Max Verstappen has been backed to beat Lewis Hamilton to the Formula One world title by Express Sport readers. Following the Dutchman’s consecutive victories at the Turkish and US Grands Prix, our readers believe he will now go on to win his maiden F1 crown.
Over 5,000 votes were cast and 58 per cent of fans think Verstappen will become champion, while 42 per cent think Hamilton will retain the title once again.
This is in contrast to our previous Express Sport survey, where readers decided Hamilton would go on to claim a record eighth world title.
After the Turkish GP, Hamilton received 52 per cent of the vote, while Verstappen garnered 48 per cent.
After starting 11th thanks to a 10-place grid penalty for changing his engine ahead of practice in Istanbul, Hamilton carved his way through the pack, finding himself up in third after a brilliant battle with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
The seven-time world champion was then told to pit for new tyres, with the 36-year-old responding: “Why?” to his race engineer Pete Bonnington. “It feels like we should stay out,” added Hamilton.
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The Briton ignored the call, telling the team “I’m going to stay out” on the same set of tyres he started the race on, however after admitting he was starting to lose grip, he dove into the pits on lap 51 of 58.
Rejoining in fifth place, the gamble didn’t pay off for Mercedes, with Hamilton struggling to get past the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
He would go on to finish fifth while Verstappen claimed the win.
At the US GP, despite Hamilton grabbing the lead early on from the polesitter Verstappen, Red Bull crucially pitted the 24-year-old earlier than Hamilton during their first stint for a fresh pair of hard tyres, with Mercedes opting to bring Hamilton in a few laps later.
Red Bull opted for a similar tactic during the second pit-stop window too, as Verstappen and Red Bull chose to blink first again, which could have handed the advantage to Hamilton, who could then pit later and have fresher tyres come the end of the race.
But despite a strong and ferocious fightback, the 36-year-old ran out of laps and ultimately had to settle for second in front of a huge American crowd at the Circuit of the Americas, as Verstappen recorded his eighth win of the season.
Verstappen holds a 12-point lead over Hamilton heading into the Mexico Grand Prix this weekend.
Should he clinch the world championship this year, he will become the first non-Mercedes driver to become F1 world champion since 2013.
Next month, the F1 circuit will head to the Jeddah circuit in Saudi Arabia which is more than six kilometres long and, with 27 corners – the most of any track on the F1 calendar – and a banked turn 13, race director Michael Masi says it will present an interesting technical test for the drivers.
“It will just be a super-fast circuit, with the highest number of corners that we’ve got in any round of the championship. It’s going to be quite a challenge,” he said.
A new video released by Formula 1 shows the track is still something of a shell – the shape of the track is clear to see and the skeletons of all the stands, paddock and other key buildings are in place, but there is still a lot more construction work to be done.
The race will take place at night on December 5, similar to how we have seen with Singapore in the past and this season’s final outing in Abu Dhabi.