Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen? Abu Dhabi race to decide F1 champion

For only the second time in Formula 1 history, two drivers are entering the last Grand Prix of a season tied for the championship. Afte...

For only the second time in Formula 1 history, two drivers are entering the last Grand Prix of a season tied for the championship.

After 21 races, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen heading to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday facing a showdown with the winner. “It’s a dream scenario,” said Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren.

Mercedes’ Hamilton is aiming for a record-breaking eighth title, Red Bull’s Verstappen his first.

“This is definitely an incredibly intense year and time,” said Hamilton. “I ran for 28 years. I’ve had so many intense karting, single-seater battles, and this is one of them.

“Sure, it’s the pinnacle of the sport, so everything is uplifted, everything is absolute maximum and so much weighs in on it, but it’s great for the sport, it’s great for the fans. They enjoy it. more than ever, and I am enjoying it as a racing driver.

There are tension between them on the track, and they’ve had a number of incidents including crashes in the Grand Prix of Great Britain and Italy.

In the final race, in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Hamilton beat Verstappen, who served two time penalties. The first, of five seconds, was to force Hamilton off the circuit. On the radio, Hamilton described Verstappen as “crazy”.

A 10 second penalty followed for “erratic” braking, described in a report from the race marshals, which resulted in Hamilton hitting Verstappen’s back.

After leading by 19 points after back-to-back wins in the United States and Mexico, Verstappen’s advantage faded after three straight wins for Hamilton.

“Basically we’re starting over the way we started the season,” said Verstappen. “We’re level on points now, and it’s really exciting for the whole championship and Formula 1 in general.”

Many are hoping that the race will be clean on Sunday and that the title will be decided without penalties.

“Of course we care about how we win the title,” said Christian Horner, Red Bull team manager. “We want to win it on the track, not in the commissaires’ room, not in a gravel pit.

“It has been a tough fight throughout the year, there have been some fantastic races between these two riders, and I hope it will be a fair and clean race in Abu Dhabi.”

Despite the losing streak against Hamilton, Horner said he would have no problem boosting the morale of Verstappen or his team.

“At the beginning of the year, if you had given us this chance, this one to win this world championship in the last race in Abu Dhabi after 21 intense battle races with Mercedes, we would all, as a team, have you. bit his arm for it, ”Horner said.

If neither driver scores a point, Verstappen would be champion because he won nine times, Hamilton eight.

Formula 1 has a history of last-race incidents that decided the championships. Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve collided in 1997 in Jerez, Spain.

Schumacher was deprived of all his points for the season for what was deemed a deliberate attempt to end his rival’s run. Villeneuve becomes champion.

Three years earlier, Damon hill lost the chance to win the title in Adelaide, Australia after being touched by Schumacher. The stewards did not impose a penalty.

Watching Sunday’s race, Hill, the 1996 champion, said: “There are people who drive without compromise, and I think Max is one of those people. He’s very skillful, brilliant and it’s exciting to watch. I think Lewis, who has to deal with this, is now very careful. He’s not intimidated, but he’s very suspicious of Max and probably rightly so.

Current drivers are also captivated by the battle.

“That’s really what the sport needs, it’s what you hope for every year, a battle like this,” said Ricciardo, who was Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull from 2016 to 2018. ” You have the veteran with the most records in Lewis on one side, and then you have the youngest race winner on the other.

“They’re going to compete and it’s a really cool battle, a great story. Some people envy not being a part of it, but ultimately for sports, and as a sports fan, it’s a dream scenario.

George Russell of Williams joins Hamilton at Mercedes next season. He can appreciate what both drivers have accomplished this season.

“Red Bull and Max probably had the advantage at the start of the year, but things have turned more in Lewis’s hands in recent events,” said Russell.

“They both ride really well, and it’s great to see a real battle unfold between the two.”

Mercedes edged Red Bull by 23 points in Saudi Arabia to lead the constructors’ championship by 28 points.

One of the reasons for the close battles between the drivers and the teams has been the success of the budget cap.

In the past, teams had no limits on the amount of money they could spend. This season, they’ve been capped at $ 145 million.

“This is the first year that we have applied the cost cap, and Mercedes and Red Bull have not been able to raise the dial to 11,” said Ross Brawn, general manager of Formula 1, motorsports. “They are not allowed to.

“It means the championship has been tight all season. We haven’t had a single team to run away because they’ve been able to devote massive resources to any problem. “

This led to “a battle for the ages” between Hamilton and Verstappen.

“Having two riders on the same team brings a strange dynamic, but when you have two teams, and each mechanic, engineer and crew chief on those teams tries to beat the other, it adds a whole new aspect. , so we are blessed this year, ”Brawn said.

History beckons Hamilton. If he wins on Sunday, he will become the first driver with eight championships. he is level with Schumacher at age seven.

Hamilton and Mercedes returned to form at the right time of the season when it was most necessary to get back to Verstappen.

“In Saudi Arabia I saw a passion and an excitement in my team that I don’t think I’ve seen in 10 years which was amazing,” said Hamilton.

“We keep fighting, no matter what we’ve been through as a team. Probably all of us, no matter what we’re up against, we keep pushing, never give up. “

Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff said: “It’s all or nothing in Abu Dhabi.”

Will the emotions of the drivers and the teams be controlled?

“The emotions are very high, but I don’t think we need to keep a cover,” Wolff said.

“There is a lot of respect between the teams for each other’s accomplishments,” he said, “and that’s why, as long as we have a clean race, we are fighting for a drivers’ world championship. , it was a great season. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen? Abu Dhabi race to decide F1 champion
Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen? Abu Dhabi race to decide F1 champion
Newsrust - US Top News
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