Ralf Schumacher picks side as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fight for F1 title

Hamilton v Verstappen: Their careers in numbers

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Ralf Schumacher is backing Max Verstappen to beat Lewis Hamilton to this year’s F1 Drivers’ Championship. The Red Bull and Mercedes stars are both level going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. And it promises to be a stunning weekend of Formula One action.

Hamilton won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday to draw level with Verstappen at the top of the standings.

And that means their rivalry will be settled once and for all this weekend, when the final race of the season takes place.

The F1 world, at present, is split.

Hamilton is a serial winner and, should he prevail, will move ahead of Michael Schumacher on eight F1 titles.

But Verstappen, as the future of the sport, is now just one triumph away from etching his name into the history books.

Now, Schumacher has opened up on the upcoming weekend.

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And while he’s revealed he admires both drivers, he expressed a belief that Verstappen was ‘more his type’.

“I love the risks Verstappen takes,” he told Sky Germany.

“Max just has to be careful not to overdo it.

“It can get borderline with him. Sometimes he has to be a little smarter.

“Both of them deserve it, but Verstappen is closer to me in type.

“He has an opinion and embodies the young sportsman who learned very quickly. Max and the Red Bull squad also deserve it after such a long time.”

While Verstappen’s aggressive driving has seen him hailed, however, Martin Brundle has called on him to change tactics.

The 24-year-old was handed two penalties in Jeddah as a result of what officials deemed reckless driving.

On lap 37 he crashed into Hamilton, with the Brit then recovering to finish first on the grid.

And Brundle has called on Verstappen to tone things down.

“I believe Max initially made a genuine effort to let Lewis through but when he realised that they were both planning to be second over the impending DRS detection line to gain advantage down the pit straight, and with Lewis now on his rear bumper, he angrily hit the brakes at 69 bar momentarily generating 2.4G deceleration, nearly half that normally generated into a heavy braking zone for a high speed approach to a hairpin, and then pinned the throttle,” he told Sky Sports.

“Hamilton slammed into the back of him, damaging his front wing along with breaking some rear bodywork on the Red Bull and cutting a tyre.

“They were lucky not to both be out of the race, which of course would have suited Max just fine.

“Somehow Hamilton still had more than ample speed with his damaged front wing.”

Brundle also opened believes the FIA are struggling to stop Verstappen from putting other drivers at risk.

“The FIA’s only way to control him is with endless reviews and occasional penalties,” he said.

“He’s been playing the game given that, with his points advantage, Lewis Hamilton simply can’t afford to have an accident with him and lose an opportunity to reduce the points deficit.

“Even now despite being absolutely level on points going into the final round, for the first time in F1 since 1974, that remains the case given that he has a 9-8 race victory tally should there be a count-back.

“Such is Max’s car control and cunning he’s sometimes able to pull off the audacious moves and leave a margin of doubt as to whether it’s hard racing or simply a professional foul outside of the regulations.

“And it’s those moments, such as the infamous turn four in Brazil, which are generating the confusion, controversies and inconsistencies.

“I’m in awe of Verstappen’s driving skills and racing nous, and have championed him since the Chinese Grand Prix of 2015 when he was in the Toro Rosso.

“His touch and control behind the wheel is something to behold, but it saddens me that he’s resorting to such tactics, he’s better than that.

“And for all his carefree attitude it will be such a shame if his legacy is to be labelled as an unfair driver.”

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