Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi F1 fans watch Lewis Hamilton light up Saudi Arabian GP

Hamilton's win means title will be decided at season-ending Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next Sunday

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Formula One fans celebrated Lewis Hamilton's victory in the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix held on the shores of Jeddah on Sunday evening.

The race on the street circuit under the lights in Jeddah featured three standing starts, a pair of restarts, multiple safety cars, and an intense back-and-forth between the title contenders.

Hamilton won despite crashing into the back of Max Verstappen at one point during a race in which the Dutchman twice had to cede a position to the Mercedes driver that he had gained illegally.

"It was such an exciting and scary experience - from the moment Mick Schumacher crashed to Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen clashing, it was so intense. We saw a racecar being towed away, sparks flying ... we're just happy no one was hurt and my favourite Hamilton won!" said Abdul Aziz, a jubilant fan at the race in Jeddah.

An overjoyed crowd welcomed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who made a surprise appearance at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

"We were screaming in excitement and all of us were applauding the man who is the reason all of this is possible," said Mohammed Irfan.

"My friends, family, and country are able to host this world championship because of his vision and resolve - to make this happen in only eight months. This honestly was the highlight of the evening for me, apart from the race."

The race concluded with a spectacular fireworks display and fans cheering from the grandstands. "It was magical. My husband and kids - all of us decked out in Mercedes merch, enjoyed every bit of it. I saw helicopters take VIPs, there was Akon and David Guetta there too, and there was so much happening I had the best time," said Nada Akeel, another racegoer.

Many foreigners and nationals said the new changes are part of Vision 2030 and that they are looking forward to more sporting events being held in the kingdom.

"My sister and brother both want to be part of F1 and race cars. They joined the young Saudi Stars programme and are so excited to be participating in e-karting activities," said Maha Ahmed.

Hamilton is now level on points with Red Bull rival Verstappen on 369.5 points meaning that next week's final race of the season in Abu Dhabi is a winner-takes-all.

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Updated: December 06, 2021, 6:53 AM