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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in dead heat for Formula 1 crown after Monza crash

NEWS STORY
15/09/2021

The Formula One title run has boiled down to a foreseeable two-horse race with eight races left to go in the season as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battle it out for the top prize.

Just five points separated the pair coming into Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, the same gap that sits between the pair following their heated collision at Monza:

With 80 points between the top two and the rest of the field, it seems all but certain that the title will either stay with Hamilton and Mercedes or go to Team Red Bull if Verstappen can stay top.

The odds are finely balanced entering the home stretch, with incumbent leader Verstappen edging in front as the 4/5 favourite, though Hamilton is only minimally behind in the odds at evens.

Pitpass.com analyses F1's top pair and how both drivers have performed thus far as we take stock of the season to date, compiled using the latest odds and William Hill offers.

Max Verstappen (4/5)

It's been building for a number of years now, but Dutch dynamo Verstappen finally appears ready to sustain his title assault over an entire Formula One season in his efforts to win a maiden championship.

Red Bull's star man came into the 2021 season having clinched back-to-back third-place finishes in 2019 and 2020, but bronze will count for little in the mind of one of racing's most competitive figures.

That never-give-up attitude was evident in the build-up to Sunday's collision with Hamilton, where Verstappen refused to grant his rival enough room approaching the Variante del Rettifilo after a long pitstop.

The result was his RB16B ending up perched atop Hamilton's Mercedes, and a review ultimately found Verstappen to be at fault, resulting in a penalty grid for the upcoming Russian Grand Prix in Sochi:

And it's those kind of petulant outbursts that could have a big knock-on effect in the races to come, with Verstappen more evidently the one feeling the pressure to perform.

Lewis Hamilton (Evens)

Hamilton, on the other hand, has come out looking the more mature competitor in pursuit of a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 crown, and the gap is small enough to overturn in the near future.

In fact, it may be that Verstappen's penalty in Russia may even be sufficient to open a cushion of his own at the standings summit, where he's spent the vast majority of his time since joining Mercedes.

The racing world was glad to see the Briton emerge unscathed following that crash at Monza, where the Halo system came to his rescue after the RB16B mounted his own car:

Only seven of the eight remaining venues for this season have been confirmed, although Hamilton has experience winning at most of those that are certain to take place.

The issue is that so too does Verstappen, having previously triumphed in Brazil, Mexico City and Abu Dhabi as recently as last season.

But while the 23-year-old has also had some performances to forget at those tracks, Hamilton tends to perform better in maintaining a healthy average, which will rise to fore in the coming weeks.

Both drivers retired on this most recent occasion, but it might also be expected that Verstappen could fail to finish one more race before 2021 is out, giving all the more reason to back 'underdog' Hamilton to over the current deficit.

2021 F1 Drivers' Championship Odds

Driver Odds
Max Verstappen 4/5
Lewis Hamilton Evens
Valtteri Bottas 200/1
Sergio Perez 200/2
Lando Norris 2000/1
Esteban Ocon 2000/2
Pierre Gasly 2000/3
Fernando Alonso 2000/4
Sebastian Vettel 2000/5
Carlos Sainz 2000/6

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