Max Verstappen has emerged as a champion from a unique season of F1. He beat Lewis Hamilton to the spot on the final lap of the final race on Sunday.
The road to the final race was full of drama but it was unexpected as to how the race ended. The tension spilled over from the track to the stewards’ room when Mercedes lodged appeals against the outcome, both of which were rejected.
Hamilton had a handful of laps left and was ready to have his hands on an unprecedented eighth world title.
As he coasted towards a win that would have bettered Michael Schumacher’s 7 world championships, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was heard to say: “We need a miracle.”
A Miracle For Max Verstappen
The miracle came in the form of Nicholas Latifi, who crashed his Williams 4 laps from the end and had triggered the appearance of the safety car. Max Verstappen pulled into the pit, promptly, and got new tires for himself, while Lewis chose not to.
When racing resumed for the 58th and final lap, Max Verstappen on his fresh tires barged past Hamilton to take the chequered flag and his first title, sparking joy on the Red Bull pit wall and fury at Mercedes.
As Max Verstappen celebrated, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was thumbing through the FIA’s regulations to check the protocol on safety car procedures.
Sure enough, the men from Mercedes lodged appeals against the result.
Long after the spectators had departed the Yas Marina track, an FIA hearing delivered its verdict, rejecting the protests to confirm Verstappen as the first Dutchman to lift the crown.
But this matter could rumble on for days, with Mercedes convinced they have a valid case.