Race to Abu Dhabi F1 2021: How Hamilton and Verstappen have arrived at Yas neck and neck

Both are on 369.5 points but Verstappen leads in race wins 9-8 ahead of season finale

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, left, and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton head into Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points at the top of the drivers' standings. PA
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The 2021 Formula One drivers' title will be decided at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen head into the season finale level on 369.5 points with it all to play for at Yas Marina Circuit.

Verstappen will start on pole, with Hamilton second as the heavyweights of the sport clash for the final time this season.

Here's a look at how each driver fared in the 21 races leading up to Abu Dhabi.

Round 1 - Bahrain Grand Prix

Race: Verstappen hunts down Hamilton and overtakes with four laps to go only to overshoot track limits and have to give the place back. A second misjudgement in how he hands back the lead rules out a counterattack and ice cool Hamilton opens the season with a win. Verstappen is second, left to rue what might have been.

Points: Hamilton 7 ahead of Verstappen

Round 2 - Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Race: Decisive overtaking move on Hamilton at Turn 1 earns Verstappen victory as the world champion later slides off but finishes second.

Points: Hamilton +1

Round 3 - Portugal Grand Prix

Race: Inspired tactical victory by Hamilton at his mystical ‘tyre whisper’ best. Verstappen second.

Points: Hamilton +8

Round 4 - Spanish Grand Prix

Race: Points summit of Hamilton’s season with third win in four races takes him 14 points clear. Will this be another year of Mercedes domination? Verstappen second again.

Points: Hamilton +14

Round 5 - Monaco Grand Prix

Race: Verstappen wins to lead a title race for first time in his career. It is the first time in three years Mercedes have not led either championship.

Points: Verstappen +4 ahead

Round 6 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Race: Verstappen’s tyre blows while leading, Hamilton fumbles gear shift to hand surprise victory to Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.

Points: Verstappen +4

Round 7 - French Grand Prix

Race: Strategic triumph as Verstappen overtakes Hamilton on the penultimate lap to end Mercedes’ domination of Paul Ricard.

Points: Verstappen +12

Rounds 8/9 - Styria and Austria

Races: Back-to-back victories for Verstappen on Red Bull’s home track gives him a massive 32 points lead in title race. Hamilton second and fourth.

Points: Styria, Verstappen +18; Austria, Verstappen +32

Round 10 - British Grand Prix

Race: Verstappen wins Saturday's sprint race. Hamilton crashes Verstappen off (and into hospital) on Sunday and wins his home race despite a steward’s time penalty punishment.

Points: Verstappen +8

Round 11 - Hungarian Grand Prix

Race: Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, triggers a crash which ends Verstappen’s day at the first corner. Hamilton’s second place is enough to lead the title race once again in a 40-point swing over two grands prix.

Points: Hamilton +8

Round 12 - Belgium Grand Prix

Race: Verstappen returns from the summer break to win a farcical, two lap, rain-lashed abandoned ‘race’. Hamilton third.

Points: Hamilton +3

Round 13 - Dutch Grand Prix

Race: Verstappen wins his home race - the first Dutch GP for 36 years - to take to the front of the championship yet again, this time by just three points as the momentum swings back to Red Bull.

Points: Verstappen +3

Round 14 - Italian Grand Prix

Race: Hamilton and Verstappen crash out together vying for the lead at Turn 1. Red Bull car beached on top the Mercedes. Daniel Ricciardo wins.

Points: Verstappen +5

Round 15 - Russian Grand Prix

Race: Hamilton scores a brilliant record 100th victory in changing conditions. Verstappen second.

Points: Hamilton +2

Round 16 - Turkish Grand Prix

Race: Hamilton’s engine change grid penalty hands victory to teammate Bottas, with Verstappen second and the world champion fifth.

Points: Verstappen +6

Round 17 - United States Grand Prix

Race: Bastion of Hamilton success surprisingly falls to Verstappen after a spectacular drive.

Points: Verstappen +12

Round 18 - Mexican Grand Prix

Race: Verstappen roars from third on the grid, behind both Mercedes, to win and take a 19-point lead with four rounds remaining. Hamilton second.

Points: Verstappen +19

Round 19 - Brazilian Grand Prix

Race: Hamilton wins from the back of the grid after Mercedes penalised for an illegal rear wing, overtaking Verstappen in the final stages. Both go off at Turn 4 battling for the lead but escape punishment. Verstappen lead 14 points.

Points: Verstappen +14

Round 20 - Qatar Grand Prix

Race: Dominant victory by Hamilton from pole as Verstappen minimises damage in second having started seventh thanks to a penalty for ignoring yellow flags. Hamilton cuts Verstappen’s lead to eight points.

Points: Verstappen +8

Round 21 - Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Race: Dramatic race won by Hamilton after title rivals collide twice in one of the most dramatic races of modern times. Verstappen a battling second. Aided by his ‘spicey’ super-fast engine Hamilton ties down fastest lap despite a damaged car to level the championship after 21 races.

Points: Level

Round 22 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Hamilton and Verstappen go to the final round tied on points the first time that has happened between championship contenders since 1974.

Updated: December 12, 2021, 7:36 AM