Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Race-by-race: How Hamilton and Verstappen kept putting the stewards on the spot

2021 F1 season review

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After a monumental, season-long battle, Max Verstappen ultimately prevailed to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship over Lewis Hamilton.

From their opening encounter in Bahrain, to the hotly disputed decision which saw the title fight settled on the final lap, controversy was seldom far away. The sport’s referees – FIA F1 race director Michael Masi and the stewards (only the latter of which can issue penalties) – were regularly drawn into the title fight.

What they chose to penalise and what they allowed to let stand frequently became matters of dispute, and ultimately played a critical role in the outcome. Track limits and the legality of different defences and attacks were common battlegrounds.

Following that contentious finale, the FIA has resolved to analyse it and the wider question of how F1 is policed. This follows a season in which the two duelling contenders tested the enforcement of the rules to its limit.

Round 1 – Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021
Hamilton struck first in Bahrain – but only after Verstappen handed back the lead

Masi informs teams before the race that track limits at the exit of turn four will not be monitored when it comes to “setting a lap time”, but reminds teams that Article 27.3 of the sporting regulations – prohibiting leaving the track and gaining a “lasting advantage” – will continue to apply.

Hamilton is seen running outside of the white lines that define the track on the exit of turn four multiple times throughout the race, with Mercedes eventually receiving a warning about both their cars from race control.

In the later stages of the race, Verstappen catches leader Hamilton and challenges for the lead. The Red Bull appears to have taken the lead with a move around the outside of turn four, but has clearly done so outside the confines of the track limits. Red Bull swiftly decide to return the position to Hamilton, which they pass on to Verstappen who immediately complies.

Verstappen is unable to find a way back past Hamilton again and ultimately settles for second place as Hamilton takes the first chequered flag of the season.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Hamilton exceeding track limits in turn four – receives warning
• Verstappen overtakes Hamilton out of track limits at turn four – instructed by race control to yield position

Round 2 – Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

Hamilton benefited from a red flag that allowed him to recover to second

Hamilton and Verstappen clash for the second time in the opening two races in Imola. The pair run side-by-side at the start of the rain-affected race, making wheel-to-wheel contact through turn one that send Hamilton bouncing over the inside kerb of turn two. No investigation is deemed necessary for the contact.

When the pair move onto slick tyres on the drying track surface, Hamilton goes off the track at the Tosa hairpin on lap 31 after lapping George Russell. He struggles to free himself from the gravel trap, losing over a minute in the process and eventually a full lap to Verstappen as he pits for repairs.

The following lap, the race is brought to a sudden halt after a violent crash between Russell and Valtteri Bottas approaching the Tamburello chicane. The race is red flagged so the excessive debris could be cleared, allowing Mercedes to make repairs to Hamilton’s car, but also permitting all lapped drivers – including Hamilton – to unlap themselves ahead of the restart.

Hamilton makes the most of his opportunity and works his way back up to second place at the end of the race, with Verstappen taking victory.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen and Hamilton make minor contact at turn one – no investigation
• Red flag for debris on lap 33 – Mercedes permitted to make repairs to Hamilton’s car and regain lost lap as per regulations

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Round 3 – Portuguese Grand Prix

Verstappen had trouble staying within the white lines in Portugal

Verstappen falls foul of track limits twice in one weekend. On Saturday he runs wide at turn on his first timed effort in Q3 and his lap time is deleted. The lost time would have been quick enough for pole position. Instead he starts third.

A similar error in the race costs him the bonus point for fastest lap. This time he strays behind track limits at turn 14 on what would have been his fastest lap of the race. The point goes to Bottas instead.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen runs wide at turn four on fastest lap in Q3 – time deleted
• Verstappen runs wide at turn 14 on fastest lap in race – time deleted

Round 4 – Spanish Grand Prix

The rivals came close at the start in the Spanish Grand Prix

Racing from the front row of the grid down to the first corner, Verstappen and Hamilton make minor contact at the apex of turn one, with the Red Bull holding the inside and taking the lead of the race. No investigation is necessary.

