Hamilton goes equal on points with Verstappen after chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

The battle for the Championship will go down to the wire after Lewis Hamilton won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Monday morning (AEDT) to draw level with rival Max Verstappen ahead of the final race in Abu Dhabi next weekend

The first Formula 1 race on Saudi soil had it all, from crashes to controversy, there were plenty of talking points as Hamilton clawed back the deficit to go equal on points with Verstappen as they head into the final round.

Hamilton had pole position in Jeddah however he was only able to lead for the first 10 laps when he and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas pitted behind the safety car after Haas’ Mick Schumacher made heavy contact with a barrier.

The Mercedes pair fell behind in the pecking order while Verstappen made the most of the incident – deciding not to pit which gave him the lead.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - DECEMBER 05: The FIA Safety Car leads the field past the crashed car of Mick Schumacher of Germany and Haas F1 during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on December 05, 2021 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

It did not take long for Hamilton to regain top spot before more drama ensued as the Red Bull driver regained the advantage by driving off track.

The stewards soon decided that Verstappen made an illegal manoeuvre which meant that Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was promoted to first with Hamilton in second and Verstappen in third.

However, once again, Verstappen was able to regain the lead.

The main talking point and the most contentious moment of the race then arrived in lap 36 when Verstappen was instructed to give the lead back to his rival. However, when the Dutchman slowed and looked to concede first place, Hamilton hit the rear of the Red Bull, damaging the front wing.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - DECEMBER 05: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 collide during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on December 05, 2021 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Mercedes said they were not informed that Verstappen was going to slow and therefore had not informed Hamilton. The seven-time world champion was furious, accusing Verstappen of brake-testing him.

"I didn't quite understand why all of a sudden he hit the brakes pretty heavily," Hamilton said.

"I ran into the back of him, and then he moved on. I didn't understand what was going on."

The experience of Hamilton prevailed as he overcame what can only be described as a chaotic series of events to reclaim the lead and finish first.

Verstappen had to settle for second while Bottas also finished on the podium ahead of Ocon and Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

The championship is now down to the wire with next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix set to be the ultimate decider.

Driver Standings

1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4 Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
5 Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
6 Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
7 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
8 Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
9 Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
10  Lando Norris (McLaren)

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix - Race Gallery

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