F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix LIVE: Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen COLLIDE on opening lap – latest from Yas Marina finale

LEWIS HAMILTON has escaped a collision scare after Max Verstappen during the first lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The pair made contact in the first lap after the Brit got an incredible jump on his rival at the start.

But after an investigation stewards have decided not to punish the reigning world champ.

Instead of giving a place back to Verstappen he only had to give back time. Red Bull were convinced he DIDN'T ease up and complained but the stewards were satisfied Hamilton did do so.

  • Grand Prix start time: 1pm UK (5pm local) today
  • Grid: 1 Max Verstappen 2 Lewis Hamilton 3 Lando Norris 4 Sergio Perez 5 Carlos Sainz 6 Valtteri Bottas
  • Laps: 58 times around Yas Marina Circuit
  • Explainer: How Lewis Hamilton can finish ahead of Max Verstappen but still LOSE F1 title

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Stay up to date with all the latest from Yas Marina in our live blog…

  • George Boulton

    LAP 14 – VERSTAPPEN PITS

    The Dutchman dives into the pits for what is expected to be his last stop of the race.

  • George Boulton

    LAP 12 – VERSTAPPEN'S REARS ARE STRUGGLING

    The soft tyres on Verstappen's Red Bull are falling away faster than they first feared.

  • George Boulton

    LAP 11 – 'KEEP UP THE PRESSURE'

    Hamilton is lapping a second faster than Verstappen, taking his lead up to almost five seconds.

    His engineer says: "Great laps Lewis. Keep it up, keep the pressure on."

  • George Boulton

    JENSON BUTTON IS TORN ON THE INCIDENT

    "It was a very late lunge but it was always going to happen, Lewis knew he was coming.

    "He pushed Lewis off the track – I guess – but he stayed on the track.

    "I'm struggling to understand the regulations right now because obviously in Brazil there was no penalty, but they both drove off the circuit. Max stayed on the track this time."

  • George Boulton

    HORNER UNHAPPY

    "We are a little bit shocked at that because apparently Lewis gave his advantage back, which we have failed to see yet…

    "It's a total lack of consistency.

    "We are focused on the race and still a long way to go."

  • George Boulton

    LAP 10 – HAMILTON LEADS BY TWO SECONDS

    Following a dramatic opening lap, Hamilton is pulling away and has an advantage of over two seconds.

    Verstappen has also said his rear tyres are fading away as his soft tyres struggle in Abu Dhabi.

  • George Boulton

    HERE IS THE INCIDENT

    As you can see, Verstappen made an uncompromising move which forced Hamilton off the track.

    There's confusion among former drivers and pundits after the controversial incident.

  • George Boulton

    LAP 4 – 'WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE!?'

    Verstappen responds to the news of there being no investigation.

    He said: "That is incredible. What are they doing here?"

    His race engineer says 'get on with it and win it on track'.

    The stewards felt Hamilton had given back any advantage which he gained by going off the track.

  • George Boulton

    LAP 2 – NO INVESTIGATION REQUIRED

    They have seen the late lunge from Verstappen as an ambitious move.

    Hamilton left the door open for his title rival at turn seven.

    And Verstappen dived down the inside, which meant Hamilton could not turn inside, forcing him off the track.

  • George Boulton

    LAP 1 – HAMILTON AND VERSTAPPEN GO WHEEL TO WHEEL

    Verstappen calls for the place to be handed back over the team radio while Hamilton calmly says 'he pushed me off the track'.

    Hamilton has kept the lead so far…

  • George Boulton

    LIGHTS OUT

    All the lights are out and the race is underway.

    Hamilton has taken the lead!

    The Brit leads from the first turn after an incredible start.

    It was a poor start from Verstappen despite being on the soft tyres.

  • George Boulton

    FORMATION LAP IS UNDERWAY

    One final lap before the race begins as Hamilton and Verstappen look to heat up their tyres.

  • George Boulton

    FIGHTING TALK

    Toto Wolff has not held back ahead of the race when discussing Mercedes' plans with Hamilton.

    "We are going to go massive attack. Whatever the strategy is, whether it's a one stop or a two stop, we are going to be on his tail if we are second.

    "There is just one way to go and that's forward. That's a tricky bit [into Turn One]. Lewis is the best to know how to position the car that it doesn't end up with mayhem in Turn One."

  • George Boulton

    WHO WILL HAVE THEIR HANDS ON THE TROPHY?

    Ten minutes until the start of the race, where these two title protagonists will fight for the title.

