As we count down the days of painfully waiting to hear the engines fire up to begin the remainder of the 2021 Formula 1 Season, one can only imagine what the rest of the campaign has in store for both drivers and fans. Many different storylines are still yet to play out, new tracks to go to, and the title battle to end all title battles continues to rage on. Here are 4 reasons why this year will go down in Formula 1 history as one of the best come season’s end.
1. The Championship Fight
After many years of dominance from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes throughout the 2010s, it’s safe to say that the German outfit has finally met its match. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have been on a riot since March, leading the championship for the majority of the first half of 2021, picking up 6 victories to Mercedes’ 4, including a run of 5 successive wins from Monaco to Styria. However, pure bad luck for the Honda-powered team has allowed the World Champions to close the gap within two races, with the team taking just two points from Britain and Hungary, leaving them 12 points behind Mercedes. With 11 races still to go, this championship can go either way and will most likely go all the way to Abu Dhabi.
2. The Drama
As the season has gone by, the drama has only ramped up as race after race adds fuel to the flames. Of course, with the big story being the title race, there have been multiple moments where Lewis and Max have gone from contesting a gentlemanly challenge to an all-out war for supremacy on track. From the “track limits” incident at Bahrain’s season-opener to collisions at Imola and in Spain, their consecutive downfalls in Baku, all culminating in the crash between the pair at Silverstone, in which the young Dutchman withstood a 51G impact.
And it’s not just them, either. The battles between other teams and drivers in the standings have been non-stop. Lando Norris taking on both Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship, the ever-improving Ferrari pushing back to the front again, battling McLaren for third in the Constructors’, not to mention Williams continuing to push their own limits, scoring a double point finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix, while Brit George Russell continues to impress with appearances in Q3. No genius could even begin to predict how these stories will end come to Abu Dhabi.
3. The Teamwork
The use of team play in Formula 1 cannot go unnoticed with a World Constructors’ Championship at stake every season, but this year, the teamwork shown on track has been spectacular. Multiple races have been influenced for the better this season through the use of team orders. For example, Sergio Perez playing his role perfectly at the French Grand Prix, letting Verstappen through to challenge Hamilton for the victory, culminating in a double podium for Red Bull. Valtteri Bottas also played a crucial part in Mercedes’ victory at the British Grand Prix, allowing Lewis to pass him so that the 7-time World Champion could catch Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc before the end of the race, leading to his eighth home victory. And to top it all off, Fernando Alonso reminding us just how great he is at age 40, holding off Hamilton through a spectacular display at the Hungaroring, thus disallowing him from even getting near Alonso’s teammate, Esteban Ocon, as he charged on towards his first Formula 1 victory, a true team win for Alpine.
4. The Silly Season
The sad thing about Formula 1 is that it can only feature the 20 best drivers in the world, so there are many talents who are sadly forced out of the sport, such as Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat. At the time of writing, there are still 8 vacant seats available for 2022. Drivers such as Valtteri Bottas, Antonio Giovinazzi, and Pierre Gasly are all under threat to perform in order to keep their seats. For some of these drivers, keeping their seats should be a formality, but for others, results may need to improve. Bottas is a major player in this year’s silly season, as Mercedes toss-up whether to keep him on for 2022 and beyond, or promote their junior driver George Russell, who will soon be entering his fourth season in F1. Mercedes spoke out, claiming that the decision would be made over the summer break, but nothing has been announced. We can only lie in wait, for both the World Champions to make their move, and for the engines to roar into life for the return of our most prestigious racing series, on August 29th.