The best moments and biggest disappointments of the 2021 F1 season

2021 F1 season review

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The first ever 22-race Formula 1 season will live long in the memory, but not all for the right reasons.

Over the year, fans were treated to some of the hardest, most intense wheel-to-wheel racing seen for many seasons. A highly competitive year that saw more individual grand prix winners than any other season in the V6 turbo era and over half the grid stepping on the podium at least once during the championship.

However, where there was competition, there was also controversy. From the sorriest excuse for a ‘race’ in the sport’s history in Belgium to a tainted season finale, there were also plenty of moments in 2021 that F1 should not be proud of.

Here is the very best – and worst – of what the 2021 F1 season gave us.

The best moments of F1 2021

The title fight emerges

The realisation dawned slowly. There were only three days of testing, but it was enough to discern that all was not well with the world champions. They completed the fewest laps of any team, which was unheard of, and the drivers were clearly grappling with major handling imbalances.

To those not paying attention, Lewis Hamilton’s season-opening victory was more of the same, and proof of Mercedes’ ‘sandbagging’. Four races in, Hamilton had won three of them. Business as usual for Mercedes?

It turned out to be nothing of the sort. Red Bull dug in, and only a tyre failure in Azerbaijan prevented Max Verstappen from reeling off five consecutive wins at mid-season. Now everyone could see Mercedes really were up against it and so it proved to be over the rest of the season, coming down to a showdown in the 22nd and final race of the year.

The midfielders join the fight

It wasn’t just Red Bull who got in on the action after a year of Mercedes dominance. The midfield was tighter and closer than before, and when the stars aligned they punched through.

The only 1-2 of the year went to McLaren

McLaren were regularly among the front runners in the first half of the season, Lando Norris regularly threatening to cause an upset. Ferrari caused a stir with pole position in Monaco – where Charles Leclerc lost a clear opportunity to win – before following up with a repeat performance the following round in Azerbaijan.

So it was something of a surprise when the first team outside of the ‘big two’ to score a race victory was neither of these but Alpine. Granted, it took Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll playing skittles at turn one in Hungary to bring it about. But Esteban Ocon showed great coolness under pressure, and overcame significant adversity to gain and retain his place in F1, and this was his day of days.

The next month, McLaren ended their nine-year wait for a grand prix victory, courtesy of not Norris but an inspired Daniel Ricciardo. And, as the season drew to a close, AlphaTauri were increasingly troubling the front-runners in qualifying, Pierre Gasly claiming a front row spot in Qatar.

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The return of fans

Dutch fans were out in force in Zandvoort

The second year since the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world wasn’t yet a return to normal, but as vaccinations liberated fans from their homes, race attendance became a reality once again. Some tracks were even able to welcome capacity crowds, notably at Silverstone.

Verstappen’s home fans were also present as well, and in fantastic voice as he delivered the first ever win for a Dutch driver in the Netherlands. Such was the atmosphere it was easy to forget only two-thirds of the seats were filled due to Covid restrictions – expect an even more raucous atmosphere when a capacity crowd welcomes their world champion home next year.

The US breakthrough

A strong crowd greeted the world championship at the Circuit of the Americas as well, and not just on race day, but throughout the event. This looked like more than just a bumper post-Covid attendance, but a sign the sport truly is beginning to gain traction in its most coveted market.

Liberty Media’s promotional efforts, not least three years of Netflix’s hugely popular ‘Drive to Survive’ series, were widely credited with the rising interest in F1 in the USA. Soon after the Austin race weekend, tickets were quickly snapped up for America’s second grand prix on the 2022 F1 calendar, to be held in Miami. The signs are encouraging.

Race director radio

A revealing innovation on the broadcasting side eventually featured heavily in the controversial conclusion to the season. But there was a lot to be said for revealing the chatter between the teams and FIA F1 race director Michael Masi, not least that it shed light on conversations with team principals that probably shouldn’t be happening.

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Free-to-air finale

Start, Yas Marina, 2021
The showdown was shown live on free-to-air
In a broadcasting masterstroke, F1 ensured the championship-deciding final race would air live and for free in the home countries of the two protagonists, maximising the potential audience. Channel 4 took up Sky’s live coverage in the UK, adopting a model it previously used for other sports, while Ziggosport made its subscription coverage available for free.

The subsequent viewing figures were impressive Whether those who tuned in were impressed by what they saw is another matter.

Goodbye to the old cars

F1’s decision to loosen aerodynamic regulations in 2017 produced a generation of machines capable of spectacular performance. But the way in which they went about it did nothing for the quality of racing – instead, quite the opposite.

In their place, a meticulously-researched new set of regulations will arrive next season, one year later than originally planned due to the pandemic. These promise comparable levels of performance while allowing cars to follow more closely and therefore make closer racing an more realistic prospect.

Whether or not they will succeed remains to be seen, but the necessity of addressing the difficulty of racing with the current cars is hard to argue against.

The biggest disappointments of 2021

Race cancellations

Sadly the pandemic meant Formula 1 fans in some countries had to go another year without the championship coming to them.

Start, Suzuka, 2019
Honda were denied a home race the year they won a title

Australian fans saw their event postponed from one end of the season to the next, then scrapped. The Canadian and Singaporean rounds were scrapped too. The loss of the Japanese round was felt especially keenly, as it meant no farewell home race for Honda. The special livery Red Bull produced to mark the occasion turned up at the Turkish round instead.

Those in China face the longest wait for their next dose of F1, as they won’t have a race in 2022 either.

Disappointing though it was to lose all those races, F1 did a superb job to keep its show going once again. All bar one of its planned 23 rounds were held, and it only doubled up at the same track once. The on-site staff who withstood the punishing schedule, including repeated ‘triple-header’ rounds, deserve nothing but praise.

More tyre trouble

Unexpected tyre failures marred the races in Azerbaijan and Qatar for several drivers, most dramatically for Verstappen when he was seemingly on his way to victory in Baku. That and Lance Stroll’s own tyre failure in the same race prompted detailed changes to Formula 1’s tyre usage rules.

Nonetheless further problems arose in Qatar. Will F1’s move to 18-inch tyres next year, and the arrival of standardised tyre sensors, finally bring an end to these failures?

Sprint qualifying

F1’s decision to dabble with Saturday sprint races – which is what they were, even if F1 couldn’t bring itself to call them that – was only a disappointment to those who fell for the ludicrous hype heaped upon them from the outset.

For the rest, they were largely as processional as expected, and served only to vex the statisticians as we now had pole position being determined by something other than a qualifying position, and extra points being given before race day.

In its defence, holding a competitive session on each day of the weekend undoubtedly commanded more attention. But retaining that benefit while fixing everything else which is wrong with the deeply flawed format will be a significant challenge for the 2022 rule makers, especially as they’ve already decided to hold twice as many next year.

Points for a procession at Spa

Spa proved to be the race that never was
Of all the difficult decisions race control had to take during 2021, abandoning the Belgian Grand Prix before any competitive action had taken place on Sunday was among the toughest, yet clearly correct. In unrelenting heavy rain, visibility never got close to being good enough for a race to take place.

But the decision to hand out (half) points on the basis of a single lap of running behind the Safety Car was rightly criticised, including by some of the drivers who had added to their scores that day. Nor did the limited offer of compensation to fans who stood in the rain for hours and saw no racing reflect well on a championship which generates F1’s revenues.

Piastri’s inevitable doom

Oscar Piastri, Guanyu Zhou, Yas Marina, 2021
Analysis: How Zhou’s F1 promotion opens a key door for Piastri’s future
The 2021 Formula 2 season was a weirdly mis-shapen affair. Its eight rounds were scattered unevenly over the year, with huge gaps between consecutive rounds, and used a triple-header format heavy on the reverse-grid gimmickry which has already been canned for next season.

