Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Hamilton wins ugly fight in Jeddah to set up showdown finale with Verstappen

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix review

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Long before the starting lights had extinguished under the pitch-black Jeddah skyline, there had been little over the first two days of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend to alleviate the genuine anxieties many felt about the dangers facing Formula 1 in its very first visit to the Kingdom.

The “world’s fastest street circuit” had only been formally sanctioned to be the 78th venue to play host to the world championship less than 24 hours before the pit lane lights were due to go green for the very first time. Not every wall would be painted. Not every paddock floorboard would hold together underfoot. But the six-kilometre ribbon of asphalt and the many miles of barriers that lined it were now ready to see a brand new world champion crowned around them, should the stars align.

Hyper-fast and hyper-tight in equal measure, the near-misses and traffic jams witnessed over Friday and Saturday had left few expecting a clean, conventional grand prix on Sunday

“It’s a really, really nice circuit,” admitted Sergio Perez after qualifying. “Very, very dangerous, though.

“I really just hope that it goes through that we don’t see a big shunt out there.”

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Mercedes contained Verstappen at the first of three starts
While Perez’s prescience would eventually be realised, his Red Bull team mate’s full potential performance sadly never would. A critical misjudgement on the only ‘turn 27’ on the entire calendar meant Max Verstappen was doomed never to complete what looked like being his greatest ever lap. Instead, he would line up square behind his nemesis, Lewis Hamilton, for the start of the race.

But with medium compound tyres that were at least four laps fresher than his championship rival’s, Verstappen knew opportunities awaited him on Sunday.

The first of which was during the 250 metre sprint down to turn one. But when the five red lights went out, it did not take long to Verstappen to find any potential room to the inside of Hamilton well covered by Valtteri Bottas, who played the role of bodyguard for his team mate to great effect.

Thus, Verstappen and Red Bull had to settle to be the chasers during the early phase of the race. It began thankfully free of major incident as the field filtered through the serpentine sweepers of the opening sector and into order. Two Mercedes ahead of Verstappen, with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in fourth, pressured by Perez, with Lando Norris trying desperately to make the best of his soft tyres in sixth.

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The wisdom heading into Sunday was that, with the soft tyre having proven highly undesirable for longer runs, a one-stop switch from mediums to hard tyres would be a easy option for those fortunate enough to start in the top 10. The main wildcard being a high risk of a Safety Car intervention or two that could force a compromise in the strategy at a moment’s notice.

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Schumacher’s shunt prompted a red flag for barrier repairs
And when cameras suddenly cut to the sight of Mick Schumacher’s Haas buried into the reinforced barriers on the outside of turn 22, that decision was immediately made for Mercedes. “Box, box, box,” Bottas was told.

But with the team planning to double-stack their cars, they needed more space between them. Bottas’s gap to Hamilton ahead began to tellingly inflate. “So, Lewis is two-and-a-half ahead. Three seconds ahead. Four seconds ahead,” relayed race engineer Riccardo Musconi. “So five seconds, that’s a good gap… Six seconds…”

Stuck behind Bottas, neither Verstappen nor Red Bull were impressed by the Mercedes’ tactics. “Valtteri’s lapping massively off the pace,” Verstappen complained. “It’s a piss-take. Absolute piss-take,“ his engineer Giampaolo Lambiase agreed, before crucially instructing his driver to ”stay out, Max, stay out.”

As the majority of the field dived into the pits to switch to hard tyres, Verstappen followed the order to remain out and inherited the lead. But any security Mercedes may have felt in pulling off their plan evaporated when the marshal boards around the circuit began to pulse bright red. The race was being suspended so the barrier repairs could be completed. With that, the game had changed significantly.

“So, that means we are in the lead now?” asked Verstappen, realising his team would now be permitted to change his own tyres with no cost in time or position.

“That’s correct,” Liambese affirmed, matter-of-factly.

Hamilton knew that his team had unwittingly snookered themselves. “Okay, so what does this now mean?,” realisation creeping over him as he shook his head in the cockpit. “Does this now mean he can change tyres?”

“Yes it does,” engineer Peter Bonnington affirmed, just as matter-of-factly.

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After a 20 minute delay, the field left the pits to resume a race where the dynamic had now shifted significantly. Having also stayed out, Esteban Ocon had jumped from seventh to fourth, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who had gained three places for free by not pitting. His fortunes contrasted heavily with those of McLaren team mate Norris, who plummeted from sixth down to 14th after seizing what looked like a convenient opportunity to rid himself of his soft tyres.

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Verstappen went off to keep Hamilton behind at the second start
For the second time that evening, the drivers lined up on the grid to resume from the start of the 15th lap. This time, with Hamilton behind Verstappen on the front row.

But so superior was Hamilton’s getaway that the Mercedes had not only drawn alongside the Red Bull but cleared it completely by the time the pair arrived at the braking zone for turn one with the pack scrambling behind them. Verstappen – perhaps knowing he’d struggle to acquire the lead of the race again if he capitulated now – dived deep to the outside and tried to swing his way back past the Mercedes into turn two.

Any room that did exist promptly vanished, and Verstappen darted beyond the confines of the white lines and bouncing over the inside kerb for the second corner, Hamilton having to straighten up at the apex to avoid contact. “He just cut across the whole kerb!,“ Hamilton exclaimed as he then lost a second position to Ocon’s rapid restarting Alpine exiting turn two.

