Wolff: Formula One title battle is amazing for the sport

By Sports Desk December 09, 2021

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes this year's dramatic Formula One title race is "amazing for the sport".

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen head into the final grand prix of the season level on points at the top of the drivers' championship.

Mercedes, meanwhile, are bidding to win their eighth constructors' title. The gap between themselves and Red Bull is 28 points, though Wolff's team could still lose the crown to their rivals.

With such drama promised in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Wolff thinks it can only serve as a boost to F1, which had become predictable due to Mercedes' dominance. 

Indeed, Hamilton is aiming for a record eighth world title and a fifth consecutive championship triumph.

Since 2014, Hamilton has only failed to win the championship on one occasion, finishing second to team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016, while Verstappen and Red Bull are bidding for a maiden title.

"The final race will be intense, but it's important to not get distracted, to just keep our heads down, our feet on the ground and bring the performance that we had last time out," Wolff said in a release on Mercedes' official team website.

"We're grateful to still be in this fight. The fact that both championships will be decided at the season finale proves just how hard both sides have been challenging each other and pushing each other forward.

"It's all or nothing for the season finale and that's amazing for the sport, amazing for the fans and amazing for all of us, too.

"We're also relishing the challenges of racing in Abu Dhabi this weekend, at a circuit that has gone through quite a few changes since we last raced there.

"There are new sections of track to understand and that really is a step into the unknown for everyone. So, it's going to be another exciting weekend!"

Verstappen won the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and in the unlikely event both he and Hamilton finish outside of the points, it will be the Dutchman who wins the title courtesy of his nine race victories for the season.

Mercedes had won the previous six races in Abu Dhabi prior to Verstappen's victory last year. The Red Bull star is aiming to become the first F1 champion from the Netherlands, and he would be the fourth-youngest champion at the age of 24 years, two months and 12 days.

Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni, in 1974, are the only other F1 title rivals to have gone into the last race of a season level on points. Never in the history of the championship has a season ended with two drivers tied at the top of the standings.

Related items

  • 'If I play a bad game, they kill me' – Alba feels 'singled out' at Barcelona 'If I play a bad game, they kill me' – Alba feels 'singled out' at Barcelona

    Jordi Alba feels "singled out" at Barcelona and says he is "killed" by his critics every time he has a bad performance.

    The Spain international is approaching a decade at Camp Nou and remains a regular for Barca, who have endured another difficult campaign.

    He has featured 408 times for the Catalan giants in all competitions since his debut in August 2012 and has helped the club to 15 trophies.

    But Alba has come in for criticism of late, with Barca losing to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals before exiting the Copa del Rey to Athletic Bilbao. 

    After impressing in Sunday's 1-0 win over Deportivo Alaves, a game in which he led the way for touches (112) and fouls won (four), Alba expressed his frustration.

    "I have felt singled out for many years, it is not the first time it has happened to me," he told Movistar+. "I accept the criticism that there is in this circus. Criticism will always be there, I have assumed it.

    "If I play a good game they won't talk about me, if I don't play well like the other day [against Athletic], I admit it, they will kill me. I have accepted it.

    "I don't care because I have respect from my team-mates and from all the coaching staff I've had.

    "It seems that there are only 'veterans' in Barcelona. There has been talk of veterans for four or five years, and I was 28, damn it. But I've always accepted it."

    Alba has started 23 games under Ronald Koeman and successor Xavi this season – only Marc-Andre ter Stegen (27) and Sergio Busquets (29) have done so more times.

    No defender has more assists than Alba's four in LaLiga this term, while his 1.62 chances created per 90 minutes is the fourth-best among those to have played more than once.

    Responding to Alba's comments following the win over Alaves, Xavi praised the 32-year-old for learning to live with the weight that comes with playing for Barcelona.

    "Alba was criticised and he played a great game," Xavi said at his post-match news conference. "At Barca, the shirt is 20 kilos more than at another club."

