Max Verstappen has struggled in Monza but has claimed recent victories over Lewis Hamilton in Russia, the US and Mexico… How fierce F1 rivals have fared in their final race destinations in recent years as Championship hunt goes down to the wire
- Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are neck-and-neck in the F1 title race
- Verstappen is three points ahead of Hamilton with just nine Grand Prixs to go
- Eight out of the final venues have been confirmed for the rest of the F1 season
- Sportsmail looks at the pair’s recent records in seven out of the eight circuits…
The perennial champion against the young and ambitious pretender, this Formula One title race belongs in the uttermost traditional chronicles of sporting rivalries.
After Max Verstappen threatened to run away with the Championship race, back came Lewis Hamilton with a thrilling win at Silverstone in July to propel him towards the top. Now the pair keep swapping top spot in the Drivers’ Championships on a weekly basis.
It is now Red Bull’s Verstappen who leads the way with a marginal three-point lead over Hamilton at the top of the overall standings, following his victory at the Dutch Grand Prix at the weekend.
Max Verstappen (right) and Lewis Hamilton (left) are neck-and-neck in the F1 title race
Verstappen is marginally ahead in the standings after he won the Dutch Grand Prix last term
But neither have the trump card of home advantage left to play for the rest of the season. Silverstone and Zandvoort have come and gone for both drivers in victorious fashion.
From now on, the feeling is neutral.
With just nine races set to determine the outcome of this season’s F1 title race, Sportsmail looks at Verstappen and Hamilton’s records in the eight confirmed venues that await the pair this autumn…
Italian Grand Prix – September 12
Awaiting the F1 rivals this weekend is the Monza track, with Hamilton enjoying an impressive record at the Italian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes man has won in Italy five times over the course of his career, and only Michael Schumacher can match that.
Hamilton will be desperate to become the first driver ever to finish at the head of the podium in Monza for a sixth time but has failed to achieve that feat in his last two visits there.
Hamilton last won the Italian Grand Prix three years ago, with Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly winning in the last two races there.
Hamilton has five victories in Monza, the next F1 race, but has not won there since 2018
A stop-and-go penalty last year meant he finished seventh last year in what was a thriller for maiden race winner Gasly, while he was not good enough for Ferrari driver Leclerc two years ago.
Meanwhile, Monza has definitely not been a happy hunting ground for Verstappen in recent years. Last year saw the Dutchman crash at the Ascari chicane in the first qualifying session, while mechanical problems forced him to retire from the Grand Prix race at the standing restart after 30 laps.
The year before, he was forced to start the Grand Prix at the back of the grid for exceeding his quota for power unit components. He managed to reach eighth position by the end of the race, but where would he have finished had he started further ahead?
Either way, both drivers have points to prove this weekend as they seek the latest advantage in the F1 title race.
Verstappen has struggled at the Italian Grand Prix and crashed in last year’s practice sessions
Russian Grand Prix – September 26
Russia was one of the very few venues where Verstappen got the better of Hamilton last season before Sunday’s day of racing had come to an end.
Hamilton started on pole in Sochi in 2020 but his Dutch rival took advantage of two five-second penalties to finish ahead of the Mercedes driver on the podium, as Valtteri Bottas took first place.
The eight-time Formula One driver, who has four Russian Grand Prix victories to his name of the course of his career, has also suffered some frustrations in Sochi.
Verstappen (left) managed to claim a victory over Hamilton (right) in last year’s Russian GP
He was beaten by Nico Rosberg in 2016 and finished outside the podium in fourth place, just one spot ahead of Verstappen in fifth, a year later.
But two victories in the last three seasons should put Hamilton in very confident mood going into Sochi, especially if he can continue his form in Monza earlier in September.
Turkish Grand Prix – October 10
The pair have only met once in Istanbul before, with Hamilton clinching last season’s Formula One Championship by winning the Turkish Grand Prix in November.
While Hamilton was full of celebrations that day, it was a very frustrating day for Verstappen, who dominated the early stages of the weekend by finishing fastest in practice and second in qualifying.
Hamilton managed to seal the F1 World Championships by winning last year’s Turkish GP
The Dutchman’s frustrations that day were summed up by a spin late on in lap 51 out of 58, and ended up in sixth place just ahead of team-mate Alex Albon.
Hamilton, who won sixth-fastest in qualifying last term and even lost a place at the beginning of the race, ended up winning the race by 31 seconds. He has two victories at the Istanbul Park in his career, only Felipe Massa has more with three.
