This season was heralded as one of the greatest in the sport’s history and the title race fell to the last lap.
Hamilton had won his record eighth world title until Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi hit the hurdles with four laps remaining, which prompted him to call the safety car.
It meant a resumption of racing on the last lap, with Verstappen allowed to start alongside Hamilton, even though the Briton made healthy progress.
The Dutchman, on new tyres, had the speed to beat his opponent and win one of the most exciting races ever in F1.
The victory meant Verstappen prevented Hamilton from winning his eighth world title, which would have seen him surpass the record he shares with racing legend Michael Schumacher.
“It’s crazy. I don’t know what to say. I’m very happy for the team and all these guys. I love working with them so much,” Verstappen said after the race.
“Finally, today, I had a little luck. My team knows I love them and I want to do that with them for the next 10 or 15 years!”
The two giant contenders reached the Yas Marina Circuit level on points, marking a perfect end to the title race that ended to the last minute.
But it was Hamilton who started the race better than second, passing Verstappen before the first corner and controlling the majority of the Grand Prix at Mercedes speed.
There has been controversy, as it has been all season, with Red Bull insisting Hamilton should have returned his top spot to Verstappen after the Mercedes man went off the track after calling his rival.
However, the hosts decided not to investigate the incident and allowed Hamilton to proceed at first.
Red Bull then resorted to its plan B, with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez expertly holding Hamilton after the Mercedes driver ran out of the pit lane in second.
The Briton finally found a way to get past Red Bull but not until Verstappen was back on his heels.
But Hamilton seemed to have done enough, making a double-digit lead, and was on course for the win before messing up on the last lap.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was furious after the hosts allowed the race to end in this way but Hamilton was practicing defeat.
“First of all, congratulations to Max and his team. I think we’ve done a great job this year. The team, everyone back at the factory, all the men and women we have, have worked really hard all year in a tough season,” he said. After the race.
“I am so proud of them, so grateful to be a part of the journey with them. We gave everything in the latter part of the season and we never gave up, that is the most important thing.
“Of course, I’ve been comfortable in the car for the past couple of months, especially at the end. I hope everyone stays safe under the pandemic and have a merry Christmas during this time and we’ll see next year.”
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