With the 2021 F1 championship heading for a nail-biting finish, the last two Grands Prix of the year promise to be the ultimate battlegrounds for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Just eight points now separate the two men in the drivers' standings after Hamilton won two back-to-back races in Brazil and Qatar to close up his deficit to Verstappen.
Out of the 20 races that have taken place so far this season, defending champion Hamilton has won a total of seven, while first-time title contender Verstappen has nine. In what has been the most closely-contested championship of the turbo-hybrid era, each point gained or lost between the two drivers is crucial, as the championship could very well be won or lost by a margin of a single point.
The 2021 season marks the first time 24-year-old Max Verstappen has had the measure of reigning world champion Hamilton. All the drama and controversy that has followed the two drivers and teams is just further proof of just how hotly contested the title has been in 2021.
As intense as the battle between the two drivers may seem, both teams are fighting a separate battle for the winner of the much-coveted constructors' championship.
Mercedes and Red Bull F1 are both giving it their all, even using their respective second drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, as best they can: from acting as rear-gunners to "stealing" the point for setting the fastest lap. Mercedes currently lead the Milton Keynes-based squad by just five points.
Elsewhere, a long way below the top two, Ferrari have a commanding 40-point lead over McLaren for third place in the constructors' championship, after the team from Woking suffered a series of DNFs of late.
Max Verstappen can end F1 title fight at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Despite a convincing comeback from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in the second half of the season, Verstappen has the potential to end the ongoing battle at the brand new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix early next month.
If the Dutchman can create a gap of over 26 points (the maximum number of points that can be scored in a race) after the checkered flag flies in Jeddah, he will be crowned world champion, as Hamilton won't be able to make up the difference in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
This won't be the first time an F1 championship battle has come down to the wire, with the 2016 season providing a last-race nailbiter between Hamilton and his then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
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The closest F1 season to date was 1984, which saw Niki Lauda battle McLaren teammate Alain Prost to clinch his third title in the sport. Lauda's triumph largely came down to his consistency that season. The two drivers were equal on wins, with five each. However, Lauda only finished once outside the top two all year. This allowed him to win the title over the Frenchman by an agonizingly slim margin of just half a point.