The two drivers have been the center of attention during their time in F1. From the start, when Max Verstappen made his debut as a teenager and Lewis Hamilton was on course to win five world championships before he hit 30 years old, things were never going to be dull between them.
The “lewis hamilton vs max verstappen stats” is one of the most exciting matchups in Formula 1 history. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been racing each other since they were both 10 years old.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, hoping to win one of the most dramatic championship races in Formula One history.
It’s been wonderful, surprising, and contentious all at the same time. It may seem corny, but if you build a checklist of everything that goes into making a genuinely great title bout, this fight has it all.
The stakes are obvious. They are evenly matched in terms of points, thus the winner gets it all. In the event of a tie, Verstappen wins the championship since he has one more win for the season.
Here are all of the elements for this year’s fight, as well as why they’ve all come together to make this year’s fight so unique.
Two abilities from two generations
One of the most interesting aspects of this year’s tournament has been how far apart the two protagonists are in terms of their lives and careers.
On one hand, there’s British driver Lewis Hamilton, 36, a seven-time world champion, a worldwide celebrity, and a loud campaigner for social change. Hamilton has won more races than any other driver, and he is presently tied for the most world titles with Michael Schumacher, at seven. Hamilton would undoubtedly become F1’s indisputable GOAT if he won his eighth title.
On the other hand, Verstappen, a 24-year-old Dutch driver, maintains a far quieter profile outside of racing. In the 1990s, his father Jos was a racer and a former teammate of Schumacher’s. Verstappen is aiming for his first world championship and seems to be the most likely driver to challenge Hamilton’s records set in recent seasons.
This is the thing that Hollywood filmmakers fantasize about. It will either be a moment of handing the baton or a feat never seen before in F1. It’s the age-old story of two generations at odds. It’s tough not to find a plot like that interesting, regardless of the sport.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are at opposite ends of their careers and lifestyles. Pool/Getty Images/Emilio Morenatti
However, there are some parallels between the two. From a young age, both drivers were regarded as extraordinary abilities. Verstappen, like Hamilton in 2007, enters Formula One in 2015 as a potential world champion. Both Red Bull and Mercedes wanted him on their team, but it was Red Bull’s ability to provide him with an immediate race seat with junior squad Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri), which Mercedes couldn’t match, that finally won him over. He made his debut when he was 17 years old.
After a near-miss as a rookie, Hamilton won the title in his second season with McLaren in 2008, although he was far from polished as a driver in his early years. Before joining Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton’s career was frustratingly inconsistent, with him winning a race one week and colliding with another the next.
In that respect, Verstappen’s early career was comparable. He became F1’s youngest race winner in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, his first race with Red Bull, although three previous world champions, Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Kimi Raikkonen, criticized his aggressive driving style in the early years.
Two teams who are equally suited
This year, Red Bull was instantly competitive against Mercedes. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images/JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images/JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/
This year, the stars aligned nearly perfectly for Red Bull. Since 2014, Hamilton and Mercedes have ruled Formula One, and this is the most difficult season for the German company in that period.
In 2021, Red Bull and Honda’s relationship was deemed a success. Honda had a bad time with McLaren from 2015 to 2017, but the improvement achieved with Red Bull was evident in the years after their merger in 2019. With Red Bull’s car-building skill at an all-time high, an engine capable of competing with Mercedes would propel them to the top of the field.
Red Bull was also benefited by a modification in technical restrictions for the 2021 season. Due to the pandemic delaying F1’s main regulatory reform until 2022, the teams decided to leave the vehicles’ fundamental foundations the same from 2020 to 2021. The goal was to save costs, but there was also fear that Pirelli’s tyres, which hadn’t been fully developed in three years owing to the Italian manufacturer’s shift to the next set of rules, wouldn’t be able to handle another year of 2020 vehicle development.
The answer was to use technical requirements to remove portions of the floor away and simplify the designs of barge boards and rear brake ducts. Those alterations had a greater detrimental influence on Mercedes’ design philosophy than on Red Bull’s, resulting in Mercedes losing significant ground to its opponent during the winter while Red Bull made relative improvements. The end effect is two vehicles that appear extremely similar to last year’s yet perform considerably more similarly.
