Championship Rewind: A Timeline of Events Since the Melodramatic Verstappen-Hamilton F1 Battle in Abu Dhabi

Published 01/13/2022, 5:34 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen before the race Pool via REUTERS/Kamran Jebreili

Exactly a month ago, F1 crowned its newest champion, Max Verstappen. After having shared a tight season, the decision was made on the final lap of the final race. It was as intense as it gets. However, a season of controversy ended with controversy; and it continues still. Here’s a brief insight into what has been a tumultuous month for the sport.


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The title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen and Hamilton headed to the last race on equal footing; thus, it was a winner takes all situation. Although Max stood in pole position, a strong start from Hamilton gave him the lead going into turn 1. Till the closing lap, Hamilton held his position. Verstappen caught up to his rival after Perez put up an incredible defense against Lewis. Thus, it boiled down to the ultimate moments of the race.


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Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after the start of the race REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

After a lot of fuss surrounding multiple incidents bringing out yellow flags, the final one mattered the most. Nicholas Latifi found himself in the barriers on lap 53, bringing out the yellow flag. As before, Red Bull pitted their contender, while Mercedes remained unwilling to take the risk. Verstappen came back on the tracks with fresher, faster soft boots as opposed to Hamilton’s worn hard compound.

As Latifi’s Williams was towed off the track, there was one potential lap for racing left. As a result, race director Michael Masi allowed the five backmarkers between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the Safety Car. Now, as the two approached the line to begin the decisive lap, it was wheel to wheel as they took off. Verstappen on the better strategy and aided by the ‘miracle’ of the upheaval, made his title-securing pass with a late dive into turn 5.

Mercedes protests final lap decisions

Within minutes of the race end, Mercedes started two protests. The first was over an alleged breach of Article 48.8 of the regulations; the Silver Arrows brought up footage that caused them to believe the Red Bull’s nose was ahead of Hamilton’s W12 under the SC conditions. It wasn’t an important observation upon investigation; it showed there was nothing to complain about. The FIA immediately dismissed this protest.

However, the second protest is where things get interesting. Mercedes protested an alleged breach of Article 48.12 of the rulebook as well. This highlighted the decision to allow the lapped car to overtake the Safety Car.

Soon it was dismissed as well, triggering Mercedes’ intention to appeal at the International Court.

Mercedes emerge from darkness and Hamilton goes MIA

Lewis Hamilton went dark on social media, and for a while, so did Mercedes. Four days later, the company released a statement sharing its decision to discontinue the appeal.

This was followed by an in-depth interview with Toto Wolff, who shared his disbelief of the events at Abu Dhabi. He emphasized Mercedes’ need for some change in the sport, including stronger regulations to prevent a calamity like this from occurring again.

Wolff sparks Hamilton F1 retirement discussions

In the tell-all conference, Wolff also mentioned Hamilton’s disappointments with the sport as a whole. However, what sparked conversations about a potential retirement was when he said he “would very much hope Lewis continues racing.” 

Wolff had also explained, “As a racer, his heart will say I need to continue because he’s at the peak of his game. But we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday. He is a man with clear values.”

Further, the duo refused to attend the FIA gala in Paris in protest of the chain of events. As a result, the newly elected FIA president, Ben Sulayem, has mentioned Hamilton would be hit with a penalty at the first race of the season. This would further reduce any encouragement to make a return.

Hamilton unfollowed everyone on his socials and has remained quiet. This has only fueled the rumors of the champion making his F1 exit.

Will Michael Masi leave the FIA and F1?

Racing director Michael Masi has borne much of the brunt of the season’s conclusion. Recently, it was revealed that Mercedes wants something tangible from the FIA before Hamilton makes a decision if he wants to continue with the sport or not. Further, BBC released a report stating that Mercedes dropped the appeal when promised that Masi would no longer continue with his role.


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FIA had recently released their organizational chart, in which Masi’s name remains missing. Additionally, the FIA had promised a solution to the problem by February. As the first practice session draws closer, the FIA would have to mark down their calendars for the big decision.


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Ultimately, a month later, the question that remains is: Will Lewis Hamilton close the door on F1?

Watch this story: F1 Driver Salaries Revealed: How Much Do Lewis Hamilton & Co. Earn?

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Shreya Sanjeev

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Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.