Oscar Piastri quickly emerged as the class of the field and looked a strong candidate for the championship from an early stage. But even as he closed on his third title in as many seasons, it was obvious to see that he wasn’t going to get an F1 seat in 2022.

While it isn’t the case that every F2 champion deserves to walk into an F1 seat, Piastri’s outstanding success made the lack of opportunities available to him with Alpine all the more conspicuous. The fact he won’t be racing anything next year as he waits for an F1 promotion which may not come is doubly dissatisfying.

The season finale

For the first time in five years F1 finally had a championship go down to the final race. Not only that, but Hamilton and Verstappen had contrived to arrive at the final race level on points. The close contest hinted at in the opening rounds had delivered in a way the sport’s promoters could hardly have dared dream possible.

The finale delivered a new champion, but left a sour taste

But with the eyes of the world upon it, F1 brought a controversy upon itself which soured the outcome of the season and left the destiny of the world championship in doubt for days as one side considered an appeal.

The unprecedented decision to hurriedly restart the race on the final lap having allowed just enough cars to unlap themselves to give Verstappen a clear shot at Hamilton drew gasps of disbelief. From that point the outcome was predictable enough it may as well have been scripted. For many, this was the moment F1 decided it would rather be a show than a sport.

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

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53 comments on “The best moments and biggest disappointments of the 2021 F1 season”

  1. I wrote this review of the season and this is probably the best place to put it:

    Wow! We have come to the end of the longest season in F1 history, and what a polarising season it was. Some elements of the season make it a contender for the greatest season of all time, while other elements let it down. Overall, I would rank this season among the all-time greatest, despite there being some very clear negatives to it. In terms of the positives, the main one was that we saw one of the greatest title battles in the history of Formula 1 between Lewis Hamilton, the most successful driver of all time, and Max Verstappen, the young and very quick upstart. In terms of the average excitement of each individual race, this season probably comes top of all, with a mixture of awesome Lewis vs Max battles, and exciting races involving other drivers, such as in Budapest, Silverstone and Sochi. The title battle was tense throughout, and it is quite extraordinary that after 21 races, the two contenders went into the final race on equal points. The obvious hatred between Christian Horner and Toto Wolff further heightened the tension of the season, but at times was too much. Another huge positive from the year was the emergence of new talent in Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly. Both have shown themselves to be good drivers in the past, but this season they stepped up to be among the best. The negatives were a string of controversial stewarding decisions, none worse than the finale which was utterly farcical and made a mockery of the sport, a drastic increase in the number of toxic and delusional fans who managed to make the F1 internet a far less pleasant place for discussion than it used to be, none worse than the racist abuse received by Lewis Hamilton after Silverstone. Another negative of the season was the introduction of sprint races to the championship, which I believe was done appallingly, with Liberty effectively admitting that they are only in it for the money.

    Was Max Verstappen a worthy champion? Although I didn’t like the way it was ultimately won in Abu Dhabi, he and Red Bull had some awful luck in the first part of the season, losing a win in Baku, and probable second places in Silverstone and Hungary, through little fault of their own. So despite winning the championship on pot luck in the end, overall the luck mostly went against him. So yes, Verstappen deserved the title. Mercedes won the constructors’ title for the eighth year in a row. Despite only having been around since 2010, the team now have the same number of constructors’ titles as McLaren. In my opinion, the current Mercedes team is the greatest team in Formula 1 history, and I fully expect them to produce the fastest car with the new regulations, and for Hamilton to win his eighth title in 2022, where he will be supported by new teammate George Russell, who may put up a surprise title challenge.

    It is also worth mentioning that this marks the end of the turbo-hybrid era. Well not really, because next season the cars will still use turbo-hybrid engines. But the end of the era that spanned 2014-21, which we currently call the turbo-hybrid era, but which history will surely call something else. Next year the cars will be very different, and are designed to follow each other more closely, which can only be a good thing. There could be a major shakeup to the pecking order, but my money is on Mercedes to produce the best car again, as I believe they narrowly had in 2021 over the course of the whole season, as I have rated them as the fastest car in 11 races, and Red Bull fastest in 10 races. The era began very badly, with Mercedes dominating for three seasons, and the races far less exciting than they had been before, although the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry was great. But the era increased in entertainment over the following years, and in my opinion 2021 was among the best in F1 history, with 2020 also ranking very highly considering the difficulties faced with the pandemic. Lewis Hamilton won six titles in this era, with Rosberg and Verstappen taking one each, and Mercedes took all eight constructors’ championships, unprecedented dominance in F1 history.

    A special mention should go to Kimi Raikkonen, who retired at the end of the season and currently stands as the driver with more starts than any other in his Formula 1 career. Kimi has always been a popular driver due to his unusual personality of hating the media and always wanting to be left alone, only really being there because he loved motor racing. He will be missed by the F1 community. Farewell also to Antonio Giovinazzi, who raced for three seasons and did an okay job but never really set the world alight. The third Alfa Romeo driver, Robert Kubica, is also unlikely to race in Formula 1 again, and his return after nine years out due to injury is one of the great stories in Formula 1 history. Officially, this is the end of Honda in F1 after seven years, but they’ll still be supplying Red Bull and Alpha Tauri engines next season. Bottas leaves Mercedes after 101 races where he showed himself to be the perfect number two to Lewis Hamilton, while Russell takes his place after three seasons with Williams in which he was only outqualified by a teammate twice, and those both came in his final four races.

    So here is my review of the season, I should note that every time I refer to the Driver of the Weekend, or DOTW, I am referring only to my own personal choice, not any official decision.

    Off-season – most of the major stories in the silly season happened way back in early 2020, before that season had even begun. Sebastian Vettel lost his drive at Ferrari, and was replaced by Carlos Sainz. His place at McLaren was taken by Daniel Ricciardo. Later in the season, Ricciardo’s place at Renault (later Alpine) was taken by returning champion Fernando Alonso. Sebastian Vettel then moved to Racing Point (later Aston Martin), with Sergio Perez bought out of his contract. It seemed as though Perez would be out of a drive for 2021 despite being one of the top performers of 2020, but not long after Abu Dhabi he got a drive in place of Alex Albon at Red Bull. Elsewhere, Yuki Tsunoda replaced Daniil Kvyat at Alpha Tauri, and Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were ousted in favour of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

    Bahrain – the season started in Sakhir in March, and Red Bull surprised many by converting their testing speed into the fastest car at the first round, with Max Verstappen securing pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Surprises elsewhere were Sergio Perez missing Q3, Fernando Alonso making Q3 on the first race of his return and Yuki Tsunoda initially going second-fastest in Q1. Verstappen led at the start, but Mercedes put Hamilton on a different strategy, and also benefitted from having Bottas close behind.
    Hamilton’s strategy caused him to lead in the latter part of the race with Verstappen closing him down on fresher tyres, and in the final laps Hamilton made a mistake, Verstappen closed in and passed him for the lead. However, his pass was done off-track, so Verstappen was forced to give the place back and Hamilton took the first victory of the season and the Driver of the Weekend. Bottas finished third with fastest lap, followed by an impressive Lando Norris, Sergio Perez who had started from the pitlane, and Charles Leclerc. Yuki Tsunoda finished ninth on his debut, while Gasly damaged his front wing after contact with Ricciardo early on.

