whole race I kept fighting,” said Verstappen. “And then, of course, that opportunity in the last lap. It’s incredible. I’m still having a cramp, but it’s insane.”

“Finally, a bit of luck for me,” he added.

Verstappen was aided by team mate Sergio Perez who crucially delayed Hamilton early in the race. That allowed Verstappen to close the gap on his rival.

“I also want to say a big thank you to Checo,” said Verstappen. “He was driving his heart out as well today. It was great teamwork and he’s an amazing team mate.”

The 24-year-old made his F1 debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso as a Red Bull junior, aged just 17, and was promoted to Red Bull’s main team the following year. He thanked team principal Christian Horner and motorsport consultant Helmut Marko for the faith they showed in him after becoming champion.

“To my team, I think they know I love them and I hope we can do this for 10, 15 years together,” he said. “There’s no reason to change ever, I want to stay with them for the rest of my life. I hope they let me.

“But it’s insane, I’m so happy. And also Christian but also Helmut, trusting me to be in the team in 2016. Our goal, of course, was to win this championship, and now we have done that.”

“These guys, my team and of course Honda as well, they deserve it,” he added. “I love them so much and I really, really enjoy working with them already since 2016, but this year has been incredible.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

89 comments on ““Finally a bit of luck for me” says new champion Verstappen after stunning finale”

  1. That was given to you max by masi

    1. pls stop conspiracy theories. Accept fortune falls your way sometimes, and sometimes not.

      Lewis had good fortune (red flags in both Imola and Silverstone to repair his car).
      What about Max getting bowled by Bottas in Hungary, or the flat tyre in Baku. Bad luck.

      Max was lucky today.

      1. @trib4udi the reason he is saying that is because there is an argument race control managed to break the sporting regulations on the restart procedure at least twice.

        According to article 48.12 of the sporting regulations, if the clerk of the course decides that lapped cars should unlap themselves, the instruction is “any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.“. Either all of the cars are to unlap themselves, or no cars are allowed to unlap themselves – the rules do not allow race control to pick and choose only some of those drivers to unlap themselves, which is what appears to have happened.

        Secondly, that same article then states “once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap“. If the instruction was issued on lap 57, the safety car cannot be withdrawn on the same lap – it should have only been withdrawn on lap 58, meaning that the race should then have been classified as finishing under safety car conditions.

        1. thanks for clarification. seems there are only two ways out, either Max gets WDC with Masi braking the rules, or the result gets rectified and we see a legit WDC.

          1. There is a legit wdc. Stop being a bad loser.

          2. petebaldwin (@)
            12th December 2021, 17:08

            Two options – the race is declared null and void or the result stands.

          3. Open to discussion, “any cars” in not the same as “all the cars”

            The FIA decision allowed them to race, and the best of them won., All people who complain that the FIA “fixed the race” wanted a decision that wouldn’t allow them to race, with the SC on till the flag. effectively fixing the race . Oh, the irony.

            The sport does not need the kind of fans that prefer the deciding race ending in a SC instead of watching the drivers race. Good riddance.

        2. Thanks for clarifying the rules.

        3. Fair point anon, but it can also be argued that all lapped cards were allowed to unlap themselves, but only a few of them managed to unlap themselves before the safety car came back in.

    2. What goes around comes around

      1. True.
        LH has been so lucky 7 times. LOL!

        1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
          12th December 2021, 18:41

          yeah yeah…

    3. The same Masi who allowed Lewis to leave the track and gain an advantage ?

      You can call Masi a bad steward, but he shows no favoritism : everyone gets bad calls against them!

      1. @paeschli This was a farce today. Max had the quicker car and couldn’t close down on Lewis one bit with new tires. His teammate bought him 10 seconds.

        Horner asked for one lap and Masi gave it to him pushing a few cars and starting the race immediately.

        I’ve said it before – Red Bull has something on Masi but this destroyed the sport today.

        I’ve no problem with Lewis losing but this was a joke as was the whole season. Lewis has wiped the floor with Max in ways few competitors have. That championship was a gift from F1 to Red Bull and that’s going to be an issue unless the sport only has 1 team, in which it’s great. Red Bull can race Red Bull and crown a champion with Perez yielding the position to Max all the time. Guaranteed podium and top spot in both championships.

        1. Ridiculous. They didn’t ask Hamilton to give the place back after leaving the track and keeping more than a second between him and Verstappen. Any claim Masi is biased is ridiculous.

          At the same time Horner was asking for one lap, Wolff was literally crying to please not let them race and keep that safety car on the track. Masi saw an opportunity to have a race and let the loose. I really do not understand how people can complain about this.

          1. If the track is clear, you get going!

  2. Is that the first Honda engine championship since 1991? Driver’s, not constructors though.

    1. (pending the Mercedes protest/appeal)

  3. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    12th December 2021, 15:38

    The safety car was good luck, unfortunately the decisions in the last few laps stretch beyond luck.

