Welcome to the highlights of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This wasSantadeep Dey , bringing you all the action as it unfurled at the Yas Marina Circuit.
- 9:17 PM IST: Back with breaking news. Unsurprisingly enough, Mercedes has lodged a protest with the FIA.
That'll be all from here for now as we bid goodbye with the Red Bull unit breaking into the Queen 's "We are the Champions ".
2021 CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS
2021 DRIVER STANDINGS
- 8:23 PM IST: "I wonder if there is a post-script to this yet," says Brundle on comms. "I imagine Mercedes will be demanding to know exactly the procedure in those closing stages, that last lap and a third."
- 8:16 PM IST: Hamilton: "A big congrats to Max. We did an amazing job. Everyone back at the factory worked so hard. I am so proud of them. So grateful. We gave absolutely everything."
- 8:14 PM IST: "It's unbelievable. Throughout the whole race I kept fighting and to have an opportunity on the last lap, it's incredible. I'm still having cramps. It's insane. I don't know what to say. My team and Honda, they deserve it. I love them so much and I really really enjoy working with them. This year has been incredible. Finally a bit of luck for me. I also need to say a big thank you to Checo. He was driving his heart out today, it was great teamwork and he's an amazing teammate. My team know I love them and I hope we can do this for 10-15 years together. There's no reason to change ever, I want to stay with them for the rest of my life. I hope they let me.(Laughs) "
- 8:10 PM IST: MERCEDES WINS THE CONSTRUCTORS' TITLE.
- 8:06 PM IST: Horner: "We needed a bit of luck and we got it. We love you. We f***ing love you." The Red Bull boss wanted a miracle. He got it.
- 8:05 PM IST: Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle:"There is going to so much acrimony about the end. Wow! The racing Gods have shined down upon Red Bull."
- 8:04 PM IST: 'MAD' MAX VERSTAPPEN IS THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD! This will take forever to sink in. Hamilton is too shaken to come out of his car. Horner and Verstappen are in tears. Toto is absolutely furious.
- 8:02 PM IST: WE WILL HAVE ONE FINAL LAP. VERSTAPPEN SLIPS INTO THE LEAD ON HIS SOFT TYRES AT TURN 5. HAMILTON ALMOST REGAINS THE LEAD AT TURN 9 BUT VERSTAPPEN SLITHERS BACK INTO THE TOP.
- 8:01 PM IST: Lapped cars are now overtaking the Safety Car! It is ending. AND IT IS GAME ON.
- 7:59 PM IST: Lapped cars will not be allowed to overtake. Advantage Mercedes, because Verstappen will have to get past all of them before fighting Hamilton for the top spot.
- 7:58 PM IST: Perez's car needs to be retired! And that means Mercedes will be constructors' champion when this race ends, provided Bottas and Hamilton both finish. Sainz is up to third.
- 7:57 PM IST: Hamilton says his tyres are cooling down.Oh, the nerves! Three laps to go.
- 7:51 PM IST: YELLOW FLAG. Latifi crashes in the final sector at Turn 14. Verstappen pits for soft tyres as the Safety Car is deployed! Hamilton gives it a miss again. "That's unbelievable man," says Hamilton as the Williams is yet to be cleared. Mercedes tells Hamilton the race may not restart.
- 7:49 PM IST: Verstappen now finds himself amid the back markers' traffic as Hamilton still goes strong by about 11 seconds. RB needs a 'miracle' right about now, as was pointed out by boss Horner.
- 7:46 PM IST: A front left slow puncture forces Norris into the pits. Mercedes asks Hamilton to be wary of the kerbs.Will we witness a final tyre twist like in Qatar?
- 7:45 PM IST: Horner to the official broadcaster: " The pace of the Mercedes is just too strong today. We're going to need a miracle to turn this around. Max will drive his heart out these last 10 laps, you can guarantee that."
- 7:44 PM IST: Hamilton may be looking to go all the way with these very tyres. To be honest, Verstappen hasn't extracted much off his new ones.10 laps to go.
