F1 Extra Session is your favorite Formula One podcast. Daphne Seberich, Sebastian Becerra, and Zoé Guimard bring you post-race analysis and discuss other major stories surrounding the sport. We are Formula One fans just like you. As F1 journalists we also provide a unique perspective to what’s happening in the world of F1.
This week’s episode is a full-depth analysis about what went down during the exciting race on the Circuit the Catalunya in Barcelona (Montmeló). Lewis Hamilton won his 98th career race after passing Max Verstappen late. The battle of the midfield is going to be exciting this year with only 5 points separating McLaren and Ferrari. We’ll cover some on the grid mishaps, some chaos in the cockpit and we’ll finish it off with some off-track chit-chat about Romain Grosjean’s comeback during the French GP with Mercedes and the possibility of not seeing the Spanish GP in the next years in Barcelona.
Don’t miss F1 Extra Session every Monday after the race!
It has been seven years of Mercedes dominance in the world of F1. Lewis Hamilton has matched Michael Schumacher for the most Driver’s Championships in F1’s history. The Silver Arrows have annihilated their competition for seven years in a row. Fans want to see a change. The 2021 season might just offer that.
Red Bull and Max Verstappen are for the first time in title contention. Never since the V6-turbo-hybrid era there had been such a tight race for any championship between two different teams. Mercedes had an internal fight in 2016 when teammates and old best friends Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have fiercely battled for the title. The German came out on top in the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi but decided swiftly after his incredible achievement to end his career on a high. Besides that, the fans were lacking the outstanding fights they were used to see in the 2000s.
There are many reasons to watch Formula One:
The avant-garde engineering developed and introduced for future consumer cars,
The exciting race weekends where 20 drivers risk their lives every time they climb into their cockpits and
The beyond belief show F1 provides at different tracks around the world.
I reckon this season might become the most exciting one to watch of the last decade. Why? There are three main reasons why you should keep up with Formula One now more than ever.
The rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen
No one ever thought someone could match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven driver’s championships. Lewis Hamilton managed to do just that. Not only has he outclassed many of the records set by the German (most pole positions, most GP wins, etc.), he has also got a strong chance to become the most successful driver in Formula One history.
There is only one driver capable of ruining Hamilton’s celebrations. His name is Max Verstappen. The Flying Dutchman is one of, if not the most talented driver on the grid. Red Bull has finally caught up with Mercedes, which have lost the advantage they gained during the 2020 season thanks to their Dual-Axis-System (DAS). It was banned from 2021 onwards. The Red Bull-Max Verstappen pairing this season could bring the Mercedes domination era to an end.
During the Bahrain pre-season testing, Mercedes was in no man’s land. Their cars looked tricky to handle and the rear-end seemed to be very nervous. Meanwhile, Red Bull was crushing it on track, setting fastest laps and conquering all of the sessions ahead of the race. Track limits at the first race of the season punished Verstappen, who had to hand over the win to Hamilton, but it was clear that the seven-time world champion would not have it as easy as in the past four years to clinch his eighth title.
Lewis Hamilton has never had a real challenger at the top since 2016. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas lacks the consistency to give a real fight for the title. Even though the Silver Arrows driver have had the most dominant car in the past four years, at no time we have seen a fight for the championship between the two.
The two title contenders for 2021, on the other hand, have spiced up the competition and dramatically changed the outlook of how the season would turn out for fans at home. People truly believe there can be a change at the top. This idea has rekindled the passion and interest for Formula One, and it is one of the main reasons why people should tune in on race weekends. Beating the reigning world champion is never an easy task, but if anyone could do it, it’s Max Verstappen. History can be made in 2021.
The season before the revolution
The 2021 season should have seen the FIA introducing completely renewed regulations to tackle some of the many issues of F1 racing in current times. Unfortunately, the current state the world is in has pushed back the implementation of these new rules to 2022, making the current season a transitioning one.
Some teams have completely stopped the development of the current generation of cars (ex. Haas F1 team). Others will stop further along the season to concentrate time and resources on perfecting the new principles of racing.
After many years of not seeing any major changes to the regulations, the playing field has leveled itself, creating more exciting and unpredictable racing. The new regulations were consolidated to bring exactly that: fairer and more thrilling competition. Could there be, although, a chance of restarting the vicious cycle of dominance F1 has been known for when the new 2022 regulations will be introduced?
