Mercedes protested after Max Verstappen won the F1 world title in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes lodged two protests after Max Verstappen won the F1 title; passing Lewis Hamilton on the final lap after the safety car departed, in a thrilling but controversial fashion.
Max Verstappen won his first World Championship in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season-ending. Lewis Hamilton finished second as the race ended with a nail-biting last-lap sprint after a late Safety Car. The result gave Mercedes a record eighth consecutive constructors’ championships when Valtteri Bottas finished sixth, and Sergio Perez retired.
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Medium-tyred Hamilton jumped the soft-shod Verstappen right at the start. The Dutchman came back in Turn 6, edging Hamilton wide and over the run-off, but the Mercedes driver held his lead. The Stewards opted not to investigate.
Verstappen made his pit stop on Lap 13, and a lap later, Hamilton, leaving Sergio Perez in the lead with the job to hold off Hamilton.
Perez, dubbed a “legend” by his teammate, did precisely that on Laps 20 to 21. Allowing Verstappen to pass, before pitting on Lap 22. Again, the podium looked certain until he retired on Lap 56 under a Safety Car, brought out for a Nicholas Latifi crash.
That Safety Car, during which Verstappen, left with just one lap of green flag racing remaining; pitted for soft tires and produced another memorable moment of this epic season. Verstappen made the pass on Hamilton into Lap 5, the decisive move. Hamilton attempted to come back as the duo neared Turn 9, but there was nothing doing. So it’s now history, with the trophy going to the Dutchman for the first time.
The final podium place went to Carlos Sainz, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P4 – while AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly rounded out the top five.
Valtteri Bottas struggled to P6, running as low as eighth; and losing a potential podium spot from fourth to sixth under the final Safety Car.
Alpine took points with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon eighth and ninth; respectively, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc rounding out the top 10.
Alfa Romeo suffered a double retirement as Kimi Raikkonen bowed out on Lap 26, teammate Antonio Giovinazzi 10 laps later. Latifi was Williams’ second retiree after George Russell bowed out from his tenure with the team with a loss of drive on Lap 27.
Mercedes and Red Bull, therefore, shared the spoils in this incredible season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, fit for a season that will no doubt go down as one of the greatest ever.
Most people who tuned in for this race probably enjoyed the drama; and thought it was a fantastic end to a world championship. The two best drivers were racing head to head on the last lap. You couldn’t ask for more. One driver raced better than the other and is now the champion.
Sean Duffy says F1 is dying. Watching Hamilton win behind a safety car would have switched them right off.”