F1 Championship Preview

Story posted December 10, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Dale Ostrander

The battle for the Formula One World Championship is coming down to the very last race of the year. The tight battle this year includes seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and the young superstar Max Verstappen.

After 22 rounds the championship is tied at 369.5 points for both drivers coming into the last race of the year. Whoever finishes higher in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take home the drivers championship.

Both drivers have left it all out on the track every weekend and have even come together on the track several times this year, most notably in Great Britain and Italy where both drivers came together for an accident to create a huge tension between the two drivers this year.

However, the collisions just talked about do not match the collisions that took place in last week's race in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. With last week's race, it seems that the tensions were pushed past the limit as Verstappen and Hamilton came together on the track several times, but most notably when they came together in the last turn with only a couple laps left in the race.

Verstappen was ahead of Hamilton from an illegal pass as the race stewards deemed in the moment, so they instructed Verstappen to give the spot back. Max slowed down to give the spot back, but Hamilton was not told that Verstappen had to give the spot up so they collided into each other. The collision caused serious damage to both drivers' cars and allowed Hamilton to pass and eventually win the race to force the championship into a tie for the last race.

This is not the first championship that has gone to a tie for the last race of the season. In 1974, Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni went to Watkins Glen for the last race of the year tied at 54 points apiece.

Fittipaldi was able to win the championship that year, but it is a little different in this year's championship. Lewis Hamilton is on a tear right now to end the season he has won the last three races to bring him into a tie for the last race.

The Mercedes car wasn’t always the fastest car this year, as Red Bull was the fastest car to start the season this year. Verstappen had the faster car to start the season which helped him get a lead in this championship, but Mercedes have developed the car to be the best in the field.

Additionally to make matters worse for Vertsappen, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track has been re-designed and is now an estimated 15 second faster lap times. This will make it so there are less fast turns for Verstappen’s Red Bull which excels with more tight consecutive turns. This will now lead to a Mercedes favor with more fast straightaways in Abu Dhabi.

The key for both drivers if they want to come away with the drivers championship is the qualifying session on Saturday in Abu Dhabi. If Mercedes gets a front row lockout with Hamilton and Bottas they should be able to give Lewis Hamilton his record-breaking eighth world championship.

However, for Verstappen not getting the pole isn't the end of his championship chances, if he can get help from teammate Pérez to qualify third they can create problems for Hamilton as well.

The interesting note for both drivers going into this race is if they both wreck out in this race Max Verstappen will be the world champion since he has more wins.

Dale Ostrander is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email dko5097@psu.edu.