- 7:43 PM IST: F2 2021 champion Oscar Piastri watches intently as the battle rages on. Hopefully, we will watch him race in F1 soon enough.
- 7:39 PM IST: Verstappen has gained five seconds on Lewis Hamilton since the end of VSC. Leader Hamilton, meanwhile, being warned of the four back markers - Ocon, Leclerc, Alonso and Ricciardo - up front fighting for the last of the available points.
- 7:37 PM IST: This is going right down to the wire as Hamilton continues to hold on to the degrading tyres. Something we have seen one too many times from the Briton.
- 7:36 PM IST: Gasly overtakes Alonso to go up to the eighth spot.
- 7:33 PM IST: "I won't be able to keep up the pace the whole way," Hamilton sounds tense. It is all a bit confusing as Merc had, only a few minutes back, asked what tyres would Hamilton opt for if there was a safety car situation.
- 7:32 PM IST: "Bit of a risk leaving me out, no?" goes Hamilton on the radio. Merc says it did not want to give up track position.
- 7:29 PM IST: The VSC is ending with Hamilton on a set of tyres which have run 23 laps. Verstappen is on fresh hard compound tyres. Wow! Will Verstappen catch up now?
- 7:26 PM IST: "No shifting. No shifting," Giovinazzi retires at the exit of turn 9. A tricky spot, reckon the commentators as we have a virtual safety car. No overtaking, and the drivers will have to decrease their speeds by 40%. Verstappen charges in to utilise the 'free' stop. A no-brainer. Hamilton will carry on as Perez takes to the pit lane as well.
- 7:25 PM IST: Bottas zooms past Leclerc after the Ferrari driver manages to hold him off to ninth for quite some time.
- 7:22 PM IST: Mercedes to Hamilton: "If we were to have a safety car, what tyres would you prefer?"
Hamilton: "Both tyres would be good. This one is good too."
- 7:20 PM IST: Lap 32 - The gap between Hamilton and Verstappen is over five seconds now.
- 7:18 PM IST: Bottas pits from third. Looks like Verstappen will carry on for a few more laps.
- 7:15 PM IST: Will it be another pitstop for Verstappen? The team is having a look at the wings.
- 7:14 PM IST: Russell is out with a power grid glitch as well. This is not how he would have wanted things to end at Williams. The next time we will see him in an F1 car, it would be at the Silver Arrows.
- 7:12 PM IST: Kimi has had a brush with the barriers. Is that it from the F1 legend? No, he is back up and running. "A braking issue," the radio chat reveals. Oh no, he's turned the car off. That'll be it. He gets a standing ovation from the crowd. "We will leave you alone now, Kimi!" Thank you. What a career it's been.
- 7:10 PM IST: We head into the 26th lap and Hamilton is doing well to increase the gap between Verstappen and himself again - three seconds.
- 7:08 PM IST: Tsunoda, who hasn't pitted yet, is up to third. He does pit finally and when he exits the lane, it is a Merc sandwich at the top. Perez is fourth after his first pit stop.
- 7:06 PM IST: Hamilton's lead is only of 1.7 seconds now as we head into Lap 22.
- 7:04 PM IST: Hamilton gets past Perez, with Verstappen breathing hard on his neck - only 2s behind.
- 7:03 PM IST: Perez receives instructions on the team radio to hold off Hamilton. An excellent job by Checo, this, as he does his team an excellent service to bring Verstappen back into contention. "An absolute legend!" says Verstappen on the radio.
- 7:02 PM IST: Ricciardo pits. He is right at the bottom of the pile when he comes out of the pit exit only ahead of Giovinazzi and Mick.
- 6:59 PM IST: Onto the chicane and Verstappen strikes! Sainz back to fourth as Max is still eight seconds off Hamilton.
- 6:58 PM IST: Verstappen is still 1.5 seconds behind Sainz. He has got DRS though. Oops, the Dutchman goes wide off the track.
- 6:55 PM IST: "Box! Box!" Hamilton follows suit. A 2.4-second pitstop from Merc. Sergio Perez leads as the Briton comes out of the pit lane.
