Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Losail International Circuit, 2021

Red Bull on red alert as dominant Hamilton continues assault on Verstappen’s lead

2021 Qatar Grand Prix review

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Championship rivals Red Bull and Mercedes agree on very little these days: Rear wings, power units, track limits, even whether obeying yellow flags is mandatory or optional.

But the two shared one view in the build-up to F1’s first race at Losail International Circuit. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner remarked that of the three remaining venues, all of which are either largely or completely unfamiliar, the winding Qatar venue was the one which should suit Red Bull’s chassis best.

In a similar vein, Mercedes’ head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin indicated the team expected better things from the following two rounds at the new, high-speed Jeddah Corniche Circuit and drastically remodelled Yas Marina. Team principal Toto Wolff went further, predicting Losail would prove their “Achilles Heel”. But it didn’t turn out that way.

Verstappen hit by qualifying penalty

As the teams familiarised themselves with a layout designed for Moto GP bikes and tweaked for F1, it rapidly dawn on Red Bull that their rivals had their W12 dialled in superbly for the track. By final practice Red Bull were still fretting over their bizarrely oscillating rear wings, which were eventually dropped in favour of their tried-and-trusted high downforce configuration. Was this the plan all along, and the slimmer wings were being worked on in practice for deployment at the upcoming tracks where they fear Mercedes will be harder to catch?

Gasly inherited Verstappen’s second place on the grid
Whatever, Red Bull fought as hard off the track as they did on it. They threatened protests over Mercedes’ rear wings, then backed down after the FIA introduced a new test, albeit one which does not yet carry regulatory force, meaning no one risks exclusion for failing to comply. Nonetheless, Red Bull insisted Mercedes’ straight line speeds had been trimmed.

For all that, there was little evidence of a diminution of Mercedes’ performance on-track. Hamilton lapped 0.455 seconds faster than Verstappen as he beat his rival to pole position. In Brazil, Red Bull had been 0.438s away.

The record books will show Verstappen was 0.597s slower than Hamilton. But that was because his fastest time in Q3 was deleted, in the latest in a series of controversies to rock the title fight. Verstappen, along with Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jnr, were investigated for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags at the end of Q3.

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Start, Losail International Circuit, 2021
Hamilton resisted the soft-tyred starters around him
The Red Bull driver had passed double-waved yellow flags and was given a five-place penalty; Bottas passed a single flag and was penalised three places. This was a bonus of sorts for Mercedes: Now Bottas would also start in front of Verstappen. Sainz, the only one of the three to realise after passing the flag that he needed to back off, avoided a penalty.

Horner was furious and made his feelings about the standard of stewarding clear in one of his television appearances for Sky, which have become so frequent he is in danger of being mistaken for the fourth member of their presenting team. Here he crossed a line, and was formally warned by the stewards after FIA F1 race director Michael Masi took exception to him criticising a marshal.

Hamilton leaves rivals behind

While Verstappen’s penalty was inarguable, it robbed the race of another showdown between the title rivals. Just a week after Verstappen’s controversial off-track defence of his lead in Brazil, the prospect of a banzai lunge down the inside of Hamilton at Losail’s wide first corner was widely predicted until his penalty was announced just an hour and a half before the race began.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2021
Verstappen quickly recovered the second place he lost
Even so, Verstappen made such a remarkable getaway from the fourth row of the grid he almost arrived on his rival’s tail at turn one. The imperative to clear the Bottas, also starting on medium tyres, was achieved within seconds of the lights going out as the Mercedes driver struggled to find purchase from his off-line starting position. Verstappen briefly had a look at third but Fernando Alonso was in no mood to surrender than and edged the Red Bull wide while simultaneously teeing up Pierre Gasly for a fabulous pass around the outside of turn two.

Within four laps Verstappen was past the pair of them. AlphaTauri told Gasly to let the driver from their sister team by. Gasly ran wide at the final corner, which may not have been intentional, then left his DRS closed until Verstappen passed him on the pit straight. Alonso put up no more of a fight, Verstappen breezing past in the same DRS zone.

But his team’s hopes he would swiftly reduce the 3.7 second lead Hamilton had built over the opening laps were soon dashed. Verstappen had picked up slight front wing damage soon after the start, and Hamilton progressively edged clear.

“I think it happened lap one and lap three or something in turns 14 and 15,” Verstappen explained. “By trying to follow I just understeered a bit wide and this extra row of kerbs, they’re quite aggressive and I saw a few sparks flying, so I think it did damage the front wing a little bit. It just gives you a tiny bit more understeer but it was not enough damage to really impact the pace difference between the two of us.”

Nonetheless by lap 15 Hamilton’s lead had doubled. With Alonso losing around a second and a half per lap, Red Bull grabbed an early opportunity to pit Verstappen, which Mercedes responded to immediately.

Verstappen was told to look after his tyres, Red Bull potentially entertaining the possibility of a long second stint and single stop. But Verstappen urged them to press on, and by lap 3.2 he had painstakingly eroded two seconds from Hamilton’s lead, but it still stood at 6.3 seconds. Then drama struck.

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Bottas suffers blow-out

Having been passed by Verstappen immediately after the start and fallen five places to 11th, Bottas almost immediately dropped out of strategic consideration for Mercedes. Their only hope was to run him as long as possible to gain position. By lap 23 he was up to third, and plainly tilting at a single pit stop. With most of the cars behind him still dropping back, Mercedes kept him out, but they paid a high price when his front-left tyre let go without warning.

George Russell, Williams, Losail International Circuit, 2021
Both Williams drivers suffered punctures
Tyre failures are, unfortunately, not unheard of in F1, but this one caught Bottas completely off-guard. “Before, we started to get the vibrations and we’ve normally been monitoring the vibration metrics,” he explained. “But now, like, there was nothing, it was feeling like normal. And then it goes.”

Some combination of high cornering speeds, punishing kerbs and worn tyres appeared to be responsible: Pirelli, as ever, is investigating the cause. But the possibility the title contenders might risk a one-stop was now over: Verstappen returned to the pits on lap 41, and Hamilton again shadowed him.