Behind, Perez’s pre-race premonition of a sizeable accident self-fulfilled when, caught between Leclerc and Pierre Gasly through turn three, Perez was clipped by the Ferrari, sending him spinning off to the inside wall after the fast kink and leaving the following pack little room to navigate through. While many were lucky enough to find a sliver of space to squeeze to safety, George Russell could only slam on the brakes in an effort to avoid what was unfolding in front of him. Nikita Mazepin could do little to prevent himself from slamming into the Williams in an nasty collision, putting both cars out on the spot.

All three retirees climbed safely from their cars, but Russell’s irritation was clear. “Absolutely inevitable,” he spat over radio as he pulled his wounded Williams off the track. “Stupid.”

For a second time in as many laps, the race was red-flagged. Verstappen still retaining his lead ahead of Ocon. With little to do while awaiting the debris to be swept from the course, the downtime provided both Mercedes and Red Bull an opportunity to study the restart on replay.

Having decided that Verstappen’s actions at the restart had been outside of the regulations as well as the confines of the circuit, race director Michael Masi considered a practical solution that would allow the race to resume free from any ongoing stewards investigations.

“I’m going to give you the opportunity to start from grid position two for this,” Masi told Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley, “based on what occurred at turn one and two.” After clarifying that he actually meant dropping Verstappen behind Hamilton to third on the grid, with Ocon assuming the lead, Red Bull accepted the offer. Verstappen duly pulled over once the field returned to the track once again and allowing Ocon and Hamilton through.

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Verstappen seized the lead at the third and final start
For the third time that evening, the drivers took to the grid. Hamilton and Mercedes had successfully repelled Verstappen at the first attempt and had only lost the lead on the second thanks to a move by Verstappen that was deemed illegal. Could the Red Bull make good on a third attempt?

He could, thanks in part to a strategic gamble by his team. While Ocon and Hamilton stuck with their hard tyres for a race which still had 34 laps to run, Verstappen switched to mediums. It was a big ask to make these last the remaining distance, but they would offer better immediate grip and improve his chances of getting off the line quicker than his rivals.

At the second restart, Hamilton was preoccupied with trying to assume command of the inside line to turn one over Ocon. That left room for Verstappen to take all of the space his rival inadvertently left him to plunge inside of the Mercedes at the apex and sweep cleanly into the lead.

Hamilton narrowly escaped being caught between two adversaries, only suffering minor front wing endplate damage from a light touch with Ocon. Meanwhile Verstappen had rendered those unusual negotiations under the second red flag irrelevant as he resumed the lead of the race within just four corners.

Hamilton quickly dispatched Ocon to move back up to second by the end of the lap, before setting out to reel in Verstappen for the lead as he has so often had to throughout the 2021 season. But while Verstappen’s pace was more than a match for anything Hamilton could produce, the big question was whether Verstappen’s medium tyres could go the remaining distance.

From laps 18 to 35, the gap sat around one-and-a-half seconds, Hamilton hanging in touch with the championship leader with only an occasional Virtual Safety Car for debris to offer Verstappen respite from having to check how far back the Mercedes was in his mirrors. Then, at the end of lap 36, Hamilton breached Verstappen’s DRS range.

With a tight exit out of the final corner and a decent tow from the Red Bull ahead, the stage was set for what should have been a truly spectacular wheel-to-wheel battle, showcasing the exquisite racecraft and skills of arguably the two most naturally gifted racing driver on the planet.

Instead, the battle for the win of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix got ugly.

With huge momentum, Hamilton tucked up behind his rival down the pit straight, pulling to the outside for the advantage of seizing the inside for turn two. Verstappen, in a move reminiscent of his notorious Sao Paulo stunt, refused to give Hamilton any space and charged to the apex with so much speed he was clearly never going to make the second corner, scrambling over the inside of turn two as Hamilton swerved to avoid contact.

“This guy’s fricking crazy, man,” Hamilton vented, unimpressed.

Red Bull knew that their man was in trouble. Not only vulnerable to losing the lead, but likely to earn an investigation and almost certainly a penalty if he did not surrender the place. As Verstappen swept through turn 22, the team let him know.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Verstappen slowed and slowed again until Hamilton hit him
“Let’s give the position back to Hamilton,” Lambiase instructed him. “Obviously do that strategically.”

With Verstappen navigating the long, bending straight approaching the final corner, he began lifting off the throttle to slow down enough for Hamilton to naturally breeze past before reaching the braking zone of turn 27. Hamilton – at this point unaware that his rival was giving up this position voluntarily – began to slow down.

Whether it was genuine confusion, or a suspicion about what his rival was up to and reluctance to pass Verstappen a corner before a DRS zone, Hamilton continued to slow, getting closer and closer to the back of the Red Bull that was almost crawling now in front of him. Then, with the Mercedes now right behind him in the middle of the road, Verstappen shortly but sharply hit the brakes.

In scenes more befitting an open lobby multiplayer race on Codemaster’s F1 2021 than a battle between two real-world championship contenders, Hamilton clipped the back of Verstappen’s car. The two championship rivals had collided. On a straight. At barely over 100kph. While leading the grand prix. With millions of people watching them.

“He just brake-tested me!” Hamilton exclaimed. “He’d been told to give you the position,” Bonnington explained, exasperated.

