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A look back at the 2021 season – Part 1: The United States Grand Prix

2021 has been one of the most intense and closely fought seasons in Formula One history! To celebrate the close of this outstanding year, we at DIVEBOMB thought it best to create a new multi-part series in which we discuss each of our favourite races! To kick of our new series, I picked the United States Grand Prix!

Written by Morgan Holiday, Edited by Aiden Hover

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that during 2020 the Formula One circus was unable to travel to many of their usual circuits, one of those being the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. But the year off, combined with a surge of new Formula One fans in the United States saw the sport’s return to Austin celebrated more than any other Grand Prix in the 2021 season. Almost half the grid wore special helmet designs, and despite the ongoing pandemic the race became Formula One’s most attended race ever with over 400,000 spectators present. But the glamour of the weekend was not the only exciting part, as the race itself saw an intense chapter of the season’s title battle that can’t be left out of the list of most exciting races of the 2021 season.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed pole position on Saturday, but as usual Lewis Hamilton was right behind him. Despite starting the race from first, Verstappen lost the lead to Hamilton coming out of the first corner, and ended up second ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez. The first lap also saw an epic fight between the four drivers of McLaren and Ferrari, who were battling for fourth position.

Verstappen managed to undercut Hamilton on lap 13, and retook the lead of the race. From there the top ten settled down, but there was still plenty of action to follow as Alonso and Raikkonen battled it out further down the field. When the top two drivers had finished their second round of pit stops, Verstappen was still in the lead, but Hamilton quickly set a fastest lap of the race and began closing in. While Hamilton began closing the seven second gap to the race leader, Valterri Bottas battled with Carlos Sainz for sixth position, and farther down the field both Alpine cars retired with mechanical issues.

By lap 51 of the 56 lap race around COTA, the gap between Hamilton and Verstappen was barely over one second. The lapped cars ahead of them looked like they were going to cause a problem, and they were. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda cost Verstappen four seconds to Hamilton, but in the end it was Schumacher’s Haas who was his saviour. Verstappen was right behind Schumacher going into the DRS detection zone, and as a result was gifted DRS down the main straight going into the final lap. Because of this, he managed to hold off Hamilton to win what was one of the most intense races of the season.

The 2021 Formula One season was full of exciting races, but only one can be the best. A fun environment with the sport’s long awaited return to the United States, along with a clean but hard fought battle between Verstappen and Hamilton makes the USGP my favourite race of the season. Be sure to check back tomorrow for our next pick from the 2021 season!

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