Red Bull finally produced a car capable of toppling Mercedes from their position at the top of Formula 1 in 2021, and Max Verstappen never looked anything less than utterly committed to taking full advantage of the opportunity.
|Beat team mate in qualifying||20/21|
|Beat team mate in race||17/18|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||1,006/1,101|
Despite that, his championship hopes appeared to be over as the final laps ticked away at the last round of the season. Verstappen had won nine races up to that point (one of them the half-points, one-lap washout at Spa) but Lewis Hamilton was poised to equal that and edge ahead in the standings. Then came that controversial, title-deciding twist in the tale.
When the Red Bull was on a par with the Mercedes, Verstappen won when he could. When the Red Bull was a smidgeon quicker, Verstappen took maximum advantage. His driving wasn’t flawless, and at times it certainly wasn’t pretty, but he was relentless in the races and often dazzlingly quick in qualifying.
A season-opening win got away from him more due to the timing of his first pit stop than his unsuccessful re-pass attempt on Hamilton. Verstappen made amends at Imola where, following his only qualifying defeat to team mate Sergio Perez all year, he shot into the lead at the start, elbowing Hamilton aside, and never looked back (though he got his RB16B rather too sideways at the restart).
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
In Monaco he qualified second but inherited pole position following Charles Leclerc’s crash at the Swimming Pool (an error Verstappen committed three years earlier) and romped to victory. But after he got ahead of Leclerc and Hamilton to lead in Azerbaijan, his left-rear tyre failed six laps from home.
The next three races all fell to Verstappen. He went off at the start in France but sharp Red Bull strategy teed him up to pass Hamilton for victory, and he was never headed in the two Austrian rounds.
After beating Silverstone pole winner Hamilton to sprint qualifying victory, Verstappen’s lead over his rival stood at 33 points. But he remained unwilling to give any quarter to his rival, and, as the pair furiously disputed the lead on the first lap of the grand prix, contact was made, and the Red Bull came off worse. Victory for Hamilton slashed Verstappen’s lead.
Worse followed for Verstappen in Hungary, where he was blamelessly eliminated in a first corner collision. In the space of two races, Hamilton had displaced him at the top of the table.
Verstappen set about rebuilding his advantage at Spa, where he out-qualified Hamilton and reaped the reward when the race was effectively rained off. He treated his home fans to a majestic display at Zandvoort: Without the support of his team mate, who was eliminated in Q1, Verstappen saw off both Mercedes for a hugely popular win.
He was back in the championship lead, and that meant it did less harm to his points situation when he landed on top of Hamilton in a low-speed collision at Monza, having gone into the corner behind his rival. From the back of the grid in Russia (due to a power unit change penalty, a legacy of the Silverstone crash) he made it up to sixth and was doomed to lose the points lead to Hamilton again. Then rain fell and Verstappen nailed the timing of his switch to intermediate tyres, lifting himself to a superb second behind his title rival, limiting his points deficit to just two.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
The next three races proved critical to Verstappen’s title win as he eked out enough of a lead to withstand Hamilton’s later end-of-year charge. While Hamilton took an engine change penalty in Turkey, Verstappen collected a useful second behind Valtteri Bottas. The points leader took a superb pole position at the Circuit of the Americas and fought back after losing the lead to Hamilton at the start to win. Mexico was more straightforward: After picking off the Mercedes pair at the start, he cruised home to win.
Brazil presented an opportunity for Verstappen to extend his points lead further as Hamilton was constrained by starting at the back in sprint qualifying. But the Red Bull driver came under attack from the Mercedes late in the race and, surprisingly, was allowed to keep his lead after running wide and taking Hamilton with him. If Verstappen was unlucky at times in 2021, he was also fortunate race control responded in such a toothless fashion to some of his antics.
As Hamilton and Mercedes cranked up the pressure, Verstappen was digging ever deeper. A great lap in Qatar put him second on the grid, though he was penalised for failing to slow for yellow flags. He came within one corner of a superb pole position in Jeddah, but the race was an unedifying spectacle, and again some of Verstappen’s rivals wondered why his brake-test on Hamilton received no more than a 10-second time penalty.
He set himself up for a crack at the title in Abu Dhabi with a tremendous lap for pole position, but was immediately beaten off the line by Hamilton. That might have been the end of it, but race control’s increasingly unfathomable decisions intervened again.