All that remained to be settled in the fight at the front was who would take the bonus point or fastest lap. This was settled when Mercedes parked Bottas’ damaged and overheating car. Leaving nothing to chance, Verstappen came in a third time for the usual set of softs and posted a time 1.8 seconds faster than Hamilton’s best to ensure his rival only took six points off him.

Meanwhile more tyres were going pop. Both Williams drivers experienced punctures: George Russell believed it was a consequence of how hard they were driving in order to be competitive. The same might have been true of Lando Norris, who was 50 seconds ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo when his front-left went, to his obvious disgust, as it ended their chances of out-scoring Ferrari and probably killed off their dying hopes of beating their rivals to third in the championship.

Perez falls short of podium

The disappearance of Norris from fourth place was good news for Sergio Perez. He slipped up badly on Saturday, failing to accompany his team mate into Q3, but made amends in the race as he patiently worked his way to the front. Norris’ retirement cleared the way for him to close on Alonso, who was still gamely clinging to third in his Alpine. The A521 chassis seemed to like Losail, a rough desert approximation of the Hungaroring where Esteban Ocon took a shock win for the team in August.

Ocon couldn’t hold flying Perez off for long
Ocon returned his team mate’s favour from Hungary by rebuffing Perez as long as he could. “Tell Esteban to fight like a lion”, urged Alonso on the radio. His team mate bought him three seconds, maximum. That may have been just enough, after a late Virtual Safety Car period triggered by Nicholas Latifi’s puncture meant Perez crossed the line 2.8 seconds after Alone.

Ocon took fifth ahead of Lance Stroll, who having narrowly failed to make the cut for Q3 had a strong run to sixth. The two Ferrari drivers were the last unlapped runners, Carlos Sainz Jnr ahead of Charles Leclerc. A thoroughly unhappy Norris follow in a lapped ninth, and Sebastian Vettel nicked the final point, ruing a first lap which was even worse than Bottas managed, coming around 17th having lost seven places.

A day which began with great promise for AlphaTauri ended in huge disappointment as neither driver scored. Gasly simply lacked pace from the off and his final pit stop dropped him behind the recovering Vettel. Yuki Tsunoda lost two places in a three-wide move with Bottas and Stroll, and pitted early to have a visor tear-off removed from his rear wing, which his team estimated cost him 50 points of downforce.

The two AT02s were separated by Daniel Ricciardo who Monza triumph seems an increasingly distant memory as he notched up his fourth non-score from the six races which followed it.

Abu Dhabi showdown beckons

The title fight is now likely to run to the final race
Hamilton’s seventh victory of the season was clearly his most straightforward. That, and the fact it was achieved at a track which both teams expected would suit Red Bull better, means Red Bull have little positive to take away from this weekend.

The exception was in the constructors championship, where a no-score for Bottas meant they took a six-point bite out of Mercedes’ lead, leaving them just five behind their rivals.

Amid the PR posturing, dithering over decisions and needless controversy which has characterised too much of the last two race weekends, the positive news for F1 which emerged from the final triple-header of 2021 was this: Unless Verstappen wins big in Saudi Arabia, the F1 title fight will go down to the last race in Abu Dhabi for the first time in five years.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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153 comments on “Red Bull on red alert as dominant Hamilton continues assault on Verstappen’s lead”

  1. Red Bull and Verstappen were hampered by the circuit surprisingly being front limited and by having to run the bigger rear wing due to failures. Interestingly they were fastest through the fastest part of the track, which should bode well for Jeddah. As for Abu Dhabi, who knows?

    1. Lewis not even driving with the new Brasil engine. Apparently they are saving that one for last 2 races

      1. You don’t believe that i think. Max his engine is now 8 races old or even 9 races old and lewis his is 2 races old. You can compared it with Bottas his car there a big difference between those two.

        1. @macleod Max took a completely new PU in Russia, so he has done 6 races on this PU, but I believe he has an older engine in his pool as well.

          1. i mis count or had number 4 in mind. As i believe Lewis didn’t use his newest engine so only 1 race old against 6 i wonder if Honda has a partymode they can use 100% for the last 2 races which Lewis will do. Or take 5 places for a new one and put the engine as high possible for the rest of 2 races…

      2. @trib4udi Yes, he used engine #5, i.e., the one he took in Turkey AFAIA.
        A good move, as this way, the Brazil engine got spared from an entire race weekend’s (or FP3-QLF-race combination’s) running, so one event less for that particular engine unit.

    2. I think that this circuit will be a bit of an anomaly with regards to top speed. That back straight has quite a high entry speed, and Verstappen would be able to take even more speed in. Coupled with a fairly short back straight could mean that higher downforce doesn’t really detract from the top speed as much as in Abu Dhabi or Saudi.

  2. Many people say Hamilton should have won the 2016 season. He was the better driver. But he bad luck (Sepang, engine blow) This season RB should’ve allready won the WDC with Verstappen but he also had some serious points lost (Baku, Silverstone, Hungaroring) Now Mercedes has the momentum and stronger car for the last two races. With the Brazil engine with 16bhp more there’s nothing you’ll van do against it. It’s 70-30 for Mercedes last two races.

  3. Getting penalty on one race but having more powerful engine for the last five races looks like the greatest strategy ever this year. I don’t think Max can’t win one of the last two races.

    1. I have to agree. The new stiffer Pirelli and now the engine strategy sealed the deal for 2021 for Mercedes. Well played, I just feel sorry for Max who was the better driver this year. Lewis keeps on profiting from the Mercedes team. What a golden spoon.

      1. So disingenuous… although I think Max has performed better overall this season Mercs had to play catch-up but are looking ominous.

      2. I would have agreed that Max has been better , up until the last 2 races. Evens now after Brazil weekend ,regardless of engine, could be the championship defining drive

    2. Redbull might decide to take an engine penalty and upgrade their engine again for the last two races to get that win.
      if they do then i wouldn’t rule out Mercedes doing the exact same again.

      1. But then they both have the same life on there engine…

      2. I don’t think it’s possible. Mercedes had the time to design and build a special 2700 km engine far less than normal 7000 km engine with marginally but crucially more power. It’s a decision that needs months in preparation.

