Words by Charlie Batten; Sports Print Editor
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but Hamilton isn’t letting go of it without a fight.
This year has been one of the best championship title fights in recent memory. For the past few years we’ve been subjected to Mercedes and Hamilton dominance with the last 7 titles being Mercedes’ and Hamilton winning all of those bar 1 which former teammate Nico Rosberg took from him. The last 4 drivers’ championships have been decided with 2 races left, but this year Max Verstappen has put in a monumental effort to stake his claim for the crown.
You only have to look at how close the two are in the standings as they’re only separated by 8 points and if Hamilton were to win and get the fastest lap in the penultimate race in Saudi Arabia whilst Max finishes 2nd, the two would be on equal points going into the last race of the season. It would be a fitting end to frankly the best season of F1 I’ve ever watched.
Both drivers have put in some fantastic drives over the year with possibly the best being Hamilton’s win in Brazil after a 25 place grid penalty which was simply phenomenal to watch. There’s also been a couple of scrapes and scratches this season with Hamilton taking Verstappen out in Silverstone as well as the two coming together in Monza resulting in both of them failing to finish the race.
There are merits to either of them winning the title, for Hamilton it will silence any doubters of his status as the greatest racer of all time as he would be Michael Schumacher’s 7 world titles and for Max, it would usher in the new era of Formula 1 and see a new top dog take control. It’s also especially important for either team to win as next year we’ll see the new regulations come in and all teams will have an equal chance at staking a claim for the title, so best they get wins whilst they have the superior cars.
Coming into the final 2 races, it’s a toss-up over who has the advantage. In terms of form, you would have to go with Lewis as he’s won the last 2 races and did so with dominance and style. However, worryingly for Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren Mercedes engine had technical problems during the last race weekend which will worry the team over their own cars performance.
Writing off Max would be an incredibly naive mistake however. You’ve got to remember he’s been leading this championship more than anyone else and still holds an 8 point lead over his British rival. Red Bull knows that with Max they have the fastest car on track, all they need to do now is keep him focused and make the right calls to allow him the best chance to win the last two races.
If I was pressed to answer who I think is going to win it all I think Hamilton will just pip Max to it. A mixture of experience and skill is what will be key for him as he’s been in a title fight in almost every season he’s been in the sport so he can handle the pressure of late-season drama. Max is an amazing driver of course but he has always been the underdog and the fact he now is the frontrunner might prove a little too much for him. Regardless of all this, it has been an incredible season and the last two races should be absolutely stunning.