    Imola – Formula 1 got a surprise return to Imola for round two. In qualifying, Lewis Hamilton took pole, while Max Verstappen slipped up and lost second place to teammate Sergio Perez. The star of qualifying was Lando Norris, who initially went third as Martin Brundle exclaimed, ‘is he going to put it on the front row? Is he going to put it on pole?’ but had his lap deleted for track limits. The track was wet and Verstappen made an excellent start from row two to narrowly lead Hamilton, after starting in second gear. Leclerc ran third, while Norris showed good pace after being let past Ricciardo. Hamilton made a mistake lapping George Russell and hit the wall, dropping over a minute to Verstappen. However, he was thrown a lifeline as Russell, who had been doing a great job, then hit Bottas and took both out of the race. There was a slow-motion replay shown of Bottas flipping Russell the bird as Russell backhanded Bottas across the face, while David Croft stated, ‘he’s going to check he’s okay.’ This caused the red flag to be thrown, and on the restart, Verstappen nearly dropped it on the final corner. Leclerc didn’t capitalise on the error and allowed Verstappen back in front, and Max then pulled away. Perez spun out of a strong position. Hamilton fought through to second place, while Norris passed Leclerc for the final place on the podium, and DOTW. Stroll and Ocon also impressed. There was controversy as Leclerc, Perez and Raikkonen all made errors on formation laps and safety car laps, but due to different rules Raikkonen didn’t repass when he should have and was penalised, while for Perez the opposite happened.

    Portugal – Again, F1 got a surprise visit to a track from 2020, this time Portimao. Verstappen was fastest in qualifying, but had his time deleted for track limits, so Valtteri Bottas took pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was passed by Verstappen early on, and Raikkonen hit Giovinazzi and broke his front wing. Hamilton repassed Verstappen, and then Bottas who went too defensive into turn one. Verstappen then passed Bottas too, and it was status quo at the front until Bottas pitted for fastest lap too early, and Verstappen tried the same but lost it to track limits. Hamilton won from Verstappen, Bottas and Perez. Lando Norris finished fifth with DOTW after excellent conserving of old medium tyres, while Carlos Sainz on similar tyres dropped to eleventh. Alpine managed a double points finish.

    Spain – Hamilton took pole position from Verstappen and Bottas, while Perez spun in Q3. Max Verstappen took the lead at the start, and from then on the race was almost a carbon copy of Hungary 2019. Hamilton was unable to undercut Verstappen, so made an extra pitstop and chased down Verstappen, passing him to win with a handful of laps remaining. Bottas finished third, with Leclerc a lonely fourth and the DOTW. Daniel Ricciardo put in a much improved drive with sixth place, while Ocon also impressed again.

    Monaco – the fifth round of the season was back at Monte Carlo. Qualifying threw up a major surprise as Ferrari finally seemed to be on the pace of Mercedes and Red Bull, and Charles Leclerc securing pole position after crashing on his final lap and stopping any drivers challenging him. Ferrari said they would change Leclerc’s gearbox if they had to, but decided it wasn’t necessary and it failed on the way to the grid, leaving the pole position slot empty.

    Verstappen was now the effective pole-sitter and led away from Bottas and Sainz, while Hamilton was stuck behind Gasly in sixth. The next major story of the race was Valtteri Bottas getting a cross-threaded wheel-nut in his pitstop and Mercedes being unable to remove it for 43 hours. Lewis Hamilton was overcut by both Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel, and ended up in seventh. Verstappen then won from Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, mirroring the 2011 podium. Norris had another outstanding performance as he lapped teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who was still struggling. But DOTW went to Vettel who finished fifth, his first points for Aston Martin. Lewis Hamilton was only seventh and lost the championship lead to Verstappen, while Giovinazzi finished tenth for Alfa Romeo.

    Baku – Qualifying was heavily interrupted with crashes for Stroll, Giovinazzi, Ricciardo and Tsunoda, but it was Leclerc who took his second consecutive pole position, and this time kept it. However, he dropped behind Hamilton and Verstappen early on, as the Ferrari did not have the race pace of the Mercedes or Red Bull. In the first round of pitstops, Red Bull managed to get Verstappen and Perez into first and second, while Vettel jumped up ahead of the midfield for Aston Martin. There was a dangerous crash for Lance Stroll, who suffered a puncture on the main straight and had to fight the car to avoid spinning into the middle of the road. Then, with a handful of laps remaining, Verstappen too suffered a puncture while leading and was seen kicking his tyre in anger. The red flag was shown, and Sergio Perez led from Lewis Hamilton with two racing laps remaining. On the restart, Hamilton got a great start and looked to have taken the lead, but pressed the brake magic button by mistake, massively changing the brake bias and sending him off at the first corner. Perez then won his second Grand Prix from Vettel, who took a second consecutive DOTW, while Pierre Gasly won a late scrap with Leclerc for third. Alonso finished sixth after making up four places in the two-lap sprint. There were zero points for Verstappen, Hamilton, or Valtteri Bottas who had an awful race and finished twelfth.

    France – Paul Ricard is typically regarded as a dull track, but this year gave us another cracking race. Traditionally a Mercedes stronghold, but Max Verstappen put his Red Bull on pole position. He went too deep into turn one and half-spun, dropping behind Lewis Hamilton, but then undercut him in the first round of pitstops. Hamilton and Bottas ran in formation behind, while Perez went long in the second Red Bull. Red Bull made a surprise second pitstop with Verstappen, while Mercedes committed to a one-stop with both cars. Verstappen then chased down the leaders, passing first Bottas and then Hamilton to win the race. Hamilton finished second, while Perez passed Bottas for third. McLaren did an excellent job to salvage fifth and sixth with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo by pitting late, a decision that initially looked like a mistake, while there were also point scoring finishes for Gasly, Alonso, Vettel and Stroll. Ferrari had a nightmare of a race as Sainz finished eleventh and Leclerc sixteenth, both wearing out their tyres. DOTW was George Russell, who put in a magnificent qualifying lap in Q1, and then a strong drive to twelfth for Williams.

    Styria – the first of two Austrian GPs, as the Red Bull Ring hosted two Grands Prix for the second year in a row. The Red Bull appeared to have the advantage and Max Verstappen took pole position. Verstappen led from the start ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Lando Norris held up Perez and Bottas in third at the start of the race, before later letting them past without any defence. Leclerc and Gasly collided on the first lap, with Leclerc braking his front wing against Gasly’s tyre on rejoin to the track. Gasly suffered a puncture, which broke his suspension. From then on Leclerc made an impressive fightback to seventh. Max Verstappen won comfortably and was the DOTW, ahead of Hamilton, while Bottas just held off Perez for third. Norris was fifth from Sainz and Leclerc, while Lance Stroll took an impressive eighth. There was disappointment from George Russell, who retired from the race while running in the top ten for Williams.

    Austria – in the second Austrian GP, the tyres were one step softer, but Red Bull still had a clear advantage over Mercedes. Verstappen took another pole position, while Lando Norris took an incredible second on the grid, with Sergio Perez third. At the start of the race, the safety car was deployed as Ocon was pincered between two cars and broke his suspension. On the restart, Perez went to the outside of Norris, who forced him off and earned a controversial five-second penalty. Norris then held off Hamilton for many laps, with Hamilton exclaiming, ‘such a great driver, Lando,’ after he finally overtook. Further back, Leclerc made some fantastic overtakes, but was twice forced off the track by Sergio Perez, earning him two five-second penalties. In my opinion, the first was fair, the second wasn’t. Verstappen won, while Hamilton suffered damage on a kerb, and lost positions to Bottas and Norris, who was the DOTW with a fantastic podium. Further back, Alonso passed Russell for tenth in the final few laps to deny Williams their first points in two years. Tsunoda was twice penalised for crossing the white line on pit entry, while Raikkonen clumsily turned in on Vettel on the final lap.