Mercedes have had the upper hand since 2014 due to the introduction of the new hybrid V6 engine technology that is still currently used in F1 cars today. The Silver Arrows engineers have created a masterpiece power-unit, which was miles ahead of the competition. Its power and speed was beyond anyone else’s.
Ferrari even ‘bent’ the regulations to try to regain their competitiveness in the sport. They were involved in the Fuel-Flow Gate before the start of the 2020 season, with the FIA and the Scuderia signing a secret agreement to keep accusations of cheating the previous year at bay. The prancing horse was strongly penalized by this accordance and suffered from their worst season in Ferrari’s history since 1980, closing off the constructors’ championship in sixth.
This season, Mercedes seems not to be the fastest car on track, as Red Bull and other manufacturers have caught up on the technological advances found on the Silver Arrows’ car. All teams have had enough time to perfect their challengers while still conforming to the regulations, managing to level the playing field and creating more competitiveness in the sport. What could happen with the introduction of the 2022 regulations?
The possibility of another dominance era after 2021 is very likely, although it is not sure it will be Mercedes again at the top. In F1’s history we have seen many times a dominating car at the top after a regulation change (ex. Mercedes in 2014, Ferrari in 2000). As the new generation of cars will be in front of us sooner than we think, do we want to see another seven years of nine constructors playing catch-up with one team at the top? Let’s enjoy the fierce battles Verstappen and Hamilton are offering us while we can.
This current generation of F1 cars will stay the fastest we will see for some years
With the introduction of the 2022 regulations, F1 will switch from an intricate aerodynamic approach of bargeboards and complicated front wings to a more accessible and simple ground-effect principle for future cars.
F1 has struggled with the concept of ‘dirty air’ for many years now, claiming it to be the cause for the lack of close and exciting racing in the past couple of years. Therefore, the introduction of ground-effect powered challengers should reduce turbulences present due to the current aerodynamic approach to only ten percent.
While this seems like good news, the ‘simplified’ Formula One car will be heavier, less aerodynamically advanced and therefore slower. Engineers will have to figure out the grey areas of the regulations to try to gain a significant boost of performance, but that takes time. That is why we won’t see drivers breaking the fastest lap records for some years.
2021 will make it into the history books as one of the most exciting title race seasons in the last decade. The fastest cars in the world will battle it out until the last race, with either the current Mercedes era becoming the most successful one in F1’s history or the seven-year domination coming to an end. One thing is for sure: this season is the one you do not want to miss.
Lewis Hamilton’s record-breaking results are known. The 36-year old driver that came from humble beginnings and moved up to be the most successful driver in F1’s history in ex aequo with Michael Schumacher. Both racers have earned seven Driver’s Championship titles and after his win at the Nürburgring in 2020, Hamilton became the athlete with the most F1 wins, tallying 95.
During the 2021 season, he will attempt to surpass the German Ferrari legend, as well as to move into the triple digits when it comes to victories. The Brit has the best car and the best team backing him, but is that necessarily the reason why he is so successful?
Lewis Hamilton had humble roots, as father Anthony worked three jobs to fund his son’s career. Lewis’s talent, along with the family’s determination and hard work, was what pushed him from obscurity into the limelight. The goal throughout his junior career was to go through the lower-tier Formula championships, winning as much as possible to gain attention from sponsors.
He then got offered to move up to GP2 (former comparable to Formula 2 competition) for only a single year before joining McLaren in 2007. It was maybe not the best year for McLaren (“Spygate” in 2007 ), but Lewis Hamilton almost won a Driver’s Championship in his first year in F1. Kimi Räikkönen denied the Brit the victory by one point. Someone could argue that even if Hamilton won that season it would be because of the Ferrari-copycat car.
In 2008 Hamilton was granted his first of seven titles, beating Felipe Massa for the championship at the Interlagos GP. Massa had won his home race already, as a wet Brazilian GP complicated Hamilton’s path to victory.
“Is that Glock?”, said Martin Brundle, as the German driver lost control over his Toyota, aiding Hamilton’s McLaren to pass him in the last lap and score the sole point that would put the Brit above the Prancing Horse’s driver. This became one of the most iconic moments in Formula One’s history.
