Formula 1

2021 Unsung moments before one last Max”imum impact at Abu Dhabi!

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Depending on who you are and whose side you’re on, you’ll likely hear either of the two phrases at the completion of the remaining 55 laps this season:

“Get in there, Lewis!” This could, alternately be, “You are the man, you are the man!”

And if not the above, you’ll probably listen to this, “Great job, Max. Great job, you’re a world champion… a world champion.”

But make no mistake. For often in listening to rip roaring and great lyrics we tend to forget or ignore the message a track has. And it’s perhaps there where rests the actual glory. 

Not in the packing of the gift box but in the gift. 

Much like how Jim Morrison sang very poignantly in the lines to the Roadhouse Blues, “I woke up this morning and got myself a beer; the future’s uncertain and the end is always near!” 

Yet, all we remember and mostly that is, is the song called Roadhouse Blues not the moving lyrics it was built on. 

Though to draw a leaf from the book of the enigmatic Doors frontman, it helps to assess what’s really happened in Formula 1 as much of the season has been gift wrapped around Hamilton versus Verstappen. 

There’s also a need for it since now that the season’s ending and the end is almost near! 

Whilst we were left tongue tied in seeing battles between the two drivers that were enigmatic, dramatic, painful even, a host of developments defined the current grid.

Remembering the rest

And it makes perfect sense to appreciate the not-so-popular ones perhaps even more so that they lacked the crowd favourite drive: For starters, it helps to remember that the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix actually channelled the inner beast of multiple drivers. Here’s how, for one and a half laps – if not more- Mick Schumacher fended off none other than the sport’s current leading point scorer in Max Verstappen on lap 35 as he defended brilliantly against the marauding Red Bull with the duo fighting for a top ten position. Interestingly, on lap 21, when the Haas driver was on P9, he’d also try to keep Lewis at bay but to little avail.

Tunnel vision

During the same race, George Russell gathered a remarkable P8, his first points finish in a race having begun from seventeen on the grid. Though, it was slightly less impressive in comparison to teammate Nicholas Latifi’s effort, the Canadian waltzing to a P7 finish whilst having begun from behind “Mr. Saturday!”

Yet, what we remember is Russell’s first points. How many opinion makers have you heard speaking about the Canadian?

Overshadowed

At Jeddah, much against the hype resting with his teammate and his teammate’s arch rival, people conveniently forgot that Valtteri Bottas entered his hundredth race for Mercedes. That it ended in another podium for the mild-mannered Finn was about as uncelebrated as is the pat on the back your mother deserves for running the kitchen at all times you feel hungry, but one that she never receives. 

Moving on, whilst all that happened everywhere since the start were the incessant Lewis v Max chants and rightly so, since the top blokes always make news, one conveniently forgot that the first man to drive home a point this season for Alfa Romeo was Antonio Giovinazzi and not Kimi. 

That Giovinazzi scored more points at Monte Carlo than its most famous export to Grand Prix Racing – Leclerc – was hardly cared about. 

Trick question: what prize would Fred Vasseur have given Tonio for his fine feat? 

Answer – the position the Italian Jesus finds himself in at present! Need one say more? 

Veteran challenge

In a sport that’s about drama and antics as much as it’s about speed and wheel to wheel action, that Raikkonen and Alonso perhaps gave us the ‘veteran clash of the season moment’ at COTA received as less attention as a Jean Claude Van Damme box office release. 

At turn 1, the fighting duo went as far as having a real go at each other, Alonso pushing Kimi further wide over the kerbs as the Alfa Romeo endured damage to the floor was just the icing on the cake. But one that the iceman savoured and despite being hammered by the Spaniard’s heavy duty fighting, Kimi would still find a way to waltz ahead and keep his track position. The now not-so-famous and controversy-marred Jeddah race didn’t only feature the Hamilton and Verstappen racing exploits alone. That there was much drama even at the very fag end of the race perhaps birthed an epic contest, one that should have been given more respect.

Heartbreak

How on earth did Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, then firmly positioned on third, not keep his position only to concede it to Valtteri Bottas is one of the season’s very dramatic moments, if also an utterly stunning one. 

While it allowed us to see the heart of the moment, the sadness that Ocon missing out on another podium presented, it also should’ve explained a thing or two about Valtteri’s valiance. 

Something that one would want Wolff to be more vocal about, maybe on a sunny day whilst sipping coffee in a nice cosy Viennese cafe whilst talking in that somnolent voice that sounds much like Schwarzenegger. That Carlos Sainz scored points in more races than Charles Leclerc, bagged more podiums than Leclerc has all season and even contested in fewer DNF events than his teammate should have been a greater headlining story in F1, but sadly wasn’t. 

Surely, one can’t blame Netflix or Binotto here or can one? 

 There was all of this and more that went begging in a year where Lewis and Max, both contenders for a world title drove us nuts with much speed and palpable excitement. 

And yet for all that happened starting March 2021 upto the Quali under the smashing lights of the Yas Marina, it ought to be said that maybe there’s sense in penning a book titled, “369.5 reasons to love F1 in 2021!”


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