By Matt Gallagher
Championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will head into the final race of the F1 season equal on points after a dramatic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
After a race full of incidents, it was the Brit who stood on top of the podium, knowing a win in Abu Dhabi will seal his eighth driver’s World Championship.
All seemed to be going well after the start with the Mercedes leading with Verstappen in third.
However, just 10 laps into the race, Mick Schumacher took a spin into the wall causing a safety car.
Both Mercedes chose to pit with Verstappen staying out.
The red flag would be shown a few laps later to Red Bull’s relief.
At the restart, Hamilton got a better start, but Verstappen would retake his position by passing off the track.
This also allowed Alpine’s Esteban Ocon up to second.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Haas’ Nikita Mazepin were then caught in a huge pile up further back.
Both would ultimately retire and another red flag shown.
Race director Michael Masi informed Red Bull they would have to give the place back to Hamilton.
When the race resumed Ocon was first, followed by Hamilton then Verstappen.
The Dutchman had a great restart and overtook both Ocon and Hamilton.
A few corners later the Mercedes breezed past the Frenchman into second.
Hamilton was consistently a second behind Verstappen during a stop-start race.
Virtual Safety Cars were used several times as debris from previous incidents were cleared from the track.
Hamilton then tried an overtake on Verstappen around the outside of turn one.
He seemed to be ahead, but Verstappen went deep which pushed the Brit off the track.
An increasingly angered Red Bull garage would then suffer a five-second time penalty to add onto their race time for the incident.
A lap later Verstappen’s radio team told him to give the place back.
He slowed down before the last corner, but this seemed to confuse Hamilton who ran into the back of the Red Bull.
The Dutchman was given a 10-second penalty hours after the race.
The damage was not severe though and Hamilton was able to overtake his rival.
Hamilton secured victory with fastest lap and equalled Verstappen’s season points tally.
His Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas would come home third.
The Finn overtook Ocon on the final straight to secure his podium place by a tenth of a second.
An angry Verstappen left the podium before the celebrations.
Now all eyes with be on the finale in Abu Dhabi, especially with cars looking equal.
Hamilton will be trying to win his eighth Driver’s World Championship, but the young Dutchman will be desperate for his first.
(Featured Image by Morio, Creative Commons)