The Countdown to the 2021 Championship
Regardless of who wins the 2021 F1 World Championship, the fans shall not forget the ongoing season anytime soon. Just like fans shall not forget the 2021 Brazilian GP anytime more quickly. And there are multiple reasons. But let’s talk of the significant change amid us concerning F1.
The sport that found its thrilling reputation saddled with predictability and the pitfalls of being mundane in the turbo-hybrid era has spiked by the awakening of Red Bull, the constructors. Mercedes raised their game to such an astonishing level of consistency that they ended up dubbed ‘predictably good,’ Red Bull, on the other hand, has been credited for being a different force altogether.
More than being a team that’s gone on to become an antithesis to the dominance of Mercedes, the constructor title winners in every single season of F1’s turbo-hybrid era, Red Bull has produced a driver that’s standing on the cusp of greatness much like Lewis Hamilton. Even as he didn’t win the Brazilian GP of 2021, Max Verstappen, despite being second on the grid, exited Interlagos sans a modicum of panic.
While slight worry could be the proper term to describe the fortunes of the famous Dutch driver at the Brazilian GP, that Max Verstappen still holds the lead out in the front explains Red Bull’s sheer dominance. No team in the past half a decade of racing history has gone on to question Mercedes’ unchallenged authority as sturdily as the Christian Horner team has.
Red Bull vs. Mercedes
Last year, Red Bull finished a whopping 254 points adrift of Constructor winners, Mercedes. A year before, in 2019, they had no chance, whatsoever, at posing doubts at Mercedes’ merciless attack out in the front. With a 322-point deficit, Red Bull was perhaps just as good as a Jean Claude Van Damme direct-to-home release compared to Friday night Avenger theatrical release.
The margins are just too big, not blurry, to be ignored. But this year around, all are changed for the better. The truth is, whether Hamilton triumphs in the end or Verstappen kicks up a storm by winning a first driver’s title, Formula 1 will succeed eventually.
So how’s that? For starters, may the best man win, in the end, is but noticeable and too good a theory for the old cliche retold. Ultimately what matters is that there should be thrill and fun in a sport whose middle name is unpredictability.
The last time that an F1 season had such a close rivalry at its heart was back in 2016. So do the math and bring out the dated sheets and results. When Nico Rosberg aced the 2016 world title, he won by a decisive-albeit scant- margin of 5 points. Hamilton, with 380, tried everything in the end but couldn’t stop the man who dedicated his world title, so what if it’s solitary to father Keke Rosberg and his endless inspiration.
Since then, what’s followed in the sport we all love is any among the three following narratives. First, an out-and-out Mercedes triumph factored in primarily by their doubtless consistency, stemming from a great car and Ferrari’s weaknesses.
Sebastian Vettel’s passionate but faulty attempts at stopping an on-track nemesis proved himself to be calm under pressure. How did such a great driver not win, at least, a single title with Ferrari will go down as one of the greatest mysteries of the sport? People can seek any evidence of Vettel’s weakness to Hamilton’s strengths exposed from the number of times a tremendous multiple world champion spun out on the track in attacking or defending against the marauding Mercedes man.
Red Bull and McLaren’s here-and-there win’s with Mercedes’s remarkable consistency making life difficult for the grid. This year, there’s been a great win at Monza and one at Russia, very nearly, though.
Sao Paulo Grand Prix
Apart from that, it’s all been, Mercedes. Except for this year, Red Bull has made life difficult, the same way Lewis Hamilton crumbled Max Verstappen’s cookie just a little bit at the Brazilian GP. But, if in case Verstappen would’ve thought that he’s going to have it easy, the seven-time world champion came in and exhibited a faultless drive to register a masterclass at Interlagos.
That Lewis’ 101st career win came in at Senna-land, the home of his racing idol, was just as arresting as it was inspiring. The race, in itself, has little gone in favor of the great driver from Stevenage. Hamilton received a disqualification from qualifying, then placed 10th on the grid for Sunday, and recorded the victory. An initial comeback from 25 places back on the grid. Imagine the significance of all of that?
We’ve seen this year how Alonso’s returned to form, how Vettel’s bagged a podium, and how the retiring Kimi has stolen more points than the driver trying to resurrect his F1 career- Antonio Giovinazzi. But perhaps it suffices to say only a driver on another level like Lewis would have scored a win when nothing got stacked in his favor. When the stewards ruled out Max’s highly controversial move that pushed the fighting duo off the grid, lap 57 was a faulty maneuver!
If there’s a segment of the ongoing season that saved F1 from being dull and drab, as self-styled critics and social media keyboard warriors often call it, then it’s the final fourteen laps of the Brazilian GP. Once denied the move to lunge forwards by a calculative, even indifferent Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton lunged ahead like a pole vaulter who sees nothing else but the desire to go the distance.
In so doing, when Hamilton whisked past the pacy Red Bull, lap 59, he turned the ongoing battle for the driver’s title upside down to register an unlikely win and with it suspended- even though temporarily- the fool’s errand that Max was going to have it easy.
The control, the racecraft, and his desire to win were second to none. Now with just three races remaining and fifteen points separating two of the best drivers of this current grid, F1 is tense and a hell lot competitive than it has been of late.
Moreover, it has become what it should be the reward for the one who persists until the end. Regardless of whether who believes in the philosophy of, “Still, I rise!”