        1. @ruliemaulana They cannot do that. It needs to be an approved design

          1. It was reported by Motorsport Italy by a claim from Hywel Thomas, chief engineer of Brixworth, @f1osaurus. But yes, maybe it’s still the same spec only with more aggressive setup.

          2. Same way Honda upgraded their engine with “reliability” improvements earlier in the year and about which RBR studiously prevaricated. E.g. new engine oil. It seems two can play at this game.

          3. Merc can get away with everything. Next time they will be mounting gatling guns 007 style to machine gun anyone who dares to pass them, and they will of course be allowed to. Brackley esse delendam

        2. @ruliemaulana Please explain how they do that with homologated engines?

          What they are able to do though, is run the engine in a more powerful mode because it will have to do less mileage.

        3. @ruliemaulana the original article from the Italian division of the Motorsport network does not claim that the engines have been modified in any way, and what they suggest Hywel Thomas has suggested Mercedes could do is rather different.

          The engine specification is unchanged from earlier in the year – what Hywel Thomas is suggested to have done is to have analysed the data from both the works team and from their customer teams to work out the potential trade offs between performance and increased wear rates, with different performance maps being used.

          In particular, it seems that they’ve been looking at how aggressively McLaren has been running their engines, especially in Monza, and are basically taking the risk of running the engine with more aggressive mappings based on that.

    3. @ruliemaulana, I agree, a good tactical move.

      1. Not sure about that.
        Max will most likely be on pole, HAM 6th at best.
        This is a new track – Merc is assuming the long straight will favor them but it’s not the same as Brazil. Will the other sectors favor RBR.
        If VER gets the lead from the start and HAM has issues getting by the other 4, the time deficit could be substantial.
        Obviously the safe bet is on HAM but stranger things have happened.

    4. And then to think that Mercedes did not even fit that tuned for only a few races engine here @ruliemaulana, since they thought they would be trailing Red Bull anyway and having the older ICE would be enough to limit the damage and come home in 2nd or 3rd …

  4. What a season. Unbelievable! So many mid-fielders reaching the podium, just the right amount of unpredictable races. Alonso, Vettel, Russell on podium! Ocon’s debut win, Norris’ almost debut win, Ricciardo’s comeback win, Ferrari’s multiple near-misses with the win. Title contenders crashing into each other, falling foul of regulations.

    Even the side battles – Ferrari vs Mclaren, Alpine vs Gasly (Alphatauri) – are nicely falling on the wayside so that the battle can be the central – and only – focus in the last 2 races. Less than 10 points in both WDC and WCC with 2 races still left. Most likely, we don’t need to worry about combinations such as “If X finishes 1st, Y to finish 4th or above, if X finishes 2nd, Y to finish 8th or above”. It will simply be a winner takes all at Abu Dhabi. Wow! It is 1 season like this that makes up for 7 seasons of Merc domination!

    Too bad, the fight is in Abu Dhabi, a horrible circuit!

    1. I think Alonso is the 13th driver to reach the podium this year, the same as last season when we only had 17 races.

      But the races on the whole have been much more competitive, with several only being decided in the closing laps, and of course there has been a genuine battle for the championship between two great drivers. Definitely the best season of the turbo-hybrid era, although that of course isn’t saying much.

    2. Yes all this; but barring a disaster for one of them there is every chance the closest battle for years will be decided by Flap and Sprint points. Throw in the nonsense that was Spa, and it almost certainly will be.
      And with more sprints next year we have a F1 future where any year long WDC will be almost certainly decided by the points earned outside the main race.

    3. Hopefully the changes to the Yas Marina circuit will change the characteristics drastically. In theory both the last tracks are new ones, as most of the data from previous races at Abu Dhabi will be useless now.

      1. @Gubstar

        track is more flowing fast corners and long straights, kind of brazil to be honest, they removed all the slow speed corners, and some even slow/mid speed and turned them into fast ones…

        if the reds were keeping their free drs rear wing (yeah it was flattening to levels of drs! boost) this would be a great track for them… not sure it is so anymore, their skinny rear wings keep failing (but funnily enough, their repairs are good enough to last a full race, instead of handful of practice laps, until the next practice sessions and noone saying anything about it) i m pretty sure they were/are trying to find different kind of way (to emulate mercedes) but not perfected it yet… hence the big mouths about the mercedes wings… before that it was suspension… now trick engine or trick wing, i m sure that next excuse will be to check up ham’s sleeves to understand his tricks!

  5. Bottas started 1 place ahead of Max. While in the faster car. That guy proves everyone time what an average driver he is.

    Same in Russia where he started 5 places ahead of Max. Such an average driver in traffic.

    It’s a disgrace that this guy filled the 2nd seat of the dominant car for 5 seasons.

    Bring George in for final 2 races!

    1. Williams appears to have given up anyway, so why not…

    2. Ha, I know someone who will vote against that for sure!

    3. Without his puncture he would have been third.

      Compare the starts of anyone starting off the line. Most of them got a bad start, see Vettel. Bottas, however, made a mistake in the first corner, costing him a few places.

    4. He stayed ahead when it mattered the most , at Turkey. Thess 7 points will be very crucial. Not to mention Humgay…

      1. And he cost Verstappen a point in the Brazilian sprint.

    5. They wanted no competition for Lewis ever since he couldn’t handle Rosberg. Imagine having this team mate and that car. It’s a buy to win situation compared to video games.

      1. what are you talking about?
        nico had 22 wins, lewis 32. Nico had 1 championship, lewis 2.

        he couldn’t handle rosberg?

      2. I think Bottas is in the Merc because Rosberg gave almost no time for Mercedes to replace him AND Wolff was Bottas’ manager. That’s what happened for 2017. Then, because they got on well together and didn’t cause the team pairs, he stayed. It suited Mercedes and of course Hamilton and Bottas were fine with that.
        Had Verstappen joined Mercedes we would have had many exciting seasons, but is wasn’t to be.