    Britain – the British Grand Prix was the first of three sprint weekends, a concept which divided opinions among F1 fans. Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the sprint, while George Russell made headlines with another great lap to make Q3. Max Verstappen took the lead from Hamilton at the start, while Alonso made an excellent start on softs to go from ninth to fifth, but went backwards in the rest. There wasn’t a huge amount of action in the sprint after the first lap, apart from Perez spinning out of fifth place. At the start of the actual race, Hamilton challenged Max Verstappen and after a thrilling first half-lap in which they jockeyed for position, it all came to grief at Copse as Hamilton put his nose down the inside of Verstappen and there was contact, with Verstappen off and into the wall. The beneficiary was Leclerc, who took the lead from Hamilton, and the red flag was called. This crash caused much controversy, as most drivers said it was a racing incident, but Helmut Marko claimed Hamilton should have been given a ban. The penalty awarded was a ten-second penalty, about right in my opinion. Leclerc led at the restart from Hamilton, Norris and Bottas. The Mercedes were expected to charge through, but Leclerc did a great job for Ferrari to hold the lead, despite some hiccups with the engine that never got too serious. His teammate Sainz also fought through well after an incident in the sprint, but got stuck behind Ricciardo once he reached sixth, showing Ferrari’s strong pace. At the pitstops, Hamilton served his ten-second penalty, and dropped behind Norris and Bottas. He passed both for second, and then set after Leclerc. Hamilton took the win from Leclerc by completing the move into Copse that he had intended to make on Verstappen, in the third-to-last lap of the race. Bottas completed the podium ahead of Norris, while Alpine recorded a double-points finish, and Perez was sacrificed from tenth to take the fastest lap away from Hamilton. Despite losing the win in the end, I thought Charles Leclerc was magnificent in Silverstone, and would name his drive there as the second-strongest of any driver all season.

    Hungary – the final race before the summer break was at a track typically labelled as a stronghold for Lewis Hamilton, and Mercedes looked very good in qualifying, with Hamilton taking pole ahead of Bottas. The race started in wet conditions, and there was mayhem at the first corner as Bottas locked up and steamed into Lando Norris’ McLaren, taking himself, Norris and Perez out, and damaging Verstappen. Behind, Lance Stroll clattered into Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo. With Pierre Gasly also delayed in the mayhem, it is not unreasonable to suggest that all seven of Hamilton’s main threats for the race had been removed at the first corner, and the red flag was shown. Hamilton led from Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel and Nicholas Latifi! There was a standing start, but the track was drying quickly and almost every driver on the grid dived into the pits for dries, with the one exception being Lewis Hamilton. This created a comical image of the restart as Hamilton was left alone on the grid, and every other driver was lined up in the pits. George Russell crept to the front of the queue due to the positioning of his pit box, but was told to give the places back on the first lap of racing. Leaving Hamilton out turned out to be a significant mistake, and they threw away an easy win as Hamilton pitted at the end of that first lap after the restart and came out at the back. Esteban Ocon now led from Vettel, and the two of them pulled away quickly as Latifi ran third and held up the rest of the pack. Russell selflessly offered for his race to be sacrificed to help Latifi if necessary. Hamilton and Verstappen were at the back of the pack, but while Hamilton made his way up the order, Verstappen struggled with damage. It was not until the round of pitstops that Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso were able to clear Latifi, but by this point Ocon and Vettel had pulled a long way up the road. They then closed the gap on the leaders, while Lewis Hamilton was now in fifth place after making an extra pitstop. Hamilton looked a lot quicker than the leaders and a sure bet to win the race, until he came up behind Alonso. The Alpine driver put in a defensive masterclass to hold up Hamilton for multiple laps, and allow his teammate Ocon to hold on for a maiden victory. Vettel finished second, but was disqualified due to an issue which caused extra fuel to drain from his car, and he was unable to provide a sufficient sample. Hamilton then finished second, ahead of Sainz in third and Alonso, the DOTW, in fourth. Pierre Gasly made a strong recovery to fifth ahead of Tsunoda, and the Williams pair of Latifi and Russell were seventh and eighth, finally taking their first points for the team. Verstappen was only ninth with the damage, and went into the summer break eight points behind Hamilton after much bad luck. The Hungarian Grand Prix was an absolute thriller, the best Grand Prix of 2021.

    Belgium – and from the best Grand Prix of the season to something a little different. The weekend was wet from the start, and we had a thrilling qualifying session in the wet. George Russell immediately looked quick as he put his Williams fastest in the first laps of Q1. Lando Norris then starred with the fastest times in both Q1 and Q2, but it all went wrong for him in Q3 as he spun at Eau Rouge and hit the wall, bringing out a red flag which Vettel had said should have been out already. On the final runs of the session, Max Verstappen only snatched pole right at the end from Russell, who did a sensational job to take second for Williams, in what was arguably one of the greatest qualifying laps in Formula 1. Hamilton was third from Ricciardo and Vettel. The rain on Sunday was even worse than on Sunday, as it was relentless all day with low visibility. Perez crashed on the way to the grid. The race was red flagged after a formation lap and a lap behind the safety car, and was not restarted for over three hours after much confusion over whether or not the race had actually started. Eventually, they went round for one more lap behind the safety car, before another red flag brought an end to the proceedings after no racing laps. The most entertaining thing that had happened was watching the drivers and teams trying to distract themselves during the wait. Formula 1 then made the controversial decision of awarding half-points, despite no racing laps, which meant Verstappen had won, while Russell took his first podium with second. I actually agree with this decision, but they also gave no refunds to fans at the track, which I think was wrong. The Belgian GP was the shortest race in Formula 1 history.

    Netherlands – for the first time since 1985, Formula 1 returned to the Zandvoort circuit, and the Dutch now had a home hero in Max Verstappen competing for the championship, and ensuring that the entire crowd were dressed in orange and had orange flares. The track was a great addition to the calendar, with spectacular banked corners, and Max Verstappen claimed a home pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Giovinazzi took an excellent seventh in qualifying. Sergio Perez was eliminated in Q1. In the race, Verstappen led from Hamilton, Bottas and an impressive Gasly, while Alonso made a beautiful pass on Ocon and Giovinazzi, around the outside on the banked turn three. Hamilton then tracked Verstappen for the first part of the race, and remained close behind after the first round of pitstops. Valtteri Bottas was left out by Mercedes to help out his teammate, and played his part well as he held up Verstappen and allowed Hamilton to get close, but never close enough to mount a real challenge. Later in the race, Bottas was pitted for new tyres and told not to go for fastest lap, as it would take it away from Hamilton. Bottas ignored this instruction and went for it, only backing off in the final sector but still taking the fastest lap, and forcing Mercedes to pit Hamilton again to take it back. Verstappen then won from Hamilton, Bottas, DOTW Gasly and Leclerc. There were changes further back as Alonso passed Sainz for sixth, and Perez recovered to pass Ocon for eighth after an early pitstop due to a flat spot on his tyre.

