The scenarios that threaten an unworthy end to F1’s terrific title fight

2021 F1 season

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For the first time since 2012 two drivers from rival teams face each other in a championship fight which has a serious chance of going down to the final race.

But the possibility of an acrimonious end to the year hangs over the final rounds. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have collided twice already this season. Even if they manage to avoid each other, the prospect of an unworthy end to the season by quirk of the rules or some other avoidable hitch, remains a distinct possibility.

Will F1 avoid a championship anti-climax in the final two races of a memorable year’s racing?

Controversial calls

Stewards’ decisions are often hotly disputed. But the pressure to get their calls right – and make them quickly – is dramatically heightened in the face of a championship nail-biter like this one.

They’ve proven willing to take sanctions against both title contenders this year – notably Hamilton at Silverstone and Verstappen after Monza. But their refusal even to investigate Verstappen’s contentious move on lap 48 in Brazil caused uproar, flying in the face of penalties given for far lesser infringements earlier in the season.

The waters were muddied still further in Qatar, where a meeting between drivers and race director Michael Masi left many competitors unsure what the stewards consider fair and unfair defensive moves. This controversy may easily breed more of the same.

Track limits

Feature: Why drivers backed Hamilton’s call for clarity after meeting over Verstappen incident
The vexed matter of track limits lay at the heart of the Brazil controversy. It’s hard to imagine Verstappen would have lunged down the inside of Hamilton from a huge distance back if he hadn’t known there was an asphalt run-off on their outside of the corner.

F1 continues to show little interest in replacing low kerbs and asphalt with grass and gravel run-offs which largely prevent drivers being able to run wide and gain an advantage. This creates yet more work for the stewards and further potential for acrimony. Changes to track limits rules during race weekends, sometimes between qualifying and the race, have added to the confusion.

The season began with one championship rival being told to let the other one past because of a track limits violation. How depressing it would be if the title was decided that way.

Other track limits exploits are also possible. Monza gave an illustration of how: Perez finished third on the track but was relegated behind Bottas for cutting the track to keep the Mercedes driver behind. Without Perez in front of him, Bottas could have threatened the leading McLaren drivers for victory.

It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see how badly a championship contender could be affected by their rival’s team mate cutting a corner, holding them up, and refusing to let them by. A five-second penalty would be a meagre price to pay for guaranteeing their team some silverware.

Fastest lap bonus

Lewis Hamilton, GP2, Monza, 2006
Feature: The time a fastest lap bonus point won Hamilton a championship
F1 trumpeted the reintroduction of the bonus point for fastest lap two years ago, claiming it would add a new dimension to the racing. But to some, all it’s created is a contrivance which has nothing to do with real racing.

Now that the championship is going down to the final races, those bonus points could become precious, even decisive. At Silverstone we saw an early sign of the lengths teams may go to exploit this: Red Bull gave up a point (and potentially more) for Sergio Perez so they could pit him for fresh tyres and set the fastest lap, taking it away from Hamilton. The upshot was Red Bull gave up a point in the constructors’ championship to deny Hamilton a point in the drivers championship.

How much further are they – and Mercedes – prepared to take these tactics? After the United States Grand Prix Red Bull team principal Christian Horner defended the team’s decision not to repeat the move when Perez was running third, because sacrificing his podium finish would have been “brutal”.

Would he make the same decision with the drivers’ championship on the line? And what if that call cost them team enough points to lose the constructors’ championship? The needless complexity F1 introduced to its points system could create farcical outcomes.

Team mates and ‘stable mates’

Gasly was urged to let Verstappen by
Hamilton and Verstappen have both benefited from the assistance of their team mates at times this season. Whether that’s been aiding their passage or delaying their rivals, so far everything’s been above board.

But while this conduct is increasingly expected of team mates, what about drivers connected more loosely with the title fight? Red Bull has a second team – AlphaTauri – and Mercedes has three engine customers. Could we see a repeat of the DTM’s controversial finale in F1, where ‘stable mates’ swung the outcome? Should this kind of collusion be permitted?

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is adamant that such tactics are “not going to happen in Formula 1”. But exactly that appeared to take place in Qatar. After Verstappen appeared on the tail of Pierre Gasly early in the race the AlphaTauri driver was told “you can let him by”. Gasly then ran wide – seemingly accidentally – then delayed activating his DRS until Verstappen had overtaken him.

Tyre trouble

Tyre failure has already cost Verstappen
One championship contender – Verstappen – has already suffered a spectacular tyre failure which cost him dearly in the points standings. At the last race, a series of further punctures struck. Significantly, this took place at the Losail International Circuit, a track F1 hadn’t previously raced at.

F1 heads to another new circuit this weekend and the championship will conclude on the extensively remodelled Yas Marina circuit. The latter will see lap times fall by 10 to 15 seconds, yet the sport’s official tyre supplier has decided to stick with its plans to bring the softest rubber in its range.

Several of the drivers who experienced punctures in Qatar expressed their displeasure over the latest failures, including the team mates of one of the title contenders. How confident can F1 be that it will avoid further repeats at its upcoming unfamiliar venues?

Technical row

Both teams have exchanges blows over the legalities of their cars over the course of the season. Indeed, it hasn’t stopped at the cars – pit stop procedures were in the crosshairs at one stage.