      3. lexusreliability?
        22nd November 2021, 19:21


        They wanted no competition for Lewis ever since he couldn’t handle Rosberg

        You mean the same way Red Bull wanted Gasly, Albon and now Perez since Max couldn’t handl;e Ricciardo? Mind you, going on history, if Ricciardo was at Red Bull, he would be walking this championship.

        Imagine having this team mate and that car.

        ALternatively, Imagine having a Red Bull that has dominated 60% of the races and still only 8 points ahead. The hype doesn’t match the talent.

        1. Yeah or Lando since he is so much better than Ricciardo. I guess all are better than Max. But none can be as good as Lewis

    6. @trib4udi Geez, he had some wheelspin on the dirty side of the track and then got caught in the melee that is the midfield.

    7. I thought he was a brilliant driver being held back by Mercedes? I wish you guys would make up your minds.

      1. @ian dearing

        i think max’s year going the way of 2007 ham… was going well until the last 3 races… he was kind of ahead and looking set.. than one DNF second from the last race, and 7th on the final one… 1 points and all done… ham was doing well initially but all undone in the final couple races!

        max has done extremely well done but lets see what will come out of this…

      2. and ham’s almost like 2008, everything was against him including FIA… unfairly punished, crashed and all.. noone thought he was gonna get it but single point he jumped ahead in the very last corner.

  6. While verstappen has driven well this year. Its when it matters most that the greats shine. And the lesser drivers fault. Lewis is now driving impeccably. His qualifying was surblime. His race was perfect. And it was not with the spicy engine,yet… Its as though they dangled a carrot infront of verstappens and horners face at the beginning of the year. Made them chase it and now have laid down the gauntlet. Leaving verst and redbull in their dust.

    1. All max has to do is finish ahead of lewis once in the last 2 races to seal the championship.

      1. @f1fan-2000 There are lots of permutations where Verstappen can finish ahead of Hamilton in one race and still lose the WDC.

        However, the odds are still very much in Verstappen’s favour.

        1. With how competitive the Mercedes has been lately, I’d say Hamilton is the favorite right now.

        2. @scbriml
          Below are the 2007> cumulative points… if you see the numbers, it was literally between Ham and Alo, there was very little chance that Rai could finish ahead of the either two!
          ham 17 ahead of RAI and 2 races to go, and 20 max points ups for grabs!
          Ham/Alo 12 Points deficit… We know what happened in the next two races…

      2. How? Thats the question. How? I dont see any one overtaking Lewis for the rest of the season. The guy has his rocket ship again. Its over #LOAT.

    2. Wayne, Hamilton is indeed driving impeccable in both Brazil and Qatar. But you make it believe he was driving below his best in the races before Brazil, but that makes no sense to me. Lewis’ championship hopes were in great danger in USA and Mexico, so there was no reason to be driving subpar. I don’t believe it, Lewis is just as good as he was in Mexico, but now he has the car to get the results again.

      1. I agree was not my intention to imply lewis was driving below par. Thanks for fair comment.

      2. I can’t agree. Lewis since Brazil jist feels like the Lewis of his McLaren days! Horner and Marko have certainly woke the lion!

    3. You seem to have missed the amount of errors Lewis made and the dnfs by verstappen caused by Mercedes.
      So a nicely colored view but when Max wins this year, at least there are no excuses about Lewis.

      1. You have forgotten to mention that the Mercedes had an unfair advantage: when you hit it, sometimes you end up in the wall yourself. Unfair.

      2. You mean IF Verstappen wins. Although whether he wins or not, he will have deserved it, aggressive/defensive driving aside.

    4. Would you say the same when Hamilton bottled an easy win in Monza with an awful start (in the sprint race)? Or when he qualified behind his teammate in Mexico?
      Or when he went off in Imola (then spared by the red flag)?
      I could continue…

    5. Its more like mistakes and stress on Mercedes side became a carrot and it blurred the fact they were just as dominant as the last 8 years.

      1. Nothing was as big as Max’s error at Silverstone.

        In maintaining his macho ‘no-one will ever overtake me’ stance, he had a crash that could have been avoided and in reality cost him anything from 18 to 33 points.

        Before you say Hamilton was at fault, that’s irrelevant to the point. Just last week at Brazil, we saw what happens when a driver used the ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ way of driving – Hamilton, simply yielded and actually stayed in the race.

        1. Silverstone was 100% Lewis fault. He owes Max 25 points and a DNF from his side to even start talking about a fair season. Then I will leave out what Hungary did for Lewis title bid.

          1. I think you are missing the point. If Verstappen had not tried to make an ambitious move, the accident would not have happened and had he stayed behind Hamilton he would now be 26 points ahead; if he had overtaken Hamilton later he would now be 40 points ahead… That’s massive.
            In this sport, sometimes you make your luck, like Alonso did yesterday. And sometimes the opposite is true.
            I regard the DNF Verstappen by Bottas hitting him, something that was totally not his (Verstappen) fault. Does that makes sense to you?

          2. We’ve been through this, it’s literally been ruled officially he wasn’t 100% at fault.

          3. @mayrton

            Silverstone was 100% Lewis fault.

            As much fault as Perez was yesterday for taking out Bottas…

            Clearly Verstappen took himself out and nearly took Lewis out too at Silverstone. But you can’t give a penalty to the person who crashed their own car at full speed into the barriers, can you? When F1 does that, we’ll know that the stewards are good!

          4. Seriously guys. Silverstone was 100% Lewis fault. Especially since he repeated the exact same move on Leclerc, with Leclerc even giving less space than Max did. Your response then is: well simply dont try to fight Lewis? The only thing Max failed at in this corner is he overestimated Lewis’ skill level. Lewis lost and drew first blood, that’s what happened. Until then the season was fine.

          5. Silverstone was a racing incident 100%. Now stop demanding blood on his hands.

          6. I worry about you Maytron. You seem incapable of debating the point in hand.

            Let’s agree Lewis was guilty. That’s after Max has decided to hang his car in an area where a collision, if you’re Alonso or Riccardo (two drivers who can overtake, you simply pull out of.

