a final straight that promises to be tight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton
While the Austin circuit was usually more successful for Mercedes, it was Max Verstappen, driving his Red Bull, who won there on October 24. This season, the 24-year-old Dutchman is fighting on equal terms and not without some sparks with the seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, and hopes to conquer his first world title. But as the home stretch looms, with the final five races of the year, the battle between the two drivers promises to be very close to win the 133 points that remain to be distributed. New round this weekend, with the Mexican Grand Prix (Sunday, 8 p.m.).
With five Grands Prix to go to the end of the season, Max Verstappen (287.5 points) is only twelve steps ahead of his British rival (275.5). A small gap that can still evolve, as in 2012, when Sebastian Vettel was 4 units behind Fernando Alonso with five races to go before finally being titled with 3 points in advance.
Also in 2010, when the points allocation system had just evolved, four drivers stood in a pocket handkerchief: Mark Webber (187 points) ahead of Lewis Hamilton (182), Fernando Alonso (166) and Sebastian Vettel ( 163). But it was the German who finally won and Hamilton, fourth, was only 16 points behind the champion.
Weekend after weekend, race after race, lap after lap
Relentless, brilliant, thrilling @ Max33Verstappen v @LewisHamilton in 2021 has got everyone talking # F1 pic.twitter.com/Py2f3SAqzc
– Formula 1 (@ F1) October 27, 2021
After the United States Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton appeared disappointed and not very optimistic for the following races: « The next two circuits (in Mexico and Brazil), for sure, will be circuits favorable to Red Bull, so it’s going to be tough, that’s for sure « . The Austrian team has indeed won two of the last three Grands Prix in Mexico, on a circuit located at 2300 meters above sea level, an altitude to which the Honda engine of the Red Bull adapts better.
“Mexico, we know that is usually a weak point for us and it seems to me that it is largely due to the unit of power and the high altitude. But I believe that we have been able to optimize a lot since then. So I expect us to do better than the last few years. « , preferred to positively his teammate Valtteri Bottas, certain that the Silver Arrows can defend themselves properly.
The next race will take place in Brazil (November 14), where Hamilton has won twice, but where Max Verstappen remains the last winner, in 2019. Then the drivers will join the Middle East, for unprecedented races on the circuit de Losail, Qatar, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where it is difficult to make predictions since Formula 1 has never raced there. Finally, to close a very undecided championship, the single-seaters will deliver a final lap in Abu Dhabi, a circuit that was doing well at Mercedes, with six consecutive victories, before Verstappen came to dethrone them in 2020.
If the Dutchman is having the best season of his career so far, nothing has yet been decided as the scenarios are difficult to predict for the last Grands Prix. The two drivers at the head of the world championship will also need good performances from their teammates to win and take points from their rival.
There is also another major uncertainty regarding the capacity of Lewis Hamilton’s engine to last until the end of the season (he lost 10 places at the start of the Turkish Grand Prix for an engine change). In the event of changes in certain elements, the Briton could be penalized by several places on the starting grid of one of the last Grands Prix.