Formula 1 title: Max Verstappen uses dangerous move to take championship

Max Verstappen celebrates his world title in Abu Dhabi Max Verstappen won the Formula 1 title in Abu Dhabi with a drive-through penalty for causing a crash that left the sport in a storm…

Formula 1 title: Max Verstappen uses dangerous move to take championship

Max Verstappen celebrates his world title in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen won the Formula 1 title in Abu Dhabi with a drive-through penalty for causing a crash that left the sport in a storm of controversy.

The 20-year-old Dutchman was making his way home after finishing fifth when Kevin Magnussen’s Haas spun and bounced up the pitlane.

He was only warned about it by the stewards after the race but he overtook and was then handed the penalty for “destruction of another vehicle”.

It allowed the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton to finish third and take the title.

They have 148 points more than Verstappen’s 126, although he can apply for a protest against the decision if he thinks it was unfair.

Whether it is actually invalid is another question.

BBC Sport spoke to a number of people involved in the title fight and none of them were happy about the way in which the outcome had been decided.

The first is that it compromised Verstappen’s chance of retaining his title – he would have won the title with a win had he finished fourth, beating Hamilton by three points.

Second, though, is that it contravenes the spirit of F1, by making it harder for the big-name drivers to win, and it undermines the integrity of a sport which had sought to cast itself as a sporting event worthy of people’s attention, rather than just entertainment.

Verstappen could have expected more to be paid for winning

And, with controversy having already broken out at the race, with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly earlier being given a drive-through penalty for causing a crash, and with Verstappen being ordered by the stewards to change his car after the race, it only increased the tensions.

The authorities themselves are also up in arms.

‘This is ridiculous’

The FIA said it was “dismayed” to see the penalty but also said it was hard to contest after being told that the stewards felt there had been enough evidence to take it to the full tribunal of stewards.

“But we are astonished to see that at such a very delicate moment, with the sport’s character under stress, that such a decision was even taken,” it said.

Sebastian Vettel pipped Sebastian Vettel to fourth in Abu Dhabi

The governing body said it was hard to avoid criticism because of the “smoke and acrid odour” from the damage to the Haas that the car could not repair in time for re-entry.

“This decision was made after much consideration and while some might question whether or not the penalty was too harsh, the risks were so great for the drivers involved – as well as the public’s patience and faith in the sport which is clearly far from being fully restored.”

FIA deputy chief David Ward added: “It is not, for me, fair. We can’t have the degradation of another motor vehicle happening. If it is taking place, it has to be taken in the same way.

“When you lose the championship, you lose everything and you have to go through this process – and in that way, we can prove it does not happen, but it did happen.”

“We’re definitely going to do something about this. We are not happy about it and I certainly don’t feel happy about it.”

Worse for Mercedes?

The result may make life difficult for Hamilton at the next race in Brazil, where he needs to finish fourth to avoid retiring and the consequences of this second penalty.

But, although it reduces his lead, it means he does not need to beat the Dutchman to be crowned world champion for the fifth time in his career.

“It was a good call,” said Hamilton. “I was trying to take back the points to still win the championship and we were on our last lap but we weren’t expecting that move, and I felt like it was so risky, and I certainly wouldn’t have passed again anyway.”

So it’s not all bad for Mercedes.

What happened at Yas Marina?

The 19 laps of the race were over in less than two hours because of the overnight storms and heavy rain.

In fact, only seven of the 20 drivers completed the race – others did not line up because the starting grid had been altered to include an extra reserved place for Verstappen.

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