Max Verstappen: Questionable calls at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix did nothing to stop Dutch orange army celebrations
Red Bull’s principal, Christian Horner, was muttering on the radio that his team “needed a miracle,” and there were audible groans.
But then, Williams’ driver, Nicholas Latifi, crashed into a barrier and the images flashed on the big screen. A safety vehicle was deployed and the large Dutch crowd waited breathlessly. If the race were to start again, Verstappen would use the newer tires and drive right behind Hamilton, even though Brit has established a healthy lead.
Suddenly, there is hope, and so magic happens with a round to go.
With the additional driver, Verstappen overtook Hamilton in front of a jubilant partisan crowd at the redesigned New Year’s turn. For now, he accelerates into his long back, drowning out the cheers with the noise of the engine – but they will linger long after the cars come to a stop around the track.
The controversial decision to allow a final round match sparked fury in the Mercedes camp. Principal Toto Wolff’s nostrils flared as he shouted down his mic, and George Russell, who will be driving a Mercedes next year, tweeted in capitals that what just happened was “unacceptable” receive.”
He described the ending as a “shame”, but it certainly didn’t bother the ecstatic Dutch fans who popped bottles of champagne in the stands and soaked anyone nearby with alcohol.
He choked and was hugged by his father, who playfully scolded him the day before for not wearing an orange shirt. As he was dragged away to rejoin the celebration and watch the Dutch national anthem be played, he bellowed: “We’re having a party!”
Yas Marina is painted orange
Hotels in Abu Dhabi are likely to be packed with weary Verstappen fans on Monday morning. By now, the feeling of hangover will begin to set in, but the joy of the previous night will still be there.
Going into the final race of the 2021 championship, this season has been heralded as one of the greatest in the sport’s history. The two giants reached the Yas Marina Circuit level by points, setting up the perfect finish to a title race that there is always the possibility of going down to the last moment.
And so, on Sunday, the Orange Army headed to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix early in the day, bringing with it noise, color and confidence. They gathered the F1 booths, hoping to pick up a Red Bull polo shirt and anyone who wouldn’t be proud to wear orange.
Every man, woman and child in the beer garden surrounding the auditorium was confident that 24-year-old Verstappen would take home his first F1 world championship crown.
“Yes, Max will win,” said Kees Saton, 56, a seasoned veteran of the F1 fandom. “It meant so much, the first winner from such a small country. I remember in Barcelona, winning his first race, and how he went from strength to strength. another power.”
“I have to catch a plane at eight o’clock tomorrow, so let’s see if I can make it,” he added while polling Heineken with a group of friends dressed in orange. A party atmosphere filled the track, and cheers filled the stands as fighters passed, painting the sky the colors of the Emirates’ flags.
But it was Hamilton who started the race better from second, edging past Verstappen before taking the first corner and dominating much of the Grand Prix at Mercedes pace.
There has been controversy, as has happened throughout the season, with Red Bull adamant that Hamilton should have ceded first place to Verstappen after the Mercedes man left the track following contact with an opponent. his.
However, management decided not to investigate the incident and allowed Hamilton to proceed first.
Hamilton continued to build on his lead throughout the 58-lap race, until it became clear that Verstappen would not catch him before the finish. At the time, fans like Olivier Luttmer and his father were frustrated, sipping their drinks on tiptoe and wondering how things had turned out so badly.
Just a few minutes later, his face was wet with tears of joy.
“No one expected something like this to happen,” he sobbed.
Verstappen is an ‘inspiration’
For a new generation of fans, his victory will be an example of what can be achieved with constant effort and talent.
It was the first Grand Prix for 16-year-old Ralph Swinkels, and he told CNN Sport in the beer garden outside the stands that Verstappen was “the inspiration.”
“When he came on the track, the cheers and all of that was huge. And everyone in the Netherlands was watching,” he said, his father Peter adding that he proud to bring my son to see a Dutchman perform like this on the world stage. Both are sure that Verstappen will bring home the championship.
They spotted CNN shortly after the race and, after exchanging handshakes, said, “We told you so!”