    I’ll keep saying it, a worthy and deserved winner. Sadly now a tainted winner.

    1. Totally agree. They shouldve red flagged it. Cleared the debris. Let lapped cars pass and given us a few laps of good clean racing.
      This is doubly frustrating because until the SC, Lewis was 10s clear and seemed to have the race under control. So it seemed like Race Control did this just for “the show” because otherwise, it wouldve been a boring end. This is not what motor racing fans want. Whereas under a red flag, we get a few laps of racing to see who actually deserves it.

      1. It should’ve been done, but Karin Chandhok asked Masi about this exact situation at that corner and Masi said there would be no red flag only a safety car. So he put himself in that situation.

        1. Sorry *Karun.

  4. Congratulations Max Verstappen. We respect the winner. However, I am so shocked and mad at the way of this race has been handled. I hope we don’t turn into an entertaining fest and scripted, cause this just looked close to a scripted event, really close, but I’ll leave that to the law.

    1. Masi messed up big, Max is the champ but Lewis has all the right to feel robbed.

    2. @krichelle I have zero respect for Max. Had he won fair and square sure. But I think if a ref awards me every point, I’m pretty sure I can beat Djokovic in tennis. Although Novak would scratch his head and wonder why the ref handed over 50 points to me and the crowd would be booing.

      That’s what happened today and has been happening this season but it happened in F1…

      1. @freelittlebirds – So you only see this one race where Max got the better of the luck, the rest of the season is forgotten, Mate, it’s a shame that you missed so much?
        Yes, Max go the better of the luck this time, but lost out many times through the season. Max deserves it this year, he has been the better driver over all.
        You probably said the same when Nico beat Lewis.

        1. @malrg it wasn’t luck and Max won out a lot this season. He was allowed to get P2 points in many races where other drivers would have been disqualified or penalized. Lewis has been crucified for much less in the past doing 15 second drivethroughs and crazy penalties like that.

          This championship would have ended in Lewis’ favor many races ago, possibly 5-10 due to Max’s reckless and frankly unacceptable driving.

          1. Your Lewis love has blinded you to the overall picture. you only see the bits that you can in your opinion blame Max for, you do not see anything else. Lewis almost killed Max at Silverstone and got a mere 10s penalty which we all know is pretty much irrelevant. Bottas took Max and Peres out of contention leaving Lewis to an easy win. Max had a blow out on the main straight at high speed when so far ahead he was only going to win. in the last race Lewis gained an advantage on the first corner, he got nothing for it, the stewards came back with no advantage gained when he was clearly a lot further ahead after the corner than before. there are many incidents that we can argue our opinions on to no avail. but the big three above that took Max out of contention cannot be disputed.
            Even Toto has said the Max deserves to be champ this year, but I guess you know more than Toto.

  5. Early XMas present from Masi for Max. Disgrace for the sports as a whole. How about simply let Fans vote for whom to give the championship title?

    1. The early present was gifted in the first lap.

      1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        12th December 2021, 18:43


  6. Confirmation of Mercedes’ two protests:

    Protest by Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team against Car 33, alleged breach of Article 48.8 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations

    Protest by Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team against the classification established at the end of the Competition, alleged breach of Article 48.12 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

    1. Sour grapes. Unbecoming of a team that has seen so much success.

      1. This the least they should do after the events at Yas Marina.

    2. Sour losers.

      1. Why? If you’ve been wronged as Mercedes have been then they have every right to appeal. Under the literal rules of the race Hamilton would be classed as the safetycar so no overtaking. The race should never have gone back to green flag, but the FIA threw the rules out of the window. Now we see if F1 is a sport or entertainment.

        1. Not to mention that the decision not to put Lewis will have hung on the rules in question…

          Merc will have expected the race to end under a safety car and under the rules that is exactly what should have happened ..

          1. Yes, you can not set strategy if the rules are changed.

        2. So you like a race ending without proper racing…
          Interesting thought. Maybe another sport suits you better?

          1. I suggest curling :-)

          2. The end should be decided under known rules. Congrats to Max but let’s not pretend Mercedes does not have reasons to protest.

          3. Maybe no sport is best for you. Racing fine but the rules need to be followed by everyone drivers teams fia or it’s not racing it’s a free for all.
            Today the loser was f1 its self and has been shown to be corrupt on live tv for the world to see.
            Yes merc should appeal, the fia won’t do anything and it will go to court. Merc will get a pay out but the result will stand. But f1 will lose loads of fans.

        3. petebaldwin (@)
          12th December 2021, 17:12

          The cars don’t need to be allowed to unlap themselves so they should have thrown the green flag with them in place. Either way it’s a mistake by the FIA so whoever wins, it’s largely tainted.

