2021 Formula One Championship is Set for an All-Time Conclusionby Jack Gaffney December 8, 2021 1 comment
After just about 10 months, the 2021 Formula One season will come to a conclusion this Sunday. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enter the Yas Marina Circuit finale tied for the points lead at 369.5 points each. Their season-long battle has been one for the ages, filled with drama and controversy at every corner. Probably no case more so than last weekend’s clown show in Saudi Arabia. Highly questionable steward decisions, teams negotiating punishments mid-race, Hamilton running into the back of Verstappen, the whole nine yards.
Now the two top dogs on F1’s top two teams are set for a winner take a finale in the Middle East. Also worth noting this is the final race with this current generation of car. A brand new car will be used in 2022, just like in the NASCAR Cup Series. In other words, this is somewhat an end of an era, on top of a record amount of 23 races being run next year as well. With that said, here is an in-depth breakdown of the two title combatants.
No. 44 Lewis Hamilton- Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
2021 Stats: 8 Wins, 16 Podiums, 5 Poles, 1 DNF, Average Finish of 2.8
Hamilton this weekend looks to win a record-breaking eight Formula One title. Based on the state of F1 as of late, he should be entering Abu Dhabi with confidence. The Mercedes driver has won the last three races, and four of the previous seven entering this weekend. Another reason for confidence is that Mercedes was on a streak of six straight wins at the circuit with three separate drivers (Hamilton x4, Valtteri Bottas, Nico Rosberg). The keyword being was, since the gentleman Hamilton is duking it out with won here a year ago.
This is a major legacy weekend for Hamilton however in any case. He picked up career win No. 100 earlier this year in Russia. Picked up career pole No. 100 in Spain. Not even to mention a case of Covid in 2020 cost him a shot at 50 consecutive point finishes earlier this year as well. There is a fair argument to be made about Hamilton’s equipment gap to everyone else in this run with Mercedes. However, in fairness on the other side, he’s absolutely made the most of it and is knocking on the door or title number eight. All that stands in his way is career win No. 104, as well as a 24-year-old Dutchman.
No. 33 Max Verstappen- Red Bull Racing
2021 Stats: 9 Wins, 17 Podiums 9 Poles, 3 DNFs, Average Finish of 1.89
Verstappen looks to join fellow countryman Jeffery Herlings as a Dutch Motorsports World Champion in 2021. The latter pulled off a title win in a winner take all finale in MXGP for Red Bull KTM. Like Herlings, Verstappen has looked flat-out unbeatable at points this year, but mistakes have a chance to come back and haunt him. If not for Hamilton taking him out at Silverstone, a late tire failure at Baku, and a duel retirement with Hamilton at Monza, this battle would have been over weeks ago. On top of losing the last three races to the defending Champion, Verstappen feels on the ropes here.
There is one interesting note to bring up with Verstappen entering this weekend. In the unlikely event that the points remain tied after the checkered flag drops, Verstappen will luck out. His nine wins to Hamilton’s eight would earn him his first career championship at age 24. Interestingly enough, that would put him close to Hamilton when he won his first title. Verstappen’s title rival won championship No. 1 at 23 years and 300 days old on the dot in 2008. Verstappen has been highly touted since he hit Formula One at 17 years old, and this could be the first of many titles for the Dutchman.
This Championship feels like it could go either way, and that’s not even because of the tie. With the points gap from first to second in a race being seven points (six if second place gets fastest lap) this was always going to be tight. According to our friends over at Jazz Sportsbook, Hamilton is listed as a -225 favorite to win this weekend, with Verstappen back at +200. Although it is race, not championship odds, it is basically the same at this point.
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This, however, is a scenario played out in sports for as long as time. Do you go with Hamilton, who has been red hot as of late? Or do you go with Verstappen, who has been the best driver from start to finish in 2021? It’s hard to go wrong with either here, but gut feeling is the all-time title record is going to be broken come Sunday.
Formula One World Drivers Championship Pick: Lewis Hamilton.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images