Here we are again! On the cusp of a brand new season of F1! With the rise of the Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive‘ the team here at Revved have noticed a remarkable rise in interest from the general public, many people have come to love the sport and it’s become the norm to be stunned if someone says that they don’t.
If you have followed our channel and website for a while, you’d know that we cover each and every race here at Revved… but if not, Welcome! As an introduction to both the sport and our channel, I suggest you read last year’s pre-season article that we had released just before the beginning of the 2021 F1 Season. In it you’ll find details about the sport in general, highlights from the previous year of F1, a rundown of the then-current drivers and the teams they compete for and as you’ve come to expect from anything done here at Revved, a few laughs along the way. You can catch up on that here.
So, now that you’re caught up on last year’s pre-season … it’s time to talk about what happened during the very eventful and dramatic 2021 Formula 1 season!
I can hands-down say that 2021 was one of the most, if not the most, competitive seasons F1 has had in a loooong time. After a 8-year-long win streak by Mercedes, lead by the GM Toto Wolff and one of F1’s best ever drivers Lewis Hamilton, it seemed that Mercedes would never find any real competition for at least a few more years, and it seemed that Lewis would win his 8th Championship and become F1’s most decorated driver in history by finally surpassing the legendary Michael Schumacher. But more on that later! For now I’m gonna go through some highlights that I feel will stay with me and so many others for years to come.
McLaren’s 1-2 finish at Monza
My God, was this a special one. First off, McLaren has been one of the leading teams in Formula 1 way before most of us here at Revved were even born. Big BIG names in the world of the sport have driven McLaren cars to gold throughout its fruitful and decorated history, names the like of: Lauda, Hunt, Hamilton, Prost, Hakkinen and Senna. IYKYK.
But throughout this generation, McLaren has had a dry-spell. During this new Mercedes Era, they haven’t been close to winning the championship at all, even struggling to make it to the top 3 throughout the season. Sometimes, or even, most RACES they fail to make it into the top 3. Which is a far cry from what history might entail this team has got up its sleeve.
That’s why 2021 has been a shining light for the McLaren fans, and that’s also why the Italian Grand Prix at Monza last year is one we’ll never forget.
Entering the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, McLaren’s last race win had been in 2012 at Brazil, and with RedBull Racing Honda and Mercedes dominating the season so far, there seemed to be no hope in winning, and little to no hope to even make podium. But during the weekend, McLaren newcomer Daniel Ricciardo, who himself had won 7 Grand Prix throughout his career for different teams had another thing planned.
After failing to impress and finding it hard to get used to the McLaren race car up till this race, it was jaw-dropping to see him take the lead of the race after over-taking his former teammate Max Verstappen. Ricciardo found himself leading a Grand Prix for the first time since 2018. His teammate, Lando Norris managed to take third place mid-race after over-taking the then-current leader Lewis Hamilton. Norris was not able to hold off the 7-time-world-champion for long. While Hamilton was eventually able to pass Norris, a big crash between the championship rivals Hamilton and Verstappen gave Mclaren the opportunity of a life-time. A dream became reality as the McLaren duo crossed the chequered flag and gave their team a 1-2 finish.
With McLaren first win in years, and an even longer time since they had a 1-2 finish, this race seems to have been written for a movie or a novel. More over, this happened to be the first 1-2 finish of the season. Not only did both drivers perform flawlessly; their teamwork, from Norris following team orders to not try get past Riccardio, to Daniel providing a slipstream for Norris, is ultimately what allowed them to pull off this achievement. What a day for McLaren and their fans!
RUSSELL VS. BOTTAS
Rivalries run rampant in Formula 1, but this one took the cake for me this season. You wouldn’t expect a heated rivalry between drivers from the top team in Formula 1 and the team that scrapes at the bottom when it comes to current performances respectively.
Valtteri Bottas had been Mercedes’ ‘second’ driver for the previous 5 years. Sure, it’s easy to perform better than the rest of the grid (except for his teammate, Lewis Hamilton) when you’re in literally the fastest car out there. Bottas has garnered multiple race wins and very frequent podiums. You could say that only in the case of an incident on track or some sort of mishap or penalty would result in Bottas not making the top 3 each and every race. You can feel the ‘but’ that’s about to follow can’t you? BUT… Valtteri started to realize the past 2 seasons that he is just a second driver, having a seat at Mercedes only as a helping hand to none other than Lewis Hamilton. The amount of times Bottas has been given the order to let Hamilton steamroll past him is something that would make anyone feel bad for the Finn. Basically… he’s a place holder.