- 6:53 PM IST: Verstappen pits from second. The hard tyres come on. Should be the only stop. Emerges fifth as Leclerc runs wide. However, Verstappen overtakes Norris soon enough.
- 6:51 PM IST: "The tyres are really struggling," the Red Bull radio crackles into life again. "Understood mate," is the reply. The Red Bull unit presents a despondent image.
- 6:50 PM IST: Hamiton heads into Lap 12 with another "Fastest Lap" to his name. The lead is up to 4.5 now.
- 6:49 PM IST: Norris down to fifth on Lap 9. Behind Sainz and Perez.
- 6:46 PM IST: Verstappen says he is beginning to lose a bit of his rears. That isn't pleasant news.
- 6:45 PM IST: Nico Rosberg onSky : "So difficult. I think it's okay what they've done. Max was a little bit too lungy and too aggressive, forcing Lewis out too strongly, even though he had a right to the corner there. Then I would also say Lewis didn't give back everything that he gained."
- 6:44 PM IST: Hamilton two seconds out in front of Verstappen. Perez is third (+5.2).
- 6:43 PM IST: Red Bull Racing principal Horner to the official broadcaster: "We are a little bit shocked cause apparently Lewis gives away his advantage which we couldn't see. Bit disappointed but we will focus on the race now."
- 6:38 PM IST: The gap between Max and Hamilton is more than 1.6 seconds now. Verstappen on radio after it is decided there will be no investigation: "That is incredible! What are they doing here?"
- 6:35 PM IST: Contact! Hamilton and Verstappen go wheel-to-wheel at turn 7. The former goes off the track. The Merc still leads. Race control - no investigation necessary, says the final update.
- 6:34 PM IST: Lights out and off we go! Hamilton has already pushed himself ahead of Verstappen. Norris goes wide. Perez takes third.
- 6:30 PM IST: The formation lap is underway - a final tour of the circuit before we head into the decider.
- 6:26 PM IST: Toto Wolff tellsSky Sports : "We are going to go for a massive attack! We will be on Max's tail straight away. Lewis will know how to position himself at the first turn. There is so much at stake, and because it's not a street circuit there will hopefully not be any mayhem. It would not be the end of the world if we don't win, but it would be upsetting."Mercedes needs 17 points to guarantee itself an eighth Constructors' Championship on the trot.
- 6:25 PM IST: It isn't just about the title contenders tonight! Norris could finish fifth on the standings if he can edge Leclerc by five or more points. "I can be in the middle of the race coming up on the inside of someone, but always try to watch the race for the lead on the big screen when I can. I don't mind [who wins] - it makes no difference to me - but I am really enjoying the battle. The best man will win," he tellsBBC Radio 5 Live .
- 6:14 PM IST: A galaxy of stars? A galaxy of stars. Hello, Gerry, Eva, the Universe Boss and Stormzy!
- 5:51 PM IST: Hamilton and Verstappen are preparing to drive down to the grid.
- 5:50 PM IST:Starting Grid
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
- George Russell (Williams)
- Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
- Mick Schumacher (Haas)
- 4:50 PM IST: Hamilton can be seen having a lengthy chat with Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen. This will be the last race for "the Iceman" after 20 years in the sport.
- 4:45 PM IST: Time for the media photo session. There's a loud cheer as the announcer introduces Lewis Hamilton.
- 3:39 PM IST: May the best man win...
- 2:41PM IST: ALSO READ | Mazepin out of Abu Dhabi GP after positive COVID-19 test
ALSO READ | Mazepin out of Abu Dhabi GP after positive COVID-19 test
Lewis Hamilton will become either the first Formula One driver to win eight world championships or be dethroned by young nemesis Max Verstappen under the Abu Dhabi floodlights today.
Either a record will be set, one surely destined to be longer lasting than Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's seven between 1994-2004, or Hamilton's long reign will end in a generational shift.
For the first time since 1974, and only the second since the world championship started in 1950 -- although scoring systems have changed -- two title contenders go into the final round absolutely level on points.
