Formula 1: Title race looks set to go down to the wire

In the next six weeks, Formula 1 will conclude its captivating 2021 racing season starting with the Mexico Grand Prix this weekend.

The title fight has been most thrilling with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leading the championship by 12 points from Lewis Hamilton, in his Mercedes, who is aiming for a record eighth drivers’ championship title.

However, it is a 23-point advantage to Mercedes in terms of the constructor’s championship as the crazy travelling circus that is Formula One makes its way to Mexico City.

The battle for the championship has never been closer, here’s all you need to know as we head into the final leg of the racing calendar.

Red Bull Re-invigorated

Before the showing at the US Grand Prix, Red Bull most certainly looked to be on the weaker side. They had issues fine-tuning and finding the right set up for their power unit to run at maximum efficiency.

Mercedes were dominant in the past couple races with two victories and the tracks suiting their engine and aerodynamic set ups. The Mercs were able to run higher power for longer and harder than those of their closest competitors, giving them a great advantage down the long back straights at most tracks.

During the US Grand Prix Practice sessions as well, the silver arrows topped the timing boards, with Chirstian Horner and the Red Bull team filled with concern for the weekend to come. However, they seemed to turn their fortunes around overnight and come qualifying, the raging bulls dominated the circuit.

Max Verstappen took pole position, with his teammate Sergio Perez the only other driver on the grid who seemed to be the closest threat. If it wasn’t for a spot of rain on his final flying lap around the last sector that hindered his lap time, Perez would have beat Verstappen to his position.

F1 pundit and former driver, Martin Brundle believes that this overnight turn around may have something do with Adrian Newey, Red Bulls lead technical officer returning back to the paddock after a brief hiatus while he recovered from a cycling accident.

Lewis Hamilton was trapped in a Red Bull sandwich for Sundays race with his team mate starting from further down the grid due to a penalty incurred as a result of fitting another new engine. Perez delivered on the day and Verstappen on the team played their cards exceptionally well with an almost perfect strategy to win the US Grand Prix.

Drivers on top form

Sergio Perez is really taking to his new home with Red Bull, and he is progressively getting better where others only got worse relative to Max Verstappen. Every race he seems to improve with regards to his drive and his spirits will be high ahead of his home Grand Prix in Mexico City this weekend.

Verstappen himself will be quietly confident that he is leading in the drivers standing. There had been several scraps during the season with Hamilton where at times the dutchman was in the wrong. However, in the past few races, he has shown a maturity and level head to his driving style.

Ross Brawn, the managing director for F1, mentions in his column that Max was most certainly the driver of the day. Even with the “pressure he came under from Lewis” he kept his cool, “controlled the race, looking after his tyres beautifully.” To not put a foot wrong in 56 laps was impressive, he finally adds.

Hamilton too showed great driving prowess, with great respect for his closest rival. Clean but close racing from the both of them for the duration of the race was thrilling to watch. However, the Brit will be more determined than ever before to win his record breaking eighth title and he will not give up the championship lightly. If this continues, we may very well see a title deciding final race at the end of the season which will possibly be the best way to close the chapter on this era.

The Mid Field

The mid-field battle too is getting increasingly heated. The scrap for second place in the constructors between McLaren and Ferrari is closer than it has ever been before. Just four and a half points separate the two teams with drivers for both teams proving their worth.

Daniel Ricciardo was in high spirits for the US Grand Prix after his win at Turkey. He loves The Circuit of the Americas and he started sixth and finished fifth ahead of Valterri Bottas.

But Charles Leclerc did one better, finishing best of the rest in fourth after an exceptional drive. His team mate Carlos Sainz has firmly settled into his new car and is truly a master of his machine, finishing seventh and earning vital points in the constructors fight.

Lando Norris, finishing just behind his former teammate, was on form at the start of the year, but seems to be struggling to find that rhythm. However, he did achieve his best ever finish in second at the Turkish Grand Prix, and the young Brit is fond of the Mexico City Circuit which will undoubtedly lift his spirits.

Another two honourable mentions are deserved of Sebastian Vettel and Yuki Tsunoda. Former four time world champion, Vettel has struggled to get to grips with his new Aston Martin. In US however, he started towards the end of the grid and made his way up to 10th and finished in the points.

Yuki Tsunoda too has been struggling for many of the past few races to master his Alpha Tauri. He has had to bear the brunt of much criticism with regards to his character and errors made on track. However, at COTA he proved to his doubters why he is driver on the F1 grid with an 8th place finish.

The final leg of the F1 season looks to be exceptionally exciting with the promise of some thrilling on-track action and an exhilarating title fight.

What are you most looking forward to seeing at the next few races? Let us know in the comments.

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