Arguably F1’s biggest climax to a season, Max Verstappen snatched the 2021 F1 title from Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A late decision by race stewards left Hamilton fans angry and confused. So what happened?

Lewis Hamilton looked to be sailing to the win that would see him lift a record eighth Formula One title until Nicholas Latifi slammed into the barriers on lap 54, bringing out the safety car.

What followed enraged many Hamilton and Mercedes fans, who took to Twitter in rage, some going as far as to allege the race was “rigged”.

Verstappen snatches GP title from Hamilton’s grasp

Hamilton was ten seconds ahead at that point but when the virtual safety car was deployed earlier in the race, Verstappen took an opportunity to pit and change to a new set of tyres while Hamilton’s team, Mercedes, elected to keep the British driver out on track for fear he’d lose position.

This all mean that, as the clock ticked down towards the end of the race and the drivers followed the safety car, Verstappen was on a fresh set of tyres while Hamilton’s were worn badly.

It still seemed likely Hamilton would win the grand prix until race director Michael Masi changed his mind on the race restart rules. Normally all lapped cars are allowed to overtake so they don’t interfere with the leading drivers on the restart. However, the controversy began when Masi elected to allow the cars between the two rivals to get out of the way before restarting.

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Although that led to an exciting last-lap shoot-out for the title, Verstappen’s fresh tyres helped him storm past Hamilton to snatch the title.

The FIA initially demanded unlapped cars should remain in their place, which would mean there were three cars between Verstappen and Hamilton.

F1 fans take to Twitter enraged

Fellow British F1 driver George Russell definitely wasn’t impressed:

He continued: “Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.”

An angry Piers Morgan jumped in:

Morgan added: “I don’t know what I’ve just watched but it can’t be right. Hamilton’s been robbed, surely?”

Footballer turned pundit Jermaine Jenas tweeted: “You know what? As much as I love @F1 there’s so much c*** they need to sort out! That was a complete robbery for @LewisHamilton.” 

BBC Breakfast presenter and Strictly Come Dancing star Dan Walker wrote: “Whoever you wanted to win… that is an absolute farce of a finish #F1Finale.”

Some F1 fans label Verstappen win ‘rigged’

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