Red Bull Racing Dutch driver Max Verstappen won his first Formula 1 title after an incredible outcome in the final round of the 2021 Formula 1 season, which took place in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina circuit: the Dutchman eventually got the better of his Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton also helped by a late safety car period which resulted from the incident of Williams driver Nicolas Latifi.
Despite the fact that Michael Masi’s decision to continue the race with one lap to go was very controversial, fears that the championship would be decided by a crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton did not materialise. Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver Carlos Sainz admitted he felt relieved that “nothing strange” happened between the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers:
“I actually believe that the championship had a good outcome in sight of all the possibilities that there were coming into this race. I think, personal opinion, it was a great battle up front and they managed to keep it clean, no crashes, no contact. Just a good battle that this sport deserved for this last race and the first thing I did was congratulate both Max and Lewis on the podium because I believe that whoever was winning this weekend was going to deserve it because they’ve both driven incredibly and they both would have deserved the title. For me, the important thing is that nothing dirty, or nothing strange happened on track today and they both kept it clean.” – the Ferrari driver explained.
Carlos Sainz also admitted that the call to restart the Yas Marina race without all lapped cars having overtaken the leaders resulted in a strange situation. The Ferrari driver was one of those affected by this scenario, given the fact that two lapped drivers were left in between himself and Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, which meant he had no chance of fighting for a better position than P3.
Carlos eventually finished the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in third place, yet Michael Masi’s call could have cost him a place on the podium, as the Spanish driver explains:
“It was certainly a very strange situation for me because I was obviously battling for a podium with Valtteri [Bottas] and some AlphaTauris behind with a medium tyre while I was on a very used hard. At the beginning I was told they were not going to be allowed to unlap themselves, the people in front of me. Then they decided to unlap themselves and some people unlapped themselves but there was still, I think it was an Aston Martin and a McLaren, [Daniel] Ricciardo, between the two leaders and myself. This I’ve never had before having to restart the race with these two guys in front of me, one fighting for a P3, so I do admit it was a strange one and maybe something to look at because it was very strange to see and it nearly cost me my podium, to be honest.” – Carlos Sainz concluded.