The 2021 Formula 1 season and the battle for the World Drivers’ Championship between eventual winner Max Verstappen and seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
In the end, Verstappen was named Formula 1 World Champion after a controversial ending to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where a late Safety Car and a breach of the regulations from the Race Director helped Verstappen overtake Hamilton on the last lap with brand new soft tyres, while the Englishman had old hard tyres on his Mercedes.
In the end, Verstappen won the title with an eight-point gap over Hamilton, and an advantage in terms of wins, with 10 to eight. Of course, the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP and 2021 Belgian GP were heavily controversial wins for the Dutchman, as the Spa race was never started and the ending of the Abu Dhabi event did not follow the rules.
Still, some have recognized Verstappen as a worthy champion, while also applauding Hamilton’s sportsmanship shown after the race.
The Dutchman has already received his trophy as the 2021 Formula 1 World Champion from the FIA, amid the controversy which kept Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff away from the FIA Gala that awarded drivers around the world.
How was Max Verstappen’s season to become world champion?
Verstappen started the year seeing Hamilton winning three of the first four races, but a win at Imola kept the Dutchman in the fight. Red Bull had brought the best car on the field for the first few races, but things were not looking great at the time. However, Mercedes struggled at Monaco, and Verstappen won from P2 after pole-sitter Charles Leclerc could not start the race due to reliability issues created by a crash in Q3.
After winning at Monaco, Verstappen was leading a Red Bull 1-2 at Azerbaijan before suffering a tyre failure on his car. It seemed like it would cost him 18 or 25 points against Hamilton, a mistake by the Englishman and a malfunction in his brakes also put the British driver in a non-scoring situation. In the end, Verstappen really lost 10 points at Azerbaijan, since Hamilton would’ve finished third without Verstappen’s tyre failure.
Then, the Dutchman won three consecutive races at France and the Red Bull Ring. While having a 33-point gap over Hamilton, a crash between the title contenders cut the Dutchman’s lead to eight points, and he would lose it in the following race after a crash caused by Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas.
Including the controversial events at Belgium and Abu Dhabi, Verstappen won five of the 11 races of the second half, including a big win in his home race at the Dutch Grand Prix from Pole Position, and solid drives at Austin and Mexico. Hamilton dominated at Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, while Verstappen seemed to be struggling to contain himself in wheel-to-wheel actions.
Still, the Dutchman had a solid year and ended up taking advantage of the best car on the grid and the team’s focus on his championship campaign.
Verstappen now has 20 wins in his Formula 1 career, along with 60 podiums in 141 races during his seven-year career. He also has 13 Pole Positions and 16 Fastest Laps.
Max Verstappen helmets
During the 2021 Formula 1 season, Verstappen wore his usual white helmet on most races, while presenting special designs for the Austrian rounds, which were at the home of Red Bull, and for his home race at the Netherlands. He also had special designs for the Belgian Grand Prix (Verstappen was born in Belgium) and for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.