Verstappen-Hamilton in winner-takes-all showdown

Verstappen’s 369.5 points plays Hamilton’s 369.5 points with one deciding race to go of an incredible season; Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships to both be settled at Abu Dhabi’s season finale this weekend, with Sunday’s race live at 1pm on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event

By James Galloway

Last Updated: 06/12/21 10:21am

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s amazing title duel will be settled in a blockbuster winner-takes-all F1 showdown at this Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.

With Hamilton winning with the fastest lap in front of second-placed Verstappen after a race of high drama in Saudi Arabia, the duelling rivals are incredibly dead level on points after 21 races of a gripping season’s 22 events.

That sets up Formula 1’s first last-race decider since 2016, at Abu Dhabi’s revamped Yas Marina floodlit circuit.

All of the weekend’s track action at the Sunset Showdown will be live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s showdown race starting at 1pm.

Just the fourth occasion in the past decade that F1’s drivers’ title race has gone down to the wire, a champion will be crowned at the season’s final event for the 30th time in the sport’s 72-season history.

Year Leader/Challenger(s) Champion 2016 Rosberg/Hamilton Rosberg 2014 Hamilton/Rosberg Hamilton 2012 Vettel/Alonso Vettel 2010 Alonso/Webber, Vettel, Hamilton Vettel 2008 Hamilton/Massa Hamilton

Incredibly, this weekend is just the second time after the 1974 season that two drivers have gone down to the wire tied on points.

Tied on 369.5 points, Verstappen is still officially ahead of Hamilton courtesy of the sport’s countback rule, as he has won nine race wins to the Briton’s eight so far this season.

That means that on Sunday were they to score the same number of points in the only scenario where that is possible (ninth for one of them and 10th with the fastest lap for the other) – or both fail to score at all – Verstappen would be world champion on the tiebreak.

FRIDAY On Air Session start Practice One 9am 9.30am Practice Two 12.45pm 1pm SATURDAY Practice Three 9.45am 10am Qualifying 12pm 1pm SUNDAY Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 11.30am 1pm

The Constructors’ Championship fight between Mercedes and Red Bull also remains unsettled (the last time that title went to the final round was 2008).

But Mercedes’ one-three finish in Jeddah means they have one firm hand on a record-extending eighth teams’ title in a row, the Brackley outfit now 28 points clear of Red Bull with just 44 left on offer.

What’s on the line for Verstappen & Hamilton?

It has been a season of high skill and ever-higher stakes in the battle between Formula 1’s most successful driver and the leader of the new young generation.

Chasing his maiden world title in his seventh season in the sport but first with a title-contending challenger, the 24-year-old Dutchman Verstappen would become his country’s first-ever F1 champion and Red Bull’s second after Sebastian Vettel.

Significantly, he would also end Hamilton’s four-year reign at the summit of the sport and be the first non-Mercedes champion since Vettel in 2013.

Drivers’ Points 1) Max Verstappen 351.5 2) Lewis Hamilton 343.5 Constructors’ 1) Mercedes 587.5 2) Red Bull 559.5

Verstappen has headed the standings after 14 of this season’s 21 rounds but in the three weeks since November 14 has seen a 21-point lead whittled down to zero thanks to a hat-trick of grand prix victories from his British rival.

For Hamilton, a record-breaking eighth world title is the historic prize on offer.

The 36-year-old tied Michael Schumacher’s benchmark of seven last year but this is his chance to move out on his own. Already the record holder for race wins, podium finishers and pole positions, an eighth title would mean Hamilton moves out on his own at the head of all of the sport’s most significant statistical tables.

Sunset Showdown: Sky F1’s Abu Dhabi GP schedule

Thursday
3pm: The F1 Show Live*

4pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday
9am: Practice One Live (Session starts 9.30am)*

12.45pm: Practice Two Live (Session starts 1pm)*

Saturday
9.45am: Practice Three Live (Session starts 10am)

12pm: Qualifying build-up Live*

1pm: Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying*

4pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday
11.30am: Race build-up – Grand Prix Sunday Live*

1pm: THE ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX LIVE*

3pm: Race reaction – Chequered Flag Live*

4pm: Ted’s Notebook

5pm: Abu Dhabi GP highlights

*simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event

You can also follow all the latest updates and analysis through the week on skysports.com, the Sky Sports App and Sky Sports News, plus also stay up to speed via Sky F1’s social platforms – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

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