Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children (LONG VERSION)
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Max Verstappen has been tipped to fend off the challenge of the resurgent Lewis Hamilton and claim his first F1 world title. A team of number-crunchers have analysed their battle so far and what could happen in the final two races of the season, and think the Dutchman will have enough to just get over the line.
After back-to-back wins in the US and Mexico, it seemed like the Red Bull ace had the momentum to seal the deal with one more win.
Verstappen had an 18-point cushion over the seven-time world champion, and strong results also from team-mate Sergio Perez meant Red Bull were right back on the heels of Mercedes in the constructors’ championship.
Things remain tight between the two teams with only a five-point gap separating the two, and things have also tightened up in the drivers’ battle.
Verstappen had a 21-point lead after the Sprint Qualifying session in Interlagos, but just over a week later and that gap has been slashed to eight points.
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First, Hamilton produced one of the best drives of his career to go from 10th to win the race in Brazil, before leading from pole to take the chequered flag in Qatar.
Nevertheless, the experts at Sporting Index are still backing the Red Bull man to edge their titanic battle by a slender two points.
“Formula One is experiencing one of its most entertaining title races for years, and we’re expecting it to get even closer as the end of the season approaches,” the firm’s head of trading Neville Burdock said.
“We still expect Max Verstappen and Red Bull to come out on top, with the Belgian-Dutch racer backed to land 386 points – just two points ahead of Lewis Hamilton on 384 points.”
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Those figures would mean Hamilton would still outscore Verstappen over the final two races – a total of 41 more points compared to the Dutchman’s gain of 35.
Of course, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff sees things differently and is still backing his title-chasing racer to come out on top.
And the Austrian revealed Hamilton will benefit from the “rocket” engine the team has been keeping in reserve specifically for use in the final two rounds of the season.
The rocket is coming back now,” Wolff confirmed after the race in Qatar on Sunday. “We have saved it for the last two races.
“If both of them get through Saudi Arabia, hopefully with our car at the front, then the last race will be about who wins there.
“He will then win the championship.”
Wolff has also cited the the qualifying disqualification at Interlagos and Red Bull’s subsequent complaints as what “woke the lion” in Hamilton and saw him produce his best form in response.
“[Lewis] is totally in the zone,” he added. “The lion has been woken up. [Red Bull] woke the lion at Interlagos last week.”
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