Formula One 2021, there’s still hope!

Formula 1 2020, There's Still Hope

Last season, I stopped watching Formula 1 because it was boring, Mercedes were winning every race, with the exception of a few Max Verstappen victories when Mercedes dropped the ball, which has been the case for the past seven seasons, who wants to watch a sport where you already know the result?

I elected to not renew my subscription to F1TV Pro, for the reasons outlined above, but my interest in F1 was peaked in pre-season testing when Mercedes seemed to be struggling, and Red Bull claimed the fastest lap time on days 1 & 3 of testing. And based on this, I resubscribed to F1TV Pro, giving the sport another chance, and thus far, 8 races in, 2021 has been the most exciting season in many a year.

In the first eight races, we’ve had three winners, Max Verstappen with 4 wins, Lewis Hamilton with 3 wins, and Sergio Perez with a solitary win. Currently, Verstappen is leading Hamilton by 18 points in the championship, but that could have been more, but Hamilton definitely got lucky at Imola and Azerbaijan.

Hamilton spun into the gravel in Imola, losing a whole lap recovering back to the track, only for two Mercedes contracted drivers Valtteri Bottas and George Russell to collide soon after, causing a red flag, gifting Hamilton that lap back, allowing him to battle back up to 2nd place behind Verstappen.

In Azerbaijan, Verstappen had a tire blowout on the main straight pitching him into the wall while comfortably leading the race. Verstappen’s retirement would have put Hamilton back into the WDC lead if he finished second, but Hamilton messed up the restart after the ensuing red flag, hitting the ‘magic’ button, which effectively turns off the rear brakes, resulting in the British driver going straight on at turn 1, dropping him to the back of the field, meaning the WDC points remained the same as before the race.

Moving onto 2 weeks ago at the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, this was the best race of the season, it had it all. Verstappen started from pole position, made a mistake in turn 1 gifting Hamilton the lead, to reclaim the lead in the first round of stops, Mercedes underestimating the power of the undercut. Red Bull played a strategic masterstroke bringing in Verstappen for a second stop, as Hamilton was on the back of his gearbox. Which at the time seemed ill-advised, but Red Bull and Verstappen proved us wrong, chasing down and passing Hamilton for the lead by the time the chequered flag was waved.

But, last week, at the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull ring, in my opinion, it swung too far in the other direction, with Verstappen easily winning the race, Hamilton and Mercedes had no answer to Red Bull’s pace. I consider myself neutral, I want to see good racing, not one driver or team dominating. Red Bull dominating is no more appealing to me than Mercedes dominating. We’ve had 11 years of first, Red Bull, then Mercedes dominating the sport, this is not good for the health of the sport, in my opinion.

I know this is an unpopular view, but I’d rather see an F1 spec series where the drivers make the difference, not who has the best car. I’d love to see Hamilton, Verstappen, Leclerc, Russell, Alonso, and Vettel going head to head with effectively the same car, that will truly make F1 an exciting sport.

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