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Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12
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Analysis

How Perez's Hamilton defiance was vital to Verstappen's Abu Dhabi triumph

Max Verstappen won the 2021 Formula 1 world championship in a thrilling final lap showdown with Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull man's new tyres leaving his Mercedes rival defenceless. Amid much controversy over the late restart, an earlier piece of team play that delayed Hamilton would have lasting consequences

“It sums up the season a little bit.”

Max Verstappen was laconically commenting on Mercedes’ decision to protest – on two separate grounds – his victory in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which handed him world title glory over Lewis Hamilton on the road. But considering all the race contained, the 90 minutes of action around the Yas Marina track were really the entire season in microcosm.

There was a passing controversy involving the title contenders, Red Bull and Mercedes furious with the FIA at separate points, amazing racing between Hamilton and Sergio Perez, tyre tactics and silly crashes. It really had all we’d seen before, plus new episodes that will live forever in F1’s memory and will be hotly debated in person, on the toxic wastelands of social media and, surely, in the courtroom.

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