Max Verstappen crowned F1 world champion – Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes ‘shellshocked’

Max Verstappen clinched his first F1 Drivers’ Championship title ahead of Lewis Hamilton by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a historic end to a thrilling season on Sunday. The 24-year-old managed to pass his Mercedes rival on the final lap after a last-gasp safety car period in what is likely to be remembered as the most controversial finish to any Formula One race in history.

Hamilton began the race behind Verstappen on the front row of the grid but made a flying start to take the lead into Turn One.

They went on to make contact with each other in Turn Five in another controversial twist to this season’s tale, but the incident was not investigated by the race stewards.

The Mercedes man kept his advantage and began to pull away from Verstappen, who was simply not quick enough to lay a glove on his opposite number for the majority of the contest.

Red Bull did all they could to throw the kitchen sink at Hamilton, with Sergio Perez brilliantly slowing his progress by holding him up before the Mexican was called in for his first pit stop of the afternoon.

However, a late safety car gave Verstappen one final opportunity to fight his way back into the contest on a fresh set of softs, with the Dutchman duly obliging on the final lap to clinch the honours in the most extraordinary circumstances.

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