By News Team
2nd December 2021
The Grand Prix arrives in Saudi Arabia for the first time as drivers tackle the new Jeddah Corniche Circuit – a sweeping street circuit that looks all about speed.
A resurgent Lewis Hamilton continues to eat into Max Verstappen’s championship lead, but can the Brit sustain his title charge on the shores of the Red Sea?
We preview the race below.
Hamilton looking to keep up the heat on rival
After back-to-back Grand Prix wins in Brazil and most recently Qatar, Lewis Hamilton is closer than ever to fierce rival Max Verstappen at the top of the Drivers’ Championship as he hunts a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 title.
Were the two drivers to finish in the same positions as they did last time, then Hamilton would close the gap to a mere two points and set up a huge finale in the last Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Confidence is high in the Mercedes camp that their car will be better suited to the fast circuit in Jeddah than their Red Bull rivals and that might give Hamilton the edge. In the second half of the season Mercedes have held an edge in qualifying and are on average 0.248 seconds faster in that period. Hamilton is currently a strong favourite at 8/11 to be the fastest qualifier.
However, the circuit in Jeddah is new this year making it impossible to predict how the drivers will fare and Hamilton cannot avoid any slip ups, as Verstappen will be crowned champion if he finishes outside the top five on Sunday.
Verstappen cannot rely on his point advantage
In a F1 season that has had its fair share of controversy, the lead in the Drivers’ Championship has swung back and forth. Max Verstappen assumed a healthy lead after Hamilton’s low finish in Monaco, but the Brit fought back in tenacious style at Silverstone, as a collision between the two drivers sent Verstappen into a spin while Hamilton went on to secure maximum points.
Verstappen still holds a good eight-point lead in the championship but he will be wary of another Hamilton fightback, and the momentum seems to have swung away from the Dutchman, so much so that he is now out to 11/10 to win his first Drivers’ Championship.
The Red Bull cars seem to be a fraction slower in the straights than the Silver Arrows, which is a worry for Verstappen, especially as the average speed around the Jeddah Corniche circuit is set to be 252km/h, making the track second fastest only to Monza – “The Temple of Speed”.