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Last month, my GridTalk colleague Aimee shared with us her dream F1 calendar. A 20 race season that would make many a fan happy. I cannot fault Aimee on her list, as it would be an excellent season if it occurred, though there are things that I would do differently…

Ben presents: The Ultimate Formula One World Championship Calendar

I think that there are a lot of boring races this season that needs to be cut. Russian Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will most certainly be cut from my races. I will also be controversial and remove the Monaco Grand Prix from my Championship. However, I don’t think it should stop existing. This calendar is broken up into continental and subcontinental ‘legs’, and at the end of each race, the drivers move to the next country. I am doing this because I like the idea of F1 being a travelling, moving spectacle. Having it follow this linear path from one country to another just looks cool.

There are 20 championship races on my calendar, with potential expansion to 22 races. However, while I believe that never having too much of a good thing is true, I also think that a 20 race season is a good length for F1. The solution I’d come up with for that would be to swap out a few races each year to keep it fresh. Maybe swap out races that don’t perform well and put something else on. Or move the legs around.

Race 0: Monaco

Not as part of the official championship, but instead, a Formula One opening ceremony. I pitch to you a non-championship race that allows F1 debutants to experience the glitz and glamour of a famous track and raise their profile and for cars to be tested in race conditions. It’s basically a parade after qualifying, but it is too important to remove entirely.


Race #1: Bahrain

Starting in Bahrain, a race that has opened F1 for years now, and it’s hard to fault why it has that honour. DRS, Braking zones, and a nice night race to start us off with something special. I like Bahrain, and I agree with Aimee; this is a good opener to the season. I would also move testing to Bahrain and have the endurance circuit be used as F1’s new test track as a way for the car engineers to work on the cars before each season.

Race #2: Azerbaijan

As you can tell, the first leg of the F1 season is the Middle Eastern Leg, and we move from Bahrain to the Caucuses. Azerbaijan’s street circuit in Baku is one of my favourites of modern F1. 90 degree turns, the ‘s’ bends, and that castle section. That gosh darn castle section. I love it.

Race #3: Turkey

The gateway between Europe and the Middle East, a fitting transitional race from one part of the world to the other. It was due to come back this season, but it was delayed. I like the unpredictability of Turkey, and it would be a good closer to the first leg of my dream F1 Calendar. I want it held in Istanbul Park, and I want the drama to be high. This track helped Fernando Alonso get his F1 World Championship after shenanigan’s helped him get to second. This is a track with a lot of drama, making it a damn good race.

Race #4: Austria

The Red Bull Ring has actually surprised me, and I believe makes a good race. Having it twice in the same season last year was a dampener on it, and having a Styrian and Austrian Grand Prix again this year, while necessary, is not ideal. However, The Red Bull Ring is good. It features elevation changes and the sorts of kerbs that will put the cars to their metaphorical knees. Austria is good.

Race #5: Italy

It has to be! You want the European leg to open with one of the best tracks in F1…but which one? For my money, it has to be San Marino. It is iconic, though its infamy overshadows the racing that has taken place there. But It also has to be Monza, because Monza is amazing. Personally, I don’t want there to be two races held in Italy, because I think it has to be one or the other. In this case, I’d go with Monza.

Race #6: Belgium

Italy and Belgium are just two classic tracks, aren’t they? I love Italy, but I adore Belgium. Spa is just insane, as you all know. What makes it so is the weather. That unpredictable Northwestern European weather. Incidents like those in 1998 only come once in a lifetime, on some tracks, but Spa is just home to many insane, bizarre incidents. It’s a good follow up to Italy in that the unpredictability makes you question your preconceptions for the season.

Race #7: Germany

I wish that the German Grand Prix would be held in the old Hockenheim layout. I love my cars to suffer, and this will be the first big test of the season. With it being on such a large, foreboding track, I would likely make some changes to the layout. I’d make the forest section a little smaller, reducing the size of the track somewhat, but ultimately, keep the rest as it was. We need more races that challenge these cars.

Race #8: France

The French Grand Prix is just something that is there nowadays. The current track is just a bit naff, really. It’s a good explanation for why French movies are just black and white films of sad smokers crying into their coffee. It’s not a race on Paul Ricard! Ben’s Grand Prix is bringing it back to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. That track is a modern classic that is being missed out on this year and has been missed since 2008. Bring it home, lads!

Race #9: Portugal

Portugal was one of the good things that came about in the 2020 F1 Season. It’s a challenging track, it’s modern, and the fans really love it. When we saw it again this year, we loved it. Isn’t it nice when people like new things? Portimao Circuit is great, and I love it. Keep it in F1! With the absence of the Spanish Grand Prix, however, I would consider renaming it the Iberian Grand Prix to represent both nations of the peninsula.

Race #10: Britain

Short explanation: It’s Silverstone.

Race #11: Europe

I think that the halfway point of the season should be a great closer, on a great track. The European Grand Prix closes this leg of the championship, and I think the honour should go to, what will be, The Dutch Grand Prix. I think with its return to F1, give it the spectacle of that name. The track is looking good, and I cannot wait for the race.

Race #12: South Africa

There are currently no races in Formula One that take place in Africa. Not one, but they’re used to be The South African Grand Prix. This one would not be a part of a leg but would be a pre or post-summer break between the Eurasian legs and the American-Pacific legs of F1. Bringing back South Africa could see a revitalization of the sport in that region. Kyalami is currently the only credible circuit that could host such a race, but it would be good to see it return.

Race #13: Canada

Next leg: The Americas. The Canadian Grand Prix is a classic and is a great opener for this leg of the Championship. So many iconic moments have happened here. Welcome to Quebec!

Race#14: USA

Bumping this one up because it is usually held near the end of the season, but I think it deserves a bump up the calendar. I really The Circuit of the Americas, and I like the pretence of Americans being American at this race. It almost becomes farcical the stuff they pull. I reckon the only reason that they plat each country’s anthem is just so the USA can do it in their typical style. AMERICA!

Race #15: Argentina

I personally don’t rate Mexico; I will replace it with Argentina. This country can host a pretty decent Grand Prix, as it has done in the past. The fact that two of the greatest F1 drivers of all time were born in the country of Argentina makes its absence more confusing to me. It would be good if it came back.

Race #16: Brazil

In some seasons, this would be the closer. And it is a good closer to an F1 season, an excellent one, in fact. However, the closer I will be going for the season, is just a smidge better in my eye. That said, who doesn’t love Brazil? One of F1’s most iconic tracks, like Canada, shows that Americans ‘get’ Formula One.

Race #17: Australia

The last leg is the Asia/Pacific leg. Opening this leg with Australia makes sense, in my eyes. There have been some corkers over the years in Australia, and it would be a shame if it weren’t included.

Race #18: Malaysia

I miss Malaysia and would sacrifice Singapore to get it back on the F1 Calendar. It needs to be modernised somewhat because I think that Malaysia should be a night race, so the construction of floodlights is desired and necessary. However, the track layout is fine, and it is always exciting to see how the race pans out with its ever-changing conditions.

