In two Sundays the game has reopened and it is no longer clear where the scales are: the Mercedes seems to have been reborn, but the Dutchman of Red Bull can manage something on a tactical level.
If we were talking about cinema, it would be a film with all the ingredients to become a blockbuster. Two protagonists of enormous talent, sudden twists, tripping and hugs, good and bad (depending on the point of view and the cheering …), poisonous words, ever higher tension towards a finale that promises to be spectacular and sensational . On the eve of the last two scenes still to be shot, in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, the plot of the F1 World Championship sees Max Verstappen leading the standings with an 8-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton. On the starting grid of the Brazilian GP, after Saturday’s sprint race at Interlagos, the margin was 21 points. In two Sundays the game has reopened and it is no longer clear where the balance lies: the Mercedes – at least that of the Englishman – seems to have been reborn, but the Dutchman of Red Bull can manage something, on a tactical level. And it is no small matter. Surely the writer is a dragon. In the last 15 years of F1 only three World Championships had proved – before this – so intense and sporty dramatic. That of 2010, which at the start of the last race of the season saw 4 drivers able to conquer the title, which then ended up in Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull. That of 2008, won by Hamilton with the McLaren with four corners from the end of the championship, for just one point on Felipe Massa’s Ferrari. And that of 12 months earlier, when Kimi Raikkonen reassembled Lewis himself at the last race, with the corollary of the summer spy story that saw the Woking team condemned and the Cavallino in the role of victim. However, three factors make 2021 unique and a step above what we have seen in the past.
The level of the two drivers in battle: Verstappen today is up to Hamilton, and both are part of the “absolute champions” category, whose names can be counted in the history of GPs on the fingers of both hands. The extraordinary technical effort produced by Red Bull and Mercedes: the aerodynamics and engine developments during the year, considering that a lot of energy is already directed towards the 2022 regulation change, have been incredible. Finally, the involvement in the fight – direct and insistent – of the two team principals. Net of a middle finger shaken by Ferrari director Cesare Fiorio in 1990 in the face of Ron Dennis, McLaren boss, after a Mansell-Senna clash at Estoril, we don’t remember episodes and heavy words like those that have been running for months between Chris Horner and Toto Wolff, number one of the teams in the fight. Psychological warfare, studied acting, sincere antipathy: the substance does not change, any form of pressure capable of agitating rivals is considered productive. Of the two missing GPs, one is in Jeddah – a new circuit like Losail – and the other on a well-known but recently modified track like Abu Dhabi. Technical choices, strategies, steadfast nerves, absence of errors: the World Cup will be decided on these points. Whatever happens, on the evening of December 12th we will all find ourselves in a withdrawal crisis.
November 22 – 08:13
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Verstappen-Hamilton is a film never seen before: class, nerves and two “godparents”. How many stories