After what has been one of the most incredible seasons ever, with unexpected winners, emerging stars and a titanic championship battle that went down to the final lap. And with the new era of technical regulations on the horizon, we look back at some of the best moments of the 2021 season.
Race of the year: Italian Gand Prix
For the second year in a row, Monza has provided us with a spectacle to behold. This race had it all crashes, penalties, slow pitstops, a championship defining moment and a surprise race winner.
Daniel Ricciardo took Mclaren’s first race victory since 2012 with Lando Norris making it a 1-2, something no other team has managed this year. It also had dramatic slow pitstops for championship rivals Hamilton and Verstappen which led to one of the most dramatic crashes of the year as Hamilton came out of the pits with Verstappen alongside. The Dutchman then tried to pass around turn 1 only to hit the kerbs and end up mounting the top of the Mercedes taking them both out of the race.
A championship defining moment for sure and one that stuck this race on the map.
Honourable mentions: Bahrain, Emilia Romagna, Azerbaijan, Austria, Russia, Abu Dhabi
Driver of the year: Max Vertsappen
The first new world champion in 5 years and still holder of the youngest F1 driver, making his debut at just 17. Verstappen has been an absolute sensation this year in his fight with 7-time world champion Hamilton.
It was clear from his very first race with Red Bull mid-way through 2016 that he was world champion material and now he has achieved that goal. Not only did he win the title but he also achieved the most race wins, most pole positions and has led more laps alone than every other driver combined, proving his dominant form throughout the season.
It wasn’t a perfect season but he has now shown what he can do and will go into 2022 even hungrier to defend his title.
Honourable mentions: Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris, George Russell, Carlos Sainz
Win of the year: Daniel Ricciardo, Italy
After years of disappointment (which as a Mclaren fan has been rather difficult) Italy brought joy to the hearts of many a Mclaren fan.
It was the team’s first race victory since 2012 and was the culmination of years of rebuilding within the team headed by Zac Brown, who has been the team’s saving grace since the turmoil of their time with Honda.
From the driver’s side, it was an astonishing drive from Ricciardo who held of the might Hamilton and Verstappen before they collided at turn 2. It was also his first win since 2018 and a much-needed boost after being shockingly outshone by teammate Lando Norris in his first season with the team.
Additionally, with Norris finishing just being Ricciardo, Mclaren not only scored their first win in years but a 1-2 as well… the only team to do this all season!
Honourable mentions: Esteban Ocon (Hungary), Sergio Perez (Azerbaijan)
Pole of the year: Lando Norris, Russia
After blowing everyone away with his performance in the first half of the season, Norris again proved his brilliance by taking his first career pole position in Russia.
After rain cancelled FP3 and most of qualifying took place in wet conditions it was a late switch to softs on the drying track that saw Norris fly to the top of the timesheets with Hamilton over two seconds behind in 4th and fellow Brit George Russell qualifying 3rd.
Although it was a similar switch to slick tyres that cost him his first race win as well the pole itself was enough to make it his weekend.
Honourable mentions: Leclerc (Monaco)
Team of the year: Mclaren
First race win since 2012, only 1-2 of the season, 5 podiums and a brand new era for the legendary British outfit. Mclaren has been on up for years and 2021 was the absolute peak of this climb. While they didn’t quite manage to get 3rd on the constructors like last year they have absolutely proven their worth this year.
A switch back to Mercedes engines this year was no doubt a massive boost and with the young hotshot Lando Norris staying with the team till at least 2023 they will be the team to watch over the next season and beyond.
Honourable mentions: Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes
Crash of the year: Verstappen, Britain
This was a big one and set the precedent for how the season was going to go. All big rivals have their infamous crashes; Hamilton and Rosberg in Spain 2016, Senna and Prost in Japan 1989, Schumacher and Hill in Australia 1994 if the title is on the line a collision is inevitable.
And while this wasn’t their only coming together during the season, it was the first big one and sparked a wave of controversy and excitement about how close this championship was gonna be.
With Verstappen leading on the opening lap, he and Hamilton battled for position right up until Copse where Hamilton tried to sneak up the inside clipping the Red Bull’s rear wheel and sending Verstappen into a massive spin directly into the barrier at over 150mph. The 51G impact left the dutchman winded and clearly shaken but he managed to walk away as Hamilton went on to win his 8th home race.
Honourable mentions: Bottas and Russel (Imola), Hamilton and Verstappen (Italy), Norris Q3 (Belgium)
Rookie of the year: Mick Schumacher
Had he managed to keep up his debut race performance this would have gone to Yuki Tsunoda but a severe drop in pace and way too many crashes to comprehend put him out of the running. That’s not to say that Mick isn’t a deserving winner, especially with the dog of a car he was given to make his case, he has proven his worth against teammate Nakita Mazepin and now holds a reserve position at Ferrari.
The young German also comes into the sport with the weight of his father’s achievements and the expectation that comes with it on his shoulders. And while he did spend most of the season at the back of the grid, he was nearly always miles ahead of his teammate and even then was dragging the Haas way ahead of where it should be.
It will be interesting to see how he fairs next season given he has made a habit of blossoming in his second season of a new category.
Honourable mentions: Yuki Tsunoda, Nakita Mazepin
Surprise of the year: Russell qualifies P2 and gets podium in Belgium
The Belgium Grand Prix was a whole thing unto itself, with all the rain we’ve been promised in the last few years seemingly all coming at once. But rain is also known as the great equaliser and often allows those in weaker machinery to shine, which is exactly what Russell did. With intermediates being the tyre of choice throughout qualifying Russell stormed his Williams into Q3 which was impressive enough by itself.
But as the drivers went for their final runs in Q3 the Brit found the rhythm and put himself on pole by the end of the lap. Despite Hamilton’s best efforts, he couldn’t match the Williams driver and only Verstappen managed to find the extra few tenths to beat him.
It was an amazing result and thanks to further rain causing the race to be stopped with just 2 laps completed Russell scored a surprise first career podium as well.
Honourable mentions: Norris 0.049s off pole in Austria, Ocon wins in Hungary, Mclaren 1-2 in Italy, Norris on pole in Russia
So what did you think of the 2021 season who were your winners?
Let me know in the comments and please share.