          Perhaps the only fair thing is to exclude this race from the points standings as there isn’t a fair way to resolve it due to the FIA’s mistake.

          Making the race shorter would be handing the title to Lewis and would be as equally unfair, tainted and everything else that’s been said today.

      2. @trib4udi Sour grapes is when you disparage someone unfairly – it’s not when you’re protesting an unfair decision.

        In this case, sour grapes would apply to Max, if they rightfully stripped him of the championship.

        1. HUH? you just said “sour grapes is when you disparage someone unfairly” – How would that apply to Max if they “rightfully” (opinion) stripped him of the championship?

  7. By the way does red bull have honda engines ip for 2022? Or are they making them from scratch.

    1. @f1fan-2000 My understanding is Red Bull and AlphaTauri cars will use a “Red Bull” engine, which is actually the same engine as the latest generation Honda engine built by a Red Bull owned factory under licence to Honda.

    2. @f1fan-2000 I understand the same as Stephen, they’re using the Honda intellectual property as they’ve purchased it, or are using the IP under license. Either way, they’ve brought the engine build and development in-house at MK. My guess is the latter part of the 2022 campaign will show exactly how good (or not) RB are at developing ICE technology against established manufacturers.

      1. Ah i see thanks for the info.

    3. @f1fan-2000 I have a feeling Honda will distance itself from Red Bull moving forward. I’d be surprised if Red Bull are allowed to use the word Honda at all. The Japanese Honda executives will not want to explain the situation to other executives who imply that the result was tainted and Honda was involved in it.

      1. sponsoring is still possible…

      2. The PU will be branded as RB

  8. The whole race Max had no chance. And then FIA gifted him the championship. Total injustice. Safety car protocol was not followed. Hope this will be decided in court now.

    1. Appeal has been logged. Technically the last Lap Hamilton became the safety car, so no overtaking was actually allowed. If they read the rules it’s Hamilton’s championship. Max is a champion if they literally don’t stick to their own rules. What a mess.

      1. Also didn’t max technically briefly overtake Hamilton under the safety car?

        1. Only if you see Lewis as being the sc.
          But in racing the meaning of the game is to finish first.
          Maybe you missed that part while trying to understand the rules.

          1. erikje, Max needed so much assistance to win today that I think you had a better chance of outrunning Usain Bolt. What happened was a joke and I’m hardly surprised that you would celebrate this. If the sport has no regulation, then it’s not a sport and Max winning is meaningless because I just won Formula 0 and Formula -1 by awarding myself all the wins! My wife was the race director and you were simply disqualified out of all races.

            I’m the new World Champion!!!! That’s me! Well, I clearly am not but it would be the same analogy to Max’s victory today.

  9. Lol “finally”. He’s been having all the luck in the world, but they pretend all his own faults are unlucky. Heck even when Hamilton gets a flat tyre it’s called lucky.

    Verstappen was lucky three times in this race alone.

  10. I do wish that Max and Christian would stop whining about how “unfairly” they think they’ve been treated. It’s tiresome. Maybe now they’ll get over their persecution complex.

    I also don’t want to see this result overturned by litigation. It sucks for Mercedes to have lost this way, and I want them to get over it and come back next year.

  11. A season of controversial decisions should not come down to LUCK
    Verstappen shows no pride, all he wanted was this title.

    He will probably do a Rosberg.. Now lets see what this does for REDBULL sales.
    Lets see how they use this in their future promotions.

    1. all he wanted was this title.

      My god, really? Never knew that.

      1. yeah the title as the best, without earning that title as the best.

        its a very hollow victory.

        1. True. But it needs the question what is a proper win than?

          If a bad driver with a superb car wins, is the bad driver the winner, or the car?

          If a team makes a good decision, is it than the driver or the team that won?

          If the stewards favorite a driver, and that is why that driver won, then who won?

          We’ve seen so much inconsistency all year is hard to tell.

          Frankly, i think LH deserved this specific race, but I feel MV was the better racer this year.


        2. What did Lewis want? What are you even talking about? What would Lewis do? Ah, he’d finish second on purpose I assume? Or when Max’ tire exploded, he didn’t want to finish the race, so the things can be fair and square? Give us a break. We have a new champion, maybe next year we get the same one back. And I wouldn’t mind that at all, Lewis is a legend. But today he lost. Due to bad luck? Yeah. Well, he also won many races due to good luck, and some of that good luck came through the decisions the same Masi made (or the stewards). I almost never get the champion I want, but damn, I always respected Lewis even though I didn’t like his team (because of Toto, and because of Mercedes as a company I dislike, like many others). Your favourite cannot always win. Don’t try to take something away from the rest of the fans. UK is just a very small part of the world, never forget that.