Hamilton goes on to win the race after catching and passing Verstappen over the final stint.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen and Hamilton make contact at the apex of turn one – no investigation

Round 7 – French Grand Prix

Paul Ricard, 2021
Verstappen cuts the first corner at Paul Ricard

Verstappen leads Hamilton from pole on the run down to the first corner in Paul Ricard. Going through turn one, a snap of oversteer sees Verstappen take to the inside run-off of turn two, missing the corner.

Hamilton takes the lead from of the race from Verstappen, who rejoins in second. No investigation is deemed necessary.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen misses the second corner and loses the lead – no investigation

Round 10 – British Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021
Verstappen and Hamilton collided dramatically at Silverstone

Verstappen and Hamilton battle for the lead over the first lap of the British Grand Prix. Approaching the fast Copse corner side-by-side, the two collide with Hamilton clipping the rear to Verstappen’s car, sending the Red Bull into the barriers and out of the race.

The race is red flagged while Verstappen’s car is recovered and taken to hospital for tests. Mercedes make repairs to Hamilton’s car while the stewards investigate the collision. The stewards find Hamilton to be “predominantly at fault” for the crash and hand him a ten second penalty to be served during the restarted race.

Hamilton serves his penalty and manages to recover to pass Charles Leclerc in the closing laps for the lead and win the race.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Hamilton makes contact with Verstappen in Copse corner, crashing Verstappen out of the race
– HAMILTON PENALTY: ten second time penalty for causing a collision and two superlicense penalty points awarded

Round 11 – Hungarian Grand Prix

Start crash, Hungaroring, 2021
Valtteri Bottas was penalised for this turn one shunt

The Hungarian Grand Prix starts in damp conditions with cars on intermediate tyres. Valtteri Bottas hits Lando Norris’ McLaren under braking for turn one, sending him into Verstappen and causing significant damage to his Red Bull, as well as a number of other cars.

Verstappen is able to continue after the red flag but his car is too heavily damaged to make major progress up the field, eventually finishing tenth. Bottas is determined to be “fully to blame” for the crash and is handed a five place grid drop for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen suffers heavy damage after Bottas hits Norris at the start
– BOTTAS PENALTY: five-place grid drop for Belgian Grand Prix for causing a collision and two superlicence penalty points awarded

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Round 12 – Belgian Grand Prix

The Belgian Grand Prix never got truly underway

Persistent, heavy rain wreaks havoc with race control’s ability to start the Belgian Grand Prix. Multiple attempts to pursue a start are made behind the safety car, but the poor visibility renders a green flag impossible.

After many hours, the decision is taken to abandon the race. With the race having been officially started under the safety car, a classification is taken from the completion of just a single lap, with Verstappen declared as victor. Half championship points are awarded.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Race abandoned due to weather conditions – race result taken from one racing lap, half points awarded

Round 14 – Italian Grand Prix

The rivals had their second major collision in Monza

Verstappen and Hamilton are split by Lando Norris in the McLaren in the early phase of the race until Verstappen pits. When Hamilton eventually pits two laps later, he rejoins with Verstappen charging up alongside him.

As the pair navigate the impossibly tight and narrow Rettifilo Chicane side-by-side, they collide – sending Verstappen’s Red Bull on top of the Mercedes and both out of the race.

The stewards investigate the crash after the race and deem Verstappen to be “predominately to blame” for the incident, handing him a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen and Hamilton collide in the first chicane, both retire from the race
– VERSTAPPEN PENALTY: three place grid drop for the Russian Grand Prix for causing a collision and two superlicense penalty points

Round 15 – Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Verstappen recovers to second despite starting last

With a three-place grid penalty following the Monza collision, Red Bull opt to take a fourth ICE, turbo charger, MGU-H, MGU-K and a third energy store and control electronics, meaning he will be forced to start from the back of the grid.

