Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 Season
World Championship position: 2
Number of World Cup points: 387.5
Number of wins: 8
Best place to start: Pole position (Emilia-Romagna, Spain, Hungary, Qatar and Saudi Arabia)
Best result: 1st place (Bahrain, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain, Russia, Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia)
Report mark: 8.8
“Both drivers gave us an incredible show this year and both drivers deserved to be world champions. Based on this season you can’t choose between Max and Lewis either, you really have to judge them together,” Alain Prost told the undersigned in the paddock of the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Nevertheless, we will make an attempt to assess both title candidates separately, in which Le Professeur is right on the main point: Hamilton and Verstappen have reached an unprecedented high level together.
Hamilton and Verstappen have occupied positions one and two no fewer than fourteen times this year. It is an absolute record of title contenders in Formula 1 history. On the one hand, that says something about the increasingly longer seasons, but it says a lot more about the quality difference between these two exceptional drivers and everything behind them. The fact that both gentlemen often had a ‘free’ pit stop compared to their own teammates also says enough. Or as Helmut Marko already suggested after the Grand Prix of America – advertising for the sport – Motorsport.com Netherlands It said: “Whether Red Bull or Mercedes sometimes has the faster car, it is these two exceptional drivers who keep the title race alive. There are also only two drivers who can get the most out of both cars.”
All these words of praise rightly indicate that both drivers deserve an excellent rating and that they have made the 2021 Formula 1 season a racing year to remember. Respect is in order. That said, it is also apparent that Hamilton is not infallible when you put both title contenders under a magnifying glass. Mistakes crept in under pressure, for example the race in Imola. Hamilton made the mistake there when passing straggler George Russell and would later admit it was title-related: “If I had been a little more patient and waited one corner to catch the laggards… But at that moment I could only think I had to get Max. That was not great, a real mistake.”
Hamilton does not see the moment with the ‘magic button’ in Azerbaijan as a personal mistake, although it remains true that he missed a huge opportunity there. That opportunity came about due to bad luck for Verstappen and until the final race in Abu Dhabi Hamilton had little to complain about the bad luck or luck factor. Lady Fortuna was extremely well disposed towards the Briton, including with the red flag in Imola, the lenient sentence in Silverstone and the events in Hungary. It also makes the script of this Formula 1 season so special: where Hamilton invariably had luck on his side and bad luck cost Verstappen points, that completely changed at the last and also decisive moment.
It also means that Mercedes’ current laments only tell part of the story. In the football world it is often said that luck and bad luck can be offset against each other over an entire season and that has actually happened in Abu Dhabi. It is understandable that Hamilton is disillusioned, especially when you consider that he has already won the world title, although the reality is that Mercedes – not for the first time this year, think of Hungary and Turkey – has not been tactically clear either. The bottom line is that Hamilton has received a very nasty blow, but that he has to pull himself together after that first mourning period to come back stronger next year. Or as Sir Jackie Stewart rightly told this site: “Lewis Hamilton will be extremely disappointed, but he really shouldn’t be. He also had a great season, they gave us a wonderful show together.”