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Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen, who will win, points, tracks

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The scene is set for one of F1’s all-time championship battles as the 2021 season enters its final third, starting with the Turkish Grand Prix next week.

Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton already has all the makings of the next Senna vs Prost, Schumacher vs Hill, or Schumacher vs Hakkinen.

The Red Bull and Mercedes aces have traded blows all season, both in terms of wins and on-track incidents that came at Silverstone and Monza.

Now just a measly two championship points separate Hamilton, the seven-time world champion veteran, and Verstappen, the 24-year-old Red Bull prodigy chasing his first.

Here, we take a look at the final seven scheduled races to see who’s best-placed to take home the 2021 crown.

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STATE OF PLAY

Points

Hamilton: 246.5

Verstappen: 244.5

Race wins

Verstappen: Seven

Hamilton: Five

Podiums

Verstappen: 11

Hamilton: 11

Pole positions

Verstappen: Eight

Hamilton: Three

*Verstappen gained two via sprint races, and Hamilton lost one (Silverstone)

DNFs

Verstappen: Two

Hamilton: One

Verstappen crashes into Hamilton at Monza.Source: Getty Images

THE RUN HOME

TURKISH GRAND PRIX

Date: October 10 (11pm AEST)

Previous winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Date: October 25 (6am AEST)

Previous winner: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

MEXICAN GRAND PRIX

Date: November 8 (6am AEST)

Previous winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX

Date: November 15 (4am AEST)

Previous winner: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

QATAR GRAND PRIX

Date: November 21 (time TBC)

Debut race

SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX

Date: December 6 (4.30am AEST)

Debut race

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX

Date: December 13 (12.00am AEST)

Previous winner: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

The remainder of the 2021 season is subject to change with several races in doubt.

A massive challenge for F1 organisers lies ahead, mainly due to coronavirus complications, but also due to construction issues in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia had been locked in to make its F1 debut for the penultimate race of the season but constructors are said to be in a race against time to have the venue complete.

An F1 official said this week under the condition of anonymity that works are being done around the clock in Jeddah with buildings still under construction and cranes and diggers still on site.

September 27: Jeddah Street Circuit has plenty of work left.Source: AFP

Meanwhile, it’s unclear if F1’s Americas swing can be completed with Brazil and Mexico both ‘red list’ countries in the United Kingdom – where seven of 10 teams are based – while the United States is on the amber list.

Texas, where the US Grand Prix is held, is experiencing a third wave of coronavirus with a seven-day case average above 10,000 a day. Mexico City and Sao Paulo’s seven-day averages are less than 2,000.

The Canadian, Japanese, Singapore and Australian Grands Prix have already been cancelled in 2021 due to travel and quarantine complications associated with the pandemic.

A new Qatar Grand Prix will fill Australia’s spot on the calendar on November 21.

DOES THE RUN HOME SUIT MERCEDES, OR RED BULL?

Only two points separate Verstappen and Hamilton.Source: Getty Images

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says that the run home doesn’t suit Verstappen any more than it does Hamilton.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agrees, claiming that the remaining tracks don’t point to an obvious advantage for either title contender.

Team bosses have never been eager to claim favouritism. It’s easier to claim underdog status instead of having a target on your back.

Whether Horner or Wolff can be believed is up for debate.

Historically speaking, the run home suits Mercedes who won in Turkey, the US and Mexico at the last time of asking.

That said, two of those wins were back in 2019. And besides, is there any statistic in this F1 era that doesn’t favour Mercedes?

2021 is clearly a different story to the seven seasons that preceded it, with Red Bull in its strongest position since 2013 – before turbo hybrids were introduced.

Red Bull has proven it has the better all-round package this season, which will serve it well in the closing stages.

Verstappen leaves Hamilton trapped | 00:36

The title race wouldn’t be this close if Hamilton didn’t tag Verstappen in Britain, or if the Dutchman wasn’t hit on the opening lap in Hungary.

Power tracks are still something of an Achilles’ heel for Red Bull given Mercedes’ superior speed in a straight line, but most have been already completed.