“I don’t know what’s going on here, Max,” admitted an audibly bemused Lambiase. “I have no idea what’s going on.”

Hours after the chequered flag, Verstappen was handed a 10-second time penalty by the stewards for the collision – crucially for “braking suddenly and significantly” after the pair had already slowed down. They also felt that Hamilton was clearly reluctant to pass Verstappen in the moment, should he gift DRS to Verstappen and thus an easy move back into the lead along the pit straight.

After one of the most ludicrous incidents seen on any Formula 1 circuit, and having wasted around four seconds with their dawdling, the pair resumed to racing speeds with Verstappen still leading and Hamilton second with even more parts of his front wing now littering the circuit.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Hamilton’s front wing bore the scars of two collisions
With Hamilton still not having received restitution for the turn one incident, Verstappen allowed Hamilton to catch up once again and blended out of the throttle once more on the approach to turn 27. This time, Hamilton accepted the offer and drove by into the lead, only for Verstappen to immediately dive to the inside into turn 27 and reclaim the lead yet again.

However, by the time Verstappen had finally fulfilled his obligation, the stewards had already run out of patience and had handed him a five-second time penalty for keeping his lead illegally at turn one back on lap 37.

The sheer ridiculousness of the entire battle was compounded further, when Verstappen pulled aside for Hamilton on the back straight for a third time, with Hamilton keeping his car to the inside and forcing Verstappen out wide around the outside of turn 27. Masi would later inform Mercedes that he believed the move was close to being worthy of an unsportsmanlike driving warning flag.

Now Hamilton was finally ahead and Verstappen would be losing five seconds at the finish, the Red Bull began to fade away with his tyres starting to lose any significant life left. What could have been an enthralling wheel-to-wheel battle for the win had instead been decided by a series of unnecessary incidents that left the end of the race feeling somewhat hollow as it eventually reached its climax.

Having somehow managed to come through the chaos of the race without being any more the worse for wear than he had been, Hamilton put Verstappen out of his mind and checked off the remaining laps. When he took the chequered flag to take the win and the fastest lap, he was greeted with a strength of reaction from his Mercedes team that he had never experienced before.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Ocon lost his podium place in sprint to the line
“I think today I’ve seen a passion and excitement within my team that, I think, in 10 years I don’t think I’ve seen,” he said. “Which is amazing.”

In a welcome reminder of how thrilling real racing could be, Bottas had hunted down Esteban Ocon over the latter part of the race and was able to steal the final podium spot from the Alpine driver with a last gasp run to the line with the help of DRS. A demonstration of how possible it is to race hard and clean around this peculiar circuit – should both drivers be willing to do so.

Ricciardo took fifth in the McLaren, ahead of Gasly in the AlphaTauri and the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz who, again, were the closest matched pair of team mates in the field. Antonio Giovinazzi tripled his points tally with ninth after a strong weekend, and Norris took the final point, bitterly rueing his red flag misfortune.

Despite surrendering his points advantage, missing out on pole by his own mistake and having lost a win in such tumultuous circumstances, Verstappen was understandably aggrieved at having had multiple run-ins with the stewards, yet surprisingly at ease with the incredibly close championship picture heading into the most important race of his life next weekend.

“I find it interesting that I am the one who gets the penalty when both of us ran outside of the white lines,” he said. “In Brazil it was fine and now suddenly I get a penalty for it. Well, you could clearly see both didn’t make the corner, but it’s fine.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Verstappen blasted the stewards before his second penalty
“We’re equal on points on now and I think that’s really exciting, of course, for the whole championship and Formula 1 in general. But I said it earlier on my in-lap, I think lately we’re talking more about white lines and penalties than actually proper Formula 1 racing and that’s, I think, a little bit of a shame.”

While referees in football, rugby and the NFL are routinely praised for ‘letting them play’, the stewards applying the same mentality to Verstappen and Hamilton’s earlier squabbles such as in Interlagos had perhaps only served to blur the lines when they needed to be made clear. Christian Horner’s comments that the day’s events showed that the sport missed former race director Charlie Whiting was a pointed choice of words, particularly coming two weeks after Masi censured him for complaining about a “rogue marshal” in Qatar.

The first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix may had delivered on providing what could become one of the most hotly debated debut races the sport has ever seen. But several drivers raised concerns over its suitability as a racing venue and the ill-tempered scrap between the title contenders descended into farce at times.

Now, level on points heading into the final round of this longest season, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen know that all that matters next weekend is that they must finish in front of the other one to be forever hailed as the winner of this increasingly tempestuous duel.

The Verstappen-Hamilton mythos has one final chance to be defined by brilliance, not bickering. Let’s hope the final chapter offers an ending worthy of a season that deserves better than it got in Jeddah.

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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156 comments on “Hamilton wins ugly fight in Jeddah to set up showdown finale with Verstappen”

  1. Then, at the end of lap 36, Hamilton breached Verstappen’s DRS range. With a tight exit out of the final corner and a decent tow from the Red Bull ahead

    This was also due to a slow recharging battery of Honda compared to Mercedes. Max complained of lower power right after one of the initial VSC periods as well. This seems to be an engine characteristic which makes Honda a bit more vulnerable for a couple of laps right after a VSC period. This could be very crucial come Abu Dhabi!!

  2. Max has hit the nail on the head when he complains that in Brazil it was fine but here he gets a penalty. That’s the problem, Brazil should never have been “fine”. And if the FIA had been more strict and consistent on driving standards then we wouldn’t be seeing the sort of nonsense we saw yesterday.

