F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Max Verstappen has been warned that Lewis Hamilton has a big advantage over him as their intense battle for the Formula One title goes down to the wire. The Red Bull driver saw his lead at the top of the standings cut last month to eight points after his title rival won back-to-back races in Brazil and Qatar.
Verstappen can clinch the F1 title in Saudi Arabia this weekend if he finishes first and Hamilton fails to finish in the top six.
But the race to finish at the top of the standings is more likely to go down to the final race, with Verstappen and Hamilton vying for glory at the season crescendo in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
Hamilton is searching for a record eighth F1 title and will be hoping his recent momentum can turn the season in his favour.
But it could be the team-mates of the superstar drivers who help to decide the title race once and for all.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has stormed to 10 podium finishes this season, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has only managed five.
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And, according to former F1 driver and current Sky Sports pundit Martin Brundle, Verstappen has a big disadvantage as it is Bottas who is more likely to be a disrupting influence in the final two races of the season.
“I honestly think it’s possible Valtteri could finish in front of Max more than Sergio could finish in front of Lewis,” Brundle admitted.
“So I think that might just play into the title. One of these last two races, it’s just possible Valtteri will take some points of Max somewhere.
“And I don’t see Sergio taking points off Lewis.
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“There are 88 points on the table still for the constructors – so another one that could go either way.
“It just depends on I don’t know, if the Mercedes really flies and Valtteri has one of his on days like in Istanbul, for example, or the sprint race in Brazil.”
F1 fans have been treated to one of the closest-ever contests in the history of the sport as Verstappen and Hamilton have continued to battle for dominance throughout the whole season.
Verstappen’s hunger for his maiden title could be enough to fend off Hamilton in the final two races, while the British driver will be hoping his experience can help him leapfrog the Dutch driver.
And Brundle believes the title is now Verstappen’s to lose.
“It kind of feels like, season-long, Max has had the best season so far, if you look at the numbers,” Brundle added.
“I think either of them deserve it, but it just feels as if it’s been Max’s to lose, through bad luck or bad judgment or whatever. That’s how the season feels to me.”
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