This Formula One season has been one of the finest in recent memory, as we’ve been treated to Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton going head-to-head in such a hotly contested battle.

Last weekend, the Mexico City Grand Prix saw Verstappen extend his championship lead over Hamilton with a comfortable victory, and this week – for the first time since 2019 – F1 returns to Brazil for the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.

In this blog, we look at the market leaders, who will be battling near the front and who to watch out for.

Verstappen aiming to stay on top

With four races left in the 2021 F1 season, Max Verstappen has begun to separate himself from his rivals in the Drivers’ Championship leaderboard. With two straight wins – the United States Grand Prix and the Mexican Grand Prix – Verstappen now has a 19-point lead over Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman sits atop the standings with 312.5 points, while Hamilton is in second place with 293.5 points. Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, sits in a distant third with 185 points.

The statistics don’t exactly speak for a sure-fire winner either. While Verstappen celebrated his third victory in Mexico, the Dutchman has only ever won once at Interlagos.

Verstappen is currently the 8/13 favourite to help Red Bull get back onto the top step of the podium.

It’s crucial for Red Bull to capitalise on their favourites tag once again, as Mercedes will likely have the upper hand at the final three races of the year once F1 heads to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Can Mercedes claw back the deficit?

With four races to go this season, Mercedes must find an answer to the Red Bull momentum. Mexico was the third successive race in which Verstappen has outscored Lewis Hamilton.

In the Constructors’ table, the resurgence of Sergio Perez on his third consecutive podium has meant that there’s just a solitary point in Mercedes’ favour. It’s finely poised, and Brazil could yet spell more pain for Mercedes.

Interlagos is a circuit that, arguably, would play to Red Bull’s strengths even at sea level. Verstappen won the 2019 event, ahead of fellow Honda-powered stablemate Pierre Gasly for Toro Rosso. Verstappen had duelled with Hamilton throughout, but then the latter would go on to clash with Alex Albon late in the race.

Hamilton did win the 2016 race ahead of Nico Rosberg, but Brazil has rarely been one of Hamilton’s strongest venues.

The seven-time world champion is 9/4 to be on the top step of the podium come Sunday, so expect this to be a close battle between the Brit and his rival.

Check out all the latest Formula 1 betting odds at William Hill