JONATHAN MCEVOY: My high and lows of a crazy Formula One season

JONATHAN McEVOY: My high and lows of a crazy Formula One season as Max Verstappen is crowned champion for the first time in epic title battle fight with Lewis Hamilton

  • Max Verstappen was crowned world champion by winning the Abu Dhabi GP 
  • The Red Bull driver passed Lewis Hamilton on the last lap after a late safety car 
  • Jonathan McEvoy gives his views on the highs and lows of the 2021 season 

A crazy Formula One season where Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have gone wheel-to-wheel all year long, fittingly came to a conclusion on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

After 22 races and a controversial ending, the Dutchman won the championship for the first time with an eight-point margin over Hamilton.

Sportsmail’s Jonathan McEvoy gives his highs and lows of a truly extraordinary Formula One season.  

Max Verstappen was crowned champion after passing Lewis Hamilton on the final lap

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

Max Verstappen on the basis that, after 22 races, he is world champion by a tiny margin in great drama. 

He has, at moments, been the more impetuous of the two title contenders, but he has also driven with extraordinary gusto.

In Lewis Hamilton, he overhauled one of the greatest drivers the world has ever seen.

Verstappen has been more impetuous than Hamilton driven with extraordinary gusto

Verstappen overcame one of the great drivers Formula One has ever seen in Hamilton

BEST VICTORY 

It has to be Hamilton’s relentless win in Brazil in which he channelled rage at perceived bias from officialdom to win from 10th on the grid. 

In all, he suffered a 25-place grid penalty between the sprint and actual grand prix yet still powered on unstoppably. 

Yes, his new engine offered him muscular assistance but he made as perfect use of the gift as is imaginable. It ranks among one of the great drives of his career — probably his best dry race ever. 

Hamilton overcame a 25-place grid penalty to win the Brazilian Grand Prix from Verstappen

MOST IMPROVED DRIVER 

Lando Norris. The 22-year-old Briton passed his make-or-break season with flying colours. 

With Carlos Sainz having left McLaren for Ferrari, Norris was no longer cast in the role of ‘younger brother’ but had to show a ripening maturity in combination with new arrival Daniel Ricciardo. 

He regularly outperformed the more experienced Aussie as he grew up before our eyes. He nearly claimed a maiden win in Russia but foolishly stayed out on dry tyres as the rain conspired against him. 

Lando Norris made a big step in 2021 and finished sixth in the drivers’ championship

BEST POLE 

For nerveless delivery at the most exacting moment, it has to be Verstappen’s performance in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. 

Cocking a snook at the paddock wisdom that Mercedes was the magic machine at the season-closing race, he unfurled a majestic lap. 

He was 0.371sec ahead of Hamilton, on the same soft rubber, and shook up the whole title picture going into yesterday’s decider. 

Verstappen drove an incredible lap to take pole position for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP

BEST QUOTE 

Well, seeing as it’s pantomime season, let’s go for the amateur dramatics that broke out between Red Bull boss Christian Horner and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff. 

First, Wolff said Horner’s commentary on the season befitted a pantomime.

To which Horner retorted: ‘Toto is the pantomime dame.’ It is fair to say these two won’t be sharing turkey and all the trimmings.

Mercedes prinicipal Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner won’t be sending each other Christmas cards

LONG GOODBYE 

Kimi Raikkonen, who has carved out a strange cult following by deliberately exhibiting no shred of charisma, has taken his leave from the sport with his retirement from yesterday’s race — slightly belatedly aged 42. 

It must be sobering for Ferrari to think that the Finn remains their last world champion, back in 2007 when he came from the shadows over the last two races to pip the rookie Hamilton.

Kimi Raikkonen who debuted in 2001 crashed out of his final race with a brake issue

AND NEXT YEAR? 

A tantalising prospect with new regulations intended to spice up the action and shuffle the order. 

Mercedes and Red Bull are unlikely to be way off the pace while Hamilton will have to contend with the incoming George Russell, who is likely to rattle the team’s gilded cage.

Hamilton will have to deal with up-coming Brit George Russell as his team-mate next season




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