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Max Verstappen wins 2021 Formula 1 Championship

The Repco Garage will stray away from its usual Australian-based content for today as in controversial circumstances Dutchman Max Verstappen took his first Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship in a thrilling last lap battle.

Verstappen defeated seven-time title winner and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton in a last lap duel where the Red Bull driver took advantage of brand new soft compound tyres to overtake the Mercedes on worn hards to snatch the crown by eight-points.

In what has been a particularly fiery season where the Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry has stepped up significantly in what has been the closest fight in sometime as highlighted by this being the first time Mercedes has been defeated in the hybrid era.

For most of last night’s event it appeared Hamilton was in the box seat after beating his rival off the start, then withstanding a big attack from Verstappen, which forced the Mercedes off the road. No investigation was required for the incident as Red Bull quizzed Australian Race Director Michael Masi about Hamilton leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

The seven-time champion continued to extend his lead as Verstappen’s softer compound tyres fell away.

Verstappen pitted for hards, while Hamilton did likewise a lap later to swap to the same compound from his mediums as he encountered the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, leading to an exciting battle between the two. This enabled Verstappen to close, however once Perez took himse;f out of the battle Hamilton continued to extend his margin.

A virtual safety car was needed to recover Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi providing an opportunity for Verstappen to fit new tyres as Hamilton remained on his hards as he managed his gap.

It wasn’t until the Williams of Nicholas Latifi crashed when the race heated up. A full safety car was required allowing Verstappen to again fit new tyres, this time softs as five lapped cars split him from Hamilton.

This soon changed as Masi made the bold call to allow lapped the entries to overtake setting up a one lap dash to the finish, which now favoured Verstappen as Hamilton was on his older hard compound tyres.

So once the race restarted Verstappen took his opportunity at Turn 5, passing Hamilton to become the first World Drivers’ Championship winner to come from the Netherlands.

Mercedes protested post-race twice, with both dismissed, but has lodged its intention to appeal the dismissal of its Abu Dhabi protests.

Carlos Sainz rounded out a season of improvement for Ferrari in third, while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top five.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo rounded out his first season with McLaren in a disappointing 12th, but finished eighth in the driver classification.