Verstappen-Hamilton Abu Dhabi showdown wins BAFTA

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner and Max Verstappen celebrate together. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

Red Bull's Christian Horner and Max Verstappen celebrate after the Dutchman won the 2021 Drivers Championship. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

The coverage of the final race showdown between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has won a BAFTA.

One of the most dramatic season finales in Formula 1 history has been recognised by those outside of the sport as Sky Sports’ coverage of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for the best coverage of a sports event.

Heading into the final race of a thrilling 2021 season, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were level on points with the Mercedes driver chasing a record-breaking eighth World Championship while the Dutchman was going after his maiden title.

Hamilton had comfortably led the race from the start, leaving Red Bull team boss Christian Horner to admit Verstappen needed a “sporting miracle” to win, but a late and controversial Safety Car call from former race director Michael Masi provided the miracle he was after.

The excitement for the race and the sport had built throughout the season and F1 reported 107.8 million people had tuned in to watch, a rise of 30 million from the season’s average.

The coverage beat the Grand National, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the UEFA Euro 2020 semi-final between England and Denmark to win the award in what was the second time in as many years an F1 race had been nominated.

Previously, the last time F1 won the award was in 2011 when the BBC won for its coverage of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. That race marked the conclusion of the 2010 World Championship in which Sebastian Vettel clinched the first of his four world titles.

2011 was also the fourth time in five years an F1 race had won the award with Jenson Button’s first win in 2006, the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix and the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix the other winners.

The Brazilian Grand Prix was nominated in 2010 but lost out to the World Athletics Championships.


FIA release Abu Dhabi findings

The FIA has released a summary of their findings from their report into Abu Dhabi in 2021.