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Max Verstappen wins first world title after Mercedes' protests rejected

Max Verstappen clinched his first Formula One world title when he won a dramatic season-ending Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen wins first world title after Mercedes protests rejected
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Max Verstappen clinched his first Formula One world title when he won a dramatic season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, but only after two protests from Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team were rejected.

Just as it seemed Hamilton was heading for his eighth world title, Verstappen took advantage of a crash by Nicholas Latifi that effectively set up a one-lap dash for the title.

Verstappen and Hamilton, who had begun the race level on points, started that final lap wheel to wheel but the 24-year-old Red Bull driver pulled away to take the chequered flag. It was a compelling end to a championship for the ages, played out over 22 spell-binding acts.

Hamilton had been coasting towards bettering Michael Schumacher's seven world crowns, prompting Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to say: "We need a miracle."

It came in the unlikely shape of Latifi, who crashed his Williams, with Dutchman Verstappen promptly pitting for fresh tyres while Hamilton did not. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff lodged appeals over the result, claiming the rules governing safety car procedures had been breached.

After a lengthy hearing, the stewards rejected the protests. Mercedes announced their intention to contest the verdict and have 96 hours to formalise or withdraw an official appeal.

So this extraordinary title race could still finish in the hands of the lawyers. For now though, Verstappen revelled in his new status as world champion.

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