2021 Abu Dhabi GP

Lewis Hamilton says he still thinks of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP. Image: twitter @MercedesAMGF1EN

2021 Abu Dhabi GP still haunts Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton controversially lost the championship in 2021 Abu Dhabi to Verstapppen after Masi failed to follow the rules during a Safety Car.

2021 Abu Dhabi GP

Lewis Hamilton says he still thinks of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP. Image: twitter @MercedesAMGF1EN

The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix does not bring positive memories for the seven-time Formula One champions Lewis Hamilton.

The 38-year-old driver controversially lost the race and the championship to rival Max Verstapppen after F1 race director (at the time) Michael Masi failed to follow the rules during the Safety Car in the final laps of the race.

The 2021 Abu Dhabi race was nothing short of controversy. Both Hamilton and Verstappen went into the final race equal on points and both needed to win the race or at least outdo each other to be crowned champion.

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Hamilton managed to pass Verstappen during the start of the race and managed to comfortably be in front until the final stages when a safety car was deployed.

With a few laps remaining, it looked like the race would finish under a safety car however, Masi ordered the safety car to return to the pits a lap earlier to give the spectators one final lap.

With Verstappen on soft and fresher tyres, he was able to pass his rival in the final lap and win the title in what was one of the most controversial ending to an F1 season.

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This week, Hamilton told ESPN about what had happened on that night and that the “scar” never leaves him.

“Ultimately that feeling never really truly leaves you,” he told ESPN ahead of the Miami Grand Prix.

“It’s like when you think about your first love, it will always be that first love and first heartbreak. Abu Dhabi, the scar is there and there will always be that memory.”

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Since the 2021 Abu Dhabi race, Hamilton has struggled to challenge for the title again

Last year, he finished the season 6th in the F1 Driver’s Championship, falling way behind rival Verstappen.

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New technical regulations for 2022 brought ground effect back into F1, which ultimately saw Mercedes struggle to keep up with Red Bull in terms of pace. Ferrarri also improved their car minus reliabilty meaning that the German team where now the thrid fastest car.

Mercedes and Hamilton were hoping 2023 would be the 2021 Abu Dhabi redemption but the team fell backwards again.