Formula 1: City A.M. hand out post-season awards after dramatic finale
After 22 races, countless flashpoints and one sensational title battle, the Formula 1 season is over… probably.
Max Verstappen is the latest world champion and Mercedes took the constructors’ title for a record eighth consecutive year.
But away from the biggest prizes, who performed best – and worst – throughout this most compelling of seasons? Here are the City A.M. 2021 Formula 1 awards.
Team of the year
Finally, Mercedes has a challenger. It has been so long since there had been a true season-long rival for the Silver Arrows. For that alone, Red Bull are the team of the year.
No more were we looking at two Mercs slog out the season while the rest played catch-up. It may be the end of this mini era of Formula 1 – with radical new rules incoming – but it was a fitting farewell.
Special mentions must go to Ferrari and McLaren for their gripping battle for third in the constructors’ championship, and to Haas for simply keeping going despite doom and gloom race after race.
Overtake of the year
Hamilton on Verstappen, Sao Paulo
There were better individual passes in this season, sure, but this overtake was a momentous shift in the title race.
Interlagos usually delivers, and this season was no different. Hamilton’s then slim hopes of an eighth title were given a boost when on lap 59 he finally got past Verstappen to take the lead of a grand prix he’d started in 10th.
A simple overtake on the straight it may have been, but the rivalry between the two had been sensational all year and this moment marked a legitimate path for Hamilton to take his title challenge to the last race.
While Hamilton’s campaign finished in vain, that overtake was a catalyst for fans to hold off on their early Verstappen celebrations. And look where it led us.
Honourable mentions to the season-long consistency of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, as well as the Verstappen overtakes which saw him jump from third to first at the first corner of several races.
Driver of the year
It would be easy to keep this to the two title challengers, but McLaren’s Lando Norris was simply brilliant this season.
Not only did the young Brit deliver points for his team and part of the team’s first one-two since 2010, but he was a composed and mature figure off the track.
He spoke on issues including potential rule changes and issues with the current set-up in Formula 1, and – no matter how important – got on with his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
McLaren are a top-four team again and it’s great to see. Behind the wheel they’re lucky to have a pair of drivers whose personalities are so infectious.
Flop of the year
Flop may seem like a harsh word to describe someone who made it into one of the world’s 20 most coveted motor racing seats, but Nikita Mazepin’s first season in F1 was uninspiring.
Even before it began, the young Russian attracted controversy by filming himself groping a woman in a car and posting it to social media – though the woman defended him.
Mazepin’s association with Haas also came just as the team decided to launch their livery – which, despite global sporting rules, looked astonishingly like a Russian flag. Curious.
It would be unfair to judge a driver solely on their off-track life, but Mazepin’s season wasn’t any kinder and earned him the nickname “Mazespin”. Simply must do better next year.
Rookie of the year
There were three candidates – Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Mazepin, plus AlphaTauri racer Yuki Tsunoda – but this wasn’t a difficult choice, despite Schumacher finishing on zero points.
Tsunoda is just passing through Formula 1, and would likely finish behind Schumacher if they were in the same car. The young German, son of seven-time world champion Michael, made a superb start to his season in the lacklustre Haas.
It might be written in the stars for the 22-year-old to eventually make his way to Ferrari, but he’ll need to use his experiences this season to push on in 2022.
Team boss of the year
The pit wall is never a boring place when Christian Horner is around. The long-standing Red Bull principal provided brilliant soundbites and boisterous post-race analysis.
He contributed to British broadcasts of Formula 1 throughout the season, providing his live response to race strategy and events.
Horner fended off competition from Mercedes’s Toto Wolff and Aston Martin’s Otmar Szafnauer, both of whom provided their own mix of entertainment and honesty.
In Horner, though, Formula 1 has a character who is not only insightful but knows what makes the sport tick, and is a real asset to the sport and its owners Liberty Media.