Abu Dhabi F1 GP 2021: Preview: Verstappen vs. Hamilton, the mother of all battles

After 21 battles, the most exciting season in recent years concludes this weekend with the title contenders tied in the Standings in the last race, something not seen since 1974… and things couldn’t get any more exciting.

The two greatest names of Formula One will come head-to-head for the glory at the grand finale at the Abu Dhabi F1 GP 2021 at Yas Marina Circuit in United Arab Emirates.

Tltile contenders Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) arrive at the last round of the season tied at 369.5 points and with an unprecedented level of rivalry between them.

The hostilities between the two drivers and their respective teams have grown exponentially, and well beyond the merely sporting matters, after the last Saudi Arabian GP. 


These two gladiators actually brushed each other on several occasions at the track in Jeddah. Unsurprisingly, they blamed each other for the different incidents, although both had their share of responsibility. 

And there is a lot more at stake than the season’s crown for the winner of the Abu Dhabi GP. If the Briton wins, he will go down as the most successful F1 driver in History, overtaking Michael Schumacher and his seven titles. If Verstappen comes out on top, however, he will be the man that kick-started a new era and a generational change in the sport. 


Mercedes and Hamilton, favourites 

The Briton starts the weekend with a considerable advantage, although, of course, anything can happen on Sunday. Since the launch of Mercedes’ new and more powerful engine in Brazil, Hamilton has had three consecutive wins and become pretty much unbeatable. 

Yas Marina is also one of Mercedes’ luckiest tracks, not in vain, they have won six of the last seven rounds there. In five of these Hamilton was behind the wheel (2011, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019), a feat that makes him the most successful pilot ever at the Emirate. 


As if that was not enough advantage for the German team, the remodelling of the track could also play in their favour. Works carried out in turns 5-6 and at the chicane #11 have transformed it from the ‘mousetrap’ it used to be into a much faster and fluid layout. Hamilton, and the superior top speed of the W12, will find an ally in those new sections. 

As for the Constructors’ crown, the balance has finally tipped in favour of the Brackley team. Mercedes leads the standings with 587.5 points, 28 more than Red Bull (559.5). 

Red Bull and Verstappen, ready to give their all 

Red Bull is coming out to fight fully aware of the inferiority of its RB16B. Their weakness was evident in last round in Saudi Arabia where Verstappen could not overtake Hamilton on hard tires despite these being, in theory, slower than his medium ones. 

In any case, we ought to be prepared for every possible outcome following a season where every forecast has been proved wrong before. With his pride wounded and desperate to see how a world championship title that he had in the palm of his hand just a few weeks ago, slips away, Verstappen is going to give it all at the track where he prevailed in 2020. 


There is also one significant advantage for the Dutchman. If both himself and his British rivals were to crash out of the race, he would be proclaimed World Champion, having as he does one more victory than Hamilton.

This circumstance has sparked speculation regarding Max colluding with Lewis on purpose. To do so, however, would be playing with fire as the FIA is to be extremely vigilant and he could be immediately disqualified and dispossessed of the title. 

Kimi Raikkonen says goodbye 

The other great protagonist of the final round of the year will be Kimi Raikkonen.

After 19 seasons in Formula One, ‘Iceman’ is finally retiring. Raikkonen has not only made an impressive career in Formula One (21 victories, 103 podiums, 18 pole positions, 46 fastest laps and the last Ferrari Drivers title in 2007), but also connected with millions of fans who will dearly miss him. Gifted with a warm and eclectic character we will be saying goodbye to an irreplaceable hero. 


Images of Abu Dhabi F1 GP 2021: F1.com 

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