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Max Verstappen Becomes Formula 1 Champion After Last-Lap Drama


Abu Dhabi: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has entered the Formula 1 annals after becoming the Netherlands’ first-ever world champion – and claiming his team’s first drivers’ title since 2013.

Following the conclusion of a blockbuster 2021 season, Verstappen earned the drivers’ crown after a duel with his title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale, winning out on the very last lap of a dramatic encounter.

The result, which saw Valtteri Bottas finish sixth and Sergio Perez retire, means Mercedes have clinched a record eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.

Medium-tyred Hamilton jumped soft-shod Verstappen at the start, while the Dutchman came back in Turn 6, nudging him wide and over the run-off, but the Mercedes driver continued in the lead. Stewards decided not to investigate.

The pit window opened when Verstappen came in on Lap 13, Hamilton a lap later, leaving Sergio Perez in the lead with the mission to hold off Hamilton.

Perez did exactly that, on Laps 20 to 21 – being dubbed a “legend” by his teammate as he let him past to continue the chase, before putting on Lap 22. The podium looked certain until he retired on Lap 56 under a Safety Car, which was brought out for a Nicholas Latifi crash.

That Safety Car, during which Verstappen pitted for soft tyres, left the race with just one lap of green flag racing remaining, producing another memorable moment in this epic season.

Verstappen did make the pass on Verstappen into Lap 5, the decisive move, and while Hamilton attempted to come back towards Turn 9, there was nothing he could do. History was made, as it was always going to be, and the trophy went to the Dutchman for the first time. 


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