Mercedes' Hamilton Takes Win in First Saudi Arabian GP After Chaotic Battle With Verstappen
18:26 GMT 05.12.2021 (Updated: 20:57 GMT 05.12.2021)
The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix automobile race has been riddled with controversy and mayhem as top racers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen fought for the win. The two now head to Abu Dhabi tied in the points with 369.5 each.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton clinched the win at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday, a move that will now see the final race of the season determine whether the 7-time champion will obtain his eighth title. Top rival Max Verstappen ended the race in second place.
Hamilton's win, however, was not the easiest by far, as Red Bull's Max Verstappen went toe-to-toe with the champion driver throughout the entire 50 laps on the circuit. The drivers went wheel-to-wheel on three occasions at the first corner, with Verstappen eventually being told to give back position to Hamilton.
The first order to return the first place position to Hamilton ended with the Mercedes driver clipping his front wing on the Red Bull car, a development that instantly sent shockwaves throughout the Mercedes garage and saw team principal Toto Wolff smash his headphones in a fit of rage.
In the end, Verstappen was issued a five-second time penalty that saw him officially end the race 11.825 seconds behind Hamilton. While the Red Bull driver's chances at clinching the world title appear to have evaporated over the last three races, he retains one last chance in Abu Dhabi to steal the championship.
Speaking after the award ceremony, Verstappen described the race as having been "quite eventful" before adding that "a lot of things happened which I don't fully agree with but it is what it is."
Hamilton offered similar remarks on the tense race, referring to the match-up as0 "incredibly rough." He further noted that he "didn't quite understand" why Verstappen had slammed the breaks during the decreed position swap.
Some officials have suggested that a lack of communication resulted in the race blip.
Following the post-race interview and ceremony, both drivers were summoned to the steward's office.
Overall, the 30-kilometer inaugural street race in the coastal Saudi city of Jeddah was marred by three standing starts, two restarts and multiple safety cars after the quick track prompted the early retirement of five drivers - Hass' Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, Williams' George Russell, Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Sergio Perez. Troubles began just 14 laps into the race.
This race is such a beautiful mess.— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) December 5, 2021
i appear to be watching the European cuban missile crisis— Walter Hickey (@WaltHickey) December 5, 2021
The final F1 race will take place on Saturday. Both Hamilton and Verstappen will be going into the Abu Dhabi race with 369.5 points each. Verstappen, however, will be going in the top spot, as he's won more races than Hamilton during the 2021 calendar. Should both drivers not finish, Verstappen would take the win, clinching his first F1 championship.