F1 Season Recap 2021

Image editorial credit: sbonsi / Shutterstock.com

The 2021 Formula 1 season has finally ended, and it did not disappoint. It was a season like no other. There were moments of great controversy, right until the last lap of the season, and moments of great happiness and heartbreak. It was a whirlwind of a season, and so much happened, so what better to do than to break down the entire season and do a 2021 F1 season recap. 

Max Verstappen claimed his first World Championship during the 2021 F1 season, narrowly edging out Lewis Hamilton after last-lap controversy during the season’s final race. Mercedes won the Constructors’ Championship, and there were six race winners, including a first-time race winner. 

The 2021 F1 season was dramatic from start to finish. It was filled with controversy and lots of skirmishes between Mercedes and Red Bull, both on and off the track. While it ended with a Max Verstappen win, it was a season with so much more. So, strap yourselves in as we recap one of the most extraordinary Formula 1 seasons of all time as we review each race and look at some of the best moments from the season.

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Overview of the 2021 Formula 1 Season

The 2021 F1 season finished in the most dramatic fashion possible. Lewis Hamilton had a solid lead over Verstappen, with just a few laps to go, and looked set to cruise to a record-breaking eight World Championship. However, with only six laps remaining, Nicholas Latifi spun off the track and into the barriers, bringing out a safety car. 

Sensing an opportunity, Red Bull pitted Verstappen for a fresh set of soft tires to give him the best possible chance to pass Lewis Hamilton when the race restarted. Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton out on track, thinking that the race would either end under a safety car or that the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen would provide enough safety net.

However, much to Mercedes’ and Hamilton’s dismay, race-director Michael Masi opted to let the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen through and bring in the safety car that lap. This left Max Verstappen on Hamilton’s tail with only one lap remaining. Verstappen had a clear advantage as he was fitted with fresh soft tires, whereas Hamilton was still on the hard tires he put on during his first pit stop right near the start of the race. 

The Dutch driver dramatically passed Hamilton on the final lap, and the race win was enough to claim his first World Championship. While many felt that Hamilton was robbed of the race win due to the highly questionable decision made by the race director, it is hard to say that Verstappen was underserving of the Championship. 

He won 10 races, started from pole on 10 occasions, and broke the record for the number of podium finishes during an F1 season, with 18 (all first or second places). Verstappen also led the most laps throughout the season, with 652. This was more than the combined laps led by all the other drivers this season. 

But the season was so much more than the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

During the dramatic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sergio Perez won his first F1 race for Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo also took his first win for McLaren during the Italian Grand Prix after a difficult start to life with the team from Woking. Lando Norris took second place, making it the only 1-2 during the 2021 season. Esteban Ocon also won his first Formula 1 Grand Prix during the Hungarian Grand Prix, after Valtteri Bottas took several drivers out in turn 1. Bottas won his final race for Mercedes in Turkey, bringing up double figures for wins in his career, and Hamilton and Verstappen claimed multiple victories. This meant that six different drivers won a race in 2021.

We also said goodbye to two drivers, Kimi Räikkönen, who retired after 19 seasons in Formula 1, and his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi whose contract was not renewed by Alfa Romeo. Kimi holds the record for the most race starts in F1 with 349 and is a true legend of the sport, which all F1 fans will miss.


Race-By-Race Recap of the 2021 F1 Season

The 2021 Formula 1 season featured a record of 22 races spanning ten months, so let’s look at all the races and the major talking points from each race. 

2021 F1 Bahrain Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

The season’s first race set a precedent for what was to follow, as we were treated to some exciting action on the track. Max Verstappen topped all the practice sessions and put his car on pole, and was the favorite for the race after Mercedes appeared to struggle during the pre-season testing hosted only a few days prior at the same track.

Verstappen started the race on pole, but his new teammate Sergio Perez couldn’t get close to the Dutchman, as he started the race in 11th. Things went from bad to worse for the Mexican, as he had engine issues on the formation lap, which caused him to pull over and lose his grid spot. While he managed to get his car going again, he had to start the race at the end of the pitlane, which compromised his entire race.

Verstappen managed to keep his lead ahead of Lewis Hamilton at the start. However, he could not build a lead as rookie Nikita Mazepin sent his Haas into the barriers on turn three of the first lap of his first F1 race. This brought out a safety car, which again put Hamilton behind the Red Bull driver. 

Verstappen stayed ahead at the restart, and both he and Hamilton opted for a two-stop strategy. Hamilton pitted before Verstappen on both occasions, gaining track position as a result. This left Hamilton ahead, albeit with older tires than the Red Bull driver hunting him down. Verstappen managed to close the gap to 1 second with only five laps remaining.

