After the last two Formula 1 seasons marked by the absolute domination of Mercedes, the German team, led by Lewis Hamilton, found in 2021 an RBR commanded by Max Verstappen ready to fight at the same level for the world championship, in the last year before the new regulation technician. And for the president of the category, Stefano Domenicali, the dispute between the pair is becoming historic.
– With the current battle of Hamilton and Verstappen, we see one of the best duels of all time. It’s also a contest of experience against youth, it doesn’t get any better! This season has been extraordinary – he celebrated.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, just before colliding at the Italian GP — Photo: Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
The season started with Mercedes at the front, winning the Bahrain GP with Hamilton. However, the team’s fears regarding the evolution of RBR in the pre-season were confirmed after the Monaco GP, when the Austrian team engaged in a streak of five victories with Verstappen and Sergio Pérez – whose only triumph was in Azerbaijan.
After 14 races, the Dutchman has seven victories against Hamilton’s four, occupying the lead in the Drivers’ World Championship with five points more. The result remained unchanged after the pair’s second shock, at the Italian GP, for which the RBR driver was held responsible for beating the seven-times champion and running over his car. He was punished with three positions on the Russian starting grid.
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The incident wasn’t the first between them, at the British GP, to hit the start; this time, Hamilton was pointed out as the most responsible for the shock and was punished with 10 seconds in the race, a disadvantage he reduced in order to win at the Silverstone Circuit.
The most impressive image of the accident: Verstappen’s tire on Hamilton’s halo and helmet — Photo: Andrej Isakovic/AFP
The bid, however, started a series of controversial speeches coming from the RBR, which filed an appeal with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for the decision. The clash stirred up the spirits even among the fans; the British came to be the target of racist offenses, widely condemned by the RBR, Mercedes and F1.
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Domenicali recognizes the duo’s excesses in the dispute inside the track, but admits to seeing the touches naturally:
– They showed that a new level of intensity has been reached, and the battle is at its height now. I don’t care about that. If you reach the limit, something like this can happen.
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Despite Verstappen’s advantage, the next stage of F1 2021 in Russia is marked by the superior retrospective of Mercedes, which has won every race at the Sochi Circuit since its debut in 2014. Hamilton has four victories in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019 His former colleague Nico Rosberg got the better of 2016 and his current partner, Valtteri Bottas, in the 2017 and 2020 editions.
Info and schedule of the Russian F1 GP — Photo: Infoesporte