The notorious restart decision which followed gave Verstappen an unexpected, open-goal shot at winning the title, one he was never going to miss. But while Hamilton was undoubtedly hard done by in that moment, to allow that baffling piece of officiating to taint Verstappen’s championship win would not be a fair reflection on his efforts over the season. Over 22 races, it was undoubtedly a title-worthy performance.
Go ad-free for just £1 per month
>> Find out more and sign up
What’s your verdict on Max Verstappen’s 2021 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments. Add your views on the other drivers in the comments.
2021 F1 season review
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #2: Lewis Hamilton
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #3: Lando Norris
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #4: Charles Leclerc
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #5: Carlos Sainz Jnr
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #6: Fernando Alonso
135 comments on “2021 F1 driver rankings #1: Max Verstappen”
27th January 2022, 17:13
Lewis and Max have in common that they won 1 title in their first 7 years in F1.
Underlines again that you need to be lucky to get a dominant car and challenge the history books.
27th January 2022, 17:27
Interesting stat. Although, I think that while enlarged stats look great on paper, fans know what greatness really is. Senna’s 3 WDCs and holding very few records hasn’t diminished his legacy in any way. Conversely, Vettel’s records or being #2 or #3 in many important categories, doesn’t really do much for people to regard him in the GOAT conversation. I’ve never seen him brought up once in the last 5 years. Hamilton’s greatness will be more closely associated with his truly spectacular races at Mclaren, his battles with Rosberg and Max, than by the scores of podiums and wins obtained relatively easily.
I know people romanticize Schumacher these days because of his accident… but this also applies to him. 2001, 2002, and 2004 where really… akin to what Mercedes accomplished prior to 2021. Vastly superior, and a bunch of easy wins
27th January 2022, 18:43
Very true. I needed Verstappen to be able to truly appreciate Hamilton, as it’s the first time I really saw him being challenged in a very long time, fighting a more or less fair fight in terms of car performance. Although I’m not sure Hamilton would do so well as Max did if he was to race for Red Bull in the past few years, I could see how extraordinary driver he really is. Vettel is kind of the opposite story, even though he’s not as bad as people often say. I rather see him being incomplete as a driver, very talented and fast, but far from being consistent and mentally strong. It’d be nice to see Hamilton drive an average car for a couple of years, I wonder how he’d do driving for Aston or one of the Alfas. That’s not going to happen, but I’d love to see it. It’d be fun if he was to change places with Norris for example, or even Gasly.
27th January 2022, 20:08
Schumacher was a Great driver, but I downrated him in my book because he had the Fia backning Ferrari over everething and everyone. he had a nr 2 in his contract. I still remember wathcing a grand prix with a friend. This was the first year traction control was banned and we saw the Ferrari and when we heard the car we just looken at each other.
The point is i rate all of Lewis championships higher then any of Schumis.
27th January 2022, 22:12
Traction control was banned for season 1994. Than it was again allowed from Spain 2001 onward till the end of 2007. You have some strange memories right there…
27th January 2022, 18:51
The difference is schumacher had to fight on a lot of years, while most of hamilton’s titles happened with a dominant car.
27th January 2022, 19:49
Well, for me I became a fan of what Schumacher could do in 1993, the first season I saw, where he did great things in a bennetton that was not the best car of the field but showed his mettle; after 1994 I was a bit less impressed, but not due to his pace and ability to race, that never really went away (instead it made the other antics seem so unneeded that it was a bummer) @esploratore1; some of his Ferrari years though clearly were so engineered to give him, and only him, the best chance.
I have to agree with @qeki; while the years Schumacher put in to build Ferrari definitely made his time of reaping after easier to stomach, while Hamilton only had 2013 where he had to wait (but then he had that sort of frustration at a more and more lacking McLaren for a few years before that), the fact that he came into the team and only once did Rosberg beat him with all his effort, after having outmatched Schumacher (yes, aging etc. but looking back we really should re-evaluate those Merc years for him I think), well, he’s special.
Anyway, Verstappen won the 2021 championship, even if it was a sort of sadly not-FIA-untypical shambolic bit of finale, the season I can certainly agree with him having edged out Hamilton over the full year, with a bit more consistency and having always gotten considerable more out of the car than his teammate.
28th January 2022, 6:34
I think one has to consider how superior Schumacher was to his peers almost throughout his entire career. And how he was able to make Ferrari a winning machine by team bulding as well as his talent. Lewis is the better sportsman, but I do think Schumachers sporting achievements rank slightly higher.