    Italy – the final race of this triple-header was at Monza, and was the scene of the second sprint race. Valtteri Bottas took pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes regained the superiority over Red Bull. Bottas had taken a new engine so was already being sent to the back of the grid for the main event, but he won the sprint race as Hamilton got a poor start and dropped behind Verstappen and the two McLarens. Pierre Gasly retired from sixth as his front wing went under the car. From then on, the sprint race was processional, and the top five kept their positions. That meant Max Verstappen was on pole position, but there was surprise at the start as Daniel Ricciardo took the lead for McLaren, ahead of Verstappen, Norris and Hamilton, and Ricciardo held the lead until the first round of pitstops. Verstappen pitted later than him, but the stop was botched due to the new rule introduced to increase human involvement in the releasing of cars, and Verstappen came out of the pits ten seconds behind Ricciardo, and alongside Hamilton. Going into the first chicane, Verstappen went to the outside of Hamilton, and Hamilton forced him off. Instead of backing out, Verstappen stayed alongside and hit a sausage kerb, sending the back of his car into the air and on top of Hamilton’s. Both were out, and Verstappen got a three-place grid penalty for Russia. Ricciardo now led the race from Leclerc, while on the restart Lando Norris pulled off the move of the season for second as he passed Leclerc into Curva Grande with two wheels on the grass. Perez then passed Leclerc off the track for third, earning him a five-second penalty. Bottas had initially looked the likely winner and made it into fourth from the back of the grid, but got stuck behind Perez. So Ricciardo claimed his first win in three years for McLaren, with Lando Norris in second giving the team the only one-two of any team all season. Bottas was third, Leclerc fourth and Perez fifth once the penalty was applied. Ricciardo did his trademark shoey on the podium.

    Russia – next up was Sochi, and Max Verstappen and Red Bull opted to take a new engine, thus removing the effect of the three-place grid penalty. The track was a Mercedes stronghold, and even in wet conditions looked clear favourite for a one-two on the grid. But in Q3, the track dried sufficiently for slicks and Hamilton hit the wall on pit entry, delaying himself and Bottas. Only a few teams were able to fire up their tyres quickly enough, and the result was a shock pole position for Lando Norris, second on the grid for Carlos Sainz and an incredible third on the grid for George Russell and Williams. Hamilton was fourth and Bottas seventh. At the start of the race, Sainz jumped Norris for the lead. The two pulled a gap as Russell in third held off the pack behind which included Lance Stroll, Ricciardo, and Hamilton in sixth. Max Verstappen was making solid progress after being waved past Gasly, as was Leclerc, while Bottas got stuck in traffic. Sainz pitted early, one lap after losing the lead to Norris, who then led after all the pitstops had been completed from Hamilton, Sainz, Ricciardo, Perez who was last to pit but had a slow final pitstop that cost him third, Alonso and Verstappen. Hamilton closed the gap on Norris, but the McLaren driver looked to have the legs on him and was set for his maiden victory when a rain shower hit with a handful of laps remaining. The likes of Bottas and Raikkonen pitted further back and made great progress, but Norris refused to pit. This proved to be a mistake when Hamilton pitted behind him, and a lap later the rain intensified, and Norris had zero grip. Hamilton therefore took the lead from Verstappen, who finished second from the back. Sainz was third, Ricciardo fourth, Bottas fifth and Alonso sixth, while Lando Norris was only seventh after avoiding a penalty for crossing the pit entry line. He was my Driver of the Weekend after being so unlucky to lose his first win, while Leclerc also deserves a mention, after starting from the back and looking like he would beat Verstappen and finish top six before the rain hit and he stayed out for too long. The often-maligned Sochi track had delivered a fantastic race.

    Turkey – Sochi was followed by another rain-affected weekend in Turkey. This time it was Hamilton who went into the weekend with a ten-place grid penalty for an engine change, but he went fastest in qualifying ahead of Bottas, who therefore started from pole. Bottas led away at the start ahead of Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc, while Gasly collided with Alonso and was controversially penalised five seconds, as the Alpine spun to the back. Hamilton was recovering from eleventh, but got stuck behind Tsunoda for a few laps as the Alpha Tauri put in an impressive defence. Sainz also made some good overtakes as he pushed through the pack. The top four stretched away, as Leclerc was impressive in keeping up. Later in the race, Perez put up a stout defence against Hamilton as the two ran side-by-side for multiple corners. The cars were continuing on intermediates for a long time, but the track never looked ready for slicks (confirmed by Vettel’s fruitless attempt), so they had to look at pitting. Bottas did so, while Leclerc stayed out and led the race, attempting a zero-stop strategy. This failed, and he pitted soon after losing out to Bottas. Hamilton stayed out and ran third, going against Mercedes’ request for him to pit for many laps, until he eventually did so and was annoyed to lose out to Perez in third and Leclerc in fourth, and then couldn’t repass them as the tyres wouldn’t fire up, as per Jenson Button’s prediction. Bottas won his only race of the season in dominant fashion and was the best driver of the weekend. He was followed home by Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc and Hamilton. Gasly was sixth, Norris seventh, Sainz eighth from the back and Stroll ninth. Esteban Ocon claimed a point in tenth after no pitstops, the first time this had happened since Mika Salo in Monaco 1997.

    USA – Mercedes initially looked to have the upper hand over Red Bull in Austin, but Red Bull overturned this in qualifying as Verstappen secured pole position ahead of Hamilton and Perez. Hamilton got a great start to take the lead from Verstappen at the start, and this forced Red Bull to try something different. They pitted earlier than Hamilton and undercut him, however, Mercedes tactically decided to go longer on the second stint to close down Verstappen in the final stint. After the second pitstops, Verstappen had a good lead over Hamilton, but the Mercedes driver closed him down and caught the back of Verstappen towards the final few laps of the race. He was close, but not close enough and Verstappen won the race. Hamilton was second from Perez, while Leclerc drove flawlessly for fourth. Behind, Ricciardo did a good job ahead of Bottas, while Sainz was involved in a great battle with the McLarens on the first lap. There was controversy around track limits, with Alonso forcing Raikkonen off and Raikkonen not being penalised for overtaking off-track, and then Alonso passing Giovinazzi off-track and being told to give the place back, leading to Alan Permane complaining to Michael Masi in a petty and sarcastic way. With five races to go, Verstappen led Hamilton by twelve points.

    Mexico – In the reverse of USA, Red Bull went to Mexico as the clear favourites, but it was Mercedes who beat them to pole position with Bottas ahead of Hamilton. At the first corner, Bottas allowed Verstappen too much space on the outside and the Red Bull passed both Mercedes to take the lead. Things got worse for Bottas as he was hit by Ricciardo’s McLaren and spun into the middle of the pack. Everyone missed him, but contact involving Ocon, Tsunoda and Schumacher took the latter two out and brought out the safety car. Verstappen then led away and won comfortably in a rather processional race from Hamilton and Perez, who put Hamilton under pressure all race but was never close enough to really challenge. Gasly was fourth and the DOTW, ahead of Leclerc and Sainz, while world champions Vettel, Raikkonen and Alonso all scored, and Giovinazzi missed out due to poor strategy. Bottas finished outside the points, and was forced to make two extra pitstops for fastest lap after Verstappen closed on him and gave him blue flags the first time around, so he couldn’t go for fastest lap. Verstappen now led by nineteen points.

    Brazil – Lewis Hamilton again changed his engine prior to the Sao Paulo GP, and it immediately looked extremely quick as he took pole position for the sprint. However, it turned out his DRS had opened further than was intended by 0.2mm, and so he was disqualified from qualifying, while Verstappen was fined for touching his car. The sprint was the most entertaining of the three, as Bottas grabbed the advantage from Verstappen immediately on soft tyres, and Verstappen had to repass Sainz too before he could get back at Bottas, which he was unable to do. Bottas won, with Verstappen second and Sainz third, while Hamilton put in an incredible drive to fifth from the back of the grid, including a great pass on Norris, and so started tenth. In the race, Verstappen repassed Bottas at the start, as did Sergio Perez, while Sainz and Norris collided immediately, and Norris was given a puncture. Hamilton fought through quickly to third, and then second as he passed Perez. There was drama further back as Tsunoda lunged down the inside of Stroll and damaged both cars. Both Red Bulls made their second stop, and Hamilton and Bottas briefly ran one-two before doing the same. Hamilton then closed down Verstappen for the lead and, after a couple of laps of close racing that included a highly controversial move as Verstappen ran Hamilton off the track and was not penalised, Hamilton finally passed Verstappen for the lead and won from last at the start of the sprint race. It was the greatest drive of the season, and one of the greatest of his career. Verstappen, Bottas and Perez followed him home, then the two Ferraris and Gasly, Ocon and Alonso. Alpine showed good teamwork as Alonso kept Ocon in DRS range to defend from Gasly behind for as long as they could.

    Qatar – the first Grand Prix in Qatar saw Hamilton take pole position again, with Verstappen second and Bottas third. However, both Verstappen and Bottas were penalised five and three places respectively for failing to slow for yellow flags when Gasly got a puncture. This put Gasly second and Alonso third on the grid. Hamilton held the lead at the start from Alonso, while Verstappen made immediate progress to fourth, then third as he was waved by Gasly, then he passed Alonso for second. The top two quickly pulled away from the rest of the pack, while Bottas and Perez made their way up from their lowly positions on the grid. Hamilton and Verstappen pulled enough of a gap to each make their pitstops untroubled, with Hamilton always covering Verstappen. Bottas took third when the rest of the grid pitted, but got a puncture after running too long on his tyres, which dropped him out of the points and prompted the leaders to make a second stop. Perez now pitted from third, giving the position to Alonso, then Norris, who also had to pit again due to a slow puncture, and Ocon. Alonso requested that Ocon ‘defend like a lion,’ and he did attack Perez and slow him down. Both Williams drivers suffered late punctures, bringing out a late virtual safety car and preventing Perez from reaching Alonso. Hamilton won from Verstappen, while with third place DOTW Alonso took his first podium since Hungary 2014, the second longest podium gap of all time (after that of Alex Wurz). For reference, the last time Alonso was on the podium, Hamilton was a one-time champion. Behind him it was Perez, Ocon, an impressive Stroll, Sainz, Leclerc, Norris and Vettel, while the Alpha Tauri had a shocker and Gasly came home only eleventh. Verstappen led by eight points with two races remaining.

    Saudi Arabia – the first race in Saudi Arabia was controversial even before it had begun, with debates over whether the race should even be going ahead, due to issues surrounding human rights in the country, and the apparent danger of the track, with high-speed corners and walls extremely close. Qualifying was thrilling as the advantage swung between Mercedes and Red Bull. At the start of Q3, Red Bull were faster, but Mercedes had fuelled for more laps and Hamilton and Bottas went first and second late in the session. On his final lap, Verstappen pushed to the absolute limit, and looked to have pole position in the bag when he went too deep into the final corner and hit the wall. It was status quo at the start of the race, until Mick Schumacher hit the wall. The safety car was called and both Mercedes pitted, allowing Verstappen into the lead with old tyres. Then the red flag came out, gifting Verstappen the real lead of the race. On the restart, Hamilton looked to have passed Verstappen but the Red Bull driver cut the corner to stay in front and allowed Ocon past Hamilton. The red flag was called again as Perez spun in contact with Leclerc and Mazepin went into the back of Russell at high-speed. Verstappen was dropped back to third on the grid for the next start, with Ocon on pole and Hamilton second, but he made a great overtake on both to take the lead into turn one. Hamilton passed Ocon on the next lap, and the battle was on. The race between the two was slightly too far, as Verstappen first cut the corner to stay ahead of Hamilton, giving him a five-second penalty, then was asked to give the place back, but did so in such a way that he could repass again easily. When asked again, he slowed in the middle of the track, and Hamilton hit the back of Verstappen. Eventually, Hamilton got through and, aided by hard tyres as opposed to Verstappen’s mediums, pulled away to win, although he did force the Red Bull off at the final corner and was warned. Verstappen was second and was later penalised ten second for what the stewards considered to be a brake test on Hamilton. Bottas finished third after passing the DOTW Ocon on the line. Behind, Ricciardo was fifth from Gasly, Leclerc, Sainz, Giovinazzi who took his best finish of the season, and Norris who was unlucky with the red flag after he had pitted. There were more incidents further back as Tsunoda and Raikkonen were both penalised for hitting Vettel, and Alonso spun. Going into the final race of the season, the two contenders were, incredibly, on equal points, for the first time since 1974 with Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni.

    Abu Dhabi – with the drivers level on points going into the final race, but Verstappen ahead on countback of race wins, it looked as though we could have one of the most thrilling finales of all time. This view was heightened further after qualifying, as Verstappen flat-spotted his medium tyres, and had to start the race on softs, but Hamilton was through on mediums. Then Red Bull perfectly executed the tow with Perez and put Verstappen on pole position, ahead of Hamilton and Lando Norris who went third. So Verstappen started ahead, but Hamilton had the superior race tyre. Despite the medium tyres, Hamilton absolutely aced the start of the race and took the lead into the first corner, while Perez moved into third. Then there was controversy immediately at the chicane as Verstappen dived down the inside of Hamilton and forced him to the edge of the track, but Hamilton cut the chicane and continued in the lead. The stewards judged Verstappen’s move to be too aggressive so allowed Hamilton to keep the lead of the race. Hamilton initially looked to be quicker than Verstappen and, after the first pitstops, had a seven-second lead over his rival. This was almost entirely undone by Sergio Perez, as the second Red Bull did a magnificent job to defend from Hamilton and repass him, delaying him for an entire lap and putting Verstappen immediately behind the Mercedes. However, despite this excellent defence, Hamilton pulled away again of Verstappen. Kimi Raikkonen sadly retired from his final race in Formula 1, as did George Russell in his final race for Williams, and then Antonio Giovinazzi in his final race in the sport. Giovinazzi stopped in a dangerous position and the virtual safety car was called, and Verstappen pitted. However, his task to close down Hamilton was too much and petered out before he could get remotely close. Then, in the final few laps of the race, everything changed as Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams and brought out the safety car. Hamilton did not have enough of a gap to pit, but Verstappen put on new softs. Perez had to retire from third due to fears that he would stop on track and prolong the safety car.

    On the penultimate lap, the instruction was issued that lapped cars could not overtake, and Red Bull expressed their annoyance to Michael Masi. Then Masi reversed the decision just before the end of the lap, but only to allow the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves. The decision was highly controversial and went against the rules of the sport, but it provided great entertainment as Hamilton now led Verstappen on the final lap, on old hards to Verstappen’s new softs. Verstappen dived down the inside into the hairpin, and then Hamilton challenged him twice, running side by side with his rival but eventually giving way, and Max Verstappen won his first Formula 1 World Championship. Behind, Sainz took a podium in third and leapfrogged Leclerc and Norris for fifth in the standings, while the DOTW wasa Tsunoda, who finally had a good race and came fourth, from Gasly, a struggling Bottas and an unlucky Norris with another puncture. As exciting as the final lap was, I believe Masi bent the rules to allow for an entertaining finish, and in doing so compromised the sporting integrity of Formula 1. That final lap massively took away from what had otherwise been the greatest season of all time. But full credit to Max Verstappen, who had bad luck early in the season but overcame that and was a fully deserving champion.

    The second part of my season review is driver rankings and awards, which will be published in the ‘vote for the driver of the season’ article. Thanks to everyone who bothers to read this.

    1. Wow. Would not know where else, but this is definitely not the place to put it. My phone battery dropped 1 per cent scrolling past your comment :p

    2. @f1frog WOW that’s incredible. COTD Keith? May even be a bit too long!

      I haven’t read all of it (but I definitely will!), but of what I have glanced over it’s incredible. Really good factual summary of the season (there’s a little bit of opinion in there but that’s fine, you can’t write anything without a viewpoint to write from). I agree that this season, on the most part, was one of the greats, however like 1994, it will always be marked by the controversy (and in this case farce) of the final race.

      1. Thank you, and it’s nice to see you haven’t really left the site. The second part of the review is far more opinion-based, and is almost as long as the first ;)

    3. Very good maybe some editing to put some room between the textwall. Maybe Keith could use it to make a article for the site.

      1. Thank you, I should have edited it but forgot to because there were gaps when it was in word.

        By the way, @keithcollantine , I did email you with this but suspect it might have gone into your junk folder, if you wouldn’t mind checking that.

        1. Hey, @f1frog, just throwing this out there, but have you ever considered, you know, getting a blog?

          You could call it ‘The Lilly (brake) Pad’.

          1. Thank you, I had considered making a blog as I have created a mathematical model for the BTCC, for comparing drivers and predicting results for future seasons and past seasons if drivers had driven different cars, and thought that might be good on its own website. And I like your idea of naming it with a frog pun!

            Also, thank you for adding paragraphs to my previous comment.

          2. @f1frog btw I would definitely be interested if you created a blog, especially if it’s posting stuff as high quality as this. Do put something on here (probably a comment on a daily round-up?) if you follow through with it.

            Also the mathematical BTCC stuff looks really interesting as well!

    4. yikes tl;dr

      will certainly read it if it gets posted with some breaks, though

    5. Whoa, hold it there Dickens, just let me get some popcorn… :)

    6. Noo, i think my 3200+ word post back in 2017 for the mid season driver rankings may have been beaten…. :(

      Anyway, it is really impressive!

      1. Ahah, wow, that’s great competition! It tells me this should be 7502 words!

  2. The most puzzling novelty to the 2021 season was the delusion by Liberty that the fans were ready to hear all the shenanigans between the teams and the FIA (which probably existed for many years).

  3. Here’s my (slightly briefer) highlights and lowlights of the season. I’ve made the distinction between “moments” (an event or series of related events) and individual races as a whole.

    Highlight moments: Hungary, McLaren 1-2 in Monza (my personal highlight of the season as a McLaren fan), the closeness of the title battle, fans returning, the THIRTEEN different podium finishers, Williams scoring points on several occasions.

    Lowlight moments: the times the championship battle got slightly too close (quite literally), Kimi retiring in his final race, Norris losing the Russia win (again as a McLaren fan), Vettel losing 2nd in Hungary (although it was the right decision, doesn’t make it much easier to take), a very small minority of fans on the internet taking things far beyond acceptable.

    Best races: Bahrain, Imola, France, Hungary, Russia

    Best race honourable mentions: Silverstone, Monza USA, Sao Paolo,

    Worst races: Monaco (just plain dull), Saudi Arabia (I don’t personally see the appeal of this race. I get that it was dramatic, but that was only because of a series of controversies and entirely predictable calamities), Abu Dhabi (do I need to elaborate?)

    Worst race honourable mentions: Spa (only in this category because it wasn’t a race), Zandvoort and Mexico (nothing really happened did it?).

    If I had to pick an absolute best race of the season, and I’m very surprised I’m saying this, I would probably go for France. A proper race, very little controversy, two pretty equally matched cars fighting each other on track for the top 4 places, strategy involved (which I enjoy, I know not everyone does), and some great action in the midfield as well.

    I hope everyone enjoys their chance to recover before the start of the new season and a new era. I think we all deserve a bit of a break. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone at RaceFans.

  4. Surely we can’t call that a 22 race season. 21.5 at best, but really Spa was not a race in any one’s mind except the bean counters.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      23rd December 2021, 13:30

      The sprint races were races – Belgium wasn’t. I’d go for a 24 race season.

      1. Haha, fair 😁

      2. @petebaldwin

        The sprint “races” were qualifying ;)

  5. The best moment of the year was the brilliant pass by max on Lewis in the last lap.
    The worst moment was Silverstone. A travesty of a penalty for one of the worst transgressions by far this season.
    Nice moments to notice, the surprise victorys by ocon and ricciardo and the deserved podium for the old warrior Alonso.

    1. ‘one of the worst transgressions by far this season.’

      I take it you missed the off road at Brazil or the brake checking at Jeddah (which would of been a DSQ in any other class of motorsport but didnt cause F1 isnt a sport)
      But the highlight was when Max cracked under pressure and threw a Pole Position away at Jeddah, for the last 4 races Lewis schooled Max and was on course for an 8th till Masi stepped in….

      1. Keep mourning, it will get to you eventually :)

        1. Can people on both sides just stop going for each other’s throats? People are entitled their own opinion. They can have that opinion, you can disagree with it, but if your not adding anything to the discussion is there really a need to comment?

        2. I wouldn’t call it mourning, how you can describe it as something you feel when a loved one dies shows the desperate lengths you go to when someone points out Max’s short comings, I would say it was a waste of 9 months of tuning in to what I now realise was an reality TV show pretending to be a sport. Mourning no, disappointed yes.

          1. wouldn’t call it mourning,

            I do, typical denial stadium. All part of the mourning.

      2. Hamilton “schooled” verstappen with a clear best car in the last few races, at least in race pace.

    2. brilliant pass ? mazepin would have passed max with this tyre difference but the farce was good in the eyes of blinded max fanboys.

      and silverstone was bad, cause overaggressive max failed with his crash or yield approach. pfff

    3. Erikje please drop it we know your points but it’s a done deal we never can change that anymore.

      The pass on Lewis was a good one but personally i like the Pole and race on Zandvoort.

      1. Erikje please drop it we know your points

        it seems you did not get the meaning of this topic.
        But probably you only want to read positive things about Lewis :)
        I will keep disappointing you then.

    4. brilliant pass ? mazepin would have passed max with this tyre difference but the farce was good in the eyes of blinded max fans.

      and silverstone was bad, cause overaggressive max failed with his crash or yield approach.

      1. Absolutely false! Didn’t you see hamilton almost repassed verstappen on the straights? There’s probably 5 drivers who would’ve passed hamilton with that tyre advantage, mercedes was extremely strong that weekend, and hamilton seemed better than verstappen too that race, even accounting for car advantage.

  6. Anyone who thinks the outcome of the last lap in Abu Dhabi was “inevitable” must not have switched the race on until after half-distance, given the display of defensive driving we saw earlier in the race (with a big tyre delta and DRS to boot). It was, by any objective analysis, one of the highlights of a scintillating season.

    Other highlights include the surprise wins for Ocon and Ricciardo – neither of which were flukes but were well-earned – the races in Bahrain, France and the USA which went down to the wire, and a welcome return to F1 for Zandvoort.

    Lowlights are obvious – the non-race in Spa ranks highly, as well as a disappointing Qatar GP and the scenes bordering on farce at Jeddah, a track that was clearly not ready for motor racing and unsuitable for F1 cars in any event. Also far too much controversy off the track, much of which appears to have been stoked by Liberty for dramatic purposes – should it really have taken the best part of 24 hours to disqualify a car for a straightforward technical infrigement, for example? – and the reactions of the losing side to the season finale damaged the sport in ways we probably can’t measure just yet. Still, in time those wounds will fade, and the driver market gives us much to look forward to for 2022.

    1. Anyone who thinks the outcome of the last lap in Abu Dhabi was “inevitable” must not have switched the race on until after half-distance, given the display of defensive driving we saw earlier in the race (with a big tyre delta and DRS to boot).

      Forty-lap-old hards vs new softs would be the most foregone of foregone conclusions around any circuit except Monaco. The deltas earlier in the race weren’t even close to being comparable.