    1. My first thought too.

    2. @oweng the drivers were told in Qatar that they could expect a penalty for a move like the one Verstappen did in Brazil

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        6th December 2021, 9:50

        I would say turn 1 here was slightly different in that Max had to use opposite lock to stop over steer.

        1. @andyfromsandy True, but it came from the same cause: Max braked too late to make the corner and left the track. It doesn’t really matter whether he went off track because he realised he’d braked too late and steered off or his back end was stepping out. Had he braked when he needed to in either case then Hamilton would have gone past, which means he gained a lasting advantage by going off track.

      2. @gardenfella72 is that correct? I thought I read that there was still a lot of confusion about what was allowed after the drivers briefings in Qatar.

        1. @oweng the confusion was that drivers were told that they COULD expect a penalty not that they WOULD get one. That was the kind of clarity they were seeking.

          1. @gardenfella72
            I would say the confusion came from the fact they were told “different stewards at different tracks may handle things differently”, which I think was more to do with the drivers who were saying they’d change their driving style if that was OK. I am not aware of them being told that the move was not OK, just that a different set of stewards might see things differently… It is completely unclear whether that kind of move is allowed.

  3. At the moment i thought Lewis was playing games untill i understand Lewis didn’t recieved the signal that Max would let him through (that sounded much like RC miscommunication) Still i wonder why Lewis didn’t pass him ?

    1. Because you don’t want to pass just before the DRS-line obviously.

      1. … that’s HAM’s probem, not VER!

        1. There’s no rule that says he has to pass as soon as possible. There is a rule that says you can’t drive erratically- so it’s Vers problem, not ham’s

          1. Correct. So, did VER drive erratic or not? AFAIK, at the moment, there’s nothing more than just a suspicion. Plus, HAM noticed the way he drove, yet he stayed right behind and close to him. I say it’s 50/50 at best.

          2. @mg1982 Yes, he did driver erratically. The stewards note that he applied 69 bar of brake pressure, giving 2.4G deceleration, at a place where it would not be expected that a car would decelerate so much.

          3. So, did VER drive erratic or not?

            Yes, of course he did. Its literally not up for debate.

        2. @mg1982 – Hamilton didn’t break any rules. Tricks, tactics, strategies, etc with the rules is totally fine for me as long as it doesn’t put other competitors in any unnecessary danger.

          1. Fully agree. I don’t really like the way VER races sometimes or how this particular race unfolded between HAM and VER. But, the outcome matters most if you ask me, the way the race ended for VER at Silverstone was way more dangerous than anything VER did in this particular race. VER received 2 penalties, which I think were OK. It’s not like he did something wrong and/or gained something without being punished at all. HAM’s car was overall OK and he won. VER did not do anything bad enough to HAM to prevent him from finishing where he was expected to finish so, overall things were in balance in my opinion, HAM won… and that was punishment enough for VER. Not the case with Silverstone and Hungaroring tho, HAM and BOT inflicting a big loss of points to VER. The WDC is awarded based on the number of points, not if 1 driver pushed wide another driver. I fail to see the balance of things, rules etc if HAM wins the WDC while causing a big loss of points to VER and getting the same punishment as VER because he pushed him wide without any loss.

          2. @mg1982 this would mean going back to punishments based on consequences instead of actions, making decisions even less consistent and more difficult to judge. The teams, FIA, and pretty much everyone else decided long ago that wasn’t acceptable, and that it should be the actions which led to the incident only which decided any penalties.

            If we do this, you could get a driver receiving a heavy penalty for the smallest mistake, just because it ended someone’s race, whereas if the “victim” in the incident manages to react quicker and only has to pit for a new nose, the penalty is less. Similarly, if Max had brake checked Hamilton and caused him to crash, he would get a heavier penalty than if it just damaged his front wing as in Saudi, but both are equally dangerous and should be discouraged just as strongly.

            Look at the actions and circumstances which led to the incident, not the consequences of the incident.

      2. But that makes it even stranger. Let’s say Verstappen car broke down. Would Lewis acted the same way? There was no way of knowing it was intentional of by mechanical reasons he slowed down.
        The alternative is Lewis was aware he could and should pass but refuse to do so.
        Do you have to give opportunity time and time again until he passes?
        For now the action resulted in a 5 sec penalty two passing options and a 10 sec penalty. That is some colored stewarding.

        1. Agreed they should have shown Verstappen the black flag for his combined works of causing 3 incidents. Ridiculous that they let him off the hook again! When is enough enough?

          BTW there were VSC’s almost every other lap, is it’s not so strange that Hamilton saw Verstappen slow down. Until he brake tested him.

        2. As I’ve commented elsewhere, Verstappen’s actions were so strange that I am not surprised that people were confused. His behaviour was significantly different to most other “give the place back” scenarios, where the car giving the place back will just back off very slightly, allowing their opponent to catch them over the course of a few corners (if they are not already right behind). I can’t remember seeing anyone slow down that much to give a place back. When you add that he was drifting back to the right and the history between the pair, I find it completely understandable that Hamilton was confused and uncertain how to proceed. I’d be suspicious, looking for a trap, and in this case rightly so: Verstappen was trying to keep a lasting advantage from his illegal move by getting DRS and being right on his tail, which he probably wouldn’t otherwise have had, and taking the place back again…

        3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          6th December 2021, 15:17

          That was not an attempt to give up the position – that was more of an attempt to run into Lewis.

          Every driver knows how to give up a position in F1. It’s not done while racing unless it’s a teammate and both have been instructed to let the other by without losing any time.

    2. Lewis couldn’t pass because he was approaching fast round a fast left curve in a narrow part of the track with Verstappen weaving in the middle. The natural path for the car is to drift wide but he couldn’t be sure what Verstappen was going to attempt. So he waited until the road widened and attempted to go left but then Verstappen slammed on the brakes.
      Remember there had been several Virtual safety cars, how can he be sure he had not missed a “light” or flag.
      Verstappen didn’t want him to just drive past at great speed which was why he was weaving in the middle of the track.

      1. Nonsense, there was no weaving. On Al camera angles you see at least two cars width.
        Stop spreading fake info.

        1. Gabriel Balint
          6th December 2021, 9:45

          If you would look at max’s onboar he was so slightly weaving… you can clearly se he was moving the steering wheel ever so slightly left right left

        2. There was definitely movement from Verstappen, first to the right and then to the left.

        3. @erikje, Verstappen definitely put in a couple of feints when Hamilton was close behind him. Maybe if you took your orange-tinted glasses off, you’d see.

        4. From this onboard it is VER is definitely moving left across the road (that isn’t exactly weaving), and as the circuit widens HAM jumps to the left to overtake, he finds VER moving more left and suddenly braking.

        5. Great report!

        6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          6th December 2021, 15:20

          erikje – That’s nonsense as usual – everybody saw movement and was wondering what was going on including Martin Brundle who waited a minute before admitting that Max had moved.

          The fact that you’re defending that just shows how blinded you are that you can’t tell the difference between left and right when it comes to Max.

        7. They can only see Verstappen, even imagine him weaving.

    3. Because in his mind there could jabe been a yellow ahead and he wil get a penalty for crossing max under yellow

    4. Not only that, but if you are going to over take a car , you do so when your DRS is enabled. This means even if the door was left open for hamilton, he wasn’t going to walk throuh and set himself up for the immediate over take.

      Max was following the REDBULL directive to hand the place back strategically. eg with a mind to grabbing i back with the assistance of DRS, which is something he did later and was rightly penalised for.

      This was Verstappen at his, and Horner’s, most cynical.

  4. Great review of an intriguing race, thanks.

    Let’s just hope the championship is decided on the track with a clean race, instead of a controversial crash.

    1. @kaiie I’m afraid that won’t happnen. This battle is just waiting for that final Schumacher/Villeneuve, Schumacher/Hill, Senna/Prost moment

  5. Ugly is right.
    I don’t care any more who becomes world champion. They both deserve it. They both don’t deserve it.

    Left a very sour taste this. It has escalated beyond fun and sporting.

    Whatever happens, you hope Verstappen, Hamilton, Toto and Horner have a quiet drink somewhere in the off season to discuss how they are going to comport themselves next season. Because I can’t be bothered with this Netflix level of drama and pettiness. It has taken the shine right off an awesome battle.

    1. 100% agree.

    2. +1

    3. They both deserve it. They both don’t deserve it.

      At the end of this marathon season with so many flash-points, so many off-track controversies, so much good luck / bad luck!
      I think this is very well succinctly put. +1.

      To continue the tale, I am also happy the season is ending. Also unhappy the season is ending :)

    4. Fully agree

    5. It started with Silverstone. Then after Silverstone the season ebbed and flowed more normally until Monza. You can argue about both of those (and I will argue that Silverstone was truly unfair and unjust until I am very old and F1 is a thing other past), but Silverstone and Monza at least felt like two drivers giving each other respect and making mistakes.

      Then Brazil happened. The persecution complex of Toto and Hamilton reached peak levels. But they were on the ascendancy. Their car was better from that point on. So they won that race, and Verstappen tried everything (too much!) to defend from the faster car. Which only served to aggravate Toto and Hamilton even more. From that moment on, this Jeddah farce became almost inevitable.

      Again in Jedda, the Mercedes (on race pace) was faster. Red Bull had to take measures to get ahead on track position, but that would cost them in the race, and during the race. So the Hamilton win was more or less inevitable. What I don’t understand from Verstappen, and I really don’t like either, is his inability to see the inevitable. If he loses this championship, it will be in part because he didn’t pull out of that move at Silverstone (regardless of how that should never have led to only a ten second penalty and win for Hamilton). He overstepped the mark in Monza. He overstepped the mark in Brazil. He overstepped the mark in Jeddah (as did Hamilton). The net result is – no gain.
      Maybe he needs to realise that sometimes losing is the only outcome, and that taking someone with you is not acceptable.

      But before we all jump on Verstappen’s back, can we all look at the absolute hubris and irony of Hamilton fans talking about a driver unfairly pushing others wide or using the run-off to keep positions? That was textbook Hamilton from 2014 through 2016 against Rosberg. History repeats itself. Verstappen is just a level worse than Hamilton was in that period, but that doesn’t suddenly make Hamilton a saint. Grow up.

      1. @hahostolze – Going to have to revisit 2014 – 2016 for Ham vs Ros I remember Hamilton being more on the receiving end of suspect driving. Either way Hamilton hasn’t always been squeaky clean (same for all drivers) remember lots of issues with Massa.

