After Sunday’s toxic and chaotic race in Saudi Arabia, won by Hamilton with Verstappen in second place, the two best drivers in motor racing are level on points, though the Dutchman edges it 9-8 on race victories.
If neither should finish the dusk-into-night race down the road in Yas Marina, Verstappen would win his first title on countback.
Cheering Max on is his glamorous Brazilian model girlfriend Kelly Piquet, 33, who is somewhat considered F1 royalty and a familiar face on the circuit.
She is the daughter of three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet and previously dated Daniil Kvyat for three years, with whom she shares a two-year-old daughter, Penelope.
Cheering Max Verstappen on this weekend at the finale of the world championship in Abu Dhabi is his glamorous Brazilian model girlfriend Kelly Piquet, 33, (pictured together)
The blogger and model is the daughter of three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet and previously dated Daniil Kvyat for three years, with whom she shares a two-year-old daughter Penelope
Since his retirement, Piquet – married to Viviane de Souza Leão – has been ranked among the greatest Formula One drivers in various motorsport polls.
Kelly is the daughter of Nelson and Sylvia Tamsma, a Dutch international model who shares two other children with the racer.
Piquet made his Formula One debut with the Ensign team and drove for McLaren and Brabham.
He moved to the Williams team in 1986 where he took his third and final championship in 1987 during a heated battle with teammate Nigel Mansell.
Kelly is the daughter of Nelson and Sylvia Tamsma, a Dutch international model who shares two other children with the racer (pictured, Kelly with Nelson)
The stunning brunette, who works in motorsport PR, has also posed for PatBO and Lucas Boccalão, and walked the catwalk in a number of fashion shows
Kelly’s father Piquet made his Formula One debut with the Ensign team and drove for McLaren and Brabham (pictured in 1982)
The Brazilian subsequently moved to Lotus for 1988–89 and eventually went to the Benetton team for 1990–91 where he managed to win three races before retiring, at which point he tried his hand at the Indianapolis 500 for two years.
The father-of-seven now manages his sons Nelson Piquet Jr. and Pedro Piquet, who are also professional racing drivers.
Meanwhile Kelly, who is is nine years older than 24-year-old Verstappen, was born in Germany in 1988.
She spent most of her childhood living in the South of France before the family moved to Brazil when she was just 12.
At the age of 15, she returned to France, and lived there for another year before moving to England to study at a boarding school.
The 33-year-old grew up with a jet-setting lifestyle, living in France, Brazil and England before heading to the US for college
Just two years later, she returned to Brazil to attend her senior year of school.
It wasn’t long before she moved to the US, attending Marymount Manhattan College in New York and majoring in International Relations.
During college, she took an internship in fashion and picking up work at Vogue Latinoamerica, Bergdorf Goodman, KCD PR agency, in addition to being a columnist for Marie Claire magazine.
Kelly clearly has a thing for Formula One drivers; the stunner previously dated Russian racer Daniil Kvyat, with whom she shares a two-year-old daughter, Penelope Kyvat.
Meanwhile the stunning model welcomed her first child Penelope with ex-boyfriend Kvyat in 2019 (pictured left, together at Disneyland and right, Kelly)
The mother-of-one regularly shares snaps of her bikini body on Instagram, delighting her 500,000 social media followers
The couple were together from January 2017 until December 2019.
Meanwhile Kelly is believed to have been dating the Red Bull driver Max since late 2020, and regularly shares snaps of her adventures around the world on Instagram.
The battle of the drivers: How Max Verstappen’s father-in-law was involved in one of F1’s most intense fights
This is perhaps one of the most intense post-race brawls in Formula One history. It makes the Verstappen-Hamilton clash look tame to say the least.
Nelson Piquet punched and kicked Eliseo Salazar after they collided at the 1982 German Grand Prix.
The Brazilian was left seething having been clipped from behind and with both drivers out of the car, Piquet flew into a fit of rage before stewards could separate the pair.
Thirty-six years on, nothing has quite earned the right to displace this fight as one of the sport’s most iconic.
Nelson Piquet (L) was livid with Eliseo Salazar after a crash and he swiftly punched his rival
Max went public with their relationship on New Year’s Day this year, sharing a romantic snap of them together on a beach in Brazil, though it’s thought they’ve been an item since October 2020.
Announcing the news online, Max posted: ‘Happy New Year everyone. Let’s make 2021 a year to remember in many ways. Wishing you all success, love and happiness just as I found mine.’
Meanwhile Kelly wrote: ‘Love is what makes the world go round. Happy new year and much love #2021.’
Kelly is a familiar face in the pitlane, having worked in motorsport PR and social media for Formula-E since 2015.
In 2016, she told the website e-racing.net she was ‘working full time for Formula E as social media strategist and content creator.’
She explained: ‘I focus on Instagram and Twitter, and do all Snapchat content.’
Meanwhile she added she loved travelling the world because she gets to see so many different cultures, meet different people.’
She continued: ‘Although the most exciting thing to me is being part of such an innovative concept, and introducing this new sport to different cities and cultures.
“My favourite race locations so far have been Berlin, Monaco, Buenos Aires and Paris.’
As a model she’s posed for PatBO and Lucas Boccalão, and walked the catwalk in a number of fashion shows.
Her ultra glamorous Instagram is filled with modelling shots as well as snaps of her lavish holidays jetsetting across the world.
Meanwhile her daughter Penelope can often be seen by her side as the duo snuggle up in various luxurious destinations.
And the mother-of-one regularly shares snaps of her bikini body on Instagram, delighting her 500,000 social media followers.
Within the last few months, she has shared snaps from Brazil, Monte Carlo, Russia, Milan and Amsterdam.
Meanwhile Kelly is believed to have been dating the Red Bull driver Max since late 2020, and regularly shares snaps of her adventures around the world on Instagram
Max went public with their relationship on New Year’s Day this year, sharing a romantic snap of them together on a beach in Brazil, though it’s thought they’ve been an item since October 2020 (pictured left and right)
Other snaps show her gushing over Max, with her birthday tribute to her boyfriend reading: ‘Happy Birthday to the love of my life.
‘I love everything about you, about us and I am beyond proud of you. I can’t wait for all that is to come.’
It is believed Max only met his father-in-law Nelson a month ago, when the model shared a snap on her Instagram stories of the pair, writing: ‘Finally they meet.’
Days ago, Martin Bundle warned Max risks tarnishing his legacy and could be labelled an ‘unfair driver’ should his tactics in his tumultuous F1 world title battle with Lewis continue.
The two drivers head into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi this Sunday level on points after a Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which saw Hamilton win and Verstappen given two time penalties following clashes between the two of them.
Kelly is a familiar face in the pitlane, having worked in motorsport PR and social media for Formula-E since 2015
Yet Sky Sports F1 expert Brundle – while praising the Dutchman’s ‘driving skills and racing nous’ – explained his concern that a continuation of these controversial tactics could damage his legacy as he hunts his first world championship.
‘Such is Max’s car control and cunning, he’s sometimes able to pull off the audacious moves and leave a margin of doubt as to whether it’s hard racing or simply a professional foul outside of the regulations,’ Brundle said in his Sky Sports column.
By virtue of having more race wins than seven-time world champion Hamilton – nine to eight – Verstappen would win the title if neither driver finished the race in Abu Dhabi this Sunday.
This has led to speculation that Verstappen could resort to ramming his rival off the track, while his dad Jos admitted that his son would do ‘everything’ to win the world title.