With a title race that looks set to go down to the final lap of the season, Stefano Domenicali reckons 2021 is “one of the great seasons in F1”.
This year’s championship began with Lewis Hamilton laying down a marker as he chases a record-breaking eighth World title. But by Monaco it was Max Verstappen who was up in P1 with four wins in five races seeing him extended his lead to 33 points.
But, as Toto Wolff pointed out at the time, all it would take was one DNF to change the picture and that’s exactly what happened to Verstappen at Silverstone while another crash one race later in Hungary, one he recovered from to finish P9, put Hamilton back in the ascendency.
Such has been the swing of pendulum that back-to-back wins in Belgium and the Netherlands again put Verstappen up into P1, Hamilton regained it in Russia before Verstappen hit back in Turkey.
Now with six races remaining, 159 points in total as there are still three to come from a sprint race, the two are separated by just six points with pundits predicting two of the remaining races will go the way of Mercedes, two will favour Red Bull and the two new venues, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are anyone’s guess.
Former Ferrari chief turned F1 CEO Domenicali is loving it.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 13, 2021
“Last time we found ourselves in such a tight fight for the championship, I was on the team side at Ferrari, with the title going down to the final race in 2010 and 2012 – so I know what it means to live this kind of intensity,” he told the official F1 website.
But while a large part of the focus is on Verstappen versus Hamilton, Domenicali rightly states that the battles happening further down the grid are as important.
McLaren are 7.5 points up on Ferrari in the battle for ‘best of the rest’, Alpine are 12 ahead of AlphaTauri, and Williams are determined to hold off Alfa Romeo.
And even when no points are involved, such as the intra-team battle at Haas, which Mick Schumacher leads by virtual of his P12 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, there is pride at stake.
“It’s fantastic for Formula 1 to have such an intense fight, but I don’t want to only focus on that, as we have the fight for other positions,” Domenicali continued.
“McLaren and Ferrari, for example, are battling hard for third.
“And we have battles all the way down the field, with the final positions in the Constructors’ Championship critical for teams regarding their positioning for the future.
“I can’t wait for the next six events as they are six opportunities for something new and incredible to happen in what has so far been one of the great seasons in F1.”