      2. Lol im sure thats what mazepin and mick wants too

    2. Hehe, I think he mentioned something about 10-15 more years. Certainly wont do a Rosberg this year.

  12. Masi was the luck he needed.

  13. Seems the Q-Anon people moved on from Trump into the Mercedes/Hamilton fanclub.

  14. I don’t call FIA cheating a luck.

    1. The luck part was the sc.
      Caused by a Mercedes driven team.
      The luck became detrimental for the Mercedes strategy (again).

  15. Blaize Falconberger (@)
    12th December 2021, 17:01

    At least he acknowledges that it was luck that got him the result today. respect for that.

    1. He said “finally” some luck. He had so much bad luck previously, like his tire exploding. If that didn’t happen he’d be a champion in Saudi Arabia for example, if not before that. Lewis had his own fair share of good luck in the last couple of years, that’s also fair to say. He deserved some as well. Then with Rosberg he had some really bad luck. That’s all relative, just because Max had good luck in the last race doesn’t mean that this defines the championship. He lost at least two wins due to very bad luck, and he didn’t even finish second or at all.

  16. Yup, he got in position to have luck.. Kinda like Nico Rosberg.. But then luck did get him over the line.

  17. “Lucky” and gifted title is not what Max needs to be viewed as an F1 Champion.

  18. You Brits are the sorest losers I’ve ever seen in my life. In all sports. But know that the rest of the world usually sees things differently. Same happens in most countries, but the rest of the world never cares. You don’t have to accept when you lost, nobody expects that or needs that.

    1. Can’t believe people really think Hamilton deserves to be champion after Hamilton punted Verstappen off the track at Silverstone, after Bottas bowled Verstappen out of the way in Hungary and Hamilton decided to throw away 25 points at Baku.

  19. There was nothing lucky about the ending, it was given to him. If he had won it fair and square on track, would’ve been happy with that. But noooo Masi interfered and I really hope he doesn’t keep his job.

    If the appeal is acknowledged/accepted then I don’t know what will happen next. In some ways I feel sorry for Max reference how this all ended.

    Mercs strategy was questionable but also made sense and was upheld with the way Hamilton drove.

    If the rules played out as expected again not pitting was the right call.

    Mercedes have every reason to feel robbed.

    1. Maybe Mercedes should ask Hamilton his 25 points back he threw away at Baku if they feel robbed

      1. Absolutely, story of the season is hamilton drove worse, especially early on, and was only competing cause of better luck, which was slightly balanced now.

  20. No luck involved, Max
    It all came down to a final, all-deciding lap, and you aced it, your rival started ahead, but it just can’t drive, as we all know. So you won.
    True, your tyres were younger. Maybe the Merc should have pitted. But they didn’t make the call. Thank Checo and his spirited defense for that. Or Merc strategic incompetence. But no luck involved.

    1. Calling Lewis “it” instead of “he” doesn’t lend credence to your comment…

      1. @hyoko – I am not a Lewis fan, but I agree with Michael, that is just plain disrespectful, the guy is and has been an awesome driver, just came up second this season – and not by much.

  21. The SC was checkmate for Lewis.

    If he pitted, the race would end under safety car.
    If he didn’t, Verstappen would get 1 lap.

    As Horner said to Masi, “All we need [to win], is one lap” and Masi obliged.

    This wasn’t a race or a championship and firing Masi and reversing the decision is NOT enough. The sport needs new governance.

    F1 is over – motor sport needs a new series. It’s the only way to move forward because no team/company/manufacturer will touch F1 with a pole for the next 20-30 years after seeing what happened here.

    In fact, the sport is closer to losing Mercedes and Red Bull than it’s ever been as this type of championship polarizes the people in power (and it’s not Horner or Wolff).

    The teams need to get together and decide how to move forward.

  22. Max Verstappen – Whiner of the 2021 Fi World Championship.

  23. A lot of blinkered focus on this one race. This championship was run over a full season, there were many controversies, some favored Max and some favored Lewis, there was also Luck/Bad Luck which mostly favored Lewis until this last race (That’s the nature of luck), so I agree that the last race was strange, as were others, but across the season the averaging of controversies and luck and the fact that the Merc was the better car overall, I think Max deserves this one.

  24. With what happened with the fixed race result and all the toxicity that has been brought into F1 I have decided that I’ll no longer follow F1, not since Monaco 94 (after watching Imola to see Wendlinger crash coming out the tunnel was my ‘I cant watch this’ moment and decided not to watch again till Aus) have I not watched a race intentionally, Ive already deleted all my details from all F1 sites I was on, next year Ill be following WEC, BTCC and MotoGP and only checking on the results of F1.
    F1 is no longer a sport I will give my time or money too, If F1 wants to fabricate drama for the new audience then so be it, but I will not waste my time or money watching ‘staged sport’, F1 is the WWE of Motorsports and something that with a heavy heart I will have to let go…..

  25. Hear hear. I mean eventually Lewis had to run out some day

Comments are closed.