The last leg of the season is becoming very competitive with eight races to go, there is still nothing defined between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Red Bull Racing and Mercedes compete against each other for the top of the constructors 'and drivers' championships. Photo: Getty Images
LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio
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The 2021 season of Formula 1 advances towards its final stretch and there are only nine races left (with one of it to be confirmed) to complete the schedule. Red Bull Racing and Mercedes compete against each other for the top of the constructors and drivers championships. Although at this moment Max Verstappen is leading, Lewis Hamilton still has a good chance of being crowned champion, the battle will be spectacular. Can Verstappen keep up and break the historic streak of Hamilton and Mercedes?
The remaining circuits
Eight dates remain assured and one more to be confirmed, the Dutchman Max Verstappen leads the table with 224.5 points obtained in 13 races where he has achieved 7 first places. Just 3 points down is the British defending champion, Lewis Hamilton, who has achieved the first position in 4 Grand Prix. Verstappen's tight lead and the number of races remaining prevent there being a clear favorite at this point, so each circuit will be vital for both drivers.
The turning point was undoubtedly the Grand Prix of Great Britain that was run in July, there Hamilton achieved an important victory over Verstappen that was involved in controversy over the maneuvering of the British that left out (and endangered) the Dutchman, which has generated a strong rivalry.
With this environment of tough competition, with logistics problems, rescheduling of dates and sanitary restrictions derived from the pandemic, the following races are approaching on the calendar:
Italian Grand Prix: One of the most anticipated dates on the calendar, the historic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza will be the venue for the race. It is a circuit well known to Hamilton, with 5 victories to his name. In 2019, the Briton remained on the podium with a third place, while in 2020 he finished seventh. For Verstappen, the story has not been good at this circuit, but this season he won his first victory in Italy. For the Dutchman, this race is crucial to stay on top after getting it back.
Russian Grand Prix: A territory strictly reserved for Mercedes. Since the 2014 race, the German company has not lost a single time there. Again highlights the name of Hamilton who has obtained 4 of the 7 victories of his team in Russia. In 2019 and 2020 Verstappen finished 4th and 2nd respectively, it has come from less to more. It would be a good chance for the leader to get his first victory in Russia.
Turkish Grand Prix: Due to restrictions due to the pandemic and being a place marked as a red light, the Turkish circuit entered and left the calendar, according to Motor Sports. For now it remains scheduled for October 8, 9 and 10. In 2020 Hamilton was the winner of Turkey, while Verstappen was sixth. Due to it's few appearances on the F1 calendar (it was out for 7 years) it is a neutral terrain with no marked advantages for the drivers.
United States Grand Prix: In 2020 the race did not take place, while in the previous year the Mercedes drivers (Bottas and Hamilton) obtained the first two places. Verstappen joined the podium as third. Since 2013, Red Bull has been unable to win at the Texas circuit, which has been clearly dominated by Mercedes.
Mexico City Grand Prix: Could be considered another of the neutral grounds. Verstappen and Hamilton have two victories each at the Autodromo "Hermanos Rodríguez", in addition to being one of the last four confirmed races of the year, so at this point the advantage between both drivers could reflect a trend on who will be the champion.
São Paulo Grand Prix: Since 2009 Mercedes and Red Bull have shared five victories each at this São Paulo circuit. Unlike other circuits with clear dominance from Hamilton, in São Paulo he has had two victories at Interlagos. However, the most recent winner is Max Verstappen in 2019, as the race was not held in 2020. It is another of the events where Verstappen can compete against Hamilton with greater advantage.
Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia: One of the most interesting events since it represents the debut of the Arab kingdom as part of Formula 1, the race therefore is unknown. If Verstappen aspires to beat Hamilton this circuit is crucial to achieve it, it is also the one before the last race of the season.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: A circuit clearly dominated by Mercedes until in 2020 Verstappen broke the winning streak of the Germans. Hamilton is the driver with the most victories at this Grand Prix with five, it will be the race that will close the season.
The stats and numbers are interesting, but ultimately they don't compete on the track. Following the clear dominance and experience of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes since 2014, Max Verstappen has managed to threaten them. The young driver has had a meteoric career that could be crowned with the championship. Also for Red Bull, it would mark the return to the elite who lived in his golden age with Vettel.