The 2021 F1 Drivers Championship will be decided this weekend in Abu Dhabi. Lewis Hamilton is favoured at odds of 1.50 to claim his eighth Drivers Championship while Max Verstappen is at odds of 2.62 to claim his first. Today we talk with F1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi about this weekend’s race and his expectations for 2022.
With Max and Lewis being tied going into the last Grand Prix, who do you think will come out on top after the Abu Dhabi race and why?
“Nobody can answer that for sure, because there is going to be so much pressure on them and the teams.”
“And it is going to be about who has the best strategy. The only thing I can say is that Lewis has the most experience, with all his years in F1 and Max is more aggressive. But it is going to be down to the strategy”
“I don’t think anybody can predict what will happen in Abu Dhabi. The only other time this has happened, it was myself and Clay Regazzoni in 1974 equal on points going into the final Grand Prix.”
“I can see the pressure they both are going to have on each one of them. Lewis and Max themselves and their whole teams. The families. The sponsors. Even the spectators will be under tremendous pressure with the contenders being on equal points.”
“It’s something, if you think about it. It’s going to be like a tour. One race against one another other. Everybody else will be there to watch what’s going to happen. But the race is between those two. Whoever is ahead of each other wins. When the race starts, they have 1.5 hours to find out who’s going to be world champion. They are both going to be very anxious.”
“I think the pressure will be equal, because you cannot count on the other one not finishing. It doesn’t really matter with the advantage in wins that Max has coming into the race. The winner of this race will be world champion.”
As a veteran of winning a championship in this situation, what would be your advice to Lewis and Max?
“First they have to finish the race, then they can think about winning the championship.”
“I don’t think Lewis will have an advantage, because Red Bull is very experienced and have already won multiple world championships – And they want to win again.”
“I think they are going to driving on the limit of everything but they cannot cross it because that can cost them the world championship”
“It all depends on the circumstances that impact the result, but we know that both are going to have a very difficult night of sleep before the Grand Prix.”
“They have to make a strategic plan with their teams, but the first thing they have to do to win the world championship is to finish the race. First they have to finish, then they can win. If they don’t finish, they can’t win.”
In 1997 Michael Schumacher was stripped of his 2nd place in the championship because of an incident where he tried to run champion Jaque Villeneuve – do you think it could happen again?
“I think anything can happen. It depends on the reaction on the driver”
“In the year after I won the championship, at the US Grand Prix, I was right on Niki [Lauda], who was leading the race, and I was right at his gearbox as defending champions. As we were about to lap Clay Regazzoni, who was Nikis teammate, and after a trip to the pit, Clay started blocking me and I ended up losing 14 seconds. He ended up being disqualified, because he was blocking me with intention. Something like this could happen again.”
“With the system that the FIAS has with all stewards and cameras they will see if anybody tried anything.”
“They will see it and the stewards will react – like we saw with Max Verstappen in Jeddah.”
“They can try and play dirty – but it will cost them – and one penalty on cost them the World Championship”
Ferrari has promised a fast engine. Will they be able to compete with Red Bull and Mercedes next year?
“I am sure they can compete next year. A team like Ferrari has been focusing on the car for next year and I believe that they will be very competitive – like McLaren, they are also getting close.”
23 races are planned for next year. How will this very busy schedule affect the championship, drivers and teams?
“I like the idea of promoting the sport globally and I am not sure the big teams will have a big advantage because of the budget cap that’s coming in.”
If Mazepin’s father buys Haas, what do you think will be the prospects of Mick Schumacher?
“There will be so many opportunities for him to go to other teams. He is driving strong and for sure everyone wants to see Schumacher race again and with a bigger team. I think he can he good”
Do you think Mazepin should be happy with his first season in F1?
“You have to look at it like ‘this is how they learn’. Every kilometre they have on the tracks is a learning experience. It is not easy coming into the F1 with all the pressure”
What was the key moment this season?
“There’s so many exciting moments between those two throughout the season. Max has been showing consistency throughout, but the last four or five Grands Prix, Mercedes have been running really strong. They have turned it around strongly again.“
“In Holland, the whole country will be watching to see if Max can pull off the win.”
“Since August, the championship has gotten really hot in every race.”
What are your expectations for the 2022 season?
“The rules are going to give us a lot of surprises, because of who might be able to use these new rules to develop a new car.”
“I don’t think anybody can be certain right up until the first qualifier of the year. Even with testing, you sometimes run with a full tank or an empty tank, and the conditions might be different on the track.”
“I think the first qualifier will determine and show who will be fast for the next year.”
“But we know that the people that were focusing more on next year rather than this year would have an advantage next year. They could be quicker out of the box. I can imagine that Red Bull and Mercedes were so focused on this year’s championship, and other teams like Ferrari were working more for next year during the last 6 months. There could be a lot of surprises.”
With the new rules, do you think bigger teams have advantages or is it for the smaller ones?
“The bigger teams always have advantages, but the other teams will be very close, and it will be more balanced and closer in my opinion. I like the new rules.”
“I hope the cars are going to run close to one another. That’s going to make it more exciting to watch.”
2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Winner Odds
Odds as at 1pm December 9th 2021. Odds may now differ.