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

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during the F1 Grand Prix of France at Circuit Paul Ricard on June 20, 2021 in Le Castellet, France.
Bryn Lennon | Formula 1 | Getty Images

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 leading from the start but a late crash for Nicholas Latifi’s Williams brought out the Safety Car and created all manner of drama to an incredible season.

Red Bull pitted Verstappen for new soft tyres, while Hamilton stayed out in the lead on his older tyre. While there were initially several lapped cars between them in the queue, Race Control instructed lapped cars to join the back of the pack on the penultimate tour and that recreated the Hamilton-Verstappen one-two in the queue for the restart.

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

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

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