Race #19: Macau

No. This is a joke. Could you imagine an F1 race with today’s cars in Macau? Don’t be silly.

The Real Race #19: China

I don’t like the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Get rid of the lights, and hold it in the daytime, and you’ll see why. It’s just a lick of paint. However, Singapore does have a good track, and that’s the Shanghai International Circuit. This is a great track for the penultimate race of the season.

Race #20: Japan

This is how a Formula One season should end. Brazil is a great race to end F1 with, but for me, Suzuka is something else. It is a racer’s track, and it has seen championships be decided at, much like in Sao Paulo. This track is just art on asphalt and the perfect closer to the F1 season.

Potential Races/Honourable Mentions

As I said, there are some races that I think could be added to this list, and there are also ones I did consider for this list:

Vietnam

We don’t know what Vietnam will be like as an F1 track, it might be good, and if it is, then it may be added to the Asian leg of my F1 Season

Saudi Arabia

Again, a new track, so not much info on it. However, I am a little more doubtful about this one because of one thing: Abu Dhabi. We all know and loathe Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia has the potential to be another one of them. However, it is up for consideration, if it’s any good.

Miami

A race in Florida has the potential to be very good, and I hold out hope that the Miami Grand Prix will be a good addition to F1 and my American leg.

More Races in Africa

I don’t know that much about the Motor Racing scene in Africa as a continent. I can imagine that many parts of the continent probably don’t have much interest. I feel like if there were more races in Africa, they would either fit into the Middle Eastern leg or create a new African leg with South Africa. Also, I don’t want to create races that don’t exist.

Bienvenue en…Autriche? Yes, due to the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix and the Turkish Grand Prix this year, we have another double-header at the Red Bull ring. While disappointed, we at GridTalk understand that the plague has not yet gone away, and we hope that the situation in Canada and Turkey improves so that we can return to those countries next year. On the bright side, we have several classic F1 races to look back on from The Great White North. So join us as we briefly highlight eight classic Canadian Grand Prix races.

XV Labatt’s Canadian Grand Prix (1976)

The 1976 Grand Prix took place at Mosport Park in Ontario. It is one of three tracks to have held the Grand Prix in Canada. The first one being held at Mosport Park in 1961, with the race alternating between Mosport and the Mont -Tremblant circuit in Quebec between 1967 and 1971. James Hunt won the ’76 race at Mosport, and his drive was one of his best. Hunt had lost 9 points from his British Grand Prix victory that year, with Niki Lauda gaining 3 points. The anger was channelled into his performance. While initially losing his lead from pole to Ronnie Peterson, he clawed it back and won the race. This victory helped him gain back his 9 points, while Lauda retired from 5th place due to car issues.

Grand Prix Molson du Canada (1991)

If you are a fan of Nelson Piquet, then watch this one for his last hurrah. His final career win in Formula One was dramatic, as it was unexpected. The leader of this race, Nigel Mansell, managed to keep out of trouble as the majority of competitors retired from the race for various car issues, including Aryton Senna, Alain Prost, Jean Alesi, and Mika Hakkinen, to name but a few. Then, at the worst possible time, Mansell’s car stopped. On the last lap. By the hairpin. That on its own is a moment to relive, my friends.

Grand Prix Molson du Canada (1995)

Jean Alessi’s one and only victory came in the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, and it was worth the damn wait. 5 years of racing, and he did it. And, for added poignancy, he drove his Ferrari, adorned with the number 27, the same number used by the late Gilles Villeneuve (who was the first Canadian winner of the Canadian Grand Prix). This race also marked the last time to date that a Grand Prix was won by a car with a V12 engine and the only race of the season won by a non-Renault-powered car. It’s an emotional race to watch, and there is lots of good action in there too.

XXXVII Grand Prix Air Canada (1999)

Welcome to Quebec! The 1999 Canadian Grand Prix was famous for that crash in The Wall of Champions. For the newer fans among us, allow me to explain. Former World Champions Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, and Michael Schumacher all crashed into the outside wall of the final chicane, which led to their retirements from the race, and the wall being given the infamous name as ‘The Wall of Champions’. The famous image (attached below) of the wall is part of F1 History and worth rewatching.

Michael Schumacher’s collision into ‘The Wall of Champions’

Grand Prix Air Canada 2001 (2001)

This is Ralf Schumacher proving himself as capable of a driver as his older brother by achieving his second victory of the season, and beating his brother in, what he later admitted, was the first time he had competitively raced with Michael. Noteworthy is that this is the first, and so far only, time in F1 that two brothers have come first and second in a race.

Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2007 (2007)

Dramatic Disqualifications, Retirements aplenty, and drivers who were NOT in Ferrari or McLaren taking podium positions?! A great race for Alexander Wurz and Nick Heidfeld, who joined 2007 newcomer Lewis Hamilton on the podium, in a race that saw drama in the McLaren paddocks, as Alonso played off Hamilton’s first-ever F1 victory as ‘luck’, while Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella left the pit lane while the red light was still on, causing their disqualification at Lap 51. Infamously, this race is also known for the violent crash that Robert Kubica was in, causing him to miss his next race, being replaced by Sebastian Vettel.

Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2008 (2008)

“…as I exited the box, I saw two cars jostling for position ahead of me in the pit lane. Obviously, I didn’t want to get involved in their tussle and was trying not to do so, and then all of a sudden, they stopped. And by the time they’d come to a halt, it was too late for me to avoid them.” is what Lewis Hamilton said in response to crashing into the back of defending F1 champion, Kimi Raikkonen. Robert Kubica won this race in a stunning victory after the previous year’s accident, which saw him briefly lead the world championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld and David Coulthard, of Sauber and Red Bull, respectively, would round out the Podium.

Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2011 (2011)

The last race I will cover is 2011’s Canadian Grand Prix. This is my Dad’s favourite of the eight, because Jenson Button won it from 7th, over the course of the race. It was a wet track, and ultimately, some of the cars would crash and retire, including former champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Vettel was on pole but would lose his place to Button in an excellent showdown at the race’s close. Vettel led by 0.9 seconds on the final lap before he ran wide at turn six. Button passed him to take the lead and held it to win the race. Vettel recovered from going off-track and finished second. Definitely worth the rewatch.

And those are my picks. Agree? Disagree? Comment below what you think are the best Canadian Grand Prix races to rewatch!

It’s lights out and away we go in Baku!

Polesitter Charles Leclerc had a great start in the Ferrari and got away very quickly from the line and led in front of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. There were no incidents through the first few turns. Meanwhile on Lap 2, Sergio Perez has made a strong start to the race, moving up two positions to 4th place. On the other hand, Lando Norris has had a poor start and is already in 12th place, behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo. George Russell is the first one of the field to make a pitstop already. Lewis Hamilton makes it to P1 in Lap 3. The World Champion does not even need a DRS to overtake Leclerc, who could not stay in front of the Mercedes. It was a brilliant move. Lap 4 and the first retirement of the race is for Esteban Ocon. It appears that the Alpine has a gearbox failure as we heard Ocon on the team radio saying, “Lost power!”

We’re into Lap 7, and Max Verstappen hits the brakes late and overtakes Leclerc. Max obviously needed a few laps to get there. Lewis Hamilton complained about some balancing concerns over the Mercedes team radio in Lap 8, saying, “Balance is on the nose”, he also mentions struggling. Sergio Perez now closes in on Charles Leclerc and joins his Dutch Red Bull teammate in moving forward. Charles Leclerc is into the pit in Lap 10 and receives a fresh set of hard tyres. Charles Lecelerc rejoined the track before Kimi Räikkönen on P10. Lewis Hamilton says to be having struggles with his rears on the team radio in Lap 11. A disaster for Ferrari in Lap 12 after Carlos Sainz went straight through Turn 8 after his tyres blocked. As a result: the Spaniard is now in P15 after having to reverse back onto the track.

In Lap 15, we see Lewis Hamilton, the defending World Champion, make a slow pit stop of 4.6 seconds, and he loses his position on the track. One lap later, during Lap 16, Red Bull is capable of a pit stop for Max Verstappen in under two seconds. Sergio Perez is now leading the race with Sebastian Vettel on P2. Now Sergio Perez comes to a 4.3 second stop in Lap 17, but the Mexican stays ahead of Verstappen. Lap 19 and meanwhile Sebastian Vettel is leading the race, but he has yet to pit. It’s the first time the German has led a race since Brazil 2019.

Now, as it stands, we have P1: Vettel P2: Verstappen P3: Perez P4: Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel pits for a new set of tyres in Lap 21, and the former World Champion leaves the pit lane in 8th place. Aston Martin’s strategy of stretching out the first stint of the race seemed to pay off. Max Verstappen is now the new leader of the race with his teammate Sergio Perez on P2! Lap 22 and Valtteri Bottas hasn’t been mentioned yet. He’s still stuck in 10th place, where he started the race. He’s having trouble getting past Norris.

After a lock-up earlier in the race, the Spaniard had to work his way through the field, and he showed amazing courage by passing Giovinazzi into Turn 8 during Lap 24. He took the long way around after braking late. On Lap 25, Bottas drove off-track at Turn 16, losing him over a second and putting him further behind Norris. Nikita Mazepin makes a lockup and misses the corner in Lap 26. By 38 seconds, the Russian has dropped to the back of the field…

We hear a worrying Lewis Hamilton on the team radio during Lap 27 saying he cannot keep up with the Red Bulls. Mercedes have the best straight-line speed, but the Red Bulls have been the more balanced cars throughout the weekend. We’re into Lap 31, and we have the first Yellow Flag situation of the race.

Stroll had the longest stint in the race and was the only driver not to pit, and now he’s crashed into the wall after a rear puncture caused a massive accident on the run to the finish line. Eventually, the Safety Car has been deployed, and there is a significant amount of debris on the track. Michael Masi also decided to close the pit entry as a result. Still behind the Safety Car in Lap 34 and Lewis Hamilton mentions that a restart will be difficult on his tyres. Meanwhile, the pitlane re-opened, and Alonso, Giovinazz and Russell head into the pits. Mick Schumacher is also making a pitstop, but his tyre wasn’t put on properly by the team; they brought him safely to the pit and put on the tyre the right way, after all.

Finally, the Safety Car is ending in Lap 35. Max determines the pace, and we restarted! Lewis Hamilton considered going around Sergio Perez’s back but decided against it. Then Sebastian Vettel passes Leclerc before the Ferrari nearly collides with Hamilton’s rear end due to a lock-up! Sebastian Vettel’s tyres perform brilliantly as he passes Gasly, bringing the former world champion in 2nd place behind Hamilton.

We’re on Lap 44, and on the Mercedes team radio, Hamilton says, “I’m not getting any closer.” Despite having the fastest lap of the race a few laps ago in Lap 39. Now Max Verstappen has set the new fastest lap of the race in Lap 45.

Disaster for the race leader! Max Verstappen is in the wall in Lap 47. He looked set for victory, and the race was as good as wrapped up, but there has been a problem with one of his rear tyres. We saw something similar happen with Stroll earlier in the race. We see a shocking Christian Horner with his head in his hands at the pit wall, not believing what just happened with only a few more laps to go….

We’re now, unsurprisingly, behind the Safety Car in Lap 48, and there’s a good possibility this race will end behind the Safety Car. The problem seems to be with the Pirelli tyre probably becoming too soft. With only three laps remaining, the race stewards have decided that it’s preferable to stop the session with a Red Flag situation to clear the track with the cars staying in the pit lane. It has been decided that the race will resume. Later on, it has been decided that the drivers will make their second standing start of the afternoon.

Once again, the lights went out for a two-lap sprint race to the finish line, and Hamilton appeared to be in front of Perez. The championship leader had just said on the radio minutes before that he would not take any big chances because it’s still early in the season.  Then he completely locked up, crashing into the Turn 1 run-off area before finishing P15 and out of the points.

Sergio Perez takes the chequered flag and his first race victory as a Red Bull driver! Getting some crucial points for Red Bull in exceptional circumstances. Sebastian Vettel finished second from 11th with his Aston Martin, and Pierre Gasly took 3rd after holding off Leclerc’s repeated overtaking efforts, leaving the pole-sitter in 4th.

Racing Drivers should be larger than life characters—eccentric, interesting, and mysterious people. Frankly, the current Formula One grid is just normal compared to the stars of yesteryear. We have Lewis Hamilton, a self-confident winner. Lando Norris, George Russell, and Charles Leclerc are just young, hungry lads. All of them are good drivers, but I think they’re a bit boring away from the track. The obvious exception is Kimi Raikkonen, who clearly went to the James Hunt school of driving. 

Back in the day, you had a mix: There was your hot-headed type. Win at all costs, and be ruthless (e.g. Michael Schumacher, Aryton Senna). There was the playboy, where life is just champagne and women (e.g. Kimi Raikonnen and James Hunt). And then, there are gentlemen. And that is who we’re looking at today. This is the legendary rivalry between Graham Hill and Jim Clark.

I think that it is fair to say Graham Hill is one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. Not the greatest in Formula One, but in competitive racing. The only man to complete the Triple Crown of racing, winning at Le Manns, The Indy 500, and Monaco (doing that last one 5 times). The man only got his licence at the age of 24, got into Formula One through Lotus as a mechanic, and making his debut in 1958 in his rightful Kingdom of Monaco. 

Conversely, it is fair to say that Jim Clark is one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time. Over his F1 career, he would hold the record for most Grand Prix wins and Grand Prix pole positions by 1968. In 1960, Clark made his debut for Formula One, during the Dutch Grand Prix, in the Lotus. This was after competing in various national events and Formula Junior, having impressed Colin Chapman of Lotus. 

