Johnny Herbert has praised the two “gladiators” fighting it out for the World Championship – and expects a final twist in the battle for the title.
Lewis Hamilton took victory in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, finishing ahead of Max Verstappen and moving level on points with the Red Bull driver heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
The two title challengers collided in Jeddah when Verstappen was instructed to let Hamilton past, but the Red Bull driver was later given a 10-second penalty for “erratic” driving as the Mercedes man went into the back of him heading to Turn 27.
Hamilton eventually came out on top in the race and set up a final-day showdown, and Herbert thinks it could be a dramatic finale of an “epic” year around Yas Marina.
Max Verstappen: 369.5 points
Lewis Hamilton: 369.5 points
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) December 5, 2021
“This one has just been epic the whole way through,” Herbert told Sky Sports News. “There have been twists and turns all the way through the season, and we are talking about going into the last race and we’ve already had a twist going into Abu Dhabi.
“I’m sure there will be another twist at a circuit a lot of the drivers know – they don’t know it fully because it’s slightly changed – but I still don’t know who will actually come out of it crossing that line for that chequered flag.
“Because it’s that tight, it’s brilliant. It’s these gladiators, Max and Lewis, that are really going at it.”
There have been worries voiced about a race-ending collision between the two title challengers, with several moments of contact throughout the year.
As Verstappen leads the Championship by virtue of having an extra race victory compared to his title rival, Herbert said it would only be the Dutchman who would stand to benefit from a crash at the weekend.
“I don’t want to see the championship decided by one of the drivers taking out the other, and that will only be Max because he’s got the advantage of those race wins,” said the Sky Sports pundit.
“I hope it doesn’t come down to that because I just want to see the skill of these guys being tested.”
Hamilton feels Verstappen’s driving has been “over the limit” of late and that he has had to take avoiding action on several occasions against the Red Bull driver.