The Sochi Autodrom, for example, is classed as a power track because of its long straights. Hamilton won there with a little help from a mistake by Lando Norris. Monza is in the same class and Verstappen was lucky to not lose any ground there to Hamilton, who he wiped out at the Turn 1-2 chicane.

From the remaining races, Mexico has long straights and could be classed as a power track, too. Hamilton won in Mexico in 2019, although the track has proven to be an anomaly given Verstappen dominated at the venue in 2018.

Meanwhile, Turkey appears to be a non-negotiable for Hamilton, who was untouchable at the venue in 2020 and is arguably the favourite to win once more.

From there, the ball is expected to shift to Verstappen’s court with the US, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix likely favouring Red Bull.

Halo saves Hamilton in horror crash | 00:36

While all three tracks have at least two long straights, they are cancelled out by highly technical and flowing sectors that will marginally favour the superior aerodynamic downforce of Verstappen’s Red Bull.

There’s no F1 precedent for Jeddah, although the layout shows a series of sweeping bends and ‘esses’ that again could favour Red Bull. Losail also has a layout that appears to reward greater balance and traction.

As such, Red Bull is favoured at five of the remaining races — United States, Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi — albeit only slightly.

Mexico shapes as a 50-50 while Turkey is the only track where Mercedes is favourite.

That is despite what Horner had to say after the Russian Grand Prix.

“I don’t think there’s any circuits that stand out as strongly as Russia and Monza,” Horner said.

“For sure Mercedes will be strong in Turkey, they won there last year. But then we start getting to Austin, we should be there or thereabouts, and in Brazil and Mexico we’ve always been strong.

The schedule arguably favours Verstappen more than Hamilton.Source: Getty Images

“We don’t know anything about Qatar, we don’t know anything about Jeddah. And then it’s Abu Dhabi. So you can say it’s 50-50 in what is left on the table, with which favours slightly one team more than the other.”

Wolff said he’s “stopped trying to anticipate” where Mercedes will be strong, and doesn’t predict wide margins between the championship contenders for the rest of the season.

“I doubt that any of the two teams will make massive swings up or down, it’s just about continuing to do the best possible job,” he said.

“But I don’t think either driver or either team can have any comfort in the current situation, because there is just no gap in terms of points.”

WHAT ABOUT MCLAREN’S CHANCES?

Could we see a repeat in 2021?Source: Getty Images

Races at Monza and Sochi left no doubt that McLaren has dramatically improved to the point that it can win Grands Prix again.

For now, however, it needs the right venue and set of circumstances.

Monza, for example, was a perfect aligning of the stars; a low-grip, power track that played into McLaren’s strengths. Meanwhile, Hamilton and Verstappen struggled, and Bottas had a large penalty to serve.

Daniel Ricciardo walked away as the winner and Norris completed the historic one-two.

Two weeks later in Sochi, Norris threatened to make it two wins in a row for McLaren but misjudged track conditions and spun out of the lead with two laps remaining.

Ricciardo ends 1204-day drought at Monza | 05:24

No remaining track is as well suited to McLaren as Monza and, to a lesser extent, Sochi were, but there are still chances for Ricciardo and Norris to perform well.

Mexico is arguably the best chance to ruffle the feathers of Mercedes and Red Bull. The long straights into heavy braking zones in the first sector is somewhat reminiscent of Monza and should suit Ricciardo.

The next best chance is arguably Abu Dhabi given there are three long straights, although the technical nature of sector three will be a big test for McLaren.

Given it’s the final race of the season, however, Ricciardo should be even better equipped for the challenge.

The Australian continues to improve this season. Since the summer break he’s finished fourth twice and won the Italian Grand Prix.

By comparison, Norris — who was dominating the Australian before the Belgian Grand Prix — has come 14th, tenth, second and seventh.

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Sebastian Vettel slams 2022 calendar, F1 news

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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has slammed the Formula 1 schedule for 2022, which features a record 23 races in the calendar year.

Australia, Canada, Singapore and Japan are all set to make their long-awaited return next season after being axed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent health restrictions.

The 2022 season will start in Bahrain on March 20 and finish at Abu Dhabi on November 20.

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China has been dropped from the F1 calendar for a third successive year, and will be replaced by the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on April 24.