Red Bull raised questions over the legality of Mercedes’ rear wing at Losail, claiming their rivals had vastly superior straight-line speed. Once a new test was been introduced Red Bull declared themselves satisfied, notwithstanding the fact the new test has no regulatory force at present.

Is there another row to come? And might either team mount a technical protest after the final race of the season in a desperate last throw of the dice to secure the title?


The title rivals tangled at Silverstone and Monza
F1’s most controversial championship conclusions have usually involved the contenders tangling with each other. A spate of such incidents occured between 1989 and 1997, during which time four title fights ended that way.

Hamilton and Verstappen have hit each other twice this year and nearly did so again in Brazil. It’s not hard to imagine it could happen again.

But while some of F1’s rules and practices have arguably created possibilities for unsatisfactory championship scenarios to arise, this one is probably impossible to prevent. Collisions happen even when the stakes aren’t as sky-high as this.

The only thing those in charge can do is ensure both drivers understand they do not stand to gain from causing contact with the other. That means the stewards being prepared to take an ill-gotten championship away from someone. Although that would be perhaps the most controversial outcome of all, the precedent exists.

Hopefully it won’t come to that – or any of the scenarios outlined above – however likely they may be.

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Author information

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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116 comments on “The scenarios that threaten an unworthy end to F1’s terrific title fight”

  1. You forgot the Bowling by Bottas and the unlimited engine supply from Mercedes and them running an illegal rear wing for the remainder of the season. F1 is a real shambles if Lewis gets the title with all the questionable actions from that team.

    1. it was Redbull who had to change their flexi wing, while Merc had to do nothing like that, so you would like to rethink that, and the points RB got awarded with that wing.

      1. Nothing wrong with Red bull wing. It passed all the tests.
        The Mercedes Wing on the other hand was at least once proven illegal. Hence the DsQ.

        If they use the same wing again with the to large gap on the lower plane, there will be a protest.
        Potentially nullifying the result.

        1. In case you need reminding, they were disqualified due to damage on the wing, not because it was designed to be illegal.
          Its funny how easily the truth is changed these days

          1. There was no damage to the wing. Strange how people just make up things.
            There was a possibility two screws were not rightly tighten. But there was no damage.
            The 0.2mm story is also a toto lie. If you look at the recording you see the testtool easely through the gap. With mm to spare probably.

          2. @erikje

            There was no damage to the wing. Strange how people just make up things.
            There was a possibility two screws were not rightly tighten. But there was no damage.
            The 0.2mm story is also a toto lie. If you look at the recording you see the testtool easely through the gap. With mm to spare probably.

            Sometimes its better to stay silent than to express an opinion… Anything pushed through a gap with a 0.2mm tolerance, at a 10N force (ie, the equivalent force of a 1kg vertical weight) will pass through said gap easily. Also, the key world here is probably. In other words, you do not know
            And the difference between a loose screw, and damage, is, in this reference, entirely negligible. Even the FIA recognised this

            he Stewards fundamentally accept the Competitor’s explanation that the cause of the failed test was something “gone wrong” rather than a deliberate action

          3. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            2nd December 2021, 20:56

            If the wing was viewed as “damaged” then the FIA would not have DSQ Lewis. Otherwise damaged cars that don’t pass post race scrutiny would be DSQ’d. If the wing was not correctly assembled, that is not defined as “damaged”. Mercedes also replaced the entire wing… they didn’t just “tighten” the loose screws so that tells me the wing was out of specification to the rules regardless. Me personally thinks that an out of spec wing made it through quality control, sort of speak.

          4. @flyingferrarim

            They HAD to replace the entire wing, and COULDNT just tighten the screws, as the whole unit was impounded by the scrutineers and if I recall correctly, only got it back after Qatar. Toto commented that they were not allowed to tighten the screws at the time it was discovered

            I think I clarified my use of the word “damage” in my previous reply

            I cant believe we are still debating facts

        2. Max’s wing is definitely in violation as it flutters intermittently. This is another case where the officials choose not to investigate.

          1. They ONLY investigate if it’s an advantage for the person. Max wing flutters is rather bad as it slows the car. Why do you think they are repairing it!

          2. Max car is already three times checked and conform rules and regulations.
            Even after the race the wing lever did not function correct.

      2. I never heard Red Bull changed the rear wing specification, while I heard (from this site) that a number of teams changed their rear wing in Qatar because of the new tests.

        But the wings were never illegal as they passed all the tests. The problem is the change of regulations during the season. Not only for the wings, but the pitstops also. All in favour of one team and not the other. Just like the track limits in Bahrain.

    2. While i agree on some points i don’t think we can say Mercedes is going to use that rear wing anymore so i expect no protest on that. The engine rule should be sharped if they want to contine to have reliable engines (something like 10 – 15 20 places)

      1. Fia said illegal rear wings will not cause other disqualifications, so expect them using it again

        1. The FIA said no such thing.

          The new rear wing tests were for research, not for testing compliance to 2021 regulations. As such, any team who’s wing failed the new test would not be sanctioned. The would be sanctioned if their wing failed the current tests.

          There’s no reason Mercedes can’t use any wing they want, given none of their wings has failed the load tests.

      2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        2nd December 2021, 21:01

        I agree that the FIA needs to address the penalties to engine replacements. I think some lenience can be tolerated if engines are damaged through a competitor crashing into you or a major crash for that matter (aka Lewis and Bottas crashing the RedBulls). Otherwise the grid penalty should be to send the driver to the back. But again, maybe even that is opening up a can on worms and will be abused by teams in some manner.

    3. @w0o0dy “Illegal”?

      Nothing’s illegal until the FIA say it is. Or signs a secret agreement.

    4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      2nd December 2021, 9:13

      Is that because Horner made the claim the Merc shouldn’t be as fast as it is or do you have anything else? Or was it that dirty mark on wing that you don’t have clue what it is so it must be illegal?

    5. To me the headline
      “The scenarios that threaten an unworthy end to F1’s terrific title fight”
      should be more like:
      “The events that made this year an unworthy title fight”
      Season should have been wrapped up long ago without Silverstone & Hungary. Not to mention the dirty mind games, dirty regulatory games with compounds & engines. Tainted season, hollow victory. On to 2022.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        2nd December 2021, 16:05

        Will be a hollow victory whichever team wins WCC and driver WDC?

  2. Covid positive test and exclusion for either contender would be most unfair of all scenarios..

    1. I think another likely scenario is for Lewis/Max to win Jeddah but disqualified for not having enough fuel left in his car.

  3. The whole “stable mates” thing left me feeling a bit irritated during the Qatar race. It wasn’t just that fact gasly leapt out of the way of a rival but the fact that in David Coulthard’s commentary he spoke as if gasly was obligated to do so and didn’t even raise the idea that it was utterly absurd – we do not have 4 car teams (yet). I realise inter-team deals are as old as the sport but watching Williams drivers helping Mercedes or Alpha Tauri drivers helping red bull leaves a bitter taste. They already have the best cars on the grid, how much help do they need?

    1. You mean David Coulthard, official Red Bull Brand Ambassador? That David Coulthard?

      1. @shakey66 haha, that did not occur to me.

    2. In fact gasly did not really helped. He made an error and did not defend against a way faster car.
      If he did he would only compromised his own race further.
      So it was the smart thing to do regardless of the Rbr situation.

      1. I think it looked odd to most people is because the only time he ran wide at that corner was coincidentally when Max was right behind him. It also didn’t help that he only opened his DRS once Max had passed him halfway down the straight.

        1. As I said, he had nothing to gain fighting are faster car and ruining his own position.
          This is quite normal behavior. Its different when you really fight for position or points. But at that stage gasly already was in survive mode.

  4. Didn’t you mean “threaten a worthy end”?

  5. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    2nd December 2021, 7:37

    On the pre-race interviews in Qatar Gasly stated to the Channel 4 team that he was aware that he had a role to play to help Verstappen, so it seems that Red Bull are openly using their sister team. Indeed, David Coulthard has been urging them to do so during race commentary for a large slice of the season!

    I’m not happy with the “yield or we crash” tactics used by Verstappen this season, it seems a poor substitute for proper racing. I feel this is the most likely way the championship will be decided.

    1. @slightlycrusty yes, this is a concern of mine too. It’s a shame because he’s so talented he could easily drive clean and still win. His style is surely a product of wildly successful aggressive drivers like Senna and Schumacher (and Alonso and Hamilton to a slightly lesser extent). The true “gentlemen” drivers, in the Gilles Villeneuve mould, are few and far between these days (I’d say maybe Montoya and perhaps raikkonen are the only ones that spring to mind from the modern era).

      1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
        2nd December 2021, 13:44

        @frood19, F1 posted a youtube video of the “top 5 Alonso versus Hamilton” battles about 3 months ago, it’s amazing to watch how cleanly they race each other, even in 2007 when the tension between them must have been excruciating, so I would add both of them to the “gentlemen” drivers list, because both try to overtake within the rules of the sport.

        For me, Verstappen is replaying the Rosberg tactic of 2016, effectively: if you attempt to pass we will crash. For Rosberg it was the only way he could beat Hamilton. The shame of this season is that Verstappen’s good enough to race Hamilton as Alonso used to, but he’s not interested in racing, just in winning by any means available. He has the skill to compete fairly, but no the desire. That’s pretty pathetic.

        1. single most accurate assessment I’ve read…

      2. @frood19 I agree, Max is an exciting and naturally talented driver, but his ‘yield or we crash’ tactics as Jay puts it, are unbecoming and unnecessary – he’s got the skill and the race craft. Sometimes he’s like a petulant PlayStation competitor who’ll try to run you off the road if he can’t win an online race.
        All the greats you mentioned were/are uncompromising, but also smart and calculating and not (with a few obvious exceptions) wilfully and blatantly reckless. He’s getting away with it for the moment because it’s a really exciting season, the FIA is vague and indecisive, Horner, Marko & Jos are whipping up RB’s fanbase and target market into a frenzy, and F1 is getting the high profile Liberty Media want.

    2. You mean Hamilton nog yielding in Silverstone as he should have. He even said it before the race that he wouldn’t yield anymore.

      Well, when you are not in front at the apex of the corner, you have to yield, that’s how the rules work, and that’s why he was punished. And that’s how he often races himself. When he is in front he pushes his opponent wide. He also did it in Monza where Verstappen did not yield as he should have because ge wss not in front and got rightfully punished for that.

    3. Form what I have learned (was too young to follow F1 back in those days) this exact tactic is what Senna was known for.

      Besides that, I feel calling it “yield or we crash” makes it sound like a gratuitous tactic that every driver could apply, but choose not to. I suspect being able to successfully use such tactics require exceptional car control, anticipation, and strategic thinking. If it didn’t, I am sure it would be used by most drivers. And it’s what marks the difference between a Maldonado and a verstappen.

  6. One championship contender – Verstappen – has already suffered a spectacular tyre failure which cost him dearly in the points standings.

    Later shown to be caused by using under limit running pressures during the race and therefore Red Bull and Aston Martin’s own fault. This is similar to a wing breaking off due to a flexible design.

    pit stop procedures were in the crosshairs at one stage.

    And rightly so. When the FIA banned Mercedes’ designs for an automated pit stop lights system then it made sense for the FIA to go and check the other teams systems. We have seen the longer and sometimes chaotic pitstops from notably Red Bull that resulted from them now being back to fully manual.

    What is galling though is that they get away with all these cheats without penalty. Other than the direct consequences of incurring the costs of removing their cheats and in Baku a burst tyre.

    1. Later shown to be caused by using under limit running pressures during the race and therefore Red Bull and Aston Martin’s own fault.

      I think you’re referring to the pressures after the blow-out.

      1. Davethechicken
        2nd December 2021, 13:15

        Was that why Max was kicking the tyre after? To check the pressure?
        And there was me thinking he was having another temper tantrum.

        1. Tantrums are Totos speciality. :)

          1. I think most would say whingey spice is the queen of tantrums

    2. Later shown to be caused by using under limit running pressures during the race and therefore Red Bull and Aston Martin’s own fault. This is similar to a wing breaking off due to a flexible design.

      So that is why Pirelli changed the specs of the rear tyres from Silverstone onwards. Because it was the fault of some teams running illegal pressures. Which by the way, wss never proven, only suspected at the time. Makes sense. Not.

  7. Almost this whole article is british bias at his best…

    1. I find this type of comment disappointing and short-sighted. I have visited this website since 2010, and I never seen Keith or any of the other writers display favouritism. When drivers do well, e.g. Alonso, Ricciardo, Vettlel, and yes, Hamilton and Verstappen both, it is reported as such. Also, whenever Hamilton drove or acted erratically (mostly limited to the 2011 season), it was reported as such, and not sugar coated or apologized for. In fact, if I have to guess (and it is a guess because Keith has never let on who his favourite driver is), I would say that Keith is not even a Hamilton fan.

      Finally, note that not all writers on this site are British. Dieter is South African, I believe, and I think there are some US contributors, as well. If you do not like the opinion of an impartial journalist, it does not mean they are biased.

      1. I think what’s unhelpful is when the author uses statements like ‘It’s hard to imagine Verstappen would have lunged down the inside of Hamilton from a huge distance back….’
        One could argue over the word ‘lunge’, but i certainty wouldn’t consider braking from one car length back a ‘huge distance’. It just creates unnecessary noise, but then perhaps that’s the intent these days – it creates conflict and clicks.
        I too have been a long term visitor to this site, and i think it’s one of the best, but i feel some of the content has become uncharacteristically tabloidy of late.

        1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
          2nd December 2021, 9:02

          @shakey66 what you’re asking for is that this site becomes like the BBC, so anodyne and bland because its editorial board doesn’t permit its journalists to use their experience and judgement to call out liars (in politics) or shysters (in climate change). I think Keith is very careful with his use of language and tries to be as even-handed as possible, but you must allow him to make judgement calls.

          How can you object to the term ‘lunge’? Verstappen went in so hard he missed the corner by about 4m. How is that not a lunge?

          1. @slightlycrusty read what i wrote again.
            As an F1 fan, i never read content from the BBC for the reasons you point out so i have no idea why you would sugest that’s what i’m asking for – i’d be more concerned it moves towards PF1 style of ‘journalism’, if you could call it that.
            And I didn’t object to the word ‘lunge’ per se, but accept some may use it in a different context as you have. Yes, Verstappen braked late with intent to run Lewis out of track and should have been penalised for what he did. My point is that he did this while his front wheel was at least in line with Lewis’s rear wheel. At what point is that a ‘lunge from a HUGE distance’? Hardly a Ricciardo special is it?
            I’ve watched plenty of F1 since i started in the early 80’s and for me Brasil was a low point for the FIA – reminded my of the Ballestre days .

          2. I quote myself
            Just look at the examples used.
            About track limits, I seem to remember a Italian race where Lewis ignored the limits for 24 laps. The moment the red bull team instructed max to do the same, masi stepped in.
            Regarding other team support there is a very suggestive remark by wolff about Russel not allowed to race Mercedes team ( bottas in that instance)
            Crashes, or the possibility of one. Brazil nothing happened, Silverstone a very debatable and penalised move by Lewis.
            And the entire article is full of these subjective examples.
            Like mine are subjective regarding Lewis.
            So it’s far from a balanced article.

          3. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            2nd December 2021, 12:38

            At what point is that a ‘lunge from a HUGE distance’? Hardly a Ricciardo special is it?

            Ricciardo specials are reserved for slow corners off fast straights where there’s a long braking distance. Turn 4 at Interlagos is a medium speed turn meaning the braking period is very short, so coming from almost a car length behind is a massive deficit, that’s how I read Keith’s comment. Hamilton had WON the corner by the braking point. It was a ridiculous move from Verstappen, with no hope of success had he kept within the rules, something you appear to accept, so I don’t get the umbrage at Keith’s comment.

        2. @shakey66 A full car length behind at the braking point is relatively quite huge though.

          1. I wouldn’t consider a front wheel level with a rear wheel to be a huge distance. Nor would i call intentionally rolling off the brakes late in order to run a car wide a lunge. It was wrong, and cynical, and should have been penalised in my opinion, but I guess that’s all it is – a matter of opinion.

        3. Dictionary definition of Lunge:

          “A sudden forward thrust…”

          Seems fair enough to me.

  8. Reading the article, then reading the comments so far, which seem mostly partisan annoyance of fans that are doing shoe-fitting to take umbrage at this point, I just really hope we can have a more or less fair fight for the championship(s).

    1. Whatever happens, babies are gonna cry

    2. @bosyber I have confidence that the finale to this season will be enjoyable. I have even more confidence that the subsequent arguing online will be apocalyptic!

  9. great and well balanced article. Maybe the headline of the article should read “IF Verstappen wins it, he’ll be an unworthy champion” though?

    1. So you didn’t like the impartiality of the article then? Your comment took a quick U-turn didn’t it?

      1. Just look at the examples used.
        About track limits, I seem to remember a Italian race where Lewis ignored the limits for 24 laps. The moment the red bull team instructed max to do the same, masi stepped in.
        Regarding other team support there is a very suggestive remark by wolff about Russel not allowed to race Mercedes team ( bottas in that instance)
        Crashes, or the possibility of one. Brazil nothing happened, Silverstone a very debatable and penalised move by Lewis.
        And the entire article is full of these subjective examples.
        Like mine are subjective regarding Lewis.
        So it’s far from a balanced article.
        @keith collantine

        1. I do not know how you would know the meaning of balanced when it refers to opinions or comments.

          This is a great article laying out all the potential ways the season could have an unworthy end. Others have added to the list a positive COVID test which I agree would be truly an unworthy end. Are you able to engage at that level?

          1. There are several scenarios here. The problem is not the scenario but the used examples to illustrate the options. All are from one very subjective perspective

        2. erikje It seems you are consistently unhappy with the content on this site. Maybe it’s time for you to move on to a more suitable echo chamber.

        3. “Brazil nothing happened, Silverstone a very debatable and penalised move by Lewis.”

          Interesting descriptions here. Had Max done at Silverstone what Lewis did at Brazil (ie stayed wide to avoid contact), then nothing would have happened at Silverstone either. Had Lewis done in Brazil what Max did at Silverstone (ie turn in on the outside leading to contact), then I’m fairly certain it would have been deemed a debatable and penalised move by Max.

          I don’t see how the difference in driving styles can be debated – most of the time Max does not give way, irrespective of how much the corner is his. Lewis has given way to avoid contact on more than one occasion. The difference in styles is obvious and clear. The only debate is whether you think those styles are wrong or right etc.

          1. Even if Verstappen stayed on track in Brasil, Hamilton would have to go off track to avoid a crash. As he should have as Verstappen was in front. Just as Verstappen should have taken evasive actions in Monza which he didn’t. The only problem was that he went off track in Brasil, not that he was in the wrong.

            The problem is in Silverstone Verstappen had all the right to take that corner the way he wanted and Hamilton should have avoided Verstappen there as well (or even not going through with his overtake as he was not far enough alongside in the corner) which he didn’t.

  10. I’d add another that would be among the worst possible outcomes… one of the title contenders losing the chance to fight for the championship because of a positive Covid test.

    1. @neilosjames Another i was expecting in the article – grid penalties preventing one driver or the other having a chance to compete for the points they need, whether for a technical reason or driving infringement.

      1. @keithedin I agree it would be quite anticlimatic, but surely any driving infringement should be penalized, right? If either Hamilton or Verstappend impede another driver during qualifying, or ignore yellow flags, they should be penalized, regardless of that penalty making the championship less exciting.

        1. @warheart Yeah I wouldn’t say that it is unfair, and neither is disqualification for a technical breach of some kind as long as the same rules are applied consistently to all parties. But it would still feel like an ‘unworthy’ or maybe ‘unsatisfactory’ end to the season for me, even if it is entirely fair.

          1. @keithedin yeah, it would feel anticlimatic, but on the other hand, it would feel much more unworthy or unsatisfactory (at least to me) if the end was triggered by a maneouvre such as Verstappen’s in Brazil. I don’t want whoever’s leading going into the last race to be able to bully his way into the championship with those “you either get out of the way or we crash” maneouvres.

  11. Personally, I would include Red Flag disruptions and resets.

    Also, I know we all love drama, but why is any of these events more ‘unworthy’ than an identical event earlier in the season.
    Whatever happens, 2021 will be linked to more ‘ifs’ than 2016.

