NB: ‘F1 gods miraculously decided to turn things upside down in Abu Dhabi’

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Now that the 2021 season is over, it is time to look back. In a series of eight reviews, the editors of F1Maximum look back on the special, but especially exciting Formula 1 year, with the title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Editor-in-chief Maurits Kappetijn and editors David Ruiter and Gino Haverkamp tell us what they thought were the best moments of the year.

Maurits: “Of course the last lap and everything that happened after that in Abu Dhabi was memorable and even legendary, but with that we must not forget other wonderful moments of 2021. I myself have put the Dutch Grand Prix at the top of my list. In recent years, Verstappen has conquered the hearts of millions of Dutch people, he raised a true orange army and his successes ensured a return of the Grand Prix in the Netherlands. One athlete, one boy from Limburg, who has brought about so much. That image all came together during the race weekend in Zandvoort.’

‘That wonderful weekend ended with a very dominant victory, of course. Whether you’re a fan of Verstappen, Hamilton or Mazepin, I think this must have been a really beautiful sporting moment for everyone. The Dutch fans left a nice mark on the new supporter culture that they have brought to Formula 1, by bringing all those lone Verstappen stands at the foreign race weekends together in one place. The atmosphere was magical, the emotions were beautiful and for me personally it was a moment where I got a lump in my throat.’

‘Verstappen situation seemed hopeless for a while’

David: ‘I don’t have to think long about this. We’ve seen a lot of great races with intense duels, strategic feats and chaos; really unique. The fact that the championship had to be decided in the very last race has been unique and a blessing for this sport. Rarely has the F1 enthusiast been treated so lavishly to excitement and spectacle in a season. I expected a fairly calm and tense final, but I couldn’t be further wrong. The situation seemed hopeless for Verstappen and the battle seemed to have been settled in favor of the experienced rot. How the F1 gods miraculously decided to turn things upside down and spoil the fans with one very last duel is truly amazing. The emotional and thrilling rollercoaster of that slot was definitely my highlight of the season, but I won’t be alone in that!’

‘Those were really Rossian situations’

Gino: ‘I thought the moment that Verstappen crossed the line in Zandvoort was magical. That fireworks at that exact moment, that orange smoke, that cheering; unbelievably pretty. Those were really Rossian MotoGP conditions, not normal. I’m really not someone who quickly picks up the orange glasses, but in a year like 2021 you can’t ignore moments like this.’

For example, I also really enjoyed Norris’ pole lap in Russia, Ocon’s victory in Hungary and the Ferrari podiums. But don’t get me started on it: the last lap of the Abu Dhabi GP is of course the best moment of the year. For us Dutch, then, because they would understandably think differently on the other side of the North Sea. But I mean it: that last lap will go down in the books as one of the most legendary Formula 1 moments ever. I got really lazy during that round. You are not making this up.’

Cherish it, because we will never see a title denouement like the one in 2021 again, never again. This is what you look for in Formula 1, if you are for Verstappen or if you are a neutral fan. I can’t think of anything else on a scale of bizarreness that came even remotely close. Perhaps the 2007 title race, when Raikkonen became champion in the only possible scenario, although it was clear for a while during the race itself that it would fall his way. Maybe 2008 then? Hamilton who was supposed to be fifth and that blows in the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the season. I think that was somewhat close, yes. But Abu Dhabi 2021 will go down in the history books.”

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