Controversial Season: 2021 Formula One

Till 2021, duo of Hamilton and Mercedes were so dominant. But in 2021 seasion, one other team was as fast as them and had a talanted driver. Redbull. Was anything going to change or another domination of Mercedes was waiting for us?

First Race of The Season; Sakhir,Bahrain:

While the Qualifyings (Session that determine the ranking), Verstappen the Red bull driver got the pole position, which mean is he will start as p1. Just behind him, Hamilton the Mercedes driver got the p2.

Race time. Five red lights out and race started. At the first corner, Verstappen managed to protect his position. About 20 seconds later, Nikita Mazepin crashed at the first lap of the race and safety car out. At lap 4th Safety car in but Hamilton was not able to get the leading from Verstappen.

At lap 14th, gap between them was 1.4 seconds, and at that lap Hamilton pitted. Verstappen decided to stay on track. Verstappen pitted 4 laps later, at lap 18th. But in those 4 laps, Hamilton had fresher tyres compared by Verstappen and recorded faster lap times. Thus, after Verstappen coming out of the pit, Hamilton had already got the leading of the race.

Both pitted one more time but Verstappen could not get the leader position back. Hamilton won, Verstappen p2.

Championship Points: Hamilton 25 – Verstappen 18

2nd Race; Imola, Italy:

While the Qualifyings, Hamilton got the pole position. Verstappen’s teammate Perez got p2, and Verstappen got p3.

At the Race. Verstappen got a super reaction and passed Perez at the start. Both Hamilton and Verstappen was going to the first corner side by side. Verstappen was on the advantageous side, and got the leader position at the first 1&2 corner. Due to Hamilton was on the disadvantageous side, he turned the corner through the kerbs and damaged his car.

For a while, ranking didn’t changed. At the lap 29 Hamilton pitted for new tyres, but track’s floor was wet and weather was cold. Under these conditions, Hamilton couldn’t warm his tyres. Cold tyres’ grip would be too low. And at the lap 31, at the breaking point, he couldn’t stopped and went into the gravel. While trying to go back to the track, he would lost lots of time and position. At that moment, race would end for him. But luckily, at the same time, someone crashed and safety car joined. Everyone slowed and Hamilton lost less time and position. Not losing any more time, he pitted again to change his ruined tyres. He retrograded to eighth position. But there were still 32 laps. He started to regain position one by one. And when Verstappen won the race, Hamilton’s thrown himself into p2 and finished at that position, p2.

Championship Points: Hamilton 44 – Verstappen 43

(Hamilton goes off the track)

6th Race; Baku, Azerbaijan:

While the Qualifyings, both Verstappen and Hamilton passed Q 1&2. At the Q3 session, Charles Leclerc the Ferrari driver recorded the fastest lap on the first trying of drivers. Everyone was going to try to get the pole position one more time. But Yuki Tsunoda the Alpha Tauri driver crashed while the session and session was stopped and was not continued. And no one could improve their lap time. Hamilton got p2, Verstappen p3 and Leclerc was on the pole position.

Race started and along 2 laps ranking did not change. At the end of lap 2, Hamilton passed Leclerc on the long straight. And also Verstappen passed him on the same straight at lap 6 by DRS (Drag Reduction System). Now, Hamilton leads, Vesrtappen is second. At lap 12 Hamilton pitted but that pit was so slow, he lost too much time. 2 laps later Vertappen pitted and went back to the track ahead of Hamilton. After that, race was stable till lap 46 which mean 5 laps left for finish. Verstappen was going at the main straight, suddenly his car got a flat tyre and he crashed so badly. He was leading, now he is out.

Race was stopped. Track was cleaned up and race started again. But just before starting, there was smoke coming from Hamilton’s car. Race started, but Hamilton’s tyres locked up and couldn’t turn the first corner. He fell from first to last. He could increase the point gap at that race, but both Verstappen and Hamilton couldn’t get any point of the race. Verstappen DNF (didn’t finished), Hamilton p16, Sergio Perez won.

Championship Points: Hamilton 101 – Verstappen 105

10th Race; Silverstone, Great Britain:

While the Qualifyings, Hamilton got the pole position by just 0.07 second compared with Verstappen. Verstappen p2.