      1. Yes, comparing 20 lap old softs versus 40 lap old hards is silly. Massive tyre differential. Also Checo had nothing to lose, was prepared to crash if need be, versus Hamilton would had to proceed with more caution because a collision would hand the title to Verstappen.

        1. @amam 20 laps was well beyond Pirelli’s pre-race estimates for the life of the softs (15 laps IIRC) whereas 40 laps was well within the capability of the hards (55 laps I think). The delta would have been bigger because of the extra grip offered by new softs, but not immensely so. Add in the DRS factor and the fact that the Mercedes was the faster car in race trim (in Hamilton’s hands at least), and I think you have a fair basis for comparison. Defending was difficult, but not impossible.

          1. Agree with that, people are overblowing it and say even mazepin would’ve passed, forgetting hamilton almost got back at verstappen, I think only a handful of drivers could’ve made that work.

        2. I think this reasoning is silly: hamilton with old tyres (hence slower in that moment), did he really have anything to lose in case of collision? If without collision you lose, you may as well risk and hope for the best.

  7. Why is race contol’s decision on the season finale singled out as the only low point? Several other race control decisions seemed wrong too. Baku was converted into a 2 lap race in the end, the Saudi GP kept getting interrupted by VCs, the lap 48 incident in Brazil was not referred to the stewards, race control did not even realzie that Ocon was in between Lewis and Max when he asked for the position swap at Saudi.

    I think race control in 2021 / Masi in 2021 should be called out as a low point.

  8. Lowest point was Masi -acting as kingmaker, gifting Max the title.

  9. We went from one of the greatest seasons in F1’s sporting history to one of the biggest entertainment show result fixing travesties in the space of 4 minutes… way to go F1..

  10. The unprecedented decision to hurriedly restart the race on the final lap having allowed just enough cars to unlap themselves to give Verstappen a clear shot at Hamilton drew gasps of disbelief. From that point the outcome was predictable enough it may as well have been scripted.

    Because Lewis didn’t manage to do a Checo and cracked under pressure. Had it been Max or Fernando in his place they probably would have hold on as despite a massive tyre advantage, Mercedes was still the best car. The performance delta was 2 secs. at worst, not 4s like some dwelling in excuses had said.

  11. It seems that whenever there is a close outcome in life these days the internet provides us with the opportunity and spurious evidence to become an expert.

    Brexit, Trump v Biden, HAM v VER etc. If the result is close then many people don’t accept the result and cry conspiracy.

    If as so many state, Masi was determined to gift the title to VER, why did he ignore the incident at turn 6 on lap one? Ample opportunity to give HAM a 10 sec penalty, swap the lead over etc. But despite all the accusations of bias he didn’t.

    So we are left with Masi/F1 carrying out an aim they discussed with all teams – the desire to end the season under a green flag.

    When safety car came out Merc should have realised the race would end under a green flag – as discussed – and pitted HAM. But they didn’t. This was an easy decision for them. If VER stayed out, HAM would have lost track position, but then either it would have gone green and he would have overtaken, or it would have been red flagged. In that situation VER would also have new tyres but HAM would probably have the pace to get him – even if the race lasted one lap.

    This was a 22 race season and VER won it. Bad stewarding – but also bad strategy from Merc.

    1. Masi wasn’t trying to hand the title to Verstappen, he was trying to make the final lap exciting, and in the process handed the title to Verstappen. And I don’t think Mercedes got the strategy wrong, because they gambled on there not being time for a restart and there wasn’t time for a restart, as shown by the need to break the rules and only allow some cars to unlap themselves. But the race restarted anyway. Bad stewarding, that made the right strategy wrong, in my opinion.

      1. and in the process handed the title to Verstappen

        I really wish this was the last time I ever read something along those lines about this event, as it is totally untrue.

        Masi’s comment to Toto says it all: “It was a race.”
        It was not handed to anyone, nor was it stolen from anyone. The two headline acts fought it out fair and square with each other on track, but only one of them could finish ahead.

        Mercedes could have pitted (twice) for fresh tyres but (both times) chose to keep track position instead. Not Red Bull’s fault, nor Race Control’s fault. They were a victim of their own strategic priorities and assumptions.
        It could just as easily have gone the other way.

        1. I somewhat agree that the title was “handed” to Verstappen, but on much more of a technicality than your comment. While it wasn’t handed to Verstappen (Masi did not order Lewis to let Max pass), Race Control made serious errors that significantly increased the probabilities and chances of Max winning the race, and thus the championship. Which shouldn’t be happening

          1. Apart from the fact that I don’t believe Race Control’s actions to be relevant to the competitive aspects (they didn’t force a change of result; actually less so than awarding a penalty for breach of track limits or gaining an advantage off the track) – I don’t believe it was an error anyway. It created a racing opportunity, and that should be both respected and applauded. That’s part of what Race Control is supposed to do.

            F1 is, was and always will be a commercial industry. Let’s not forget that.
            It is not a ‘pure’ sport. It simply can’t be. There are too many egotistical, wealthy and powerful individuals and corporations manipulating it in every way possible for their own benefit.
            Also don’t forget that many other sporting regulations have been ‘conveniently administered’ throughout the year/s with little substantial difference to this one, but more effect on actual racing results and circumstances.

            The FIA made a judgement as primary controller of their own business and regulations, and this time (surprisingly) I agree with them. Not because of who finished where, but because it’s ultimately what I want to see – competitive car racing, excitement, tension, unpredictability. All the things most people want from spectator activities.

            Thank you for getting something right, finally, FIA. F1 has been far too boring for far too long.

          2. braking the rules to get an illegitimate final lap under green was a farce. fia got it right to kill the sports and make it a show. keeping up with the verstappens

          3. @romtrain Nobody ‘broke’ the rules. The FIA applied them with their own interpretation, specific to a particular incident or situation, as they do with all rules. The interpretation changed, that’s all.
            How many different track limits interpretations have there been recently? They changed in the middle of the Bahrain GP too, remember?
            The rule is the same and applied as always, but interpreted differently when it suits.

            F1 needs to be a show. Sad, but indisputable fact.
            There have been too many other factors removed/minimised to make it sufficiently entertaining as a sport. The cars are basically all the same now, the drivers are mostly corporate robots, the teams have almost no individuality either, the tracks come in only 3 flavours and the race results have been largely the same for almost a decade, with relatively static periods of dominance collectively lasting even longer.

            If cutting back one lap of SC to get racing again is such a massive problem for you, then that’s just too bad.
            They aren’t listening to you any more than they listen to me.
            Actually, less so – according to their recent statements. The FIA fully believe they did the right thing too.

          4. Yes, s, very clearly those who complain so much about breaking the SC rules would NOT have complained had verstappen been ahead and hamilton behind with fresh tyres, it’s a biased argument.

          5. Well @esploratore1, if Max had been ahead but with older tyres he would have probably won anyway (see what Checo did with much older tyres) So those you mention would have complained just the same. What they wanted was a a win gifted on a platter by the SC.

          6. What they wanted was a a win gifted on a platter by the SC.

            Isnt that what Max got, a WDC gifted to him?

  12. Checo holding up up Hamilton was brilliant but it’s not even remotely the same situation as the final lap. Checo knew he was coming and had a fully charged battery ready to defend.
    At the safety car restart Lewis’s worn and don’t forget cold hard tyres put him at a massive disadvantage against Max’s almost new much faster warming soft’s.
    So yes Max did well over taking but please don’t dress it up as some mega feat, I would have been gob-smacked if he couldn’t.

  13. Max fans trying to take the whiff out of the WDC by desperately trying to claim the last lap was an epic over take.
    It was inevitable from the moment Masi conveniently removed only the 5 cars between them.

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