A new race in Miami has also been confirmed for May 8 as the United States hosts two events with Austin pencilled in for October 23.

There will be two triple-headers and seven back-to-back races next year, a tightly-packed schedule that has led to criticism over stress levels for staff.

And this week, Aston Martin driver Vettel has voiced his frustration with the calendar, detailing how it will impact fans and staff.

There will be a record 23 races in the 2022 F1 season. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images.
There will be a record 23 races in the 2022 F1 season. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images.Source: Getty Images

“This is only my opinion, and it’s not worth anything, but I think we should not have that many races,” Vettel said, as reported by Wide World of Sports.

“I think (for) one, maybe it’s too many races for the people to watch. It’s not special anymore if there’s that many.

“And (secondly), I feel for (the staff). Us drivers – we are at the good side of things: we can arrive on a Wednesday night and leave if we find a flight, et cetera, on a Sunday night.

“But the team already has a lot more stress. They arrived Monday or Saturday the week before, they build the garage, prepare the cars and then also they have to run the full week and then pack down, send everything back and prepare back in the factory.

“For them, it’s a job that you’re busy all weekdays and nearly every weekend, so you have no time for yourself. And I think we are in a time where people are growing more and more conscious that they have a life, too, and that the life doesn’t belong to the employer.

“I’m not in charge and obviously there’s some other interests, but it’s just making sure that people have a balance between their life at home and the time spent away.

“I think it should be a number of races that is sustainable for keeping your passion for many years and not being, you know, sucked out after two or three years.”

Sebastian Vettel is currently 12th on the F1 drivers’ standings with 35 points. Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFPSource: AFP

It remains to be seen whether or not the experiment with qualifying sprint races, introduced this year, returns in 2022. A decision will be made after the third and final sprint race at the Brazilian GP from November 12 to 14, said the F1 Commission.

The 2022 season will also see the introduction of new cars with redesigned aerodynamics to allow drivers the chance to follow and overtake with greater ease in a sport criticised for its often processional nature.

F1 will return this weekend with the United States Grand Prix, which is scheduled to get underway at 6am AEDT on Monday, October 25.

2022 Formula 1 calendar

March 20: Bahrain, Sakhir

March 27: Saudi Arabia, Jeddah

April 10: Australia, Melbourne

April 24: Emilia Romagna, Imola*

May 8: Miami, Miami**

May 22: Spain, Barcelona*

May 29: Monaco, Monaco

June 12: Azerbaijan, Baku

June 19: Canada, Montreal

July 3: Great Britain, Silverstone

July 10: Austria, Spielberg

July 24: France, Le Castellet

July 31: Hungary, Budapest

August 28: Belgium, Spa-Francorchamps

September 4: Netherlands, Zandvoort

September 11: Italy, Monza

September 25: Russia, Sochi

October 2: Singapore, Singapore*

October 9: Japan, Suzuka

October 23: United States, Austin*

October 30: Mexico, Mexico City

November 13: Brazil, Sao Paulo

November 20: Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina

* subject to contract

** subject to FIA circuit

– with AFP

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Johnny Herbert suggests Daniel Ricciardo talent may have ‘evaporated’, McLaren, F1 news

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Former Formula 1 driver turned analyst Johnny Herbert has questioned why Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo has struggled in the sport since his move to McLaren, theorising his talent has “evaporated”.

Following an underwhelming two-year stint at Renault, Ricciardo joined McLaren ahead of the 2021 season, partnering with British young gun Lando Norris.

But Ricciardo’s maiden season in orange has been anything by smooth sailing, with the Perth driver struggling to come to terms with the MCL35M’s braking system.

Stream Every Practice, Qualifier & Race of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial >

The 32-year-old is currently sitting in eighth place on the F1 drivers’ standings, 50 points behind Norris.

Ricciardo seemingly turned a corner at Monza last month, winning the Italian Grand Prix to help McLaren secure its first 1-2 finish in the sport since 2010.

But the triumph was a lone highlight in what has otherwise been a disappointing 2021 campaign for the Australian.