Finally, on lap 53 with three laps left, Verstappen caught and overtook Hamilton. However, he was adjudged to have overtaken Hamilton by going off the track and gaining an unfair advantage. This meant he was forced to give the position back, which he did, and Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory to open his account for what would prove to be an exciting season.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuBlV0dixMo&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Lando Norris

In the second race of the season, we were treated to rain, which caused all sorts of problems throughout. Charles Leclerc spun off the track during the formation lap, but luckily for the Ferrari driver, he could rejoin without any damage or places lost.

Hamilton started the race on pole, with Sergio Perez keeping him company on the front row and Verstappen behind them in third. However, it wasn’t the Red Bull of Perez that Hamilton had to contend with at the start, as Max Verstappen managed to sneak past and take the lead. In doing so, Hamilton was forced onto the curbs, which damaged his front wing and put him in second place behind Verstappen and ahead of Perez.

Afterward, Nicholas Latifi brought out a safety car after tangling with Mazepin and sliding off into the barriers. A lot happened under the safety car, as Perez overtook Leclerc and was hit with a 10-second penalty for overtaking while the safety car was deployed. Mick Schumacher also lost his front wing after hitting the barriers at the pit exit.

Hamilton and Mercedes tried to overcut Verstappen by pitting one lap later than him to get ahead of the Red Bull driver. Unfortunately for Hamilton, he had a slow pit stop which put him behind Verstappen after coming out of the pits. However, it got worse for Hamilton as he slid off the track only a few laps later. While his car was undamaged, he dropped back to eighth. On the same lap, Bottas and Russell tangled after Russell lost control after making contact with the damp grass next to the track. The two spun off into the barriers, and luckily, they were both unharmed, but the incident caused the race to be red-flagged.

Hamilton’s adventure into the gravel traps left his chances of winning the race in tatters, with Verstappen storming off into the distance to take first place. Thankfully for Hamilton, though, he managed to work his way up to second place by the end of the race, aided in part by making a free tire change during the red flag. The red flag also ensured that his spin didn’t cost him too much time. His fellow countryman, Lando Norris, took the final spot on the podium after a fantastic race, earning him his second trophy in his F1 career.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds0BC8RDJ5o&t=8s&ab_channel=FORMULA1  

2021 F1 Portuguese Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas started the race on pole, with Lewis Hamilton lining up next to him as Mercedes secured their first front-row lockout of the season. Bottas kept his lead at the start and started building a solid lead before a safety car on lap 2, which was brought out to allow the marshals to remove Kimi Räikkönen’s damaged Alfa Romeo curtailed his progress.

At the restart, Verstappen managed to get past Hamilton to take him into second place. However, a few laps later, Hamilton managed to get past his title rival to retake second place. Hamilton got past his teammate Valtteri Bottas to take the lead nine laps later.

Verstappen was the first of the top 3 cars to pit, and the decision paid off, as he managed to overtake Bottas after the Mercedes driver came out the pits a lap later. While all this was happening, Lewis Hamilton was building a commanding lead, and he crossed the line in first place after an uneventful second half of the race for the 7x World Champion. Verstappen kept his lead ahead of Bottas to finish second, and Bottas held on to finish third.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9-8gvYantk&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Spanish Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

Formula 1 headed to Barcelona for the first doubleheader of the season, and Lewis Hamilton put it on pole at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Verstappen lined up next to him in second place, and Bottas started third.

Verstappen got the better start and managed to get ahead of Hamilton on turn 1 to take the lead on the first lap. Hamilton wasn’t the only Mercedes driver to lose a place at the start, as Charles Leclerc quickly got past Valtteri Bottas on lap 1. However, Verstappen’s lead was curtailed, as Yuki Tsunoda ground to a halt after engine issues, bringing out the safety car in the process.

On lap 43 of 66, Mercedes rolled the dice with a two-stop strategy for Hamilton as they tried to get the lead back from Red Bull. The decision paid off, as Hamilton, on a fresh set of medium tires, managed to hunt down Max Verstappen and pass him at the start of lap 60 to retake the lead. Verstappen could not fight back as his tires were much older, as he was on a one-stop strategy, and he had to settle for second place, with Valtteri Bottas completing the podium.  

Watch highlights of the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuLdJLB6sBo&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Monaco Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Carlos Sainz
  • 3rd: Lando Norris

F1 returned to Monaco after not racing in the principality in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the sport’s return did not disappoint.

Hometown hero Charles Leclerc sensationally put his Ferrari on pole but spun into the barriers at the end of Q3, prompting speculation that he might’ve damaged his gearbox. He would’ve been given a five-place grid penalty if he had to replace it. However, his Ferrari mechanics deemed his gearbox fine and opted not to replace it. Unfortunately, his race would end before it even started, with his car failing to make it to the grid during the lap from the garage due to issues with his gearbox.

