The official game of Formula One, F1 2021 from Codemasters, is predicting that the final race of the real season will result in a victory for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and a first world title for the Dutch driver.
This weekend will see the climax of one of the closest title fights in F1 history. At the moment the two rivals — Verstappen and seven-time world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton — cannot be separated on points after 21 races. As unlikely as it seems, each comes into the Abu Dhabi finale on 369.5 points (with the half point coming from the ludicrous Belgian Grand Prix).
Instead the two drivers are ranked by a system known as “countback”, which separates them according to their highest-placed finishes. Verstappen has won nine races to Hamilton’s eight, so is ranked ahead.
That ultimately means that whichever of the two finishes ahead will also win the world championship. However if neither finish the race or finish in the points, or if Hamilton finishes in ninth with Verstappen in tenth but also securing the fastest lap, Verstappen will stay ahead and claim the crown.
Eager to find out who’d win in a simulated shootout, Codemasters ran a full-length Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend in F1 2021. In the virtual version, it was Verstappen who took the race win after starting on pole position, with Hamilton in second.
The first part of that has already come true, as the Red Bull man has indeed taken pole position for Sunday’s race. However there’s an extra detail that it doesn’t seem to be part of the fictional version of the race: Verstappen will start the race on soft tires, having used them to come through the second qualifying session, with Hamilton on the slower and more durable mediums.
There’s also one slightly more significant factor affecting how the F1 2021 simulation might differ from reality. For this season’s race, the Yas Marina circuit has had a subtle change of layout which removes two chicanes and changes the turn 11-14 section into a single, medium speed curve. The version in the game however is still the original track as used from 2009 to 2020.
Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see even the fictional versions of Verstappen and Hamilton are hard to separate. As usual, GTPlanet’s users will be following the race in a special, dedicated thread.