Max Verstappen VS Lewis Hamilton: Every Lap Counts

Rivalries In sport make it so special. Two different sides fighting it out for top spot. With Prost vs Senna, Schumacher vs Hakkinen, and Hamilton vs Rosberg, Formula One isn’t different. This year a new rivalry has been created as Max Verstappen fights for the top spot against Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes Driver Sir Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time champion, who wants to win a record breaking eight championships, beating F1 legend Michael Schumacher. He is up against Red Bull driver Max Verstappen who is the youngest ever race winner in F1, who wants to become the first ever Dutch world champion.  

This rivalry didn’t start until Lewis’s home Grand Prix at Silverstone. This is the 10th race of the season and Max leads Hamilton by 32 points, after a poor start to the season by the Mercedes team. This all happened on the first lap as the two men collided, leading to Max spinning into the barrier and having to retire from the race. Even with a ten second penalty given to Lewis; it didn’t stop him from winning at his home Grand Prix for the eighth time. This now narrowed the gap to seven points.

There would be collisions again at the next race in Hungry, as on the first lap a crash caused by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas leads to damage to both Red Bull drivers. After a poor decision by Lewis and his team, he found himself 13th. Lewis was quickly moving up the positions until he reached two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who held up Lewis for two laps which allowed Alonso’s Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon to unexpectedly win the race with Lewis second. Max would only be able to get one point from the race. This race put Lewis ahead by six points heading into the summer break.

As we talked about Lewis’s home Grand Prix, I guess it only is fair that we talk about F1’s return to the Netherlands after a 36-year absence. With the stands full of the colour orange, Max won his home Grand Prix fairly convincingly to become the first Dutch driver to ever win In Holland. Max now regains the lead in the championship. Neither driver would gain any points after the next race in Italy, as a crash by the two drivers end up with Max’s car on top of Lewis. With the halo above Lewis’s head saving his life. Both drivers were ok and able to compete in all of the remaining races. 

The next couple of races allowed Max to extend his lead to 19 points ahead of Lewis with four races remaining. The F1 then returned to the famous Interlagos Circuit in Brazil. In a location that has been the decider of many championships in the past, it looks like Max could have the title all tied up after Lewis got disqualified from qualifying meaning he would have to start at the back of the grid. Lewis was in some luck as this was one of the three locations this season to have a sprint qualifying race. A sprint race is a mini race that won’t have any pits but where you finish will decide your starting place on the main race the day after. This gave Lewis more laps to catch up and that’s what he did, as by the end of the 24 laps Lewis made his way up to fifth. Max finished second which gave him two championship points. Lewis still had a five place penalty for changing his engine, but this penalty didn’t stop him, as he went on to win the race. This was one of Lewis Hamilton’s best performances of his whole career. He was able to keep up this momentum in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to make the points level heading into the last race

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi was the circuit to hold the final Grand Prix weekend of the 2021 season. After qualifying, Max will be starting on pole and Lewis will be starting slightly behind in second. The Mercedes car of Lewis was a lot quicker on the day. With a brilliant bit of driving by the other Red Bull driver, Sergio Perez lowering the gap between the two drivers, Max still wasn’t able to overtake. It looks like Lewis was going to win, until the safety car needed to be deployed after Nicholas Latifi spun into the barrier. This shortened the gap between Max and Lewis with one lap to go. On the final lap, Max was able to overtake Lewis to win his first ever world title.

 In an interview after the race, Max thanked his team by saying. “These guys (Red Bull) and of course Honda, they deserve it”. He then thanked Perez calling him an “Incredible teammate”. Lewis after the race showed sportsmanship by giving his congratulations to Max and Red Bull and said how proud he was of how hard his team worked. Lewis then ended the interview by saying, “We will see” when asked about winning the championship next year.

As the season comes to an end, you have to say a big congratulations to both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton and to Red Bull and Mercedes for an incredible season of Formula One. Can’t wait to do it all again next year.

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