This left the pole spot open, meaning that Max Verstappen was effectively the pole sitter, starting in second place. Behind him was Valtteri Bottas, followed by Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Due to a poor qualifying session, Lewis Hamilton started 7th. Verstappen led the race from the start and would claim his maiden Monaco Grand Prix race win after leading the whole race.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just heartbreak for Leclerc during the race, as Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes set the record for the longest pit stop ever in Formula 1. Due to an issue with the wheel nut on Bottas’s right front wheel, they could only remove it after 43 hours and 15 minutes. This took him out of the race and meant that Carlos Sainz moved up to second place, and Lando Norris moved up to third, where they would finish the race.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK5qm8AZ1dQ&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Sergio Perez
  • 2nd: Sebastian Vettel
  • 3rd: Pierre Gasly

Charles Leclerc astonishingly made it two pole positions in a row as he put his Ferrari on pole for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Thankfully for Leclerc, he managed to keep it out of the barriers (unlike many other drivers) during qualifying. However, he couldn’t hold onto his lead for long after being passed by Lewis Hamilton on the second lap. Verstappen then got past the Ferrari driver on lap seven before shortly passing Lewis Hamilton to take the lead on lap 12, after the Mercedes driver pitted. After pitting a lap later, Verstappen managed to stay ahead of Hamilton due to the British driver’s slow pit stop.

It was all going well for the Dutchman, who was cruising to victory before his right rear tire failed with four laps left. This caused him to spin off into the barriers at high speed, coming down the main straight. The race was red-flagged, partly due to safety concerns related to the tires, as the same thing that happened to Verstappen happened to Lance Stroll earlier on in the race.

Hamilton jumped Perez off the line to take the lead at the restart but had mistakenly left his brake magic on (used to warm up the brakes but turns them off), which meant he couldn’t brake at the first corner. This caused him to fly off down the escape road, handing the lead back to Sergio Perez, who would win his new team’s first win. After Hamilton’s misfortunes, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly moved up to second and third place and would end the race in those positions to claim their first and only podiums of the season.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suZHkUxPzjE&t=324s&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 French Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Sergio Perez

Max Verstappen started on pole and managed to hang on to the lead, which kept him ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place. But he didn’t manage to stay in first for very long as on turn 2, he went off the track, which allowed Hamilton to breeze past him and take the lead.

Verstappen attempted the undercut by pitting before Hamilton on lap 19 of 53. It paid off for Red Bull as when Hamilton pitted a lap later, he came out behind Verstappen. Red Bull decided on a two-stop strategy for Verstappen and pitted him again on lap 32. Mercedes chose to keep both Hamilton and Bottas out, much to Bottas’s frustration.

It once again proved to be an intelligent decision by Red Bull, as Verstappen passed Bottas on lap 44 to move into second. Things only got worse for Bottas as on lap 49, Sergio Perez overtook him to steal the final podium spot. Verstappen wasn’t done, though, as, on lap 52/53, he used his fresher tires to his advantage to overtake Hamilton to take the lead. He held on the lead until the end of the race to win his third Grand Prix in a row, with Hamilton finishing behind him in second place and Perez taking third place.

Watch highlights of the 2021 French Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hBwgJtMxLM&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Styrian (Austria) Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

Max Verstappen started on pole the first of the two races on Red Bull’s home track. Lewis Hamilton lined up next to him in second place, but Verstappen got the better start and managed to keep his lead heading into the first corner. It was a quiet race for Verstappen, who stayed ahead for the entire race and took the win with ease, much to the delight of the Orange Army cheering him on from the stands.

Lewis Hamilton finished second, and Valtteri Bottas rounded up the podium after Sergio Perez had a slow pit stop, which dropped him behind the Mercedes driver during the race. It was a relatively quiet race for all the other drivers, except for Charles Leclerc, who spent the entire race fighting his way back from 18th after damaging his front wing on the first lap. His charge turned out to be relatively successful as he ended the race in 7th place behind his teammate Carlos Sainz.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr4gf_iae20&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Austrian Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Valtteri Bottas
  • 3rd: Lando Norris

Once again, Max Verstappen started on pole, except this time, the British driver lining up next to him was Lando Norris, not Lewis Hamilton (who started 4th). Verstappen built a commanding lead from the start, but his teammate wasn’t so fortunate, as he lost several places after being forced off the track by Lando Norris on lap 4.

However, Norris was given a five-second penalty for forcing Perez off the track during their 4th lap skirmish. But, on lap 41, Perez did the same thing to Charles Leclerc, and he too was handed a five-second penalty for forcing another driver off the track. A few laps later, Perez was hit with another time penalty for forcing Leclerc off the track again.

The drama wasn’t over, though, as Lewis Hamilton suffered minor damage on lap 48 after driving over some hard and raised curbs. He then let his teammate Valtteri Bottas pass him, putting the Finn into second place to finish the race. This left him in the sights of Lando Norris, who eventually got past his compatriot on lap 54 to take third place. Norris managed to hold on to third place, to round up the podium behind Bottas and Verstappen, who yet again cruised to victory in Austria after another uneventful race for the Dutchman.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxLVqf5OtIE&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 British Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Charles Leclerc
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

Formula 1 fans were treated to the first sprint race of the year after the idea was brought in for three races during the 2021 season. Despite starting on pole for the sprint race, Lewis Hamilton finished it in second, after being overtaken off the line by his title-rival Max Verstappen. This meant that Hamilton and Verstappen started the proper race on the front row, with Verstappen on pole.