        But nothing to the level of what has gone on this season.

        I started out thinking Hamilton and Mercs were going to lose this title this year as I expected Rbr too strong following preseason and Mercs clearly on the back foot.

        But it’s grown steadily worse in terms of many things this season.

      2. @hahostolze

        What I don’t understand from Verstappen, and I really don’t like either, is his inability to see the inevitable. If he loses this championship, it will be in part because he didn’t pull out of that move at Silverstone (regardless of how that should never have led to only a ten-second penalty and win for Hamilton). He overstepped the mark in Monza. He overstepped the mark in Brazil. He overstepped the mark in Jeddah (as did Hamilton). The net result is – no gain.
        Maybe he needs to realize that sometimes losing is the only outcome and that taking someone with you is not acceptable.

        The whole post is excellent, I just quoted kept the especially juicy part. I am pretty sure it hurts both drivers fans for different reasons but it’s the truth. You just can’t make up that power deficit in the corners during the race no matter what. You just destroy the tires.

        About Hamilton yesterday:

        In the first corner not overtaking from the curb on the outside they discussed it apparently in drivers briefing. And the soft brake test situation was due to neither driver wanting to give up the DRS zone, but in fairness when you give up position by instruction the other guy is supposed to keep it for a bit not be overtaken straight back.

        If you mean the yellow flags slam dank penalty until yesterday and the safety car distance at the restart then I agree.

        1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          6th December 2021, 9:57

          The incident regarding the safety was not a SC period it was the formation lap before a standing start. I don’t think you have to keep within 10 car lengths during a formation lap.

          1. @andyfromsandy In the formation lap you have to, it’s specifically to protect the front runners tyres to get completely cold. Masi specifically replied during the race when Red bull complained that this rule only applied to the formation lap at the start of the race and not the formation lap of the restart after the red flag which sounded at least weird.

            I mean what’s the difference? Aren’t they both starts?

          2. As @andyfromsandy mentions, there are different rules for keeping distance during a SC, during a formation lap for the start of the race and the rules are somewhat different again for a restart after a red flag – remember Kimi getting penalised for doing exactly what Perez got penalised for NOT doing earlier this year (letting a car get past after he passed him/kept position illegally), due to the one being a red flag restart procedure @cobray.

            Off course we can probably agree that there is no good reason for the rules NOT to be the same here, but they unfortunately are.

      3. @hahostolze

        That was textbook Hamilton from 2014 through 2016 against Rosberg.

        You mean when Rosberg would keep his car stuck in on the outside of a corner after he lost the position already? That’s just unsportsmanlike behavior from Rosberg. The driver ahead has the right to the racing line. At some point that wedge is going to disappear for the following car. So he will have to yield. Rosberg would not yield and pretend he was wronged so he could cry to Toto. He never did that to any other driver, because he understood there was no point.

        No one complained when Verstappen took the lead in the second restart and pushed Hamilton into Ocon. It’s his right to take the racing line since he’s ahead. So yeah depending on who has the racing line, there is a difference in when drivers are allowed to push the other and when not.

        At least pretend to understand the actual rules before telling others to “grow up”.

      4. Really solid comment there @hahostolze.

      5. using the run-off to keep positions?

        Please point me to some examples of Lewis careening off track in order to keep a position that was pretty much lost. In all the squeezes he did, I distinctly remember he’d stick to the track regardless of how late he’d brake. If you don’t see the difference between that and say – Max in Brazil – then you’re the one that needs to grow up.

        1. Please point me to some examples of Lewis careening off track in order to keep a position that was pretty much lost

          Exactly. People keep coming out with this nonsense but its literally not true

      6. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        6th December 2021, 17:56

        But before we all jump on Verstappen’s back, can we all look at the absolute hubris and irony of Hamilton fans talking about a driver unfairly pushing others wide or using the run-off to keep positions? That was textbook Hamilton from 2014 through 2016 against Rosberg. History repeats itself. Verstappen is just a level worse than Hamilton was in that period, but that doesn’t suddenly make Hamilton a saint.

        There is a HUGE difference between what Hamilton has traditionally done, which is to run the other car wide and MAKE the corner himself (which is considered hard but FAIR) and what Verstappen did in Brazil and Saudi. Max NEVER intended to make the corner. In all cases his entry speed and late braking point precluded him from staying on the track. That last turn one incident in Saudi was clear as mud. Took the inside line with too much speed knowing he was going wide and taking Hamilton with him. Hamilton ran wide because he couldn’t turn into the corner as Verstappen was effectively going straight on and blocking his turn. He would have stayed on track had he not had Max blocking him. That was Max’s intention!

        Hamilton has never employed that tactic. He’s always made the corner. He’s a hard fair racer. Max looked desperate.

    6. Fully agree. And to add, also FIA should discuss with teams how to proceed. Because how they handle this situation is cringing.

    7. Great comment there @hahostolze – I hope they can go off into a mountain hotel or Chalet somewhere (could be Austria) get snowed in for a week or so and just clear the wine cellar in Marko’s “chalet” and come out as rivals respecting each other again!

      1. @bascb
        I doubt that knowing the nature of both Toto and Horner. Two of the most arrogant sour losers, hypocrites and win at all costs personalities that you can find out on the planet. The 2 have contributed massively to the escalation of the tension that it transformed what was an intense rivalry into an on-track revenge. I doubt this would have happened if someone like Frank Williams (RIP) was the man in charge at either RBR or Mercedes.