The 1962 Formula One World Championship would see both Hill and Clark achieve their first wins. The Belgian Grand Prix, held during that championship, would see both men, both four and two years into their careers respectively, would begin a rivalry that would run for 6 years. Hill was leading in the Championship points by the Belgian Grand Prix and would gain pole position during that qualifying. The Scottish Clark would battle Englishman Hill in what was, by all accounts, a 5 horse race between the two men, Bruce McLaren, Trevor Taylor, and Willy Mairesse. Taylor and Mairesse got into a serious crash during the race, leaving the remaining three men to battle. Clark was very much a stalking horse, ready to pounce when the opportunity to overtake Hill. In the end, Clark would gain his first win, and Hill came second. And similar battles would take place throughout the season. Hill would win the 1962 Formula One World Championship, with Clark having 30 championship points, to Hill’s 42. 

Clark would dominate the 1963 World Championship. The defending world champion Hill would only win 2 races (though this included his first Monaco win). Clark would decimate the competition, winning 7 out of 10 races, with the remaining one going to Ferrari’s John Surtees. It was funnily enough at Belgium again where Clark would shoot past pole leader Hill in wet conditions. The Belgian Grand Prix saw an eye-watering 5 minute lead between Clark and Hill. The Dutch Grand Prix actually saw Hill retire with engine failure, further distancing him from his championship defence. The only interruptions in Clark’s dominance were his retirement in Germany when his engine decided to give up and at the United States Grand Prix, where Hill had reached Pole Position and won the race despite technical difficulties. However, by that point, Clark was champion. He could have come last at every race since he won in Italy and still be champion.

1964 was probably going to be the rubber match to take a term from professional wrestling. 2 seasons, 2 champions. Hill’s dominant win in 1962 and Clark’s equally dominant win in 1963 made this season of F1 seem like the decider: who was the better of the two? John Surtees was the 1964 Formula One World Championship winner, with Hill coming 2nd and Clark 3rd. However, that isn’t to say that the season was a dud for either man, as Hill would only lose the championship to Surtees by 1 point. If you want to be analytical, Hill had more podium finishes than Clark, but Clark had more wins than Hill. The championship was decided at the Mexican Grand Prix, where Clark had pole position and benefitted from Hill slipping backwards on the grid to 11th after his goggles slipped, denying him the points needed for his potential second championship. Clark needed to win the race, as those 9 championship points would put him ahead of Surtees and give him the championship. It was not to be.

Clark would dominate most of the race, but his car would begin leaking oil in a dramatic twist, forcing him to slip back to 5th position. Surtees was in third place at the time, meaning that Hill could still win the championship. However, as Clark pitted, the Ferrari team urged second-place driver and teammate Lorenzo Bandini to let Surtees overtake. Surtees would win the championship by 1 point. 

1965 would finally see Jim Clark win his second world championship and also see him win the Indianapolis 500, holding both the world championship and the Indy 500 in the same year, the only man to do so. Hill, for his part, would come second to Clark in the championship, winning at Monaco again and coming first in the United States Grand Prix, where Clark retired. While the rivalry would continue in 1966 and 1967, both men were 5th and 6th in the championship, in a season where Jack Brabham won the world championship, and the battle for second between John Surtees and Jochen Rindt was the prominent rivalries at the front of the grid. 

Ultimately, Clark would not live to see Graham Hill win the 1968 Formula One World Championship, as tragedy would strike the Scottish driver. However, he would go out with a hell of a swansong in F1. Both drivers were teammates in Lotus by the 1968 South African Grand Prix and would pull off a stunning 1-2 finish. This is notable as it saw Clark win his 24th race, breaking the record set by Juan Manuel Fangio for most races won. It seemed as if this season would be a closely fought battle between the two men for the world championship. It was not to be.

Clark also competed in Formula Two, which drivers could do in those days. Between the South African Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix, Clark competed in The Deutschland Trophae, alongside some of his fellow F1 drivers, and a young Max Mosley, pre-March Engineering. On the fifth lap of the first heat, Clark’s Lotus 48 veered off the track, crashed into the trees, and sadly died before reaching the hospital. This happened is unknown, though a deflated rear tyre was suspected to be the cause. He was 32.

Hill won the 1968 World Championship, pulling together his team and winning in honour of his friend and rival. A crash in 1969 would cause Hill to break his legs, with Hill famously quipping: ‘Just tell her that I won’t be dancing for two weeks.’ when asked if he wanted to send a message to his wife. He recovered and continued to race in F1 until 1975, though never to the calibre he did during the ’60s. He won Le Mans in 1972, gaining his triple crown. By 1973, he formed ‘Embassy Hill’ his own pet constructor and retired from racing in 1975 after failing to qualify for Monaco. In November of 1975, Hill, along with members of his Embassy Hill team, including drivers, car designers, and mechanics, and the team manager, all died in a plane crash. Hill was 46.

Why is this rivalry so revered by F1 fans? I think it’s a mixture of things. Though having different achievements, both men were evenly matched in ability, if not in their championship victories and total wins. The tragedy surrounding both men’s early deaths makes the rivalry one that fans were sad to miss. Friendship also plays a part. Both men were close friends, and Hill was understandably upset at Clark’s passing. You can read an article written by Hill in tribute to ‘Jimmy’ here.

For me? It’s the fact that both men were characters. Hill was the gentleman. A thin moustache, sharp wit, and very refined. Clark was the red-faced, aggressive driver but with the intelligence to back up his tactics. Occasionally shy, well-spoken, but with speed to win at all costs. We will remember today’s drivers, but compared to Graham Hill and Jim Clark? It’s no competition.

F1 Esports… Ever heard of it? Ever watched it? No? Well, I bet you know the F1 games!

Personally, F1 Esports has been following me around for quite a while now, which is why I am happy to finally bring you up to speed with this very special Sim Racing Series. The Formula One Esports Series is a professional Esports Programme, which Formula One promotes. It came to life in 2017 to engage the F1 Game and its community into the sport that is F1. Since 2018 each official F1 team also has their own F1 Esports Team to participate in the F1 Esports Championship. Just as in real life, there is a driver champion and a team champion. Last year, we saw Jarno Opmeer becoming the 2020 F1 Esports Champion and Red Bull Racing Esports taking home the team championship trophy back to back with Marcel Kiefer, Frede Rasmussen and Tino Naukkarinen.

In this 2021 season, we look at some changes in the driver lineup and the drafting process. As always, there are 30 seats available for the championship, three for each team, b this year, the F1 Esports Qualifying reaches a record high in participation numbers. So how does that work? And who is even up for being drafted? One of the biggest changes has to be the introduction of the Women’s Wildcard. It was designed to bring the fastest female sim racers into the mix by making the qualifying process a bit more open and accessible for them and showing that there is an interest in seeing all genders on track! With Rebecca Morrell, we saw absolute girl power! She smashed her entry lap and won the Women’s Wildcard spot in the Pro Exhibition Show, which brings us to the second change. For the first time in 2021, we got to see the Pro Exhibition last Thursday as part of the drafting process! We got introduced to the so-called “Pro Rank”, which is supposed to benefit all drivers that are eligible for selection. Every driver part of the 2020 Pro Series automatically got the Pro Rank, so if a team decides to keep their driver, nothing is holding them back. Drivers who are released from their contracts are then back in the mix and available to be drafted. But what is this new Pro Exhibition Show? Basically, it is a series of challenges that are testing all the new drivers to their limit. Everyone who completes the Show will gain the Pro Rank Status and can be drafted by one of the teams later in the year.

There are four challenges in total which are:
Race-craft – which is an in-game event hosted in F1 2020, with all drivers eligible to take part
Ghost Race: Dry – all collisions are turned off so that the ultimate pace can be reached without dirty
air, blocking and overtaking
Ghost Race: Wet – same as above but this time there is the weather in the mix, to test the
adaptability and precision of each driver
Head to Head – this one is testing the driver’s nerves under pressure, best-of-three knockout
qualifying

Since F1 Esports is not that well known so far, let me give you a quick summary of what happened during the Pro Exhibition Show and who you should keep an eye out for this season. We got to see some nice interviews with great Esports personalities during the whole show, one of which was non-other than Cem Bolukbasi, who used to race in F1 Esports back in 2017/2018. Cem is mostly known for having made the step from sim racing into real racing. He shows how much is possible, and therefore he sure is the greatest ambassador F1 Esports could have asked for. One of the interesting things he mentioned was how the 110% AI challenge is definitely not a joke, even if you are in a fast car. Flaws are just impossible there because the game is very different from reality when it comes to track limits. We then got to see a “Best of the Best” race, where some of last year’s F1 Esports drivers showed their talent in the four Pro Exhibition challenges. We saw Dani Moreno dominating the Bahrain dry race, which came unexpectedly to me, but it seems like his move to Mercedes AMG F1.

Esports Team did him good. Very excited to see how he performs next to last year’s champion Jarno Opmeer, who also moved to Mercedes earlier this year. Last year’s runner up, the China wet race, was dominated by Frede Rasmussen, who finished that race 4 seconds clear of the other drivers. As expected, he and Marcel Kiefer will stay with Red Bull Racing Esports for another season after their incredible teamwork in 2020. Another guy that I’m looking forward to seeing on track is two times F1 Esports Champion Brendon Leigh, who left Mercedes and moved on to Ferrari. My hopes are high to see him getting some redemption this season, and so far, it looks quite promising. After the “Best of the Best” showcase being done and dusted, we finally got to hear from Jarno Opmeer himself. It sounds like people have high hopes for him to win the 2021 driver championship back to back. And it sure seems possible. He himself is very realistic and down to earth about it and mentions how every driver has to find their own formula of what works best. I personally am very excited to see another fight between him and Frede Rasmussen, hopefully. Still, I can imagine Marcel Kiefer joining that mix a bit more this year since he has proven to be more than ready to take on the title fight.

But who are the new guys and girls? One that I am looking at is Sebastian Job, who has already
been working a great deal for Red Bull Racing Esports, becoming the 2020 Porsche Esports Supercup Champion. I expect him to take Patrik Holzmann’s seat at Alpha Tauri, but I am always up for surprises. Another name that has already been on people’s minds is Josh Idowu, who has worked with Veloce Esports quite a lot in the past. He became fascinating for Mclaren Shadow and is expected to race for them in this year’s F1 Esports championship. Samuel Libeert, already well known from previous Pro Drafts, is also signed with R8G Esports, the team owned by Romain Grosjean. He is definitely one to look out for as well during
this year’s drafting process.

Two more names that I don’t want to leave unmentioned are Yuan Yifan, the winner of the Chinese F1 Esports championship and the runner up Tang Tianyu. Both were absolutely dominating in China. However, there are quite a few gaps between them and the top drivers of the world. Non the less I think they are strong contenders, and I am hopeful for them to be picked in this year’s draft.

What does one look for in an F1 Esports driver? Being interviewed, Romain Grosjean describes that they have to be fast because that is the essence of racing and be very consistent and have great communication. Also, they need to be able to represent a brand. Basically quite similar to actual F1 drivers. However, a huge difference is that an F1 Esports driver needs to be talented with setups, getting the absolute most out of their car. After having seen all drivers complete the challenges of the Pro Exhibition Show, here are my conclusions.

Josh Idowu looked super consistent, which is very promising. Alessio di Capua looked very strong, not too far off the time Dani Moreno set as a benchmark. He sure had a great speed there. A surprise to me was Patrik Sipos, who showed great adaptability. Sebastian Job had a bit of a rough start but then really showed some great pace. Rebecca Morrell, our Women’s Wildcard winner, was not too far off the top times and showed great adaptability as well. I am sure she will grow with experience! Gabriel Meneghetti did an incredible job, dominating the Xbox Leaderboard, and Valentin Büffer and Liam Parnell looked very strong in the PS4 challenges. Thijmen Schütte, as we know by now, is officially signed with Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen Esports and completes their lineup together with Filip Presnajder and Simon Weigang!

So, what is left for me to say? I am very excited to see who will be picked for the teams during
these next few months. There are some powerful sim racers in the draft this season.
Apart from that: I know F1 Esports might not be just like real racing, but believe me, these guys are fighting just as hard, and the on-track action is just as exciting. Give it a chance, as I will take you along the 2021 F1 Esports season here on Grid Talk.

2020 threw us into uncharted territory with a completely new calendar, with some tracks we hadn’t been in a long time, and this season we still have replacement tracks due to the travel restrictions caused by Covid. So, I thought, what would be my dream calendar to have? So here are my picks for a 20 race season.

Bahrain

Starting the season off in Bahrain as we did in 2021 was what a start it was. I love this track as it has everything a modern f1 track should have! Long straights for DRS, breaking zones where drivers can send it, corners drivers can go side by side, YES PLEASE! We’ve had some superb races in recent years, and back in 2014, Hamilton and Rosberg had an almighty battle in the desert, making this the perfect starting track to kick off my dream calendar.

Malaysia

Sepang is probably one of the tracks I think I miss the most in recent years. Sepang was great for battles with iconic 2 straights that go round the grandstands. For me, this track also reminds me of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull era.

China

This may not be a favourite for everyone, but I really enjoy China! Maybe because it’s one of the tracks I quite like on F1 2020 as it’s one of my better ones, but I think it throws something different into the calendar vs the other tracks.

The Netherlands

Even though we still haven’t seen Zandvoort in action yet, playing it on F1 2020 makes me really excited for it later in the season. It’s an old-style track that will punish drivers when they make mistakes. I think qualifying will be amazing here, too, as it’s tough, and not to mention the Dutch atmosphere will be amazing, meaning it’s a must for me!

Spain

Valencia is my choice of the track as I think there should be a Spanish GP as Circuit de Catalunya, on the whole, isn’t the most action-packed race. There is a lot of love out in Spain, with, of course, Alonso and Sainz really driving the love for the sport out there. The last race in Valencia was in 2012 and was won by Alonso! Unfortunately, the F1 track is now abandoned, so that we won’t be seeing any time soon…

Portugal

The last 2 races at Portimao did not disappoint! The rollercoaster effect of the track brings such a unique feel to it. Drivers also love this track which is exactly what we like to watch as a viewer! Not to mention Portimao isn’t a bad holiday destination either!

Monaco

Monaco stays on the calendar for the Glitz and the Glamour. It may not be the best track due to little overtakes, but qualifying is one if not, the best to watch. Strategy can be fascinating to watch here, too, so for nerds like me, Monaco can be great! And that I have a dream to watch the GP on a yacht to live my best life, but we don’t need to mention I got my invite rejected when a guy found out I am a Liverpool fan, swiftly moving on.

Baku

I love Baku! I think it’s the best street track in terms of racing, and Baku loves to bring the spice!! The race in 2017 lives rent-free, and if you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you do. On top of this, Baku normally provides us with some beauties of radio clips.

Canada

Canada’s weather is somewhat unpredictable, which is fabulous! It provided us with the race of the century in 2011 and good for growing the North American following, too, so it’s on my calendar!

Austria

Austria is one of my favourite tracks and always one I really look forward to. More recently, it has provided some epic racing up and down the grid, especially in 2020. Not to mention the scenery is amazing!

Great Britain

So I may be biased here as a Brit, but Silverstone has to be on the calendar! There is so much heritage to Formula 1 in the UK, with the most successful driver of all time in Lewis Hamilton and the extremely popular Lando Norris and George Russell, with a British atmosphere; it’s just a must! Maggots and Becketts is an amazing set of corners, too, a great asset to the calendar.

Hungary

Hungary is a solid track in the calendar, providing solid races year on year, especially the first corner, allowing drivers to “send it”, as Danny Ric would say! Really great fan track to being in the middle of Budapest, being one of the cheapest tracks to go to!

Belgium

Do I need to say anymore? This is absolutely my favourite track ever! I’ve been 4 times, and I can’t stress enough how I think every F1 fan should go if they have the opportunity. Eau Rouge is just the most beautiful corner with the track in the most scenic place in Belgium. I will stop fangirling now, but I LOVE SPA!

Germany

How we have a 4-time German World Champion and a Schumacher back in F1 and no German GP?! It’s just a crime against F1! In my opinion, there just has to be, and my choice is the Nürburgring. We went here in 2020, and it is a better track than Hockenheim. There is so much love in Germany for the sport, and with so much success with German Drivers and Mercedes, there needs to be a German GP!

Italy

Monza is a dream of mine to visit! The power of Tifosi is just something I would love to experience as their passion and excitement is a joy to watch! Monza also creates great races, with 2020 being a favourite of last season. The drama of qualifying to the overtakes down to DRS all adds to this fantastic race and the best podium too!

Singapore

I have to include Singapore! The night race just brings something so special, especially in qualifying. How difficult it is for the drivers in terms of humidity brings another layer into showing who’s a good driver and who’s a great driver.

Japan

One thing I love about Suzuka is the fans! Japanese fans have so much passion for the sport, which is amazing to watch, and it will be great to see the reception Yuki Tsnouda gets at his home track. It’s a really demanding track showing off drivers’ skills which I enjoy.

USA

This may be an unpopular opinion, but COTA is really up there for me in terms of favourite tracks. I really look forward to coming here every year, and it is great fun on F1 2020. I love Miami as a destination for a track, but so far, I’m not convinced about the layout of the track just yet.

Mexico

I love the grandstand section on the track. It really brings a unique feel to this race and better interaction with fans. Overall, the track is good for racing, and a fan favourite, making it a penultimate track.

Brazil

Finally, the showdown must be in Interlagos. I think it would be a much better end to a season allowing drivers to actual race rather than it being an anti-climax to end the season, with Brazil 2008 showing why it should be the last race of the season. Even in recent years, the racing has been superb, with no one forgetting the 2019 podium or Max Verstappen nearly squaring up to Estaban Ocon a few years ago. Can you tell I like drama!!

Some notable tracks are missing out, but I think this 20 race season would be amazing in terms of great racing! Let me know what you think!

Drama already unfolded even before starting the race as Polesitter Charles Leclerc has experienced some gearbox issues on his out lap. Later on, Ferrari confirmed that he would not be racing this afternoon. This is a hard one to swallow for the Monegasque after claiming pole in his home Grand Prix; however, he will now be on the sidelines.

It’s lights out and away we go in Monaco! 

It’s a good start from Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, and we see a lock-up from Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1. It’s been a somewhat aggressive start from Verstappen, who now has a decent lead over Bottas in the front of the field.  Carlos Sainz also got away very well. According to replays, Bottas had a slightly better start than the Dutchman. He might have been able to cut back on any other track once Verstappen went through him to take the racing line, but not on a street circuit like this. 

We’re going into Lap 2, and all 20 drivers moved up one place after the DNS from Charles Leclerc, and we see Max Verstappen earning the fastest lap. In the top 10, there doesn’t appear to have been much change, but that’s Monaco for you. Nikita Mazepin received the first black and white flag of the race for breaching track limits in Lap 14. He’s crossed the line far too many times. We’re only 16 laps into the race, but another infringement will result in a penalty for the Russian.

Lap 19, and we can hear Verstappen on the team radio saying, “For these tyres, I’m happy.” So far, it seems that everything has gone according to plan for the Dutchman. Not for Norris, who has now been handed a black and white flag.  Lance Stroll launches his Aston Martin over the kerb where Leclerc crashed in Saturday qualifying in Lap 21 but saved it from hitting the barrier just in time.  We’re in Lap 22 when we hear Bottas complain about the left front tyre that seems to be starting to drop. As seen on the AWS tyre condition graphic, Bottas has indeed 20% left of his tyres.  Lap 26 and Max Verstappen sounds very happy again. This time he mentions to be having “Quite a good front end” on the team radio. Something that used to be a problem during the free practices has been improved with the Red Bull. 

Lewis Hamilton is the first to make a pit stop in Lap 30 and made a swift pitstop of 2.2 seconds  Lap 31, and there is a disaster pit stop for Bottas. which causes a lot of chaos.  Three tyres came off easily, but the front right refused to come off. We saw the wheel gun shattering into shards, and the team was unable to remove his tyre, forcing the Finn to retire from the race. Meanwhile, we hear a fuming Lewis Hamilton on the team radio: “I don’t understand, guys. I saved the tyres to go longer, and you made me stop before.

Max Verstappen, the race leader, pits on lap 35. A short two-second stop for the hard tyres there, and it’s all looking quite good for the Dutch Red Bull driver now. Still, in Lap 35, Hamilton dropped two positions by pitting, and he’s just been warned that he’s in threat from Sergio Perez, who is currently leading the race and has some breathing room to extend his lead. Lewis sounds very unhappy. Sergio Perez has finally pitted for a set of hard compound tyres on Lap 36. It’s a smooth stop, and he returns to the track in fourth place. Red Bull is so far experiencing an amazing day, while Mercedes seems to be having a disastrous one.

Now we’re on Lap 50, and things are starting to get interesting. Sainz is putting a lot of pressure on Verstappen, and while the Red Bull still has a three-second lead, the Ferrari has been fast all weekend. Lap 53 and things are getting unfortunate for Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently in P12, as his teammate will lap him. While he begins to get to know his McLaren, it’s not the weekend he expected.  For the Aussie, today is a race to forget after two poles and a win.

Verstappen and Sainz are separated by only 2.7 seconds in Lap 56. This race has felt like a parade from the start, but if the Ferrari keeps up this pace, there could be some surprises near the finish. Lap 58 and Lando Norris just informed the team over the radio that his car is undriveable on these tyres. If this keeps up, he’ll soon have Perez on his tail. The youngster sounds very concerned. Sergio Perez has closed the gap on Norris to four seconds in Lap 61, but that gap isn’t closing fast enough when you consider he has to go past him somewhere.  Unless, of course, the tyres will lose their condition, in which case Norris will be in serious danger.

We’re in Lap 63, and Lance Stroll is under investigation for supposedly failing to maintain his position in the pit lane to the right. After such a strong performance, a time-penalty might be devastating for the Canadian. Carlos Sainz is starting to drop from his position in Lap 65. He’s 7.2 seconds behind Verstappen but might be satisfied with second place today, which would be a fantastic first podium for his new Italian team. Were in Lap 69 and a set of fresh soft tyres for Hamilton. This seems like Mercedes’ acceptance that Hamilton will not finish in the serious points at the front of the field. Therefore he will rather try for the fastest lap bonus point.

The stewards investigated the incident involving Stroll in Lap 70 and concluded that he did not go over to the right side of the pit lane, deciding that the Aston Martin did not break the rules. Meanwhile, in the same lap, Hamilton is about to be lapped by the race leader Max Verstappen. Hamilton has just set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 72. The defending world champion’s gamble to switch to a fresh set of soft tyres might just pay off, though it’s still been a very frustrating afternoon for Mercedes.

Lando Norris appeared to be struggling to keep Perez behind him a few laps ago, but the McLaren has found some more grip and pace and appears ready to finish on the podium. Max Verstappen is now one lap away from winning the Monaco Grand Prix and taking over the Drivers’ Championship lead for the first time this season.  For the Dutchman, it’s been a parade, but he really hasn’t put a foot wrong today. 

A true display of strength from the young driver hoping to help Red Bull win the championship this season. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have had a phenomenal day!  Not only does the Dutchman win in Monaco, but he also takes over the lead in the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career. 

Carlos Sainz comes in second, with Lando Norris completing the podium in third!

Monaco. A Principality, City State, Micro State even. With over 38,000 residents, only 9000 of them being born in and from Monaco, and measuring only 2.1 km2, you would not expect such a small area to be host to one of the richest countries in the world. Monaco is a magical place with casinos, tax dodgers, and opulence that skirts the line to almost being decadent. And it is in Monaco that one of the most prestigious, well known, and oldest Grand Prix races is held. Join Grid Talk as we discuss The History of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Pre-Formula One

The Monaco Grand Prix predates Formula One itself, in fact. Sponsored by Prince Louis II of Monaco, the first Grand Prix was held in 1929. Its existence was originally a means of upgrading the status of the Monaco Automobile Club. In its then-current form, it was classified as a small, regional club. The ACM wanted national status. In order to qualify for such a thing, it needed to be host to a major motoring event. Before 1929, the precursor to the Monaco Grand Prix was ‘The Rally of Monte Carlo’. When the ACM applied to the French authorities for national status in 1928, they were refused because the rally used other countries’ roads. And so, in 1929, they developed the street circuit we all know and love.

That first race was won by William Grover-Williams (no relation to the carmaker of the same name) in a Bugatti Type 35-B. As an invitation-only event, the inaugural Grand Prix had cars from Mercedes, Bugatti (as mentioned), Alfa Romeo, and Maserati, to name a few of them. The race gained Grand Prix status in 1933, and over the years, it grew in stature, becoming a part of the European championship in 1936. Early drivers would become famous, or infamous, in these pre-F1 days, including Rudolf Caracciola, Luigi Fagioli, and Manfred von Brauchitsch. All three of these men competing in the European Championship.

Post War and the Early Days of F1

The first Monaco Grand Prix to be held after World War Two was not until 1948; due to financial constraints. By then, the FIA was formed and had redefined the definition of Grand Prix racing itself. That 1948 race was won by the first Formula One Champion, one Nino Farina. And in 1950, the first year that the modern-day Formula One championship was held, Monaco hosted the first win of Argentine racing driver, and future five-time Formula One World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio.

By the 1960s, Monaco was a fixture of the F1 calendar. It was also during the ’60s that saw the coronation of the man they called ‘The King of Monaco’. Graham Hill won 5 of the races in that decade, with his 1969 win being the last of his Formula One World Championship wins. Other notable winners that decade were fellow F1 champions Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme.

During the 1970s, cars were becoming more powerful, and small tracks were becoming more dangerous. Thanks to the crusade by Jackie Stewart, track safety started becoming more important during the 1970s. Some races were even cancelled due to safety concerns. Monaco, however, survived. The addition of Armco barriers in 1969 ended an era where Grand Prix races in the city-state were only held without additional safety. In a time where cars would often crash, burst into flames, or go into crowds of spectators, or even all three, the crusade for safety was something that needed to happen, Changes to the track in 1972 and 1973, the first in Monaco’s history, were also crucial in increasing driver and spectator safety.

It was also during the 1970s that collective bargaining in Formula One became prevalent. With Monaco by now being a key race in the championship, men such as Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosely (then only acting as team owners) would often come to the FIA and threaten to boycott the Grand Prix if demands were not met. They would also canvas the ACM, who still organised the Monaco Grand Prix (and do so to this day). Specific demands included increasing the number of cars that could compete in Monaco from 18 to 26. Had the ACM not agreed, the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix may have been cancelled.

The Prost vs. Senna era

Moving to the 1980s, Monaco was dominated by two racers. Aryton Senna and Alain Prost. That itself could be the slogan for Formula One during this time period, as both men would be consistently in the world championship picture for those 9 years. Between 1984 and 1993, these two men would win every Monaco Grand Prix, Prost winning his first in 1984, and Senna winning his first in 1987 (the first Monaco Grand Prix won by an automatic). And during this period, Senna would finally take the crown from Graham Hill and become the new King of Monaco. Senna’s dramatic 1993 win of the Monaco Grand Prix saw him win 6 races at that track, despite strong challenges from Alain Prost and the still relatively new but promising driver, Mr M. Schumacher. As of 2021, Senna still holds the most wins at Monaco and retains his rightful place as the King Emeritus of the Monaco Grand Prix.