On the literal other side of the grid… in comes George Russell. George had been a part of the Mercedes youth academy for years. He was given a seat to drive at Williams F1 as Mercedes’ 3rd driver for the past 2 years. Williams went from dominating Formula 1 and winning a multitude of championships to literally, last every year for the past 5 years. But ever since Russell joined, there was this change at Williams, no one could explain it, but George brought this sense of hope. He’d climb up the grid overtaking some cars every once in a while, you notice the talent. He’d get to the straights and he’d be overtaken again because the Williams car can’t keep up with the rest. But you can tell, George’s talent is wasted in that car.
It was the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix where things started to get heated. Sir Lewis unfortunately tested positive for Covid-19 before the qualifying and George Russell got called up from Williams in his absence. You could tell instantly, the race started, Bottas starting from P1 and Russell from P2, first corner… Russell gets infront of Bottas and is leading the race. No one was surprised. Pure pace, Bottas couldn’t hold a candle next to this kid. Russell was on his way to winning his first Grand Prix, but it wasn’t his day. He got a puncture in his front tyre late in the race and was forced to retire. Bottas didn’t even manage to win that one. But ever since that race, you knew that Russell was a big threat to Bottas and his seat at Mercedes.
Fast forward to last season, rumours were flying around that George would be on his way out of Williams and into Mercedes. So Bottas took it upon himself to prove that he deserves the spot instead. Solid performance from both the lads throughout the season, until we got to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Cloudy weather, wet track. It was mid-race and things are getting really heated in the front and in the middle of the pack. Russell in a Williams… I’ll repeat it… IN A WILLIAMS, was about to OVERTAKE Bottas in a MERCEDES. When suddenly the two crashed into each other, hitting the wall at the Tamburello corner at 50Gs. Both drivers were fine as George was seen getting out of the wrecked car and sprinting at the wrecked Mercedes. At first glance you’d think he was going there to see if Valtteri was fine, but it resulted that they exchanged ‘pleasantries’. You could see Russell smacking Bottas’ helmet and the Finn replying with a middle finger. Who’s fault was it? No one has a clear answer. Both the drivers blame each other.
Russell apologized for the accident (purely to win points with the management over at Mercedes) and the thing was forgotten. Russell put in extremely good performance throughout the season. Finishing P9 in one occasion and bursting into tears while being interviewed after. Also securing a staggering P2 start at the Belgian Grand Prix, outqualifying EVERYONE except for Verstappen. IN. A. WILLIAMS. While Bottas put in a great team performance, helping Lewis reach the final race on equal points to his rival Max Verstappen.
SO. During the summer break, it was announced that yes, George Russell has taken the number 2 seat at Mercedes, while Bottas will drive for Alfa Romeo this year. Did Mercedes make the right decision? Will they make Russell a second driver to Hamilton? We’ll see. Personally, I think Russell is not there to play second fiddle to anyone… Hamilton watch out. But without question we can’t wait to see Russell in a competitive car!
The Title Race
It’s only fair that after such an amazing season, the finish was just as spectacular (even with all the controversy and drama that ensued). So you probably know by now that the title this year had two top contenders… Mercedes and RedBull Racing with their strongest drivers respectively; Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton has been at the top of F1 for at least ten years. If you don’t follow F1 I’ll give you a bit of a crash course on how things work. Each race weekend begins with Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and Sunday is race day. During the qualifying the drivers try set their best lap times which will determine at which place they’ll start the race the next day. Now some drivers are better at setting times than racing against others. And some shine mostly when they are defending or attacking their competition during the race. And for the longest time in F1, when you ask someone a question like ‘Who is the best at setting lap times?‘ the answer you’d get is Lewis Hamilton. ‘Who is the best at defending their position during a race?‘ ; Lewis Hamilton. ‘Who is the best at overtaking cars?‘; Lewis Hamilton. ‘Who can take care of their tyres the most?‘ Lewis Hamilton. ‘Who..?‘ I’ll stop you right there, the answer is Lewis Hamilton. There has never been a driver more effective, more concentrated, more strategic than Sir Lewis. All that with a calm and focused mindset. There has never been a driver more dangerous than Lewis Hamilton.
So, the people got numb… the viewership got bored. Hamilton won the championship 6 years in a row. He was a cut above everyone else. And you’d think that he might slip up and have a bad season, but he never does. He stays hungry for wins.
Enter Max Verstappen. RedBull’s prodigy rose to fame after becoming the youngest pole sitter, youngest race winner and one of the baddest guys on the grid. Some would call it childish the way he acted the first few years. But it was all un-paralleled drive and hunger. Throughout these past few years, he got to refining his talents, controlling his emotions and taking them onto the track. Max is an aggressive driver, always goes for the gap. He has everything Lewis does, sure much less experienced, but he’s sharper and willing to go through fire if need be, all for the slightest of advantages. Now when you ask the people those previous questions, the answer you’d get isn’t always going to be ‘Lewis Hamilton’… the name ‘Max Verstappen‘ is right there in the mix.