        1. Yes, I would be hugely surprised if anything like this could ever happen in the near future and with these people as well @tifoso1989.

          Horner has shown his character for years now, Toto has been showing much of it too the harder the fight became recently. And I would add that I doubt Max would have any interest to do so too, given his upbringing and the people around him (at RB and his father Jos).
          I think that with Niki Lauda and a Frank Williams involved, we would probably not be in this situation, no.

    8. Agree.

      The big loser here is sport.

      FIA/Masi need to enforce rules more effectively and more clearly. Tracks need to be designed so that there are automatic penalties for some misdemeanours.

      I started the year supporting VER. But now I just don’t care.

      No matter who wins, the supporters of their opponents will feel a lack of justice.

      Ugly indeed.

    9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      6th December 2021, 14:38

      @hahostolze Max clearly doesn’t deserve it. Lewis deserves 2 of them this season.

      Lewis has mopped the floor with Max – it’s not even a contest. Max is only participating in the championship courtesy of F1. He would have been disqualified multiple times in past years.

  6. This season was one of the worst in F1 history. Although Senna would probably disagree. We saw Toto and Horner having no place in sports. The FIA equaled FIFA in terms of integrity resulting in a heavily steered, tainted season. I expect investigations into this questionable organisation to come. We saw the Lewis bubble being bursted. Unable to win on merit, but having to resort to all possible off-track antics, despite having the best car in the total (!) V6 Hybrid era, 9 years in a row. We saw Max being stretched into overly aggressive driving from time to time. Liberty going for their future, the football fans. This site losing all its neutral perspective on things. People on this forum getting personal rather than staying on topic like in the f1fanatics days. This sport will soon become a festival.

    1. Toto had been respecful towards Horner all season until Horner was inciting violence towards Hamilton after Silverstone.

      1. He said, she said. Thats not the point being made here.

    2. You are completely right with everything, except for “I expect investigations into this questionable organisation to come.”
      Good luck with that. Have you seen any investigation into FIFA for sporting decisions? So why would it happen for FIA?

      1. I remember FIFA being shaken up once and some fraudulent people being brought to light. I dont expect it soon, but wouldnt be surprised at all if similar things come to light regarding FIA. It shows all the traits and similar testosteron men running it. Given how this season has unfolded they certainly achieved some raised eyebrows in the area of consistency and integrity. I would start with examining the cash flow of the organisation and all that are part of it. Usually will bring things to light.

    3. We saw the Lewis bubble being bursted. Unable to win on merit

      I think you need help. This level of obsession with putting Lewis down is rather disturbing.

      1. No, we just disagree Emma.

        1. @Mayrton you do have an obsession with putting Lewis down. It’s all you ever do.

          1. Both sides here are equally biased.

          2. No it’s not about Lewis. I think he is great (apart from the mind things on Rosberg and Max). It is about counterbalancing the Mercedes narrative and gigantic UK bias, about putting things in perspective vs some comments here. Mercedes has had 8 years, in fact let’s just sum it up with ‘owned the entire V6 hybrid era’. Lewis is good, but not 7 or soon 8 titles good. He is the most lucky F1 driver in history. But still one of the greatest. There is just no perspective to be found amongst his followers it seems. As for Mercedes.. in their final year of the V6 hybrid dominance, while stating they would love some competition they turn everything (non race related) on from the get go, just because of seeing one car sometimes matching their speed. Immediately the underdog narrative, they are against us, we keep on fighting, Max is so dangerous. While in the back room getting Pirelli to change the tyre, getting FIA to tackle their competitor pitstop stronghold. On top of that Silverstone, the act and the behavior afterwards. Just wow. Not even mentioning Hungary was next. And now all of a sudden it is strange the battle becomes a bit more fierce and immediately use it to their advantage again. It has been a dreadful season, almost on par with DSQ Senna for using the run off area in Suzuka or changing the grid position the year after. The stewards/FIA have let this happen and are ultimately responsible for this mess. And it does raise some eyebrows into whether this competition can be called a sport or some fixed thing. The only victor is Liberty Media. But maybe I should just accept F1 is an event these days. The public seems to want it. Liberty got their dream final.

    4. Unable to win on merit? are you kidding? He was on course to win on merit if it wasn’t for the first SC / Red flag. He was on course to win it again on merit if it wasn’t for Verstappen’s childish defending at both the 2nd restart and later in the race when Hamilton went to overtake. Even with the front wing damage he would have got past as Verstappen’s tyres were cooked. Ham 100% was the worthy winner today. Verstappen has completely cracked under the pressure. 3 wins in a row despite everything Verstappen has to throw at him.

    5. Well you are part of the problem too, so Pro Verstappen biased because you like him, while I am anti him because of his terrible unsportsmanlike wheel to wheel racing since he came into the sport. The block repasses/drivingother driver off track should be outlawed, as should be blocking at the last second when a faster driver is coming by. It’s a surprise he hasn’t caused a massive accident (kinda did in Silverstone). If you leave the internet for a while, and don’t take fan comments too personal, you will realise F1 is pretty much the same show as last 40 years. Verstappan-Hamilton headed to a 1990 Suzuka like finish to determine Championship. Whoever finishes on top of the championship,,, that’s that for another season, fans of champion party, opposition fabs vent, then accept. It is sport. then back to internet comments next season.

