Quartararo crowned world champion after dramatic Bagnaia crash

By Sports Desk October 24, 2021

Fabio Quartararo has been crowned 2021 MotoGP world champion for a first time following a dramatic conclusion to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that saw title rival Francesco Bagnaia crash out.

Yamaha rider Quartararo had to outscore Bagnaia by three points in Sunday's race to bring an end to the title battle with two races to go, but a career-worst finish of 15th in qualifying meant the Frenchman had plenty of work to do.

The 22-year-old gradually climbed the field after a slow start that saw him drop two more places, yet he was still fifth, well off leader Bagnaia, with five laps to go in Italy.

Then came an incredible moment as Bagnaia, on course for a third victory in four races, lost the front of the Desmosedici into turn 15 to effectively hand Quartararo the title – and a first for Yamaha since 2015.

Quartararo continued his ascent into third place before dropping behind Enea Bastianini into his eventual final position of fourth, with Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro leading a one-two for Repsol Honda.

It is a second successive triumph for Marquez on the back of his victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Bagnaia's Ducati team-mate Jack Miller, who started in second, had earlier crashed out in a drama-filled race, while Valentino Rossi battled to 10th in his final race on home soil.

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    A new deal has been agreed for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to remain on the Formula One calendar until 2030.

    F1 races have taken place at the Yas Marina Circuit since 2009 and the track will this weekend stage a decisive finale to the 2021 season, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen level on points in a captivating battle for the title.

    It was announced on Thursday that F1 has renewed its contract with Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM).

    F1 CEO and president Stefano Domenicali said: "We are delighted to confirm that we will be racing in Abu Dhabi until 2030 under this new agreement. We are hugely looking forward to the season finale this weekend when more Formula One history will be made.

    "The promoter, ADMM, always creates an incredible show for the final race of every F1 season and, combined with the changes made to improve the racing on the Yas Marina Circuit, we are excited for many years of racing in Abu Dhabi that is ahead of us."

    Saif Al Noaimi, CEO of ADMM, said: "The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Yas Marina Circuit continue to introduce hundreds of millions of spectators and TV viewers to Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates.

    "The signing of a new multi-year deal with the Formula One Group not only represents the strength of our relationship but reaffirms our commitment to delivering an unparalleled and world-class race weekend experience for all visitors to enjoy."

  • Wolff: Formula One title battle is amazing for the sport Wolff: Formula One title battle is amazing for the sport

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes this year's dramatic Formula One title race is "amazing for the sport".

    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen head into the final grand prix of the season level on points at the top of the drivers' championship.

    Mercedes, meanwhile, are bidding to win their eighth constructors' title. The gap between themselves and Red Bull is 28 points, though Wolff's team could still lose the crown to their rivals.

    With such drama promised in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Wolff thinks it can only serve as a boost to F1, which had become predictable due to Mercedes' dominance. 

    Indeed, Hamilton is aiming for a record eighth world title and a fifth consecutive championship triumph.

    Since 2014, Hamilton has only failed to win the championship on one occasion, finishing second to team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016, while Verstappen and Red Bull are bidding for a maiden title.

    "The final race will be intense, but it's important to not get distracted, to just keep our heads down, our feet on the ground and bring the performance that we had last time out," Wolff said in a release on Mercedes' official team website.

    "We're grateful to still be in this fight. The fact that both championships will be decided at the season finale proves just how hard both sides have been challenging each other and pushing each other forward.

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    "We're also relishing the challenges of racing in Abu Dhabi this weekend, at a circuit that has gone through quite a few changes since we last raced there.

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  • Remarkable championship battle to be decided in Abu Dhabi showdown Remarkable championship battle to be decided in Abu Dhabi showdown

    As far as title races go, there have not been many better than this season's tussle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

    A remarkable 2021 campaign ends in Abu Dhabi this weekend, with the Formula One championship up for grabs.

    With 369.5 points each, Hamilton and Verstappen do battle for the world title; the Briton is aiming for a record eighth crown, his Dutch counterpart hoping to scoop his first.

    Three straight race victories in Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have seen Mercedes' Hamilton catch up with Verstappen, who has nine wins to his rival's eight.

    The rivalry has boiled over. Tempers have been frayed. Verstappen was slapped with two penalties for his actions in Jeddah on Sunday as the Red Bull driver finished in second.

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    There is no more room for error. The winner will take it all in the United Arab Emirates.

    LAST TIME OUT

    Hamilton won an extraordinary Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in a race that set new standards for drama.

    Having clinched his 103rd pole in F1 in Saturday's qualifying session after a costly Verstappen crash, Hamilton held his nerve amid plenty of controversies.

    Verstappen got ahead after the season's penultimate race was red-flagged twice in the first 16 laps, but a series of virtual safety cars kept Hamilton in touch.

    With Verstappen going beyond track limits to keep the lead, he was instructed to give the place back, only for Hamilton to crash into the back of him. Verstappen then did give the lead back to Hamilton at turn 27, but did so in a DRS zone, allowing him to swiftly regain the edge, that move also deemed unsatisfactory by race officials.

    A five-second penalty all but ended hopes of a win for Verstappen, with Hamilton also clinching the fastest-lap bonus point to make things all square heading to Abu Dhabi. Verstappen leads the way in the championship thanks to his nine wins, however.

    It was a bad day for Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who crashed into a wall, with Valtteri Bottas' third-place finish leaving Mercedes with the advantage in the constructors' championship.

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    Drama. Tension. Blood, sweat and tears? This title race has had more twists and turns than Monte Carlo, but all will be settled.

    Should both title rivals finish out of the points – it would seem unlikely, though you never know – Verstappen would take the crown based on his nine wins.

    Hamilton has thrown plenty of accusations of aggressive and dangerous driving the Dutchman's way, and it would be hard to argue against that given recent events.

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    TOP FIVE OPTA FACTS

    - Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni, in 1974, are the only other F1 title rivals to have gone into the last race of a season level on points. Never in the history of the championship has a season ended with two drivers tied at the top of the standings.
    - Hamilton is the driver to have won the most races in Asia (3) and in the Middle East (15). This tally includes five victories and five pole positions in Abu Dhabi.
    - Mercedes had won the previous six races in Abu Dhabi prior to Verstappen's victory in 2020. The Red Bull star is aiming to become the first F1 champion from The Netherlands, and he would be the fourth-youngest champion at the age of 24 years, two months and 12 days.
    - Bottas is one podium finish away from equalling Rubens Barrichello as a non-championship winning driver to have achieved the highest amount of top-three finishes (68) in F1.
    - Should Hamilton win, it will be a fourth race victory in a row, and would mean the Briton has achieved such a streak in six of the eight Hybrid Era seasons.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 369.5
    2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 369.5
    3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 218
    4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 190
    5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 158

    Constructors

    1. Mercedes 587.5
    2. Red Bull 559.5
    3. Ferrari 307.5
    4. McLaren 269
    5. Alpine 149

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