All to play for in Istanbul in October.
United States Grand Prix – October 24
Like in Monza, Hamilton has enjoyed a brilliant record in Austin, winning five out of the last eight races in Texas.
In fact, Mercedes have enjoyed a great record whenever Formula One head to America, winning seven out of the last nine races to have taken place in the United States.
But Hamilton should be warned about his recent record in Austin, with the Mercedes driver failing to win his last two races there.
Hamilton and Mercedes also have an excellent recent record in the United States race
The Briton has finished third and second in his past two visits, with Verstappen finishing ahead of him in second back in 2018.
That meeting three years ago was filled with technical errors from both drivers. Verstappen received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, which meant he started the race in 15th, while Hamilton’s victory charge was damaged by Mercedes taking too long on his second pit stop.
The Dutchman has earned podium finishes in his last two visits and should be encouraged by his recent form in the States.
Verstappen did, however, finish ahead of Hamilton when they faced off in 2018 (above)
Mexico Grand Prix – November 7
The Hermanos Rodriguez track is a course that Verstappen certainly likes.
The Dutchman won back-to-back Grand Prix races there in 2017 and 2018, with the 23-year-old having just as many Mexico victories to his name as Hamilton.
Verstappen was on course to make it three in a row the last time him and Hamilton faced of there in 2019 when he finished fastest in qualifying.
Verstappen has a brilliant record in the Mexican GP, winning two out of the last three races
But a disastrous start to the race two years ago, which saw Verstappen make light contact with Hamilton in the opening lap to push them both down the track, was costly for the Dutchman.
Verstappen also made contact with Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Bottas which led to a puncture, which pushed him further behind. The Dutch driver ended up in sixth, while Hamilton sped away to the front to claim a second victory.
He will be keen to ensure there is no repeat of that kind when he returns to the Hermanos Rodriguez in just more than two months time.
Brazilian Grand Prix – November 14
This is another race where Hamilton and Verstappen have similar recent records.
The Dutchman won the last race there, finishing two places ahead of Hamilton who ended the race in third, but a five-second penalty pushed the Mercedes icon down to seventh.
The race the year before however was much more dramatic and gripping. Verstappen was leading the way until the 44th lap, when he collided with Esteban Ocon and caused the Dutchman to spin.
Verstappen (front) pipped Hamilton (back) to the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix title
A year before, Verstappen (middle) raged at Esteban Ocon (second left) after they collided to cost the Dutchman a win over Hamilton
Hamilton took advantage straight away leaving the Dutchman furious. Verstappen was involved in an altercation with Ocon, who received a ten-second stop-go penalty, with the Red Bull driver facing community service for the fight.
That victory in 2018 sealed the constructors’ championship for Mercedes that year, but Red Bull have a good record in Brazil as well, with five victories there since 2009 – the same as Hamilton’s team.
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix – December 5
The final weeks in November and December are uncertain for both drivers, with the 20th Grand Prix of the season yet to be determined following the cancellation of the Japanese race due to coronavirus concerns.
Then in December, both Verstappen and Hamilton will head to a new circuit as the inaugural Saudi Arabia Grand Prix takes place at the start of December.
The track, which runs along the Red Sea near the Jeddah Corniche, is known as the fastest street track on the F1 calendar, with average speeds of 250 km/h (160 mph) predicted by experts.
Both Hamilton and Verstappen will face new territory at the 2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
Its position near the sea, rather than in a city centre surrounded by buildings, is the reason behind the confidence of such speeds being reached.
Head designer Carsten Tilke told planetf1 a fortnight ago the circuit was still not ready, and while admitting ‘we cannot make any mistakes’ insisted ‘it’s all going to plan right now’.
Only 90 days remain until The Jeddah Street Circuit – also the second-longest circuit – plays host to the penultimate battle between these two drivers . This could be an unbelievable race.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – December 12
What will the Formula One standings look like before the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi in December?
If the title race is still close, then Hamilton could be confident going into the final week. The Mercedes driver has won five Abu Dhabi races in the past decade, including four in the last seven years.
The Formula One rivals could still be neck and neck going into the Abu Dhabi GP in December
But Verstappen did get the better of Hamilton in last year’s race, leading every single lap of the contest after qualifying on pole.
Hamilton blamed his lack of success via a third-placed finish on coronavirus, with the Formula One champion claiming he was not at 100 per cent after recovering from the illness.
Verstappen claimed after the Abu Dhabi victory that Red Bull were not title challengers this season. From an individual perspective, how wrong he was.
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