Damon Hill has called Max Verstappen the title favorite, but he has also stated that anything can happen in the final five races of the season.
Verstappen brilliantly held off Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps of an exciting United States Grand Prix on Sunday, as Mercedes closed in on him on fresher tyres.
The Red Bull driver was passed at the start by his title rival, but a brave strategy from his team allowed him to retake track position, and despite the disadvantage of running on worn rubber, Verstappen kept his cool to win and close the gap to Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship to 12 points.
Hill believes the Dutchman is in the box seat right now, given the manner in which he won and how ominous Red Bull’s form is – but knows that any slip-up might be decisive for the rest of the year.
“I would never declare this a foregone conclusion at this stage of the season,” the 1996 World Champion said.
“There’s so many mishaps that happen in our sport, and, you know, 25 points on the table for a victory and nothing if you don’t finish.
“That can obviously happen in our sport and it has happened in the past, and it probably will happen to someone between now and the end of the season.
“The question is, will it be Lewis that suffers a DNF or something like that or will it be Max, or will this be a season of Lewis having to claw back that points deficit he has?
“Over the remaining races, he really has to start winning again. It’s eight versus five in victories to Max, so it’s looking like it’s Max’s title at the moment.”
Verstappen has been crashed out of the lead twice this season, with a tyre blowout in Azerbaijan and a high-speed collision with Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone.
However, Verstappen scored the most points in Austin, which has usually been a Hamilton and Mercedes stronghold, while the next two circuits, in Mexico and Brazil, have traditionally favoured Red Bull because to the high altitude of the races, which suit Honda’s power unit.
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