Why was this weekend's F1 title so controversial?

Why was this weekend's F1 title so controversial?

(CNN)This Sunday, Max Verstappen clinched his first Formula One World Championship by beating Lewis Hamilton in a controversial season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Verstappen was declared champion — but only after both teams spent hours in the steward’s box, after Hamilton’s Mercedes team launched two protests against the hotly contested result, which were dismissed by officials.

Mercedes on Sunday lodged an intention to appeal against the decision relating to restarting the race for the last lap — which could pave the way for even more drama over the coming weeks.Mercedes said on Monday that there was “no further communication planned at this time” regarding their intention to appeal Sunday’s result.

    What happened during the race?

      The two titanic rivals arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit level on points. Read MoreVerstappen took the early advantage by qualifying in pole position after a magical qualifying lap on Saturday — but it was Hamilton who started the race better from second, overtaking Verstappen before the first corner and dominating the majority of the Grand Prix with the Mercedes pace.There was controversy early on, as there has been throughout the season, with Red Bull adamant that Hamilton should have given his first place back to Verstappen after the Mercedes man went off the track following contact with his rival.Stewards, however, decided not to investigate the incident and allowed Hamilton to proceed in first. Max Verstappen celebrates his win. Red Bull then resorted to its Plan B, with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez expertly holding up Hamilton after the Mercedes driver emerged from the pit lane in second.The Brit finally found a way past the Red Bull but not until he had Verstappen back on his heels.But Hamilton looked to have done enough, building up a double-digit second lead, and was cruising to victory before the mayhem of the final lap.The drama intensified when Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers with four laps remaining, resulting in the safety car being called out.While the Mercedes team decided they couldn’t afford to pit Hamilton in case he would lose his lead, Red Bull did choose to pit Verstappen and got fitted with a new set of soft tires. Verstappen re-entered the track with five lapped cars between him and Hamilton. The controversy reached its peak when a message from race director Michael Masi initially said lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen would not be allowed to unlap themselves, only for Masi to appear to change his mind moments later, leaving the Red Bull driver right behind Hamilton with fresh tires and just one lap to go. It meant the race restarted on the final lap, with Verstappen now allowed to start almost side-by-side with Hamilton, despite the Brit having established a healthy lead.The Dutchman, on new tires, had the pace to overtake his rival on turn five and win one of the most dramatic F1 races ever.A controversial winVerstappen’s win prevented Hamilton from surpassing the record he still shares with racing legend Michael Schumacher.Though Hamilton offered his congratulations to Verstappen, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was left visibly furious following the Dutchman’s win. Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner went on to call Mercedes’ first appeals “a little bit desperate.”Social media was awash with angry reactions to the race’s outcome, with George Russell, a Mercedes driver next year, saying: “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.”Why was this weekend's F1 title so controversial? Red Bull’s Verstappen is congratulated by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.Former F1 champion Damon Hill questioned how the race was handled, writing: “This is a new way of running the sport where the Race Director can make these ad hoc decisions. Its been a bit too ‘guess what I’m going to do now’ I think.” Meanwhile, England captain Harry Kane, Piers Morgan and football pundit Gary Lineker are among the celebrities taking issue with the final result on social media.However, Liverpool FC footballer Virgil van Dijk was among those congratulating Verstappen, writing: “WHAT A BOSS!”

        “It’s insane. I don’t know what to say. I’m so pleased for the team and for all these guys. I love working with them so much,” an emotional and slightly stunned Verstappen, 24, said after the race.”Finally, today, I had a bit of luck. My team know I love them and I want to do this with them for the next 10 or 15 years!” he said.