Malta Independent

Hamilton beats F1 title rival Verstappen in wild Saudi GP


Lewis Hamilton passed Max Verstappen with six laps remaining Sunday to win the chaotic inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and pull even on points with his rival as Formula One's thrilling championsh­ip race heads into the title-deciding finale.

The race on the street circuit under the lights on the 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) coastal resort area in Jeddah was marred by three standing starts, a pair of restarts, multiple safety cars and an intense back-and-forth between the title contenders.

Red Bull was allowed to negotiate a penalty for Verstappen, Mercedes head Toto Wolff slammed his headset in rage, and Hamilton drove into the back of his title rival before ultimately passing Verstappen for the win with six laps remaining.

"Lewis, that has got to be the craziest race I can remember," Hamilton's engineer radioed after he crossed the finish line. "Great job, guys, great job!" Hamilton replied.

"That's more like it, let's keep pushing!"

A dejected Verstappen, who has seen his hold on the title race evaporate over the last three races, was dejected.

"It is what it is," the Dutchman said. "I tried, at least."

Verstappen was penalized for going off course on the second restart, was later told to yield position to Hamilton, but Hamilton ran into the back of his Red Bull to damage the front wing on his

Mercedes. The two then went back and forth over the closing sequence.

But once the seven-time world champion passed Verstappen for good, Hamilton controlled the finish and won for the third consecutiv­e race. The British driver has eight wins on the season and has now pulled into a tie with Verstappen in the standings.

The championsh­ip will be decided next Sunday in the finale in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton is the four-time defending F1 champion and seeking an eighth title to break the all-time record he shares with Michael

Schumacher. The 24-year-old Verstappen is seeking his first championsh­ip and had dominated the season for Red Bull until this late three-race charge by Mercedes and Hamilton.

F1 unites in memory of the inspiratio­nal Frank Williams

Formula One united in tribute Sunday to Frank Williams, the much-loved and inspiratio­nal founder of the F1 team bearing his name who died last weekend.

Shortly before Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the drivers and team principals were joined by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Jean Todt.

They all gathered to observe a minute's silence in his memory, standing in a circle around an image of him on the grid as drivers placed their helmets on the ground. This was followed by applause. Williams died last Sunday at the age of 79.

A model of the Williams FW07 car, driven to the world title by Alan Jones in 1980, did a lap of honor around the Jeddah Corniche circuit. Damon Hill, who won the world title with Williams in 1996, drove it.

After the race, visual tributes to Williams were to be placed on the podium with the Williams team invited to join.

Williams took his motor racing team from an empty carpet warehouse to the F1 summit, overseeing 114 victories and a combined 16 drivers' and constructo­rs' titles.

The team won back-to-back constructo­rs' championsh­ips and Keke Rosberg was champion in '82. The inspiratio­nal Williams went from being a traveling salesman to the longest-serving team boss in the sport's history, and he was knighted in 1999.

Some drivers carried tributes to Williams on their cars this weekend.

Russell is replacing Valtteri Bottas, who had nine podiums racing for Williams from 2013-16 before joining Mercedes after Nico Rosberg's sudden retirement following his world title.

"Frank, I'll remember definitely as a friend, as a character that motivated a lot of people. The whole factory was racing for Frank because it was his passion," Bottas said. "He gave me my opportunit­y to get into Formula One. Without Frank, and him giving me that opportunit­y to show myself, I wouldn't be sitting in this seat right now."

Williams' success was even more remarkable considerin­g he suffered a horrific car crash in France that left him with injuries so severe that doctors considered turning off his life-support machine.

But his wife, Virginia, ordered that her husband be kept alive and his sheer determinat­ion and courage enabled him to continue pursuing his sporting passion, albeit from a wheelchair because of a spinal fracture.

He stepped back in 2013, the year in which his wife died, allowing his daughter Claire to become deputy team principal until the Williams team was sold in September last year after being in the family for 739 races.

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