SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 08: Second place finisher Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing in the post race press conference during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

It was a race for the history books, with controversial decisions and a season long rivalry providing the back drop to a nail-biting final lap around the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton, the seven time world champion, led from the start with his young Dutch rival Max Verstappen following closely behind. Hamilton, managing a long stint on medium tyres, seemed to be just a few laps away from snatching the record breaking eighth title, before the Williams of Nicholas Latifi lost grip and spun into the wall, causing a safety car.

With the Williams wreckage cleared, those on the pit wall and watching at home expected to watch the usual process unfold, allowing lapped cars to pass the safety car in order to not interfere with the front runners. Instead, the FIA and race director Michael Masi made the decision to prevent lapped cars from overtaking, before seemingly changing their minds after a heated radio message from Red Bull's Christian Horner.

Verstappen, who pitted for a set of fresh tyres under the safety car, was now in prime position to chase down Hamilton with just one lap remaining. As Verstappen overtook Hamilton and claimed the championship title for himself, the fans in Abu Dhabi were electric, but so was social media. The worldwide popularity of the Netflix series Drive to Survive has seen a massive increase in both those watching and talking about the sport, combine that with one of the most interesting title battles and most anticipated races in years, and social media was always going to be the battleground for fans of either driver.

There were plenty of hot takes, divided opinions and thoughts from the experts, but everyone could agree on one thing; Masi's decision would have a long lasting impact on the sport.

Some fans took the opportunity to make light of the situation.

 

Others though, were frustrated at the scenes unfolding under the lights in Abu Dhabi.

 

Current and former drivers expressed their feelings online and in the media pen as the chaos unfolded, with George Russell, who will be racing for Mercedes in 2022, tweeting that the situation was "unacceptable".

 

Despite the controversy, Verstappen will leave Abu Dhabi as a world champion, though with Mercedes protests incoming, the title remains under a cloud for the foreseeable future.