Formula One 2021
With the conclusion of the US Grand Prix, there are 5 circuits left to determine who will be the winner of the Formula One Championship 2021 season. This is sure to be a historic year, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton looking to win his fifth consecutive championship and bring his tally to eight, putting him above legendary driver Michael Schumacher’s seven. Mercedes driver Hamilton is the bookies' favourite to win the championship and in September, he made a record 100 Formula One wins, the first driver to ever do so, out of 282 races.
The next favourite is the young Max Verstappen, who drives with the Red Bull team. He has come in third place for the past two championships, but is showing a fresh determination this season to break Hamilton’s winning streak.
With the cancellation of several events after the outbreak of the pandemic last year, this year sees the return of legendary grounds such as the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo and the Mexican Grand Prix in the famed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
It will also feature the inauguration of two new circuits, in the Qatar Grand Prix, and the newly built Saudi Grand Prix. The introduction of these two new tracks are sure to popularize the sport in the Middle East, adding to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grand Prixs.
Formula One Season So Far
Starting in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton took the lead, but he was chased by Verstappen with a win in the following race, in the Emiliano Romagnolo Grand Prix. The Portuguese and Spanish Grand Prixes provided Hamilton with two more wins, taking a strong stand in the rankings. It was not until the French Grand Prix, when Verstappen won three back to back races, including Styrian and Austrian GPs. This extended his championship lead to 33 points.
In a tense British Grand Prix, Hamilton collided with Verstappen at approximately 180 mph, causing the race to be temporarily stopped. This resulted in a ten second penalty for Hamilton, which he took at his pit stop. Not stopping his resolve, Hamilton bounced back into the race, overtaking Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc, McLaren driver Lando Norris, and Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri to win the Grand Prix. This cut the lead from 33 points to 8.
In the following Belgian and Dutch Grand Prixes, Verstappen, being of Dutch-Belgian dual nationality, took pole position and won both races.
In the US Grand Prix, Verstappen pipped Hamilton in a dramatic race to keep his lead at 13 points, but with 5 fixtures remaining, the question is can he maintain his position in the rankings, and stop Hamilton from becoming the all-time top Formula One Champion.
Mexico City Grand Prix - Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez 7 November
From 2016-2019, both Hamilton and Verstappen have won 2 Mexican Grand Prix each. Last year the event was cancelled because of the pandemic, so this year is an opportunity to welcome back the roaring Mexican fans, who are sure to boost the atmosphere.
In 2019 FIA named the Mexican Grand Prix the top event, for the fifth consecutive year. The Mexican Grand Prix has become a cornerstone of the F1 calendar. It is hard to believe that the circuit, which opened in 1962 and featured prominently in the 60’s through to the 90's, was closed for 23 years. This was due to the air pollution in Mexico City, which hit an all-time high in 1992. Though safety measures were introduced to lessen the traffic and to provide ventilation so as to reduce the impact of the pollution, the track still had issues such as bumps and road faults at some corners. These caused some minor incidents, and ultimately, Formula One had to leave Mexico out of the roster.
In 2015, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez opened its gates again to the world of Formula One, and became an instant fan favourite. The Podium was moved and new stands were erected to seat up to 100,000 people.
São Paulo Grand Prix - Interlagos Circuit 14 November
The Interlagos Circuit is famous for being the breeding ground of Formula One legend Aryton Senna, who won it in 1991 and 1993. The late Brazilian grew up in Sao Paulo and remains a hero to this day amongst Brazilians and fans of Formula One. In a track that has not changed too much since his days, and it provides nostalgia for those fans who are old enough to have seen him live.
In recent years, at the Interlagos Circuit we have another track that has been won by both Hamilton and Verstappen, though Hamilton has the edge with 2 victories here in 2016 and 2018.
Qatar Grand Prix - Losail International Circuit 21 November
The Qatar Grand Prix marks a special occasion; it is the first time a Formula One event will be hosted in Qatar. The Losail International circuit, which is most commonly known as a MotoGP circuit, will no doubt pose some new challenges for F1 drivers.
Situated between sea and desert, the track is known to have unpredictable weather conditions, with the possibility of torrential downpours and sandstorms. While these are not common, you can still rely on heavy winds and condensation on the track when the sun goes down.
As the Circuit has only been used for two wheel motor racing, the track had to undergo several modifications to be viable to host Formula One events. Modifications included the widening of the entry lanes, and the changing of the safety barriers; where in place of the air fences and inflatable barriers used in MotoGP, heavier and larger barriers are needed for Formula One.
Saudi Arabian Grand prix - Jeddah Corniche Circuit 5 December
Another inaugural event, the plans to construct the Jeddah Corniche Circuit were announced to the public in 2019. In 2020 the plans were confirmed by designer Wurz and a number of Formula One drivers who had driven on the track with a racing simulator. The FIA and FIM Grade 1 standards were met by the design, but Formula One still did not comment on whether there would be any races hosted by the new Saudi Arabian Circuit.
That is, until October, when the provisional calendar for the upcoming 2021 Formula One season was announced, with the inclusion of the two first time events in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
This is an event to look out for, as simulators have shown that this could be the fastest track in the season, with Formula One cars simulated to hit speeds of up to 160 mph, and it is the second longest circuit to feature in this year’s calendar.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit 12 December
In what is sure to be a dramatic finale, the last race of the season will take place in the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. This is a familiar racing track to Lewis Hamilton, who has won 5 Grand Prixes at this circuit, which is quite the feat considering it only opened in 2009. In 2020 Max Verstappen won the final race of the championship at this ground, which still puts him in the race if the championship is decided in the final race.