2021 F1 Season: Top 5 Dramatic Moments!

2021 F1 season
2021 F1 season

The 2021 F1 season is bound to wind up in grand style and perhaps even amid skirmish or drama. And little can anyone be blamed for predicting a bold call for such has been the fate of the championship battle that at every possible opportunity does one see Hamilton and Verstappen engulfed in drama. We saw that at Imola, then, at Silverstone, and later, at Monza as also in Brazil and Jeddah. Who knows what Abu Dhabi may bring?

But having said that, in a year where one’s seen the great rise of Perez and Bottas, who’ve given it their everything trying as best as they could have in avoiding playing second fiddle to their teammates, a season where the masterful Alonso emerged on the podium as did Ricciardo and that too, on its top step, which moments stood out?

Rather, which 2021 F1 season moments culminated into something dramatic and rather unexpected?

Vettel On The Podium

2021 F1 season
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 2nd position, with his trophy and Champagne

At the time news had arrived, circa 2020, about Ferrari banging the door on their experienced German driver, one thing was certain and it was that Vettel was done in Formula 1. Then, right at the close of the last season, arrived the news of the great multiple world champion heading to Aston Martin, a newly rebranded Racing Point, that would be based in James Bond’s England.

And then finally arrived the moment where all doubts and circumspect feelings regarding the German’s move to Aston Martin being a dubious switch found themselves shattered. At the back of a thrilling podium finish, something really unplanned, dramatic even one saw the great man return to the podium, a place where he’s habitually belonged in his career.

Though, that was largely due to a fortunate run-in with the skirmishes suffered by Lewis and Max, both of whom faded away in the closing stages. Yet, at all this time, Vettel, was further ahead into the front end of the grid, having began from a lowly eleventh.

But as they say, expect the unexpected in Formula 1 and in Aston Martin’s legendary hero 007-speak, never say never (again) in F1! Right, Mr. Vettel?

Bottas Usurpring Ocon Right At The End, Jeddah

2021 F1 season
Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

The recent contest at the Saudi Arabia-bound Jeddah street circuit, a first for Formula 1, ended and began in dramatic fashion. While Max Verstappen, who stayed out to get the track position of the race with both Mercedes’ pitting for tyre change, formed the dramatic first half of the contest, the ending with Valtteri Bottas gathering a podium ahead of Esteban Ocon, was no less dramatic as well.

But as Verstappen’s involvement in multiple moves as he stayed ahead of Lewis in the front earned the scorn of fans and later, the stewards, the surprise fashion in which Bottas usurped Ocon at the very fag end of the race made Jeddah’s event one of the most dramatic moments of the 2021 F1 season.

Ocon in third, who had been holding off Valtteri really well was way behind Verstappen and Lewis but on his own, he did seem vulnerable to the race pace advantage Mercedes enjoyed all weekend.

But who would’ve thought that the 2021 Hungarian GP winner would, right ahead of the checkered flag, be passed by the Finn, as the gap between the two eventually shrunk to less than half a second in the final few corners?

That Bottas kept up his charge and never allowed the Frenchman an easy day made the contest even more incredible in the end.

Don’t Even Ask- The Lewis vs Max Battles

Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton
source: Sketch prepared by S.Rajnikanth for F1 Chronicle

Arguably the biggest talking point the entire season was the rivalry between Hamilton versus Verstappen that stretched its course until the very end with just one race to go.

Before the two drivers head into the season-finale on equal points, i.e., 369.5, it makes sense to capture the moments that formed an embittered rivalry and thus, the most talked-about facet of the 2021 F1 season.

Right at the start of the season’s second Grand Prix, at Imola, Verstappen and Hamilton began a distinct battle who’s headlining material was leaving no space for the other attacking driver or as one would say, the pursuant.

Inside a second or two from the start, Verstappen, beginning on third, took the racing line and passed teammate Perez, soon after which he’d target Hamilton, the pole sitter. And here target, it ought to be reminded, was for a move to the lead of the race not intending to cause a collision.

But it was the unsparing fashion in which Verstappen vaulted ahead of the pole sitter that formed a big talking point, never giving Hamilton any space to fight back. Moving mighty fast on the outside of a track with little grip, Verstappen found little somehow and used it to full advantage as would anybody in pursuit of a race lead. But in so doing, Hamilton, who had to back off, ran over the kerbs and very narrowly avoided an accident that could’ve threatened his eventual position on the grid.

This would be one of the many debatable run of events that ensued over the rest of the season. That’s when Silverstone further birthed another debacle for the two drivers.

Never before had Max Verstappen landed on the hospital bed at the behest of another’s antics which is when the British Grand Prix offered something rather scary and unusual.

The man who began the 52-lap contest from the front of the grid, having aced the sport’s maiden sprint run was holding off well from Lewis Hamilton (in second), which is when the entirety of the contest changed at around Copse corner and for Max, turned for the worse.

