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Max Verstappen could be stripped of his first Formula One title if he is found guilty of passing Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on the final lap in today's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
With the two rivals neck and neck going into the final race of the season, Verstappen won the grand finale in dramatic but controversial fashion.
Hamilton was leading the way throughout and was 11 seconds ahead of Verstappen with just six laps remaining.
But then a crash involving Racing Williams' Nicholas Latifi led to a safety car being introduced.
At first, the instruction from FIA officials was that lapped cars weren't allowed to overtake and were required to stay in the position they were in behind the safety car.
Yet the rule was abolished and, Verstappen, having pitted for new tyres, completed an incredible overtake that secured him a memorable win at the death.
Mercedes have since launched two protests as they feel the result and the manner of it was unjust.
The appeal relating to Verstappen overtaking behind the safety car was dismissed by FIA stewards, however a decision has yet to be made in regards to the restart situation.
"The Stewards determine that although Car 33 did at one stage, for a very short period of time, move slightly in front of Car 44, at a time when both cars where accelerating and braking, it moved back behind Car 44 and it was not in front when the Safety Car period ended" #F1— Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1) December 12, 2021
2230 has become 2245 for a return to the stewards.— Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1) December 12, 2021
After the first protest was dismissed, what it has come down to is whether the title was influenced by a race control error. It's not an error by either team or driver #F1 #AbuDhabiGP
Ted Kravitz, who is Sky Sports' pit-lane reporter, made the suggestion that a five-second penalty could be imposed on Verstappen if a guilty verdict is reached.
In the event of that happening, Hamilton would be handed a record eighth F1 world title as he was less than five seconds behind the winner.
There are no words.— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 12, 2021
The other scenario that could see him surpass Michael Schumacher's tally following a review is if Mercedes are able to get the final lap cancelled altogether.
Hamilton was in the lead prior to the shenanigans. Despite the contentious way in which the race went, he maintained his class afterwards and embraced Verstappen.
"Firstly, big congratulations to Max and to his team," Hamilton told Sky Sports.
"But I'm so proud of my own team and we gave it absolutely everything and we never gave up. I've felt great in the car the past couple of months, particularly at the end. We'll see what happens next year."
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