Lewis Hamilton’s 2018 title was ultimately the closest of his career. His number 1 Mercedes team lost out to Max Verstappen and Red Bull in the final 3 races, meaning it wasn’t even close when looking at raw points. However, Lewis is still considered by many as a worthy champion based on other factors such as where he finished relative to how strong his competitors were
The “f1 standings” is a list of all the drivers and their current standings in the Formula One World Championship. Lewis Hamilton currently leads the series, but Max Verstappen has been catching up with his recent win at Suzuka.
THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, ABU DHABI — The title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will see Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton start alongside one other at the head of the grid. Any other front row would have felt out of place ahead of Sunday’s winner-take-all clash, and considering the two championship contenders’ previous performances, it was never in question.
However, Verstappen’s 0.3-second lead over Hamilton was unexpected. Throughout practice and the first two qualifying sessions, the Mercedes driver was in the lead. Verstappen, on the other hand, performed when it counted most, when the stakes were greatest.
After stepping out of the automobile, he said, “I’m really thrilled with this.” “Of course, this is exactly what we wanted.
“It’s never easy, particularly given their recent form, but for now all I can think about is tomorrow because, of course, that’s the most important thing.”
Verstappen versus Hamilton: Everything You Need to Know
On Sunday, Max Verstappen will start ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Getty Images/Peter Fox
Hamilton, too, responded to the situation and put in a strong performance, but after the session, he said that his vehicle was just not quick enough to compete with the Red Bull.
“The final lap was lovely and clean,” Hamilton said. “I simply couldn’t go much faster.” “In terms of the outlap, I’m not sure whether it’s tyre prep or something else, but I couldn’t beat his pace today. He was well deserving of the pole.”
On his quickest lap, Verstappen was helped by a slipstream from teammate Sergio Perez on the back straight, but it wasn’t enough to account for the full 0.371s deficit. Perez was the first out of the pits, punching a hole in the air between Turns 7 and 9, which Verstappen was able to take advantage of to minimize drag on his vehicle.
The tow boosted Verstappen’s speed down the straight, but a quick look at the sector numbers from his quickest lap suggests something even more extraordinary at the finish. Verstappen was 0.140s quicker than Hamilton in the middle sector, when the slipstream occurred, but he gained another 0.182s in the last sector, where he was mostly on his own navigating his vehicle through the barriers beneath the W Hotel.
“That’s one of Max’s greatest laps of the year, in my opinion. Even when we persuaded him to back off on the next lap, he was able to replicate the time [without a tow] “Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, said Sky Sports.
“This morning, we spoke about the slipstream, and we decided to decrease the downforce [on the vehicle] because it was the only way to keep up with these guys [Mercedes] on the straights.”
“I believe the tow was probably worth a tenth, a tenth or two, not half a second, and I think his final sector is wild, completely stupid, when you look at the degree of downforce he’s got on.”
Verstappen will be rewarded for his Saturday night effort with a grid position eight meters ahead of Hamilton on Sunday, as well as a patch of tarmac with better grip than his rival’s. The racing line at the Yas Marina Circuit crosses diagonally over the start-finish straight, but by the time it reaches the front row, it is farther to the right, meaning Verstappen’s side of the grid has more rubber and grip.
If the race follows the same pattern as recent Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, Verstappen’s eight meters and superior grid position might be enough to claim his maiden title (the last six drivers to win in Abu Dhabi have done so from pole). However, given the 2021 season’s storyline so far, a lights-to-flag triumph is implausible.
The fact that Verstappen and Hamilton’s strategy are offset from the start helps to ensure an entertaining race. Verstappen will start on soft tyres, while Hamilton will start on mediums, according to an F1 regulation that mandates the top 10 drivers to start the race on the same pair of tyres they used in the second qualifying session.
Verstappen claimed after the practice that it wasn’t Red Bull’s intention to start on the softs, but that a lock-up at Turn 1 on his set of mediums in Q2 meant he didn’t want to risk damaging the tyre by starting the race on that set. Furthermore, the set he secured was the only set of fresh mediums he had for the race, severely restricting his strategy choices.
“Obviously, that wasn’t the plan,” Verstappen said. “I planned to start on the medium, but I flat-spotted that one.” “However, I felt excellent on the soft in the long run, so switching to solely focused on the soft was not a tough choice to make.”
