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Opinion: Why the 2021 F1 title decider be essentially the most dramatic ever | Autocar

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The Method 1 World Championship has featured some unimaginable final-round title showdowns in its historical past, however this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix might effectively be essentially the most dramatic ever. Two drivers, degree on factors. Have at it.

One is essentially the most profitable driver within the historical past of the game, looking for a document eighth championship – and a fifth in a row. The opposite is his inheritor obvious, a 24-year-old phenom looking for to lastly safe the crown that has lengthy appeared his future. 

Nonetheless, following the chaotic, controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the large query forward of this weekend isn’t whether or not Sir Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen will win the championship: it’s whether or not they may each make it previous the primary flip.

The stress between the 2 drivers has been ramping up all yr, escalated by rhetoric from their respective Mercedes-AMG and Crimson Bull-Honda groups and by a collection of on-track clashes and near-misses at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos.

Then got here Saudi Arabia, a two-and-a-half-hour cleaning soap opera of a race wherein Hamilton and Verstappen had a number of clashes and close to misses.

For me, the important thing takeaway was Verstappen’s method to racing Hamilton, which, relying in your viewpoint, was both agency or over the sting. Nevertheless it did present super situational consciousness: Verstappen was forward in factors on the time and certainly knew {that a} DNF can be costlier to Hamilton. So he made Hamilton select between ceding place or risking an accident.

Whereas the 2 at the moment are tied on 369.5 factors heading to Yas Marina, Verstappen nonetheless has an edge: he has gained 9 races to Hamilton’s eight, so would win on a tie-break if the pair completed degree on factors. However the momentum is with Hamilton: he has gained the final three races and Mercedes appears to have discovered a tempo benefit. Plus, as a seven-time champion, he has expertise of this. 

I’m not suggesting we’re going to see a repeat of Suzuka 1990, when Ayrton Senna intentionally drove into Alain Prost initially of the race to say the title. But when Verstappen and Hamilton are racing carefully, the Dutchman will certainly know his rival nonetheless has extra to lose – though FIA race director Michael Masi has clarified that factors penalties might be issued to make sure the title isn’t gained on account of contact.

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