The race was going to start with a huge chaos. 5 light out and away we go. Both of theme got a decent start but Verstappen pushed too much and passed Hamilton on the first corner. But Hamilton was just behind him. At Wellinton straight they was going side by side, also touched. End of the straight Vertappen managed to maintain the leading. But it was not over yet. Just before the Cops corners, there is a sort straight and Hamilton came next to Verstappen by taking advantage of wind tunnel. But each them was chasing the championship and were ambitious. They tried to turn the corner side by side but could not fit there. Hamilton was a little bit behind Verstappen and while turning the corner, Hamilton’s car hit Verstappen’s right back wheel. Verstappen had a crash which was 51G force. Race was stopped.

Thus, Hamilton got 10 seconds time penalty which mean when he pit, he has to wait for 10 second doing nothing. At lap 28 he pitted, changed his tyres after waited 10 seconds. He got back to the track as p4 after what has happened. There were still 24 laps to the end and at lap 31 gap between the leader Leclerc and Hamilton was 13.5 seconds. He passed everyone one by one. And at lap 50, he got the leading of the race just before 2 laps left to finish the race. He won the race, Verstappen DNF.

Championship Points: Hamilton 177 – Verstappen 185

11th Race; Budapest, Hungary:

While the Qualifying session, track was dry, weather was clean. Track conditions wa suitable for racing. In Q3 session Hamilton got the pole position, but Verstappen was not as fast as Valtteri Bottas the Mercedes driver. Bottas got p2, Verstappen p3.

While the racing time, weather conditions was not as well as when it was in Qualifyings. 5 lights out and race started. Track was wet, drivers could not even used slick tyres. At the first corner, everyone were involved  in an accident, except for Hamilton. Race was stopped. Everyone crashed each other. Verstappen’s car got damaged. 5 drivers had been already out of the race.

While the red flag, track dried up. Race started again and everyone came into the pit to change their tyres to slick ones, faster ones. Except for Hamilton. That was a wrong decision. One lap later, he also pitted but lost positions and got back to the track as the last. His car’s conditions was able to regain positions but Verstappen’s wasn’t. Hamilton passed most of driver one by one and finished as p3. Verstappen finished as p10 despite his damaged car. But after the race, Sebastian Vettel, who finished as p2, was disqualified of the race, and everyone behind him gained one more position. Therefore, Hamilton p2, Verstappen p9.

(I and most of F1 fans think that disqualification decision was inappropriate)

Championship Points: Hamilton 195 – Verstappen 187

14th Race; Monza, Italy:

Both Hamilton and Verstappen passed Q 1&2 easily. For the first tryings in Q3, Hamilton recorded the fastest lap time, behind him Verstappen. But for the second trying, how much Verstappen pushed the limits, he could not improved his lap time. Bottas got the pole position, Hamilton p2 and Verstappen p3.

But that weekend, there was also sprit race which mean, you started Sprint race from the position what you get at Qualifyings, and then started to the main race from the position where you finished sprint race.

At the sprint race, Hamilton lost 4 position at the start and could not regain them back. Bottas won the sprint race, but he had a 10 grid position penalty which mean he will started as p11 at the main race. Verstappen will start as p1, Hamilton as p4

At the race start Verstappen lost the leading, Daniel Ricciardo the McLaren driver hunt him at the first corner. At lap 24 Verstappen pitted but that pit was such slow,  11 seconds. At lap 26, also Hamilton pitted, his pit a little pit slow as well, 4 seconds. After he is back to the track, he was ahead of Verstappen. But they were so close. Due to Verstappen lost position against Hamilton, he got mad. He would want to get back position and at the fist corner he pushed the brakes too late to catch Hamilton. But first corner was too narrow for two cars. And Verstappen’s right back wheel hit Hamilton’s left right wheel. It made him lift above Hamilton. Verstappen’s car was literally on Hamilton’s car.  Both them was out. McLarens finished as 1&2, Ricciardo won the race. Hamilton And Verstappen DNF.

Championship Points: Hamilton 221,5 – Verstappen 226,5

(Monza Crash)

16th Race; Istanbul; Turkıye:

At the Q1 session, track was wet. Also Hamilton and Vertappen spinned. There was no enough grip. Then grip level back to normal. At Q3 session Hamilton got the pole position, his team mate Bottas got p2  and Verstappen p3. But Hamilton had a 10 grid position penalty. He was gonna start p11, Verstappen p2.

