Hamilton prevailed to a potentially crucial eighth victory of the season in the wildest grand prix in years as the title fight got dirty on and off the track, with Hamilton and Verstappen coming to blows on multiple occasions. 

The race featured two full safety cars, two red flag periods and two standing restarts, and no fewer than four Virtual Safety Cars in a dramatic first race in Jeddah that lasted more than two hours. 

The major flashpoint of the race came in the closing stages as Hamilton hunted down Verstappen in a relentless battle for the lead.

Hamilton had unsuccessfully tried to pass Verstappen around the outside at Turn 1 on Lap 37 as the pair made light contact, with Verstappen skipping over the run-off and extending his lead. 

Bizarre and dramatic scenes followed as Hamilton ran into the back of Verstappen as the Red Bull driver appeared to be re-handing the position back to Hamilton at Turn 27. 

Verstappen did then hand the lead back at the final corner on Lap 42, only to immediately repass Hamilton. 

Despite suffering front wing damage, Hamilton lunged past Verstappen at the final corner to retake the lead with seven laps to go, forcing his rival wide in the process. 

Verstappen struggled with tyre life and fell back in the final laps as he settled for second despite picking up a five-second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage in his battle with Hamilton at the start of Lap 37. 

The key incident between Verstappen and Hamilton is under investigation. 

Hamilton’s victory puts him level on points with Verstappen heading into next weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, setting up a thrilling winner-takes-all showdown. 

Behind the squabbling title contenders, Valtteri Bottas pipped Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to snatch the final spot on the podium in a dramatic drag race to the line. 

A long way back in fifth was McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who held off Pierre Gasly and the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

In what could be his penultimate F1 race, Antonio Giovinazzi scored points for Alfa Romeo in ninth, with Lando Norris completing the top-10 order for McLaren. 

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Chaos in stop-start opening stint 

Mercedes maintained a comfortable 1-2 at the start before the race was interrupted by a red flag just 10 laps when Mick Schumacher suffered a hefty crash at Turn 22.

Verstappen profited from Mercedes’ decision to pit both Hamilton and Bottas under the initial Safety Car after Red Bull gambled on staying out, before the red flag was flown, enabling Verstappen to retain track position and change his tyres for the standing restart. 

There was controversy at the standing restart when Hamilton got the better launch to jump Verstappen, only for the Dutchman to reclaim the lead off track as he swept around the outside at Turn 1. 

As he rejoined the track, Hamilton was forced wide, allowing Ocon to sneak past into second. 

Racing only lasted a few seconds more before further chaos ensued with three cars eliminated on the spot. 

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was tagged into a spin by Leclerc while further behind Nikita Mazepin rear-ended George Russell’s Williams in a scary high-speed incident. 

That caused the second safety car, which quickly turned into another red flag. 

What followed was uncharted territory for F1, as FIA race director Michael Masi intervened to make an offer to Red Bull to put Verstappen back behind Hamilton and Esteban Ocon to third on the grid. After some deliberation, Red Bull accepted. 

Verstappen once again switched tyres under the red flag period and used the extra traction of his mediums to launch a brilliant, daring lunge on Hamilton into Turn 1. 

Verstappen got the position and quickly passed Ocon for the lead, before Hamilton swept by the Alpine driver at the start of the following lap to set up the two championship protagonist’s late showdown for the win. 

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