Formula 1 served one of the best campaigns in the history of the sport, but which race was the best from a formidable group?
In a season of so many peaks, almost every outing has entered this discussion, so to narrow things down a bit it was agreed that the races need to be revisable, a factor that rules out some of the more strategic battles despite the plot. that has kept us hooked on time.
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5. The Italian Grand Prix
The Italian Grand Prix would surely be at the top of the list for anyone who ranks among McLaren fans with Daniel Ricciardo leading Lando Norris in what was the only one-two for a team throughout the season.
In a year of tense competition at the top of the standings, this result was just what was needed to ease the tension.
Except that’s not entirely true, as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen mutually pulled out of the race on lap 26 after both suffering slow pit stops.
Verstappen was deemed “primarily to blame” for the incident, wording which reflected a stewards’ decision against Hamilton at Silverstone, and was assessed a three-grid penalty for the next race in Russia.
Yes, much of this race revolved around a flash point, but the bigger picture with McLaren coming back to the top of the podium for the first time since 2012 pushes that on the list.
4. The Hungarian Grand Prix
It is possible that Valtteri Bottas had a few sleepless nights after the events of the first round in Hungary. For completely different reasons, it’s also likely that Esteban Ocon and Alpine also had trouble sleeping!
The Hungarian Grand Prix was plunged into chaos from the start with wet conditions making the race dangerous at the first corner.
After a bad start, things quickly got worse for Bottas when the Finn locked his brakes, hit Norris’ gearbox which in turn tripped McLaren driver Verstappen as he made new contacts himself. with Sergio Perez.
In a separate incident at the same corner, Lance Stroll transformed Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari alongside Ricciardo’s McLaren.
After a red flag, there was then the utterly bizarre sight of Hamilton taking the new start on its own, as all the remaining riders competed for slick tires. In refueling a lap later, Hamilton fell to the back of the pack.
What followed was a series of gripping duels with Mick Schumacher taking on Verstappen and Fernando Alonso looking back years to defend against Hamilton.
Up front, Ocon was a picture of perfection and claimed his first career F1 victory with Sebastian Vettel second, at least until the German was disqualified after the FIA failed to take a sample. sufficient fuel from his Aston Martin.
Hamilton was promoted to P2 instead with Carlos Sainz, not for the first time, failing to get the attention he deserved in P3.
3. The Azerbaijani Grand Prix
This race may be remembered for Hamilton and Verstappen’s scoreless scores, but it was a horror sight for Pirelli with two high-speed blowouts.
Leclerc landed a surprise pole for the second race in a row, but the race quickly dissolved into the regular 2021 picture with Hamilton and Verstappen in the lead.
Although the Mercedes driver appeared to be in control of the race, a slow stop saw him give up the lead with Verstappen then equally dominant.
Lap 31 saw things change, however, when Lance Stroll became the first rider to bite concrete walls after sustaining a tire puncture.
A safety car period and a few laps of the race later and we got to lap 46, when race leader Verstappen suffered an almost identical breakdown at over 200mph, bringing his race to a premature end.
This resulted in the launch of the red flags, but with Perez and Hamilton lining up in the front row for the restart, another twist remained as the Mercedes driver hit his ‘magic brake’ switch on the back of the steering wheel. and soared. in the first round.
The two-round shootout ended with Perez scoring his first victory for Red Bull, Vettel scoring his first podium for Aston Martin and Pierre Gasly winning the silverware for AlphaTauri.
2. The Russian Grand Prix
The Russian Grand Prix isn’t regularly seen as a potential season highlight, but add a little time into the mix and any track in the world can offer a stunner.
When the top three on the grid are Norris, Sainz and Russell, you know qualifying was interesting.
Saturday’s session took place in dry conditions but the weather was far from having had its influence on the weekend.
Verstappen had started in the rear after taking on a fourth power unit of the season, so he was on a damage mitigation mission, a mission which was greatly aided by Bottas’ lack of any sort of combat when the two fought in the sixth round.
It was on the 47th lap that everything changed. Rain.
Norris had held the lead for most of the race and looked on track to claim his first F1 victory just a weekend after Ricciardo reached the top step at Monza. But when Hamilton pulled over for mid-size tires, Norris made the bold call to stay on the slicks.
Weather reports were conflicting, with some saying the rain would stop quickly while others predicted a downpour. The latter turned out to be true and it was heartbreaking for Norris.
Instead of registering his first victory, it was Hamilton who scored his 100th with Verstappen recovering in P2. Once again, Sainz quietly landed a podium.
1. The São Paulo Grand Prix
This race was unanimously at the top of the lists at the GPFans office. The São Paulo event had something of everything.
From Hamilton’s incredible qualifying effort and subsequent disqualification to off-track feuds and Hamilton’s exceptional recovery from the back of the grid in the sprint to fifth place.
But there was more to come. Hamilton’s demotion following an engine penalty forced him to start the race itself 10th, but on lap five the seven-time champion was third.
Verstappen’s controversial lead defense where the Dutchman took himself and Hamilton for a trip through the second round added another talking point to an already spicy mix.
Hamilton’s victory, the 101st of his F1 career, certainly deserved to be considered the best of all time.