Max Verstappen is the son of a former F1 driver, Jos Verstappen. Before becoming the youngest driver to debut in a F1 race at 17 years old in the 2015 Australian GP, he won twenty-three karting championships. He then went into Formula 3, finishing third in the championship and setting a new record of ten wins. He is the youngest driver to score points, win a race, get a podium, lead a lap, set the fastest lap, and score a grand slam. Last year, he broke another record by getting to a podium eighteen times in one season.
The 2021 season has been categorised as one of the best in the history of the sport. The intense battles between Verstappen and Hamilton gave fans an incredible experience, but created a lot of controversy as well. In Bahrain, the season’s first race, Verstappen fell to second place after going longer than Hamilton on the second stint. He then overtook Hamilton around the outside of turn four on Lap 53, but was ordered to give the position back, as it was classified as an illegal overtake. Because of this, Verstappen was only able to take home a second place and finished 0.7 seconds behind Hamilton.
Round ten in Silverstone was the most controversial moment of the season up to that point. After lights out, Hamilton and Verstappen were fighting for the lead on the first lap. It seemed to be the most exciting lap of the season until Hamilton was able to get Verstappen’s slipstream, gaining a top speed advantage into the corner and placing himself on the inside of the corner. However, he then failed to hit the apex of the corner and, running wide, hit Verstappen’s rear-right tire, sending him into the wall with an impact of 51Gs. The stewards reviewed the incident and decided to give Hamilton a penalty of 10 seconds, and he was able to cross the line in first place. Hamilton celebrated the win despite having sent his championship rival to the hospital and making Red Bull waste 1.8M million dollars to repair the car, inciting controversy and disapproval from many. In Hungary, Ocon took his maiden victory in F1 after Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, ruined nearly half the grid’s race, particularly Max Verstappen’s. Bottas rear ended Lando Norris and took out both Red Bull drivers. Verstappen was lucky to be able to continue the race with the damage to half the car and finished in ninth, but Sergio Perez was not able to continue. After this race, Hamilton took the lead in the championship, and Mercedes went to the summer break with a successful round for them.
After the exciting events of the season, it all came down to the last race in Abu Dhabi. The previous race had been won by Hamilton after Verstappen “brake checked” him in an attempt to hand over the position after an illegal overtake. Red Bull put on an excellent performance on the track for Saturday's qualifying, and Verstappen overtook Hamilton with a late lunge down the inside of the first overtaking zone. With this, he claimed his maiden title after victory in the season finale.
This season was the start of another generation of cars. Teams have had to adapt themselves to the new regulations, which have slightly altered the grid. Mercedes is the perfect example, since they have gone from winning eight championships in a row to being third in the current standings. Like in the previous season, Bahrain was the first race of the year. Verstappen qualified second behind Ferrari driver Leclerc. Verstappen’s lack of pace forced him to throw aggressive undercuts, but he was not able to get through Leclerc. Still, the podium seemed assured until Verstappen encountered an issue with his power steering and was left with no choice but to withdraw from the race in the final laps. Later that evening, the team stated it was a fuel pump issue: the engine had not received enough fuel to finish the race. In Australia, Verstappen had to withdraw again when his engine caught on fire. Things were not looking good for Red Bull, but they recovered after winning the following five races. After Sainz had to retire from the race in Azerbaijan, the teams were left equal on DNFs, but Red Bull took the lead from Ferrari and Verstappen passed Leclerc in the driver standings.
Japan is the most recent GP to be disputed. Verstappen needed to score eight points more than Leclerc to claim his second championship, but as the race was coming to an end he was only seven points ahead. Still, Perez was slowly catching up to Leclerc and, after battling for two laps, Leclerc went off the track and pushed Perez off, earning a five second penalty and therefore giving Verstappen his second championship title. Now that Verstappen has won the second title, he will be able to risk it all in the remaining four races of the season, and there are many records he is close to breaking. Time will tell if he succeeds in breaking them, and whether he will be able to win another championship next year.
These images are all from the formula1.com website. I read that everything could be used for school projects. But I do not know if it is legal to post online in the Runnymede Times Website.
By Rodrigo Sobral
By ごひょううべこ - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=124082925