  • 'Grim reaper' Mahomes puts Chiefs' overtime win 'right up there' 'Grim reaper' Mahomes puts Chiefs' overtime win 'right up there'

    Patrick Mahomes put Sunday's incredible win for the Kansas City Chiefs among his career highlights as he propelled his team to within one victory of a third straight Super Bowl appearance.

    A thrilling contest between the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was settled in Kansas City's favour when Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a game-winning touchdown in overtime.

    The Chiefs have now reached the AFC Championship for the fourth straight season, as they look to go on and replicate their Super Bowl success from two years ago.

    Buffalo seemed to have the game tied up in regulation time when Josh Allen picked out Gabriel Davis for a record-breaking fourth touchdown with just 13 seconds left on the clock, making it 36-33 to the Bills.

    Yet Mahomes got the Chiefs within field-goal range and Harrison Butker did the rest to send the roller coaster encounter into overtime.

    Mahomes – who completed 33 of 44 attempts for 378 yards with three touchdowns as well as getting into the endzone himself for the Chief's first TD – then kept his composure to find Kelce in the corner four minutes and 15 seconds into overtime after Kansas City had won the coin flip.

    "To be in this moment in this game against that team, to make a play to walk off a game at Arrowhead, I'll remember this game for the rest of my life.

    "It was definitely special to win a game like this at Arrowhead. Obviously the Super Bowl was probably number one for me but this one is right up there.

    “To be able to come back a couple of times, get points when we needed to get points, score touchdowns, get in field goal range, I'll remember it forever."

    Asked what words of wisdom he offered to the Chief's talisman before overtime, head coach Andy Reid replied: "When it's grim, be the Grim Reaper and go get it.

    "He did that. He made everyone around him better, which he's great at, and he just does it effortlessly. When it gets tough, he's going to be there battling."

    "This is definitely another step for him into the Hall of Fame," Mahomes' team-mate Tyreek Hill added of the QB.

    "He had the chance to prove once again he's at the top of when it comes to quarterbacks in this league.

    "He definitely doesn't flinch, especially in moments like that."

    Across 17 regular-season appearances in 2021, Mahomes threw for 37 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the NFL alongside Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers.

    Only Matthew Stafford (4,886), Justin Herbert (5,014) and the league-leading Tom Brady (5,316) had a higher yardage than Mahomes' 4,839 in the regular season, with just Herbert and Brady completing more passes in total.

    Mahomes has already accumulated eight touchdowns this postseason, doubling his tally from last year and is just two shy of his previous postseason best of 10, set in the Chief's triumphant 2019 campaign.

    Kansas City will face Cincinnati in the AFC Championship game, with the Bengals having won 34-31 in the most recent meeting between the teams on January 2, a defeat that snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Chiefs.

  • Harris on 76ers team-mate Embiid: 'What he's doing is special' Harris on 76ers team-mate Embiid: 'What he's doing is special'

    Tobias Harris is in awe of team-mate Joel Embiid, who continues to scale new heights for the Philadelphia 76ers.

    Embiid, a four-time NBA All-Star, is having an MVP-worthy season and finished with a double-double of 38 points and 12 rebounds in the 76ers' 115-109 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

    The 27-year-old has now surpassed 1,000 points for the season, becoming the 10th player to do so in the NBA this campaign.

    Only LeBron James (29.0) and Kevin Durant (29.3) are averaging more points per game than Embiid (28.7) across the league.

    After his efforts on Sunday, when he shot 16 for 32 from the field in 32 minutes, Embiid has now scored 25 points or more in 14 successive games, earning the high praise of Harris.

    "What he's doing is special," Harris told reporters.

    "We rely on him night in and night out. He's the anchor for our team. The anchor for our offensive flow out there.

    "I thought tonight he just did a great job of picking the game apart. Really getting everyone involved out there in their spots and still being able to get the shots that he wanted."

    Harris also contributed 18 points as the 76ers claimed a seventh straight win over the Spurs.

    Jakob Poeltl was San Antonio's standout performer with 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Harris acknowledged the 76ers still gave up too many opportunities defensively.

    "We still had too many defensive mistakes in the fourth quarter," Harris added.

    "We've got to clean that up. We've got to be able to really make a stand and hold our ground there."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.