Debate | Is it now Max Verstappen's F1 World Championship to lose?

25-10-2021 14:00
by GPblog.com
Column
Debate | Is it now Max Verstappen's F1 World Championship to lose?

With a victory at the United States Grand Prix, Max Verstappen has further extended his lead. The difference with Lewis Hamilton is now 12 points, with 'Red Bull circuits' Brazil and Mexico as the next races on the calendar. At GPblog we put the following proposition to the editors of the Dutch and English edition of GPblog: is it now Max Verstappen's World Championship to lose? 

Femke Notermans - Editor GPblog NL

With a twelve-point gap in the championship, Verstappen has built up a small lead over Hamilton. In the previous seven races, the gap between the rivals has never been greater than eight, so every point is crucial and the victory in Austin provides the largest lead in months.

The Dutchman can increase this lead further in two weeks time, as the track in Mexico is a true Red Bull circuit. Verstappen also has a strong chance of victory in Brazil. In Qatar and Saudi Arabia it remains to be seen who will have the strongest car, but taking into account the reliability problems at Mercedes Verstappen is in a good position.

Also, the Dutchman has now shown he can beat Hamilton on a Mercedes circuit, so even if the Briton is fast on the new circuits, there is a good chance Verstappen can challenge him. The seven-time world champion will have to pull out all the stops to beat Verstappen, and a possible grid penalty due to Mercedes' problems could make that even more difficult.

Aryaan Jena - Editor GPblog UK

After winning a closely-fought US Grand Prix, Max Verstappen cements his lead in the championship to 12 points over title rival Lewis Hamilton. The next two rounds are at Mexico City and Interlagos, both of which are historically strong circuits for Red Bull due to their high altitudes. Assuming that Verstappen wins and Hamilton finishes second at both events, Verstappen will extend his lead to a 26-point lead with three races to go.

Losail is a bit of an unknown, but the race in Jeddah should again favour Red Bull with its high-speed nature. Therefore, the sublime Dutchman is certainly the strong favourite for the title. The bookmakers would agree with this assertion, placing Verstappen at 4/9 odds to win the title (with Unibet)

However, it would be foolish to suggest that the championship is over. Following the Austrian Grand Prix back in July, Verstappen led the championship by 32 points and many prematurely believed that he would run away with the title. In the two races that followed, the Red Bull driver was involved in a string of incidents that saw his lead evaporate into a deficit; as the late Murray would say, “Anything can happen in F1, and it usually does”.

Mercedes and Red Bull are so evenly matched at the moment that the faster car depends on the circuit, weather, tires, and every variable in between. Any potential reliability faults or bad luck could swing the championship in the other direction. Against an adversary like Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, it isn’t truly over until the final chequered flag.

Tim Kraaij - Editor-in-Chief GPblog NL

Prior to the United States Grand Prix, I assumed Max Verstappen would have the advantage in Mexico, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Mexico and Brazil are circuits at altitude and the race in Saudi Arabia takes place on the streets of Jeddah. Red Bull Racing also proved stronger than Mercedes in Monaco and Azerbaijan on the streets this year.

Mercedes was the favourite for me in the United States, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, mainly because of their impressive straight-line speed in Turkey and Russia. Now Verstappen has won in America, however, it's hard to say it's fifty-fifty. Red Bull is the clear favourite in Mexico and Brazil, while Mercedes is not in Qatar or Abu Dhabi.

In the races in the Middle East, it will be a lot closer and depend on the form of the day. A win in Mexico and Brazil would give Verstappen a minimum lead of 12 points and a 24-point advantage, as three second places in the final races would be enough to secure the world title.

Matt Gretton - Editor-in-Chief GPblog UK

At this stage of the season, a 12 point lead in the World Championship is a meaningful advantage. Not a significant lead, but a decent buffer with five races remaining on the schedule. The next two events certainly favour the RB16B, and everything points in the direction of another engine penalty for Lewis Hamilton. If there are no random unexpected events, you’d think Verstappen will be securing at least 50 points in Mexico and Brazil combined. Even if Hamilton comes second in both races, the Dutchman’s advantage will grow to around 25 points which will be significant with three races remaining. Even if those final three circuits are expected to favour Mercedes slightly. 


Whilst it looks good on paper for Verstappen, the 24-year-old still has to go out and deliver the results. It’s not his to lose just yet, but he’s in control and in the pound seat. A win next time out could give him one hand on the title. 

Nicole Mulder - Editor GPblog NL

I think it's a bit too early to say. Red Bull is the favourite in Mexico and Brazil, but there's also uncharted territory coming up in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. If Verstappen manages to pull ahead again in the next two races it will be difficult for Hamilton to close the gap, as Verstappen has almost always managed to finish second in difficult weekends.

Given Mercedes' recent reliability problems, Hamilton could also face a grid penalty. If that is not the case Mercedes might be forced to run the last few races with less power than hoped for.

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