Whatever the outcome, the showdown promises to be television rating gold.
Verstappen has won nine races to Hamilton's eight -- a key advantage that means the Briton must score while the Red Bull driver could even become champion during the race if his rival retires.
ALSO READ |F1: Dirty duel in Jeddah, all to play for in Abu Dhabi
Otherwise, whoever finishes ahead of the other -- unless Hamilton is ninth and Verstappen 10th with the fastest lap -- takes the title.
That has also raised fears that the outcome could be decided by a collision between the two, as has happened notoriously in the past in showdowns where so much is at stake and one driver has everything to gain by taking out the other.
Verstappen's aggressive driving, his take-no-prisoners style, bad-tempered exchanges and high emotions show Red Bull and its Dutch youngster want to win the title fair and square.
"He's a hard racer but a fair racer, and I expect no different this weekend," team boss Christian Horner told theTimes newspaper.
ALSO READ |Brawn defends F1 race director Masi after chaotic Saudi Grand Prix
"Nobody wants to win this championship in a gravel trap or in a stewards' inquiry.
"They've been hard races. They've gone wheel-to-wheel. But I think, for all the fans, you want to see a fair and clean fight in this last round and may the best team and best driver win."
Mercedes' Era of Domination
Although the wheel-to-wheel duel between the 36-year-old Hamilton and his 24-year-old challenger has an epochal tone to it, the Briton's Mercedes team can continue its era of domination with an eighth successive constructors' crown.
It is 28 points ahead and Horner has admitted it will take a miracle to stop them.
"It's all or nothing for the season finale and that's amazing for the sport, amazing for the fans and amazing for all of us, too," commented Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Verstappen won in Abu Dhabi last year, leading every lap from pole position, but the circuit has been shortened and modified since then in the hope of creating more overtaking opportunities.
ALSO READ |Red Bull needs a miracle for constructors' title, says Horner
Hamilton had also already won his seventh title and was recovering from contracting COVID-19 that forced him to miss the previous race in Bahrain.
This time the reigning champion should have the benefit of a newer engine than Verstappen and is also riding high after three race wins in a row.
The race will be a farewell for Red Bull's engine partner Honda, although they will continue to assemble the power units next year before the energy drink company takes over the intellectual property.
Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas will be racing for Mercedes for the last time before moving to Alfa Romeo, with George Russell replacing the Finn and saying goodbye to Williams.
The lower placings will also be settled, with Ferrari set to secure third.
SIX STANDOUT MOMENTS FROM THE CHAMPIONSHIP
- BLOWN TYRE AND BRAKE MAGIC
Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Baku, June 6.
Verstappen, four points clear in the championship, was leading Mexican teammate Sergio Perez in a Red Bull one-two when a tyre blew on the main straight with five laps to go.
The race was halted with Hamilton set to cash in on his rival's misfortune.
Perez led away at the re-start with Hamilton second but accidentally engaging a 'brake magic' switch which sent him down an escape road. He finished 15th while Perez won.
- RECRIMINATIONS AFTER TITLE RIVALS COLLIDE
British Grand Prix - Silverstone, July 18
Verstappen went 33 points clear after winning the first ever Saturday sprint, with Hamilton second. The pair then collided on Sunday's opening lap.
Verstappen went to hospital for precautionary checks while Hamilton collected a 10-second penalty for causing the collision but still won his home grand prix and slashed the lead to eight points.
The moment the gloves came off, relations between the two teams nosedived.
ALSO READ | ALSO READ | Horner hails Verstappen's 'insane' pole lap
ALSO READ | Horner hails Verstappen's 'insane' pole lap
- BOTTAS WRECKS VERSTAPPEN'S RACE
Hungarian Grand Prix - Budapest, August 1
Hamilton charged through from last to third to retake the overall lead from Verstappen, who finished 10th from second on the grid.
Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas wrecked Verstappen's race when he made a slow start and tagged McLaren's Lando Norris, who was in turn pitched into the Red Bull, bringing out red flags.
Hamilton led at the re-start but on the wrong tyres and had to pit a lap later, rejoining at the back.
