F1 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Live Blog Coverage

It all comes down to this. F1 has arrived at Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season, and for the second time in Formula One history, the championship leaders have arrived at the final race on equal points.


Max Verstappen will start today’s race from pole position, ahead of Lewis Hamilton after a crucial qualifying session under the lights of Abu Dhabi last night. The pair are currently tied on 369.5 points, but Verstappen has the advantage by having more race wins than the Briton.

In order to win the title, Verstappen simply needs to finish ahead of Hamilton – and if they both fail to finish the race, the Red Bull driver will win by default. Hamilton, however, can win the title if he finishes ahead of the Dutchman today. Verstappen currently has the upper hand by starting from pole position, but Hamilton cannot be counted out as he has the Medium tyre fitted, meaning he can go further into the race than Verstappen on the Softs. It is all to play for.

Stay tuned to this page to see live updates of today’s race.

Pre-race update 1

Nikita Mazepin has confirmed that he will not be starting today’s race after qualifying 20th due to testing positive for COVID-19 this morning.

In a statement on Twitter, the Haas driver said “Hi, everyone! Sorry to report Iโ€™ve had a positive Covid test. Feeling totally fine but wonโ€™t be able to race today. Wishing all my fellow drivers a fantastic end to the season and sending thanks and love to everyone for their support.”

More updates to come.

Lap 3: 13:05 (UK time)

We have reached the end of lap two and Hamilton is currently leading the race after a better launch off the line to his Red Bull competitor. Verstappen took a dive down the inside of Turn 6 and Hamilton was forced off track in order to avoid a collision. The stewards deemed no investigation was necessary.

Perez has jumped up to 3rd place after a bad start for Norris, who has now dropped to fifth. Bottas also had a bad start and has dropped to 8th.

Lap 8 – 13:14

Christian Horner has described himself as ‘shocked’ as he is ‘yet to see Hamilton return his advantage’ – which was the reason the stewards gave for not awarding a penalty to Hamilton. Red Bull have continued to appeal the decision, but Michael Masi and the stewards are not changing their opinion.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel has overtaken his teammate to be promoted up to 14th place, and Hamilton has set the fastest lap on his Medium tyre.

Lap 16 – 13:27

Verstappen pitted at the end of Lap 13 in order replace his struggling Soft tyres and emerged behind Norris in fourth place. It only took until the end of the Turn 5 for him to clear the McLaren. Hamilton responded a lap later and fitted the Hard tyres as well, and has emerged behind Perez in second place.

Leclerc had a huge moment at Turn 4 after being distracted by Verstappen leaving the pits, and lost a position to Tsunoda.

Lap 23 – 13:38

Verstappen passed Carlos Sainz (on older tyres) at Turn 6 on lap 19. It took a bit longer than he would’ve wanted, and found himself in third place and 11 seconds behind Hamilton.

Hamilton passed Perez on the exit of Turn 7 on lap 21 after an incredible battle. Hamilton passed and overtook Perez twice, but the Mexican kept re-overtaking with nothing to lose. This held Hamilton up a lot and the gap between the Mercedes driver and Verstappen dropped to just two seconds at the end of Lap 22. Perez pitted after the intense battle for a set of Hard tyres, and Verstappen called him a ‘legend’ for helping close the gap.

Lap 29 – 13:46

Kimi Raikkonen has spun after what seems to be a brake issue and hit the wall gently. The Finn drove around slowly with a damaged wing and came into the pits to retire from his final race in Formula One on Lap 28. Russell also seems to have an issue with his gearbox and is also out of the race, in what was his last outing for Williams.

Lap 33 – 13:51

Valtteri Bottas made his first pitstop on lap 31 from third place and has emerged behind Leclerc in ninth.

Lap 38 – 14:00

Antonio Giovinazzi started running slowly on lap 36 and has pulled over at the run-off area of Turn 9. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed in order to recover the car, and Hamilton opted to stay out while Verstappen pitted for a set of Hard tyres. Leclerc and Perez also opted to pit, with the latter going for a set of Hard tyres. The Virtual Safety Car ended on Lap 38.

Lap 43 – 14:08

Verstappen is chasing Hamilton down for the victory of the race. Hamilton is on Hard tyres that are over 30 laps old and with a lead gap of 13.8 seconds with 15 laps to go. This is going to go down to the wire as both drivers experience tyre degradation.

Lap 50 – 14:27

Norris pitted as a result of a slow puncture and emerged in tenth place for a new set of Medium tyres.

On Lap 51, the McLaren driver was able to find his way past both Alpine cars to jump up to 8th.

Lap 53 – 14:22

Nicolas Latifi has hit the wall at the exit of Turn 14 at the same spot that Raikkonen crashed at in FP2. Verstappen immediately comes into the pits for a set of Soft tyres and Hamilton has opted to stay out. Latifi is out of the car and is okay.

Lap 56 – 14:28

Sergio Perez has retired his car with just a handful of laps to go. The safety car is still out in the dying moments, but lapped cars will not be allowed to pass. It is getting exciting now!

Lap 58 – 14:36

The safety car restart lapped cars go through – to Mercedes’ anger – and Verstappen made a risky dive down the inside at the Turn 5 hairpin. Hamilton tried his best to get back through but Verstappen held his nerve and crossed the line to win the race and world championship. What a race, what a season and what a finale. Verstappen has now become the first non-Mercedes driver to win the championship since 2013, and what a way to do it. Congratulations, Max Verstappen!

Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz was able to score a well-deserved podium for Ferrari, while Perez failed to finish after a great performance.

Post-race analysis – 15:06

The drama wouldn’t end after the finish line, as Toto Wolff talks to Michael Masi to discuss the decision, in which he was told ‘This is motor racing’.

Mercedes are upset by the protocol that was followed during the safety car period, in which they stated that the lapped cars would not be allowed through, before reversing the decision following Red Bull’s appeal. Ted Kravitz of Sky Sports F1 made a point that only 5 of the lapped cars were allowed through before the race was restarted – despite the fact that normal races reserves an entire lap in order to let every lapped car catch up the pack.

During the safety car period, the lapped cars were let through on the same lap the lights were set to go green, but it looks unlikely that a change will happen now. Max Verstappen is the world champion of 2021.

You can see the full race results below:

This concludes our live coverage of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, more content is to come, with any update links being posted here.

Joe McCormick

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