    6. @Mayrton

      Unable to win on merit

      You sound pretty hurt dearboy. Let me ask you this. Name a single thing Max did wrong in the race yesterday as you can’t even bring yourself to admit when Max is wrong, much like Max himself actually.

      1. Max gained imho twice an unfair advantage by leaving the track. And I thought his Brasil move was equally incorrect. Again people, no need to get personal.

    7. People on this forum getting personal rather than staying on topic like in the f1fanatics days

      I must say I agree with this. I don’t know if it is due to an influx of newer, more partisan fans, the circumstances of the championship this year, or the name change encouraging different membership, but there is much less reasoned debate and much more partisan politics than there has been in previous times.

      That said, there have been a whole host of controversial incidents and decisions this year, so it may be more to do with the championship situation than anything else. I know that, though I try to look from a neutral PoV, my own opinion is coloured by the fact that I support Hamilton. It is very difficult to see things neutrally in this situation, especially when confronted with polar opposite partisan views…

      1. I don’t know if it is due to an influx of newer, more partisan fans

        It’s likely this to a very large degree because it’s visible in other forums, not just this website. What I do see is a handful of “old generation” sensible contributors on this website still being respectful and shining a light on some of the quite negative users. @keithcollantine if you are reading perhaps a review of the comment system is in order in 2022? I don’t know what the solution is but something akin to Reddit’s Karma points might be a good way to promote positive/insightful contributors and abstract away the negativity of others.

  7. Good write up. Impartiality was spot on.

    F1 officials I’m putting a lot of accountability on this season’s shenanigans.

  8. To be honest, I’m not interested anymore in who wins the WDC.
    This whole championship has been so tainted by the bad stewarding and freak things.

    If Hamilton wins (likely) it will be because:
    – Verstappen had a blow out
    – was taken out by Bottas
    – was taken out by Hamilton at Silverstone and he barely got a penalty
    – he could freely replace his engine in Brazil with no repercussions
    – he has a rocketship
    – he’s the luckiest person alive
    – they sacrificed Bottas all the time for him

    If Verstappen wins it will be because:
    – his aggressive driving
    – brake checking
    – he clearly has the fastest car
    – stewards give him too much leeway

    (fill in to your liking)

    Half of the fans will be totally disappointed with whoever wins. That happens more you might say, but this year it’s extraordinary. (Too) many people will not accept whoever is crowned WDC.
    Lewis might break Schumacher’s record, but it will be a controversial win.
    Max might get his first WDC, but it will be a controversial one.

    The excitement I had half a year ago for an epic WDC battle is totally gone.
    And it is mostly because of the stewarding. The things we are seeing now is the culmination of their earlier ‘decisions’.

    1. Oh, and please let’s not talk about Horner and Wolff.
      Completely sick and tired of both of them.

    2. I’ve never understood why people fixate on the front, honestly, rewatch every season you have access too, but only watch for the rest of the places – particularly those where you don’t know the result after the top, say 4 – you’ll be in for a real treat of driving talent, expertise and some heroic and desperate drives. Yes the camerawork is annoying, but its worth it!

      1. It’s typically difficult to focus on the rest of the field because of the camera work.
        Yesterday there was a good battle between Bottas and Ocon. Could anybody see it?

        1. Absolutely, camera work was a joke, bottas overtook ocon, then got passed back, then repassed him on the finish line, which is his specialty. Agree with some of the things you said about tainting the season, except verstappen fastest car one, I don’t see how red bull is fastest at this point, it’s mercedes again, slightly ofc.

          1. Those are not my opinion, they are the things that people will bring up when somebody will say xxx is 2021 WDC.

        2. Well, I watch the pit lane channel, so yes, I saw the whole thing. I realise that’s not available to Brits, so sorry about that, stop giving sky money and they will go away! But regardless, most of the battle takes place in the strategy and the closing – just because you don’t get to _see_ the overtake live, you can enjoy watching the strategies of all drivers unfold through the timings,sectors etc. I’m not sure if you can sync the app to old races, but if you can, do!

    3. Hamilton has not done anything to Verstappen that wasn’t within the rules.
      We keep seeing how Verstappen was responsible for the Silverstone crash, because he keeps doing the samething every race. Attempting to carry too much speed coming from behind while taking the outside line, they cutting across.
      It is only one driver making this an ugly fight.

      1. And there you have it again…
        This is what I mean.

      2. Here we go again

    4. To be honest, I’m not interested anymore in who wins the WDC.

      I suspect the same words have been said many times before – in this sport and others. But the sport will move on regardless of your feelings. I must say though that except for Silverstone (for which he got a penalty btw and others will argue that Max should have used his brain just like Lewis in Brazil), your Lewis list is rather silly. Even the Max one is.

      1. The list is not about what I think…

    5. 100% agree.

    6. correction,
      if Hamilton wins it will be because at Silverstone Max ‘entitled’ Verstappen didn’t want a fair wheel to wheel contest, or to settle for second place but thought the 7 times world champion should captitualate to his agressive Redbully driving.

      He had the outside and thought he could just turn in on Hamilton as if he weren’t there.

  9. Did anyone notice how close Bottas was to going “bowling” again at the first restart? I tend to think that, had Verstappen attempted to take the corner normally, Bottas would have rear-ended him.