Formula 1 good month, bad month: September 2021

James Elson charts the ups and downs of the F1 circus

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Good month


Boring Paul Ricard

Those vertigo-inducing stripes might be a bit unnerving, but Paul Ricard delivered. Criticism rained down on Le Castellet, but as soon as racing got underway, passing moves were in abundance and the strategy games ramped up, all leading to a thrilling finale.

Gunther Steiner going up

Guenther’s gift

When your Haas represents an old Lada on pace terms, and is being driven by someone who seems to think they’re negotiating Nizhny Novgorod, all you can do is laugh, really. And give your driver a spinning top to take the mick out of him.

George Russell vs Alonso going up

Russell vs Alonso

There were shades of Dijon ’79 (sacrilege, I know) as the old and new did battle for one single point. Russell’s supreme talent is dragging the FW43B to where it shouldn’t be.

Austrian Anthem

As F1 pre-race entertainment goes, surely never have we seen anything quite like the Austrian national anthem being played in the style of Van Halen. Lando Norris tried not to laugh before Domenicali, Todt and Brawn all observed proceedings with utmost decorum.

Perez Verstappen going up

Full capacity crowds

With a full capacity crowd at a GP for the first time since Covid struck, Max Verstappen’s orange army descended in their hordes. The sea of orange smoke was like a scene out of Gladiator, the Dutch mass looking ready to march on an unsuspecting small nation.


Bad month

Ocon going down

N-Ocon Effect

Prior to a hopefully glorious homecoming, Alpine handed Esteban Ocon a big juicy three-year contract as it declared seeing shades of Alain Prost in the young Normandy native. Ocon then repaid Alpine by finishing, err, 14th, 14th, DNF… Very Prost-like.

Storm over Austria going down

Failed forecasting

For all F1’s incredible number-crunching, mind-bending, fabric of the universe-tearing technology, no-one seems to be able to predict the weather. Ever. Will it ever rain on a race day?

Reckless Räikkönen

After rear-ending his team-mate in Portugal, another embarrassing moment came for Kimi Räikkönen in Austria as he took out celebrity bee-keeper Sebastian Vettel in a ferocious battle for 12th place on the last lap. Is the Iceman starting to lose his touch?

Verstappen going down

The Championship fight

Do we think it’s all over? It might be now! With Verstappen almost cantering off over the Styrian mountains, a season which was shaping up to be a classic is starting to look rather flat. We can only pray that a magical update from Merc has the desired effect.

Mercedes going down

Kerb the complaining

Several teams had a good old moan to Michael Masi about the aggressive kerbs at Paul Ricard. Easier said than done, but perhaps the best-paid drivers in the world should, just maybe, not go off the circuit?

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