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What happens if the F1 world championship is a draw?

Jake Nichol December 6, 2021
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One race to go in the season and nothing separates Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in their quest to become F1 world champion, but what will happen if the F1 world championship is a draw? How will the champion be decided if they are level on points after Abu Dhabi?

It’s fitting this titanic 2021 clash between Hamilton and Verstappen goes down to the final race of the season.

For the first time since 2016, it will be a shoot-out in the final grand prix to decide who takes motorsport’s most prestigious crown.

With both drivers locked on 369.5 points pre-Abu Dhabi, what will happen if both drivers finish level on points after the race?

What happens if the F1 world championship in 2021 ends in a draw? How will the championship be decided?

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F1 championship draw explained

There has never been a draw in the history of the world championship – one driver has always had more points than another come the final chequered flag of the season.

2021 is only the second time in the history of the world championship that two title contenders have gone into the final race level on points.

In 1974, Emerson Fittipaldi, of McLaren, and Clay Regazzoni, of Ferrari, were tied on 52 points going into the finale in the United States.

Fittipaldi (below) took fourth place to lift his second world title after Regazzoni could only finish in 11th.

Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images

Should Hamilton and Verstappen finish level on points and the world championship ends in a draw, there are a series of rules in place to decide the champion.

It is laid out in Article 7.2 of the FIA Sporting Regulations.

The code stipulates that, should the championship end in a draw, the title

  • shall be awarded to the holder of the greatest number of first places in a season.

It means that should the F1 world championship end in a draw, whoever has won more grands prix in the season will be crowned champion.

Should the drivers be tied on wins, the highest number of second-place finishes are taken into account and so on until a champion is decided.

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What does it mean in practice?

Should the F1 championship end in a draw between Hamilton and Verstappen, the 2021 world champion will be Verstappen.

To be assured of the title, either driver must finish ahead of the other.

If for some reason, and after 2021 who knows, they both fail to score points, they would be tied on 369.5 points.

By dint of earning nine grand prix wins to Hamilton’s eight, Verstappen would become the 34th F1 world champion and deny Hamilton an eighth crown.

It would be controversial, though.

Officially, Verstappen ‘won’ the Belgian GP and was credited it in the history books.

Of course, the grand prix was abandoned due to the rain after only one lap of ‘racing’ behind the safety car.

If Hamilton takes the crown, it would be his eighth world title – eclipsing the joint-record he holds with Michael Schumacher.

Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.