At the start of the race, Verstappen managed to stay ahead, closely followed by Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, who managed to jump Bottas off the line. Hamilton and Verstappen fought like crazy on the first lap until Copse Corner, where Hamilton tried to go around the inside and ended up clipping Verstappen’s left rear wheel and sending the Red Bull driver flying off into the barriers. Amidst the chaos, Charles Leclerc managed to sneak into the lead.

The race was red-flagged shortly after the incident to repair the tire barrier Verstappen lodged his Red Bull into. Leclerc and Hamilton lined up on the front row at the restart, and Charles Leclerc retained his lead. The Ferrari driver then led most of the race after Lewis Hamilton was given a 10 second time penalty for causing a collision with Verstappen.

Hamilton dropped to fourth place after serving his time penalty but quickly made amends. After passing Lando Norris to take fourth place on lap 31, he steadily caught his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who, on lap 40, was given team orders to let Hamilton past.

This left Hamilton with only Charles Leclerc ahead of him with 12 laps to go. He eventually caught the Ferrari driver on lap 50, who didn’t have a quick enough car to keep Hamilton behind him despite doing everything he could. After getting past Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton cruised to a controversial victory at his home race with only two laps left.

The drama did not stop at the chequered flag, though, as Max Verstappen labeled Hamilton as “disrespectful” and “unsportsmanlike” for celebrating the race win in such a jubilant manner while he was still in the hospital. Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko also called Hamilton dangerous for trying to overtake Verstappen in such a manner on Copse Corner.

Watch the highlights of the 2021 British Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRt8hXFb0Vg&t=320s&ab_channel=FORMULA1

Editorial credit: cristiano barni / Shutterstock.com

2021 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Esteban Ocon
  • 2nd: Sebastian Vettel (disqualified)
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Carlos Sainz

The 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix was one of the season’s most dramatic and exciting races. The race started in the rain, and it played its part. Hamilton and Bottas lined up on the front row, with Verstappen and Perez locking out the second row. The conditions were poor due to rain falling before the race started, so the track was very slippery, which meant the whole grid started on intermediate tires.

The start went very well for Hamilton, who started on pole, but the same couldn’t be said for his teammate, Bottas, who had a disastrous start. His getaway off the line was very slow, and Verstappen, Perez, and Norris quickly passed him. It then got even worse as he locked up going into the first turn and hit the back of Norris, who then hit Verstappen. After hitting Norris, he slid into Sergio Perez, leaving Perez, Norris, and Bottas out of the race and Verstappen with a lot of damage.

This wasn’t the only drama on lap one as Lance Stroll hit the wet grass on the side of the track, which caused him to slam into the back of Leclerc, taking them both out of the race. Leclerc, as a result, ended up making contact with Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, causing him damage in the process.

Lewis Hamilton managed to shoot off into the distance throughout all the chaos, and Esteban Ocon, who started in 8th, managed to avoid the mess and exited the first turn in P2. The race was unsurprisingly red-flagged to allow the marshals to clear the track of all the debris. This allowed Verstappen and Ricciardo to continue the race, as their mechanics had enough time to repair certain parts of the car. However, this left them in a compromised state for the race, and Verstappen only managed to finish P10, with Ricciardo finishing outside the points.

None of the cars opted to run slick tires at the restart, even though the track had dried up significantly. But, in an amazing turn of events, on the formation lap to the grid for the restart, the entire field, except for Lewis Hamilton, who was starting in P1, opted to pit for slick tires. This left Lewis Hamilton all by himself on the grid at the restart, with the rest of the drivers starting from the pitlane, after pitting for slick tires.

George Russell was first out of pits, thanks to the location of the Williams’ pit-box, and Esteban Ocon followed him. However, Russell was told to give several places back as he was deemed to have gained an unfair advantage due to Williams’ pit box being at the end of the pit lane, leaving him in P8. Hamilton pitted as soon as possible for slick tires, leaving Ocon in the lead, closely followed by Sebastian Vettel. After pitting, Hamilton came out at the back of the pack and was forced to fight his way through the entire field throughout the race.

Ocon would manage to brilliantly hold onto P1 for the entire race, despite being pushed right to the end by Sebastian Vettel. This was Ocon’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix win in his career and the first-ever podium for the rebranded Alpine in F1. Vettel finished the race second, and Hamilton could only work his way up to third after being brilliantly held up by some excellent defense by Fernando Alonso throughout the race.