Race time, weather was rainy. Passing cars was harder than normal time. Race start was decent. Hamilton started to gain positions. At lap 34, he had been already 5th. Checo Perez was 4th at that lap. Hamilton had to pass him to continue gaining positions. But Perez’s race pace was better at that moment. Hamilton attempted to pass, but all of them was failure. Checo was literally saying ‘no trespassing’. Checo made Hamilton slow. And Verstappen was ahead of them after he pitted at lap 37. As the race result Valtteri Bottas won, Verstappen p2 and Hamilton p5.

Championship Points: Hamilton 256,5 – Verstappen 262,5

(Red Bull’s special livery for Turkiye gp)

19th Race; Sao Paulo, Brazil:

Both passed Q 1&2. At Q3, Hamilton recorded the fastest lap, Verstappen just behind him. Hamilton on the pole position. But is it really like that, well I mean is Hamilton on the pole? Let me explain.

Red bull was suspicious of DRS system of Mercedes. Red Bull demanded appeal to FIA. And FIA identified that there was a technical violation back wing of Hamilton’s car after an investigation. Thus Hamilton was disqualified. Mercedes claimed that Verstappen did that. Their reason to say that, Verstappen touched to the back wing of Hamilton’s car after the Qualifying session (He really touched). Their reason to say that, Verstappen touched to the back wing of Hamilton’s car after the Qualifying session. Verstappen was fined 50.000 Euro for that reason. 

Luckily for Hamilton that, there was a sprint race that race weekend. He started to sprint race as p20, He passed other drivers one by one. As the result he finished as p5 and had more chance for the main race. Verstappen was going to start as p2.

At the main, 5 lights out and race started. Verstappen turned the first corner as p1, he got the leading. Bottas who started p1, lost lots of positions, fell into p3. Just at the first corner Hamilton has been already started to gaining positions. At lap 5, Bottas was p4 and his team mate Hamilton caught up him. Bottas let Hamilton pass him. At lap 18, Hamilton was p3 and just behind Perez who was p2, and at the main straight Hamilton passed him and got p2. There was no one between Hamilton and Verstappen any more, and tha gap. between them was 3.6 seconds. At lap 48, there comes Hamilton,He tried to pass him just before the corner but Verstappen braked too late at the expense of leaving track, both them left the track for a moment. Under normal circumstances, Verstappen has to receive a penalty for pushing Hamilton off the track. But FIA said that there is no investigation for that. Interesting. At lap 59, Hamilton tried passing at the same straight. Verstappen was weaving all over the road to not him to pass, but this time Hamilton effortlessly passed him and got the race leading and did not leave it after that moment. He won that race, Verstappen p2.

Championship Points: Hamilton 318,5 – Verstappen 332,5

21th Race; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:

Both them passed Q 1&2. At Q3, Verstappen recorded the fastest lap on drivers first tryings. They were again on the track for their second trying. Hamilton tried first and recorded the fastest lap. It’s Verstappen’s turn. He recorded a purple sector on sector 1, which means he recorded the fastest time at that sector. Also recorded one more purple sector at sector 2. It was clear, he would get the pole position. His third sector was also good, just one corner left to end lap. But he could not completed turning the corner. He kissed the wall, crashed. He could not even completed the lap, and could not improve his lap time. As the result, Hamilton got the pole position, Verstappen p3.

5 lights out and race started. Race start was decent. Till lap 10, first 3 did not changed. At lap 10, Mick Schumacher crashed so badly and safety car joined. Hamilton came to pit and changed his tyres, but Verstappen did not. Red bull decided to wait for another safety car. After a moment, safety car decision changed to red flag which means, everyone go to their garage and wait until track to clean. And at garage, they can change their tyres without losing any time. It was good for Verstappen, he both get the leading and change his tires.

