Car Time – February 2022

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Formula 1 2021 Season, the best one in a long time?

    The 2021 Formula 1 season has come to a close after its final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. The season was filled with numerous ups and downs, along with controversy, literally all the way to the last lap of the season.
    Something that hasn’t occurred in the sport since 1974 found both championship rivals Max Verstappen (Red Bull Honda) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) equal in points (369.5) coming into the final race.
    Verstappen, the young and upcoming driver, had an early lead in points that would determine the champion during the season. Reigning 7 time World Champion Hamilton, determined to break the record for most World Titles this season, caught up so that the standings went back and forth between the two until the last race.
    Both teams pushed the limits all season long.
    Mercedes has dominated with its drivers every year since the rule change dictating the move to a turbo hybrd era was introduced in 2014. Red Bull had not won a World Title since 2013 with Sebastian Vettel. Honda, leaving F1 this year, gave its all to win another title since its last one came in 1991 with legendary Ayrton Senna and Honda Marlboro McLaren.
    Honda re-entered the sport in 2015 with McLaren, but the two “divorced” at the end of 2017, both unhappy with subpar results. Honda, during that time, was seen as the worst engine of the entire paddock. It wasn’t until after 2018 when Honda partnered with Toro Rosso (Alpha Tauri) and in 2019, Red Bull started to win grand prix races again, triumphing over Ferrari and Renault engines to become Mercedes’ main competitor.
    It all came down to the wire in the last grand prix. A race that favored Mercedes came to a finish that was controversial, exhilarating, and emotional after a safety car was deployed and brought back in on the last lap.
    Hamilton was in P1 on worn-out, hard compound tires, while Verstappen was P2 after Red Bull Honda gambled with a pit stop, putting him on newer soft compound tires. It paid off. At the restart, it didn’t take long for Verstappen to pass Hamilton and clinch his First World Championship Title, with Honda leaving Formula 1 on a high note as the only team with its driver to defeat Mercedes in the turbo hybrid era.

Xavier Estrada can be reached at service@orindaclassiccarcenter.com.

(David Dierks, Photographer)
Romak Iron Works 1998 Swift 008 Formula Atlantic car featured at the 2018 Orinda Classic Car Show.

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