Max Verstappen defeats Lewis Hamilton for Formula 1 world championship by winning Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has become the 2021 Formula 1 world champion after winning a controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton looked set to retain his title when he led the final race of the season by 11 seconds with fewer than 10 laps to go.

But a late safety car allowed Verstappen to pit for fresh tyres and then be on the back wheels of defending champion, Hamilton.

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The pair had one lap to fight for the win, with Verstappen overtaking on turn five in thrilling fashion.

It is the 24-year-old Red Bull driver’s first world championship, denying Hamilton a record-breaking eighth title.

It was controversial as Verstappen, despite being second, had several cars which had been lapped between him and Hamilton.

The initial message from race control was that those cars which had been lapped would not be allowed to go through and rejoin the lead lap at the back of the queue.

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But as the safety car was coming in to allow one final lap of racing, the race director allowed the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen through.

Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff was yelling over the radio to race director Michael Masi that it was not right.

The decision put Verstappen on the back wheel of Hamilton, with just one lap left in the final race of the season.

Verstappen wasted no time, diving down the inside at turn five and taking the lead.

Hamilton tried to respond, but on old and slower tyres he was no match for the Red Bull.

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“My goal when I was little was of course to become a Formula 1 driver and you hope for wins,” Verstappen said. 

“When you stand here and they tell you, you are the world champion, it is incredible.

“Throughout the whole race I just tried to keep on pushing, tried to keep believing in it.

Wolff was on the radio to Masi after the race, saying the race standings heading into the final lap should be the race results.

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“Toto, it’s called a motor race. It’s car racing,” Masi responded.

Red Bull felt aggrieved at the start of the race when Hamilton was not penalised for going off the track, preventing Verstappen to take the lead. 

The Mercedes driver got a brilliant start and took the lead of the grand prix.

Verstappen, sensing he needed to retake the lead as soon as possible, went for a lunge up the inside and kept the car within the track limits but forced Hamilton off. 

Hamilton kept the lead, which the race stewards deemed to be fine and declared it a racing incident which did not need to be punished. 

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From there Hamilton and Mercedes were in control.

They were able to build a healthy lead which they maintained throughout most of the race.

When a virtual safety car came out on lap 43, Verstappen pitted for fresher tyres.

He had 21 laps to overcome a 17-second deficit to Hamilton. 

The Mercedes driver was comfortably in the lead, holding an 11-second advantage when the full safety car came out.

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Live updates

By Michael Doyle

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More comments from Max

My goal when I was little was of course to become a Formula 1 driver, and you hope for wins.  

When you stand here and they tell you, you are the world champion, it is incredible. 

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By Michael Doyle

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Comments from the audience

There is a reason f1 got made into a Netflix drama series… what a finish!!!

-Jake

Hamilton was robbed!!!

-KD

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G’day Mick. Been following F1 since I was in primary school, hearing the F1 cars in Adelaide. 1986 is scarred in my brain. But this is something else. I must say I don’t like how this race has ended. Overtaking on the last lap is something, but not the build up to how it finished. This won’t age well, I’m afraid.

-Peter

By Michael Doyle

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Comments from Lewis Hamilton

Firstly a big congratulations to Max and his team. 

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We gave it everything.

The last part of the season we gave it everything. We never gave up.

By Michael Doyle

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Carlos Sainz finished third by the way

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By Michael Doyle

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Max Verstappen’s comments after the victory

“It’s unbelievable. I mean throughout the who race I kept fighting. I had the opportunity in the last lap. it’s incredible. It’s insane,’ he said. 

“Finally a bit of luck for me.” 

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By Michael Doyle

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That. Is. Just. Insane.

-Andrew

By Michael Doyle

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This will be talked about for years. Red Bull are elated. Mercedes devastated.

By Michael Doyle

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That is the most amazing race I have ever seen

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By Michael Doyle

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Key Event

MAX VERSTAPPEN WINS — MAX VERSTAPPEN IS WORLD CHAMPION

By Michael Doyle

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VERSTAPPEN LEADS THE RACE

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By Michael Doyle

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By Michael Doyle

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By Michael Doyle

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Max is on Hamilton’s wheel

By Michael Doyle

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LAPPED CARS HAVE OVERTAKEN AND THE SAFETY CAR IS IN

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By Michael Doyle

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Lapped cars will not be allowed to go through.

This means Verstappen has a lot of cars between him and Lewis. 

Red Bull are no happy.

“Yeah of course, typically decision,” Verstappen says. 

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By Michael Doyle

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Key Event

Four laps to go. Still under the safety car

Urgh hate to see a race finish under a safety car.

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By Michael Doyle

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Will we get any more racing laps?

It all depends on how long it takes to clear Latifi’s car and how long it takes to allow the lap cars through.

By Michael Doyle

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Christian Horner said they needed a mirical. They got it!

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By Michael Doyle

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VERSTAPPEN PITS FOR SOFT TYRES. HAMILTON IS STILL ON OLD HARD TYRES

By Michael Doyle

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Key Event

LAP 53: SAFETY CAR. Nicholas Latifi crashes



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