The 2021 Formula One season comes to a climax this weekend as the drivers take to the track for the final time this year.
All eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as they battle it out for the Drivers Championship title. Both currently sit level on points with 369.5.Embed from Getty Images
Hamilton has been in fine form recently, winning each of the last three races. The Brit is aiming to break Michael Schumacher’s record of seven championship titles after already being dubbed by many as the “greatest of all time.” However, he will have a tough task on his hands, as his rival will not give up without a fight.
Verstappen was heavily criticised following last week’s Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia for some ‘dangerous’ antics during the race. The Dutchman faced both a five and 10 second time penalty following separate altercations with Hamilton, but still finished the race in second. He is looking to gain his first championship title at the weekend, but will have to drive in a less aggressive manner if he wants to avoid a collision and/or penalty.
Valtteri Bottas narrowly pipped Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to the podium last week following an intense race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. This weekend the Finn will be driving in his Mercedes car for the final time before he makes the move to Alfa Romeo next year. He will certainly be aiming for another podium to end his season on a high and help his team seal the Constructors’ Championship.Embed from Getty Images
Sergio Perez crashed out of last week’s Grand Prix after he was caught up in a collision on lap 15. Red Bull will be eager for both drivers to out-qualify the Mercedes cars this weekend, but Perez could be a crucial asset as he tries to defend his teammate from the threat of Hamilton.
McLaren had a mixed weekend in Saudi Arabia with Daniel Ricciardo taking 5th place and Lando Norris falling to 10th. The Papayas have hit a number of hurdles in the race for third in the Constructors Championship and have fallen 38.5 points behind Ferrari. They will be hoping that luck is on their side come the final weekend as they plan to close the gap.
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have proven to be one of the most consistent duos in Formula One this season, regularly landing in the points positions and challenging for the podium. Ferrari are expected to finish third in the Constructors’ Championship this year, so the pair will both be expected to get into the top 10 this week.
Ocon was left devastated when a last minute sprint from Bottas denied him a podium position last week. The Frenchman has shown that he can step up to the plate in the toughest of circumstances so will definitely be one to watch. Fernando Alonso has also proven in recent weeks that he is not slowing down any time soon after coming third in the Qatar Grand Prix a few weeks ago. Alpine have had a huge boost in points recently, opening a clear gap between them and AlphaTauri.Embed from Getty Images
Pierre Gasly has gone under the radar recently but he has continued to get excellent results. The 25-year-old continues to improve on his performances each year and could even be challenging for the top spots if he moves back to Red Bull. He will be looking to break into the top five once again in Abu Dhabi. Yuki Tsunoda will be hoping to end his first F1 season on a high by landing in the points positions on Sunday.
Aston Martin have also had mixed luck recently, with Sebastian Vettel crashing out of last week’s Grand Prix on lap 15, and Lance Stroll falling outside of the points positions. Both drivers struggled in Abu Dhabi last year, but will hope that a change in track will also change their fortunes. Vettel has recorded the most overtakes this year, so will definitely be one to watch as we enter the final event.
Kimi Raikkonen will race in Formula One for the final time this weekend so will be more determined than ever to secure a good result. Antonio Giovinazzi will also be racing for the final time before moving to Formula E next year. Alfa Romeo are expected to be in the points positions at the weekend with both drivers eager to prove themselves.Embed from Getty Images
Williams had a poor weekend in Jeddah after both drivers failed to gain any points. The team have also struggled to get any points from recent visits to Abu Dhabi and their fortunes are unlikely to change this year. George Russell will also be another driver to keep an eye on as he takes to the track in a Williams car for the final time before a big move to Mercedes.
Haas’ season went from bad to worse after both drivers crashed out of last week’s race. Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher have not scored a single point between them this year and are extremely unlikely to get their first this week.