Race-by-race: How Verstappen prevailed over Hamilton in tightest title fight for years

2021 F1 season review

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Max Verstappen is poised for confirmation as the 2021 Formula 1 world drivers’ champion after Mercedes confirmed they will appeal over the result of the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After an thrilling, all-too-often controversial 22 race battle between him and Lewis Hamilton in 2021, the driver of car 33 became the 34th person to win the sport’s ultimate prize.

Verstappen’s path to the championship began after a promising pre-season test for Red Bull, and an unforeseen setback in the season-opener nine months ago.

Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021
Hamilton thwarted Verstappen’s attack to win the season-opener

Verstappen took pole for the season-opening grand prix having led every practice session. But Mercedes sprang a tactical surprise which put Hamilton in the lead.

Verstappen’s late-race attempt at a pass on Hamilton was deemed to be outside of track limits, and he had to relinquish first place. Hamilton therefore began the season on top, despite Mercedes looking as though they were behind.

  • Hamilton: 25
  • Verstappen: 18
  • Advantage: Hamilton +7

Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

Verstappen closed the gap to Hamilton in Imola

Hamilton took pole, while Verstappen was out-qualified by team mate Sergio Perez and relegated to the second row. That didn’t stop the Red Bull driver taking the lead by the first corner where the pair had the first of many clashes.

While chasing Verstappen, Hamilton skidded into the gravel mid-race at Tosa. He was able to escape but lost almost a lap. A red flag restart helped him make up eight places to finish second and take fastest lap to narrowly stay ahead in the championship.

  • Hamilton: 44
  • Verstappen: 43
  • Advantage: Hamilton +1

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Portuguese Grand Prix

It was Bottas’ Mercedes that Verstappen had to fight in Portimao

Neither title rival claimed pole but Hamilton was, nonetheless, able to make a relatively easy getaway after passing Bottas at the start. Verstappen got the jump on Hamilton after an early Safety Car restart but was unable to match the initial tyre stint of the Mercedes and despite a heroically long first stint by Perez, Hamilton came home half a second ahead.

  • Hamilton: 69
  • Verstappen: 63
  • Advantage: Hamilton +6

Spanish Grand Prix

Hamilton took his 100th career pole in Barcelona

A return to the hardest tyre compounds saw an early-season weakness Mercedes had had on softer tyres dissipate. Hamilton’s victory from pole was not straightforward: The Mercedes driver lost out at the start to another muscular move by Verstappen and spent most of the race hunting him down to recovery, making a two-stop strategy work against Red Bull’s to claim the lead with six laps to go, as well as the point for fastest lap. But Hamilton never got this far ahead of his rival again.

  • Hamilton: 95
  • Verstappen: 80
  • Advantage: Hamilton +15

Monaco Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2021
Verstappen took an emphatic victory in Monaco

Verstappen had been frustrated by Leclerc crashing during Q3, denying him a chance of pole position. However, the Ferrari driver being unable to start the race allowed Verstappen to take a straightforward victory both on track and in title terms. Hamilton qualified poorly, the softer tyre compounds once again seeming to work against him and was only able to finish seventh, handing Verstappen the title lead for the first time.

  • Hamilton: 101
  • Verstappen: 105
  • Advantage: Verstappen +4

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Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Verstappen suffered a dramatic tyre failure on the pit straight in Baku

Verstappen was on course to win when a dramatic tyre blow-out on the pit straight put him out. That set Hamilton up to inflict maximum damage at the restart as he lined up to pass Perez, but he fumbled a brake-warming button which sent him skidding into the run-off. Neither took any points away from Baku.

  • Hamilton: 101
  • Verstappen: 105
  • Advantage: Verstappen +4

French Grand Prix

Verstappen’s Paul Ricard win extended his points lead

Despite losing out to Hamilton at the start of the race, Verstappen wielded the strategy Mercedes use so effectively in Spain to claim victory at Paul Ricard. Stopping twice gave him the extra pace to challenge Hamilton and claim the win, both drivers ultimately finishing where they had qualified and reinforcing Verstappen’s lead.

  • Hamilton: 119
  • Verstappen: 131
  • Advantage: Verstappen +12

Styrian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Verstappen dominated Red Bull’s first home race

Both front-running teams looked unchallenged around Austria but with Red Bull having the slight pace edge. Verstappen took pole, both Mercedes behind him and their only change in order was Hamilton moving to second, finishing more than 35 seconds behind Verstappen.

  • Hamilton: 138
  • Verstappen: 156
  • Advantage: Verstappen +18

Austrian Grand Prix

Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Having to get past a McLaren proved frustrating for Hamilton in Austria

Verstappen doubled up at the Red Bull Ring after Lando Norris inserted himself between the title contenders. Hamilton finished fourth after picking up damage on his car, increasing Verstappen’s lead to more than a race win.

  • Hamilton: 150
  • Verstappen: 182
  • Advantage: Verstappen +32

British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2021
Hamilton won at home despite a 10-second penalty

The first major flashpoint. The two rivals collided at the start of the grand prix, Verstappen suffering a high-g impact. Despite being issued a 10-second time penalty as stewards found him chiefly responsible for the clash, Hamilton recovered up the order, following the red flag restart, to take his home grand prix victory and slash Verstappen’s lead to eight points. The previous day the Red Bull driver became the first sprint event winner, so he at least took three points away from Silverstone.

  • Hamilton: 177
  • Verstappen: 185
  • Advantage: Verstappen +8

Hungarian Grand Prix

Start crash, Hungaroring, 2021
Verstappen’s car was heavily damaged at the start of the race

A multiple-car collision at turn one, removing Perez and Bottas from the race and heavily damaging Verstappen’s car, should have handed Hamilton an easy win. However in bizarre circumstances a red flag restart saw him line up alone on the grid while every other car had pitted for slicks. Hamilton was forced to come in on the following lap, then fought his way back up the order to finish behind winner Esteban Ocon. What had been an eight point deficit to Verstappen was now an eight point advantage.

  • Hamilton: 195
  • Verstappen: 187
  • Advantage: Hamilton +8

Belgian Grand Prix

Extremely low visibility made the Belgian Grand Prix unviable

A farcical non-race at Spa. Three times around the Belgian track behind the Safety Car in a deluge was deemed enough to award half points. Verstappen and Hamilton took first and third respectively, separated by George Russell’s after an inspired qualifying performance by the Williams driver.

  • Hamilton: 202.5
  • Verstappen: 199.5
  • Advantage: Hamilton +3

Dutch Grand Prix

Verstappen’s fans were out in force for his home race

Verstappen took his home grand prix pole and win to reclaim the championship lead under constant pressure from Hamilton, despite Mercedes using Bottas tactically to delay the Red Bull driver.

  • Hamilton: 221.5
  • Verstappen: 224.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +3

Italian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2021
Hamilton’s car ended up underneath Verstappen’s as they clashed at Monza

Hamilton and Verstappen collided again, this time taking both of them out of the race. As a consequence, Verstappen’s points for second place in the sprint were all the two rivals took away from Monza. He had been on course to extend his advantage further over Hamilton in the grand prix until a slow pit stop dropped him behind his Mercedes rival. The stewards gave him a grid penalty for the collision.

  • Hamilton: 221.5
  • Verstappen: 226.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +5

Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Late race wet conditions saw Hamilton take the Sochi win

Verstappen rendered his Monza penalty moot by replacing his power unit and dropping to the back of the grid. Shock pole winner Norris was on course to win until late-race rain. While Hamilton claimed the win from Norris, Verstappen also took advantage of the change in the weather to bag second, limiting the damage.

  • Hamilton: 246.5
  • Verstappen: 244.5
  • Advantage: Hamilton +2

Turkish Grand Prix

Tyre strategy kept Hamilton off the podium in Istanbul

It was Hamilton’s turn to take grid penalties at Istanbul Park, opting to only face 10 for a replacement internal combustion engine. Hamilton qualified on pole but started 11th, only able to recover to fifth in the race after a heated debate with his team about pit stop timing. Verstappen took second, finishing where he had started, and regaining the championship lead.

  • Hamilton: 256.5
  • Verstappen: 262.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +6

United States Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2021
Hamilton hunted Verstappen down in Austin – but it was not enough

A (mostly) straightforward race for the title rivals. Verstappen took pole with Hamilton alongside him on the front row and they finished in the same configuration. Despite initially claiming the lead off the line, Hamilton was unable to match the Red Bull on race pace for much of the total distance. He caught up over the final stint but fell short of passing his rival.

  • Hamilton: 275.5
  • Verstappen: 287.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +12

Mexico City Grand Prix

It was advantage Red Bull in Mexico with a 1-3 finish

Red Bull were quick in practice but his trouble in qualifying and the Mercedes pair unexpectedly swept the front row. They squandered the advantage at the start, however, allowing Verstappen to sweep around them while pole-winner Bottas was tapped into a spin by Daniel Ricciardo. Verstappen assumed the lead and held it until the end of the race, Hamilton finishing second – as he started – minimising the Red Bull’s advantage by keeping Perez at bay.

  • Hamilton: 293.5
  • Verstappen: 312.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +19

Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Hamilton came from 10th to take victory in Interlagos

The final sprint weekend of 2021 was the first not to see Hamilton and Verstappen collide. However, that didn’t lessen the drama as Hamilton qualified first on Friday, only to be excluded from the session for a technical infringement and start the sprint from the rear. Hamilton recovered 15 places during sprint qualifying, which saw him start tenth after a grid penalty for an internal combustion engine replacement. He hauled in the Red Bulls in the race and attacked Verstappen, who controversially kept his position by running the Mercedes wide. Hamilton hit back again, this time prevailed, and took a precious win.

  • Hamilton: 318.5
  • Verstappen: 332.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +14

Qatar Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Losail International Circuit, 2021
Hamilton finished comfortably ahead at Losail

Hamilton took pole by more than half a second around Losail International Circuit and continued much that way in the race. He and Verstappen, who was penalised five places for a yellow flag infringement in qualifying, managed to draw a huge gap over the rest of the field that saw Verstappen able to pit for fresh tyres and take fastest lap without any risk of losing his second place.

  • Hamilton: 343.5
  • Verstappen: 351.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +8

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Hamilton drew exactly even with Verstappen after taking fastest lap and the win

A bitterly-fought grudge match around another new track. Verstappen looked set to take pole with an inspired lap until he crashed at the final corner. An early red flag helped him into the lead, but running long on medium rubber left him vulnerable to attack from Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver pushed him hard and Verstappen’s defensive moves eventually prompted a response from the stewards. It didn’t help matters that when told to relinquish the lead “strategically” Verstappen slowed approaching a DRS zone, where Hamilton was never going to pass him, so he braked harder, causing a collision. But despite two penalties totalling 15 second Verstappen held on to second. Hamilton took the win and fastest lap, leaving the pair tied ahead of the final round.

  • Hamilton: 369.5
  • Verstappen: 369.5

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021
Verstappen only got ahead of Hamilton once in Abu Dhabi – but it was on the lap that mattered

Verstappen took pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Hamilton started better despite lining up on the harder medium compound tyres. The two nearly clashed on the opening lap but stewards concluded that Hamilton had not gained a lasting advantage by going off-track, allowing them to race on.

After Verstappen pitted early, Hamilton reacted to cover off Red Bull’s strategy, staying ahead. However, later virtual and full safety car periods let Verstappen pit twice more. That gave him a huge tyre advantage in a controversial, one-lap restart after the only cars which were allowed to un-lap themselves were those which separated Verstappen from his target.

The Red Bull driver sensationally took the lead, the victory and the championship. Mercedes were incandescent and immediately issued two protests, though both were thrown out by the stewards. Four days later Mercedes backed away from mounting a full appeal but made it clear they believed FIA F1 race director Michael Masi had “robbed” Hamilton of the championship with his unprecedented call.

  • Hamilton: 387.5
  • Verstappen: 395.5
  • Advantage: Verstappen +8

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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81 comments on “Race-by-race: How Verstappen prevailed over Hamilton in tightest title fight for years”

  1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    16th December 2021, 15:15

    Imola set the direction of the season. That great photo shows Verstappen crowding Hamilton off-track when they were level, damaging his floor in the process. The race director didn’t think it warranted investigation, giving Verstappen the go ahead to continue pushing Hamilton off track for the rest of the season.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      16th December 2021, 15:25

      Yeah right – Lewis had no right to the racing line and should have backed out earlier. Max was on the inside, made the corner and therefore a perfectly fine and fair move. Guess Lewis learned from it and decided to cut the corner in Abu Dhabi.

      No different than Lewis did to Max at the race start in US and has done many times before to Max and other drivers.

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        16th December 2021, 15:27

        And Lewis did the exact same to Max at Monza and I didn’t see any British fans complaining when Max got a penalty.

        You should watch some YouTube videos where they compare Foxnews when they talk about Trump or Biden, I feel similar when reading British commentary on F1 races whereby Lewis is Foxnews Trump and Max is Foxnews Biden.

        1. When was this as I clearly missed it.

        2. Want to point out that their are a variety of fans in Britain just as I guess there is in any other country. Want to stop spinning a story that all British fans are the same as it’s making you look just as bad.

      2. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
        16th December 2021, 15:51

        @@jelle-van-der-meer if you look at the photo above, Lewis is on the inside and level.

        1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
          16th December 2021, 15:59

          And your point is, he is not ahead of Max and Lewis has the outside line, he effectively runs out of road same as Max did in Imola.

          The only 2 differences are that Lewis is less next to Max than Max was next to Lewis in Monza. Both bounced of the curb but in Monza Max bounced on top of Lewis. As the stewards deemed Max slightly more at fault, hence the 3 place grid penalty, in their view it was Lewis race line in Monza and therefore it was Max’s raceline in Imola.

          1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            16th December 2021, 16:11

            @jelle-van-der-meer Well, if we can’t agree on inside vs. outside, level vs. not level, this is hopeless.

          2. Funny detail about Monza was that he got the penalty because he was behind going into turn 1, despite the collision happening at turn 2 where he was ahead. That still bothers me.

    2. Hamilton has done the same with Rosberg so many times. Wake UP!

  2. Great article detailing how up-and-down the year was, and how close the fight was between the two drivers.
    Yes the year finished controversially… But articles like this summarise how great the fight was all throughout the year.

    1. 2 things for me, 1, Verstappen seemed to age and look stressed towards the end. Possibly feeling what Nico felt like in his winning year being relentlessly chased by Hamilton who seems to just soak it all up. And 2, the amount of times these 2 were 20-30 seconds ahead of everyone else so quickly, even their team mates. Another level.

      1. @millionus The stress was mostly because Max was holding onto a tiny championship lead with what had become the second best car on the grid in the last few races. If he had finished Silverstone, Hungary and Baku without external factors disrupting him, he would have coasted to the title relying on a comfortable championship lead.

        1. @paeschli he was in second best car or was it he was the second best driver… :)

          He was hanging on though. The amount of pictures taken in the last few races where both Hamilton and Verstappen were “racing” each other off the track was getting a bit stupid.

          1. Definitely 2nd best car, even over a season, but even more so in the last few races, there’s no way to not see that if being objective.

  3. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    16th December 2021, 15:23

    Typical response from a typical extreme British biased person. How long are you going to keep complaining, Max won fair and square by overtaking on the track.

    Over the entire season Max was the best driver with the most wins, most 2nd places and most poles.

    Lewis would never have been in championship contention at Abu Dhabi if not for his luck in Imola and Silverstone as well as bowling ball Bottas in Hungary.

    1. Typical response from a typical extreme Dutch biased person. Why oh why do you forget Monza where Max took out Lewis? If Lewis is to blame for Silverstone then by the same measure Max is guilty in Monza. Then you have the farcial Belgium GP. Not a single competitve lap. The race should have been called off but no Max was in P1 how dare they call it off so free race win and half points. Don’t even mention “we both went off in Brazil so whats the problem”.

      I also love the Logic of you Max fans. You are happy to quote stats when it favours Max but not Lewis. You call him a paper champ yet statistically he is up there. So why not apply the same yardstick to Max. Just cause he won more races and had more poles etc does not mean he deserved the championship. If thats the case then neither Keke and Nico Rosberg deserved their titles. Other drivers in those years won more races.

      I accept Max won but I do not agree with how he won it.

      1. Of course and that is what the Stewart’s said. Lewis guilty in silverstone and max guilty in Monza. So pretty much the same.

        The difference 26 points

  4. Constantijn Blondel
    16th December 2021, 15:28

    So, a very quick tally of decisions taken by stewards during race (penalties, safety cars, etc.), or affecting start grid, that went against either driver, as picked up from the text in this article.

    Max 6
    Lewis 4

    I might have miscounted bc I was just doing this off-the-cuff, so I’ll be happy to correct it to 5 / 5, which corresponds with my gut feeling as to how, over the whole season, both drivers have been equally inserted helically by stewards’ decisions (independent of whether any specific decision was ‘deemed’ to be ‘fair’ by anyone, or not).

    Now, what I’d be _really_ interested in, actually, is if any of the esteemed forum members who’s more actively into F1 and F1 stats, and knows where to look and how to tally, would use a rainy afternoon to make a summary of all penalties handed to either driver, including race control decisions that went against them (independent of whether we think they’re fair or not), over the whole season, based on the official FIA data.

    Tbh, I have no clue as to whether the result would be 50/50-ish, or skewed towards one of them, but I think it’d provide an interesting piece of information to help shed some more light on this whole grouped procreation session.

    1. It’s a long off season, let’s not get all the content out of the way in the first week. These used to be the kind of things racefans was best at. Now it’s mostly parroting press releases and Twitter posts 🤭

      1. Constantijn Blondel
        16th December 2021, 15:40

        I saw what you were doing there :D

      2. I am 100% kidding btw, this is a great article

        1. These used to be the kind of things racefans was best at.

          Welcome back, @skipgamer.
          I appreciated your comments in the past, but lately you seem to have become very emotional (and IMO too biased towards a driver rather than sport).

          Some sarcasm (always based on true feelings) with a constructive follow up is much more like you ;)

  5. I feel too little has been said about the Mercs engine penalties (across the works team and their customers) towards the end of the season and Hamilton suddenly going like a rocket in the last 4 races. Remarkable to have such a gain at the end of the regulations. Besides that the 5 place grid penalty (for every replacement of the ICE after the first one?) is way too lenient if the spirit of the rule is to limit the amount of components.

    1. Mercedes did exactly the right thing and pulled a masterstroke. That’s the name of the game.

      1. I would not call it masterstroke. Especially the change in Turkey was very costly. The fact that overtaking was so difficult and tyre strategies so limited meant that Hamilton could not make it on the podium. Without the change he could have won that race easily.

        The change in Brasil turned out better, but again the advantage was possibly still visible in Jeddah but I havent seen any in Abu Dhabi.

        Luckily for Mercedes the reliability is probably one of things that can be worked on with greater ease (than performance side of PUs), so they could improve for next seasons in this regard.

        1. It nearly won them the championship. It was brave and worthy of praise.

          1. They did it because it was necessary. The question mark over reliability & drop in performance forced them to. The choice of Brasil turned out well, the choice of Turkey not. In hindsight, they would have done better if they waited to U.S. GP.

            Hamilton would have had a great chance to win in Turkey and come 3rd in U.S. behind both RBs. Compared to his real results he would have gained +15 in Turkey and only lost -3/-4 points in the U.S. GP.

          2. It’s definitely brave and it shows (just like with DAS) that the team is still very much innovating despite their dominance over the last years. It did win them the constructors championship, so it paid off.

            However, if the grid penalties are there to keep checks on the budget it shouldn’t be 5 grid spots if, with the new engine, you’re able to overtake the 4 guys ahead of you within 3 laps – then it should hurt more.

    2. I think that little has been said of Honda engines. Yes Hamilton´s engines did marvels in Turkey, Brasil & Jeddah but as some predicted it seems that both underwent a significant decline in performance over quite a short period of time.

      The fact that Hamilton had to take 2 new ICEs, despite not suffering any significant damage to his PUs in crashes & Verstappen on the other hand needed just one (although entire PU), despite the damage suffered in Silverstone and potentially in Baku/Hungary says a lot about the level of reliability that Honda achieved this year.

    3. Nothing has been said about this because it is outside the narrative driven by Merc. No other driver had access to a Merc PU running at that spec (including Bottas who revealed his car was ‘not the same’ after Qatar) which makes it illegal as per the PU parity directive.

      Toto was asked about the ‘spicy’ engine in the Abu Dhabi presser and completely ignored the question. I wonder why?

    4. I agree. 5 places is nothing when you have such an advantage over the midfield. A default pit lane start would be a much better option to make reliability about reliability and not strategy.

  6. What a battle. Prevailing over such a long season against a 7 time world champion alonso style. How can people think that max dont deserve it. These people should think about lewis and his 6 worthless titles instead.

    1. I don’t think anyone believes Max didn’t deserve it in terms of his performance over the year being worthy of that of a Champion. The same could be said of Lewis, and Lando and probably a few others to be honest.

      I think the issue is more that, under the rules of the sport, he wasn’t the rightful champion.

      1. Even with this rule adaption Mercedes could have won. If they used the VSC to change tires ( as max did) or the more riskier SC they could have fought harder for the title.
        Now still Lewis leads the pack and max caught him of guard: fair.

        1. anyone suggesting Merc strategy was in any way wrong is either dishonest or misunderstood. They based their strategy on the rulebook, and had the rulebook been followed, it would have been the right strategy.

          1. *misinformed

          2. @J4k3
            Strategic Errors Mercedes made:
            1: Bringing in Lewis to copy the strategy for Max. They gave up on the advantage of the better medium tires, and for what? Max was 25s behind, and a stop takes about 21s. Max’s speed on the new hards was .2s SLOWER than Lewis on the Mediums. Lewis was 10 seconds unsafe towards Sergio. Sergio lost about .7s a lap to Lewis, and that trend was going up. Had Mercedes opted for a 7-10 laps extra on the medium tire, they would have gotten safe to Sergio without a risk of an undercut. There are no race situations that could harm a 25s lead. Lewis could only gain extra in case of a SC or VSC stop. Being unsafe to Sergio had a 6 second cost to Lewis vs Max.
            2: Keeping Lewis out on 20 laps old hards. With a lead of 6.5 seconds, and a Box-cost of 14 seconds he would’ve re-entered the track 8 seconds behind Max, but with a +1s per lap pace advantage compared to Max on the old Hards. Even if the FIA went red flag again, unlikely departing from a VSC, but like they did in Jeddah, the 20+ laps remaining would be more than sufficient for Lewis to overtake Max. They were afraid of their own shaddow in Brixworth, and chickened out.
            The situation on the Full SC was therefore their own mistake. Had Lewis been on fresher hards, I think Max would’ve had a lot less advantage to overtake, even on the softs.
            Of course, the FIA bent the rules, and I think Lewis deserved the win, but after the whole season we’ve had, I can understand them for wanting not to end the race and championship after the SC…

          3. had the rulebook been followed

            All the lapped cars could have overtaken the SC one or two laps before, as the track had already been cleared. That would have been ok by the rulebook and the final result would have been the same.

            The big mistake was saying first that the lapped cars could not overtake the SC and then allowing them a bit too late (and controversially not all of them)

            But the rulebook could have been followed to the letter (but earlier) and the final lap would have been the same. Well, almost. Sainz would have had a better chance of challenging the leaders. But seriously, who believes Sainz’s Fezza could beat the Merc or the RBR?

      2. Rule 15.3 “The race director shall have overriding authority”

        I think we followed that rule to the letter

      3. @j4k3 Mercedes didn’t have any idea how long the safety car would be out for. Why would they assume it would be out for 6 laps?

        1. Cause it was the last race of the season, it was obvious the fia would try anything to get at least a lap of racing.

        2. @brum55 I would presume that they took a decision based on the state of Latifis car, the number of laps left, the rules regarding restarts, the possibility of a red flag and the downsides of making a pitstop. THen based on that, they decided the best option was to not pit. And they would have been right had the race been run to the sporting regulations.

          1. It was Masi who took the decision to categorically state no drivers were allowed to unlap each other, even though some of the drivers said it was more than okay to do so. I get the feeling that Masi was too easily pushed around by Wolff before getting embarrassed by Horner and panicked. Brawn is right to ban radio calls from influencing Grand Prix’s going forward.

    2. Even Toto Wolff thinks Max deserves it: “And this situation has nothing to do with Max. He is a worthy champion, his driving is exceptional and Red Bull are a fierce competitor and I have the greatest respect for the people working there.

      1. Thanks mom.

    3. Hamilton fan here.

      Both drivers deserved it.

      Going by the regulations Lewis is rightful champion though.

      I can live with Max being a champion too. No problem but afterinvesting so many years watch formula 1 and as viewer of sports I, as with Lewis and Toto feel totally scammed, if not robbed. A Nigerian Prince would have done a better job of it.

      1. Racing Incident
        22nd December 2021, 17:54

        @david-beau Well said.

