Verstappen, Hamilton Battle For 2021 World Championship

Douglas Pilarski

Two Races Remain In The 2021 Campaign With Nothing Decided

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Hungarian GP Lap 1Pinterest

High Stakes Ahead Of The Final Race

There is a high-stakes battle for the Formula One 2021 World Championship. The rivalry between Max and Lewis intensified early in the season.

Yes, it’s high stakes every year - but this time it feels different. I went back and watched races from 2018, 2019, and 2020. Max has had his share of bad luck, and Lewis has been in the right place at the right time way too many times to count.

From the first race, Verstappen and his teammates at Red Bull have been on a tear. Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to answer Max and his Honda-powered Red Bull machine. Max would qualify well, get the lead, then rip a straight line to the finish. Max achieved eight podium finishes in the first nine races.

Mercedes AMG had to answer. It looked as though the team was headed for a second-place finish by the season’s end.

Mercedes AMG was struggling early in the season. For whatever their reason, the W12 car didn’t keep up. Fans wondered if Hamilton was fading and began seeing Max as the new face of F1 and likely World Champion.

The Mercedes AMG F1 program is geared for domination at the track. We know that the car Lewis drives is set up to run out front. In clean air. The plan is the same every week. Get the pole in qualifying, start fast, lead the entire way to a P1 finish. Turn the fastest lap to make sure you get every possible World Championship point on the table.

According to FormulaOnePoints.com, Lewis has scored more than 300 points every season since 2014.

The Opening Lap of the British GP

Early in the season, the rivalry came to a head. Verstappen had his Red Bull in front of the Mercedes AMG at the Copse turn on the first lap. Hamilton moved to the inside. It appears that Hamilton did not hit the apex of the turn and collided with the Red Bull - his left front contacting Max’s right rear tire.

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Lewis sends Max into the wall at 180mph, 2021 British GP Turn 9Pinterest.

A statement from the FIA read: “The Stewards reviewed video and telemetry evidence. Cars 33 [Verstappen] and 44 [Hamilton] entered turn 9 with Car 33 in the lead and Car 44 slightly behind and on the inside. -- “Car 44 was on a line that did not reach the apex of the corner, with room available to the inside. When Car 33 turned into the corner, Car 44 did not avoid contact, and the left front of Car 44 contacted the right rear of Car 33. Car 44 is judged predominantly at fault.”

What happened next shocked F1 fans around the world. Verstappen starts to spin at 180 mph. His car swapped ends sending it through gravel pits and into the retaining wall. They calculated the g forces on Max’s body on impact at 51g.

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Totaled After ImpactPinterest

The Hungarian GP

Bottas runs his Mercedes AMG into the back of Lando Norris in his McLaren at the start of the race. Lando then collided with Max Verstappen and damaged the Red Bull. Verstappen returned to the track after some hasty repair work and managed to finish the race. Norris in the damaged McLaren was not able to finish - his streak of scoring World Championship points in 15 straight races came to an end.

Who won the Hungarian GP this year? Bottas teammate Lewis Hamilton. The win put Hamilton in the lead for the 2021 World Championship. He had Verstappen by 8 points going into the summer break.

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Bottas Runs Into LandoPinterest

Formula One commands a worldwide audience. There are fans wherever televisions are. It is not just Sundays either. F1 grabs attention year-round. Hundreds of websites are dedicated to covering all the action. The media is relentless in chasing drivers and team principals alike. When rivalries take front and center, fans notice.

The debate rages. Still, we know nothing. Did Bottas take out the drivers ahead of him on purpose? Fans want to know. Did the Mercedes AMG team instruct Bottas to make way for Lewis? Bottas does know that George Russell is poised to take his seat next season.

Trading paint is part and parcel of NASCAR. It doesn’t belong in Formula One.

Rewatch the races from previous years. You won’t find any wreck that feels as deliberate as Bottas locking up and going bowling. Fans are asking how such a skilled driver loses control of his car? Beyond the astronomical costs of the damage to the cars, Max will most surely need to use a fourth engine. A source of additional penalties. One day, Lewis will hand over his crown. He will exit the sport. New faces will emerge with the dream of competing for a World Championship.

Lando Norris says the apology from Bottas after triggering the wreck going into turn one was nice but didn’t count for much.

To me, these two disasters serve as the state of the union address to F1 fans. Risk life and limb at any cost. Drivers damage millions of dollars of racing machines in a split second. Take nothing to heart, and don’t settle for less than P1. It’s not personal, just business. Take the other man out. Hold that trophy high. P1 or nothing!

Stay Tuned

The season makes a stop on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The brand new Jeddah Corniche circuit is being called the world's fasted street circuit - Monaco on steriods. Can you predict the results for the upcoming Jeddah Corniche round next weekend? Will Max start from the pole? Will the cars make it out of turn one without incident? Will drivers place breaking a rival’s competitive spirit ahead of sportsmanship? I have my ideas, how about you?

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Douglas Pilarski is an award-winning writer & journalist based on the west coast. He writes about luxury goods, exotic cars, horology, tech, food, lifestyle, and workplace issues!

Beaverton, OR
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