The guy in the vehicle, of course, is the crucial third component of the title-contending equation. Verstappen has excelled in his position as a championship contender. He said that he found most of 2019 and 2020 to be tedious since he was frequently battling alone for third place, but he soon realized in preseason testing this year that he had a vehicle capable of competing for the championship.
He hasn’t showed any signs of being intimidated by the challenge. Several Red Bull employees have told ESPN how impressed they are with Verstappen’s cool and robotic demeanor at the season’s most critical times. While everyone knew he was excellent heading into 2021, the Dutchman’s incredible potential has been confirmed this year.
This year, Red Bull was instantly competitive against Mercedes. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images/JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images/JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/
Before we get into the incidents and squabbles between the two, it’s worth noting that both drivers have put in championship-caliber performances this season.
Verstappen has put forth a number of impressive weekend efforts. Verstappen was flawless in front of a boisterous home crowd at his maiden Dutch Grand Prix, and he controlled the whole weekend. He appeared to be the only one in Zandvoort who didn’t realize the scope of his accomplishments.
Verstappen won the US Grand Prix despite being under pressure from Hamilton throughout the race. He overtook both Mercedes drivers on the run down to Turn 1 in Mexico to take the lead. For the most of the season, he has looked like a champion.
The Brazilian Grand Prix was Hamilton’s best performance of the season so far. At Interlagos, Hamilton’s comeback through the field, first in sprint qualifying and then in the race, was a spectacular display of all of his exceptional abilities and a reminder that he frequently performs at his best when he feels like he’s up against the wall.
Hamilton’s triumph at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was also stunning, as he held off Verstappen’s considerably quicker Red Bull, which was also running on fresher tyres at the time.
On-track collisions and near-misses
The fact that Hamilton and Verstappen have clashed three times this season has added to the drama.
The first of them was the British Grand Prix, when Hamilton collided with Verstappen on the first lap as the Red Bull driver attempted to pass him around the outside of Copse turn. Hamilton’s action was afterwards dubbed “amateurish” by Christian Horner, who said Hamilton had jeopardized Verstappen’s safety.
Hamilton reasoned that he had escaped too many crashes with Verstappen. He and Mercedes said Verstappen could have gone wide and avoided the incident, and that the Red Bull driver also went into the turn at a much higher pace than he did in qualifying, when he had a more nimble vehicle and far less gasoline in the tank.
Hamilton was given a time penalty but recovered to win the race, while Verstappen was sent to the hospital for precautionary examinations.
To say Red Bull was irritated by the events at Silverstone would be an understatement. While they were enraged by Hamilton’s ‘just’ 10-second penalty, Red Bull was equally enraged by Mercedes’ victory celebrations while Verstappen was still being examined in hospital. To make matters worse, the crash resulted in Red Bull losing an engine, for which Vestappen received a grid penalty later in the year, and having to pay a large repair bill in the first year under Formula One’s cost limit.
Regardless of who was right or incorrect in all of this, the atmosphere around the championship battle has never been the same since.
Verstappen attempted to overtake Hamilton on the inside of the first chicane at the Italian Grand Prix in September, but ended up on top of his rival’s vehicle in the gravel trap. Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ CEO, called Verstappen’s manoeuvre a “professional foul,” and the stewards agreed, awarding him a three-place grid penalty for the following race.
-Why the stewards at Monza blamed Verstappen instead of Hamilton
During the Italian F1 Grand Prix at Autodromo di Monza, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided. Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images, photo by Dan Istitene
The third, and oddest, crash occurred during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last weekend. Verstappen ran himself and Hamilton off the road at Turn 1 while protecting the lead. Fearing a penalty, Red Bull urged him to relinquish the position, so he slowed sharply in the middle of the back straight to do so. Hamilton, who was unaware that Verstappen had been given the instruction to relinquish the lead, was unsure of what to do and slammed into the rear of the Red Bull.
Hamilton referred to Verstappen as “crazy,” and both he and Red Bull were perplexed as to why Hamilton had not just past him on the left.
With neither driver wanting to give the other the lead before the DRS detection point, which would help their chances of an overtake on the run to Turn 1, the collision appeared to be a perfect storm of a misunderstanding between two drivers and two drivers attempting some form of gamesmanship, all of which happened in a matter of seconds. The stewards, on the other hand, deemed Verstappen primarily to fault after data from his vehicle revealed he slammed on the brakes right in front of Hamilton, causing the incident.