George Russell and Nicholas Latifi also capitalized on the first lap carnage to claim their first points for Williams. Latifi finished in P8 with Russell one place behind him P9.

The drama was not over when the race ended, though, as Vettel was later disqualified for not having the appropriate amount of fuel left in his car at the end of the race. At the end of each race, the FIA needed to take 1.5 liters of fuel out of each car, which they could not do with Vettel’s Aston Martin. This meant that Hamilton moved up to second place, and Carlos Sainz, who finished the race fourth, was bumped up to third place.  

Watch highlights of the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2kkuQS_gXk&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Belgian Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: George Russell
  • 3rd: Lewis Hamilton

It would be very kind to call the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix a race. The whole race weekend was affected by rain, and the race was no different. The start of the race was continually postponed due to the rain. The cars were initially sent out behind the safety car to test the conditions, but it was deemed too dangerous to race, so it was not started.

Eventually, the cars were controversially sent out to complete two laps under the safety car, which meant that no overtaking was allowed, and these were counted as a race start, which meant it counted as a race. However, because so few laps were completed, half points were awarded, and the order in which the race was started was how it was finished. This meant that Verstappen, who qualified first, was awarded the win, and George Russell claimed his first podium for Williams after a brilliant qualifying session to put his car on P2. Lewis Hamilton rounded up the podium positions after qualifying third for the race.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjmywbEfzk0&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 Dutch F1 Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

Verstappen started on pole for his home race as F1 returned to Zandvoort for the first time in 36 years. He got a better start off the line than Hamilton in second place, so he kept his lead heading into the first corner. Verstappen built up a commanding lead, but Hamilton pitted first on lap 21 of 72. Red Bull and Verstappen opted to copy what Hamilton was doing, so he pitted the next lap and had enough advantage to come out ahead of Hamilton.

Verstappen used his fresher tires to overtake Bottas, who had opted to stay out to take the lead in the race only ten laps later. While attempting to get past Bottas, Verstappen lost a lot of his time advantage over Hamilton, who was right on his tail by the time Verstappen overtook Bottas.

However, this didn’t prove to be too much of an issue for the Dutch driver as he shot off into the distance and comfortably took first place, much to the delight of the home fans. Hamilton finished second, and Bottas crossed the line third to close out the podium.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXhGajRFLlY&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Italian Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Daniel Ricciardo
  • 2nd: Lando Norris
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

The Italian Grand Prix never disappoints, and this year’s race was no different. This was the second race weekend during the 2021 F1 season, where sprint qualifying was added. Valtteri Bottas managed to hold first place during the sprint qualifying, with Max Verstappen finishing second and Daniel Ricciardo bringing up the final podium place during the sprint.

Unfortunately for Bottas, he dropped to the back of the grid for the race after taking a grid penalty for replacing his engine. This meant that former Red Bull teammates Verstappen and Ricciardo lined up together on the front row.

Ricciardo managed to jump the Red Bull driver when the lights went out and took the lead into the first corner. He managed to keep the lead for most of the race, only briefly losing it when he pitted on lap 22. While he was under pressure by his teammate Lando Norris in the latter part of the race, Norris was given team orders not to overtake Ricciardo, and the two McLaren drivers bought it home to make it the only 1-2 of the season.

However, the major talking point from the race was not McLaren’s 1-2, nor Ricciardo’s iconic ‘shoey’ on the podium. Instead, it was the controversial incident between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. After a very slow pit stop on lap 24, Max Verstappen came out behind Lewis Hamilton, and while attempting to overtake him on the first chicane, somehow managed to lodge his Red Bull on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

It seemed like the cause of it was hitting the curbs on the corner, which bounced his car onto the Mercedes. This proved to be the end of both of their races and was another central talking point between the two title protagonists.  

Watch highlights of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZgniFQiTPA&t=137s&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Russian Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Carlos Sainz

While the podium places, bar Carlos Sainz ended up looking very familiar for the Russian Grand Prix, the same could not be said about the starting grid. Lando Norris set the fastest lap to take his first-ever pole position in F1 during qualifying. His former teammate Carlos Sainz was lined up alongside him, and behind Norris was his good friend George Russell. Lewis Hamilton started fourth, and Max Verstappen began the race 20th after taking a new engine, and therefore, received a grid penalty as a result. Bottas started in 16th, after taking a new power unit.

Carlos Sainz took the lead heading into the first braking zone, followed by Norris and Russell. In the opening phase of the race, Max Verstappen was also quickly working his way up through the field and was 14th by the sixth lap of the race. On lap 13, Norris managed to overtake Sainz to retake the lead, and it was a position he would stay in for much of the race, except after pitting on lap 29 of 53.

