Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton are level on points after 21 of Formula 1‘s 22 races, with the title to be decided at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
Reuters look back on each round and how the contenders fared over the course of the last 21 rounds of a grueling season:
March 28 – BAHRAIN
Hamilton started second and fended off polesitter Verstappen after going ahead on strategy. The Dutch driver took the lead four laps from the end on fresher tyres but had to hand it back after going off and gaining an advantage.
- Hamilton 25 points, Verstappen 18 (Hamilton +7)
April 18 – EMILIA ROMAGNA, IMOLA
Hamilton was on pole at Imola but lost out to eventual winner Verstappen through the opening corners when they made contact. A race stoppage brought Hamilton back into contention from ninth and a lap down. The fastest lap kept him top.
- Hamilton 44, Verstappen 43 (Hamilton +1)
Hamilton was third after a safety car re-start but passed Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to win. Bottas started on pole and took fastest lap. Verstappen was second.
- Hamilton 69, Verstappen 61 (Hamilton +8)
Hamilton’s fifth successive Spanish Grand Prix win and sixth in total. He started on pole for the 100th time, lost out to Verstappen at the first corner and made a second stop late in the race to regain the lead. Verstappen took fastest lap.
- Hamilton 94, Verstappen 80 (Hamilton +14)
May 23 – MONACO, MONTE CARLO
Verstappen’s first win in Monaco, after Ferrari polesitter Charles Leclerc could not start, sent him into the lead for the first time. Hamilton started and finished seventh but took a point for fastest lap.
- Hamilton 101, Verstappen 105 (Verstappen +4)
June 6 – AZERBAIJAN, BAKU CITY CIRCUIT
Verstappen crashed out while leading when his rear left tyre blew at 300kph with five laps to go, an accident that halted the race. A mistake at the re-start sent Hamilton down an escape road and out of the points.
- Hamilton 101, Verstappen 105 (Verstappen +4)
June 20 – FRANCE, CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD
A win and fastest lap for Verstappen, who started on pole but lost out to Hamilton at the start before regaining the lead at the first pit stops. He then made a second stop for fresh tyres and won with fastest lap. Hamilton was second.
- Hamilton 119, Verstappen 131 (Verstappen +12)
June 27 – STYRIA, RED BULL RING
Verstappen led every lap from pole position. Hamilton made a late second stop to secure the fastest lap bonus point.
- Hamilton 138, Verstappen 156 (Verstappen +18)
July 4 – AUSTRIA, RED BULL RING
Verstappen’s third win in a row and 50th podium in F1. He won from pole, led every lap and took a bonus point for fastest lap. Hamilton started and finished fourth.
- Hamilton 150, Verstappen 182 (Verstappen +32)
July 18 – BRITAIN, SILVERSTONE
Verstappen crashed out after colliding with Hamilton on the opening lap. Hamilton recovered from a 10-second penalty to pass Leclerc late on for a record eighth home win. Verstappen took three points from a Saturday sprint, Hamilton two.
- Hamilton 177, Verstappen 185 (Verstappen +8)
August 1 – HUNGARY, HUNGAROING
Hamilton vaulted back into the lead with a second place finish while Verstappen was ninth after a first lap incident triggered by Bottas.
- Hamilton 195, Verstappen 187 (Hamilton +8)
August 29 – BELGIUM, SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS
Verstappen ‘won’ Formula 1’s shortest race, three laps behind the safety car. Hamilton was third, half points awarded.
- Hamilton 202.5, Verstappen 199.5 (Hamilton +3)
September 5 – NETHERLANDS, ZANDVOORT
Verstappen won his home race from pole and retook the lead. Hamilton was second with the fastest lap.
- Hamilton 221.5, Verstappen 224.5 (Verstappen +3)
September 12 – ITALY, MONZA
Hamilton and Verstappen collided on lap 26 of 53, both retiring on the spot. Verstappen took two points from the Saturday sprint race.
- Hamilton 221.5, Verstappen 226.5 (Verstappen +5)
September 26 – RUSSIA, SOCHI AUTODROM
Hamilton, starting fourth, became the first driver to win 100 grands prix. Verstappen went from last, due to engine penalties, to second.
- Hamilton 246.5, Verstappen 244.5 (Hamilton +2)
October 10 – TURKEY, ISTANBUL PARK
Hamilton started 11th on the grid, due to an engine penalty, and finished fifth. Verstappen was second.
- Hamilton 256.5, Verstappen 262.5 (Verstappen +6)
October 24 – UNITED STATES, CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
Verstappen started on pole and doubled his championship lead. Hamilton seized the lead at the start before losing out to pit stop strategy and finished second.
- Hamilton 275.5, Verstappen 287.5 (Verstappen +12)
November 7 – MEXICO, AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ
Verstappen, starting third, took his ninth win of the season after seizing the lead into the first corner. Hamilton was second. Mercedes had their lead slashed to one point.
- Hamilton 293.5, Verstappen 312.5 (Verstappen +19)
November 14 – SAO PAULO, INTERLAGOS
Hamilton won from 10th on the grid after a five-place drop for a new engine. He had been last on the grid for the Saturday sprint. Verstappen was second.
- Hamilton 318.5, Verstappen 332.5 (Verstappen +14)
November 21 – QATAR, LOSAIL INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
Hamilton led from pole to take his 102nd career victory. Verstappen started seventh, after a five-place grid penalty for a flag breach in qualifying, but ended up second.
- Hamilton 343.5, Verstappen 351.5 (Verstappen +8)
December 5 – SAUDI ARABIA, JEDDAH CORNICHE CIRCUIT
Hamilton’s third win in a row after a night of chaos in Jeddah, with the lead changing between the two and the Briton running into the back of his Red Bull rival. The fastest lap for Hamilton, with Verstappen second, tied the scores.
- Hamilton 369.5, Verstappen 369.5; Verstappen leads 9-8 on wins
2021 Formula 1 World Championship standings after 21 rounds: