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Formula 1's top five races of 2021

Formula 1's top five races of 2021

F1 News

Formula 1's top five races of 2021

Formula 1's top five races of 2021
GPFans Staff

Formula 1 served up one of the best campaigns in the history of the sport but which race was the best of a terrific bunch?

In a season of so many highs, almost every outing came into this discussion so to narrow things down slightly it was agreed the races must be rewatchable, a factor that rules out some of the more strategic battles despite the intrigue that kept us hooked at the time.

Let us know your thoughts and rankings via the poll at the bottom of the page and via the comments.

5. The Italian Grand Prix

The Italian Grand Prix would surely top this list for anyone who classes themself as a McLaren fan with Daniel Ricciardo leading home Lando Norris in what was the only one-two for any team across the whole of the season.

In what was a tense year of competition at the top of the standings, this outcome was exactly what was needed to ease the tension.

Except that's not entirely true, as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen took each other out of the race on lap 26 after both suffered slow pit stops.

Verstappen was deemed "predominantly to blame" for the incident, wording that mirrored a stewards' ruling against Hamilton at Silverstone, and was handed a three-place grid penalty for the following race in Russia.

Yes, this race revolved largely around one flashpoint, but the bigger picture with McLaren returning to the top of the podium for the first time since 2012 pushes this onto the list.

4. The Hungarian Grand Prix

It is possible Valtteri Bottas had a few sleepless nights after the events of turn one in Hungary. For completely different reasons, it is also likely Esteban Ocon and Alpine also struggled for sleep!

The Hungarian Grand Prix was sent into chaos from the very start with damp conditions making the going treacherous on the run to turn one.

After a poor start, things quickly got worse for Bottas as the Finn locked his brakes, struck the gearbox of Norris which in turn skittled the McLaren driver Verstappen as he himself made further contact with Sergio Perez.

In a separate incident at the same corner, Lance Stroll turned Charles Leclerc's Ferrari into the side of Ricciardo's McLaren.

Following a red flag, there was then the utterly bizarre sight of Hamilton taking the restart alone, as all the remaining drivers pitted for slicks. When pitting one lap later, Hamilton dropped to the rear of the pack.

What came next was a series of captivating duels with Mick Schumacher taking on Verstappen and Fernando Alonso rolling back the years to defend from Hamilton.

At the front, Ocon was a picture of perfection and secured his first career F1 victory with Sebastian Vettel second, at least until the German was disqualified after the FIA was unable to take a sufficient fuel sample 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 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

This race may be remembered for the non-points scores of Hamilton and Verstappen, but it was a horror show for Pirelli with two high-speed blowouts.

Leclerc took a surprise pole for the second event in succession but the race quickly dissolved into the regular picture of 2021 with Hamilton and Verstappen at the front.

Despite the Mercedes driver looking in control of the race, a slow stop saw him surrender the lead with Verstappen then looking equally commanding.

Lap 31 saw things change, however, when Lance Stroll became the first driver to bite the concrete walls after suffering a tyre blowout.

A safety car period and a few laps of racing later and we arrived at lap 46, when race-leader Verstappen suffered a near-identical failure at over 200mph, bringing his race to a premature end.

This resulted in the red flags being thrown but with Perez and Hamilton lining up on the front row for the restart, there remained one further twist as the Mercedes driver knocked his 'brake magic' switch on the back of the steering wheel and went spearing off into the turn one run-off.

The two-lap shootout ended with Perez scoring his maiden win for Red Bull, Vettel scoring his first podium for Aston Martin and Pierre Gasly taking home silverware for AlphaTauri.

2. The Russian Grand Prix

The Russian Grand Prix is not one that is regularly thought of as a potential season highlight, but throw a bit of weather into the mix and any track around the world can deliver a stunner.

When the front three on the grid are Norris, Sainz and Russell, you know qualifying was interesting.

The Saturday session had taken place in drying conditions but the weather was far from done with exerting its influence over the weekend.

Verstappen had started at the back after taking a fourth power unit of the season so was on a mission of damage limitation, one that was made significantly easier by the lack of any sort of fight from Bottas when the two fought on lap six.

It was lap 47 that everything changed. Rain.

Norris had held the lead for the majority of the race and looked on course to score his first F1 race win just one weekend after Ricciardo had taken to the top step at Monza. But when Hamilton pitted for intermediate tyres, Norris made the bold call to remain out on slicks.

Weather reports conflicted with some saying the rain would quickly stop whilst others forecast a downpour. The latter proved to be true and it was heartbreak for Norris.

Instead of recording his first win, it was Hamilton that scored his 100th with Verstappen recovering to P2. Again, Sainz quietly scored a podium finish.

1. The São Paulo Grand Prix

This race unanimously topped the lists in the GPFans office. The São Paulo event just had something of everything.

From Hamilton's stunning qualifying effort and his subsequent disqualification to the off-track bickering and Hamilton's outstanding recovery from the back of the grid in the sprint to fifth.

But there was more to come. Hamilton's demotion through an engine penalty forced him to start the race itself 10th, but by lap five the seven-time champion was third.

Verstappen's controversial defence of the race lead where the Dutchman took both himself and Hamilton for a trip across the run-off added yet another talking point to an already spicy mix.

Hamilton's win, the 101st of his F1 career, was one certainly worthy of being considered as his best ever.

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