Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton on final lap to win F1 world title in Abu Dhabi


Max Verstappen secured his first Formula One world championship victory in a dramatic and highly controversial season decider at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.


Mercedes, however, have protested against the result of the race with both teams now having to report to the stewards.


Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has called the decision to turn the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix into a one-lap shootout for the title as “unacceptable” in a heated exchange with race director Michael Masi.


Masi had previously said that cars would not be allowed to move in front of the lapped cars, but then appeared to reverse his decision, and Verstappen drove a supreme lap to beat Hamilton to the line.


The Red Bull driver passed title rival Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the race after benefiting from a late safety car.


“Michael, you need to reinstate the previous lap. That was unacceptable,” Wolff said on the team radio. “That is not right.”


In response, Masi retaliated saying: “Toto, that is called motor racing.”


William's driver, Nicholas Latifi’s crash into the wall with four laps of the season-deciding race to go, proved decisive, as it gave Verstappen the opportunity to pit for fresh soft tyres and line up behind Hamilton as the green flag waved.

Verstappen, 24, is the first Dutchman to have won the F1 world championship and it comes in his seventh season in F1.


This year he has won 10 and delivered some exceptional, relentlessly confident and controlled drives for Red Bull. Seven-time champion Hamilton, similarly didn't go down without a fight. He was confident, had a great appetite to race and compete, and is likely to add more titles to his tally next season.


Meanwhile, Hamilton made a fantastic start from second on the grid, taking the lead into turn one, despite being on the slower medium tyres.


He had opened up a two-second gap by lap eight as they settled into a rhythm leaving the rest of the field behind. Verstappen was struggling with his tyres and Hamilton took a 5 sec lead on his more durable rubber.


Verstappen pitted on lap 14 to take the hard rubber and Mercedes matched the stop to avoid the undercut a lap later, also taking the hard tyres and he emerged still 5 sec clear and increasing the lead further to 17 sec, with Verstappen doing his best to track him down. Verstappen pushed hard and took some time out but Hamilton was able to maintain his lead despite his used rubber. The gap came down to 14sec by lap 43 but he was not clawing enough back.


Then with the FIA having announced lapped cars could not overtake to move them out of the way, they gave the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen permission to do so – a very controversial decision that Mercedes are appealing against.

Hamilton and Verstappen's relationship, initially one of mutual respect, has deteriorated this season as the intensity has grown and the accusations between teams have flown, growing increasingly fractious. This was a conflict fought on may fronts, with the two drivers locked in a battle of securing the championship.


On the race, Hamilton congratulated Verstappen, saying he will be back next season in a bid to reclaim his title.


“A big congratulations to Max and to his team,” Hamilton said.


“We did an amazing job this year. It’s been the most difficult of seasons, we gave it everything, this last part of the season, we never gave up and that’s the most important thing.”


George Russell, who will join Mercedes next season, sided with Wolff as he watched the closing stages of the races following his early retirement.


“THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!,” the Williams driver tweeted.












“Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.”