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  • Updated: December 12, 2021

Formula One: Verstappen Dethrones Hamilton To Become First Dutch World Champion

Max Verstappen became the first Dutchman ever to win the Formula One world championship title when he won a dramatic season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, prompting Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team to contest the outcome.

The Red Bull driver took advantage of a second safety car to overtake seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton on the final lap after Nicholas Latifi crashed.

Just as it seemed Hamilton was heading for his eighth world title, Verstappen took advantage of a crash by Nicholas Latifi that effectively set up a one-lap dash for the title.

Verstappen and Hamilton, who began the race level on points, started that lap wheel to wheel but the 24-year-old Red Bull driver pulled away to take the chequered flag.

It was a compelling end to a championship for the ages, played out over 22 spell-binding acts.

Hamilton had been coasting towards bettering Michael Schumacher's seven world crowns, prompting Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to say: "We need a miracle."

It came in the unlikely shape of Latifi, who crashed his Williams, with Verstappen promptly pitting for fresh tyres.

When racing resumed for the 58th and closing lap at the Yas Marina circuit Verstappen barged past Hamilton to take the chequered flag, sparking joy on the Red Bull pitwall and fury at Mercedes.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff lodged appeals over the result, claiming the rules governing safety car procedures had been breached.

After a lengthy hearing, the stewards rejected the protests.

Verstappen was meanwhile revelling in his new status as world champion.

"It's insane," he said. "My goal when I was little was to be a Formula One driver. You dream of podiums and victories. But when they tell you that you are world champion, it's incredible."

Hamilton was magnanimous in defeat, embracing his nemesis and saying: "Congratulations to Max and his team".

The 36-year-old Briton added: "We gave it everything this last part of the season and never gave up, that's the most important thing."

The deposed champion's father Anthony was then seen congratulating both Verstappen and the freshly-minted champion's father Jos, himself a former F1 driver.

Verstappen and Hamilton had approached the winner-takes-all denouement in the desert level on points.

It was the first time two title rivals had been in that position since 1974 when Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni were neck and neck going into the final race.

Fittingly the title protagonists filled the front row, Verstappen on pole after a flying lap in qualifying.

But Hamilton got off to a blinding start, beating Verstappen to the first bend.

The Dutch driver lunged to reclaim the lead on Turn Seven, forcing his arch-rival off the track.

The Briton rejoined in front, but the race stewards controversially decided no investigation was necessary, sparking incredulity in the Red Bull enclosure.

"We're a little bit shocked," said Horner. "That is incredible, what are they doing here?" Verstappen complained over the team radio.

After a dozen laps Hamilton had pulled over five seconds clear of Verstappen, struggling for pace on softs.

The Dutchman pitted on lap 14, rejoining in fifth.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX RESULTS

1. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda) 1hr 30min 17.345sec
2. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) at 2.256sec
3. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari) 5.173
4. Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Honda) 5.692
5. Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda) 6.531
6. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) 7.463
7. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 59.200
8. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault) 1:01.708
9. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault) 1:04.026
10. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:06.057
11. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:07.527
12. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) 1 lap
13. Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1 lap
14. Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari) 1 lap
15. Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull-Honda) retired

Fastest lap: Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda) 1:26.103 on lap 40

Retirements: Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, lap 26), George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes, lap 27), Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, lap 34), Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes, 51)

Did not start: Nikita Mazepin (RUS/Haas-Ferrari)

FINAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 22 races):

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (NED) 395.5 pts
2. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 387.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 226
4. Sergio Perez (MEX) 190
5. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 164.5
6. Lando Norris (GBR) 160
7. Charles Leclerc (MON) 159
8. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 115
9. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 110
10. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 81
11. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 74
12. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 43
13. Lance Stroll (CAN) 34, 14
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) 32
15. George Russell (GBR) 16
16. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) 10
17. Nicholas Latifi (CAN) 7
18. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) 3
19. Nikita Mazepin (RUS) 0
20. Mick Schumacher (GER) 0
21. Robert Kubica (POL) 0

Constructors

1. Mercedes 613.5 pts
2. Red Bull-Honda 585.5
3. Ferrari 323.5
4. McLaren-Mercedes 275
5. Alpine-Renault 155
6. AlphaTauri-Honda 142
7. Aston Martin-Mercedes 77
8. Williams-Mercedes 23
9. Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari 13
10. Haas-Ferrari 0

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Oladimeji Balogun
Oladimeji Balogun

Oladimeji Balogun is a graduate of the University of Ilorin where he studied Microbiology, he is a w...

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