- VERSTAPPEN ON TOP OF HAMILTON'S CAR
Italian Grand Prix - Monza, September 12
Another sprint weekend, another collision between the two title rivals. Hamilton started fourth while Verstappen inherited pole after engine penalties sent sprint winner Bottas to the back.
Hamilton challenged Verstappen but was forced onto the run-off area at the second chicane. When Hamilton pitted, he came out alongside his rival on lap 26 and they went wheel-to-wheel before contact into the first chicane.
Verstappen's Red Bull ended up on top of Hamilton's Mercedes and both were out.
ALSO READ | ALSO READ | Nervous Norris wary of getting involved in championship fight
ALSO READ | Nervous Norris wary of getting involved in championship fight
- STEWARDS TAKE NO ACTION, HAMILTON LAST TO FIRST
Brazilian Grand Prix - Sao Paulo, November 14
Hamilton needed to win after Verstappen's wins in the U.S. and Mexico. The Briton led qualifying for Saturday's sprint but was sent to the back when his car's rear wing failed a technical inspection.
He fought back to fifth but an engine penalty dropped him to 10th for Sunday, a race he then won.
A key moment came when Verstappen forced Hamilton off and also went wide while defending the lead. Stewards took no action, a decision that set a precedent and produced incredulity at Mercedes.
- VERSTAPPEN'S 'BRAKE-TEST' MOMENT
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Jeddah, December 5
Verstappen had his first title shot, while Hamilton chased a third win in a row. The Dutch driver was set for pole when he hit the wall at the final corner.
The race was twice stopped before the pair collided on lap 37 when Verstappen slowed suddenly in front of Hamilton after being told to hand back the lead.
Hamilton complained of being 'brake-tested' but then won with fastest lap to tie at the top.
ROAD TO THE FINALE
March 28 - BAHRAIN
Hamilton started second and fended off pole-sitter Verstappen after going ahead on strategy. The Dutch driver took the lead four laps from the end on fresher tyres but had to hand it back after going off and gaining an advantage.
Hamilton 25 points, Verstappen 18 (Hamilton +7)
April 18 - EMILIA ROMAGNA
Hamilton was on pole but lost out to eventual winner Verstappen through the opening corners when they made contact. A race stoppage brought Hamilton back into contention from ninth and a lap down. The fastest lap kept him top.
Hamilton 44, Verstappen 43 (Hamilton +1)
May 2 - PORTUGAL
Hamilton was third after a safety car restart but passed Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to win. Bottas started on pole and took fastest lap. Verstappen was second.
Hamilton 69, Verstappen 61 (Hamilton +8)
ALSO READ | ALSO READ | Verstappen deserves pole for Abu Dhabi title showdown- Hamilton
ALSO READ | Verstappen deserves pole for Abu Dhabi title showdown- Hamilton
May 9 - SPAIN
Hamilton's fifth successive Spanish GP win and sixth in total. He started on pole for the 100th time, lost out to Verstappen at the first corner and made a second stop late in the race to regain the lead. Verstappen took fastest lap.
Hamilton 94, Verstappen 80 (Hamilton +14)
May 23 - MONACO
Verstappen's first win in Monaco, after Ferrari pole-sitter Charles Leclerc could not start, sent him into the lead for the first time. Hamilton started and finished seventh but took a point for fastest lap.
Hamilton 101, Verstappen 105 (Verstappen +4)
June 6 - AZERBAIJAN
Verstappen crashed out while leading when his rear left tyre blew at 300kph with five laps to go, an accident that halted the race. A mistake at the restart sent Hamilton down an escape road and out of the points.
Hamilton 101, Verstappen 105 (Verstappen +4)
June 20 - FRANCE
A win and fastest lap for Verstappen, who started on pole but lost out to Hamilton at the start before regaining the lead at the first pit stops. He then made a second stop for fresh tyres and won with fastest lap. Hamilton was second.