          7. The stewards ruled predominately which means less than 100%. Do you something better than the stewards?

          8. I hear what you see, don’t worry. I just do not agree with it. Basically just give more space to Lewis to fight another day/moment. I am arguing Max did take this half width of car extra (vs what Leclerc gave Hamilton in exact the same situation/corner) to exactly do what you accuse him of not doing. Until that moment in the championship there was no reason to assume the other would go a tiny bit too far in despair. That became the norm afterwards.

          9. And you’re also forgetting the times Hamilton avoided contact prior to the Silverstone incident. I honestly wished it didn’t happen.

            But one thing is clear for me until I start seeing better decision making from Verstappen in those situations, I won’t regard him on the same level as Hamilton.

  7. Title still firmly in Max’s hands in my opinion. He just needs to qualify 2nd and then lunge into turn 1 in both races. If they make contact then he maintains his points lead. Hamilton’s only hope to pass in the last 2 races will be with an undercut during pit stops, I don’t think it will happen on track without some major drama.

    1. Two poles, two wins for Lewis is most likely. Mercedes fought itself this year, which gave the impression there was a fight with RedBull. Mercedes and Lewis cracked under having pressure for the first time in nearly a decade. Just one competitor car was fast, but enough to throw them off balance. They then became error prone and frustrated. Subsequently they threw everything at it but the kitchen sink. Including having a tyre change in-season (!) to fit their car better and getting their competitor to not fully use their pitstop advantage nor wings, spreading negative and false narratives about their rival, they went all in. Meanwhile Lewis and and Bottas also bumped this competitor off the track during races. In the end they had to bring back their beast mode engine to seal the deal. What a year.

      1. You seem to be lacking in confidence in your preferred driver and getting your excuses in early.

      2. Ferrari had a car as fast as the Merc during 2017 (see Spa) and certainly at the start of 2018. Plus arguably 2019.

        It’s amazing how memories slip.

        1. @banbrorace
          The example you cited (Spa) just counters your argument. Watch the onboard from Seb’s car in his two overtaking attempts on Hamilton, once he was alongside and out of his slipstream that Mercedes began to rocket away from him.

          Ferrari had a car as fast as the Merc during 2017 (see Spa) and certainly at the start of 2018. Plus arguably 2019.

          I would say also in 2020 :)

          1. Sorry I meant Spa 2018.

            Everyone in F1 was telling us that the Ferrari was as good as the Merc and after Hungary Seb led.

            In 2018, if Max doesn’t dump his car at Hockenheim – highly likely he’d had gone on to win, simply because he’s never been the same ever since.

            My point is, it’s not true to say that this is the first time Hamilton / Merc have been challenged – remember, back then, they dropped the ball occasionally, also.

        2. Yeah, they were a real threat.. come on. You must be joking

          1. They are not joking, but you must have been when you were coming out with the same tired Mercedes/Ham put downs when you thought Ferrari were dominating the Mercs during that period.

          2. Now you’re just looking silly.

            2s into the 2017 Singapore race and most are thinking that this is a title that Vettel could win.

            That was around the 15th race of the season – so basically it had been nip and tuck with those two teams up to them.

            Clearly you only started watch F1, this season

          3. Why so personal? If you must know, I’ve watched F1 for decades. Let’s stay on topic. Vettel was never a contestant as soon as he left the RedBull supercar no-one could beat. And we all know it, if we’re honest.

        3. @banbrorace Ferrari never had the fastest car over the course of a whole season.
          Here I’d say Red Bull and Mercedes have been more or less on par but with the Hamilton and Bottas incidents this year

          1. Plenty of punters were convinced that Hamilton would have won the 2017 and 18 WDC in a Ferrari if he was driving.

            That was a real discussion point – go back to the boards of then if you disagree.

            They matched pace wise in the first half of 2017 and then yes the Mercs slightly got the upperhand – which is no different to now and RB

            In 2018 there was no-one for the first two-thirds saying the Merc was faster. Ferrari had a clear pace advantage. However, their team was simply not up to the job in the same as RB. Even though 2018 remains Hamilton’s best performance, because he had be on his ‘A’ game every race.

            Even in 2019 Ferrari had a pace advantage – which turned out to be controversial.

            Remember, my answer was to wind up merchant nonsense from Maytron who said ……

            “Mercedes and Lewis cracked under having pressure for the first time in nearly a decade. Just one competitor car was fast, but enough to throw them off balance”

            Which is clearly utter nonsense to any fair mind F1 fan who has been watching for the last few years.

            However, yes, Verstappen has proven to be his sternest test

    2. Bottas will be in charge of making constact

      1. It’s time for Bottas to retaliate from the excruciating mistreatmen from the team and deprive Merc of both championships. Smashing into car #44 at T1 is an obvious way but not very elegant, and hard to cover as an unintentional mistake. And although he has nothing to lose at Merc, it all would turn very sour for him at the end. But there are subtler ways. A well-timed “mistake” prompting a safety car can do wonders. Check Singapore ’08.

        1. @hyoko or miss brake point, and take out two redbuls in one go?or max just collides with someone other than ham? or he gets a puncture or a blown engine? or rear wing disintegrate? noone thought in 2007 ham could loose? points much closer now anything can happen… max can win with ham 2nd, but last race max dnf and ham win… everything are possible not just one scenario! there are 100s of combinations..

    3. Are you seriously suggesting that Max should carry on with the Schumacher senior school of driving?. At least the authorities were brave enough to exclude him from a race to teach him a lesson. There is no doubt that Max is the fastest driver to compete with Lewis and I am a fan of his ability to produce great drives, but the obvious attempt to push Lewis off track , and the complete lack of any sort of penalty or even a written warning for serious consequences of a repeat performance which may have been more telling ,is just ridiculous and cowardly.

      1. It will take some time for max to develop a signature move, like the Hamilton move.
        A very effective way of blocking your opponent with max 10 sec penalty.

      2. Senna did it successfully some years before Schumacher. Talented and ambitious drivers don’t sit back and watch the championship slip away.

    4. I am quit sure it’s not in Max hands only if Lewis or Mercedes make a mistake Max has a chance. That engine advantage is too great.

