This Season’s F1 Championship Race might end in a dramatic tie-breaker between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen
Only two championship contenders left with three races to go. This season of Formula One will be a nail-biter.
Lewis Hamilton’s astonishing last-to-first triumph at the Brazilian Grand Prix after having to battle a fifth-place penalty, overcome a disqualification in qualifying and also had to start from the bottom of the grid for the sprint race following an epic duel with Max Verstappen on Monday morning (AEDT) means the closest championship race since 2016 is likely to go to the wire.
With the Red Bull driver’s advantage down to 14 points, the eventual winner of this season’s championship is now only theoretically opened to just Hamilton and current leader Verstappen.
This season, the two have ruled the championship, appearing on the top two steps of the podium together in 11 of the 19 events.
With only three races left before the season’s curtain is drawn to a close, Verstappen has so far amassed 332.5 points, while Hamilton has also gathered for himself 318.5 points.
Hamilton has had so much dominance over the sports in the last era, winning six of the seven championships available, with his former teammate Nico Rosberg taking the last one in 2016.
The 2016 championship that was won by Nico Rosberg was decided in Abu Dhabi, and it seems probable that this season will be decided there as well, but there is much to happen in the interim.
Both drivers have control over it technically.
Hamilton will win the championship if he wins the last three races and closes the 14-point gap.
However, with three bonus points on offer for the quickest lap between now and the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi, it could be even narrower.
In fact, there’s a potential that by the conclusion of the season, both Hamilton and Verstappen would have the same point total — all it takes is three more Hamilton-Verstappen 1-2s and the Dutchman to take one more fastest lap than his competitor.
If that happens, the tie-breaker in Formula One is simple: the driver who wins the most races during the season is crowned champion.
Verstappen now leads that statistic 9-6, however, in order for this scenario to occur, Hamilton would have to win all three remaining races, tying them 9-9 in race wins.
And should that happen, the next deciding factor would be to pick the championship winner based on their number of second-place results – which Hamilton now leads 7-6.
In fact, barring retirements, Verstappen has never finished lower than second all season.
Of course, if Verstappen wins another race, Hamilton will have to rely on another one of his retirements to get up to him.
The last surprise is that two of the final three races will be held on tracks that none of the drivers have previously competed on.
Qatar was pulled in at the last minute to replace the Australian Grand Prix before joining the F1 calendar permanently in 2023 on a 10-year deal.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which will be held the following weekend and will be the first for no driver, will add to the uncertainty.
The season finale will take place in Abu Dhabi as it has for the previous few seasons, but with significant changes to the course that the drivers are familiar with. Since 2009, Hamilton has won five races and been on the podium nine times while racing there. Verstappen has also got a win over there (2020) and he also earned a place in the Abu Dhabi GP’s podium twice before too (2018 and 2019).
All three races are held at night, which means there will be a lot of suspense and unavoidably drama to expect as the wall clock tick-tocks.