Lewis Hamilton triumphed in bizarre scenes at the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after a collision with his Formula 1 title rival Max Verstappen.
Through multiple red flags, safety cars and virtual safety car periods, Verstappen and Hamilton exchanged the lead on a number of occasions.
Their battle reached fever pitch with 14 laps to go, as Hamilton caught and attacked Verstappen into the opening turn.
Neither of the title contenders made the corner, but it was deemed that Verstappen was at fault and he was instructed to give the place back to Hamilton.
But when Verstappen slowed on the approach to the final sequence, Hamilton ran into the back of the Red Bull driver and picked up minor front wing damage. The stewards will discuss that incident after the race.
This left Verstappen in the lead, and he then allowed Hamilton to pass him at the same place a few laps later, only to then overtake Hamilton again into the final corner.
The stewards handed Verstappen a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage in his Turn 1 incident with Hamilton, but he let Hamilton back past him anyway a lap later.
Hamilton was able to pull clear of Verstappen despite damage to his front wing, eventually sealing the victory by nearly 12 seconds.
Earlier in the race, Hamilton lost the lead to Verstappen because of an early red flag stoppage for a huge shunt for the Haas of Mick Schumacher.
Hamilton pitted when the safety car was deployed for Schumacher’s shunt, but Verstappen stayed out and leaped from third to first with a free pitstop when the red flag was deployed.
Hamilton got the better launch when the race restarted but he and Verstappen ran off the track and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was able to pass Hamilton for second.
But the race was quickly red flagged again after shunts that eliminated three cars: Sergio Perez, George Russell and Nikita Mazepin.
The FIA instructed Red Bull to drop Verstappen to third behind Hamilton and Ocon, but he was able to pass them both at the restart with an inspired dive to the inside.
Hamilton quickly dispatched Ocon a lap later and pursued Verstappen thereafter – through a couple of VSCs to sweep debris off the track – until they came together at Turn 1 and the handing back positions confusion began.
Victory plus fastest lap for Hamilton means he is now level on points with Verstappen, who remains officially ahead by virtue of a greater number of wins.
Ocon was cruelly denied the final place on the podium by Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas, who pipped the Alpine driver with an overtake on the way to the chequered flag.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Antonio Giovinazzi earned his best finish of the season in ninth place for Alfa Romeo, while McLaren’s Lando Norris took the final point in 10th.
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||50||31||+21.825s||1m31.488s||2||18|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||50||0||+46.606s||1m31.851s||2||4|
|9||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||50||0||+58.505s||1m32.865s||2||2|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||50||0||+1m17.212s||1m32.804s||3||0|
|13||Fernando Alonso||Alpine-Renault||49||0||+1 lap||1m31.633s||4||0|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda||49||0||+1 lap||1m32.506s||3||0|
|15||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||49||0||+1 lap||1m32.778s||3||0|
|Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||44||0||DNF||1m32.778s||3||0|
|Sergio Pérez||Red Bull-Honda||14||0||DNF||1m34.138s||2||0|