Former F1 driver turned television pundit Ralf Schumacher is expecting this weekend's action at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to set up a thrilling title showdown in Abu Dhabi.
With Saudi Arabia's new Jeddah Corniche Circuit tipped to suit Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes more than Red Bull, Schumacher believes Hamilton will close further on Max Verstappen's eight-point lead in the championship to ensure a shootout at Yas Marina next weekend.
"Saudi Arabia is a track that suits Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on paper," Schumacher told Sky Sport Germany, as quoted by F1-Insider.com.
"But I think the race in Abu Dhabi could play into Red Bull's hands, despite changes that will make the track even faster.
"If everything goes normally, we will experience a heart-stopping finale in Abu Dhabi."
But Schumacher didn't dare to predict which of the two title protagonists will emerge victorious.
"My head says that Mercedes have an advantage. The last races have shown that," he commented.
"That means Red Bull will have to go one step further with the car. But in Max's favour is the fact that he still has an eight-point lead and is the only one who can already secure the title in Saudi Arabia."
Who deserves the title more?
According to Schumacher, either of the drivers would be worthy victors once the title is finally settled.
"So far we have seen a fight between two absolute world-class drivers who don't give each other anything," he added.
"But you also have to be honest, due to his blown tyre when he was in the lead in Baku, the collision with Hamilton at Silverstone and the start crash in Hungary, when Valtteri Bottas accidentally became a bowling ball, Max easily lost more than 50 points through no fault of his own.
"That means he would already be World Champion by now, and a deserved one."
With these factors in mind, Schumacher feels that Verstappen just edges it.
He said: "In general, I have to say what a great development Max has made. He is 12 years younger than Lewis and makes almost no mistakes anymore.
"At his home race at Zandvoort, he showed how well he can handle extremely high pressure - on and off the track.
"Both would have deserved the title, but Max a little bit more."
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