Max Verstappen has been crowned the new Formula One world champion after passing Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, December 12, 2021.
With five laps to go in the Sunday finale, Verstappen (Red Bull) was trailing Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) by 10 seconds, with the race looking like it was going to be a record-breaking eighth title for the British driver, but a crash for Williams driver Nicolas Latifi threw the race in a different direction.
On the penultimate lap, a safety car appeared and then left the track, allowing for one more lap of racing, during which Verstappen overtook Hamilton in the most dramatic of racing finishes.
Max Verstappen was mobbed by his teammates after crossing the finish line to claim his first world title.
Verstappen went into the final in top form, starting from pole after a mercurial lap in Saturday’s final qualifying session.
Verstappen, a Dutch racer, had won more races this season before the grand prix on Sunday.
He would have also been crowned champion if both he and Hamilton had failed to finish, raising the possibility of a collision if Verstappen finds himself side by side with Hamilton.
Such was the fervor surrounding this championship game. It was also the first time in over a decade that two Formula One racers had the same number of points heading into the final race.
A win for Hamilton would have made him the most successful racer of all time, breaking Michael Schumacher’s record.
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WHAT AN ENDING!
Max Verstappen wins his first World Championship! 😱🚨
— theScore (@theScore) December 12, 2021