Lewis Hamilton wins chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix amidst controversy after collision with Max Verstappen; world championship to be decided in Abu Dhabi


British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton on Sunday won the chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after sensationally colliding with his fierce competitor Max Verstappen, who was handed a five-second penalty. The victory in Saudi Arabia coupled with an additional point for completing the fastest lap meant that Hamilton and Verstappen are now tied with equal number of points with one more race to go in Abu Dhabi next week.

The winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be crowned the world champion. Already a seven-time World Championship winner, Hamilton has a chance to be declared the most successful F1 driver ever if he wins the next race.

The inaugural race in Saudi Arabia on Sunday was marred by several incidents leading to the suspension of the competition twice.

Hamilton had started the race from the pole position with his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at second position. However, very early in the race, Haas driver Mick Schumacher crashed at turn 22 with debris strewn all over the circuit. The safety car was deployed but organisers decided to suspend the race, giving an unexpected advantage to Verstappen, who was allowed to change his tyres without having to avail a pit stop under the existing rules.

Both Hamilton and Bottas had already gone for one pit stop during the safety car deployment.

However, Hamilton kept chasing Verstappen and causing him constant grief. Meanwhile, the race had to stop for the second time after couple of more crashes including Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez who had to bow out of the race after a collision with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. This development dealt a huge blow to Red Bull’s chances of winning this year’s constructors’ title.

When the race started for the third time, Race Director Michael Masi informed Red Bull that Verstappen will have to start from the third position behind Ocon and Hamilton.

Verstappen took the lead leaving Hamilton third. But soon the British driver overtook Ocon and resumed his intense chase. At the 37th lap, Hamilton overtook Verstappen but soon the Dutch driver refused to cede, forcing both the drivers to go off the track.

This prompted Masi to inform Red Bull that Verstappen had to hand the leader’s position back to Hamilton. Just when the Red Bull driver tried to do so, a confused Hamilton also slowed down his car. Verstappen applied brake, forcing Hamilton to partially collide with his rival’s car. This damaged the Mercedes driver’s front wing.

Hamilton was later allowed to go in front with Verstappen finishing as the first runner up. Bottas also drove incredibly fast to finish third in the last few meters of the race.

A visibly unhappy Verstappen did not wait at the podium after being given his trophy. He was perhaps peeved at being given a five-second penalty as well as asked to hand the leader’s position back to his rival.