Hamilton 119, Verstappen 131 (Verstappen +12)
ALSO READ | ALSO READ | Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying: Verstappen on pole, Hamilton alongside ahead of title showdown
ALSO READ | Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying: Verstappen on pole, Hamilton alongside ahead of title showdown
June 27 - STYRIA
Verstappen led every lap from pole position. Hamilton made a late second stop to secure the fastest lap bonus point.
Hamilton 138, Verstappen 156 (Verstappen +18)
July 4 - AUSTRIA
Verstappen's third win in a row and 50th podium in F1. He won from pole, led every lap and took a bonus point for fastest lap. Hamilton started and finished fourth.
Hamilton 150, Verstappen 182 (Verstappen +32)
July 18 - BRITAIN
Verstappen crashed out after colliding with Hamilton on the opening lap. Hamilton recovered from a 10-second penalty to pass Leclerc late on for a record eighth home win. Verstappen took three points from a Saturday sprint, Hamilton two.
Hamilton 177, Verstappen 185 (Verstappen +8)
August 1 - HUNGARY
Hamilton vaulted back into the lead with a second place finish while Verstappen was ninth after a first lap incident triggered by Bottas.
Hamilton 195, Verstappen 187 (Hamilton +8)
August 29 - BELGIUM
Verstappen 'won' Formula One's shortest race, three laps behind the safety car. Hamilton was third, half points awarded.
Hamilton 202.5, Verstappen 199.5 (Hamilton +3)
September 5 - NETHERLANDS
Verstappen won his home race from pole and retook the lead. Hamilton was second with the fastest lap.
Hamilton 221.5, Verstappen 224.5 (Verstappen +3)
September 12 - ITALY
Hamilton and Verstappen collided on lap 26 of 53, both retiring on the spot. Verstappen took two points from the Saturday sprint race.
Hamilton 221.5, Verstappen 226.5 (Verstappen +5)
September 26 - RUSSIA
Hamilton, starting fourth, became the first driver to win 100 grands prix. Verstappen went from last, due to engine penalties, to second.
Hamilton 246.5, Verstappen 244.5 (Hamilton +2)
ALSO READ | ALSO READ | F1 title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen will be feeling the pressure: Rosberg
ALSO READ | F1 title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen will be feeling the pressure: Rosberg
October 10 - TURKEY
Hamilton started 11th on the grid, due to an engine penalty, and finished fifth. Verstappen was second.
Hamilton 256.5, Verstappen 262.5 (Verstappen +6)
October 24 - UNITED STATES
Verstappen started on pole and doubled his championship lead. Hamilton seized the lead at the start before losing out to pit stop strategy and finished second.
Hamilton 275.5, Verstappen 287.5 (Verstappen +12)
ALSO READ | Abu Dhabi GP Preview: Hamilton, Verstappen head towards final F1 showdown
November 7 - MEXICO
Verstappen, starting third, took his ninth win of the season after seizing the lead into the first corner. Hamilton was second. Mercedes had their lead slashed to one point.
Hamilton 293.5, Verstappen 312.5 (Verstappen +19)
November 14 - SAO PAULO
Hamilton won from 10th on the grid after a five-place drop for a new engine. He had been last on the grid for the Saturday sprint. Verstappen was second.
Hamilton 318.5, Verstappen 332.5 (Verstappen +14)
November 21 - QATAR
Hamilton led from pole to take his 102nd career victory. Verstappen started seventh, after a five-place grid penalty for a flag breach in qualifying, but ended up second.
Hamilton 343.5, Verstappen 351.5 (Verstappen +8)
December 5 - SAUDI ARABIA
Hamilton's third win in a row after a night of chaos in Jeddah, with the lead changing between the two and the Briton running into the back of his Red Bull rival. The fastest lap for Hamilton, with Verstappen second, tied the scores.
Hamilton 369.5, Verstappen 369.5
WHERE TO WATCH THE F1 ABU DHABI GP LIVE IN INDIA?
The Star Sports Network owns the official broadcasting rights for Formula 1 in India. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix can be watched live onStar Sports Select 2 SD/HD from 6:30 PM IST. Fans can also access the live streaming on theDisney+ Hotstar app.
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