    1. I would accept a red flag though if:
      Firstly, Hamilton leaves SA with a 25pt deficit to Verstappen, and then in the last race:
      – Gasly cerashes suspiciously into Hamilton who then does a Brazil-like recovery to 2nd behind Verstappen.
      – Verstappen has a Baku-like blow out, damages his car and is overtaken by everyone.
      – a Red Flag is waved to clean up the track and stays out long enough for RBR to fully repair the car.
      – Hamilton will win and needs fastest lap to become Champion. Verstappen is dead last and can only become champion if keeping FLAP away from Hamilton.

      1. Sounds like a pending heart attack for me watching that!

  12. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    2nd December 2021, 8:32

    I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see either Mercedes or Red Bull having spend a few pennies too many than what the budgetcap allows and get points redacted. As that is the punishment that was previously said to be enforced when teams broke those rules.

    Mercedes managed to gain so much during a season where beforehand it was said by everyone (especially many people with a lot of experience in the sport, for instance commentators) that it would be impossible to correct a defecit of several tenths. Simply because the budget wouldn’t allow for it. And yet Mercedes, the top spender who knows nothing but to throw money at a car, manages to do just that? After years of simply throwing money at it if a different team got even remotely close? I wouldn’t believe their books for a second…

  13. It’s easy to solve fastest lap bonus. Award it to the driver with the fastest lap in the first 10 laps irrespective of position.

    1. @Justin or just disallow the last 10 laps, perhaps?

      Or maybe you can’t have the fastest lap if you don’t complete at least 20% of the race on those tyres

      1. too complicated. also, why 10 laps and not 11?

    2. So it becomes a bit like a pole point.
      Pole sitter keeps the field behind for 10 laps and then accelerates for one lap :P

  14. Jeffrey Powell
    2nd December 2021, 8:46

    Firstly there seems to be an enormous amount of what we awful Brits would describe as ‘Sour Grapes’ being displayed here mostly as if Mercedes and Lewis have stolen the young heroes title already, but I digress . The only prudent way for both drivers to try and pass during the next two races would seem to be with DRS in the middle of the prescribed straights certainly not at the end , certainly each protagonists fans will expect their adored one’s evil rival to commit the F1 version of Hari -Kari in anything vaguely resembling a corner. Sad isn’t it.

  15. Jonathan Edwards
    2nd December 2021, 8:52

    I’d argue the red flag rules also are worthy of a mention. Keith rightly pointed out most of the issues this year, but the fact remains that Hamilton would have been a lot further behind had he not been allowed to magically become unlapped in Imola after the Russell/Bottas crash. Yes, the rules allow it, but why?

    This is one of the reasons why F1 fans who aren’t exclusively Hamilton fans are ready to see someone else win. They’re tired of the Mercedes dominance and tired of the lucky breaks that more often than not go Hamilton’s way. He crashed in a race, was lapped by numerous drivers, needed a long pit stop, but two other drivers tangled and he was a handed a get out of jail free card. Owing to the absurd gap to the other teams bar Ref Bull, it was no great feat to cruise back to second place.

    Was it also not suggested that he had what likely would have been terminal damage in Silverstone, yet the red flag once again allowed his car to be repaired with absolutely no detriment to his race?

    Sure, he lost points in Baku, but that’s what should happen when you make a colossal mistake in a race.

    Okay, was Max a little shady in Brazil? Yes. But that’s what you get when you have inconsistent stewards decisions, and absurdities like “right to racing room” and differing norms for pushing a rival off track if it’s the start of a race or the pass being attempted on the outside or inside, or the outside of one corner that leads into the inside of the next. I’d argue it’s poetic justice that he wasn’t penalized, simply due to the overwhelming good fortune Hamilton has had, in balance, this year.

    He’s lucky to still be in this fight, and if he wins, the British press will once again fawn over his otherworldly talent, and how he won against all odds, ignoring that he’s been extremely lucky that huge mistakes on track did not cost him in the points like they normally would have.

    Fantastic driver, and anyone who’s not an idiot can see he’s obviously one of the best of all time. But, I don’t see how one can argue he deserves this championship if he goes on to win it. Or rather, I don’t see how one would conclude he deserves it more than Max, based purely on driving this season.

    1. Jon, if he (Hamilton) goes on to win then he does. Irrespective of what’s happened over the season. Depending how you look at it Verstappen has been fortunate as well. Both drivers have pushed each other to the absolute limit and the external forces is what is ruining this title fight, even though it’s still very much on a knife edge.

      I hope it’s decided on track, with both cars within a couple of tenths and with no infringements technical or otherwise.

      Hamilton is a great but Verstappen has proven he can match him when given all the tools.

      1. if he (Hamilton) goes on to win then he does. Irrespective of what’s happened over the season.

        Spot on, but it’ll be a bit ironic if its by just a few points as there are still a lot o fans bemoaning the ‘should haves’ and ‘what ifs’ of 2016.

    2. You are spot on Jonathan.

      Sadly, in any sport there is ‘leaderboard journalism’ prevailing. As in: Journalists adjust their message to the ultimate result.
      Instead of looking deeper.