The future was bright for the Brit but not for the team that was backing him up. The seven-time World Champion then took the, at that time, “risky” decision to move to Mercedes in 2013.
Hamilton’s gamble paid off. Mercedes’ partnership aided the Brit to secure his dominance in the sport since 2014. During his seven years at Mercedes, Hamilton won six Driver’s World Championships, has stood 73 times on the highest step of the podium and scored over 67 pole positions in his career with the Silver Arrows.
In each season with the German team, his dominance was obvious. Each season he has never had a lower victory percentage than 45%, which was measured during the 2017 championship. The most dominant season Lewis Hamilton has had in his seven years at Mercedes was the past one, winning over 64.7% of the races held during the five months of competitions.
Photo credits: Stats F1
It is obvious that Hamilton is a talented driver, but would someone else in his car do as well as him? Teammate Nico Rosberg managed to beat him only once for the world title, Valtteri Bottas still has to manage that. So, not all of the merit goes to the car, as Max Verstappen said to Marca that “90 percent of F1 drivers could win in Hamilton’s Mercedes”, but a remarkable percentage of Mercedes’ success comes from the stellar driver that brought them to the top.
What does Lewis Hamilton’s future have to offer? The Brit is the favorite contender to earn the 2021 title as well, as the teams are mainly preparing for the revolutionizing 2022 regulation changes. After that, there’s an unknown factor, as Hamilton’s recently renewed contract with the Silver Arrows will end in 2021. Will he stay in the sport? Only time will tell…
Let’s settle this debate once and for all. Hamilton versus Schumacher: A topic that fires up fans and ruins friendships. Who is right you may ask? Well, there are no doubts for me.
Before cars became computers, like German journalist Walter Koster said in a press conference in 2014, racing still had excitement and passion. With KERS, DRS and all the different components of a modern Formula car, who can tell the difference between the driver’s and the car’s efforts? What are the variables of modern racing? The tires? Oh, please. Who can say to have driven in three different teams, have won podiums and set fastest laps for all of them? There’s only one guy that comes to my mind and his name is Michael Schumacher.
Why is he the greatest of all time you ask? Well, it’s obvious: Michael Schumacher won during an era where the difference was made by the driver, not by the car. He won twice with Benetton; 5 years in a row with Ferrari.
“Lewis Hamilton won with McLaren and with Mercedes, so that’s not an argument”, you’d say. Well, if you really know something about Formula 1 then you’d also know the “Spygate” scandal that surrounded McLaren as a “Ferrari-copycat” team during the 2007 season when the British driver was a contender for the world championship. Hamilton’s 2008 world title is stained by the mishap of his team, as the cars that year didn’t get major updates compared to the previous season.
In addition to that, the Mercedes domination has been over seven seasons long and is still going strong. It started with the 2014 regulation changes that pushed hybridization of the then-newly introduced V6 engine. It continued in 2020 with the introduction of the innovative DAS (Dual Axis System). Mercedes always had the upper hand since then. Either by having the most dominating engine or the most advanced aerodynamic balance out of all the teams.
The only real challenger Hamilton had the past seven years was Silver Arrows teammate Nico Rosberg before his retirement from the sport after his only world championship title in 2016. Since then he never had a real challenger for the top spot.
Did you make up your mind? No matter what team you cheer on or which driver is your favorite, the facts talk for themselves.
Before cars became computers, Formula 1 was all about the drivers. Can you say the same of it now?
Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record for most Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship wins, thanks to a brilliant drive during an arduous but full of action Turkish GP.
By Daphne Seberich
After an atypical result during the Saturday session, LH44 assured his dominance in the top-class of motorsport, winning an incredibly challenging race where the chances didn’t see him as favorite. His brilliant class allowed him to nurture his intermediate tires to extend his stint to 51 laps, proving that his talent is superior to that of many other drivers on the grid. Will he beat the Ferrari legend’s record next season? The odds are in his favor.
