The Drivers’ Championship in the 2023 Formula 1 season couldn’t be any closer, with the two leaders currently being separated by just three points.
Lewis Hamilton leads the way from Max Verstappen with 202.5 to 199.5 points respectively, as the British driver looks to win his eighth Drivers Championship to become the record holder for most world title wins, having levelled Michael Schumacher last year.
However, Verstappen will certainly have something to say about that and has thus far had the requisite pace within the Red Bull to seriously challenge Mercedes. In recent years Red Bull haven’t quite had the pace to compete with Mercedes for the full season but there has been a swing of momentum in their favour in 2023.
With there still being 10 races left in the season, there are up to 260 points for each driver to compete for and it would not be a surprise to see the fight for the title go all the way down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.
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Below, we will assess the two main contenders for the Formula 1 Driver Championship ahead of the final 10 races of the season.
Lewis Hamilton – 5/6
As you will see from the odds there is really nothing separating Lewis Hamilton and his main title rival at this moment in time. Hamilton is more than used to being in this position has managed to get over the line on no fewer than seven occasions during his Formula 1 career. If there’s any man that will be able to handle the pressure of a title challenge it’s Hamilton, who has been there and done it all during his historic career in the sport thus far. The 36-year-old recently signed a new two-year deal to remain with Mercedes past this season and looks to be showing no signs of slowing down in the later years of his career.
So far this season Hamilton has won four of the first 12 races of the season, with three of those wins coming during the first four weeks of the year. Since then Verstappen has been in the ascendency overall, with Hamilton managing just one win in his last eight races – that coming after the pair collided and Verstappen crashed at Silverstone. Hamilton could really do with a win sooner than later and the recently cancelled Belgian Grand Prix saw his lead cut to just three points after all of the top 10 qualifiers were awarded half points for their efforts on a Saturday afternoon. However, Hamilton has been on the podium in five of his last six races, as well as getting his car across the finish line in all 12 races this season and it is that level of consistency that he will need to secure an eighth World Championship.
Max Verstappen – 5/6
Verstappen trails by just three points entering the last 10 races of the season and now has the best chance of his career to win his first F1 World Championship. The flying Dutchman has been superb this season, having finished in the top two in all but two of the 12 races completed thus far. He has six wins in that time too, including one in somewhat strange circumstances this weekend as he was awarded 12.5 points following the cancelling of the Belgian Grand Prix. Verstappen may still feel somewhat bitter about not leading the championship following the crash he suffered at the hands of Hamilton at Silverstone which saw a 25-point swing between the pair from one race.
It’s only a matter of time before the 23-year-old wins his first Formula 1 World Championship but there is no doubt that he will want to do it against Hamilton and Mercedes while they are still at the top of their game. He will race in his home Dutch Grand Prix next in what will be the first of his career, with the last F1 race being held at Circuit Zandvoort being in 1985. Verstappen certainly has the momentum and the wind in his sails after winning four of the last six races and has qualified on pole position in five of the last six qualifying sessions. The experience is no doubt on Hamilton’s side, but Verstappen has shown already that he will not back down to the fight and will take it right to the wire.
When it comes to the Constructors’ Championship it is equally split, with the bookmakers having both Mercedes and Red Bull priced at 5/6 each. Both teams’ second drivers in Valteri Bottas and Sergio Perez are each separated by just four points in the Drivers Championship, with the former having the narrow advantage in the race. That leaves Mercedes with a slender seven-point lead in the Constructors Championship heading into the final 10 races of the season and the performance of each of their second drivers will be just as pivotal as their leading men.
In the previous race at Spa, both Bottas and Perez were left pointless after qualifying 12th and 19th respectively. Bottas has now failed to score points in each of his last two races, while his Mexican counterpart hasn’t added to his tally in three races as McLaren’s Lando Norris remains in third place in the Drivers Championship. With the Drivers Championship out of both of their reach, both Bottas and Perez will now mainly be used to benefit the team, something which could lead to a strange dynamic at Mercedes who are heavily linked with bringing in George Russell. Bottas has been on the podium six times this season while Perez has managed the feat twice and the Mexican will need to up his game if he is to help Red Bull come out on top.