Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Focus on Verstappen at home
Formula 1 is back with an epic duel
In the first half of the season, Max Verstappen played the leading role for a long time until Mercedes cleared him twice. Lewis Hamilton is now the leader of Formula 1 again. But when the premier motorsport class returns from the summer break, the attention will again be focused primarily on the Dutchman.
Max Verstappen really did everything to get other thoughts. In the sea off Monaco he jumped over the waves on the jet ski, with his girlfriend Kelly Piquet he relaxed on the beach in the Caribbean. “It was nice to be out for a few weeks,” says the Dutchman.
However, when Formula 1 returns from its summer break this weekend, it will do so at full speed: at its two home races in Spa (Sunday, 3 p.m. / Sky and in the ntv.de live ticker) and immediately afterwards in Zandvoort (September 5), Verstappen plays the leading role, tens of thousands of fans in Oranje want to see his comeback in the World Cup duel with Lewis Hamilton.
And with that, the topic that frustrated the Red Bull star so much immediately before the vacation becomes relevant again. Accidents took him for valuable points twice, and twice it was a Mercedes that “took him out of the race”, as Verstappen puts it: Hamilton shot him down at Silverstone, in Budapest Valtteri Bottas triggered a chain reaction with serious consequences.
Before the second half of the season, this will have a major impact on the fight for the title. Immediately looking at the points, Verstappen’s comfortable lead turned eight points behind Hamilton. And the accidents could also have consequences in the medium term. The 23-year-old already has to use his third engine this season due to the damage, the next change will result in a starting place penalty. In addition, both crashes were expensive for Red Bull – in times of budget caps this is a problem because at some point the money for further developments could run out.
Drama is a blessing for Formula 1
It’s a drama for Red Bull and a blessing for the tension in Formula 1. At the beginning of July there were still many indications that Verstappen would break through the series of titles from Mercedes this year quite easily. The car was faster, the lead was large. Mercedes, however, brought updates to Silverstone, is significantly more competitive again, and Hamilton does what Hamilton almost always does: He gets the most out of it.
“This is definitely one of the most intense seasons that I can remember,” says Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff, “and we’re coming to Spa in a good position.” Although the Silver Arrows did not have the best package, in addition to the lead in the drivers’ championship, the team ranking is also there.
This extremely close fight with Red Bull has already led to sharp arguments this year, not only the cars, but also the words sometimes flew uncontrollably. Wolff referred to Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner as a “babbler”, and both advised each other to keep their mouths shut.
And especially after the accident at Silverstone, Verstappen and his team made serious, perhaps too serious, allegations against Hamilton. In any case, Wolff doesn’t want to be distracted “by all these noises” in the second half of the season, the focus should now be on his own team. A good resolution – which, however, has to survive the two heated Verstappen home games first.