After getting back into the lead earlier in the race, Lando Norris was put under threat by Lewis Hamilton in second place with six laps to go. At this time, the first signs of rain falling on the track began to appear. The rain started to worsen slightly, causing the track to become more slippery than before. However, Norris decided to stay out and not pit for intermediate tires, as he thought the rain would hold off enough until the end of the race. This sadly proved to be the wrong decision for the young Briton, as the rest of the pack pitted for intermediate tires, including Hamilton behind him.

The decision paid off for Hamilton as he quickly made up the ground to Norris and overtook him as he slid off the track with 2 ½ laps remaining due to a lack of grip caused by the wet track. It was heartbreak for Lando Norris as his first-ever win in F1 slipped from his grasp just like his McLaren did on the wet track. Hamilton cruised to his incredible 100th F1 race victory on the intermediate tires, followed by Verstappen and Sainz, who both pitted early for intermediate tires, making a gamble that paid off. Norris, who eventually pitted for intermediate tires, limped home in 7th place.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Russian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjw1x6xQo7s&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Turkish Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Valtteri Bottas
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Sergio Perez

F1 returned to Turkey again, and once again, the rain was falling before the start of the race. Valtteri Bottas started on pole, and Verstappen lined up next to him in 2nd. Lewis Hamilton began the race in 11th after receiving a 10-place grid penalty for fitting a fourth engine in his Mercedes.

Bottas got the better start off the line and held on to P1, heading into the first corner. He held the lead for most of the first half of the race until he pitted for another set of intermediate tires due to the still slippery track. Charles Leclerc took the lead after Bottas pitted, but he was eventually caught by Bottas and Verstappen, who were on much fresher tires than the Monegasque.

Bottas managed to hang onto the lead to take his 10th win in F1, and Verstappen crossed the line behind him in second place. Sergio Perez also managed to get past Leclerc to take the final podium spot. Leclerc held on to fourth place, and Hamilton finished behind him in fifth.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGRpHy0qoN4&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 United States Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Sergio Perez

Max Verstappen started on pole, with Lewis Hamilton keeping him company in second as F1 returned to the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton got the better start and managed to pass Verstappen on the first corner to take the lead.

Verstappen opted to pit first on lap 11 of 56, and on lap 14, Hamilton responded to Red Bull’s move. The undercut worked for Red Bull as Verstappen managed to get ahead of Hamilton, with tires only a few laps older than Hamilton’s. Verstappen then pitted again before Hamilton with 26 laps left. Hamilton pitted eight laps later but couldn’t come out ahead of Verstappen. The Mercedes driver finally managed to get within striking distance of Verstappen with one lap to go, but it wasn’t enough as Max Verstappen crossed the line ahead of Hamilton to win his first-ever US Grand Prix. Hamilton finished second, and Sergio Perez rounded up the podium.  

Watch highlights of the 2021 American Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ee08uFurok&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Mexican Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Sergio Perez

Mercedes secured a front-row lockout in Mexico City with Bottas starting on pole and Hamilton starting second. Behind them were Verstappen and Perez in third and fourth, respectively. However, Verstappen didn’t prove an issue as he flew past both Mercedes cars and took the lead heading into the first turn. Mercedes’s woes didn’t end here as moments later Bottas was clipped by Daniel Ricciardo and, after being spun around, rejoined the race in last place.

The first lap chaos didn’t end there, as both Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher ended off the track thanks to Esteban Ocon. This brought their races to an end and brought out a safety car as a result.

Mercedes attempted the undercut on Verstappen by pitting Hamilton first, but it proved to be in vain, as he couldn’t get anywhere near his title rival. It turned out to be a simple victory for Max Verstappen, who extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Lewis Hamilton defended Sergio Perez’s challenges to hold on to second place. Perez crossed the line in third to become the first Mexican driver to stand on the podium at the end of the Mexican Grand Prix.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yYtH0HAL-U&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Brazilian Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

Formula 1 headed to Sau Paulo for the second race of the final triple-header of the season. Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on Friday, qualifying to start on pole for the last Sprint Qualifying of the season. However, due to a technical irregularity regarding the height of the gap in his rear wing, he was made to start the Sprint Qualifying last on the grid.

This put Verstappen on pole and Bottas second, but Bottas would get past the Red Bull driver to start the main race first, alongside Verstappen in second. Carlos Sainz grabbed the final point up for grabs in the sprint by ending it third. Lewis Hamilton expertly worked his way up the grid during the sprint to finish it in P5. However, he received a five-place grid penalty for taking a new engine and had to start the race 10th.

At the start of the race, Verstappen managed to overtake Bottas to take the lead out of turn two. Lando Norris tangled with former teammate Carlos Sainz at the start and ended up with a puncture which caused him to drop to the back of the pack. Perez overtook Bottas after running wide on turn four on the first lap.

From the start, Lewis Hamilton quickly worked his way up through the grid, and by lap 3, he was already in P5, and a few laps later, he got let past by Bottas to move into fourth. He then got past Perez on lap 19 after a fierce battle on the previous lap to take second place. On lap 48, Hamilton was in striking distance of Verstappen and managed to get past him on turn five before being controversially forced off the track by Verstappen. However, Verstappen was not penalized for his actions, much to the surprise of many F1 fans.