  8. When Hamilton wins it’s down to the car. When Verstapen wins it’s his driving ability….BS. Hamilton has won at every level and formula he has ever raced in. In F 1 he’s won races and poles in every year he’s competed. Max has yet to win a WDC. I have no doubt that one year he will win a championship, but he’ll never be in the same league as Hamilton.

    1. I feel he is a more allround better driver than Lewis already. The tally of Lewis’ WDC has to do with his age and having a dominant car. He is certainly one of the greats of all time, but 3 WDCs would be more realistic under normal circumstances. You cant ignore no one else has won a championship in the hybrid era and the fact that Rosberg took one as well and Valtteri came in 2nd so, so many times. Huge, huge credit of Lewis records goes to the car.

      1. If Max was the better all round driver, he’d have learned to not try and win races in a single corner by now… and be anything up to 33 points more ahead in the championship. He has a lot of growing up to do yet, both as a person and a racing driver.

        1. Short lived memories. Lewis did all that at the same age and older. In fact he still would, if it would be necessary (and in fact he did show his rustiness this year). But starting from pole the last 7 seasons with your team mate covering the back doesn’t exactly put you in situations where you have to overtake, now does it? It does make you the world champion tyre management, that’s true

          1. See the difference with how Verstappen turns in on Hamilton in Silverstone and how Hamilton chooses to evade Verstappen in Brazil. That’s what Verstappen still needs to learn. He could have won Silverstone too or at least come second and he’d have had the championship in the bag already.

            And Verstappen could learn to set a proper lap in Q3 for a change. It’s always some excuse why he couldn’t or just didn’t get a good lap in. But then at least he’s lucky to be next to the worst qualifier of the entire field so he doesn’t look that poor. Although a better qualifier could perhaps teach Max a thing or two on finally getting on top of the quali game himself.

          2. When Lewis at 7 years of Experience it was 2013. Racing quite well in the Mercedes that year.

          3. Hamilton stopped his daft lunge antics, after that terrible 2011 season of his.

            If you remember, he was slated by everyone and certainly fell behind Button as McLaren’s favourite.

            Some of it was unfair. For me Button was just as much at fault for their memorable Canada crash

            However, this was inevitable. In 2008 he sailed far too close to the wind – in fact it reminds me of Verstappen now. The difference was, nobody felt the need to get out of the way of Hamilton!!

            But a tough lesson was learnt – don’t take yourself out of a race if you can avoid it. He’s since reaped the benefit and had very few incidents (with most, been the unfortunate Albon!!)

    2. Like Lewis was in contention for the WDC every year before he joined Mercedes.
      But please tell me, when did Verstappen have the car to win the WDC before this year and which mistakes did he make to screw that up?

      The league Hamilton is in, is the league of having a WDC worthy car for 7 years in a row and having near to none competition from the other driver and at max 1 other team being able to compete a little bit.

      1. Exactly, hence I don’t understand all the panic at Mercedes this year. They clearly never worked under pressure (if you can call one car out of 18 being able to keep up, pressure..) before.

      2. Hamilton could have won 2 more championships with Mclaren had the team not got lost searching for unicorns.That being said, I see Max as a relentless competitor and should have won the championship by now and may yet do so.

  9. I think Max will crash into Lewis at some point during Abu Dhabi, to take both of them out. It’s his only chance to win it. And if Perez finishes in front of Bottas, they might win both championships.

    1. 100% agree. I hope Max proves us wrong; Max fans will say it is justified because of Silverstone. Will be a shame to see another championship decided like that.

      1. Not to mention the FIA might still have something to say about that. There has been a precedent.

        1. How would they penalise Max if both cars DNF’d? The stewarding has been hit and miss this season, is there even a points deduction available for them to use?

          Max will crash into Lewis to win the championship. He’ll receive a fine and a race ban for the following season in return. He’ll shrug his shoulders and say well I am now the world champion. It’s how he’s wired.

          1. You seem to know little about the man

          2. JC, as the case was with Schumacher they disqualified him from the season. Given that precedent it’s easy to see how Max could be punished for deliberately crashing into Lewis to win the championship.

          3. No. If Verstappen is deemed to have intentionally taken Hamilton out to secure the championship, he will be disqualified from the entire championship. This precedent was set in 1997. Of course, whether the stewards would rule it deliberate is the only question, and that depends if it is blatant or not.

          4. “he will be disqualified from the entire championship. This precedent was set in 1997”

            I think it was only because Schumacher failed and Villeneuve successfully finished the race. So it was pretty much easy to punish a guy who already lost.

          5. I t hink Redbull – Horner and Marko have insulted the stewards enough that I’m sure they are ready to throw the camping van at them. Unless the powers that be want it for TV ratings.

      2. That scenario would be both to me: justice for Silverstone & Hungary and a shame from Max to do it that way.

        1. if he did that again he might end up in the wall again…

        2. Lewis move at Co(R)pse was unintentional, hence why he made the corner and not even needed to run wide. However, Max move at both Monza and Sao Paolo were the intention to wipe out your opposition outside off. Max sent himself off because his Co(R)se move backfired him big big time. Gladly, his Co(R)pse move didn’t send him straight into the coffin. So, we can still have argument.

        3. LOL!! Max decides to basically jump out of the Silverstone plane without a parachute but because Hamilton had the send to have one at Brazil and so Verstappen got no penalty there now needs to be “justice” for Silverstone.

          Did Bottas deliberately take out Max at Hungary? Why has he just more or less pulled over for all the races after, when they were battling?

          Comedy gold on a Monday. Cheers Maytron

          1. Your solution is basically everybody stay away and give way more room to Lewis.

  10. It’s still very exciting and that’s fun of course but not a real represenation of the driver performance in 2021. This season could be won because of (bad) luck and that’s a shame.

    If you look at the clean scores this years, you’ll see that Max only scored P1 and P2 except the races where crashes happened that on balance were less his fault and more Mercedes. And of course the tyre blow in Baku.

    As others point out, I can imagine there will be another crash in the last two races and that would be a shame but not unthinkable.

    1. In the same way that Lewis avoided crashing at Brazil, Max could have avoided crashing at Silverstone.

      There was no reason for him to refuse to yield – it was the first lap and he led the WDC

      His decision at Silverstone cost him anything from 18 to 33 points, relative to Hamilton

      Hamilton’s decision at Brazil, saved him points, relative to Max.

