‘At least I can see him now’: Lewis Hamilton aims dig at Max Verstappen but it’s the championship leader who delivers a crash course in genius and is the master of his own destiny after taking pole for the title-decider

Any notion that Lewis Hamilton would stroll into the pages of sporting history was ripped apart in the space of the 1min 22.109sec it took Max Verstappen to produce a scintillating pole lap. Hamilton was only second quickest, and all the certainties of the hours leading up to qualifying for the winner-takes-all Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which placed the Briton as overwhelming favourite for title glory, were no more. ‘At least I can see him,’ said Hamilton, pointedly, at starting second. Hamilton, who was booed by sections of the crowd, was phlegmatic. Sitting side by side after qualifying, Hamilton and Verstappen were asked to put this see-sawing, 22-race contest into perspective. ‘At times we have pushed each other to the limit,’ said Verstappen. ‘I feel a million times better than I did then,’ said Hamilton, 36. Verstappen forced his rival off the track and went on to win the race. Verstappen crashed into the barriers and ended up in hospital while Hamilton won but was given a 10-second penalty. Hamilton was penalised and forced to start the sprint race from the back of the grid, while Verstappen was fined for fiddling with the Mercedes rear wing. Verstappen was penalised for going off the track and gaining an advantage. Hamilton, who described his rival as ‘crazy’, went on to win the race.

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