Dec 13 (CNN) – Max Verstappen clinched his first Formula One World Championship after beating Lewis Hamilton in a controversial season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
This season had been heralded as one of the greatest in the sport’s history and the title race went down to one of the most “insane” final laps possible.
Hamilton had all but won his record-breaking eighth world title until Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers with four laps remaining, resulting in the safety car being called out.
It meant the race restarted on the final lap, with Verstappen allowed to start almost side-by-side Hamilton, despite the Brit having established a healthy lead.
The Dutchman, on new tires, had the pace to overtake his rival and win one of the most dramatic F1 races ever.
“It’s insane. I don’t know what to say. I’m so pleased for the team and for all these guys. I love working with them so much,” an emotional and slightly stunned Verstappen, 24, said after the race. “Finally, today, I had a bit of luck. My team know I love them and I want to do this with them for the next 10 or 15 years!”
The victory means Verstappen prevented Hamilton from surpassing the record he still shares with racing legend Michael Schumacher.
Mercedes later confirmed it had lodged a formal protest at the end of the race.