Why Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen is set to end in tears

Hamilton takes stunning win after crash with Max Verstappen

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The concluding episode in the gripping 2021 Formula One world championship will be a title shootout in the sand and a coming together of two huge sporting egos but it will also be a high-speed morality play. The bad news for Lewis Hamilton is that Max Verstappen has the racing morals of an alley cat.

Verstappen’s countback advantage over Hamilton going into Abu Dhabi and his desperation to become world champion for the first time shapes a dark scenario.

If neither finishes the race, Verstappen wins the title. It takes a certain type of individual to process that thought and press the button on it when he is in a vehicle moving at 190 mph but no-one should be in any doubt that the Dutchman has that capability within him.

He is as driven and single-minded a sportsman as there is. A brilliant driver but no-one’s idea of a gentleman racer. There is a streak that runs through Verstappen which makes for a ferocious competitor but also carries with it a definite whiff of danger for anyone who gets in his way. 

The denouement is enthralling. Two drivers, level on points with one race to go. The scripting is perfect. It will even be screened on terrestrial TV thanks to Channel 4’s deal with Sky.

But as Hamilton has reeled in Verstappen’s lead in the championship so the pressure has increased on his hungry young rival and pressure can bring out the worst in people.

As the championship that looked to be his, slips through his fingers he has one more shot. In normal times Verstappen operates on the very limit of what is acceptable; in a supercharged situation like this he will not hesitate to go over it.

He was fortunate to escape punishment for the incident in Brazil when Hamilton was forced off the track by Verstappen. But his luck ran out in Saudi Arabia last weekend when he was assessed two separate penalties in a spiteful grand prix. 

When Hamilton declared after Saudi he was ready to step into the ring for the final round, the analogy wasn’t far off. He has to be in combat mode because Verstappen sure as hell will be.

The Briton can do nasty too – don’t forget Silverstone and the shunt which put Verstappen into the barriers and hospital. 

The pair also came together spectacularly at Monza this season with Hamilton’s cockpit halo saving him after Verstappen’s Red Bull hit a kerb and took off. 

It seems fated that there will be a moment on Sunday when the two are side by side again and someone has to give. 

With Hamilton attempting to break Schumacher’s all-time record the chances of either man yielding look miniscule.

And therein genuine danger lies.

Formula One has been here before. Ayrton Senna’s move on Alain Prost which took the Frenchman out in Japan in the final race gave him the 1990 world championship. Quid pro quo for the previous season. 

In 1994 Schumacher, with a one-point lead over Damon Hill ahead of the last race in Australia, collided with the Englishman as he attempted to overtake with both men forced to retire. Title to Schumacher.

Three years later in Spain the German tried a similar trick on Jacques Villeneuve but the Canadian was able to finish and take the world championship. Schumacher, collared by the stewards, was docked all of his points for the season.

If this season is to end controversially as well fine – after what has gone before that seems almost inevitable – but God forbid it ends in anything worse.

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