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What are Verstappen's Chances of Winning the World Championship 2021?

NEWS STORY
07/04/2021

As the longest ever Formula 1 season started on the last weekend of March, we have numerous reasons to be optimistic regarding a competitive battle for the throne until the very end of the campaign.

Lewis Hamilton is still by far the main favorite to snatch another record-breaking title, but he should face much more serious opposition this time around.

The opposition comes in the like of Max Verstappen. The flying Dutchman entered the season as Hamilton's main challenger and he well justified the tag in the maiden 2021 race at Bahrain Grand Prix. The entire weekend showed how close Honda's engine has come to Mercedes'. Is it possible that Max finally has a package capable of at least getting close to Mercedes? The young Dutchman enjoyed a decent season last year, completing it with an impressive victory over both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in Abu Dhabi. Let's see what his chances to dethroning the ever-present Brit are.

The sportsbooks have recognized Max's chance

Lewis Hamilton began another title defense quest with a victory at the first Grand Prix of the season. However, as we can see at sports betting operators promoted by BettingBilly, the odds offered for the Briton to win the Driver's Championship have increased from -191 (1.52) to -171 (1.58). It only shows how strong Max Verstappen has been in Bahrain. Despite narrowly losing the race, coming as a runner-up to Lewis Hamilton at the end, Max and his team came up with a fantastic effort throughout the whole weekend.

After all, the Dutchman was the fastest in the final qualifications on Saturday and he produced a tremendous fight on Sunday's race. As a consequence, he can now be backed at the odds of +150 (2.50) to win the Championship. Just to remind you, Max was +500 (6.00) to go all the way just a week before the start of the season.

A strong start to the campaign might be the key

We've frequently witnessed a dreadful beginning to the season from Red Bull over the last several years. For example, they completely misjudged the "correlation" issues at the start of the last two seasons. In 2019, Red Bull failed to find a proper solution for the new front-wing rules, while at the start of the last year Max and his teammate faced problems with snaps at low speed.

In short, an abundance of updates represented the key problem over the last couple of years. Ahead of 2021, we can say that has never before had a vehicle so similar to the previous version. The Dutchman can thus easily translate his phenomenal end-of-season form to the beginning of the 2021 campaign.

Moving forward, Red Bull have already correlated some windtunnel work in late 2020. They were even one of the rare teams to perform on-track trials with pared-back floors last year. This could prove to be a massive difference-maker for Max Verstappen and his ambitions in 2021.

Can Perez be a perfect wingman?

If Red Bull are genuinely going to challenge Mercedes in the battle for the title, Max Verstappen will need a strong wingman. Red Bull have changed four different men in this position in as many years. Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon did little to increase Verstappen's chances against Hamilton and Bottas.

As a consequence, Red Bull signed Sergio Perez who has a strong record in F1's midfield but is yet to prove his worth at the highest stage. Perez has never genuinely battled drivers of Verstappen's caliber, but he will need to step up and do so to help his teammate stay competitive against the Mercedes drivers.

The Mexican will need to apply constant pressure on Mercedes, pick up pieces on Max's bad days, and back up the Dutchman on good days. Ultimately, Max Verstappen can't beat the Mercedes duo without a top-notch teammate.

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