Max Verstappen won his first-ever Formula One world championship title last night, in a showdown with Lewis Hamilton that dramatically (and controversially) went down to the final lap, with some F1 fans declaring Hamilton was “robbed.”

The two racing drivers were neck-and-neck on points heading into the highly anticipated final race of the season and Hamilton appeared to be taking home his eighth title with a comfortable lead over Verstappen in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But of course, you have to expect the unexpected in motorsport as a late crash from Williams driver Nicholas Latifi with just six laps to go threw a curveball and ultimately changed the course of the race.

As stewards cleared up the Williams car, race director Michael Masi made the decision to not allow lapped cars to pass leader Hamilton, nor the safety car, meaning the lapped cars remained in between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner expressed his dismay over this decision and urged Masi over the radio to allow the drivers to have at least one racing lap.

Masi changed his mind to allow lapped cars in between the title challengers to pass the safety car so it meant Verstappen and Hamilton were next to each other to race in the final lap.

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With newer and faster tyres, Verstappen had the advantage over Hamilton who had been using the same tyres since lap 14. So when the time came the Dutch driver pounced, driving wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton before he flew past the Mercedes at turn five.

As this last-minute drama unfolded, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff expressed his anger at Masi over the radio over changing his mind.

The seven-times world champion did battle back at turn nine – but in the end, Verstappen was able to pull away to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Formula One championship.

“It’s insane. I don’t know what to say,” Verstappen said after his win. “I’m so pleased for the team and for all these guys. I love working with them so much.

“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!”

Despite missing out on overtaking Michael Schumacher’s record of seven championship wins, Hamilton remained gracious in his defeat.

“Firstly, big congratulations to Max and to his team,” he said.

“But I’m so proud of my own team and we gave it absolutely everything. I’ve felt great in the car the last couple of months. We’ll see what happens next year.”

While the race may have finished, the drama continued off the track as Mercedes immediately launched two appeals against the result – one appeal against Verstappen for allegedly overtaking under a safety car and a second claiming regulation was breached in regards to race restarts by not allowing all the lapped cars to overtake Hamilton and the safety car.

However, both appeals were dismissed and Verstappen was confirmed as champion, hours after he crossed the chequered flag.

Many fans were not happy with how the events turned panned out and took to social media to slam the decision by Masi.

Former world champion Damon Hill perfectly summed up the divided feelings around the race result, before noting how the decision made by Masi has been “a bit too ‘guess what I’m going to do now.’”

Tottenham and England footballer Harry Kane said how he’s “new to F1” but felt there are “some bizarre rules that give an unfair advantage like today.”

Broadcaster Piers Morgan also felt the decisions made were unfair, tweeting: “I don’t know what I’ve just watched but it can’t be right. Hamilton’s been robbed, surely?”

And football pundit Gary Lineker was unimpressed with the outcome of the race.

Plenty of fans agreed with this point of view, believing that Hamilton has been “robbed.”

Some have even called on Masi to be fired from his position as race director.

The drama could be set to continue into the next coming days after Mercedes have lodged an intention to appeal against the call. They have 96 hours to decide whether to go through with this challenge.

Guess we will have to wait and see...

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