2021 Saudi Arabia Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Here's the thing. When the race got going for real after the second red flag, we feel all those shenanigans, collisions, and controversies were for naught. Because, in the waning laps, Hamilton would have had the fastest car by far anyway due to the tire situation and would have easily passed for the lead no matter what Verstappen did. But it sure was entertaining getting to that point!
EVENT: Like Qatar, a larger crowd than expected and seemingly a very international one.
TRACK: When is a road course defined as a street circuit? When you build a brand new track but put walls all around it? It was fast. It was fun for the drivers. But, did it bypass safety features because it was defined as a street circuit?
QUALIFYING: The most intense qualifying of the season. Bottas has to change an engine. Sainz taps the wall. Hamilton nearly crashes then gets the provisional pole. Which he keeps because Verstappen, turning in the lap of the year, locks up a tire and goes into the wall two corners from the end.
RACE: This will be one of the most talked about races in F1 history.
START: The frontrunners play it smart and clean, Perez nearly pulls the gaffe of the year, and the rest of the field avoid the chaos which occurred in all the F2 races.
RESTART 1: After the red flag gives Verstappen a huge break, Hamilton gets a great jump, Verstappen doesn't give up, Hamilton Verstappen's Max, causing Lewis to pay dearly, as Ocon says thank you very much. Meanwhile, the expected chaos finally occurs in the back of the field.
RESTART 2: The red flag offers a reset to essentially the original start, but this time Verstappen absolutely nails it, jumping two spots into the lead without having to go off, while everyone behaves themselves.
HAMILTON: This is clearly playing out to the cliche of old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance, as Lewis wins on his 31st circuit.
VERSTAPPEN: Think back to the collision years ago while lapping Ocon. Max clearly believes when he is on the track, nobody has the right to be on it at the same time.
BOTTAS: Once again, pulled off a last corner, last lap pass for a key position.
PEREZ: It does seem like Sergio forgot Norris was still there, losing points which may cost Red Bull the constructors' title.
MERCEDES: Seeing silver stars.
RED BULL: Seeing red.
OCON: Lost in all the mayhem -- well, everything else was lost in the all the title fight mayhem -- was an excellent race by Esteban. Sure, the red flags played to his favor, but he grabbed the opportunity and ran with it.
ALONSO: While Fernando suffered the bad luck of the red flags timing.
RICCIARDO: Copy and paste Ocon's comment here.
NORRIS: Copy and paste Alonso's comment here.
GASLY: A fine weekend for Pierre.
FERRARI: Generally speaking, a solid weekend with some bad luck out of their control during the race.
GIOVINAZZI: Not a bad run to start closing out his F1 career.
RAIKKONEN: Kimi is not going away quietly.
VETTEL: Sebastian seemed to be the designated punching bag this race.
WILLIAMS: The last of the independent team owners. Truly the end of an era. Godspeed Frank.
FIA: We've said this before and we'll say it again. The idea of being allowed to work on your cars during a red flag is insanely ludicrous. No other series does this, and it's wholly unfair to most of the field.
F2: The penultimate weekend for their championship as well was overshadowed by a terrible crash at the start of the feature race which sent Enzo Fittipaldi (fractured heel) and Theo Pourchaire (back pain but okay) to the hospital.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Controversy.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 0 -- The difference in points between the two title protagonists.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: The only time the world driving championship was tied heading into the final race was 1974. Emerson Fittipaldi (McLaren-Ford) and Clay Reggazoni (Ferrari) each had 52 points with the USGP at Watkins Glen to end the season. Both qualified poorly -- Fittipaldi eighth and Regazzoni ninth. Regazzoni had handling problems throughout the race, finishing 11th, four laps down. Fittipaldi managed a fourth place, enough to take the title by three points.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: From the Formula 1 official twitter account: ONE RACE TO GO. ZERO POINTS IN IT. Who wins?!
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Doesn't matter when he said it, why he said it, or to whom he said it, but when Lewis Hamilton said, "Crazy, man," that's what we were all thinking after that race was over.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Lando Norris saying it even better than we did concerning the ability to change tires during a red flag, "Probably the worst rule ever invented by someone."
SCHEDULE: Two alpha males. Two hard nosed teams. One race. Deadlocked. Not even Netflix could have written a script like this and make it sound believable.
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