Dubai: While the curtain falls on yet another fascinating Formula One season and Lewis Hamilton firmly establishing himself among the greatest drivers in history, it is worth reflecting on the mouth-watering prospects fans can look forward to in the near future.
While Hamilton and Mercedes continue to crush all comers due to their drivers’ prowess — Valtteri Bottas is assured of a second place in the standings behind his Mercedes teammate — and technical expertise behind the scenes, the youngsters waiting in the wings to take over from Lewis should get a championship all of their own.
Max Verstappen has wowed the crowds in Abu Dhabi for five years now — he was behind the wheel of a Formula One car before he even had a driver’s licence — and at still only 22 years old, many expect him to become the face of F1 in the foreseeable future. His brash take-no-prisoners style of driving has been a breath of fresh air to a sport where overtaking and on-track incidents had been at a premium.
Just look back at last year in Abu Dhabi, where the Dutchman got into a physical post-race fight with Force India’s Esteban Ocon, who had a coming-together with Verstappen while trying to unlap himself. Verstappen was given two days of “public service” as a penalty after an incident more in place at a UFC weigh-in rather than the twilight of a UAE winter evening.
Then there are the upstarts, who have lit up the season. Lando Norris is brazenly outperforming his senior teammate Carlos Sainz Jr at McLaren, Charles Leclerc is showing up four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Alex Albon did so well at Toro Rosso he received a mid-season promotion to sister marque Red Bull.
Verstappen could be regarded as a veteran given his longevity in the sport at his tender age. But he will struggle to establish a legacy like Hamilton has before him due to the competition he will face from Albon and Leclerc — not to mention the youngsters that are still to make a name for themselves.
If these young pups continue to thrive, you can be guaranteed more and more fireworks in Abu Dhabi once Hamilton and Vettel have hung up their racing suits for good.