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F1 heads for middle eastern showdowns

By Tom Gibson | November 16, 2021

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With just three races to go until the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season, tensions between Mercedes and Red Bull couldn’t be higher.

F1 heads for middle eastern showdowns

Lewis Hamilton stormed to a phenomenal victory in last weekend’s Sao Paulo GP (formerly the Brasilian GP) but Red Bull has enjoyed the most consistent performance from its very impressive RB16B throughout the year.

And, as tensions rise, questions are being asked about just how Mercedes has been able to extract this much performance from a car that was said to have ‘no new upgrades coming’ way back in Austria when Toto Wolff’s outfit were seriously outpaced by Verstappen and Co.

Mercedes is putting the responsibility of performance gain down to a new ICE in Lewis Hamilton’s car. Red Bull have been questioning, both publicly and privately, whether other and potentially illegal improvements have been made to the power unit as well as the legality of the rear wing on Mercedes’ W10.

We definitely haven’t heard the last of the off-track scepticism, questions and potentially even protests as we head into the season deciders.

The first of those takes place at Qatar’s Losail circuit in Doha this weekend. The track is a regular host of MotoGP but this is the first time Formula 1 has visited and the floodlights will once again be lit for what should be a fascinating encounter.

Although F1 cars haven’t raced around Losail before, it is expected the flowing nature of the track will not lend itself to overtaking despite the 1km long start-finish straight. As a result, qualifying performance will be absolutely vital and both Hamilton and Verstappen will be hoping that they themselves not only perform, but Messrs Bottas and Perez will be able to act as rear gunners for them in the desert.

After that, we head to the fastest street circuit on the calendar in Saudi Arabia, and Mercedes may yet choose to bring in yet another new engine unit for this race to take advantage of the performance advantage. The long straights and heavy break zones are thought to be more friendly for overtaking and that might just influence their decision.

The season climax will take place in Abu Dhabi on Sunday 12th September and the now famous firework show will bring to and end one of the best F1 battles in history, but who will be victorious, Hamilton or Verstappen? Let us know your thoughts below.

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