The 2021 F1 season ended with a bang as Max Verstappen narrowly clinched the world title from Lewis Hamilton after a late safety car incident. Despite the chaos, however, Carlos Sainz found incredible pace and made it onto the podium albeit lacking the limelight.
The driver commented on the strange regulations, saying they nearly caused him to lose out on his third-place finish. The Ferrari driver moved into podium position after Red Bull retired Sergio Perez's car.
Race control initially ruled that cars lapped by the safety car would not be allowed to unlap themselves, but later changed their minds right before the safety car came in. Sainz suddenly found himself battling for the podium with both Alpha Tauri's and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas. The Spaniard also had two lapped cars in front of him who would receive blue flags on the restart, but would have to be passed nonetheless. Speaking about the chaos, he said:
“It was certainly a very strange situation for me because I was battling for a podium with Valtteri and some Alpha Tauri's behind with medium tires while I was on a very used hard. At the beginning, I was told that they were not going to be allowed to un-lap themselves, the people in front of me. And then it was decided to un-lap themselves. And some people un-lapped themselves, but there were still an Aston Martin and the McLaren of Ricciardo between the two leaders and myself."
Despite the strange circumstances, Sainz achieved his fourth and last podium of the 2021 F1 season.
Mercedes and Red Bull split 2021 F1 titles
The controversial last-lap finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen win his maiden drivers' title in the sport, effectively denying Lewis Hamilton a record-breaking eighth championship in F1. Red Bull now has five drivers' titles to its name, with Sebastian Vettel winning four from 2010-2013.
However, all wasn't lost for Mercedes as the German team comfortably won the constructors' trophy at the end of the race, beating Red Bull by a 28-point margin.
Fernando Alonso revealed in a press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he felt as if Max Verstappen deserved to win the F1 drivers' title, but Mercedes deserves the constructors' title. He said:
"Mercedes, they deserve the constructors' championship because I think the car is superior and Max maybe overall in the year was driving one step ahead of everyone."
Only time will tell if either team can continue their winning streak in the 2022 F1 season.
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