The road to the 2021 Formula One title showdown in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton (right) celebrates after winning the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix while title rival Max Verstappen looks on. — AFP
Lewis Hamilton (right) celebrates after winning the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix while title rival Max Verstappen looks on. — AFP

By Reuters

Published: Thu 9 Dec 2021, 12:07 AM

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton are level on points after 21 of Formula One’s 22 races, with the title to be decided in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The following looks at how they got there:


Hamilton started second and fended off polesitter Verstappen after going ahead on strategy. The Dutch driver took the lead four laps from the end on fresher tyres but had to hand it back after going off and gaining an advantage.

Hamilton 25 points, Verstappen 18 (Hamilton +7)


Hamilton was on pole but lost out to eventual winner Verstappen through the opening corners when they made contact. A race stoppage brought Hamilton back into contention from ninth and a lap down. The fastest lap kept him top.

Hamilton 44, Verstappen 43 (Hamilton +1)


Hamilton was third after a safety car re-start but passed Verstappen and Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas to win. Bottas started on pole and took fastest lap. Verstappen was second.

Hamilton 69, Verstappen 61 (Hamilton +8)


Hamilton’s fifth successive Spanish GP win and sixth in total. He started on pole for the 100th time, lost out to Verstappen at the first corner and made a second stop late in the race to regain the lead. Verstappen took fastest lap.

Hamilton 94, Verstappen 80 (Hamilton +14)


Verstappen’s first win in Monaco, after Ferrari polesitter Charles Leclerc could not start, sent him into the lead for the first time. Hamilton started and finished seventh but took a point for fastest lap.

Hamilton 101, Verstappen 105 (Verstappen +4)


Verstappen crashed out while leading when his rear left tyre blew at 300kph with five laps to go, an accident that halted the race. A mistake at the re-start sent Hamilton down an escape road and out of the points.

Hamilton 101, Verstappen 105 (Verstappen +4)


A win and fastest lap for Verstappen, who started on pole but lost out to Hamilton at the start before regaining the lead at the first pit stops. He then made a second stop for fresh tyres and won with fastest lap. Hamilton was second.

Hamilton 119, Verstappen 131 (Verstappen +12)


Verstappen led every lap from pole position. Hamilton made a late second stop to secure the fastest lap bonus point.

Hamilton 138, Verstappen 156 (Verstappen +18)


Verstappen’s third win in a row and 50th podium in F1. He won from pole, led every lap and took a bonus point for fastest lap. Hamilton started and finished fourth.

Hamilton 150, Verstappen 182 (Verstappen +32)


Verstappen crashed out after colliding with Hamilton on the opening lap. Hamilton recovered from a 10-second penalty to pass Leclerc late on for a record eighth home win. Verstappen took three points from a Saturday sprint, Hamilton two.

Hamilton 177, Verstappen 185 (Verstappen +8)


Hamilton vaulted back into the lead with a second place finish while Verstappen was ninth after a first lap incident triggered by Bottas.

Hamilton 195, Verstappen 187 (Hamilton +8)


Verstappen ‘won’ Formula One’s shortest race, three laps behind the safety car. Hamilton was third, half points awarded.

Hamilton 202.5, Verstappen 199.5 (Hamilton +3)


Verstappen won his home race from pole and retook the lead. Hamilton was second with the fastest lap.

Hamilton 221.5, Verstappen 224.5 (Verstappen +3)


Hamilton and Verstappen collided on lap 26 of 53, both retiring on the spot. Verstappen took two points from the Saturday sprint race.

Hamilton 221.5, Verstappen 226.5 (Verstappen +5)


Hamilton, starting fourth, became the first driver to win 100 grands prix. Verstappen went from last, due to engine penalties, to second.

Hamilton 246.5, Verstappen 244.5 (Hamilton +2)


Hamilton started 11th on the grid, due to an engine penalty, and finished fifth. Verstappen was second.

Hamilton 256.5, Verstappen 262.5 (Verstappen +6)


Verstappen started on pole and doubled his championship lead. Hamilton seized the lead at the start before losing out to pit stop strategy and finished second.

Hamilton 275.5, Verstappen 287.5 (Verstappen +12)


Verstappen, starting third, took his ninth win of the season after seizing the lead into the first corner. Hamilton was second. Mercedes had their lead slashed to one point.

Hamilton 293.5, Verstappen 312.5 (Verstappen +19)


Hamilton won from 10th on the grid after a five-place drop for a new engine. He had been last on the grid for the Saturday sprint. Verstappen was second.

Hamilton 318.5, Verstappen 332.5 (Verstappen +14)


Hamilton led from pole to take his 102nd career victory. Verstappen started seventh, after a five-place grid penalty for a flag breach in qualifying, but ended up second.

Hamilton 343.5, Verstappen 351.5 (Verstappen +8)


Hamilton’s third win in a row after a night of chaos in Jeddah, with the lead changing between the two and the Briton running into the back of his Red Bull rival. The fastest lap for Hamilton, with Verstappen second, tied the scores.

Hamilton 369.5, Verstappen 369.5 (Verstappen 9-8 on wins)

— Reuters

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