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Abu Dhabi GP: Max Verstappen takes F1 title from Lewis Hamilton on final lap after late controversy

A dramatic and controversial season ends with a dramatic and controversial final lap after a late Safety Car wipes out Hamilton’s lead and gives Verstappen an unexpected chance to overtake his British rival and claim the 2021 title; Mercedes left livid by late Safety Car procedure

Last Updated: 12/12/21 3:02pm



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Watch the incredible end to the Abu Dhabi GP and the 2021 title fight as Max Verstappen passes Lewis Hamilton on the final lap for the F1 world championship.

Watch the incredible end to the Abu Dhabi GP and the 2021 title fight as Max Verstappen passes Lewis Hamilton on the final lap for the F1 world championship.

Max Verstappen has become Formula 1 world champion for the first time after an extraordinary, controversial finish to the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP which saw him overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap after a dramatic late Safety Car.

Hamilton appeared to be heading for his record eighth crown after overtaking the polesitting Verstappen at the start but a late crash for Nicholas Latifi in the Williams brought out the Safety Car and created all manner of drama to incredible season.

Red Bull pitted Verstappen for new soft tyres, while Hamilton stayed out in the lead on his older set.

While there were initially several lapped cars between them in the queue, Race Control instructed those to join the back of the pack on the penultimate tour and that recreated the Hamilton-Verstappen one-two in the queue for the final-lap restart.

Amid protestations from the Mercedes pit wall, the race resumed on the final lap of the race – and gripping season – and Verstappen overtook Hamilton down the inside at Turn Five to take the win and the crown away from his Mercedes rival.

Huge drama as Nicholas Latifi goes into the barriers during the Abu Dhabi GP

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Huge drama as Nicholas Latifi goes into the barriers during the Abu Dhabi GP

Huge drama as Nicholas Latifi goes into the barriers during the Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen becomes the first Dutchman to win the title and the second for Red Bull after Sebastian Vettel.

“It’s unbelievable,” said a disbelieving Verstappen. “Throughout the whole race I kept fighting and to have an opportunity on the last lap, it’s incredible. I’m having cramp. It’s insane.”

Despite the huge disappointment of the stunning late turnaround just as he appeared on the cusp of history, Hamilton sportingly went straight to congratulate Verstappen in parc ferme.

“Firstly congratulations to Max and to his team. I think we did an amazing job this year,” said F1’s outgoing champion. “My team, everyone back at the factory, have worked so hard this whole year, it’s been the most difficult of seasons. I’m so proud of them and I’m so grateful to be a part of the journey with them.

“This last part of the season we gave it absolutely everything and never gave up.”

More to follow…




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