Max Verstappen ripped a record eighth title away from Lewis Hamilton with a pass on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi GP to close one of the most thrilling Formula One seasons in years as the first Dutch world champion.
Hamilton was cruising past Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles Sunday in a race he controlled until Nicholas Latifi crashed with five laps remaining. F1 sent out the safety car for a cleanup and resumed the race with one lap remaining.
Hamilton and Verstappen started side-by-side for one final trip around Yas Marina Circuit and the British driver surged to the lead. Verstappen stalked him through the first four turns then made his pass in turn five and pulled away in his Red Bull.
It was a fitting end to a season that saw the two contenders go wheel-to-wheel over 22 races spanning four continents and arrive in Abu Dhabi tied in the championship standings. It marked the first time the contenders were equal at the season finale since 1974.
Hamilton fans, however, believe that rules were tweaked to make Verstappen win the Championship and called it a cheating.
Here are the reactions:
— Ibrahim Khadra (@IbrahimKhadra) December 12, 2021
Winning by cheating is not winning
— Cyril Zuma (@cyrilzuma) December 12, 2021
‘Drive to Survive’ made F1 big from an entertainment perspective so the governing body decides to fix the end of this race purely for entertainment.
The only way to beat the best driver in the sport’s history is through blatant cheating.
— Haroun Hickman (@HarounHickman) December 12, 2021
— Lewis Updates (@LH44updates) December 12, 2021
Cheating on live TV and there’s NO ONE that is able to stop this https://t.co/I4gDn2JXyt
— Rashi (@HAMazingLew) December 12, 2021
It’s ok @LewisHamilton we know your the true 8th time world champion and you drove your heart out. No one can say Max won this season without cheating. Keep your head up man.#LewisHamilton #HistoryAwaits #F1Finale #AbuDabhiGP pic.twitter.com/mhJmxaVfkV
— logan calhoun (@logan_calhoun) December 12, 2021
With inputs from PTI