The accolades keep piling up for Max Verstappen in the wake of him becoming 2021 Formula 1 World Champion after an epic season-long battle with Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen clinched his first F1 world title in dramatic fashion at the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But the water has long flowed under the bridge from that highly contentious night as the reality that F1 has a worthy champion no matter what.
This site saw it fit to name Max as our GRANDPRIX247 Driver of the Year, as did the Dutch people who voted him their Male Sportsman of the Year, beating the likes of Olympic champions Niek Kimmann and Harrie Lavreysen to win the prize for the second time in his career.
Next, the Red Bull ace topped the Best Driver of 2021 as voted by F1 team principals which is a good one for the CV, suggesting any team would have Max in their car, anytime.
Most recently Verstappen also bagged the one drivers all seek, namely Driver of the Year as voted by his peers with Hamilton again runner-up, sandwiched by outstanding Lando Norris as the cream of the new generation rise to the top.
It is clear that Verstappen is now the flag-bearer of the new generation of F1 hotshots, as the old guard get squeezed out. There is a certain poetry in the fact that the 24-year-old not only ended an incredible streak of Mercedes driver titles but also took it ahead of F1’s next rules era in 2022.
On his official website the incredible stats and highlights of his most famous season were compiled and make for fascinating reading:
- Max’ title-deciding pass on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the first time in the history of the sport that the championship was decided on the final lap in a direct fight between the two title protagonists;
- His win made Max the 34th F1 world champion;
- Behind Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso – he is the youngest driver to take the title. All four have clinched their (first) crown before turning 25.
- It took Max 141 Grands Prix to become champion; only three other drivers contested more races before claiming their first title.
- The Netherlands is the fifteenth country to produce a Formula 1 champion;
- It is the first time in thirty years that a Honda-powered car won the F1 title. Max succeeds Ayrton Senna, who won his third championship driving the McLaren-Honda in 1991.
- For Red Bull Racing, the end of the title drought came after eight years since Sebastian Vettel took his fourth title in 2013;
- It is the first time since 2008 that the driver’s crown was won by a driver who is not part of the constructors’ title-winning outfit;
- Red Bull mechanics who, for the fourth year in a row, won the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award (1.88s at the Hungarian Grand Prix),
- Max scored ten victories, adding to the ten he gathered his F1 career thus far. Only three drivers have won ten or more races in a season: Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
- Max also became the first driver to win two races at the same venue in one year, following his back-to-back wins at the Red Bull Ring at the Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix;
- In Austria, he also took his first Grand Slam of his career by taking pole position, fastest lap and leading from start to finish;
- Due to the heavy rain during the Belgian Grand Prix, Max also became the winner of the shortest ‘race’ in F1 history. Officially, only one lap was completed with the race duration clocked at 3m27s. It also meant Max scored half points for the first time in his career, taking home 12,5 points.
- Besides his ten Grands Prix wins, Max won the first inaugural sprint (Silverstone). Together with two second-places in Monza and Interlagos, both Valtteri Bottas and Max scored the most points during the three 2021 sprints (seven points each).
- With 18 podium finishes, Max set a new record for the number of podiums during a season. In addition, whenever he ended on the rostrum, he did so in first or second place. Percentage-wise, only Michael Schumacher did a better job, with the German legend finishing all 17 Grands Prix of the 2002 season on the podium.
- The two title contenders finished 1-2 a record fourteen times during one season, ultimately leading to both drivers entering the final round in Abu Dhabi equal on points.
- A similar situation in which the two title contesting drivers arrived at the last race of the year with equal points occurred in 1974, when Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni battled for the crown, with the former ultimately winning the title.
- Max ended on the podium in every race he finished, bar one.
- He has scored 60 podiums in his career thus far, equalling three-time world champion Nelson Piquet, father of the Dutchman’s partner Kelly Piquet. In the all-time standings, they share eleventh place.
- Max enjoyed a strong year in terms of qualifying, clinching ten poles, more than any other driver. His career total sits at thirteen.
- He set the fastest lap six times throughout the season, put was only awarded points on five occasions as his tyre blow-out in Azerbaijan meant he did not finish that race.
- He led 652 laps this season, more than all other drivers combined (645);
- Verstappen will use the Champion’s Number One next season for the first time since Sebastian Vettel did so in 2014.