Starting from P6, Hamilton had the task of driving up the field as quickly as possible. He needed to catch up the Racing Point drivers, which already had built an eleven-second-gap between them and the rest of the pack. Sebastian Vettel’s miraculous start didn’t make it easy for Lewis, overtaking his W11 and giving him a hard time to succeed passing him. Eventually, Hamilton beat the Ferrari driver to secure the last position on the podium. The mutating track conditions forced most of the drivers to switch to Pirelli’s intermediate compound option. The provisional leader of the race, Lance Stroll, was done wrong by a disputable strategy call of his team, pitting for a second stint of inters, which underperformed. Lewis suddenly found himself in P2, catching up to a struggling Checo Perez in first position. The enablement of the DRS played into Hamilton’s hands, allowing him to overtake the Racing Point driver.
From there on, the Brit showcased his brilliant driving abilities, proving to deserve the race win.
A last-lap mishap done by Charles Leclerc in P2 allowed Perez and his teammate Sebastian Vettel to step on the podium instead.
Lewis Hamilton’s masterclass is undisputed, but is he the greatest of all time?
After a complicated and nerve-wracking wet qualifying at the Istanbul Park, Lance Stroll astonishingly sets the fastest lap for what will be his first start on pole position. Will Mercedes’s winning streak after the Turkish GP end?
By Daphne Seberich
Who could have imagined such a crazy qualifying session? The conditions of the track for the three free practice sessions were already challenging. The new tarmac, that the organizers of the Grand Prix prepared, turned out to be an ice rink for Pirelli tires. Even in regular weather conditions. Rain just turned the dial to the max, providing for an exciting, but tough race to set the fastest lap.
All drivers were struggling to keep their cars on track. No one excluded. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc proved to be the ones coping the best with the slippery tarmac, securing the two top spots respectively in all of the free practice sessions. Choosing the right tire strategy was key. Many drivers stuck to the full wet tire, although some brave racers tried to use Pirelli’s intermediate option, to earn some advantage in speed. The grip was inexistent for everyone, even for those that chose the blue-striped compound.
Q1 turned out to be madness, with multiple drivers going off the track, looking like they were driving on ice with no snow chains on. Gaps between drivers were huge, separating the top spot of the ranking and the 15th place, the Q1 cut-off spot, by over 11 seconds. The two clear favorites for pole, Verstappen and Leclerc, were fighting against their car trying to do what it wants, turning out to be very time costly, both struggling to make it into Q2. Six minutes before the end of Q1 the FIA decided to red-flag the session, due to the weather conditions that made the track undriveable. The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers found themselves at the bottom of the cut-off line, securing respectively the 15th and 16th spot. They only had two last chances after the restart to set a good enough time to enter the next qualifying stage of the Turkish GP.
After a long, but detailed analysis of the track, done by safety car driver Bernd Mayländer, the session restarted, although the conditions were still not optimal. Many drivers were seen spinning off-track and one, in particular, Romain Grosjean, got stuck in the gravel at the edges of the track, forcing the FIA to red-flag Q1 again. Only being three minutes remaining, everyone just had one last shot to set their flying lap. Verstappen secured the top spot of the ranking, Hamilton barely made it into the next round, qualifying in 14th place.
At the start of Q2, it finally stopped raining, slightly improving conditions. The “Flying Dutchman” seemed to have what it takes to get on pole, setting the fastest lap at every attempt. Others were struggling to warm up their tires properly, especially the two Ferrari drivers, which didn’t make the cut for Q3. Leclerc, the big favorite to take the crown, suddenly didn’t have any pace and dropped down to P14.
Surprisingly, both Alfa Romeo drivers made it for the first time this season to the last round of qualifying.
Going into the round that matters, Perez and Ocon took a risk mounting on their cars the intermediate tire, while everyone else was lapping the circuit with the full wet compound. The strategy paid off for the Racing Point driver, securing provisional pole with an astonishing time of 1:52.037. “Inters” were the right choice for the track conditions, which made most of the teams change their drivers’ tires, allowing them just one attempt to get the top spot.
Verstappen beat Perez’s time, but Lance Stroll, Checo’s teammate, secures out of nowhere an incredible pole position, his first in his Formula 1 career.
A disappointing qualifying session forLewis Hamilton, which will start the Turkish GP from the third row. His worst qualifying of the season.
If he can pull the rabbit out of a hat, now’s the time. Winning in Turkey would end the championship fight while making history by equalling the most championship titles won by the legend Michael Schumacher.