Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will resume their battle for the 2021 F1 world title at this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where the Dutchman can take the crown if results go his way.
Verstappen holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton in the standings and will be confirmed as champion on Sunday if he can extend that to 26 points ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
However, momentum is on Hamilton's side as he has steadily reduced Verstappen's advantage with back-to-back victories in Brazil and Qatar, while the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is expected to suit Mercedes.
As the F1 paddock assembled for the weekend, fellow racers Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc offered their thoughts on who might emerge victorious.
Gasly and Leclerc offer different opinions
Gasly, formerly teammate to Verstappen at Red Bull, reckons the 24-year-old has enough in hand to win what would be his first F1 title.
"Max has the points advantage, [so] I see him winning in the end," AlphaTauri driver Gasly told accredited media, including RacingNews365.com.
"He's got two races. It's only two races and he's got an eight-point advantage, so he's clearly in the better position.
"I don't think it's going to be an easy one. I think Mercedes is going to be very strong here. But if he arrives in Abu Dhabi with the points advantage, I think he's going to get the championship."
Leclerc, on the other hand, explained that he recently changed his mind after Hamilton's charge to victory at the Brazilian GP, as the 36-year-old Briton chases a record-breaking eighth title.
"I was pretty sure Max would get it until Sao Paulo and then, after Brazil, I changed a bit my mind. Now I think probably Lewis is on a good run," said the Ferrari man.
"It's true that Max has the point advantage, which is what matters. It's going to be tight, but if anything, maybe Lewis."
"It's nice to see the fight being so close"
However, both drivers were in agreement about how positive the battle is for F1.
"It's really nice also to see two different teams [in the fight]," added Gasly.
"In the last few years, it's been always Mercedes fighting between their two drivers. I think for the sport, in general, it's good to have two different manufacturers fighting for the championship.
"It's extremely tight, it's quite entertaining. Obviously, we don't see all the action, racing with them. But you're seeing everything that happens through the season.
"It's a pretty good year. We'll see who wins in the end. But I think that's what we want to see more and more in the future and hopefully with even more cars fighting for the championship."
Leclerc added: "I don't have anything in particular [that I've taken away from the title fight]. It's just very, very nice to see for the sport.
"I mean, for myself, I don't see that much of that battle, because I'm racing at the same time as them. But it's nice to see the title fight being so close."
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