5th – Hungarian Grand Prix – 7.58/10
Who will ever forget Valtteri “Ten Pin” Bowl-ttas wiping out both Red Bulls and a bunch of others down into Turn 1 on a wet track? The race was red-flagged and by the time it was ready to be restarted, the track was practically dry again and everyone except Hamilton opted to go into the pits for new tyres at the end of the formation lap. So, there was this incredible situation with only ONE CAR on the grid taking the standing restart. From there the order was very mixed up. Ocon lead, while Verstappen and Hamilton languished outside the top ten, the former continuing with a severely damaged floor on a circuit where downforce is crucial, the latter being unable to find any grip on his tyres early on. In the closing stages of the race, Hamilton had found the grip he needed and got into the Top 5, where he fought lap after lap to try to pass Alonso in one of the best on-track battles of the season. In the end, Ocon and Alpine took their first ever victory with Vettel in 2nd and Hamilton somehow picking up 3rd.
4th – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – 7.81/10
The Abu Dhabi GP was all about THAT last lap. It was otherwise an utterly dull affair, with Lucky Lewis leading every lap and having pace that Max simply didn’t have. It seemed like it was all over until Latifi spun 5 laps from the end, bringing out the safety car. The rest, as they say, is history. Again, this proved to be a controversial race for Fastlaners, with four people voting 4/10, while ten people voted 10/10.
3rd – Bahrain Grand Prix – 7.824/10
The first race of the season always tends to get higher ratings than they deserve since everyone is excited for the new season. However, this was the first race in several years where it looked like someone was finally in a position to take the fight to Mercedes and so the score was deserved. Max lead the opening stages, but Mercedes chose to do the undercut which gave Lewis quite a sizeable lead after the first round of pitstops were over. Max’s 2nd stint was much longer and in the final 16 laps, his tyres were much fresher than Hamilton’s, allowing him to catch up just 3 laps from the end. He overtook Lewis once around the outside of Turn 3 but he went off the track and so immediately gave the place back. Entering the final lap, Lewis seemed to have Max covered and was able to hold on to take victory by barely half a second.
2nd – Italian Grand Prix – 8/10
This famously ended with Max mounted on top of Lewis’s car with both beached in the gravel with heavily damaged cars. Max had already helped Lewis across the run off area at the chicane on the first lap during their first wheel to wheel battle, with Max coming off best. At the first pitstop, it all fell apart, with Max taking an 11.1s pitstop when his crew struggled to get the tyre on. Lewis then pitted and came out alongside the Red Bull. Max braked later, took it around the outside making him on the inside for the left hander. Lewis didn’t give him a lot of space, Max bounced off the sausage kerb, ran over Lewis’s wheels and then over his airbox and helmet sending them both into immediate retirement. Just whose fault it was was hotly debated, but it was a highly entertaining moment in the championship battle. The race ended with a popular 1-2 from McLaren, who took their first victory since 2012.
1st – Russian Grand Prix – 8.53/10
Number 1 and the biggest surprise of all. Sochi is The Fastlane’s race of the year 2021!
It all started in qualifying, which was rather damp and left us with a topsy-turvy grid. Lewis Hamilton was out of sorts and crashed into the pit wall and then spun on his last attempt at taking pole, leaving Lando Norris at the front of the grid for the start with George Russell’s Williams in 3rd. Meanwhile, Bottas was starting 16th after replacing some power unit components and Max down in last pace for the same reason.
At the start, Sainz took the lead into Turn 1 while Lewis dropped a few places. For the first dozen or so laps, it was interesting to watch the order sort itself out, with Max trying to battle through the field and Lewis trying to reclaim his starting position and more. On Lap 13, Norris retook the lead and looked set to stay there. From there, the race settled down, until lap 40-something when the rain started falling. The final few laps was a mesmerising battle against Hamlton, Norris and slick tyres on an increasingly wet track. On Lap 49, Lewis elected to pit for inters even though much of the track was still dry enough, but around the other side of the track there was no grip at all and heavy spray. Norris lost control and just about managed to avoid the barriers but threw away an almost guaranteed first victory and handed it to Lewis Hamilton.
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