Right from the start of the gripping contest, Hamilton had tried every possible move to clinch the lead from Verstappen, who seconds after finding himself second, retook the lead and emerged out in the front.

But at turn 9, as Hamilton dived into the inside at Copse, a critical corner at Silverstone, he erroneously- not intentionally- tagged the right rear of the competing Red Bull. A high-octane clash would within seconds see Verstappen sliding off into the gravel where he’d crash into the barriers, recording a DNF whilst Lewis would go onto record a mega win.

This incident only brutalised what has since become a massive rivalry, seeing at Monza with the coming together of the two, a really heart-stopping incident that should never have happened in the first place.

On Lap 26, i.e., the halfway stage, Hamilton, then P6, found Max, then P8, in his rearview mirrors. The corner right up ahead was a slow righthander that would have anyway required massive braking from the duo. As Verstappen sped up from behind and Hamilton moved into the left to cut him across, defending clearly what was his track position, the two came together harshly, only for the Red Bull to somehow manage to land on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes in what became a bitter sight.

That Verstappen didn’t even care to ask about Hamilton’s well being as the duo wrestled failingly to get out of the unenviable spot they found themselves in, Formula 1 evidenced unsportsmanlike conduct from a top notch driver who surely had time to check on his archrival, one who wasn’t by then, a nemesis as he’s turning out now to be.

The recent events at the maiden Jeddah street course where Verstappen, perceptibly on account of a communication gaffe on the team, slowed down to see Lewis run into his back only worsened what had until such time become a flared up subject.

Raikkonen vs Alonso, USA with Giovinazzi in the mix

Kimi Raikkonen in 2020
Source: Sketch prepared by S.Rajnikanth for F1 Chronicle

One among the duo, 42 and hence, the sport’s most experienced driver while the other, 40, and hence, the second most experienced on a grid of twenty and in the end, one epic battle at the COTA, home to the US GP!

Wasn’t the Kimi versus Alonso showdown at Texas one of the feistiest and actionpacked moments of the 2021 F1 season?

The great precedent to what would turn out to be Kimi’s win in his battle with the famous Spaniard, was his lowly stacking on the grid in some ways.

Surely, not driving with a powerful car by his side, Raikkonen, who was down in P15 by lap fourteen, was nudging to get past the Alpine of Alonso, then fourteenth.

Realising and perhaps much to his surprise that his Alfa Romeo had better grip and perhaps even slightly better pace than the contesting Alpine of Fernando Alonso, Kimi was beginning to get racier starting lap 15.

Within seconds, right at the start of lap 16, Kimi, now less than half a second behind Alonso would attempt a pass on the outside, which was difficult to execute anyway. Not that the Alpine driver was any intent on giving any bit of space for the Finn.

But at turn one, the two came side-by-side with Alonso clearly pushing Kimi wide, the latter’s Alfa Romeo sustaining damage as it would go over the kerbs.

Not that Raikkonen would relent. At all these times, Giovinazzi, then P12, would begin to chip away from the fighting pack.

Though eventually, the cool-as-ice Kimi Raikkonen would blast past the fighting Alpine with rigor, leaving nothing to chance, knowing clearly that his car was still holding well on a track that was anyways tough on tireware.

2021 Russian GP- The ‘wow’ and ‘woes’ on track

GP RUSSIA F1/2021 - DOMENICA 26/09/2021 credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office - Carlos Sainz
GP RUSSIA F1/2021 – DOMENICA 26/09/2021 credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

The 2021 Russian Grand Prix was just what the sport needed and for multiple reasons. First, it proved that in an era of a dogged Red Bull versus Mercedes fight with there being very little for anyone else, a McLaren could position itself for a race win.

So as Norris clocked a brilliant, 1:41:993, any doubts whether McLaren were truly a resurgent stable in the sport were shattered by the youngster’s gritty effort at Sochi. Who’d have thought that Norris would begin from pole?

Second, the Sochi GP showed the tenacity of Ferrari. Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr., driving in reds in his first Ferrari season attacked Norris’ McLaren to paint Russia red as he’d snatch the race lead to position himself into first. Though this wasn’t the first time that a Ferrari was in the lead of a race, as Leclerc at Silverstone had tried everything possible to salvage a win that eventually didn’t happen.

And finally, the occurrence at Sochi GP that proved to be one of the most dramatic moments of the 2021 F1 season was the recovery drive mounted by both Max and Lewis, who’d end second and first in the end.

Hamilton, who made the most of the tricky and later, exceedingly wet race conditions by first preserving his tires and later, making most of the inters would waltz to a breezy win. While on the other hand, Verstappen, who had begun from the rear of the field, having made use of his full quota of power unit elements recovered to a bright P2 in the end.

Though in all, the final three, with Sainz firmly on third and Norris’s woeful idea of staying out and not boxing for wet-weather tires making him slide down on P7, made it a very unlikely race result in the end- did it not?

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