F1 World Cup
The true “human mistake” that eventually secured the 2021 F1 World Cup championship occurred during last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The fight for the 2021 Formula 1 world championship between Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came down to the penultimate lap of the season’s final race, with Verstappen overtaking Hamilton on lap 58 of 58 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit at F1 World Cup.
The championship contenders had begun the season’s 22nd and final race deadlocked at 369.5 points, therefore Verstappen’s overtake and subsequent lead defense earned him his first world title while denying Hamilton a record-tying eighth at the F1 World Cup. However, the last lap was regarded contentious by many due to a decision taken during the previous safety car period to enable only the lapped cars between Hamilton, who had led the most of the race, and Verstappen to unlap themselves, resulting in a one-lap shootout for the championship.
The argument is that if all (rather than simply “some”) of the lapped cars had been permitted to unlap themselves, there would not have been enough time to resume the race, and it would have finished with Hamilton winning a fourth straight race and a fifth consecutive world championship.
The FIA concluded over the offseason that “human mistake resulted in the fact that not all vehicles were permitted to unlap themselves.”
Of course, “human mistake” was not the deciding factor in the title. When the race resumed with one lap to go, Hamilton was still in front, and although Verstappen did have fresh tires, we witnessed earlier in the race when Hamilton struggled for many circuits to overtake Red Bull’s Sergio Perez that newer tires by no means guaranteed a move.
But Mercedes had two chances to pit Hamilton for fresher tires, but they didn’t take either because they didn’t want to lose track position; it’s the Catch-22 situation that comes with dominating the race. It’s nothing new, and they were taken in by it. Putting all of the responsibility on Michael Masi was a desperate deflection tactic at the F1 World Cup betting.
So, after the dust had cleared, let’s speak about the one “human mistake” that single-handedly influenced the fate of the 2021 world championship. Verstappen was on his way to winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit last year when his vehicle had a left rear tire failure and subsequent rupture, driving him into the wall at full speed on the main straight.
Verstappen, who had just gained the lead in the driver standings for the first time in his Formula One career after winning the previous race in Monaco, had no say in the matter.
The race was stopped due to a red flag, and the restart was a standing start with two laps left, with teammate Sergio Perez leading ahead of Hamilton in second. Hamilton had the stronger start and seemed to be in the lead until sailing out into the turn one runoff area. He finished 15th, breaking a 55-race string of points-scoring finishes.
He lost 25 points as a result.
Mercedes learned after the race that Hamilton had inadvertently pressed their so-called “brake magic” button, which was what caused the atypical mistake — the “human error.”
Of course, Hamilton came out far better than he would have if Verstappen’s tire problem had not occurred. Verstappen was on track to win the race with the best lap, earning him 26 points, while Hamilton was on track to finish third, earning him 15 points.
So, rather than losing 11 points in the championship bout, he gained none, for a net gain of 11. However, after Verstappen’s tire problem, Hamilton had a perfect opportunity to outscore his adversary by a huge 25 points, a big 36-point swing at F1 World Cup.
He could have transformed a four-point deficit — which seemed to be a 15-point disadvantage at the time — into a 21-point lead at the time, and by the time the season finale came around, he would have had a 25-point lead.
He would have essentially clinched the championship before of the season finale, just like he did during his previous four title campaigns at F1 World Cup. Instead, he lost out on world championship number eight by eight points, courtesy to a pass made with less than a minute remaining in the season. Naturally, there were several other individual events during the season that had a factor in the championship conclusion, and focusing just on Hamilton’s error may seem too harsh.