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Max Verstappen has officially been confirmed as Formula One World Drivers' Champion for the first time in his career following a nervy wait after the gripping culmination of the Abu Dhabi GP
The Dutch driver overtook Lewis Hamilton in the final lap to get the victory he set out to achieve – having taken advantage of confusion following the use of a safety car.
Hamilton was left in disbelief after Nicholas Latifi's crash led some but not all lapped cars to retake their position, leaving Verstappen within meters of him on the track and with fresh tyres.
With team boss Toto Wolff staying unusually silent after watching his star miss out on a historic triumph, his side filed two official complaints to stewards over the event – which have now been rejected.
Christian Horner told Sky Sports News after the verdict: "Its's disappointing we had to go through that.
"It's been an amazing year, I'm proud of Max and the whole team. He's the world champion and the deserving world champion."
Following the news, songs could be heard blaring out of the Red Bull garage, with Mercedes left devastated with Hamilton the runner-up.
Mercedes chiefs had lodged the official appeals shortly after the race, with one concerning Verstappen overtaking Hamilton under safety car conditions just before the restart, and another concerning an alleged incorrect use of safety car procedures under the guidance of Race director Michael Masi.
Later in the evening, Horner was seen leaving a stewards meeting that had been adjourned. And his mood was very different to the one he had while celebrating after the race.
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Thousands had taken to Twitter after the controversial season-ender in Abu Dhabi, including Hamilton's 2022 team-mate George Russell.
He said: "THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!! Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable.
"I cannot believe what we’ve just seen."
Despite his disappointment, Hamilton reacted differently to his fans online and congratulated his rival.
He said: "Firstly, congratulations to Max and to his team," Hamilton said moments after losing out.
"I think we did an amazing job this year. My team, everyone back at the factory, have worked so hard this whole year, it's been the most difficult of seasons. I'm so proud of them and I'm so grateful to be a part of the journey with them.
"This last part of the season we gave it absolutely everything and never gave up."
- Lewis Hamilton
- Max Verstappen
- Red Bull Racing
- Formula One
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