Verstappen recovers to take second place at the chequered flag behind Hamilton after taking advantage of a late rain shower.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Red Bull exceed the maximum allowed components for each element of Verstappen’s power unit
– VERSTAPPEN PENALTY: Forced to start the race from the back of the grid for exceeding maximum number of power unit components

Round 16 – Turkish Grand Prix

Hamilton earned a ten place grid drop for a fourth ICE in Turkey

Mercedes opt to install a fourth ICE of the season on Hamilton’s car, guaranteeing him a ten-place grid penalty. Hamilton finishes qualifying fastest, meaning he starts the race from tenth.

Over a wet Turkish Grand Prix, Hamilton moves through the field to finish in fifth place by the chequered flag.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Hamilton takes fourth ICE of the season
– HAMILTON PENALTY: ten-place grid penalty awarded for exceeding maximum number of power unit components

Round 17 – United States Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021
The pair got racy in second practice

Hamilton and Verstappen have an impromptu drag race along the start/finish straight in Friday’s second practice session, with Verstappen going out of track limits to stay alongside the Mercedes, eventually having to give way to his rival.

Verstappen makes a gesture with his middle finger to Hamilton as the Mercedes drives away. No investigation is deemed necessary for the incident.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen and Hamilton run side-by-side down the pit straight in practice – no investigation

Round 18 – Mexican Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2021
Hamilton earned a reprimand in Friday practice

In Friday first practice, Hamilton makes a mistake into the first corner and runs onto the grass. However, rather than staying to the left of the bollard at turn three as drivers have been instructed by Michael Masi, Hamilton rejoins the track through turn two instead.

The stewards investigate Hamilton and hand him a reprimand – his first sporting reprimand of the season.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Hamilton fails to correctly follow race director’s instructions by not staying to the left of the turn three bollard
– HAMILTON PENALTY: driving reprimand for breaching Article i) of the FIA Sporting Code

Round 19 – Sao Paulo Grand Prix

The stewards investigated many incidents between the drivers in Brazil, but not this one

Mercedes decide to install a fifth ICE on Hamilton’s Mercedes, ensuring that he would take a five place grid drop on Sunday. Hamilton qualifies fastest for the sprint qualifying race on Friday afternoon, but Verstappen is seen to touch and examine the rear wing of the Mercedes in parc ferme.

The stewards investigate Mercedes for exceeding the 85mm maximum slot gap on Hamilton’s DRS, but hand Verstappen a €50,000 fine for illegally touching Hamilton’s car under parc ferme, despite accepting that it has become a “habit” for drivers to do so. The stewards then determine that Hamilton’s DRS does not satisfy technical regulations and disqualify him from qualifying, forcing him to start from the very back for the sprint race.

Hamilton recovers to finish the sprint qualifying race in fifth, meaning he will start the grand prix from tenth. Hamilton moves through the field and eventually battles Verstappen for the lead, trying a move down the outside of Descida do Lago. Verstappen defends aggressively, appearing to push Hamilton out onto the run off before going off circuit himself and keeping the position. There is no investigation for the incident.

Hamilton goes on to pass Verstappen and win the race. On the cool-down lap, Hamilton loosens his seat belts before returning to parc ferme. He is fined €5,000 with a further €20,000 fine suspended until the end of 2022.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Hamilton uses a fifth ICE of the season
– HAMILTON PENALTY: five-place grid drop
• Verstappen is seen to physically examine Hamilton’s rear wing in parc ferme illegally
– VERSTAPPEN PENALTY: €50,000 fine for breach of article 2.5.1 of FIA Sporting Code
• Hamilton’s DRS is found to be in breach of technical regulations
– HAMILTON PENALTY: disqualification from qualifying for breaching Article 3.6.3 of the Technical Regulations
• Verstappen appears to push Hamilton off track while defending the lead, also leaving the circuit himself and retaining his position – no investigation
• Hamilton loosens his seat belts on the cool-down lap
– HAMILTON PENALTY: €5,000 fine for breaching Appendix L, Chapter III, Article 4 of the FIA Sporting Code with a further €20,000 fine suspended until the end of 2022

Round 20 – Qatar Grand Prix

Verstappen lost his front row grid position for a yellow flag infringement

Hamilton takes pole position in Losail ahead of Verstappen. But the Red Bull driver is investigated by the stewards after Verstappen – along with Bottas – appear to have failed to slow under yellow flags at the end of Q3 due to Pierre Gasly’s stopped AlphaTauri on the pit straight.

