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Max Verstappen joy at dramatic first F1® world title


Hamilton was in charge of much of the title decider.

Max Verstappen admitted it was an "unbelievable" and "incredible" feeling after snatching his first Formula 1® world championship in the most dramatic fashion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen entered the final race of a gripping season level on points with Lewis Hamilton, who was seeking a record-breaking eighth drivers' title.


The Red Bull star found it a struggle to match Hamilton, who was in charge of much of the title decider.

However, his team's decision to pit and opt for fresh tyres late in the race while Hamilton did not – as well as the necessary intervention of a safety car with four laps remaining – proved decisive.

Verstappen subsequently passed the defending champion at Turn 5 on the final lap – much to the dismay of an incensed Mercedes team – and became Red Bull's second world champion, after Sebastian Vettel.

"It's unbelievable," Verstappen said. "Throughout the whole race, I kept fighting, then there was the opportunity in the last lap. It's incredible.

"I don't know what to say. My team and Honda deserve it. Finally, a bit of luck for me!

"My team know I love them; I hope we can do this for 10, 15 years together. I don't want to change ever. I want to stay with them for the rest of my life, if they will have me.

"I'm so happy. Our goal was to win this championship when we came together and now we have done that."

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Verstappen added: "My goal when I was little was to become an F1 driver. You hope for wins, you hope to be on the podium, when they play the national anthem, you one day hope they'll play yours.

"Now, standing here and they tell you you're the world champion is something incredible."

Verstappen also paid tribute to rival Hamilton, whose wait for that eighth world title goes on.

"Lewis is an amazing driver, an amazing competitor," Verstappen said.

"They made it really, really hard for us. The two teams went against each other and we had some tough times, but that's part of sport and the emotion, everyone wants to win.

"It could have gone either way today and next year, we'll come back and try it all over again."