Down to the last race: F1 rivals tied for lead after late collision

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Dec 2021, 10:56AM
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, front, and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain in action t during the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Photo / AP
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, front, and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain in action t during the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Photo / AP

Down to the last race: F1 rivals tied for lead after late collision

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Dec 2021, 10:56AM

As if the Formula One title race between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton didn't need any more drama. The two drivers will head into the final race tied for first after an action-packed Saudi Arabia Grand Prix today which saw Hamilton take the lead with six laps remaining. 

The battle for the 2021 championship got more testier today after Hamilton rammed into the back of Verstappen in a strange incident late in the race before later passing the Dutchman and claiming a vital win in the penultimate race of the season. 

Verstappen was told by his Red Bull team to let Hamilton pass him after a passing incident on the previous lap. The Dutchman slowed in the middle of the track which saw the Mercedes driver nudge into the back of him damaging his front wing. 

Hamilton claimed to his Mercedes crew that Verstappen attempted to 'brake test' him as it appeared he had no idea Red Bull were conceding the place to him. 

Despite the front wing damage, Hamilton was able to race on which proved vital. 

Eventually Verstappen let Hamilton pass again, only to take the lead back and then let Hamilton through again in a bizarre sequence. 

What resulted was a win for Hamilton, his eighth of the season and third straight, and it means the two rivals head to the final race in Abu Dhabi next Monday with zero points between them after Hamilton took the win, pole and fastest lap. 

"Lewis, that has got to be the craziest race I can remember," Hamilton's engineer radioed after he crossed the finish line. 

"Great job, guys, great job!" Hamilton replied. "That's more like it, let's keep pushing!" 

A dejected Verstappen, who has seen his hold on the title race evaporate over the last three races, was dejected. 

"It is what it is," the Dutchman said. "I tried, at least." 

Due to a tight street course and early incidents, the race had three red flags and safety car restarts, taking more than two hours. 

Esteban Ocon was denied his second podium of the year when Valtteri Bottas pipped him for third over the finish line but it was all about the two cars in front of them as it will be next weekend in the final race. 

Hamilton is the four-time defending F1 champion and seeking an eighth title to break the all-time record he shares with Michael Schumacher. The 24-year-old Verstappen is seeking his first championship and had dominated the season for Red Bull until this late three-race charge by Mercedes and Hamilton. 

With AP