F1 is heading for its tightest finish in over a decade. Here are all the possible outcomes in Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen's epic battle.
- Despite Lewis Hamilton's heroics in Brazil, Max Verstappen is still the favorite for the
- Hamilton realistically needs to win all three of the remaining races to secure the championship.
Formula One is heading for its most gripping finale in years.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton are separated by just 14 points in the world championship, and with three races and a maximum of 78 points left for a driver to win, it is still anyone's guess as to where the title will end up.
In anticipation of the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend, Insider took a look at some of those permutations and how it would affect the world championship.
Verstappen is still the favorite and could even crash out of a race and still win the championship
Despite Hamilton's heroic drive in Brazil, it is Verstappen who still leads by 14 points and the title remains his to lose as F1 heads to the Middle East.
Verstappen has won nine of the 19 races so far this season, including two of the last three to regain the championship lead.
While 14 points is not a huge advantage given the race winner is awarded 25, there are just three races left meaning Hamilton needs to beat Verstappen by an average of 4.7 points per race to win the title.
If Verstappen crosses the line before Hamilton in the final three races then the title is his, but he could even afford to finish behind Hamilton twice.
Even a DNF would not be terminal for his chances. Should the Dutchman crash out, then he would need to win two of the three races to ensure victory.
Hamilton realistically needs to win all 3 races to be in with a shot
The maximum points a driver can take per weekend in the next three races is 26 — 25 for a race win and one additional point for completing the fastest lap.
Assuming Verstappen and Hamilton occupy the top two spots for the next three races — something they've done 11 times this season — then Hamilton would almost certainly need to win every remaining race.
If the Brit manages to do that and Verstappen is the next car to cross the line, then Hamilton would win his record-breaking eighth world title by just 10 points.
That tally would be the closest title race since 2008 when Hamilton beat Felipe Massa by a single point, back when drivers only got 10 points for a win.
Max and Lewis could still end the season level
It is not completely out of the question that the two rivals could end the season level on points.
The most likely scenario for that to occur would be if Hamilton wins the next two races and completes the fastest lap while Verstappen ends in second. In this case, they would go into the final race separated by two points in Hamilton's favor.
This means that if Verstappen finishes anywhere from fourth to eighth with Hamilton directly behind him, then the two drivers would end level.
Should this happen, it would be the first time in the 71-year history of F1 that the two drivers vying for the world title end level.
However, the title would still go to Verstappen with FIA rules stating that the driver with the most season wins will be awarded the championship.
A winner cannot be crowned at the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend, but if it is anyone other Hamilton on the winner's podium, then it would take a minor miracle for Verstappen not to secure his first title.
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