Max Verstappen celebrates as Lewis Hamilton looks on
Max Verstappen celebrates as Lewis Hamilton looks on Image Credit: AFP

This will hurt. He had the magic eighth Formula One title in his hands - but in the end, Lewis Hamilton had to bow to his young pretender.

It looked as though the Briton had made it as Hamilton was five laps away from passing Michael Schumacher in the record books with an eighth championship on Sunday until a Nicholas Latifi crash and a red flag gave Verstappen and Red Bull one final chance.

Latifi hit a wall and the flags reduced the huge time difference Lewis had built up over a race he had dominated since taking the lead on lap one. But as the chequered flag approached, it all changed. All of a sudden, Lewis had the older tyres and no time advantage, and Max Verstappen was on the prowl, having pitted for tyres with more grip.

Madness ensued as the FIA called for the safety car to come in with one final lap of racing to go to decide the title. Verstappen started the final lap just behind Hamilton, chasing him through the first four turns.

Verstappen made his pass in the fifth turn and Hamilton had one last shot. He pulled his Mercedes even with the Red Bull but couldn’t clear the youngster, who surged ahead to become the first Dutch world champion.

Verstappen and Red Bull celebrated, received hugs from his fellow competitors — including Hamilton — and the celebrations began at Yas Marina Circuit.

“It’s just insane, I mean, my goal when I was little was to become a Formula One driver and to go for wins, to be on the podium,” said Verstappen. ”When they play the national anthem, you want it to be yours and when you stand here and they tell you that you are the world champion, it’s something incredible and special.”