Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) – Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen to win a chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday to send the title battle to the final race in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
The two are tied on points ahead of the decider after a street race full of incidents in Jeddah saw two red flag saves.
Verstappen was fined five seconds after a controversial decision against world champion Hamilton, with the seven-time British champion accusing the Dutchman of “testing him on the brakes”.
Hamilton had moved away from pole position before the balance of power changed after 10 laps when Mick Schumacher buried his Haas in a barrier.
Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas pulled to a halt under the safety car, but Verstappen stayed clear.
Four laps later, the race was red-flagged to allow repair of the barriers that allowed Verstappen to pit, change tires and resume the race in front.
On the restart, Hamilton regained the lead but claimed he was forced off the track by Verstappen.
Moments later there was another red flag as Sergio Perez, George Russell and Nikita Mazepin all collided at the back of the pitch.
Stewards ruled Verstappen’s maneuver illegal and promoted Alpine’s Esteban Ocon on pole for the third start of the race, with Hamilton in second and Verstappen in third.
Surprisingly, Verstappen then regained the lead with Hamilton following.
However, the drama and controversy continued when they collided late in the race.
Hamilton said he had been tested under brakes and Verstappen was penalized by the stewards before the Briton passed and took the win.
Bottas finished third in his penultimate race for Mercedes.
© 2021 AFP