BRISBANE, Australia — Max Verstappen won Formula One’s title by a single point Wednesday, as he pipped Lewis Hamilton by winning the Canadian Grand Prix for Red Bull.
The Dutch driver went past defending champion Hamilton on the last lap of the season’s final race to snatch the title from the Briton after a dramatic sequence of events.
Verstappen had started second on the grid to Hamilton and was on course to finish third, or even second, until he made contact with Hamilton and spun on the opening lap.
He then desperately tried to beat Hamilton to the checkered flag, but was unable to do so as the cars sped down the tarmac in a thrilling dogfight.
At the finish, Hamilton was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty for speeding before the end of the lap, after which Verstappen was given a five-second penalty for passing him.
Verstappen and Hamilton had come from 19th to second and first, respectively, at the start, when Hamilton’s Mercedes encountered slow traffic from the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly.
Despite the first start of the season featuring eight different winners from the first 12 races, Hamilton just managed to slip by Verstappen on the second lap, by half a second, but otherwise gave no away to his Red Bull rival.
The 25-year-old from the Netherlands passed Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas for second on the 35th lap of the scheduled 53-lap race, then took third with less than 20 minutes to go when Kimi Raikkonen spun, leaving the Finn boxed in on the outside.
Verstappen had pulled onto the inside of Bottas, so he could be surrounded by passing lanes, however, Hamilton responded, banging his nose into the back of the Red Bull. Verstappen then hung on to catch up with Hamilton, who had completed 75 laps compared to Verstappen’s two.
Just after the two drivers pulled alongside, Verstappen made his move.
Verstappen’s final run into Turn 10 got away from him on the restart, with the safety car briefly coming out.
As the safety car was removed, the men emerged from the pit lane but could not come back into the race. Hamilton told his rival to go off “losing the race,” though both men took turns to hold each other at bay.
Verstappen eventually passed Hamilton on the first lap after the restart with three laps to go. Hamilton then took two laps to get back on track, but Verstappen passed him again as the drivers rounded the second bend.
After six laps had elapsed, Hamilton tried to pass Verstappen on the back straight, but Verstappen grabbed the inside. Then it was Hamilton’s turn, just as Verstappen had jumped between Hamilton and Bottas on the opening lap.
Red Bull’s two drivers were the best British hopes to win a grand prix. Bottas took second while Verstappen was third to give Red Bull two top-three finishers for the first time in its history.