And race started again. At the first corner, Estaban Ocon the Alpine driver passed Hamilton, at the same time another crash occurred at the back. Another red flag. Another race start. One lap after the race start, Hamilton passed Ocon. At lap 36, Hamilton tried to pass Verstappen, but Verstappen braked too late and cut the corner. At lap 37, Red bull wanted Verstappen to let Hamilton pass, otherwise they would get a penalty. But Hamilton was so close behind him, Verstappen braked to let Hamilton pass, but Hamilton hit him when Verstappen braked. Hamilton broke his front wing. Finally at lap 43, he passed Verstappen and did not lose his position back. Hamilton won, Verstappen p2. Their championship points were literally same after that race.

Championship Points: Hamilton 369,5 – Verstappen 369,5

Last Race; Abu Dhabi:

Both Hamilton and Verstappen came there with the same point: 369,5.

Both of them past easily Q1 and Q2. In Q3 Verstappen took the pole position by 0.3 a second compared with Hamilton.

On Sunday, 5 red lights out and the fight has begun. Hamilton took the lead by a better starting reaction just before the first corner. Verstappen had no intention to give up. At the sixth corner he tried to get back the lead by pushing Hamilton out of the circuit, therefore Hamilton cut the corner and did not gave the lead.

Cutting corner was legal in that situation, he was forced to go out of the track. Redbull wanted an investigation for this, but Fia knew that there was no illegal thing.

At lap 14, Verstappen pitted. After one lap also Hamilton pitted. At lap 20, Verstappen was third, Hamilton was second, and Checo Perez was the leader (Checo has not pitted yet). Hamilton tried so many times to regain the leader position to not Verstappen decrease the gap between them, but Red bull made such a team work that Perez gave everything not to Hamilton pass him. Yes, maybe Hamilton was faster than him, but with late breaking, Perez protected his position. His fans called him The Defence Minister of Mexico. He maintained that for 2 laps, finally end of the 2 laps hamilton got rid of him and took the leading, and in those laps Verstappen decreased 7 seconds. That’s huge.

When Verstappen catch them, Perez gave his position to Verstappen. Now Hamilton and Verstappen was alone with their fight. Hamilton increased gap to 11 seconds till lap 53, but the controversial part now is starting.

Nicholas Latifi, he were racing for Williams F1 Team in those years. He was not such a talented driver to race in F1 (He was fired at the end of 2022). He crashed his car so badly at lap 53, thus the safety car joined the game.

While the safety car you lose less time in pit stop compared with a normal pit stop. Verstappen entered the pit lane to chance his tyres to soft one. Hamilton did not pitted. And in that moment, Hamilton had old hard tyres, Verstappen had fresh soft ones. That mean is Verstappen was going to be quicker that Hamilton when the race start again after safety car.

But, while Verstappen’s pit stop, 4 lapped cars got in between Hamilton and Verstappen. That mean is after safety car in, Verstappen had to pass the lapped cars firstly, then were able to pass Hamilton. Christian Horner (Team principal of Red bull) was trying to convince FIA to let the lapped cars pass the safety car. It was an illegal request. Well, what is the result? FIA let the lapped cars pass the safety car. After that event F1 fans, call FIA as Fiabull. If they would say that they will let that thing before, also Hamilton would pit. That’s a scam.

Just one lap left after safety car in. Hamilton was the leader with old tyres, and just behind him, Verstappen with quicker tyres. Hamilton was chasing for his 8th world championships, Verstappen for his first world championships. And the expected happened. At the final lap, at the fifth corner, Verstappen passed Hamilton, and Hamilton couldn’t catch him again. Actually, if we take a look at that moment, Verstappen couldn’t event stopped at the breaking point when he passed Hamilton because of the cold tyres. Under normal circumstances, FIA would punish that dangerous passing, but…

I can’t say anything about who deserved the championships by looking at the whole season, more precisely don’t want to say. But if we discuss that for the last race, no doubt Hamilton deserved it. FIA broke their own rules. As the result, Max Verstappen won his first championship.

Mercedes was so dominant between 2014-2020 years. In 2021, we watched really exciting, competitive, good season. Also for the championship, an amendment would be such a good for us, spectators. But it shouldn’t have been that way…

(Verstappen’s celebration)

Mehmet Said Bayram

Mehmet Said Bayram

About Author

Hi, I'm Said (not the second form of say). I have been studying at Omer Cham Anatolian High School since 2021. Like everyone else, I have hobbies. I'm keen on Formula 1. I have translation experience. And that's it. I'm sure that you will be interested about our writings.

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