After an action-packed inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the Formula 1 title fight is neck and neck heading into the final race of the season.
Lewis Hamilton is chasing a record 8th championship win, while rival Max Verstappen is just one race away from his first world championship title. Mercedes, with Hamilton and the outgoing Valtteri Bottas, strengthened their lead in the constructors standings in Saudi Arabia, with Red Bull still chasing their first constructor win since 2013.
Verstappen, who has watched his championship lead fade in the last month of the season, is primed to take the win but will have to contend with the seven-time champion at the newly modified Yas Marina Circuit.
Heading to the United Arab Emirates, both title rivals are tied on 369.5 points, to win the title the task for both drivers is quite simple, finish ahead of their rival. With the fastest lap only awarded one extra point, finishing one spot behind their rival wouldn't be enough.
If both drivers fail to finish in the points, the championship will be awarded to Verstappen who has won more races (9) than his rival Hamilton (8). There's the possibility the two could finish in the top 10 but remain tied, with Verstappen finishing ninth and Hamilton tenth, but with the fastest lap. In that case, the championship will be handed to the Red Bull driver.
So, what's stopping Verstappen from taking out his title rival during the race and ensuring his maiden championship title? Legally, not much. The FIA have no known concrete penalty for such a situation, but are known for their unpredictability.
Earlier this week, F1 bosses revealed championship points could be docked for “unsportsmanlike behaviour” in the race, specifically referring to Article 12.2.1.l, which states: “Any infringement of the principles of fairness in Competition, behaviour in an unsportsmanlike manner or attempt to influence the result of a Competition in a way that is contrary to sporting ethics.”
While not explicitly stated, the behaviour in question encompasses both fighting teams, though Mercedes would have few reasons to end their race early, and the secondary drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez. Should all cars make it around the first lap under the lights in Abu Dhabi, the remaining 54 with etch themselves in the history books.
How to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Australia
Coverage of the race begins at 10:30(AEDT) with lights out at midnight. The race itself will be live streamed on Kayo and Fox Sports (Channel 506), along with each practice and qualifying sessions.
Find up to date news and information about the championship fight on Zero Throttle.