MAX VERSTAPPEN was crowned F1 champion in one of the most controversial ends to a sporting event.
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team were left furious and accused race bosses of bending the rules, resulting in a dramatic one-lap shootout between Hamilton and Verstappen for the title.
Merc’s chiefs fought a four-hour battle to have the decision overturned before it was finally rejected late on Sunday night – however, they are expected to mount a further legal challenge.
After Merc’s protest was rejected Verstappen said: “I am very relieved. It’s been a very stressful day.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner added: “I am disappointed we had to go through that. Max is the world champion, he’s the deserving world champion, nobody can take that from him.”
Merc boss Toto Wolff raged at race director Michael Masi, who was subjected to an investigation over his handling of the Abu Dhabi GP.
Masi, the equivately of a referee, has been dogged by question marks over his handling of flashpoints over the season – but none more so than here at the final race.
It was supposed to be the best finale the sport has ever known, Verstappen coming of age against the seven-time champion.
A seminal moment to witness the ending of an era and the start of a new reign for the Dutchman.
F1 has made a habit of shooting itself in the foot but this time they used a rocket launcher for good measure