Max Verstappen is a Formula 1 champion at last, and though the circumstances of his triumph over Lewis Hamilton were controversial, his place in the pantheon of motorsport greats is secure.

Max Verstappen is the 2021 world champion after a chaotic and controversial single-lap dash with Lewis Hamilton to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has beaten Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 world championship in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Mercedes is protesting the outcome after a last-lap safety car restart turned the race on its head.

Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and sensationally claim the 2021 Formula 1 world championship.

The Dutchman had been on course for a sound defeat to Hamilton, who jumped Verstappen off the line and controlled the race, until five laps from the finish, when a safety car was deployed to clean up Nicholas Latifi’s wrecked Williams, which had come to a crashed end in the barriers at Turn 14.

Hamilton didn’t have the margin on Verstappen to make a safety stop, gifting the Dutchman a free switch to a set of softs to combat the Briton’s badly worn hard rubber.

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Max Verstappen will start on pole in the race of his life, but Lewis Hamilton from second will have the more favourable strategy to fight for the title in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand prix.

Max Verstappen raises a first in celebration

Max Verstappen has snatched the all-important pole position from championship rival Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen stunned championship rival Lewis Hamilton by taking a comfortable pole position for the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton started qualifying as the favorite after a strong series of practice sessions, whereas a lackluster Saturday practice left the Dutchman as the underdog, the Red Bull Racing car apparently off the pace.

Matters seemed to get only worse for Verstappen in Q2, when a lock-up on what should have been his race-starting set of medium tires forced him to switch to softs and what is thought to be an inferior strategy for the grand prix.

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Lewis Hamilton will start the crucial final qualifying session as the fastest man after beating title rival Max Verstappen in final practice in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton blazed a blistering pace throughout the hour, which he spent predominantly on the fastest soft-compound tire, progressively lowering the bar until he was more than a second quicker than Verstappen with 10 minutes remaining with a best time of 1m23.274s.

Verstappen’s first half-hour was more subdued, spent on the slower medium-compound tire before being recalled to his garage for a rear wing change. Red Bull Racing had identified a potential reliability issue and mechanics were seen analyzing the DRS actuator — a known problem part for the RB16B — before making the wholesale change to the car to try to maintain a lower-downforce package in an attempt to keep pace with Mercedes down the straights.

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Lewis Hamilton laid down the gauntlet in the second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while title rival Max Verstappen — who led the way in the opening session — trailed off the pace.

Mercedes’ Hamilton spent the hour lowering the benchmark, first on the medium tires and later on the softs for his qualifying simulation run as the sun set and the track cooled. After a false start with a lock-up, he embarked on his ultimate lap, lowering the benchmark to 1m23.691s, which stood until the end of the session.

The practice session was red flagged as the clock expired when Kimi Raikkonen endured a heavy smash through Turn 13 exiting the hotel section of the track. The Finn, who is entering his final Formula 1 grand prix this weekend, lost the rear of his Alfa Romeo as he navigated the off-camber turn, smacking into the barriers rear first before rotating sideways, dealing his car substantial damage and ensuring a long night for his mechanics.

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Max Verstappen claimed top spot in first practice at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton had his best time deleted for exceeding track limits.

The Dutchman used two sets of soft-compound tires to set a time of 1m 25.009s, pipping Valtteri Bottas by 0.196s despite complaining of a right-leaning steering wheel during the first half of the session.

Lewis Hamilton had taken second spot with a fresh set of softs of his own to trail Verstappen by just 0.033s, but the time was erased for running wide exiting the last corner, dropping him to third and 0.346s short of his title rival. Sergio Perez completed the top four just 0.008s further adrift.

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You simply couldn’t write it. After 21 rounds Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are tied on points and brimming with animosity after a dynamite inaugural grand prix in Saudi Arabia, and it’s anyone’s guess who’s going to leave Abu Dhabi with the championship this weekend.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was always going to be memorable for setting the scene for the last race of the season, but a chaotic inaugural event in Jeddah delivered plenty of its own highlights.

Lewis Hamilton has accused Max Verstappen of dirty driving after scraping home to a controversial victory against his title rival at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, levelling the scores ahead of the final race of the season.

Lewis Hamilton has won a chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after crashing twice with title rival Max Verstappen to zero the championship with one race remaining.

The first-ever race in Jeddah ended acrimoniously, with the warring title rivals accusing each other of dirty driving and toxic tactics after three standing restarts, two red flags and a string of virtual safety cars that stretched and shrunk the gap between the leaders throughout before Verstappen waved Hamilton into the lead after intervention from race control.

The grand prix started tamely, with Hamilton leading teammate Valtteri Bottas easily off the line to hold Verstappen in third, but the calm lasted only nine laps, when the first safety car was deployed to clean up Mick Schumacher’s high-speed crash at Turn 22.

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Lewis Hamilton has eased his way to pole position after championship leader Max Verstappen smashed his car at the death of a thrilling qualifying hour in Saudi Arabia.

Lewis Hamilton topped second practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after the session was truncated to clean up a high-speed crash by Charles Leclerc crash.

The session had settled into a rhythm of long-run simulation with five minutes remaining in the hour when Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari through the rapid Turn 22 bend. The rear of his car stepped out as he navigated the left-hander, spinning the car backwards into the barriers in a 120mph smash.

Leclerc thankfully emerged unscathed but winded, though the car was substantially damaged, precipitating a long night for the Ferrari mechanics.

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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton set the early benchmark at the first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, topping first practice ahead of title rival Max Verstappen.

In a busy but controlled exploratory first sample of the circuit, Hamilton waited until late in the session to find pace with a new set of soft tires, setting a time of 1m29.786s to end the opening practice hour atop the time sheet.

Championship leader Verstappen was only 0.056s slower than Hamilton, but his practice performance was eye-catching more for his flurry of confidently aggressive early laps on the hard tire, the best time of which was less than 0.2s slower than his ultimate lap.

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Red Bull Racing is scrambling to keep Max Verstappen’s title campaign alive against Lewis Hamilton, who’s found form just in the nick of time.