      We can talk about the merits of both crashes until the cows come home, but as some of us suspected Max’s no need to yield attitude, willingly aided and abetted by motormouth Horner, would cost him points.

      1. I prefer the facts, Max had 3 crashes: 1 was mostly Lewis’ fault so he got the penalty, 1 was mostly his fault so he got the penalty and the 3rd one was completely Bottas’ fault.

        I agree with with you Max could’ve done more in Silverstone but in the end he was hit on his rear wheel while he left enough space on the inside for Lewis to take. The verdict was it was mostly Lewis’ fault.

        And if we talk about luck, we could also bring up the 2 times Lewis’car was repaired during a red flag that prevented a DNF (Silverstone and Imola).

        Max had some luck as well in Belgium of course but on balance Lewis got very lucky this year.

        1. Not disputing Hamilton’s had more luck.

          I believe that Max has been the better driver.

          Point is, that it’s his own ill-discipline that’s meant that this title isn’t always wrapped up. Let’s face it, if at Brazil, if Hamilton does what Max does, i.e. not yield, then he’s got a damaged car and Verstappen would then have got a penalty.

          1. but that didn’t happen so it’s not really to be discussed imho

          2. Could maybe be a 2016, with even luck no doubt hamilton should’ve been champion back then, but if he had just started better in one of the races where he started badly it’d have been enough even with the bad luck, which could be the case this year, because 18 points vers could’ve saved are a lot.

        2. ‘I agree with with you Max could’ve done more in Silverstone’

          How? He drove a wider line, leaving more space, than Charles did in the exact tangle with Lewis. The difference was Lewis positioning off his car, which was at least questionable with Max compared to where he positioned with Charles. Lewis panicked. And it is totally non comparable with Brasil. Max rear tyre was at the level of Lewis’ front at Silverstone, that is way more ahead. Textbook racing school mix-up of two totally different situations. And yes, I do blame Max for Brasil. I think he was being naughty but also catching the car from probably a bit too much entry speed.

          1. I don’t compare Silverstone with Brazil, I just say Max could’ve left even more space just to be sure. I don’t say he needed to, I think Lewis should’ve backed out more. But that’s out of Max’control.

          2. I think Charles showed Max how the corner could be taken and live for the next corner.

          3. By being even closer to Hamilton? Seriously people. Look at the footage from both overtakes. Look where Max and Charles are vs where Lewis is in those situation. Desperate move by Lewis triggered by the knowledge this would be his ONLY chance to win given he saw exactly during the Sprint he wouldn’t have the pace.

        3. @anunaki Stop lying, Max drove into Hamilton’s front wheel. Which only happened because Hamilton tried to brake out of Verstappen turning into him.

          Hamilton was halfway alongside at the braking point and therefore had the right to the racing line. All he needs to do is make the corner. Which he did. Yet for some dat reason he gets penalized for “not hitting the apex”. Complete nonsense.

          Then Liuzzi let’s Verstappen off in Brazil while he was nowhere near the apex and didn’t even come close to making the corner.

          But yeah that’s karma. Verstappen takes himself out in Silverstone and Hamilton goes on to win the race when Verstappen clearly tried to crash into him again.

          1. I guess you see what you want to see, so no need to discuss this.

          2. @anunaki Hamilton does NOT drive into the back of Verstappen 100% fact There is no discussing that no. Only a liar would pretend otherwise.

          3. Get a room with yourself, maybe someone there cares what you say.

          4. Verstappen takes himself out in Silverstone

            Julius Caesar stabs himself 23 times at the Roman Senate, while Brutus, Cassius et al. watch from a distance

    2. If Formula 1 was purely driver-oriented series and season would end just now, Verstappen would be the one who would deserve the title (which is as of now also reflected in the points standings, though not as much as should).

      But there are still two races to go, you can´t predict how will the two drivers fare against each other. Both can make crucial decisions or mistakes in these races, so it is unfair to conclude now who deserves it more at this point.

      1. F1 is a Constructors’ series with each constructor employing the best drivers they can find to win for them. The best cars typically get the best drivers, and MB made sure they got the best. F1 has always been this way. If you want to watch a purely drivers series try F2 or Indy cars.

  11. Max should be way. More ahead in the points both redbull and max. But they failed. This was the year merc amd lewis have been at tbeir weakest and yet lewis and mercs arw soo close to rwdbull amd verstappen in both championships. Says alot more about lewis amd merc.

    1. they might have been the weakest, but they still had most pole positions in (traditional) qualy, so it’s not they’ve been really weak

  12. We may well end up with a thrilling end to the season. I don’t mind which of the 2 wins the WDC. A few races ago I felt Max was driving better out of the two and ‘deserved’ it more with Lewis making uncharacteristic mistakes. But Lewis has been practically flawless the last couple of races and it’s been a joy to see.

    Remember the TV show ‘Gladiators’? I think they should use Gladiators starts for the next 2 races to make sure there’s no tagging from other drivers at the first corner!

    “Max and Lewis – you may go on my first whistle.
    The rest, you may go on my second whistle.

  13. @Dan Rooke lol!!! Lets hope the last 2 races are exciting. To be honest i do want Lewis to win the championship. Lewis has been fighting in the front almost every season he has been in F1. Which highlights just how good he is. And yes having the fastest car helps. But its the same for every driver. The fastest driver gets the fastest car. Even the great Fangio would leave a team in the middle of a season to get a better faster car… Verstappen still needs to learn how to race properly. Its F1 not dodgem cars. So while he has been good this year he is not my favorite. Lets see if he has the longevity of Lewis to be up there with him and not just a 1 hit wonder. Especially with the likes of George, leclerc amd russel, etc who have proven to be better than him in the other catagories.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. You can watch Lewis have epic races in every category he has ever raced in.
      Max definitely has the skills to match, he should be a smidge faster given his age compared to Lewis, but experience counts.
      Could go either way.

