F1 final-lap mayhem watched by nearly 14 million fans in UK and Holland

Verstappen wins 2021 F1 world championship

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The mayhem witnessed in the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday was watched by almost 14 million viewers across the UK and the Netherlands. The masses watched on as Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton at the last to become world champion.

A combined TV audience of 7.4 million tuned in across Sky Sports and Channel 4’s coverage, which represents a 60 per cent audience share.

Channel 4 itself registered a peak viewership of 4.4 million – big figures for TV coverage on a Sunday lunchtime.

When asked about the TV audience figures Channel 4’s Chief Content Officer Ian Katz said: “Though many British F1 fans will be disappointed by the result, it’s fantastic that Channel 4 was able to bring this nail-biting finale to the 2021 F1 Season to 4.4 million viewers free to air and, in partnership with Sky, to an incredible peak audience of 7.4m.

“Following on from the return of Test cricket to Free to Air television, a remarkable Paralympics and Emma Raducanu’s triumph it was a fittingly dramatic end to an extraordinary year of sport on Channel 4.”

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Those who tuned in witnessed the controversial events which took place at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Hamilton had a ten-second lead over his rival Verstappen with only five laps in the race to go when a safety car was introduced after Williams driver Nicolas Latifi crashed into the barriers.

Verstappen then took the decision to pit for fresh tyres, before race directors allowed some of the lapped cars to overtake the safety car.

Such a decision resulted in a one-lap drag race between Verstappen and his fresh tyres, and Hamilton.

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Verstappen eventually overtook Hamilton in the final-lap and took the World Championship crown away from the seven-time champion.

Mercedes lodged two protests in the aftermath of the incident, but both were unsuccessful.

Toto Wolff left without speaking to the media, while Hamilton didn’t turn up to the post-race press conference, but did share his thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the race.

“Firstly big congratulations to Max and his team,” he said. “I think we did an amazing job this year, my team, everyone back at the factory, all the men and women, we have worked so hard all year.

“It’s been the most difficult of seasons. I’m so proud of them, so grateful to be on the journey with them. We gave it absolutely everything, we never gave up and that’s the most important thing.

“Of course I’ve been feeling great in the car this past couple of months, particularly at the end.

“But if I’m honest, we’re still in the pandemic and I just wish everyone to stay safe and have a good Christmas with their families, and we’ll see about next year.”

Verstappen meanwhile, was overcome with emotion after he became the first-ever Dutchman to win the title.

“It’s insane,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I’m so pleased for the team and for all these guys.

“I love working with them so much. Finally today I had a bit of luck. My team know I love them and I want to do this with them for the next 10 or 15 years.”

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