Daniel Ricciardo failed to escape Q1 at the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“Daniel has been a shocker,” Herbert told Motorsport Magazine.

“We never expected him to struggle so much.

“I can empathise with him and it’s terrible, especially when it’s been so long and you still haven’t found the answer.

“Still, we know how good he is and he knows it too.

“I’ve heard Daniel’s problems are brake-related, but it’s also down to aerodynamics,” he added.

“If it’s already causing us headaches, think what it’s like for him.

“He’s not too old, he hasn’t had a bad crash. There have been plenty of drivers for whom it (their talent) just evaporated.

“I go back to Jean (Alesi). He was the ‘next big thing’ and yet he only won one Grand Prix. It didn’t work for him, with all his natural talent.

“The problem is that if it doesn’t get better, the rumours start, and once that starts and the tornado accelerates, you’re just a passenger.”

The F1 season resumes next weekend with the United States Grand Prix, which is scheduled for 6am AEDT on Monday, October 25.

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F1 2022 calendar, schedule, 23 races, Australian Grand Prix date, Miami GP, Imola to return, China dumped

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Formula One has released a record 23-race schedule for 2022 with Australia not returning to its traditional slot as the season opener, and China dumped.

It is the third successive year China has been dropped, while Australia is set to host its first race since March 2019.

“Due to ongoing pandemic conditions, China will not be included on the 2022 calendar. China will be restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow,” said a statement from governing body, the FIA.

Stream Every Practice, Qualifier & Race of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial >

The Chinese GP at Shanghai will be replaced by the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on April 24.

The 2022 season will start in Bahrain on March 20 and finish back in the Gulf at Abu Dhabi on November 20.

Australia won’t feature until round 3 on April 10.

Next year’s schedule also continues a steady growth in the number of events as international sport emerges from the pandemic.

In 2020, there were 17 F1 races, which rose to 22 for this year’s world championship.

Next season, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Japan are all set to return after being axed in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid-19 and subsequent health restrictions.

A new race in Miami has also been confirmed for May 8 as the United States hosts two events with Austin pencilled in on October 23.

Hamilton disappointed in F1 coverage | 00:52

“We are excited to announce the 2022 calendar as we prepare to enter a new era for the sport with brand new regulations and cars for next year that are designed to create closer racing,” said Stefano Domenicali, the president of F1.

“This season has been incredible so far with great battles on the track, large audiences tuning in and fans returning to the races after the impact of the pandemic.

“We look forward to welcoming more fans back next season and hope 2022 feels more normal than the life we have all experienced in the past two years.”

The 2022 season will finish three weeks earlier than the 2021 edition to avoid a clash with the football World Cup in Qatar which kicks off the day after the Abu Dhabi F1 finale.

There will be two triple-headers and seven back-to-back races next year, a tightly-packed schedule which could lead to criticism from teams over stress levels for staff.

It also remains to be seen whether or not the experiment with qualifying sprint races, introduced this year, returns in 2022.

A decision will be made after the third and final sprint race at the Brazilian GP from November 12 to 14, said the F1 Commission.

The 2022 season will also see the introduction of new cars with redesigned aerodynamics to allow drivers the chance to follow and overtake with greater ease in a sport criticised for its often processional nature.

2022 FORMULA ONE CALENDAR

March 20: Bahrain, Sakhir

March 27: Saudi Arabia, Jeddah

April 10: Australia, Melbourne

April 24: Emilia Romagna, Imola*

May 8: Miami, Miami**

May 22: Spain, Barcelona*

May 29: Monaco, Monaco

June 12: Azerbaijan, Baku

June 19: Canada, Montreal

July 3: Great Britain, Silverstone

July 10: Austria, Spielberg

July 24: France, Le Castellet

July 31: Hungary, Budapest

August 28: Belgium, Spa-Francorchamps

September 4: Netherlands, Zandvoort

September 11: Italy, Monza

September 25: Russia, Sochi

October 2: Singapore, Singapore*

October 9: Japan, Suzuka

October 23: United States, Austin*

October 30: Mexico, Mexico City

November 13: Brazil, Sao Paulo

November 20: Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina

* subject to contract ** subject to FIA circuit approval

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