    3. +1 thanks for this. From now on I will quote this as it sums up the season perfectly

    4. “One” would conclude that whoever wins any world championship, will deserve it. History is written by the victor.

    5. Fangio will be disappointed to hear he’s having one of his titles handed over to Peter Collins as he ‘didn’t deserve it’ that year.

      Mansell will be pleased to be given the 86 title because his tyre blow out was ‘unfair’.

      Hamilton, although disappointed to not be worthy of this title will be chuffed that 2016 is his now because he suffered more ‘bad luck’ than Rosberg.

      1. Jonathan Edwards
        2nd December 2021, 23:47


        Not really the point I intended on making, though the final paragraph certainly reads that way. My point of contention is more to do with the fact that the majority of F1 media is based in the UK, and there will be no shortage of articles glorifying Hamilton’s season if he goes on to win the title. Few will actually break the season down and make mention of the surprising amount of good fortune he’s had, or that he’s made significantly more serious errors than Verstappen.

        I agree, no one “deserves” to win. You win or you lose. I’m just tired of seeing the same person win, especially when there’s been as much luck as there has been this season.

  16. Or, you know, Silverstone 2021.

    1. Actually, considering that was a mutual thing (both drivers could have avoided that) and a penalty was handed out, the real issue is Hungary. The only truly random moment that fully swung against one of the drivers, and one that would have decided the WDC by now (Baku mostly cancelling out both the moments, only a 10 point swing).

      1. Interestingly, I see Hungary as pure bad luck, and part of the sport.

        Imola though is the bit that is most ‘unworthy’ so far this season IMO (including the lack of penalising Max for his Brazil defending, but with a smaller potential points impact).

  17. Concerning the collision part, DSQ that driver from the WDC standings a la M. Schumacher in 1997.
    A similar situation might occur, only if Max is still in points-lead, as otherwise, he’d have more to lose.
    Overall, all notes are good, but possibly COVID (off chance), red flag, or even a mere SC or VSC interruption could impact things.
    The FLAP bonus point is interesting, although, in Silverstone, Perez only lost a single point as P10 was the highest achievable at that point anymore, while RB didn’t lose any ground in the WCC.
    Nevertheless, that race, & Mexico-Brazil, so the lengths title-contending teams are willing to go with their #2 drivers if they’re in a favorable situation for taking a point away from a teammate’s rival.
    Stablemates, also, how they might influence matters.

    1. @jerejj That’s actually the part that annoys me most with the current lack of clarity of the stewarding for defending. Currently, a driver risk a penalty in case of collision but not if the other driver takes evasive actions. This leads basically to allow the leading driver (in point standing) to defend harder as a race ending collision leads to favorable outcome and the driver sitting second will know about that and more likely to take evasive actions. While in opposite situation, the point leading driver doesn’t need to take evasive actions as a tangle is still a favorable situation.

      I’m sure Max and Lewis will be aware of that, and I think that’s not what it should be, basically defensive moves are judge on the outcome and handing an advantage to the driver which has less to lose.

      The stable mates is a bit farcical but not unexpected in F1. “Luckily” RedBull and Mercedes are so far ahead that it has marginal effect.

      1. @jeanrien

        I agree.

        Not only has more aggressive driving been encouraged, but I think the stewarding recently, especially this season, has been weak and inconsistent. I don’t see the FIA stopping a blatant crash from deciding the championship.

        Allowing more aggressive driving makes that call even harder to make.

  18. Of all these scenarios, one of the drivers becoming champion because their team mate pits to get FLAP is possibly the worst. Okay so any collision, steward penalty or other race-defining incident is going to be far more contentious. But in a sense it’s down to the two rivals (and FIA…) But one driver winning because their far slower team mate could pit for new tyres and grab an easy point (or take away a point from the other contender in the midst of the title battle) is about as anticlimatic and undeserving as it gets.

    1. Though if Hamilton wins an 8th title that way, I may not remember I said that :oP

  19. I’m hearing Red Bull may put a new engine in Max’s car, anyone heard about this?

    1. @davidjwest
      Nothing reported, or at least I haven’t seen anything. I doubt they’d do a voluntary change this late anymore.

    2. Only the Honda engine doesn’t give a lot extra power when new, but it also doesn’t lose much power either.

  20. Also:

    * Christian Horner’s constant whining interfering with Max’s radio signal, resulting in him missing a vital pit-stop call;

    * The still-drying track surface being so spongy that Max is catapulted into the stands whilst negotiating turn 13;

    * Toto Wolff growing even taller, to the point where Lewis can’t hear what he says pre-race;

    * Bottas being lapped by Hamilton, getting in his way, and ‘accidentally’ letting Max through (“I did my best” he says whilst smirking throughout a later TV interview);

    * Pete Bonnington saying “Get in there Lewis” two laps early and Hamilton mistakenly thinking it’s an instruction to pit;

    * Nikita Mazipan doing a handbrake turn on the penultimate lap in an attempt to impress the ladies, causing one of the Championship contenders to crash;

    * Large amounts of the Stroll family’s cash reserves blowing onto the circuit, causing a track invasion mid-race;

    * Mercedes fitting a new ‘of course it’s legal’ rear wing on Lewis’s car which includes rocket boosters and a laser cannon;

    * Hamilton and Vettel stopping on track on the final lap and driving the remainder of the race holding a giant rainbow flag between them whilst eating a plant-based burger;

    * Snow;

    * Helmut Marko’s persistent head-shaking causing a strong wind which blows Hamilton off track;

    * The head of a recently executed Saudi citizen rolling onto the track;

    * World War III.

