The most intense Formula 1 championship fight for years will be decided over the next two weekends in the Middle East.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by eight points. Races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi bring the season to a close, both on tracks that contain unknowns for the teams and drivers.
Verstappen has the advantage – with his points lead, he can become champion on the new street track in Jeddah this weekend if results go his way.
But Hamilton has the momentum. He is heading into the climax of the season on the back of two convincing wins and with the performance trend clearly favouring his team.
So much is at stake. If Verstappen wins, it will mark the start of a new era – his first drivers’ title, final confirmation of his status as the leading man of the new generation of F1 stars, and the end of seven years of Mercedes domination.
If Hamilton wins, he will set a new all-time record for championships. Already the most successful F1 driver in history, with more wins and pole positions than anyone else, and equal on titles with Michael Schumacher, an eighth crown would move him clear on every possible statistical measure.