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Verstappen and Hamilton combine for F1's best season in history? - Race-by-race review

Verstappen and Hamilton combine for F1's best season in history? - Race-by-race review

F1 News

Verstappen and Hamilton combine for F1's best season in history? - Race-by-race review

Verstappen and Hamilton combine for F1's best season in history? - Race-by-race review
GPFans Staff

The 2021 F1 season may go down in history as the best the sport has seen.

Incredible wheel-to-wheel action, drama, controversy and emotion all culminated in a last-lap showdown in Abu Dhabi between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton for the title.

In the end, the Dutchman came out on top to become the first from the Netherlands to win the F1 drivers' championship.

GPFans takes a look back at an astonishing season of grand prix racing!

Bahrain Grand Prix

Red Bull entered the opening round of the campaign as surprise favourites after a strong pre-season in which Mercedes struggled.

Verstappen led the race from pole position but surrendered his advantage when pitting onto a two-stop strategy, while Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton on a one-stop, allowing the Dutchman to rapidly close in on fresher tyres.

In the dying stages, Verstappen made his move on the outside at turn four but was forced to hand the position back to his rival after completing the move off-track and was unable to create another opportunity. Valtteri Bottas finished third with the fastest lap.

Drivers' championship standings after round one

1. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - 25 points

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 18

3. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] - 16

4. Lando Norris [McLaren] - 12

5. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] -10

Constructors' standings after round one

1. Mercedes - 41 points

2. Red Bull - 28

3. McLaren - 18

4. Ferrari - 12

5. AlphaTauri - 2

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Verstappen lay down a marker at Imola with an aggressive move into turn one before sauntering to victory in difficult wet-dry conditions.

Hamilton made an error and slid off the road into the barriers at Tosa but was afforded a lifeline when a serious incident between Bottas and George Russell brought the red flags out at Tamburello.

The seven-time champion took his lifeline to overhaul the top 10 and snatch second from Lando Norris in the closing stages.

Drivers' championship standings after round two

1. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - 44 points

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 43

3. Lando Norris [McLaren] - 27

4. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] - 20

5. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] - 16

Constructors' standings after round two

1. Mercedes - 60 points

2. Red Bull - 53

3. McLaren - 41

4. Ferrari - 34

5. AlphaTauri - 8

Portuguese Grand Prix

Bottas headed a Mercedes front-row lockout in qualifying but by turn one Hamilton had lost out to Verstappen.

The championship leader was scintillating after a brief safety car period, making light work of the Dutchman - although the pair almost collided at turn three - and his team-mate to eventually canter to victory.

Bottas and Verstappen both pitted late on to steal the fastest lap but it was the Finn who bagged the bonus point.

Drivers' championship standings after round three

1. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - 69 points

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 61

3. Lando Norris [McLaren] - 37

4. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] - 32

5. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] - 28

Constructors' standings after round three

1. Mercedes - 101 points

2. Red Bull - 83

3. McLaren - 53

4. Ferrari - 42

5. Alpine - 13

Spanish Grand Prix

Mercedes showed it could outgun Red Bull's strategic team with Hamilton's victory in Spain.

Verstappen again got the jump on the Briton into turn one and repaid the favour for the Portuguese squeeze to assume the lead.

After remaining behind the Dutchman after the first sequence of stops, Hamilton closed in and made a switch to the two-stop strategy. Unlike Verstappen in Bahrain, the 36-year-old was able to take the lead and secure his third win of the season whilst Bottas was again third.

Drivers' championship standings after round four

1. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - 94 points

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 80

3. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] - 47

4. Lando Norris [McLaren] - 41

5. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] - 40

Constructors' standings after round four

1. Mercedes - 141 points

2. Red Bull - 112

3. McLaren - 65

4. Ferrari - 60

5. Alpine - 15

Monaco Grand Prix

The first big turning point of the championship came with a dismal weekend for Mercedes in Monaco.

Neither Hamilton nor Bottas was able to battle Red Bull whilst Ferrari was the surprise of the weekend. Charles Leclerc took pole but was unable to take part in the race due to damage sustained in a qualifying crash.

Verstappen took full advantage to win at Monaco for the first time whilst Hamilton could only muster seventh. Bottas was eliminated with a bizarre pit-stop failure as Carlos Sainz and Norris both reached the podium.

Drivers' championship standings after round five

1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 105 points

2. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - 101

3. Lando Norris [McLaren] - 56

4. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] - 47

5. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] - 44

Constructors' standings after round five

1. Red Bull - 149 points

2. Mercedes - 148

3. McLaren - 80

4. Ferrari - 78

5. Aston Martin - 19

Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The war of words between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner over flexi-wings continued off-track whilst Ferrari carried its Monaco form over to Baku, with Leclerc taking another pole position.

It was Red Bull who dominated on race day with superior pace and with six laps remaining Verstappen led a one-two. Down the long start-finish straight, however, his rear-left tyre blew in a similar fashion to Lance Stroll earlier in the race.

A two-lap sprint resulted in chaos as Hamilton ran straight on at turn one, leaving Perez in the clear to take his first win as a Red Bull driver. Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly joined the Mexican on the podium.

Drivers' championship standings after round six

1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 105 points

2. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - 101

3. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] - 69

4. Lando Norris [McLaren] - 66

5. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] - 52

Constructors' standings after round six

1. Red Bull - 174 points

2. Mercedes - 148

3. Ferrari - 94

4. McLaren - 92

5. AlphaTauri - 39

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