Max Verstappen of Red Bull won his ﬁrst Formula One world championship by defeating Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap of a dramatic season ﬁnale in Abu Dhabi – but had to wait while Hamilton’s Mercedes team had two objections against the decision rejected by stewards.
Despite controversy on the opening lap, Hamilton seemed to be in command of the race and on pace for the title until a late safety car.
With one lap to remaining, the race was resumed with Verstappen on fresh tyres and Hamilton on worn ones, and the Dutchman raced to victory.
Max overtook Hamilton entering Turn Five and fought oﬀ his eﬀorts to retake the lead down the two straights that followed, completing the lap and leaping in ecstasy.
Whatever one’s opinion of the race’s diﬀerent mishaps, few would deny Verstappen the championship following a season in which he and Hamilton battled it out from start to ﬁnish in one of the most extraordinary F1 seasons ever.
Meanwhile, Hamilton will have to console himself with Mercedes’ remarkable ninth consecutive constructors’ title triumph.
The winner yelled with joy, and Red Bull rejoiced, while Hamilton remained in his Mercedes for several minutes, astonished at how things had turned against him in the ﬁnal minutes.
Verstappen’s celebrations were cut short as he walked oﬀ the podium as champion due to Mercedes’ protestations, and he had to wait more than four hours for them to begin, though Mercedes indicated they would appeal.
In many respects, it was a ﬁtting ﬁnish to one of Formula One’s ﬁnest and most acrimonious seasons – and the debates about right and wrong will continue for some time.
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