There have also been other near calls in addition to the crashes. Verstappen drove Hamilton wide at Turn 1 at Imola as he wrestled the lead away from him. Hamilton’s rationale would be vital later at Silverstone, when he refused to yield for Verstappen.
The most notable occurred in November at the Brazilian Grand Prix, when Verstappen drove Hamilton wide while protecting the lead. To escape the collision, Hamilton moved wide, as he believed Verstappen could and should have done to prevent the incident at the British Grand Prix.
The FIA did not sanction Verstappen’s action, and Mercedes unsuccessfully appealed. Although Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for a similar incident in Saudi Arabia last weekend, the judgment seems to have set the precedent for what is and isn’t acceptable when racing in this weekend’s final race.
Anger that is justified
This year, the ferocity of the on-track struggle has often spilled over into the media. Things have been extremely unpleasant at times over the last several months.
Hamilton has made no secret of his disdain for Verstappen’s style, claiming last week that his adversary believes F1’s regulations do not apply to him and that he is constantly racing “beyond the edge.” Verstappen can be abrasive with the media when it comes to sensitive topics, but he has been quite reserved in his comments regarding Hamilton. However, he is not afraid to criticize F1’s stewards. He remarked last week that the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was “not Formula One” and that it was an example of the sport’s over-regulation.
The fact that Hamilton and Verstappen’s respective bosses, Wolff and Horner, have clashed on many occasions adds to the drama of this title race. The rivalry between them is extremely serious, and it is on a far larger scale than the rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen.
The shots that the two have exchanged have resulted in some spectacular soundbites and headlines. Last year, Wolff called Horner a “windbag,” and this year, Horner compared Wolff to a pantomime villain. Horner has also taken advantage of the situation to claim that Wolff “inherited” the powerful Mercedes team from Ross Brawn, who stepped down as team head in 2013.
This tight relationship was on display in the days preceding up to the Qatar Grand Prix, when Wolff and Horner sat together in a heated news conference and engaged in a war of words on a variety of themes, with a few cheap shots tossed in for good measure.
Toto Wolff and Christian Horner have never been afraid to criticize one other. Getty Images/Dan Istitene
Horner has been particularly good at building tension in the media, but he appeared to trip over himself at the end of the weekend when he received a public slap on the wrist from the FIA for suggesting a “rogue marshal” had waved a yellow flag Verstappen had not slowed down for in qualifying, resulting in Verstappen receiving a grid penalty.
The timing of F1’s run-in surely exacerbated the rivalry. The race this weekend will be the sixth in six weeks (across three continents). With races coming thick and fast recently, it’s seemed like a pressure cooker, with both teams entrenched in opposing and immovable positions against one other.
A winner-takes-all battle
The fact that Verstappen and Hamilton are even on points sets this distinct from so many past championship bouts; the last time this occurred between two title candidates was in 1974. After so many events and races, it’s almost astonishing that they’re so evenly matched.
Whatever happens, it seems to be set up for one last act of drama in some manner, shape, or form.
In Formula One, there have been a number of memorable championship contests that have concluded in spectacular circumstances. In 1989 and 1990, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost collided twice to determine titles, but both times in the last round of both seasons. Schumacher won and lost championships after colliding with Damon Hill in 1994 and Jacques Villeneuve in 1997, respectively, while Hamilton defeated Felipe Massa to the crown after overtaking Timo Glock at the last turn of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.
But none of them possessed the most apparent selling feature of this championship fight: it was winner-take-all. On paper, it seems like a straightforward idea, but considering how close they’ve been all year and the current debate over racing regulations, there’s been speculation about whether this championship race would finish with another collision between the two.
It would be a tragedy if it ended that way, but considering the events of the year, it seems to be a very possible possibility. However, presuming that this would be the conclusion is an injustice to two drivers who have put in fantastic racing performances all year and are both in this position on merit.
It’s hard to predict which way things will go, as it has been for most of the year.
F1 will celebrate a deserved 2021 world champion on Sunday evening in Abu Dhabi, regardless of how it finishes; how we get there remains to be seen.
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The “f1 standings” is a sporting competition in which drivers compete for the Formula One World Championship. This year, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been battling it out for the title of F1’s all-time best driver.
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