29th January 2022, 18:02
Yes, magon and bosyber, hamilton ranks better as a sportsman, schumacher wasn’t certainly an example in this sense, but like magon said, leaving a winning team (that he contributed to building too, benetton was never this competitive after schumacher left) to go and rebuild ferrari is something not a lot of top drivers did.
27th January 2022, 19:25
It’s one thing to win in a dominant car but it’s another thing to build a dominant team around you. Schumacher spent 4 years in Ferrari just to win one title. After 2000 it was clear that the wait was worth it. Mercedes was built for Nico by a helping hand of Schumacher. Hamilton just came there. Took the seat and never looked back. By 2014 Nico should have dominated Lewis like Schumacher did it with Barrichello. He had driven and built that team for 4 years. But as we saw Lewis was a pretty good driver and the rest is history.
What happens with Max? Red Bull is his team but in the end I can see Max in Ferrari as well as in Red Bull. He has the contract but after that anything is possible.
28th January 2022, 8:33
Nico has always been just a 2nd driver at Mercedes. De facto. Both alongside Michael and Lewis. Had Mercedes see their 1st driver in him (for whom the team build the car, as you said) – they’d never ever asked Lewis to join them.
It makes Nico’s achievement in 2016 even more impressive. The greatest win of a 2nd driver in history of F1.
28th January 2022, 11:20
Massa at Ferrari in 2008?
Hill joined Williams as a second driver. But Senna’s death made him no.1
28th January 2022, 11:38
Nico was never a number 2, even in 2011 Schumacher pushed for a #1 status but Ross Brawn said no, that they have to fight on a equal footing.
Tommy C (@tommy-c)
27th January 2022, 23:24
I think you mean competitive. There was nothing dominant about Red Bull in 2021, nor McLaren in 2008.
A M (@amam)
29th January 2022, 14:37
There was nothing dominant about the Mercs 2017 and 2018. In terms are car performance, the SF70h & Sf71H was on par with the W08 & W09. In fact, some analysts have cited Ferrari as equal to Merc in 2017 and arguably better than Merc in 2018
28th January 2022, 8:28
So have Vettel, Kimi, Alonso, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Villeneuve and Hill. Basically, all WDC for the last 25 years except Rosberg and Button. I’m not sure that stat tells much by itself.
28th January 2022, 11:19
Hill in 1996? He won because he had the dominant car. In 1994 Senna died and it was a mess. And it made Hill look good. But Rosberg and Hill won with a dominant car throughout the season. Button only for the first part.
27th January 2022, 17:13
Fair enough based on the entire season, even if he ultimately won through FIA help.
28th January 2022, 4:16
If Hamilton won it only wouldve been because of fia help in Bahrain and silverstone
28th January 2022, 10:46
29th January 2022, 8:05
What’s so funny?
29th January 2022, 18:04
It’s funny cause it’s true!
30th January 2022, 17:01
He was doing sorta unbiased until this little snippet:
“…his brake-test on Hamilton received no more than a 10-second time penalty.”
That is tabloid-level bias, as it has been officially clarified over and over again that it was not a brake test, but most english-based F1 sites are like that and Sore Lew is english so it’s OK. We understand. Sort-of.
27th January 2022, 17:18
I agree that Max was the best driver this year. But the genuinely impressive thing is when was the last time he was off the pace in a weekend? I’m not talking about getting out qualified by your teammate, but being way off the ultimate pace of the car. He has had bad results due to bad luck, incidents, or other factors, but the last time I can think of where he was off the pace on a weekend was in Singapore in 2016. That was over 5 years ago. Hamilton has had weekends where he’s been nowhere (Russia 2017, Monaco 2017, Canada 2018, Monaco 2021, etc.) which is something Max doesn’t seem to experience, at least to the same extent.
27th January 2022, 17:44
Max’s pace is hard to beat. I would say Monaco 2018 was the last race he was off the pace, one where Ricciardo won without KERS.
Max’s problem – a very minor one – is his wheel-to-wheel driving. Imola, Spain, Silverstone, Brazil, Saudi, Abu Dhabi are all examples where he forced his rival off the racing line / off-track / to back-off in order to either make an overtake or stop an overtake. On top of that, we have Monza as an example of what happens when a driver tries to force Max off.
This style worked in 2021 because 1) his opponent was an old-and-wise Lewis who would back out of collisions (Imola, Spain) or take evasive action to avoid contact (Brazil, Saudi, Abu Dhabi) and only rarely go toe-to-toe with him (Silverstone), 2) his car was sufficiently faster than F1.5 which meant the only driver he had to fight on track was Lewis.
