The most incredible championship battle is down to its final race and, fittingly, there’s nothing to split Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton; Charting the increasing hostility of an epic rivalry, the drama, and much more from F1 2021; Watch Abu Dhabi GP live on Sky Sports this weekend. Finally we may have that Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen title battle, we thought. Finally, Red Bull may have a car to compete with Mercedes.
But this? Nobody predicted this.
One to go: How it stands in the title chases
1) Max Verstappen 369.5
2) Lewis Hamilton 369.5
1) Mercedes 587.5
2) Red Bull 559.5
There has been controversy aplenty. Races that have included enough drama to fill a season. Extraordinary skill under pressure. And after all that, Verstappen and Hamilton are, quite incredibly, locked on 369.5(!) points heading into the 22nd and final race, this weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP. Before then, let’s look back at what has been a title fight for the ages, one that has spilled over at times, will no doubt live long in the memory, and will have a more-than deserving champion no matter the victor.
One more race. Only one champion. 🏆 Will F1 have a first-time winner, or its first 8⃣-time title holder?
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) December 7, 2021
The incredible battles: F1 stars at the peak of their powers
Verstappen has long been touted as the man that could end or at least threaten Hamilton’s era of dominance, but before 2021 had never quite had the tools at his disposal. Despite blending his outright speed with improved consistency in recent years, his best championship finish coming into this season was third – and with few changes to the cars from Mercedes’ utterly dominant 2020, it looked like it may be hard to even top that.
But pre-season testing proved that Red Bull had made a step and Mercedes were, by their standards, struggling – and the predictions of a closer battle have more than come true over a campaign that makes it easy to forget that prior to 2021, Verstappen and Hamilton had barely had an on-track head to head at all.
In a seldom-seen battle between drivers at their peak but at very different stages of their careers – one desperate for a maiden title and one for a record-breaking eighth – the action has been thrilling, and it kick-started immediately.