Hamilton wins dramatic race, sets showdown for final race

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

WORLD  champion Lewis Hamilton drove a race of his life to win a dramatic, incident-filled F1 in Saudi Arabia and set the scene for a showdown in the final race with rival Max Verstappen.

The victory has left Hamilton and Verstappen tied at the top of the world driver championship – each with 369.5 points, They will fight it out in the last race set for the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

It was an epic wheel-to-wheel battle between Hamilton and Verstappen from early in the race, which Hamilton led from pole, to register his third victory in a row.

Verstappen took the lead after the safety car was deployed in Lap 9 after Mick Schumacher lost his rear tyres and crashed into the wall. Mercedes opted to pit both cars during the safety car for hard compound tyres, with Hamilton and Bottas emerging second and third respectively.

The Red Bull strategy to keep Verstappen out paid dividends as he gained the lead and was gifted with a free pit stop when the race was red flagged later, enabling him to change into medium to last him until the end of the race.

The battle between Hamilton and Verstappen made the inaugural race in Saudi Arabia was a dream for many F1 fans. Verstappen was slapped with a five second penalty after he pushed Hamilton off the track after the second restart following a red flag.  

Hamilton’s teammate Valterri Bottas, who lost places early in the race following the red flags, drove like a man possessed in the last 10 laps to steal the last podium place from Alpine’s Estaban Ocon after the final corner. 

The Saudi Arabian circuit, billed as one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, claimed four cars. Red Bull lost Sergio Perez after the second crash of the race, damaging the team’s bid for the constructors’ championship, which is led by Mercedes. The crash also led to the retirement of Aston Martin’s George Russell.

Haas’ pair of Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin failed to finish after crashing into the wall. Former world champion Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire his car which was damaged after a Yuki Tsunoda drove into him.

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