Formula 1 World Champion
After a promising end of 2020 and only minor regulation changes for the 2021 season, there is the excellent opportunity for Max Verstappen and the Red Bull Racing team to fight for both championships. Also, power unit supplier Honda is making every effort to propel Red Bull Racing forward in its final season in Formula 1. In addition, Max gets an experienced teammate in the Mexican Sergio Perez.
The first signs of the speed of the new RB16B look promising after a couple of strong winter testing days. In Bahrain, Max hits the ground running, by taking pole position in the season opener. The race unfolds in a fierce battle between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Max overtakes the seven-time world champion in the final phase of the race, but as the Dutchman goes off the track when making his move, he must give up the lead to the Brit. Verstappen cannot launch another attack and finishes second behind Hamilton.
Max has a fabulous start from P3 on the grid on a wet track in Imola. He is side-by-side with Hamilton when entering the first corner. Max audaciously takes the lead and wins his first race of the season. Mercedes is clearly too quick during the next two races in Portugal and Spain, and both times Max finishes second behind Hamilton.
Max shines on the streets of Monaco. He leads from start to finish and, following Hamilton’s seventh place in the principality, Max tops the championship standings for the first in his Formula 1 career. In Azerbaijan, Max is set to record a dominant victory. Unfortunately, with only six laps to go, the Dutchman suffers a high-speed tyre blow on the straight. Max goes straight into the wall and is lucky to step out of the car unharmed. A red flag follows and at the restart Hamilton, starting on pole, overreaches himself into turn one, meaning the Brit also leaves Baku without any points. Perez takes his first victory for Red Bull.
In France, Max takes the lead from Hamilton with only two laps to go, taking his third victory of the season. What follows are two dominant weekends in Austria, with two poles and two victories at the Red Bull Ring. Max has a lead of 32 points on Hamilton in the championship after these three wins in a row.
However, Max fortunes are about to change. At first, all seems well as Max wins the first ever sprint race in Silverstone, banking three points in the process. Then, during the first lap of the Grand Prix on Sunday, Verstappen and Hamilton are engaged in a fierce battle. Hamilton makes contact with Max at Copse, after which the Red Bull racer heads for the tyre barrier at hight speed and ultimately suffers a 51G impact. Miraculously Max gets out of the wreckage unharmed. Hamilton, who gets a penalty for the incident, still wins the race.
In Hungary Max is again hit by a Mercedes at the start. This time Valtteri Bottas takes out his competitors in first corner like a bowling ball. Max can continue the race in his heavily damaged RB16B and finishes with great difficulty in nineth position. As Hamilton finishes second, he regains the lead in the championship.
The Belgian Grand Prix is a washout. Max takes pole position on a very wet track on Saturday. As more rain falls on Sunday, the race is red-flagged after only one lap behind the safety car. Points are halved and Max receives 12.5 for his victory. The next round, at Circuit Zandvoort, marks the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985. Max dominates the weekend in front of his home crowd, and gloriously wins his first real home race, also retaking the lead in the championship.
Max and Hamilton are turning in on each other again in Italy. Max ends up on top of Hamilton’s car when the two touch in the first chicane. Max starts at the back of the grid in Russia after receiving a penalty for an engine change. Max finishes second behind Hamilton during the wet final phase of the race. Another second position follows in Turkey, where Valtteri Bottas takes the victory.
Max scores his eighth win of the season after a strategically strong race in the United States. He qualifies third in Mexico and overtakes both Mercedes on the outside of turn one and wins the race. After starting at the back of the grid for the sprint race because of a penalty, Hamilton is unstoppable during the race. Despite frantic attempts, Max is unable to keep Hamilton behind and he must settle for second place.
Mercedes clearly has the upper hand in Qatar. Despite starting in seventh due to a grid penalty, Max finishes second. Hamilton is too far ahead. Max drives an unparalleled qualifying lap on the nerve-rackingly fast street circuit of Jeddah. He seems to be set for pole, until he outbreaks himself in the last corner ending up in the wall. From P3 on the grid he is unable to keep up with the pace of the Mercedes. The race is red flagged twice and Max takes the lead after both restarts. Max tries everything to keep Hamilton behind, but it is not enough to keep him from winning the race.
That means that the two contenders are equal on points heading into the last race in Abu Dhabi. In qualifying, Max takes a majestic tenth pole of the season, but at the start it is Hamilton who takes the lead. On the opening lap, Max tries to overtake Hamilton, who goes of the track. The Brit is allowed to keep the lead. For most of the Grand Prix, it looks like the race is lost as Hamilton disappears into the distance. Nicholas Latifi crashes with only five laps to go, and the safety car comes out on track. This is the perfect opportunity for Max to get new soft tyres, while Hamilton continues on his worn hard Pirellis. On the last lap the race is restarted, and Verstappen takes the lead from Hamilton after a daring move into turn five. The Brit is unable to counter on the following straights, enabling Max to win the race sensationally, taking his first ever Formula 1 World Championship in the process. What follows are tears of happiness for both Max and father Jos. Max achieves the ultimate goal after a thrilling season; he is Formula 1 World Champion.
In 2022 Max will drive with the number 1 on his car for the first time, as he tries to successfully defend his title.