Formula 1 fans around the world have been spoiled this year. We’ve had a dramatic F1 season that has so far seen six different winners take to the top step of the podium.
But the headlines throughout the year have belonged to two of those race winners. That’s because Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen have been caught in a close duel all year.
Throughout the 2021 season, these two drivers have been battling for the lead of the driver’s standings and for their claim to the 2021 World Championship. Now, with just two races to go, Verstappen remains within touching distance of his first world title as he leads seven-time champion, Hamilton.
Verstappen currently sits just eight points ahead of Hamilton in the standings, with each driver holding 351.5 and 343.5 points respectively. But despite there being two races to go, the young Red Bull racer can clinch his first world title on Sunday, if the stars align for him.
If he wants to seal the deal this weekend, Verstappen must finish 26 points or more ahead of Hamilton. That might sound like a tall order, but it’s not impossible.
There’s a few ways he can do this. Most importantly, he has to score 18 points more than Hamilton at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
As there’s 18 points up for grabs for second, Verstappen will be hoping Hamilton isn’t able to score a point if the Red Bull driver claims second place on Sunday. If that happens, Verstappen will win the title.
Alternatively, if Vertsappen can take home 25 points for finishing first, he’ll walk away with both hands on the trophy if Hamilton finishes the race in seventh or lower.
There’s further complications due to Formula 1's extra point for fastest lap. That point is given to the fastest driver in the race, if they finish in the top ten.
This could be a vital additional point for Verstappen, or Hamilton, come the end of the race on Sunday.
If Verstappen wins and takes the fastest lap, he’ll pick up 26 points in Saudi Arabia. That means Hamilton will have to come home in at least fifth to score 10 vital points that could keep his championship hopes alive.
Regardless of where Hamilton finishes, if Verstappen finishes below second in Saudi Arabia the championship fight will continue into the season finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
To make that finale even spicier, there’s a real chance that we could go into the race with both drivers level on points.
If Hamilton finishes first and claims the point for fastest lap, and Verstappen is second, they will both head to Abu Dhabi level on 369.5. Exciting stuff!