    4. You can’t have it both ways. Either Lewis is great with 7 titles or in your words, they’re worthless so Lewis isn’t that great which means Max isn’t that great because he only just beat him. The truth is they’re both brilliant drivers pushing to the absolute limit and we got to enjoy one of the closest championship battles in the history of the sport. Lewis being great doesn’t make Max any less so and vice versa.

  7. A great season with two almost equal drivers who pushed both to the extremes.
    Only one could win and i can not deny the strategy by the mercedes team is part of the ultimate decider here.
    Both are great drivers and the cars almost on par with slight advantage on some tracks until the continues development by Mercedes found something in the engine that pushed the team to the front . The prize they paid was losing the reliability award, smoking up Mercedes engines like petrol.
    Honda did great pushing the mercedes engine literal until it almost failed and they had to replace them to often.
    I am very curious what the consequences are for both teams in regard of the development of the 2022 car.

  8. This has got to be satire.

  9. The theme is: Race-by-race: “How Verstappen prevailed over Hamilton in tightest title fight for years”

    It is the final sum of all the results, which determines a world champion…

    “Max was in the match for Lewis in Abu Dhabi”, until reaching the last lap, and the first on the finish line wins…
    Sounds simple, but apparently not….

    I suggest an appeal, Oh wait, apparently there will be an appeal……

  10. Excellent review, thank you. Excellent season. Shame it ended as it did and will probably never be appreciated for what a great season it was as a result.

  11. I’ll share this one more time, as it summarises my views of the last days and season.
    As much as I thought Masi made a mistake in Abu Dhabi (and Hamilton would have been a deserved winner), I keep on coming back to the travesty of Imola. In that case the rules were followed, but it makes just as much a joke of the sport I love.
    Overall I opinion that Verstappen was the better driver in 2021 and happy for him to take the trophy (even though it should be 8 wins, when excluding Spa and Abu Dhabi) tomorrow.

    I sincerely hope that they will review all the controversy of last year (not just the last lap) and clarify/simplify the rules in favour of more (green) racing and less fakery, resets, (inconsistent) penalties.

    1. Totally agree. I hope they will investigate the whole season and not only the last 5 laps.
      SC or red flag should not have an influence on the race (or as little as possible). The FIA should be more on the background during the race and be consistent with the penalties

    2. Imola balanced out with Jeddah.
      Except imola had legitimate barrier damage. Jeddah did not. So jeddah red flag was travesty.

      And let’s not even talk about the brake testing.

      1. And don’t get me going about that pit stop in Barcelona, blue flags in Sochi, and those turn 10 curbs in Texas.

  12. Think the equitable thing would have ruled the final race a tie. Max wins championship via tie breaker. Both drivers have a win added to their statistics. And both drivers split first and second place money. This would hopefully legitimize Max’s championship.

    1. There is already a champion. No made up solutions for a problem that does not exist.

      1. I’m glad it’s settled and the world is in agreement.

    2. It’s not about money, money is distributed based on WCC position not WDC position.

    3. Nah, wouldn’t be a solution, hamilton only should have the abu dhabi win but he also shouldn’t have the championship given his first half of the season compared to verstappen.

  13. Yay, a blow by blow reminder of how I wasted 9 months watching an entertainment show masquerading as a Sport…

    1. Sesame street is available for watching on youtube.. maybe a more suitable Programm for you.
      If you do not recognize this season as the greatest or at least one of the greatest F1 seasons even you should look at other venues.

      1. ‘greatest F1 seasons’

        Ha ha ha stop Iam bereft of ribs, and no worries about other venues F1 is dead to me, its a fabricated entertainment show, nothing more nothing less, Iam just here till I cant use a keyboard and mouse anymore to remind people that F1 isnt a Sport….

      2. Hehe. At least Sasame street is legitimate.

      3. Ahah, I didn’t know about this program, turns out it’s for children!

  14. Max will always be exciting right up until someone doesn’t jump out the way and he causes a serious or fatal accident. Then they’ll blame the rule makers for not clamping down on this kind of behaviour earlier…

  15. Well done Max, race by race shows that he would have wrapped up the title in Autumn if not for several issues out of his control.

    1. Absolutely, I will never agree about these “hamilton was robbed” theories, he was robbed of a race win, and so was verstappen (baku).