The 2021 season had something different in store. For the first time RedBull Racing and their Honda engines could compete very well with that of the Mercedes team. So we got to see the battle of a lifetime. Two great cars, being driven by two even greater drivers. A season-long war took place with both drivers holding their own against each other, scoring points, breaking records. Sir Lewis Hamilton had 5 pole positions and 8 race wins, while Max Verstappen had 9 pole positions and 9 race wins before the final race at Abu Dhabi. And to make things even more dramatic, they went into the final race with EXACTLY the same points. Exactly, right down to the decimals. Mercedes looked to be the favorites though since they would be coming into the finale with a 28 point lead. The last race would determine if Lewis Hamilton would become an 8th time world champion, becoming the most decorated F1 driver in history, overtaking Michael Schumacher by 1 world championship, or if Max Verstappen would break the Mercedes win-streak and become world champion for the first time in his career.
Thousands of people behind the scenes have spent countless hours, made countless sacrifices and given their all until the end of the longest F1 season to date. It would all come down to this. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton took the first jab at Verstappen when he took the lead in turn 1 and left the Dutchman with a lot of work to do to catch up. By lap 20 Hamilton was behind Max’s teammate Sergio Perez (due to Hamilton going in to change tyres) Perez was told to hold off Hamilton while Verstappen, who had also gone in to change tyres could catch up to the Mercedes. Sergio Perez pulled off one of the best defending performance we have ever seen in the history of Formula 1. He was able to hold off Hamilton, who was on much fresher tyres than his until Max had made up the gap of 5 seconds between him and Hamilton.
‘Checo (Perez) is a legend’ Said Max Verstappen into his radio as Perez let him pass by him to chase down Hamilton who was only two seconds ahead of Max, all because of his teammate.
By Lap 53, Hamilton was leading the race by 11 seconds and the RedBull win seemed a far cry. But at the back of the pack Nicholas Latifi driving for Williams crashed into the wall and a safety car was issued. During this time the cars are supposed to line up behind the safety car and go around the track at its pace while the track is being cleared of the debris. The controversy starts here, Max came into the pits to change tyres while the teams were told that there was no time for the lapped cars (the cars that have been lapped by the front runners) to go around the track again and line up in their current place. When the debris was cleared Lewis was in front followed by 5 lapped cars and Verstappen, on new tyres behind them.
The usual ruling is that all lapped cars are to overtake the safety car and meet up at the back of the pack. The teams were told that no cars are going to be able to un-lap themselves due to the limited number of laps left. So Mercedes, thinking they had Verstappen trapped behind cars that are lapped, decided not to change Hamilton’s tyres as to not lose his place at the front. As the laps rolled on under the safety car, it was decided that only the cars between Lewis and Max are to un-lap themselves, and as the final lap started without a safety car, Lewis was left as prey, on older tyres head-to-head with no advantage against Max. This decision was taken to have a competitive end to the season and to not finish the last race of the most exhilarating season under a safety car.
Hamilton led the last lap, until the two went into turn 5 and Verstappen made the winning overtake. The Brit attempted to make a pass using the slipstream in the straight but Max’s pace couldn’t be matched. And that is how it would end, Verstappen winning his first title by a margin of 2.2 seconds, ending the Mercedes win streak and bagging himself his first ever world title. What. A. Race. Do yourself a favor and catch the full highlights here.
The 2022 Season
After all that, it’s RACE WEEK AGAIN BABY! The teams now line up this weekend starting Friday the 18th of March. The beginning of the new season is always exciting. I’m not gonna make a huge detailed analysis of the pre-season testing that went on during the summer and an in-depth overview of all the teams and drivers that will line up this season.
But, I won’t leave you with nothing. I’ll give you a run down of which drivers you should watch out for and who’s who in the world of Formula 1 this season;
Max Verstappen #1– Red Bull Racing Honda
Our current world champion! Arriving in Formula 1 as the youngest ever driver at 17 years old, the Dutch prodigy made a name for himself as one of the most aggressive drivers on the grid. F1’s youngest points scorer soon became its youngest race winner – at the age of 18 years and 228 days. Fast forward a few years , now 24 years old, Max sports a no holds-barred attitude on and off the track. His instinctive style of driving and hard fought defense made him the most interesting prospect in F1. This is the man who broke the Mercedes win streak! Honing his skills and becoming one of the greatest drivers already, Max looks to continue on his roll and add another world championship to his collection. Also I have to respect the utter shit-housery as he has changed his number from #33 to #1. What a legend.
Lewis Hamilton #44 – Mercedes
Sir Lewis Hamilton, to be precise. Respect is hard earned in Formula 1, but no one can dispute that this guy is in the G.O.A.T conversation. Ruthless, strategic and talented, Hamilton is one of the greatest to ever put on a helmet. Seven time world champion, breaking records each and every season. What can I say ? This guy loves winning more than non-Mercedes fans love to hate him. Lewis seeks redemption this year, sure he might seem calm… but when he’s backed into a corner, he brings the claws out.
