Racing’s Hottest Rivalry

Formula One’s final 2021 race delivered on this season’s epic rivalry between an all-time great and an upstart phenom.

After a very controversial officiating decision, Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton in the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to claim his first Formula One Drivers’ Championship.

The contentious ending marred a tremendous season from both competitors in what could be a tipping point for the next-gen star — and the legacy of a legend. 

  • Verstappen is the fourth-youngest winner of the championship and the fourth to do so with at least 10 wins in a season. 
  • Had he held on to win, it would have been Hamilton’s eighth title, breaking a tie with Michael Schumacher for the most all-time. 
  • The drivers came into the last race of the season tied atop the standings — only the second time in F1 history that has happened and the first time since 1974. 

Verstappen was the youngest driver to start a Formula One race when he debuted at age 17 in 2015. Since then, he has built an empire, bringing in a projected $42.5 million in earnings this season. 

Despite Sunday’s loss, Hamilton remains an auto racing giant, ranking eighth on Forbes’ 2021 list of highest-paid athletes with $82 million earned. 

Assuming the 24-year-old maintains his red-hot form and the 36-year-old sticks around, we might be able to enjoy this rivalry for years to come.