    The two men are on level points as Hamilton is in his cockpit while Verstappen is putting on his balaclava and helmet.

  • George Boulton

    CHRISTIAN HORNER: 'WE'RE PUMPED UP'

    The Red Bull boss is raring to go as he looks to cap off an incredible year with Verstappen being crowned champion.

    He said: "We're just pumped up for this race, it's been a hell of a year. Max has been mighty all year, and we're just going to do exactly what we've done for every other race, and try and enjoy it.

    "Sergio is going to be going for it. He did a wonderful job for us a team player yesterday, he's done brilliantly this year as well. We're not giving up anything in this championship, both are still open."

  • George Boulton

    PATRICE EVRA: 'I LOVE THIS GAME'

    Patrice Evra gatecrashed Martin Brundle's grid interview with UK rapper Stormzy by belting out his catchphrase 'I love this game!'

    Brundle has also bumped into Usain Bolt and Chris Gayle on a packed-out grid.

  • George Boulton

    SOFT TYRES ARE EXPECTED TO LAST 15 LAPS…

    Red Bull and Max Verstappen may be forced into a two-stop strategy.

    Pirelli have predicted their soft tyre will last only 15 laps, meaning Verstappen will be forced to pit.

    Nico Rosberg said: "I was just speaking to the Pirelli boss Mario Isola, who of course has all the data.

    "He said it's going to be quite short on that soft tyre, because it will only last 15 to 20 laps. If that is the case, then that's quite a worry for Red Bull."

    Jenson Button added: "They're strategy is very limited.

    "Lewis starting on the medium tyre, he has every opportunity. It's a tricky one – though I'd still rather be on pole position with the soft tyre."

    Rosberg adds: "Max has track position and that's a big, big thing. But Lewis on the medium does have a big chance today in the race."

  • George Boulton

    JOLYON PALMER: 'IT FEELS LIKE A BOXING MATCH'

    The two superstars will battle it out in just a matter of minutes as Red Bull and Mercedes throw everything at this race.

    The former Renault driver and BBC 5 Live pundit said: "It feels like a boxing match at the moment – two contenders heading into the ring.

    "Hopefully we get a great race today to conclude what I think has been the best Formula 1 season I have ever witnessed."

  • George Boulton

    45 MINUTES UNTIL LIGHTS OUT

    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have now stepped into their cars as they make their way to the starting grid.

    All the distractions are now out of the way as the engines roar and you get your first feel of the car on race day as they prepare for their reconnaissance laps.

  • George Boulton

    TODAY'S GRID CONFIRMED

    There will be 19 cars on the grid today after Nikita Mazepine has been forced to withdraw from the race after testing positive for Covid-19.

    No penalties have been issued since qualifying, meaning there are no other changes to grid.

  • George Boulton

    A GOOD OMEN FOR HAMILTON FANS…

    For all seven of his world titles, Hamilton has NEVER started on pole in the race which has seen him clinch the championship.

    So he is all too familiar to being on the back foot when the pressure is on.

    Credit: Alamy
  • George Boulton

    VERSTAPPEN: 'I REALLY EXPECT A TIGHT BATTLE'

    He said: "We're feeling good. Let's see what the tyres do in the race but we're confident they will be decent. A lot of things can happen in the race in terms of strategy but at least it's the right tyre for the start.

    "The start is important but also the rest of the race, a lot of things can happen and I really expect a tight battle. I'm looking forward to it."

  • George Boulton

    HAMILTON: 'SO MANY BRITISH FLAGS HERE'

    Lewis Hamilton waves to his adoring British fans as he stands alongside his title rival Max Verstappen.

    He said: "So many British flags here! The support we have here is always great. This is a beautiful place for us to have a race.

    "I just need to be me on the track and assess the situations around me as composed and with the best energy and intentions as I can, and give it everything.

    "I believe in my guys, we will be giving it everything we have."

  • George Boulton

    Former world champions have their say:

    Jenson Button:

    "Formula 1 is amazing when it's at its best, it really is. Normally we have six-seven-eight races that are exceptional and the rest are good. Whereas this year they have all been exceptional: there has been action on and off the track. Drivers, team principals; that's why. 

    "Even people who don't watch Formula 1 I think will be tuning in today to watch the showdown."

    Nico Rosberg:

    "Max yesterday under all that pressure, the way he delivered such a miraculous lap that he pulled out in qualifying to give Lewis almost four tenths, was so strong. It was really greatness.

    "Now Lewis trying to fight back today from second on the grid, the race is going to be phenomenal to watch."

  • George Boulton

    Decider in the desert

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