Getty Images/Mario Renzi/Formula 1/Formula 1
Hamilton was skeptical, speculating that Red Bull had soft tyres in mind from the start.
“It’s intriguing,” Hamilton said. “I’m usually skeptical of anything, so it’ll be fascinating when we go back and look at the data and onboard laps. It’s quite uncommon for people to lock up in Turn 1, but if he does lock up in Turn 1, it’ll be interesting to see whether we’re in a better position with that tyre.”
“Perhaps they know something we don’t, and the soft tyre was always their goal. For the long runs, we battled a little more on the soft tyre, so I believe we’ve found the correct tyre, but we’ll see tomorrow.”
On the first lap, Verstappen’s softs are anticipated to deliver a faster start and superior performance, but as the first stint progresses, the performance advantage should shift back to Hamilton’s mediums. By starting on mediums, Hamilton will have greater strategy flexibility, enabling him to stay on the same set of tyres for longer if the Mercedes pit wall feels it would provide an advantage, and try a one-stop race if Red Bull’s tyre decision leads to a two-stop.
“If you believe you can attack and go on a two-stop or manage and attempt to make a one-stop, which may be hard in the end,” Wolff added, “the two-stop is always a possible choice.” “I believe we should wait and see.”
“In practice, we observed a lot of deterioration on the soft tyres in the long runs, but not so much on the mediums, which is fascinating in terms of strategy. However, a one-stop seems fine to us as well, and a two-stop is clearly on the table as an option.”
Verstappen’s qualifying result isn’t wholly against the run of form, despite the fact that he hasn’t started from pole position since the United States Grand Prix in October. Verstappen should have started on pole in Saudi Arabia a week ago, but he wrecked at the penultimate curve of his final qualifying lap, just as he seemed to be securing a 0.3s advantage over Hamilton on that track.
Mercedes was able to make greater use of its tyres throughout a race distance on Sunday in Saudi Arabia, giving Hamilton a commanding edge towards the conclusion of the race. Mercedes purposely sacrificed some qualifying performance in order to make the vehicle quicker in the race, according to Wolff in Abu Dhabi.
“We absolutely tried,” Wolff added, “since we were so much underperforming on the long runs [in final practice] that we went in the path we had on Friday in attempting to protect the tyre.” “However, we were not really competitive against the Red Bulls, so whatever steps we take, we hope they will be in the correct way. There’s no certainty that it’ll be enough tomorrow, and the faster vehicle will almost certainly win.”
Then there’s the question that’s been hanging over the championship race since Verstappen and Hamilton arrived in Abu Dhabi earlier this week: Will the two title rivals clash on the track?
On-track contact has undoubtedly been overplayed in the days building up to Sunday’s race, and it is by no means assured, but it can’t be ruled out after three severe incidents this season at Silverstone, Monza, and in Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen is unlikely to relinquish his lead lightly based on his performance so far this season, so Hamilton should anticipate a strong defense if he comes close enough to challenge the Red Bull for position. Furthermore, if they wind up in a circumstance where both drivers fail to gain points, such as the barrier or a gravel trap, Verstappen will be proclaimed champion just by winning one more race this season.
To prevent Verstappen from simply forcing Hamilton off the road to win the championship, FIA race director Michael Masi began the weekend by warning all drivers that unsportsmanlike behavior might result in points being docked from their totals or a disqualification from the championship. Making the line between purpose and accident, on the other hand, will be a thankless assignment for the stewards and will almost probably lead to further debate.
“I haven’t talked with Lewis about it,” Wolff added, “since I believe the race director informed the drivers about the potential implications [of a collision].” “I have no doubt that the drivers will race fiercely since they are competing for the Formula One world championship, but I am certain that the race will be extremely clean.”
“Hard but not dirty, with no shoving or kicking of anybody. This is the fitting conclusion to this great championship.”
Whatever happens, by Sunday evening, a major chapter of Formula One history will have been written. It’s incredibly engrossing to watch.
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Lewis Hamilton has been the most successful driver in Formula One history, but it doesn’t mean that he’s always going to be the title favorite. Nico Rosberg is currently leading the championship by a single point and has won back-to-back races. Reference: nico rosberg.
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