If he doesn’t have the car advantage next year over F1.5, he may have to fight the likes of Leclerc and Norris. With them, many of such incidents would result in contact-causing retirements / unscheduled pitstops and lose him vital championship points.
He needs to be careful of that, going forward.
27th January 2022, 21:23
I would disagree on Monaco 2018. Max looked every bit as quick as Ricciardo, but he mucked up in FP3 which cost him the whole weekend. Again, it was just a silly error, but I don’t think he was lacking any pace that weekend. 20th to 9th in Monaco is highly respectable and in clean air his pace was comparable/superior to those at the front.
As for the other stuff, I think we’ll have to see. One thing I have to say about Max is that he seems to have a lot of capacity to think in situations. I think the reason he was ultra-aggressive with Hamilton was that he knew Hamilton would back out. He was never like this with anybody else. If he were to fight Lando or Leclerc for the title, he probably would keep in mind beforehand that they are less likely to give way and vice versa.
28th January 2022, 13:50
He new Hamilton could not afford to crash, so he was able to “force” or put his car in those situations. It does not mean he would have done the same if the tables where turned.
28th January 2022, 14:44
A very minor problem? Every driver is scratching their head and wondering if they can get away with murder if they change their name to Verstappen and paint the car the same.
It’s akin to Ramos kicking Messi in the family jewels, then elbowing Pique in the face with both arms (why hit him once when you can hit him twice), scoring a goal, and then turning and punching the goalie in celebration while the ref applauds him and says “deserved goal”.
Isn’t that what happened in F1? Only Lewis was Messi, Pique, and the goalie and nearly died and Todt/Masi were the refs.
Agreed, it’s a minor problem. Now let’s focus on the big issues like Hamilton’s wardrobe…
28th January 2022, 15:01
Absolutely love it 😍
27th January 2022, 18:52
Yes, that is really impressive, even I wouldn’t have expected you’d have to go back so many years!
28th January 2022, 11:41
Well when you look at Vettel, Kyvat and Gasly got podiums in the Torro Rosso / Alpha Tauri something Max was unable to accomplish
29th January 2022, 18:08
Vettel’s circumstances were exceptional and didn’t kvyat spend several years in that car, giving them an occasion for a podium, which verstappen in only a year never got?
29th January 2022, 18:08
Gasly too ofc.
27th January 2022, 17:47
I think every ranking site I have seen on social media has lost perspective.
This will only ego boost Verstappen’s “not giving up any corner” attitude and we are going to see a lot of unnecessary crashes between him and the rest of the field instead of good clean racing in the coming years.
The best moment of the season was the Alonso-Hamilton battle in Hungary, but that just can’t happen for any driver with Max.
His drives were fantastic this season, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think that he is a good wheel to wheel racer. I hope he improves on that.
27th January 2022, 18:24
Max and Hamilton did have a clean but on-the-limit battle at Hungary in 2019.
27th January 2022, 18:56
I think that’s a bit harsh on Max. He definitely needs to work on his wheel-to-wheel racing, I don’t argue with that, Brazil in particular really left a sour taste in my mouth. I wasn’t really an F1 fan at the time, but wasn’t it Vettel that people used to say could do brilliantly when in the lead, but struggled wheel-to-wheel, in his Red Bull days? This kind of reminds me (to an extent) of Max, who’s outright pace is absolutely outstanding, but I feel his racing skills need a bit of polishing.
But as Mashiat says, he has had some good battles in the past, such as Hungary in 2019. But there is one Verstappen battle that I will never forget, and that was him against Leclerc two races earlier, at Silverstone in 2019. I was sat at Vale that day (towards the Stowe end, so I could see the exit of Stowe corner), and for about 10 laps the two of them were relentlessly at each other, right on the edge. It was absolutely incredible to watch.
27th January 2022, 19:52
Yep, well said RadndomMallard, Verstappen has shown he can race clean and strong, I’d love to see him switch back to doing it consistently too. That and his consistent pace and car control really is what make him great to watch.
27th January 2022, 21:51
27th January 2022, 21:06
Prab I would suggest that if ‘every’ site you have been on is saying similar things, it is likely you that has lost perspective, not the other way around. As well, I highly doubt Max will see these rankings nor care about them, let alone have his ego boosted over it such that we will ‘see a lot of unnecessary crashes.’
The bottom line is Max is excellent at wheel to wheel racing and everyone on the track is well familiar with his skill and aggression that he likely learned from the likes of all the drivers preceding him, not just from his parents while karting. He takes no prisoners and it is up to the other drivers who have seen that to be aware of it if/when they get into combat with him. What we do know is that Max has said time and time again that he will not be changing his driving style. And as we see, he makes it work. This is no different that what many other drivers have done in the past and been revered for it being WDC-level driving.
Max has shot a harpoon across everyone’s bow, and they all know what they have to be wary of when it comes to racing him, what they can expect, and Max wouldn’t have it any other way. And therefore other drivers attempting to beat Max can have that challenge to look forward to, and if they succeed, well, what a huge feat for them that will be. Max will be giving the other drivers a chance to rise to the occasion, just as I’m sure Max would rather LH stay in F1 (I’m positive he will) so he can beat him on the track and not because he is no longer there. I’m sure it will be the same for the other drivers who must recognize what a mountain to climb it would be to beat Max, but then also what a mountain of reward that would feel like too.
27th January 2022, 22:32
@Robbie you’re correct about the shot across the bow – I recall when a young Hamilton first arrived, he too used to bomb away into corners in the full knowledge that the wiser old heads would avoid contact so they could live to fight another day.
There is a few things I’ll be interested to see about him next year though, not the least is whether or not he can manage to maintain the sort of focus that his rival has done for so many years.
The other thing is that at the moment, there’s more “young” fast drivers than we’ve seen for decades – if, for example, Russell, Leclerc and Norris all have machinery that’s as competitive as Max’s I suspect we might see more carnage than usual as none of them are likely to give ground in the same way as say an Alonso or a Ricciardo or indeed Hamilton might.
Had Max given ground a couple of times earlier in the season last year, he would have had the WDC wrapped up well before Abu Dhabi – I’d like to see him take some learnings from that – to me that will show that he’s grown some.
It’ll be a huge year this year, different cars, potentially more drivers in the mix and I’d hate to see him fall away just because he can’t reign in his aggression at those few times when it would be beneficial to do so.
28th January 2022, 1:52
@dbradock The vibe I get from Max is that focus is his middle name. But yeah for sure depending on how everyone‘s cards are dealt with their new cars, and the miriad other things that can and will happen, and it’s certainly going to be fascinating to see.
I’m sure Max is well capable of taking lessons from things that have transpired and I’m also pretty sure several of the things he did that many considered controversial, he did not, and would do the same again. I don’t think he uses the perfection of hindsight nor dwells on the past too much. He doesn’t play woulda, coulda, shoulda, but that’s not to say he won’t have taken from things as they have happened, and he’ll enjoy the same types of gains from experience that someone such as LH has. He’s got a great support system of family literally and in the form of his team, so I’m sure they will leave no stone unturned in maximizing Max’s career.
For sure as to interactions with Max between the likes of Norris, Leclerc, and Russell in the coming years, that will be for them to sort out one incident at a time, as they as well gain from their experiences over time. Personally I think Max is going to have that little extra, but of course as we know that can be handcuffed if the car just isn’t there compared to others. One session, one day, one race at a time while we watch the history of F1 unfold. Can’t wait for this season and all the ones coming after that.
28th January 2022, 14:55
yeah that’s not going to happen, dude!
Crash will be his middle name for eternity, unless he kills someone and gets a worse one.
28th January 2022, 11:45
So are you going to completely ignore all the clean battles they had? They literally raced each other neck and neck and had like 3 proper collisions in 23 races
29th January 2022, 18:43
And how many “avoid collisions” moves did Lewis had to make so that you can make this point?
Max’s driving was over the edge and keeping that sort of driving around doesn’t bode well for him or F1.
Let’s hope his sake he improves.
27th January 2022, 17:48
Hamilton fan agreeing 100% – MV deserves this one! – Roll on next year! – May it be as great a season as last year! :D
29th January 2022, 18:11
Yes, hopefully with even more competitive cars (but might be wishful thinking), like ferrari and mclaren.
David BR (@david-br)
27th January 2022, 17:49
Max was the most consistently high level driver all season. Really, he and Hamilton were (are) another level altogether, as shown partly by their team mates being simply way behind most of the time. I thought he came back remarkably well after Silverstone and was unfazed most of the time until Brazil, where Hamilton’s big pace advantage with the new engine definitely had an impact on Max’s standard of driving (defence) which reached its nadir in Saudi Arabia. One more such race and I’d rank him down. However, he reined it in for the final race, where his aggressive lunge at the start was at least with him remaining on track, and he looked like he would at least try to maintain that vital difference between hard-but-fair racing and taking your rival out. So kudos for that. Let’s so how this year goes in terms of racing standards.
