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What We Can Learn From The 2021 F1

  • by: Adam Coath
  • On: 14, Jan 2022
4 min read

Formula One’s 2021 season was one of the most explosive and divisive in the sport’s history. In case you missed it, Verstappen won the world championship, defeating long-time rival Lewis Hamilton in his quest for his eighth title.

Of course, before we talk about what lessons we can learn from the 2021 season, first, we must talk about what happened in Abu Dhabi.

The 2021 F1 Controversy

Mercedes fans were left confused when race director Michael Masi made the decision to not let lapped cars unlap themselves, then changed his mind and gave the call for five of the eight lapped cars to go through. 

Mercedes launched two protests, claiming the FIA had not followed its own regulations by restarting the race when it did, but these were thrown out by the stewards, leaving Verstappen to take the title. 

Despite the upset, Hamilton accepted the verdict, congratulated Verstappen, and set the standard for how any future frontrunners should accept defeat. 

Given the calibre of racing on display from both drivers, an argument could be made either way about who deserved to win. Regardless, there are other things to take away from a fantastic season of Formula One racing. 

Five Lessons we can learn from 2021 Formula One

Mercedes is no longer the king of the turbo-hybrid era

According to their fans, Mercedes has long dominated the technical landscape of Formula One. It’s hard to deny, with their seven double championship wins, going all the way back to 2014.

However, this season saw them struggling in testing with their W12. Meanwhile, the Red Bull RB16B was efficient, reliable, and a real contender from the very first race, and of course went onto take the championship.

This goes to show that Mercedes doesn’t always hold the crown when it comes to design, and that we may see further upsets in the years to come.

Records aren’t set in stone

2021’s season was the longest in Formula One’s history, and many other records were broken as well.

In a sport dominated by big names and legacies, it’s easy to think that the all-time greats will never be topped. But 2021 saw Hamilton become the first driver in F1 history to claim a 100th pole position and 100th win, ending the season with 103 of both.

Hamilton, Verstappen, and Bottas became the most frequent trio in the sport’s history to appear on the podium together.

Verstappen also took the record for most podiums in a season: a staggering 18.

Formula One can evolve with new race formats

2021 saw the debut of the new F1 sprint race at Silverstone, Monza, and Interlagos. Which undeniably had an impact on the overall season.

It’s possible that in years to come we may see other new race formats, designed to shake up the sport, test the drivers in new ways, and bring in new fans to Formula One.

New tracks can become instant classics

2021 was the debut season of the Jeddah Corniche circuit, and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The new track was a hit with fans and drivers alike, meaning we may see more new circuits in the future.

Underdogs can make a name for themselves

Esteban Ocon became the 111th racer to win a race in the history of F1. The 25-year-old has shown tenacity in his past performances, and his determination and tactical thinking paid off with a win, and three more-point finishes throughout the season.

Besides this, Lando Norris almost snatched a surprise victory when he led most of the Russian Grand Prix. He went on to take four rostrums across the year, showing that while the sport has a few mainstay contenders for the title, younger racers can still pose a threat.

Nowhere was this shown better than in George Russel’s P2 performance in Spa - his masterful control and confidence beyond his years marked him as one to watch in coming seasons.

2021’s racing season was one of the most surprising in recent memory. It had everything that makes the sport great, twists, turns, epic rivalries, and surprising last-minute upsets. No one could have predicted how it was going to end, and that’s what made it such a memorable season, no matter what you think about how it ended.

What will we see in 2022?

2022 will introduce the biggest rules overhaul since hybrid power. These new rules were originally intended to be brought in in 2021, so teams have had a long time to prepare.

Ferrari, McLaren, and Alpine will have lots to learn from this season and may be in a better position to challenge Mercedes and Red Bull.

In 2022, we may see similar stunts, dramatic decisions, and controversial moments engineered to create conversation on social media. Or, given the backlash, we may see a reversal, a return to form with a more traditional approach to races, disputes, and rulings.

Read about the impact of robotic automation on Formula One, or learn the myths and the facts of working in motorsport

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