Max Verstappen wins F1 title as Miami prepares its Grand Prix track

The countdown has begun. The Formula 1 Championship will be coming for the first time ever to Miami in five months, on May 6, 2022, following the finale of a nerve-wracking 2021 calendar.

On the last lap of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Dutch pilot Max Verstappen’s Honda-powered car overtook the Mercedes driven by seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton to clinch his first-ever F1 driver’s title.

Verstappen ended Hamilton’s four-year championship streak with the win, becoming the first Red Bull winner of the driver’s tournament since Sebastian Vettel in 2013 and the first-ever Dutch Formula 1 champion.

“It is unbelievable, throughout the whole race I kept fighting and then, of course, that opportunity on the last lap, it is incredible,” Verstappen told Sky Sports after winning the race. “It is insane…These guys here, my team, and of course Honda as well, they deserve it. I love them so much.”

Before the race started, Verstappen and Hamilton were tied at 369.5 points each. They started in the top two positions.

Right at the start, Hamilton overtook a slow-reacting Verstappen and extended his lead in 57 of 58 laps of the race.

However, after a controversial yellow-flag incident, Verstappen was able to get side-by-side with the Mercedes and battle for the title in the last lap.

As the safety car cleared the road, Verstappen attacked with fresher tires and overtook Hamilton on the inside. The Englishman tried to recover his lead, but the No. 33 Red Bull was in much better condition after pitting three times throughout the race.

The team Red Bull celebration began as the Dutchman crossed the finish line, ending Mercedes’ long dominance in the driver’s championship. Despite the loss, Hamilton showed sportsmanship.

“A big congratulations to Max and his team,” Hamilton said after the race. “I think we did an amazing job this year. My team, everyone back at the factory, all the men and women we have. All the hard work we have done this year has been the most difficult of seasons. I am so proud of them.”

It is not clear yet if Hamilton will be returning next season to challenge Verstappen, but so far, in the 2022 F1 schedule, there are two races to be held on U.S. tracks. One is in Austin, Texas, and the other in Miami.

The Miami Grand Prix will be held at Hard Rock Stadium on the weekend of May 6. The event will last three days, with practice sessions taking place on Friday, qualifications on Saturday, and the race on Sunday.

The track at Hard Rock will be called “The Miami International Autodrome,” and the circuit will consist of 5.41 kilometers with 19 corners and three straights. Tickets for this race can be found on the event’s official website.

Miami will become the 11th venue to host a Formula 1 race in the United States. In the past, cities like Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Dallas and Detroit have held races of this type.

Organizers hope the race will “bring a tourist and economic boost to the greater Miami region.” Work has already begun laying the asphalt on a fast-paced venue that complies with required safety standards.

After Verstappen’s first title, fans can be certain he will be driving his No. 33 Red Bull car and defending his world championship at Hard Rock next year.

“For sure next year, we will come back and try it all over again,” Verstappen said about the next Formula 1 season.

Juan Alvarado is a graduate student at Florida International University. Prior to his arrival in South Florida, Alvarado got his undergraduate degree from Indiana University and worked a full year at CNN en Español as an Intern and Associate Producer. He is passionate about journalism and sports. He has covered events like the NCAA Men’s Soccer Final Four Tournament in Philadelphia and California. In 2018, he traveled to Moscow, Russia, to make content about the FIFA World Cup for the Ecuadorian network Teleamazonas. In the future, Alvarado aims to create content for a major network and his dream is to own his own media company one day.