    1. “Toto Wolff growing even taller, to the point where Lewis can’t hear what he says pre-race”
      That wins!

    2. @sonnycrockett Good ones. I genuinely find all of them funny.

  21. I feel like Jerez was a different set of circumstances then what is being suggested here. Although Schumacher was “excluded” from the championship (his win record seems unaffected), it’s not like he won the WDC on the road and then it was taken away from him. Now THAT would be a big, controversial call.

  22. Controversial calls
    Doing things in grey areas of hard racing / unfair racing leads to this. I have no sympathy for either driver if it costs them after rolling the dice even once. Keeping a scoreboard on this is for the more petty fans for either driver. For an overall F1 fan its just part of the story of the season. All the controversial moments of the past are the moment people write books and films about and give F1 the rich history it has.

    Track limits
    See above. Pushing track limits to the limit is just one aspect of so called controversial calls

    Fastest lap bonus
    Hamilton 5 (Bottas 4) ((Ricciardo 1, Norris 1))* Note the Mclaren 2 were on pure pace from race leading cars in Italy and Russia not late stops!
    Verstappen 5 (Perez 2) ((Gasly 1)
    I’m not sure how many didn’t get the points but theres been quite a mix and its been a feature of racing all season long.
    “Sergio Perez so they could pit him for fresh tyres and set the fastest lap, taking it away from Hamilton (and Mercedes).”
    If either team loses a constructors title this way they are costing themselves money and pit lane advantage for all of the next season. If either team has this conundrum it could cause a rift between team and driver – more relevant for Red Bull who would do anything to keep Verstappen happy with so many years left of his career.

    Team mates and stable mates
    Its an interesting one. Alpha Tauri drivers would always get out of the way of Red Bull. Other Mercedes powered cars possibly would depending on their own battles. Im not sure who holds the advantage but it may be that opportunities only favour one driver. However as an F1 fan it is part of the story…

    Tyre Trouble
    1986 immediately springs to mind and yes once again it is part of the story of F1.

    Technical Row
    Sounds like 1999 and 2004 (I think) and probably many other season. Once again it is part of the story of F1.

    Fairly likely if they are racing wheel to wheel on track. Its fairly likely Verstappen will lead into the last lap and he never backs down. Hamilton probably wouldn’t back down if he had to beat Verstappen to win

    My conclusion is that the “best” title deciders are usually the ones where the contenders are engaged in separate battles trying to secure the points. This tends to happen where there or 3 or more cars who can be fastest on the day and title contenders are not always the fastest on that day.

    I think this one will up with a straight fight which will mean foregone conclusion (excluding relaibility issues) or a controversial moment. The former would make 2021 a moderately well remembered year (1998) the latter would make it one everyone always recalls (1997).

    1. I mean last race not last lap…

  23. Another scenario is a team losing places because a celebrity they invited won’t talk to the commentators.

    The seasons been entertaining and no matter how it finishes it is good and not going to change my life. It’s not like I’ll sell my Mercedes and buy a Honda. Well maybe

    1. Haha, I know some one who actually set his Benz on fire after the Silverstone Hungary sequence

      1. Um…

      2. Davethechicken
        2nd December 2021, 13:22

        Your acquaintance may benefit from an anger management course.

        1. That’s right for sure!

  24. It’s not true though that there is a precedent for taking a championship away from someone who deliberately tried to crash an opponent out. Because Schumacher’s move on Villeneuve, similar to the one he did on Hill few years before, didn’t work. He ended up beached in the gravel, and Villeneuve went on to finish the race and bag the title. Schumacher was later punished with expulsion from that year’s championship, but he probably didn’t care much about second place anyway.

    The real test would be what happens if a driver who is leading going into last race takes his opponent out and then wins the championship. The stewards (I don’t think) have the power to take points away from that driver, so it would be down to the FIA authorities to apply some penalty later. Effectively the WC would be decided days later in some hearing.

    I see very little chance the FIA have the balls to do that. I think they’d fluff the decision like in Brazil, let the driver keep the win and maybe apply some meaningless or minor penalty (maybe a ban for a few races next year) at most, which I don’t think would deter Verstappen (and let’s face it, it’s Verstappen who will do this, if anyone).

    1. This topic is specially written for Al those who want to rant on Verstappen.(or red bull)
      Well done, Keith.

      1. I guess that includes you then, lol.

    2. I agreed up untill the Verstappen part. Hamilton will also do whatever it takes to win the WDC.

      I think the FIA have allowed too much this season and now have a credibility problem. Silverstone, and Brazil for example, were cases where the benefit was greater than the punishment.

      So I expect either driver will use a collision when it makes sense strategically.

  25. The article makes no mention of the possibility that the points accrued in Belgium turn out to be decisive!

  26. If another crash takes place, in my book it wouldn’t be worse than the ones we’ve already had. On balance Max has been crashed out by a Mercedes more than the other way around.

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