Max Verstappen wins first F1 world title after dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ending
EKO HOT BLOG reports that Max Verstappen won his first Formula One World Championship on Sunday, defeating Lewis Hamilton in a contentious season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
This season was hailed as one of the best in the sport’s history, and the championship race came down to one of the most “insane” closing laps conceivable.
Hamilton was on his way to a record-breaking ninth world title when Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers with four circuits remaining, bringing out the safety car.
The race was restarted on the penultimate lap, with Verstappen permitted to start practically side by side with Hamilton, despite the Brit establishing a big lead.
The Dutchman, on new tires, had the pace to overtake his rival and win one of the most dramatic F1 races ever.
“It’s insane. 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,” an emotional and slightly stunned Verstappen, 24, said after the race.
“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!”
The victory means Verstappen prevented Hamilton from surpassing the record he still shares with racing legend Michael Schumacher.
Mercedes later confirmed it had lodged a formal protest at the end of the race.
The two titanic rivals arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit level on points, setting up the perfect end to a title race which came down to the very final moments.
The Dutchman took the early advantage by qualifying in pole position after a magical qualifying lap on Saturday, a drive that will be remembered for quite some time.
But it was Hamilton who started the race better from second, overtaking Verstappen before the first corner and dominating the majority of the Grand Prix with the Mercedes pace.
There was controversy, as there has been throughout the season, with Red Bull adamant that Hamilton should have given his first place back to Verstappen after the Mercedes man went off the track following contact with his rival.
Stewards, however, decided not to investigate the incident and allowed Hamilton to proceed in first.
Red Bull then resorted to its Plan B, with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez expertly holding up Hamilton after the Mercedes driver emerged from the pit lane in second.
The Brit finally found a way past the Red Bull but not until he had Verstappen back on his heels.
But Hamilton looked to have done enough, building up a double-digit second lead, and was cruising to victory before the mayhem of the final lap.
With the win, Verstappen finished the season on 395.5 points, while Hamilton finished second on 387.5.
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