The thrilling Formula 1 title battle reaches its climax this weekend in Abu Dhabi, and the stakes could not be higher.
The top two drivers are level on points and have shown all season that they are a level above the rest of the field.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of winning his eighth championship, surpassing Michael Schumacher’s once seemingly unbeatable tally.
However, he has Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to beat, and the Dutchman has the slim advantage of having more wins over the course of the year, meaning that he currently leads the standings on countback.
Verstappen looked to have the championship in his grasp after his win in the Mexico City Grand Prix gave him a 15-point lead, but Hamilton has managed to claw back the deficit by taking three wins in a row.
The only other time that a driver has taken a hattrick of wins consecutively this season was when Verstappen won in France, before taking victory in both races of the Austrian double-header.
That gave him a 32-point lead before the next race, the British Grand Prix, which saw the pair’s famous crash.
The battle has caused many debates and discussions amongst fans, and the grid’s other drivers are no different.
Sebastian Vettel, who won four world championships in his time at Red Bull, has backed Verstappen to protect his fellow countryman’s record.
The Aston Martin driver wants Verstappen to take the championship so that Hamilton doesn’t surpass Schumacher’s record.
Vettel said, per The Sun: “Michael is my hero. For that reason, I probably don't want Lewis to win but the truth is they have both had a strong season. I'd be happy if Michael's record still stands but even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest."
Vettel has shown his love and admiration for the Schumacher family this year, by acting as a friend and mentor to Mick Schumacher, who is in his rookie season with the struggling Haas team.
Fernando Alonso, who fell out with Hamilton in their time as teammates, has also backed Verstappen to win.
One of the season’s most memorable moments was the Spaniard’s robust defence of Hamilton at the Hungarian Grand Prix which allowed his teammate, Esteban Ocon, to take the win.
Alonso said, per The Sun: “Max is driving, in my opinion, one step ahead of all of us. Mercedes deserve the constructors' championship because the car is superior. But Max, overall in the year, was driving one step ahead of everyone.”
The championship would be Verstappen’s first in cars, after his rapid rise to F1. He won over 20 karting titles, but his junior single-seater career only lasted one year, before he joined Toro Rosso for the 2015 F1 season.
Impressively, he finished third in his rookie season in F3.
This is also the first season that Verstappen has had a consistent race-winning car that is able to battle for the championship, and he has managed to take the dominant Mercedes team, who have won seven championship doubles in a row, to the final round.