But this didn’t keep Hamilton behind for too long as he finally got past the Red Bull driver on lap 59 to sail into the lead, much to the delight of the Brazillian fans. From there, he was able to work on extending his lead, which he did without any issues, and crossed the line to finish first. Verstappen held on to P2 after being unchallenged by Bottas, who finished behind him in third.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icesjjvN6Sc&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Qatar Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Fernando Alonso

Lewis Hamilton had some different company around him as he started on pole as F1 raced in Qatar for the first time. Both Bottas and Verstappen were given grid penalties for not slowing down under yellow flags during qualifying, which meant Bottas started 6th, and Verstappen 7th. Gasly moved up into P2, with Alonso and Norris in P3 and P4, respectively.

Hamilton got a good start and quickly began to extend his lead as he left the rest of the pack behind. Verstappen also had a great start, and by lap 5, he was up into second. The two front runners built up a big gap between them and the rest of the pack.

On lap 34, it was heartbreak for Bottas as he suffered a puncture while running in P3, which caused him to tumble down the grid as he limped back to the pit box to get a new set of tires. This caused Fernando Alonso to move up into third after Perez opted to pit. Alonso finished third to claim his first podium since he returned to Formula 1. He finished behind Verstappen, who couldn’t get anywhere near Hamilton, who finished P1 to further reduce Verstappen’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZy-NZF8mEA&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd: Max Verstappen
  • 3rd: Valtteri Bottas

With just two races left and Verstappen only marginally ahead in the Championship, Lewis Hamilton started on pole as F1 raced in Saudi Arabia for the first time in history. Alongside him on the front row was Valtteri Bottas, with Verstappen behind them in third. The race was full of chaos and drama throughout, and the opening part was no different.

The front three stayed the same for the first ten laps. But on lap 10, Mick Schumacher ended up in the barriers on turns 21 and 22, which initially brought out a safety car to allow the marshals to remove his stricken Haas. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas pitted under the safety car to minimize the time lost when usually pitting. Red Bull and Verstappen did the opposite and kept him out.

Red Bull’s decision turned out to be very beneficial because the race was red-flagged two laps later, as the barriers that Schumacher hit needed to be repaired. This meant that Verstappen could change his tires and stay first, much to the dismay of Mercedes. The race restarted on lap 15 with Verstappen in P1 and Hamilton in P2, and things quickly got messy.

Hamilton was ahead of Verstappen heading into the first turn, but as Verstappen tried to get his place back, he ran out of space and had to leave the track. Hamilton had to slow down when he rejoined, allowing Esteban Ocon to sneak into second, leaving Hamilton third. The race was then red-flagged again as Nikita Mazepin drove into the back of George Russell’s Williams.

While the race was suspended, Red Bull was asked to tell Verstappen to give the place back to Hamilton, as he gained an advantage by going off the track. This meant Ocon started in P1, Hamilton in P2, and Verstappen in P3. Verstappen wasted no time, though, and managed to get into P1 at the restart, with Ocon behind him and Hamilton in P3.

On lap 37, the race became even crazier, as Verstappen was again asked to give the position back to Lewis Hamilton, this time for an incident that happened earlier on the lap. However, Verstappen slowed down considerably while doing so, and Hamilton was too late to react and drove into the back of Verstappen. Thankfully, both cars were undamaged, but Verstappen was deemed to have brake-checked Hamilton and was later given a 10 second time penalty (after the race) for causing a collision.

On lap 42, Verstappen finally let Hamilton past but immediately overtook him again. However, his joy was short-lived, as he got a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an unfair advantage for his earlier overtake on Hamilton. One lap later, Hamilton overtook Verstappen and cruised to victory from there to ensure that the top two headed into the final race level on points. Verstappen ended in P2, and Bottas overtook Esteban Ocon meters from the finish line to claim P3.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRhhS6BnLSY&ab_channel=FORMULA1

2021 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Recap

  • 1st: Max Verstappen
  • 2nd: Lewis Hamilton
  • 3rd: Carlos Sainz

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton headed into the final race of the season level on points. This meant that whoever finished in a higher position (in the points) would be the 2021 World Champion. Verstappen started on pole, and Lewis Hamilton lined up next to him in P2. Bottas started P6, which meant he couldn’t be involved in the action at the front to help his teammate retain the Championship, unlike Perez, who started fourth.

Hamilton got the better start and led the race into the first corner. On turn 9, Verstappen made a lunge down the inside and forced Hamilton off the track. The Mercedes driver rejoined the track ahead of Verstappen, much to the dismay of Red Bull, who felt that Hamilton had gained an unfair disadvantage by going off the track and staying ahead. However, the stewards decided that no investigation was necessary as they said that Hamilton had slowed down when he went off the track, which meant he hadn’t gained an advantage.

