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Was the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Championship decided in Mexico?

Max Verstappen has taken yet another step towards claiming the 2021 Formula 1 Drivers' Championship.

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Red Bull star Max Verstappen took what was his ninth win of the 2021 Formula 1 season at the Mexico City GP. The Dutch driver now has a 19-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship over MercedesLewis Hamilton with four races to go, meaning that the 24-year-old Verstappen is on the cusp of becoming the sport’s fourth-youngest world champion behind Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton himself, and Fernando Alonso.

There have only been two occasions in which a driver without the most wins in a season has lost the championship – at least since the sport began calculating all races towards its championship points table – and even in both those instances the driver winning the championship had just one fewer win than the runner up.

This means Hamilton will have to win all four of the season’s remaining races just to equal Verstappen’s haul or hope that he can once again rewrite the record books if Verstappen were to claim even a single win in the season’s four remaining events.

While the advantage was always with Red Bull heading into the Mexican Grand Prix, a shock qualifying session saw Mercedes lock out the front two rows and an upset looked on the cards. The Brackley-based team’s advantage wouldn’t even last a lap as a brilliant start from Verstappen all but sealed Sunday’s result.

While Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas slipped back and eventually dropped out of the points, Sergio Perez put on a show for his home fans, leading parts of the race and valiantly hunting down Hamilton during the closing stages of the Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver would ultimately fall short of second but he still became the first Mexican to stand on the podium at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Red Bull is too quick

Hamilton for his part was forced to concede that the RB16B was the better machine on race day stating, “These guys are obviously too fast for us” as early as Lap 24. The British driver now has a mammoth task in front of him, and will, if nothing else, need to finish ahead of Verstappen in the remaining four races if he is to win a record eighth F1 Drivers’ Championship.

F1 – Mexico City Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 7, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

In fact, it was the race in America that will probably hurt Hamilton and Mercedes the most in retrospect given the pair’s dominance at the Circuit of the Americas. With four races to go, the advantage clearly lies with Red Bull and Verstappen especially given the duo’s predilection for Brazil in recent years.

The 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix was when a then 19-year-old Verstappen staked his claim as a future world champion after putting in a sublime performance in treacherous conditions, and if the Dutchman can repeat his race winning from 2019, then he will surely have one hand on the title with just three races to go.

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