Lewis Hamilton lost the F1 world championship to Max Verstappen in a dramatic ending to the race (Photos: Getty)
The Red Bull driver looked out of the race at various points but, after a safety car came on to deal with a Nicholas Latifi crash, he was given one last chance - which he seized.
He changed his tyres during the delay and, after lapped cars were allowed to clear the safety car, he and leader Hamilton had a final-lap race in which the Dutchman prevailed.
Verstappen could not hide his emotion at his incredible victory, saying on the Red Bull’s team radio: “This is unbelievable guys. Can we do this for another 10 to 15 years together?”
What happened with the safety car?
Following the crash involving Latifi, the arrival of the safety car with just five laps remaining turned the race upside down.
Confusion reigned as race director Michael Masi changed his mind to allow lapped cars to pass the safety car – meaning Verstappen had a clear run at Hamilton in the final lap and on much faster tyres.
Time, however, appeared to be on Hamilton’s side as the laps ticked down behind the safety car and Masi opted to keep the five lapped cars between the leader and Verstappen in place.
He then changed his mind, sending the quintet past Hamilton and the safety car meaning there was nothing between the title rivals as the pace car peeled off with just a single lap remaining.
Verstappen was ready to pounce and sprung, although Hamilton did battle back until he had nothing left to give.
A furious Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told Masi on the radio: “No no Michael, that was so not right.”
What did Max Verstappen say?
Verstappen broke into tears as he crossed the line, expressing his love for his team and sitting by his car after bringing it to a stop: “This is unbelievable guys. Can we do this for another 10 to 15 years together,” he said.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s unbelievable. I kept fighting the whole race. I had the opportunity in the last lap. It’s incredible, I’m still having a cramp. It’s insane.
“These guys, my team, they deserve it. I love them so much. I’ve enjoyed working with them since 2016 but this year has been incredible.”
What did Lewis Hamilton say?
Hamilton paid tribute to Verstappen and said he had given everything possible to win his eighth world title.
He told Sky Sports: “Congratulations to Max and his team. I think we did an amazing job this year.
“Everyone back at the factory and here worked so hard in this most difficult of seasons. I’m so proud of them and so grateful to be part of the journey with them.
“We gave it everything this last part of the season, we never gave up.”
Christian Horner: ‘the right call’
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, speaking to Sky Sports: "We were screaming at the end to let them race. A great strategy call to make that pit stop and take softs and then it was down to Max to make it happen.
"It is unheard of to leave the cars unlapped. They wanted to get the race going again. They absolutely made the right call.
"I am so proud of Max and of the team for what we have been through this year.
"You just knew Max was not going to give it up. He had come so far this year and then to see him close it out, become world champion - an amazing feeling.
"The last 10 laps I was thinking what will I say to Max and the guys to pick them up and then a stroke of luck with the safety car."
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