Sergio Perez #11 – Red Bull Racing Honda
Checo as some might know him has been in the sport for 11 years, but before last year he hadn’t had the opportunity to compete in a car that has a chance at the world title. Last year he focused on being a team player, proving vital in his teammate’s success, and Max knows it. Could it be this year that Perez aims at being the top-dog at Red Bull?
George Russell #63 – Mercedes
George Russell has made strides and has had very good results… In a Williams car. I can imagine what he’ll be able to do in a Mercedes, but I’d rather wait and witness it with my own eyes. He will no doubt impress in his new gear, but will him and Hamilton work as a team or will they fight it out for the championship. Guess we have to wait and see.
Lando Norris #4 – McLaren
McLaren had this British teenager in their sights for two years before giving him the seat. A firecracker in his youth career, winning left, right and centre. Norris was paired with the much more experienced Carlos Sainz Jr. in his rookie season and competing closely with the Spaniard in their head-to-head qualifying battle. Norris managed to score point in 11 events. Very impressive for his rookie season. Last season Norris showed off some great improvements and driving skills, albeit with some low-moments as well due to his un-experience decision making. One thing is clear though, the only way is up for this young man.
Charles Leclerc #16 – Ferrari
Coming up from GP3 and F2, Leclerc showcased amazing skills, scorching pole positions and victories. Both world champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have gone on record saying that Charles is the real deal, and it’s not often they agree on anything. Charles joined Ferrari in 2019, becoming the first driver to outscore Sebastian Vettel throughout the season at Ferrari, with back to back wins at Spa and Monza. Now 24 years old, Leclerc has signed the longest contract ever offered by Ferrari. He will be driving for Ferrari for the coming four years. Michael Schumacher wasn’t ever offered a contract of that length. Last season Leclerc was really impressive, getting P1 for his home race in Monaco, one of the most technique demanding tracks on the roster, and always being able to make it to the top of the midfield. Don’t count this driver out.
Daniel Ricciardo #3 – McLaren
Daniel Ricciardo has been one of the most consistent drivers for the past few years, but because of his strive to be more competitive, he has changed teams a lot of times throughout his career. Hopefully this season he’ll take what he had built last year at McLaren and improve on it. Winning the Monza Grand-Prix last season the Aussie looks to be on the right track to finally be up there with the top-dogs. We just have to wait and see.
Pierre Gasly #10 – AlphaTauri
The flying Frenchman was called up in 2017 to make his debut in F1 in place of Daniil Kvyat, and was made an AlphaTauri (previously Toro Rosso) driver the following year after proving himself to be a promising driver. After just 21 races, he was called up to drive for AlphaTauri’s mother company Red Bull Racing Honda in place of Daniel Ricciardo. During his time at Red Bull, his promise made appearances in flashes, and being in Verstappen’s shadow seemed to effect Gasly’s confidence. He was replaced mid-season and demoted back to AlphaTauri. But silenced his critics and Red Bull, the way only Gasly can. Taking P2 in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, and if that wasn’t enough, taking P1 in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. Last season Gasly was consistently getting top 5 to top 7 results, and I’m talking ridiculous numbers, when you consider he’s not in one of the most note-worthy cars. Do not count this dude out.
Sebastian Vettel #5– Aston Martin
Seb is a four time world champion, two of the titles he won back-to-back between 2010 and 2013, all with Redbull. He later moved to Ferrari to follow in his hero’s, Michael Schumacher’s footsteps. But alas, things didn’t work out as he had planned, Mercedes became a force to be reckoned with and with whom the prancing pony couldn’t compete. All seemed futile for Seb when Ferrari brought in a young talent in Leclerc, who became the first man to out-shine him at the Scuderia. Vettel’s second season at Aston Martin is not one that I’d say he will be competitive in, but you can expect some great driving and A LOT of social justice movements from this humanitarian. We love you Seb, and all that you stand for. Never change.
Mick Schumacher #47 – HAAS F1 Team
You should know the name by now. Carrying the Schumacher name is surely an extra level of pressure for young Mick, but you might be thinking: ‘Is he just here cause of his name? or is he a cash-cow?’ No, Mick arrived in F1 after winning the F2 championship title in 2020, and the F3 championship in 2018. It’s talent that brought him to this level and he will be eager to showcase this during this season again. Sure, he’s in a HAAS car, but we’ve all got to start from somewhere, and maybe someday we’ll see him follow his father’s footsteps and claim a seat for the reds.
In concluding, this season is going to be as competitive as ever! We look forward to watching the season unfold and drinking a few beers at our local bars, now that we can! Stay tuned here on Revved and visit our Formula 1 portal here to stay updated on everything F1.
LET’S GO RACING.