With a good qualifying for both cars in the final round of 2021 in Abu Dhabi, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were ready for lights out for one last time this season.
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Photos: Scuderia Ferrari.
As the lights went out, Lewis Hamilton gained the lead from Max Verstappen off the line, with the pair almost touching at turn seven. Carlos moved up to fourth after third-placed Lando Norris went wide at the first corner, while Charles was up to sixth, making use of a bad start for Valtteri Bottas.
By lap 13, Norris was starting to struggle with tyres as well as a lingering, allowing Charles to catch up. However, on the following lap, Charles went straight on at lap 14 and almost lost sixth position to Yuki Tsunoda.
Charles was the first of the Ferrari’s to pit on lap 15, re-joining the race in 16th position, while Carlos pitted on lap 20. At the top of the field, Hamilton was pulling a gap to championship rival Verstappen, while the Dutchman caught back up after Hamilton was stuck behind the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
It was the final F1 race for former Ferrari driver and champion Kimi Raikkonen, but unfortunately the Finnish driver would not see the chequered flag as a brake problem forced the Alfa Romeo into retirement on lap 25.
A Virtual Safety Car was deployed on lap 35 after the second Alfa Romeo of Antionio Giovinazzi came to a stop at turn nine, which prompted second stops for Charles, Verstappen and Perez.
With a second stop for fresh hard tyres, Verstappen was now catching Lewis, as Carlos now moved back into fourth position. Charles was outside the points in 12th, but was looking to move back into the top 10.
A Safety Car was deployed with five laps to go for an accident for Nicholas Latifi, allowing Verstappen and Perez to pit for soft tyres. Lap 56 saw retirement for Perez, leaving just Verstappen in the race.
The cars between Hamilton and Verstappen were allowed to pass the safety car before coming into the pits, which allowed Verstappen to close and subsequently overtake the Mercedes on the final lap, and to become the 2021 World Champion.
Perez’s retirement handed the final podium position to Carlos, confirming Ferrari’s brilliant third place finish in the constructor’s championship.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.