Max Verstappen

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With Hamilton and Verstappen neck and neck, F1 holds its breath ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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With Hamilton and Verstappen neck and neck, F1 holds its breath ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Back in July Verstappen had built up a cosy 32-point lead but the momentum is now back at Mercedes with Hamilton driving like a man with an unprecedented eighth world championship in his sights.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton slams 'over the limit' Max Verstappen after chaos
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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton slams 'over the limit' Max Verstappen after chaos

Red Bull maintained that Verstappen was simply following instructions while Mercedes intimated that the Dutchman was 'brake-testing'.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton wins thriller, goes level with Max Verstappen for title decider
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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton wins thriller, goes level with Max Verstappen for title decider

The result left the seven-time champion level on 369.5 points with title rival Max Verstappen ahead of the final race in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton on pole as Max Verstappen hits wall in 'terrible' crash
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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton on pole as Max Verstappen hits wall in 'terrible' crash

For Hamilton, who has cut Verstappen's championship lead with successive wins in Brazil and Qatar, it was a fifth pole of the season and 103rd of his career.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton dominates practice ahead of key title weekend
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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton dominates practice ahead of key title weekend

Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas clocked the day's second quickest time of 1min 29.079secs, just 0.61secs behind Hamilton.

Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton ‘more relaxed than ever’ as title battle with Max Verstappen intensifies
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Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton ‘more relaxed than ever’ as title battle with Max Verstappen intensifies

Hamilton, eyeing an unprecedented eighth world title, trails Verstappen by eight points with just two races left — on the streets of Jeddah on Sunday and at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next weekend.

Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton wins inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, rival Max Verstappen finishes second
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Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton wins inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, rival Max Verstappen finishes second

One week on from arguably his toughest and greatest win in Brazil, Hamilton enjoyed one of his easiest.

Formula 1: Max Verstappen given five-place grid penalty at Qatar Grand Prix for 'not respecting' yellow flags
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Formula 1: Max Verstappen given five-place grid penalty at Qatar Grand Prix for 'not respecting' yellow flags

Verstappen had qualified in second originally, but will be replaced on the front row by Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly

Formula 1 2021: Tensions boil in Qatar between Mercedes and Red Bull
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Formula 1 2021: Tensions boil in Qatar between Mercedes and Red Bull

The most dramatic Formula 1 title fight in at least a decade further intensified when Horner and Wolff traded barbs at the same time the FIA denied Mercedes' right to appeal last week's non-penalty on championship leader Max Verstappen.

Qatar Grand Prix: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas sets fastest time in Friday's second free practice
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Qatar Grand Prix: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas sets fastest time in Friday's second free practice

Bottas, set to leave for Alfa Romeo next year, was 0.209 seconds quicker than Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly, with championship rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton third and fourth.

Brazilian GP: Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to finish line despite starting 10th
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Brazilian GP: Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to finish line despite starting 10th

Verstappen, the winner of the race's previous edition in 2019, finished second and saw his lead in the driver's championship shrink to 14 points, with three races left. The winner of a race gets 25 points.

Formula 1: Bottas takes Brazilian GP pole, Hamilton finishes P5 after starting from last
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Formula 1: Bottas takes Brazilian GP pole, Hamilton finishes P5 after starting from last

Hamilton shrugged off that setback by flying through the field from last place to finish fifth from 20th in the sprint.

Brazilian GP: Lewis Hamilton disqualified from qualifying; Max Verstappen fined for touching rival car
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Brazilian GP: Lewis Hamilton disqualified from qualifying; Max Verstappen fined for touching rival car

Verstappen was fined 50,000 euros by stewards after video taken from the grandstands at Interlagos showed him touching the rear wing of rival Hamilton's car.

Formula 1: Jackie Stewart says a title for Max Verstappen will be 'good for motorsport'
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Formula 1: Jackie Stewart says a title for Max Verstappen will be 'good for motorsport'

Verstappen leads Hamilton by 19 points heading into Sunday's Brazil Grand Prix and the Dutchman looks increasingly capable of denying the Briton the title for the first time since 2016.

Sao Paulo Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton under investigation after sprint edge
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Sao Paulo Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton under investigation after sprint edge

Race stewards were investigating whether or not the DRS system - the flap mounted on the rear wing of the car which opens to gain top speed - had exceeded allowed limits.

Sao Paulo Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton bracing for five-place grid penalty
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Sao Paulo Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton bracing for five-place grid penalty

If Mercedes decide Hamilton needs a fifth engine of the season, it would trigger an automatic penalty of five places on the grid and reduce his chances of claiming a victory to trim or overhaul Max Verstappen’s 19-point advantage in the title race.

Formula 1: 'Far superior' Max Verstappen outpaces Lewis Hamilton to win Mexico GP
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Formula 1: 'Far superior' Max Verstappen outpaces Lewis Hamilton to win Mexico GP

Verstappen, who grabbed the lead on the first corner, finished 16.555sec ahead of Hamilton with Perez just over a second further back.

Mexico Grand Prix: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton in front-row lockout
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Mexico Grand Prix: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton in front-row lockout

For Bottas, it was a career 19th pole position, bettering the 18 of Rene Arnoux as the driver on most poles without ever winning the world title.

Formula 1: Max Verstappen dominates Lewis Hamilton in Mexico Grand Prix practice
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Formula 1: Max Verstappen dominates Lewis Hamilton in Mexico Grand Prix practice

Red Bull's Sergio Perez, racing in front of his home fans at the spectacular Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, was fourth at 0.570sec behind his teammate.

Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton - Max Verstappen rivalry is sport's best duel in years
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Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton - Max Verstappen rivalry is sport's best duel in years

Through pulsing race wins, crashes and clashes, the two have crafted F1's best on-track duel in a decade.