SAMRIDH SINHA |11th September 2021

The pendulum has swung back and forth between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to win it all this season. While Hamilton has made uncharacteristic mistakes this season, he has also used all his experience to garner brilliant wins for his team.

On the other hand, Max Verstappen is one of the most talented drivers on the grid, his car looks faster than ever, and his fearlessness is what is in fact, his biggest strength.

We are on the cusp of the Italian Grand Prix, 13 races down, this world championship saga has been one of the most excitement-inducing competition we have seen in sport as a whole, for a long time.

With only 3 points separating the youngest Formula 1 race winner and the 7-time defending champion, making a prediction about the winner is a bold move on my end. However, in my humble opinion, Lewis Hamilton will come out on top of the table come the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and here’s why.

14 years of experience- need I say more?

Lewis Hamilton is a 7-time Drivers’ World Champion. I cannot stress how important a consideration this is in any title face-off.

He has seen it all, been through it all and come out on top of it all. Since this season, Hamilton has given all indications that it is absolutely going down the wire, the one who can hold his nerve when the going gets tough, inevitably will become the champion.

To bet against the most decorated driver in the history of F1, the one who has won the most races and grabbed the most pole positions, while racing against some of the best drivers Formula 1 has seen, would mean you’re playing with fire and will in all likelihood lose the bet.

A culture that breeds a winning habit

Mercedes knows how to win. They have won every constructor’s championship since 2014-no other sport has seen dominance of this magnitude.

With Bottas out of contention, all their concentration is on Lewis Hamilton to break all possible records that exist in Formula 1. Every single member of that Mercedes team is an experienced campaigner, well-versed with every situation and the plan of action.

The team too would like to get their hands on a constructor’s championship before the introduction of the financial regulations next season, which means they would be working harder than ever.

The golden chance to complete the circle of dominance

While ascertaining the theoretical impact of the financial regulations is possible, in practicality, the effects of the same on teams will be uncertain until racing begins in 2022.

In terms of complaints, breaches and proving a breakdown of the costs- the sport will face many new hurdles in trying to level the field for all teams on the grid upon the introduction of the new financial cap.

For this season, with the money invested in technology, the status of their car, the crew of the team, Mercedes must seize the opportunity of continuing their reign till financial regulations are imposed.

There is no better chance on that front by prioritizing Lewis Hamilton to bag race wins.

Yes, I’m biased

As things stand, The Englishman is competing for his 8th world championship today. His quest? To cross Michael Schumacher and cement his position as the GOAT.

Lewis Hamilton’s undeterred perseverance should be an inspiration to anyone remotely associated with sport.

While I am certainly not the right person to articulate the struggles of a black male in major sports, what I can tell you is that being a black race driver in Formula 1 is unprecedented.

F1, simply put is a rich man’s sport. Coming from a working-class family, Hamilton’s position as a race driver was always going to be more difficult. Being a black man just added layers to the possibility of him ever achieving the status of a race driver, let alone dominate the sport like he did.

While his wins indicate that he is not an underdog on the racetrack anymore, the fact is that he will always be an underdog to the sport itself.

The first ever black driver, coming from a working-class background and bossing the sport- that is the true underdog story we should all root for.

So, forgive me if you felt any sense of bias from my end- it’s the stories that make sport a surrogate religion.

The pandemic has and will continue to play spoilsport in terms of rescheduling of races, calendar, or cancellation through the course of this season. However, I believe when the dust settles, Lewis Hamilton will be lifting his 8th WDC, crossing Michael Schumacher and etching his status as the greatest driver of all time.

Yet again, this is just my prediction, and I may be bound to write a piece on Max Verstappen, if he wins his first ever WDC and proves me wrong.

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