Bottas is given a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow under single yellows, but Verstappen is handed a five-place drop for doing the same under double yellows. Verstappen starts seventh but finishes the race second behind Hamilton.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Verstappen fails to slow for double yellows on his final qualifying lap
– VERSTAPPEN PENALTY: Lap time deleted and five-place grid drop for breaching Appendix H, Article 2.5.5 b) of the FIA Sporting Code

Round 21 – Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
The race in Jeddah was marred by a spate of incidents

The narrow, high-speed new Jeddah Corniche Circuit leads to major traffic problems throughout the weekend. Hamilton is investigated by the stewards for failing to slow for yellow flags in Saturday morning practice, until it is revealed that the marshal lights were accidentally activated for less than a second.

Later in the session, Hamilton is almost hit by Nikita Mazepin as the Haas driver comes around a blind corner to find a Mercedes crawling along at the apex. Mazepin has to take avoiding action and abandon his timed lap. The stewards deem Hamilton to be guilty of impeding the Haas, but recognise the “challenges” presented by the circuit’s layout and hand him a reprimand and a €25,000 fine to his Mercedes team.

The race itself is filled with incident. After an early red flag following Mick Schumacher’s crash, the race resumes with a standing restart. Hamilton beats leader Verstappen off the line on the run to turn one, but Verstappen fights to the outside and runs off the track, rejoining on the apex of turn two and forcing Hamilton aside, allowing Esteban Ocon to pass the Mercedes.

The race is immediately halted again after a second red flag for a pile up soon after. Masi informs Red Bull that if the team accept Verstappen taking the next restart from third, behind Hamilton, he will not refer the matter of the Verstappen leaving the track and retaining his position at the restart to the stewards. Red Bull accept and Verstappen restarts behind Hamilton.

Later in the race, Hamilton challenges Verstappen for the lead around the outside of turn one, but Verstappen defends the inside before running off the track and missing the apex of turn two. Masi instructs Red Bull they must cede the lead to Hamilton and the team tell Verstappen to give up the position.

Verstappen slows on the approach to the final corner, but Hamilton also backs off behind him. As the Mercedes approaches his rear wing, Verstappen slows further and the pair collide, causing minor damage to Hamilton’s front wing. Verstappen later allows Hamilton through, before immediately re-passing his rival into the final corner. Verstappen then allows Hamilton by a second time, but the stewards have already awarded him a five second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Hamilton goes on to win, with Verstappen later handed a further ten second time penalty for causing the collision between the two. Despite the 15 second penalty, Verstappen retains his second place finish.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Hamilton investigated for failing to slow under yellow flags – no further action
• Hamilton impedes Mazepin in third practice
– HAMILTON PENALTY: sporting reprimand imposed on Hamilton and €25,000 fine handed to Mercedes for breach of Article 31.5 of the Sporting Regulations
• Verstappen goes off track at the restart and retains position ahead of Hamilton
– VERSTAPPEN PENALTY: moved down to third position under red flag conditions before the second race restart
• Verstappen leaves the track at turn one when defending from Hamilton and keeps the lead and is instructed to let Hamilton past
– VERSTAPPEN PENALTY: five second time penalty for breach of Article 27.3 of the Sporting Regulations and one superlicence penalty point
• Hamilton and Verstappen collide at greatly reduced speeds on the approach to the final corner
– VERSTAPPEN PENALTY: ten second time penalty for breach of Article 2 (e), Chapter IV, Appendix L of the FIA Sporting Code and two superlicence penalty points

Round 22 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Yas Marina circuit, 2021
The championship climax proves the most controversial race

Hamilton and Verstappen are level on points heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi, with whichever driver finishing ahead earning the title. Verstappen takes pole but loses the lead to Hamilton off the line.

Verstappen tries to slipstream Hamilton down the long back straight on the opening lap and dives to the inside of Hamilton into turn six. Hamilton goes off the track and cuts turn seven, retaining the lead, while Verstappen never leaves the confines of the track limits in his attempt. Race control later announce no investigation is necessary into the incident.

At the end of the race, the safety car is deployed to recover Nicholas Latifi’s crashed Williams. Verstappen pits for fresh tyres as Hamilton stays out in the lead. Five lapped cars sit between the title contenders with a handful of laps remaining.

Race control initially announce that no lapped cars will be allowed to overtake. Later, race control reverse the decision, but explicitly allow only the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the safety car. The race resumes with one lap remaining and Verstappen passes Hamilton with the advantage of fresher soft tyres to take the win and the championship.

Mercedes lodge two protests immediately after the chequered flag – the first against Verstappen for allegedly passing Hamilton before the restart and the second protest against the results of the race as they dispute the safety car procedure was not correctly followed at the restart. Both protests are dismissed by the stewards.

Mercedes inform the FIA of their intentions to appeal the decisions at the FIA’s International Court of Appeal. However, after days of deliberation, Mercedes eventually announce they will not pursue an appeal with the ICA. This confirms Verstappen as the world champion.

Incidents and actions taken:
• Hamilton leaves the circuit and retains the lead after Verstappen attacks on the opening lap – no investigation
• Mercedes protest Verstappen for overtaking under safety car – protest is dismissed by the stewards
• Mercedes protest the race classification due to dispute over application of safety car procedure – protest is dismissed by the stewards
• Mercedes announce intention to appeal result with FIA ICA but drop the plans for days later, which allows Verstappen to be confirmed as champion

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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41 comments on “Race-by-race: How Hamilton and Verstappen kept putting the stewards on the spot”

  1. My take on all this.
    The stewards and the FIA have turned a blind eye to some very dangerous driving from Verstappen because of the widely held belief they wanted to prolong the championship battle and perhaps even have a fresh face as champion.
    Going forward they have to stop such antics because other drivers receive penalties for far less.

    Lets start with the last race, from the picture you can see the racing line, but you can also see Verstappen is way beyond the racing line. He was left more than enough space but went ahead to crowd another driver off track. Rosberg got penalty for such driving some years back. This was similar to his Brazil move.

    Jeddah was the most disgusting episode I have witnessed in F1 in recent times. I felt like I was watching an assualt on the race track and with the usual indifference from the stewards who were penalising for the wrong reasons. Of course Masi’s comment of Hamilton running Verstappen off track -as a potential black flag moment-was laughable considering the driver was ahead when he started his turn and the driver going off track was coming from behind and taking an impossible line. Yet the outcome was benign but race control spotted that yet were unable to see even worse driving on track.

    1. Lets start with the last race, from the picture you can see the racing line, but you can also see Verstappen is way beyond the racing line.

      That move was not too dissimilar from this move (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg1cnHu-aro), except in that case the other car backed off well before being ‘crowded off track’.

      PS that move/driver was described by some as ‘the best overtaker in F1’.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        20th December 2021, 11:22

        Watching Danny he was always turning and not driving straight across the track. Bottas still had track to drive on.

        1. Then watch again:
          – Verstappen (just like Ricciardo) is, after braking late into the corner, always turning and both keep the car within the lines;
          – Ricciardo also used the whole track in the latter part of the (double) right hander not leaving any room for Bottas. Only Bottas decided to bail out, whilst Hamilton defended until he no longer had any track left.

    2. My take on all this:
      A biased Lewis fan.

      1. Fan of the sport long before Lewis came into the scene.
        We want clear rules and proceedures for driver interaction. Verstappen and Lewis’ race incidents are references.
        We could simply label them incident #67859, #67887 etc, How can we quickly form and opinion with such a title.
        Think with a clear head and sound logic and arrive at a sensible conclusion.

    3. Lots of unfounded emotions but lacking of facts.
      Logical for a “fan” but not very objective.
      Looking at the last illustrative picture you see a verstappen making a turn and Lewis in a situation he never will make the corner.
      BTW driving on the race line is not mandatory, something new “fans” do not seems to know.
      You have to make the corner and several lines will be possible.
      One of the unique driving skills of Verstappen he is able to make corners work other can not.
      Sometimes with a so called ” dive bomb” something ricciardo was famous for or just a fast corner starting on the track in an unexpected location.

      1. Not mandatory if another car is not in your path.
        Verstappen himself mentioned leaving room at Monza, so what is the contradiction.

        1. Max himself creates the crashes with Lewis Hamilton.
          Funny to hear from Max Verstappen: “That’s what you get when you don’t leave the space…”

          1. The only reason why they penalised Verstappen was because they treated the two cornes as one.
            The overtake Max did was actually great and unbelievable. But as Lewis decided to close the gap he let open before they crashed, hence the remark by verstappen.
            Its not his style to moan his way around a track like Lewis does. If things go wrong he just call them for what they are.
            I understand for a Hamilton fan this is something they can not relate to..

  2. I would simplify and clarify the rules to reduce the impact of the stewards:
    – white lines is always limit of track – automatic throttling when outside the lines;
    – forcing off track always investigated by Stewards
    – contact resulting in position change always investigated by Stewards
    – VSC also in Pit Lane (no free pit stop) or (better) just ‘slow VSC zones’
    – no SC ever, if people on track/too dangerous: immediately Red Flag
    – Red Flag: no unlapping, no tyre changes, no repairs, just ice cream for drivers.
    – if tyre change/repairs required, car can enter pit box (but only repair after other cars leave pit straight)
    – I would restart with previous gaps (e.g. light on steering wheel), but that might be too difficult for AWS

    1. Nice Idea of automatic throttling, but it is dangerous as not all corners have the same runoff profile and there are different speeds that can be taken through those runoffs. A driver can suddenly find himself stalled directly in the path of oncoming vehicles. If they were moving at slower speeds then it can make sense.

      F1 previouly maintained a drivers lead time ahead the following drivers, but it caused confusion as it required lots of additions. Seeing that drivers can get time penalties and still get aggregated times, perhaps best we go back to restoring a drivers advantage which the VSC does and not just wipe everything off with a safety car.

    2. Repairs after a Red Flag are there for safety reasons. There is a real possibility that cars came into contact with debris on the track. But ice cream for drivers, yes, best idea ever.

      1. Repairs after a Red Flag are there for safety reasons.

        I still support repairs during Red Flag, but I propose the car enters its pit box (rather than in line/position at the end of the pit straight) and repairs can only start when the other cars leave the pit straight again.

    3. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      20th December 2021, 11:26

      Automatic throttling would disadvantage the car that is crowded off track. It potentially allows following cars to gain an advantage.
      The same is true with gravel traps. A driver finds himself beached through taking avoiding action. No consolation that the driver that made the force is able to carry on.

      1. You made the right comparison to gravel traps, but a ‘throttled’ car is at least certain to recover.

        And as stated above (– forcing off track always investigated by Stewards) only Stewards can solve issues like ‘crowding’. No rulebook cover all situations perfectly.

  3. Lewis actually ran out of the track consistently at Bahrain, doing so 29 times before RB instructed Max to do the same, after which race control banned it. This was actually one of the more preposterous and unfair decisions, changing the rules half-way during the race, advantaging one competitor.

    Of course, the interpretation of ‘lasting advantage’ where the lead driver can run out of track to defend, but the rear driver cannot run out of track to attack, is utterly preposterous, but at least that is applied somewhat consistently.

    1. @aapje The rule didn’t change mid-race. Verstappen complained that Hamilton was running wide so Mercedes informed Hamilton who then started to take a tighter line out of caution. Masi confirmed after the race that the rules for the race had not been changed – he said that Verstappen wasn’t told to give the position back to Hamilton because he had exceed track limits, it was because he had gained an advantage while off the track.

    2. The rules for turn 4 was that I believe, it was not going to be monitored during the race and many other drivers where going wide there so I don’t see the point. No overtaking was done in the corner.

      1. But they started monitoring it suddenly during the race! It’s emblematic for the haphazard race directing during the season.

      2. OOliver – Yes, that’s how i recall it; they amended the T4 rule for the race if i remember correctly. The only overtake at T4 i recall was when Max overtook Lewis off track and was instructed to give the place back.

        1. Well to be accurate, he did not passed Hamilton off track. He already passed Lewis completely but run off track several meters later.
          Still did give up his position without moaning and that time Lewis knew inmediatly how to pass. Something his forgot in jeddah.
          Cutting the corner like Lewis did 29 times gained a approx. 0.2 s advantage. Lasting.
          The moment verstappen did the same it was banned.

          1. erikje – Technically you are correct – Max was ahead when he left the track, but only because he carried too much speed and couldn’t make the corner. And you can’t argue that he only went off because Hamilton ran him wide – importantly, and unlike in other examples, he was not only ahead of Hamilton by a car’s length, but with more than a car’s width each side. He came back onto the track ahead, therefore gained a position and a lasting advantage – it wasn’t about the time gained, it was the position.
            Plus, cutting the corner, as did most drivers, was within the pre-race rules and was an early example of the ambiguities and inconsistencies in applying rules which blighted the season, and which went for and against both drivers. I have no skin in the game for either driver, just calling it as i see it.

          2. @shakey66

            Plus, cutting the corner, as did most drivers, was within the pre-race rules

            And yet race control told Red Bull not to do it, when they instructed their driver to copy Lewis.

            If they had actually stuck to their original directive and allowed everyone to do it equally, I would disagreed with the directive, but it would have been fair. As it was, it was not fair and they changed the directive during the race.

          3. Without moaning? He moaned that he shouldn’t have done it and that he should have tried to build a 5 second gap by the end to cover off the time penalty he would have got for not giving it back.

  4. What’s interesting this year is that the application of the rules around overtakes into a corner seem to have changed. It used to be that you had to leave space for your competitor in a corner. Now, as long as you make the corner, even if you seem to force them wide, that’s enough.

    Although not always! Hamilton in Abu Dhabi appeared to be forced off and the stewards seemed to take that into mitigation when accepting he had slowed slightly. I can understand that as it’s not like he steamed into the corner and was never going to make it. I guess my point is it doesn’t seem to be consistent. Although no two incidents are the same so how could it be?

    1. Intresting point – I would like to see a deeper analysis of this. Dan Ric has performed some late braking moves in his time, how do they compare? He is largely praised for these moves but it requires the other driver yielding. Further does the driver overtaking not usually compromise the others cars line – when does it become unacceptable? Often the driver being overtaken just yields to avoid a crash – then there is no investigation etc. – is this not the same thing?

      1. @Cronies

        Further does the driver overtaking not usually compromise the others cars line

        Even just the treat of the overtake will compromise the leading car’s line if that car goes defensive. The leading car can choose to position itself to make certain overtakes more difficult, but that will result in a less optimal driving line. This is why a lot of F1 drivers won’t try to defend against an overtake that they cannot prevent, unless they have a reason to (lke Alonso, Ocon and Perez this season, who all defended hard to help their team mate).

        In karting people will sometimes choose to work together, rather than fight each other, to chase down the leaders, rather than to both go slower, by fighting each other. I think that a lot of you should watch some karting videos (for example, by Super GT).

        1. So what do you make of Max’s Lap 1 pass?

      2. A driver should yield if he’s lost the corner, not to avoid an accident because he’s being run off track.

    2. Leaving room has gone out of the window for some reason. If you overtake or defend on the inside then you’re seemingly allowed to run the other car off the track as long as you stay on it.

      Ricciardo has done some brilliant late moves but I’m fairly sure he always does it while leaving the driver on the outside the space to stay on the track.

      They need to tighten up on this ahead of the new season or else we’ll see the same carnage again.

  5. RandomMallard
    20th December 2021, 8:51

    Very good summary there Will. I’m slightly surprised the delayed calling of the safety car twice in Baku didn’t get a mention, and nor the interesting timing of the red flag there (especially compared to the lack of a red flag in Abu Dhabi).

    I think Race Control were quite good for the first half of the season, but then got progressively worse and less consistent after the two rounds in Austria. Some of this was slightly out of their hands (they can’t control the weather is Spa, although I still feel it was the wrong decision to award points that day), but other incidents were completely their fault for failing to deal with.

  6. Isn’t it all still a learning curve for VER, given his experience/age? Same applies to HAM; still learning in this stage of his career, looking at how he still managed to up his game after all these years.

    Ironically, the people slamming VER for his driving seem to be forgetting that also HAM had his fair share of collisions and dangerous driving in the past. They seem to forget the 2011 season, where he came together with Massa alone during 6 (!) times that season: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2011/oct/30/lewis-hamilton-felipe-massa-formula-one

    Then we have his coming togethers with Rosberg during their stint together at Mercedes. My point? Racing is racing and where you are battling for positions – given their will to win – there will always be a coming together at some stage during a season.

    Let’s all not forget that please and have respect for both drivers.

    1. Both are great drivers with the ability to fight for a impossible position sometimes.
      Lewis had to fight harder compared with every season before and did great with some discutabele moves. They both drove on the edge and sometimes over it.
      It3a pity the narrative fed by Mercedes about dirty driving by verstappen catched on by some rabiate ham fans here.

      The problem this season was the influence of the stewarding on the outcome. It will take some time for Hamilton fans to grieve before they Wil acknowledge the fight on track on its merits.

  7. The penalty for the second ICU replacement being lighter than for the first is rather silly.

    For other track limit debates: grass and gravel? Sorry for MotoGP, but I can’t remember track limits issues in Zandvoort for instance.

    1. @Ruben

      I’m pretty sure that this rule was motivated by trying to reduce the absurd number of penalties that McLaren-Honda got, from 2015-2017, by not punishing a hugely unreliable engine that harshly.

      But they didn’t consider that Mercedes would have such an unreliable engine and that they would be so dominant over most of the field when replacing it.

      1. I feel that Merc just found a loophole that give them a chance to redevelop an engine for Lewis’s last four races and they used Bottas’s and other customers’ cars as guinea pigs in the process.

        That McLaren-Honda thing might well be true, funny then that it was the Honda penalty that gave Merc the edge over the last races.

      2. @aapje
        The general thinking behind grid penalties for PU replacements, was to prevent teams from fitting brand new engines every weekend and to promote reliability and sustainability.

        It’s true that around 2017 they put a “cap” on the maximum grid penalties, because I remember McLaren getting some absurd 125-place grid penalties and starting 20th. Back in 2014-15 I think, there was also a rule where a driver would get one of these gigantic penalties and since he’d start only 20th, he had to serve a 10sec penalty/drive through in the race or something like that.

        But that inconsistensy where Mercedes got a 10-place grid drop in Turkey and then got just 5-place grid in Brazil is bizzare and stupid, it goes against the whole thinking of applying grid penalties for PU. It should have been more or at least equal to a 10-place grid drop not less, for producing less reliable engine.

  8. My take:
    – Looking at it in this article, I actually don ‘t think there were that many incidents. For all the noise on the internet you would think they collided twenty times in races.
    – First race in Bahrain was already a clear signal that we would have inconsistent stewarding and race directing this year.
    – Until Monza (round 14) Verstappen for me comes across as the cleaner driver of the two. Imola and Silverstone? racing incidents for me with Imola just hard racing, and silverstone more Lewis’ fault. Monza still a racing incident, but more Max’s fault.
    – In Brazil and Jeddah I think Max took it too far. I think he should have had a 5s in Brazil as well.

  9. The rules went from a driver needs to room on the track when driving side by side to a drive doesn’t need to leave any room as long as they stay on the track to no one needs to stay on the track. What is the rule?

  10. Racing Incident
    22nd December 2021, 17:52

    Worst rivalry ever. 100%.

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