27th January 2022, 17:54
I don’t think he reined it in at Abu Dhabi.
His lap 1 lunge was no different than in Spain. He goes down the inside so late that he is first to the apex but so fast that he will run to the outer edge of the track for the following corner. Hence, the driver on the outside has no chance of being ahead at the exit of the left-right / right-left corner. Hamilton had to relinquish his position in Spain, take to the run-off at Abu Dhabi.
David BR (@david-br)
27th January 2022, 18:32
The point about the Abu Dhabi lunge was that he stayed on track. That meant he was back to the ‘script’ that it’s OK (apparently) to force another driver off track if you stay on track. São Paulo was something else: he went way off track to defend. Same, to a lesser extent, in Saudi Arabia. It’s a real question whether forcing the other driver off track while you stay on should be allowed, but it has been (very inconsistently) applied as a rule since Austria 2019 when Verstappen forced Leclerc off track for the win. It’s very much a ‘Masi era’ rule. ‘Let them race,’ ‘hard racing’ etc.
Also it’s worth noting that Hamilton was allowed to keep the place after he took evasive action, which Red Bull and Max fans protested. That’s maybe another sign that the racing rules are still highly ambiguous – I felt they compensated for Max’s lunge being over-aggressive by allowing Hamilton to stay ahead, thought he actual explanation was that he slowed down enough to erase the time advantage out of the corner (if not the position).
José Lopes da Silva
27th January 2022, 20:18
“It’s a real question whether forcing the other driver off track while you stay on should be allowed”.
Bernie Ecclestone said that Villeneuve forced Schumacher off the track in Jerez 1997, that Villeneuve would not be able to make the corner if Schumacher didn’t “hold” him on track.
Do you think that Villeneuve might have forced Schumacher out, if the Ferrari didn’t pulled inside for the second move? After all, Schumacher had the first reflex of moving out of Villeneuve’s way, like Hamilton in Abu Dhabi’s lap 1.
27th January 2022, 20:51
Not quite sure what you mean there. MS veered right, directly into JV, in an attempt to punt him off the track, and instead bounced himself off JV’s car and into the kitty litter. Of course BE, who along with Mosley had set up MS at Ferrari to end the WDC drought there, would try to soften the embarrassment MS put on himself, and it is complete speculation as to whether or not JV would have made that corner without MS hitting him. But it’s about all BE could say in a half-hearted attempt to defend MS for what was indefensible. Next best thing they could do was give MS a meaningless penalty for it.
José Lopes da Silva
27th January 2022, 20:14
“the driver on the outside has no chance of being ahead at the exit of the left-right / right-left corner.”
Isn’t that the point of an overtaking?
28th January 2022, 3:57
isnt that sort of the art or the whole point of overtaking? to carry just enough speed you can make it past your rival, position your car to block them without going off track? I feel that Max’s first lap lunge at abu dhabi was completely legal but Hamilton’s subsequent off track excursion was not – imagine if there was gravel there, Max would have made the lunge, blocked off hamilton and exited the corner ahead. For what it’s worth, Ricciardo was pulling the same moves back in Monza 2017 or 16 on Raikkonen and Bottas, likewise Hamilton on Massa in Germany 2008 – when you’re ahead into the braking zone you’re entitled to take up all the space in the corner. But I’m not someone that will defend all of Max’s antics, Brazil was definetely an abuse of the track limits he should be punished for
28th January 2022, 5:40
No, Max’s overtaking is different. The reason Max is ahead of his rival is because he misses his braking point and is never going to make the apex himself. Not just that, he misses his braking point by so much that he is not leaving any space for his rival outside. Imagine if his rival who is slightly ahead on the outside decides to miss his braking point – so that he can complete the overtake around the outside – and starts to turn in, Max will end up hitting the sidepod / front wing of the driver ahead causing the other driver to have an unscheduled pit-stop and Max to get a penalty. This is exactly what would have happened at Brazil but Hamilton decided not to turn in. Look at what happened in 1) Hungary 2017 when Ricciardo turned in but Max didn’t causing Ricciardo’s retirement. 2) China 2018 when again Max dived down the inside, Vettel turned in and both spun.
Max’s driving in general is always going to result in more crashes and penalties compared to others. Which is why he had so many crashes from 2016 to 2020 when he took the same no-prisoners policy while fighting similar-speed cars. 2021 was better because his car was faster than all other 16 cars and left him fighting with only 2 other cars.