Max Verstappen claimed his first-ever Formula One world championship with a sensational last-lap overtake on title rival Lewis Hamilton to claim a controversial victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver stormed past Hamilton in the closing stages of the season-ending race at the Yas Marina Circuit having benefited from a late safety car that bunched up the pack.

Hamilton appeared to be charging to glory, easily holding Verstappen at bay in the closing laps only for a crash for the Williams of Nicholas Latifi to change the course of events.

Confusion reigned as under-fire race director Michael Masi changed his mind to allow lapped cars to pass the safety car - meaning Verstappen had a clear run at Hamilton in the final lap and on much faster tyres.

The drama was not over however as Mercedes lodged two appeals in the aftermath of the race, one for Verstappen undertaking under the safety car and one on the safety car procedure itself and, ultimately, why only a certain number of lapped cars were allowed to pass by before the restart.

However after a meeting between race stewards and both Red Bull and Mercedes, neither of the appeals were upheld.

On the track Verstappen broke into tears as he crossed the line, professing his love for his team and sitting by his car after bringing it to a stop: "This is unbelievable guys. Can we do this for another 10 to 15 years together," he said.

The Dutchman called his victory "insane" after Hamilton had congratulated him after the race.

He told Sky Sports: "It's unbelievable. I kept fighting the whole race. I had the opportunity in the last lap. It’s incredible, I’m still having a cramp. It’s insane.

"These guys, my team, they deserve it. I love them so much. I’ve enjoyed working with them since 2016 but this year has been incredible.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Verstappen had needed a miracle to win the world championship with 10 laps to go.

Verstappen said: "Finally a bit of luck for me. It was great teamwork.

"My team know that I love them and there's no need to change ever. I want to stay with them for the rest of my life.

"Christian trusted me to be in the team in 2016 and our goal was to win this championship and now we have done that."

Hamilton paid tribute to Verstappen and said he had given everything possible to win his eighth world title.

He told Sky Sports: "Congratulations to Max and his team. I think we did an amazing job this year.

"Everyone back at the factory and here worked so hard in this most difficult of seasons. I'm so proud of them and so grateful to be part of the journey with them.

"We gave it everything this last part of the season, we never gave up."

Verstappen paid his own tribute to Hamilton after his last-lap success in Abu Dhabi.

The Dutchman said: "Lewis is an amazing driver and an amazing competitor. They really made it hard for us and everyone loved to see the two teams running against each other.

"We had some tough times but that's all part of the sport and its emotion. Everyone wants to win and it could have gone either way.

"I tried to keep on pushing and sometimes miracles happen. Next year we'll come back and try all over again."

Hamilton had looked on course for a record eighth championship after passing pole sitter Verstappen off the line.

The British driver started alongside his fellow title protagonist on the front row and was quicker off the mark, leading the race into turn one of the reconfigured track.

Those alterations were made to improve overtaking here and Verstappen attempted to take full advantage of the widening of the hairpin at turn seven as he lunged to try and regain his lead.

Hamilton went off the track as a result, rejoining having missed the turn but it was deemed he had no penalty to answer for as a season punctuated by collisions, near-misses and contradicting stewarding calls looked set for another twist.

The near-miss was all Hamilton needed to know he needed to scamper down the road to avoid any further incidents, aware that if he and Verstappen were both not to finish the title would go to his adversary by virtue of more race wins.

He was not to have it all his own way, however, as he came into the pits on lap 15 to avoid being undercut by Verstappen but emerged behind the sister Red Bull of Sergio Perez - who was given instructions to hold up Hamilton.

The Mexican did just that, costing Hamilton over six seconds as the tussled for the lead, Verstappen closing in and praising his team-mate as a "legend" over the radio.

Once clear, though, Hamilton once again showed his outright pace to start rebuilding the gap he had lost stuck behind Perez.

Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton on the final lap on his way to victory

All seemed rosy until a virtual safety car was deployed to clear the stricken Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, with Verstappen pitting for fresh tyres as Hamilton stayed out.

Verstappen may have had the fresher rubber but Hamilton was still untouchable, Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitting the team needed a "miracle" with the gap at 11 seconds with 10 laps remaining.

And a miracle is exactly what Red Bull got as Latifi crashed into the barriers and brought out a safety car with just five laps remaining, Verstappen stopping for a third time and strapping on more new tyres.

Time, however, appeared to be on Hamilton's side as the laps ticked down behind the safety car and Masi opted to keep the five lapped cars between the leader and Verstappen in place.

He then changed tact, sending the quintet past Hamilton and the safety car meaning there was nothing between the title rivals as the pace car peeled off with just a single lap remaining.

Verstappen was ready to pounce and sprung, although Hamilton did battle back until he had nothing left to give.

As the unbelievable action unfolded on track, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff fumed at Masi over the radio for his change in decision, and it was later confirmed that appeals had been lodged.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, told Sky Sports: "It's been a high-stakes, intense competition.

"Toto (Wolff) and I have had our moments, but full respect to him and Mercedes. I feel like it is the right result, the (drivers' and constructors’).

"Mercedes are such a quality team. They’ve got stronger and stronger over the years. That’s what has made this so intense – on-track, off-track, between the drivers and Toto and I, the pit crews, the strategy, the development."

Horner promised Williams driver Nicholas Latifi a lifetime supply of Red Bull after his crash ultimately led to Verstappen winning the championship.

The Red Bull team principal revealed he had been "screaming" at race director Michael Masi to allow Verstappen a chance to overtake title rival Lewis Hamilton as the race at Yas Marina threatened to end behind a safety car.

Masi originally decided not to send the lapped cars through before changing his mind ahead of the restart, leaving Hamilton as a sitting duck to the flying Dutchman.

"He’ll be getting a lifetime supply of Red Bull for sure," Horner said to Channel 4 when asked about Latifi.

"We needed something from the racing gods in the last 10 laps," he added on Sky Sports.

"Thank you Nicholas Latifi for that safety car. I have to say with the stewards…they did great to get the race going again.

"We were screaming at him (Masi) 'let them race’. It has been an insane competition and for Max to win the world championship – it is not just about here.

"I have to say all credit to Lewis, he has been a phenomenal opponent all year, he is a great champion and that is what makes it even more valid to win this."

British driver George Russell, who is due to join Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022, said on Twitter: "Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable.

"I cannot believe what we've just seen."

Emphasising his point, Russell added in another tweet: "THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!"

Former world champion Damon Hill, speaking on Sky Sports, said: "If they (Mercedes) can prove the rule was wrongly applied then they have got a case, but I don’t think any of the regulations are blindingly clear.

"Unfortunately, messages were coming out (from the race director) that were contradictory.

"I do think this championships has been run in a different way – they have tried to let the racing happen and race on track to the very end."