Verstappen pitted first, but Hamilton had a big enough advantage to respond to that by pitting the next lap while staying ahead. Perez was kept out on track, and while Hamilton eventually overtook him, he managed to hold the Mercedes driver up a lot which put Verstappen right on his tail. This wasn’t an issue for Hamilton as he shot off into the distance and appeared to be cruising to an 8th World Championship with six laps remaining before Nicholas Latifi spun into the barriers, bringing out the safety car.

Red Bull opted to pit Verstappen for soft tires to give him an advantage over Hamilton, who was on much older hard tires. With only two laps left, it seemed as if Hamilton would hold on, as there were five lapped cars between him and Verstappen who were told they could not overtake and unlap themselves. However, with one lap left, the lapped cars were told to unlap themselves, and the safety car was controversially brought in that same lap. This left Verstappen right on Hamilton’s tail with a fresh set of soft tires.

Verstappen used this advantage to pass Hamilton on turn 5 to take the lead. Despite Hamilton attempting to overtake the Red Bull driver on the straight heading into turn 9, Verstappen managed to hold on to the end and sensationally claim his first World Championship, much to the dismay of Mercedes. Hamilton finished P2, and Sainz ended third to claim his fourth podium for Ferrari.

It was an exciting end to a thrilling season. While the final race ended in controversy, it is hard to argue that Verstappen’s performances over the season did not warrant a championship. Whatever you think, though, the 2022 Formula 1 season cannot come soon enough.

Watch highlights of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QJ-N-AQJYc&ab_channel=FORMULA1

Editorial credit: cristiano barni / Shutterstock.com

The Best Moments of the 2021 F1 Season

Verstappen’s right rear tyre fails in Baku

Max Verstappen was on track for a comfortable win in Azerbaijan when his right rear tire failed while flying down the main straight. This sent him spinning into the barriers and out of the race, and thankfully he walked away uninjured.

Hamilton and Verstappen tangle in Silverstone

After losing out in the sprint race the day before, Lewis Hamilton was determined to make amends during the main race. He tried to overtake Verstappen on Copse Corner on lap one but didn’t nail the apex and clipped Verstappen’s right rear wheel to send him spinning into the barriers at high speed. Verstappen was thankfully uninjured, and Hamilton was given a 10-second penalty, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from winning his home race as he overtook Leclerc with only a few laps left.

Verstappen and Hamilton make contact in Monza

As Hamilton exited the pits in Monza, Verstappen was flying along the main straight in an attempt to get to the corner before his title rival. They ended up getting there at a very similar time, with Hamilton only slightly ahead, but as Verstappen tried to overtake him, his car clipped the sausage cars and somehow ended up on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes. Both drivers were thankfully okay, and it yet again showed how important the Halo is, but both were out of the race.

McLaren gets the only 1-2 of the season in Italy

In a season with six different race winners, including ten wins for Verstappen, and 8 for Hamilton, McLaren claimed the only 1-2 of the season, with Ricciardo winning the Italian GP and Norris finishing second. It also meant that we got to see Ricciardo, Norris, and McLaren CEO Zak Brown all do a ‘shoey’ on the podium.

Ocon wins his first F1 race in Hungary

Esteban Ocon took advantage of the first lap chaos in Hungary and a mistake by Hamilton and Mercedes to get into the lead early in the race. He managed to hold on and win his first-ever F1 race.

Heartbreak for Lando Norris in Sochi

Lando Norris was on track to win his first F1 race in Sochi until it started raining with only a few laps remaining. He opted not to pit for intermediate tires and paid the price as the rest of the grid eventually did, and he slid off the track after it got progressively wetter. It was heartbreak for the young driver, but after a great 2021, his first win is surely not far away.

The lapped cars are let through in Abu Dhabi

The moment that defined the entire F1 season. A safety car was brought out with six laps remaining after Latifi ended up in the barriers. Verstappen and Hamilton were separated by several lapped cars, and Verstappen was chomping at the bit, equipped with a set of soft tires to try to get past Hamilton. It looked like the race would either end under a safety car, or the lapped cars wouldn’t be let through, and that Hamilton would hold on. But the lapped cars were let through, and the safety car was brought in, and Verstappen managed to get past Hamilton on the final lap. Mercedes initially protested the decision to let the lapped cars unlap themselves, but they later dropped the appeal, confirming Max Verstappen as the 2021 Formula 1 World Champion.


References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_driver_records#Total_entries

https://www.mostlyf1.com/statistics/season-stats/driver-stats/most-laps-led-in-2021-driver/

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.abu-dhabi-gp-facts-and-stats-a-first-dutch-champion-and-with-a-record-18.5fTGGw056S6z1KeKkBg9gV.html

https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/latifi-never-my-intention-to-influence-f1-title-battle/6880813/

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