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Max Verstappen is a deserving Formula 1 world champion

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was watched the world over on Sunday and ended in very controversial circumstances, as the FIA seemingly threw the rule book out of the window to ensure a one-lap shootout between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

But while Hamilton perhaps deserved to win the race given his superior race pace throughout, Verstappen is the more deserving champion of the two given his exceptional year behind the wheel.

Perennial podium placer

Arguably the most impressive stat of Verstappen's season was how many times he stood on the podium when he had an incident-free race.

The answer: every time. The 24-year-old didn't even finish third all season, as he was either first or second in every race bar four in which he had major incidents either causing him to not finish or limp home with a heavily damaged car.

The first non-finish came in Baku, where a tyre failure at high speed saw him spear off into the wall, ending his race from the lead. His incident was none of his own doing, whereas Hamilton made an error at the restart causing him to also not score.

Verstappen was a victim of Valtteri Bottas' huge mistake at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, which took out a number of cars including Sergio Perez and Lando Norris, but Verstappen managed to drag his battered and bruised Red Bull to ninth as Esteban Ocon won his first F1 race.

The major flashpoints of the year are still talked about now as Verstappen and Hamilton came to blows at Silverstone, where Max crashed out and Lewis went on to win, and Monza, where both drivers failed to finish as McLaren took their first and only 1-2 of the year.

Taking on the GOAT and winning

Statistically, Lewis Hamilton is the greatest driver in F1 history and a formidable opponent for anyone, but Verstappen showed no signs of nervousness battling such a driver.

Not many have come out on top against the seven-time champion with just Nico Rosberg winning a drivers' title with Hamilton in the same team, but the Brit's record in title deciders at Abu Dhabi gave Verstappen belief.

Losing this finale, Hamilton has now been beaten in three title deciders at the Yas Marina Circuit including 2010 and 2016 and that will give everyone confidence of besting him should it come down to another showdown in 2022.

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