  16. Great summary! Big Thank you!

  17. How is this one still allowed to post? In the last year he’s posted nothing else but toxic anti-Verstappen garbage.

  18. The one thing they didn’t do is ask Max and Lewis if they wanted to share the championship like the 2 High Jump competitors did at the Olympics.

    I think that might have been the best ending to this season, although many questions needn’t answering.

  19. Great summary of the season for the two protagonists. Plenty of what ifs and buts for both, a few things that spring to my mind: Hamilton could’ve claimed easy 25 points from Baku (though only after Verstappen’s problems, naturally), and what if Bottas was as great at delaying a rival at Zandvoort as Perez was at Abu Dhabi? What about Hungary, would we have seen another great duel in wet-dry conditions without the mayhem?

    The fight could’ve gone either way long before the final race of the season. Bit like 2008 where there were plenty of mistakes from all title contenders (or “bad luck” if you want to call it that).

  20. Backatitlikeacrackaddict
    16th December 2021, 19:13

    That’s not the only reason. Max had an amazing season, just like Lewis. And you wonder how they would celebrate this championship? Well take a look at how Mercedes celebrated the victory at Silverstone, probably like that. These teams are not that different from each other. The same goes for the drivers if you ask me. I understand that it is hard to accept that Lewis lost the Championship in the last lap, everyone knows he deserved it, just as much as Verstappen did. And when it comes to Masi’s decisions under the safety car situation, that was just a guy under a lot of pressure making bad calls. I like Alonso’s view on it, I think I heard him say that Masi should have let the lapped cars through at the start of the safety car so that they could get the race started as fast as possible. Eventually he did, which was confusing but then when he would not have done it the Verstappen fans would be posting the same things like you are doing now. He could never have made the right decision after waiting too long I guess. Eventually, safety cars and luck are a big part of F1 as well.

  21. Thanks for the review, it’s nice to see the progression of points put into perspective. As for which driver is the most deserving champion, I think Max and Red Bull made the fewer and the smaller mistakes (but of course were unlucky in Silverstone and Hungary). For Lewis and Mercedes, from most serious to less serious, I would highlight 4 weekends:
    – Monaco: not getting the tyres to work in qualifying put them on the back foot in the race, where they tried a risky strategy that backfired (starting 7th and then finishing 7th even though two cars dropped out was terrible). Going from up 15 points to 4 points down in the championship was a complete catastrophe.
    – Baku: one slip of the thumb (rather than tongue :-)) cost them a bunch of points.
    – France: Max was on pole, but I felt Mercedes had equal if not better race pace. When Max had a rare slip-up into the first corner, they held track position and should have converted that into victory. In hindsight, the best thing might have been for Hamilton to do Perez’s strategy: go longer in the first stint, and then comfortably make it to the end. The differences were small that day, and the points swing of 14 points is pretty big.
    – Istanbul: Hamilton’s pace was strong that day, and his initial rise through the field was good enough though not spectacular. In hindsight, pitting when he came up behind behind Perez would have gotten him third place, probably.

    Finally, in the Abu Dhabi race Hamilton really needed a wingman, but strangely Bottas was nowhere to be seen all weekend (last year he was pretty good here, remember). If Bottas had been running within a pitstop window of Verstappen, Max would not have been able to put soft tyres on, and he would have had to make his last-lap pass on old-ish hard tyres. Not impossible, but a lot more difficult than the inevitable pass that happened on Sunday.

  22. You can point to luck and misfortune at either side.

    However, I reckon that the title was actually decided in those full-out races where cars where roughly equal and either driver could have won the straight fight that took place: Bahrein, Spain, Paul Ricard, Austin.
    Driver and team in full force, trying to race each other into oblivion.
    Two phenomenal drivers in two phenomenal cars. Top sport as it should be.

  23. Besisdes all the drama and debate, I still find it mad that Max is only the 4th youngest champion – the fact he is already a 7-season veteren by this point… where the hell did that time go?!

    1. Racing Incident
      22nd December 2021, 17:58

      Would be a 6-seasoner if he waited later.

  24. I’m missing the 29 times that Lewis ran off track in Dubai and the decision by the race director to only tell the drivers off, once Max was instructed to do the same thing. Let’s not forget that the poor and unfair stewarding began at race 1…

  25. In 15/22 races the Merc was the faster car. Max won as the better driver!

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