F1: What to look out for in 2021
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Max Verstappen lashed out after Lewis Hamilton won their opening duel in what is expected to be a titanic battle for the Formula One title this season. The Red Bull driver’s wide racing line in turn four ended up costing him the race win at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and afterwards he described it as “seven points robbed”.
Verstappen took the lead from Hamilton with four laps to go but had to hand the position back because he had overtaken by running off the track.
After the race it was revealed that Red Bull team boss Christian Horner had been instructed by race control to let Hamilton back through after Verstappen gained an advantage by leaving the track.
But while Hamilton ended up the winner of their first battle of the 2021 season, the way the race unfolded showed that Mercedes won’t have it all their own way this year.
Afterwards, both drivers gave their take on a race which promised a blockbuster campaign ahead.
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“Of course, I was outside of track limits when I passed Lewis, so they told me to give the position back,” Verstappen said in the F1 post-race show on Youtube.
“It is what it is, it gave the position back and then I tried again but I didn’t have the tyres any more.
“I did have newer tyres but as soon as you get within 1.5 seconds they degrade very quickly, so it’s super hard to follow with these cars.
“It’s still a positive start to the season, and still a long season ahead. I see it as only seven points robbed and we’ll try to do better next time.”
Mercedes decided to pit Hamilton earlier than the Red Bull, setting up a spectacular finish.
And Hamilton said afterwards: “I was struggling, obviously. We stopped so early, quite shorter than our initial strategy.
“Even with our original strategy, it was already going to be difficult to keep him behind, but he went so much longer and had much fresher tyres.”
After Red Bull were fastest in pre-season testing, and Verstappen the quickest in every session of the weekend, Hamilton admitted he had trouble holding his rival off when it came to the race proper.
The Brit continued: “We knew from this weekend and from testing that we were going to be on the back foot.
“When he was chasing me I knew he was catching me massively. In my mind I was thinking: if I can just hold on to these tyres, make no mistakes, then maybe I can just keep him at an arm’s length, out of my DRS.”
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