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Formula 1

The statistics that show just how close the 2021 title fight has been

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have delivered one of the most exciting title races in F1 history, with their battle rolling on to the final two rounds. RacingNews365.com dives into some of the statistics behind the season so far.

Hamilton Verstappen Brazil
To news overview © Pirelli

After 20 races, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton remain neck and neck in what will go down as an all-time classic F1 season.

Kicking off in Bahrain back in March, before crisscrossing the globe and heading back to the Middle East last weekend with the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, the campaign has - quite literally - come full circle, with just eight points between the pair.

Ahead of the final two rounds, RacingNews365.com has taken the opportunity to analyse the title rivals' qualifying and race day head-to-heads for the season up to this point, highlighting just how close the battle has been.

Verstappen vs Hamilton in qualifying

Grand Prix Circuit length Top qualifier Time difference
Bahrain 5.412km Verstappen 0.388s
Emilia Romagna 4.909km Hamilton 0.087s
Portugal 4.653km Hamilton 0.391s
Spain 4.675km Hamilton 0.036s
Monaco 3.337km Verstappen 0.519s
Azerbaijan 6.003km Hamilton 0.113s
France 5.842km Verstappen 0.258s
Styria 4.318km Verstappen 0.226s
Austria 4.318km Verstappen 0.294s
Britain 5.891km Hamilton 0.075s
Hungary 4.381km Hamilton 0.421s
Belgium 7.004km Verstappen 0.334s
Netherlands 4.259km Verstappen 0.038s
Italy 5.793km Hamilton 0.315s
Russia* N/A N/A N/A
Turkey 5.338km Hamilton 0.328s
United States 5.513km Verstappen 0.209s
Mexico 4.304km Hamilton 0.205s
Sao Paulo** N/A N/A N/A
Qatar 5.380km Hamilton 0.597s
Total 91.330km Hamilton: 10-8 Hamilton: 0.302s ahead

*Verstappen did not set a time in qualifying after an engine change / **Hamilton was excluded from qualifying over a rear wing breach

Hamilton has the edge in qualifying

One of the standout points from the list above is that, while Verstappen has claimed nine pole positions to Hamilton's four so far in 2021, the Red Bull driver actually has a worse head-to-head qualifying record.

Indeed, Hamilton has finished ahead of Verstappen in 10 of the 18 one-lap sessions - excluding Russia, where Verstappen opted against setting a time after an engine change, and Brazil, where Hamilton was excluded from Friday qualifying.

In terms of the overall time difference between the pair, Hamilton holds an advantage of 0.302s from 91.330km of running.

Verstappen's biggest single-lap advantage came in Monaco, where he qualified five places and 0.519s clear of Hamilton, who struggled with his car's balance when the temperature dropped from Thursday to Saturday.

Conversely, Hamilton finished 0.597s ahead of Verstappen in Q3 at the Losail International Circuit, with the gap increasing slightly after Verstappen's best lap was deleted for ignoring double waved yellow flags.

Verstappen vs Hamilton on race day

Grand Prix Race distance Top finisher Time difference
Bahrain 302.826km Hamilton 0.745s
Emilia Romagna 309.049km Verstappen 22.000s
Portugal 306.826km Hamilton 29.148s*
Spain 308.424km Hamilton 15.841s
Monaco 260.286km Verstappen 1m08.231s
Azerbaijan N/A N/A N/A
France 309.690km Verstappen 2.904s
Styria 306.452km Verstappen 35.743s**
Austria 306.452km Verstappen 46.452s
Britain N/A N/A N/A
Hungary 306.630km Hamilton 1m17.508s
Belgium 6.880km Verstappen 2.601s
Netherlands 306.587km Verstappen 20.932s**
Italy N/A N/A N/A
Russia 309.745km Hamilton 53.271s
Turkey 309.396km Verstappen 27.228s
United States 308.405km Verstappen 1.333s
Mexico 305.354km Verstappen 16.555s
Sao Paulo 305.879km Hamilton 10.496s
Qatar 306.660km Hamilton 25.743s*
Total 4875.541km Verstappen: 10-7 Verstappen: 31.227s ahead

*Verstappen pitted within final five laps for fastest lap attempt / **Hamilton pitted within final five laps for fastest lap attempt

Verstappen has been stronger in race trim

While Hamilton has the edge in qualifying trim, it's Verstappen who leads the way on the race day head-to-head.

Incredibly, from the 17 races counted for this analysis, and the 4875.541km covered - little more than the distance between London and the centre of Kazakhstan as the crow flies - there's a difference of only 31.227s between the two drivers.

Verstappen has emerged on top in 10 of the 17 races, with his biggest advantage over Hamilton coming in Monaco, where he finished 1m08.231s in front, as the Mercedes man struggled to make his way through the pack.

On the flip side, Verstappen trailed Hamilton by a whopping 1m17.508s at the Hungaroring, though this came after he was wiped out by Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1 and limped home with significant car damage.

Baku is excluded from the list after Verstappen's late-race tyre failure, while Silverstone (where Verstappen retired) and Monza (where both Verstappen and Hamilton retired) are not counted after the title rivals collided.

What about the Sprint races?

To protect one-lap qualifying times, the results of the three Sprint races have been excluded from the tables above.

However, over the course of the three 30-minute encounters at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos, Verstappen holds a comfortable advantage.

Verstappen passed Hamilton at the start of the Sprint race in Britain to take the chequered flag by 1.430s; in Italy, he finished 17.686s clear after Hamilton got stuck behind the McLaren drivers; while in Brazil, there was a gap of 19.702s as Hamilton recovered from 20th to fifth.

The only statistic that matters...

Of course, there's only one statistic that matters when the chequered flag drops at the end of the season - Verstappen and Hamilton's respective points tallies.

As it stands, eight points separate Verstappen and Hamilton - in the Dutchman's favour - ahead of the final two rounds in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

But whatever happens over the last two qualifying sessions and 108 laps of racing, the 2021 campaign will surely go down as one of the most exciting - and closest - F1 title fights the sport has witnessed since the World Championship began back in 1950.

Also interesting:

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Does Lewis Hamilton's recent run of form against Max Verstappen now make him the favourite to claim the title? F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour discuss this and more in the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast!

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