  14. No one knows what will happen though it is appealing to lazily cast conjecture as analysis. We saw in this very race one of the contenders take a grid penalty at the last minute and the other’s teammate get an ultimately race ending tire failure. The race before the contenders nearly crashed into each other yet again. If the past is a guide there will be at least one more crazy twist in this story.

  15. That may have been just enough, after a late Virtual Safety Car period triggered by Nicholas Latifi’s puncture meant Perez crossed the line 2.8 seconds after Alone.

    No, the time and gap charts clearly say otherwise. Alonso was somewhat dosing his pace by the end after enjoying a nice cushion of a gap to Checo. Nevertheless Ocon allowed his team-mate to be more confident to go ahead and holding on, making it easier facing the high risks involved with the strategy. It doesn’t take away the value of his help.

  16. Come on Verstappen, just make a quick start as in Silverstone Sprint Race, heading in front of Lewis, then Lewis would be sweating staying behind or he has to try 120% to make the brave overtaking attempt. Give us a good fight like Lion.

  17. And here I was thinking F1 was CAR racing? The pilot can only drive the car.

  18. It’s taken then 20 races but looks like the Mercs have finally figured how to set there car optimally. If Ham continues with a 3-4 tenths gap in Qualy, bottas only needs to get to within a tenth to go P2. I suspect both ham and bottas will have the “spicy” equipment for the last two races

  19. I just find it funny how last week it was all about how the merc was fastest in a straight line, now this week its fastest in the corners. Its the engine…… buts its not because this was an older engine. Maybe it has something to do with the driver.?
    I only listen to the experts and I loved the way Alain Prost described it on C4 . The hungry young gun up against the experienced older man, bringing the best out of both of them.

    1. The sad thing is, it’s simply the setup. In Brazil Verstappen was simply one of the slowest on the straight.

      For instance during quali Tsunoda was fastest on the start finish line and 11 km/h faster than Verstappen. Hamilton was 4km/h slower than Tsunoda.

      During the race Gasly had the highest speed of all at 344km/h. That’s 14km/h faster than Hamilton at 330km/h) with his supposed rocket engine and supposed “cheating” rear wing. But yeah Verstappen is slowest of all of them at 321 km/h. So it’s again easy propaganda to pretend that that’s why it was so easy for Hamilton to win.

      For Qatar, Hamilton put on some extra downforce and his speeds also dropped back so he was about as slow on the straights as Verstappen (who was again one of the slowest).

      It’s Verstappen’s choice to always drive with the most downforce of the bunch.

  20. As many have mentioned there’s a high chance of Verstappen eliminating Lewis in the last race. Big payback for Silverstone. The guy has nothing to lose especially if Lewis continues to fly away from pole. Reputation, fair play? Nah, he’s young and probably will win championships in the future again driving for who knows? Mercedes? Ferrari? They hate you now and idolize after. Proved by Schumacher.

    1. Verstappen tried that already in Silverstone (but then Hamilton was too late to yield) and he did it again in Brazil (where Hamilton yielded but won anyway).

      But yeah the risk is that Hamilton again will try to avoid the accident by braking out of it and then gets blamed for not being alongside anymore.

      1. Can’t agree on Silverstone, think it was Lewis who desperately tried not to give up (taking into account the points deficit at that moment), but if we talk about Monza or Interlagos it was all about Verstappen ready to crash rather than give up. Call him reckless or unsportive but he’s clearly ready to do that again. Even saint Lewis played tricky games at the final race against Rosberg.

        1. Slowing Rosberg down (so that he could be overtaken) is nothing like crashing into an opponent.

          1. In my view an intention to harm or so called animus nocendi is pretty the same on both occasions. He couldn’t get rid of Rosberg (too much risk) so he tried everything getting someone else to do it. It’s unsportsmanlike and dishonest way to beat an opponent. But he just didn’t give a damn even when his own team tried to intervene.

          2. lexusreliability?
            22nd November 2021, 21:20


            It’s unsportsmanlike and dishonest way to beat an opponent.

            I wonder what you make of Monza- nevermind taking out your opponent on track, but trying to win the championship by taking off their head literally. Laughable reasoning.

  21. How commonplace is it for teams to switch engines from their collected portfolio? I wasn’t aware that chopping and changing occurred once penalties occurred – my naivety. I’d assumed once given a pen you were stuck with that changed part. Seems a little against the spirit of things to take a penalty in races whereby catching up can occur to then rest the new engine parts later on.

  22. Hello. I’m arriving late at the Max vs Lewis Silverstone debate. Yes, I think BOTH were at fault. Yes, I am a Max fan (see the profile pic if at doubt).
    But that is something we know now, in hindsight. This championship has had so many lucky and unlucky moments, that whoever loses this year will have a lot of “in that unlucky moment, I lost the championship” situation.
    You can say the same about Lewis. With all the good luck he has had, if he loses this year, he will be surely regretting the time he pressed that “magic” button in Button and missed a golden chance to bag at least 18 points, maybe 25 if Perez hadn’t won.
    He would also be wondering how on earth Max (well, and also himself, but you will see the point) was awarded 12.5 points for basically a pole position in Spa.
    I wouldn’t say Max has been luckier than Lewis, but it’s not as if he hadn’t had some luck on his side as well.
    Mic drop.

    1. …magic button in Baku.

  23. HAM did do a fab job at brazil this year. But over the complete year no better than VER, or arguably NOR or GAS.

    We F1 fans all have our own favourite drivers – that’s a natural part of sport.

    But we can’t overlook the car. I know everytime this is raised people shout down the poster as a hater, but only the most naive fan would claim it is all about the driver.

    The thing that swung the championship back towards HAM has been the recent improvement in Mercedes. Once HAM got a great car it brought out the best in him, but while the car was average, so was he.

    HAM is great at bringing a great car through the field – he’s done it many times in previous seasons – not just this year at brazil.

    The history books may well end up recording him as an 8 x champion, but without the might of the Merc (or up against someone with more racecraft than BOT) he would have won maybe 4 titles.

    HAM is one of the greats, but in my view not significantly better than VER, ALO, Clark, Senna etc.

    HAM + MERC + BOT = 8 titles,
    HAM – MERC – BOT = 4.

    (But he was amazing at Brazil!)

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