However, about a year later, in 1994, The King of Monaco was dead. The 1994 Monaco Grand Prix took place two weeks after that tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, which saw Roland Ratzenburger and Aryton Senna both pass away in circumstances that we all wish could have been avoided. The race was notable for another scary crash, though thankfully not one that would be fatal. Karl Wendlinger would crash his Sauber after exiting the tunnel, hitting the wall sideways with considerable force. Wendlinger’s head struck a water-filled barrier within the metal crash barrier. While he would survive, this was pretty much the end of his career.

Monaco: 1996 to now

The last 25 years of Formula One in Monaco have proven to be as dramatic and as noteworthy as the races of the 65 years I covered up to this point. 1996’s Monaco Grand Prix is notorious for finishing with only 3 cars out of the 22 that had qualified for the race (although 7 were classified due to completing 90% of the race or more). The last 25 years have also seen Mr Michael Schumacher win 5 races at Monaco, tying with Graham Hill’s record. A potential 6th victory would have been on the cards during 2006’s Monaco Grand Prix had Schumi not had his times deleted for stopping near the end of qualifying(ostensibly having car failure on the Rascasse Hairpin). Despite an appeal, the FIA ordered him to start from 22nd.

However, my favourite memory of Monaco? When Kimi Raikkonen retired his McLaren during the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, what do you think he did? Did he walk back to the paddock, tail between his legs? No, he walked away from the track, got onto his yacht, and proceeded to party with his friends. Legendary.

During 2020, for the first time since 1954, we saw the Monaco Grand Prix not run as part of the F1 calendar, due to its COVID 19 related cancellation. We will be seeing our first race back at Monaco this Sunday

What about the Future?

Nelson Piquet once famously said that driving a Formula One car around the Monaco circuit was like riding a bicycle around your living room. However, a victory at Monaco was worth two victories anywhere else. And this rings true. Honestly, for today’s Formula One cars, with them being so fast, so powerful, so aggressive, a track like Monaco is not suited for them. However, that has been the case for many years now. Monaco’s status as a premier track is solely based on its history and heritage and being such an anachronism.

Its status as one of the premier races to be a part of makes it a part of the holy trinity that is ‘The Triple Crown of motor racing. Should you win the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Manns, and the Indy 500, you would achieve this feat. Only one racing driver has, and that was Graham Hill, with Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso both tied at winning two of the three races in the crown, respectively. Not even Michael Schumacher attempted the Triple crown.

What will the future be for Monaco, however? Despite its quirks and anachronisms, I don’t want to see it go from Formula One. The sight of an F1 car racing through the normal roads of a principality, with spectators watching from boats and yachts, is special. It’s too big to go now.

It’s lights out, and away we go! Max Verstappen got the better start than pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and passed the 7-time World Champion into Turn One with a golden overtake move on the inside. All twenty drivers made it safely through the first corner; meanwhile, Charles Leclerc made it past Valtteri Bottas and made it into third place.

It’s Lap 5, and the stewards are putting Pierre Gasly under investigation, who seemed to be out of position at the start of the race. Verstappen built a half-second lead over Hamilton in the first few laps, but the Mercedes is doing better by a tenth or two out of the Dutchman’s time, and we see Lewis earning the fastest lap. We hear Yuki Tsunoda on his team radio Lap 8 say on “Engine’s stopped, engine’s stopped,” Later on, we can see on the replay footage that the display on the steering wheel turned off, which can be signs of a gearbox problem. Due to that, the Safety Car is deployed. 

During the Safety Car, many pitstops occur, with the most shocking one coming from Antonio Giovinazzi on Lap 10. It appeared that the pit crew delivered empty tyres, which made it impossible to assemble them on the car. Meanwhile, we see a decent double pitstop coming from Williams, and both drivers switch to the medium tyres.

It’s Lap 11 and the Safety Car is back in, it’s now up to Max Verstappen to determine the pace of the restart. In the last chicane Max decided to increase with full speed. The Safety Car seems to have had no effect on the Dutchman’s Red Bull. Pierre Gasly is no longer under investigation, instead, he has been given a five-second time penalty for being out of place at the start. Since this is a data-driven decision, the stewards had an easier time coming to a conclusion.

Tyre concerns with Max Verstappen as we can see him having a clearly blistered right rear tyre. Replays of Hamilton’s car reveal that his right rear tyre is suffering from severe blistering as well. In true Hamilton style, he sets a new fastest lap during Lap 21 as the Mercedes improved a tenth or two off Verstappen’s time, while the Red Bull appears quite happy to keep the reigning World Champion out of the DRS range. We’re on Lap 23, and Gasly has taken his 5-second penalty and drops to P19. 

Mercedes was the first to act with a pitstop for Bottas on Lap 25, and the Finn has rejoined the race in clear air. Lap 26 and Verstappen is into the pits just as Hamilton was closing the gap on the race leader. Max can’t be too happy about this one as it was a prolonged stop from Red Bull and very unusual for the team as it was 4.2 seconds. It appeared to be a last-minute call.

Sergio Perez, who has yet to pit, cleared the way for Verstappen, who has already done so. Hamilton has been insisting to Bono on the team radio that his tyres are in good shape and that he wants to stay out. We can also hear that Toto has been complaining to the FIA race control about Hamilton’s time loss to Mazepin ignoring blue flags on the radio. 

Hamilton makes a successful 2.7-second pit stop on Lap 29, but Verstappen is safe as he passes while Hamilton is still in the pit lane. On the other hand, Hamilton is now on the newer tyres, but Verstappen still has the Fastest Lap on his name since Lap 28. So, it seems Mercedes’ strategy is to ensure Hamilton has more traction at the end of the race when Verstappen is expected to struggle.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton earned the Fastest Lap after his pitstop in Lap 31. We’re now on Lap 34, and the leaders have passed through the back of the field with Nikita Mazepin once again being accused of causing traffic, which seems to have helped Hamilton, who is now within DRS range of race leader Verstappen. Lando Norris has had a tough time so far, but he’s now in ninth place after passing Alonso on Lap 39 while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo is on track for a good fifth-place finish. 

While Max Verstappen complains about the lack of grip, it’s in Lap 42 to see Hamilton making another pitstop. Mercedes made a bold strategic move by doing so. They decide to bring Hamilton in just as he was approaching Verstappen. He’s now on a set of extra mediums.

It’s Lap 43; right after Hamilton’s pitstop, we can hear Verstappen’s race-engineer Gianpiero Lambiase on the team radio: “At this rate, they’re going to catch us in the last lap” Meanwhile, it appears that Max stays out and will try a different strategy. As Hamilton asks to be informed of the gap to Verstappen on Lap 44, Bono reminds him, “Currently 22 seconds; you’ve done it before.”

It’s Lap 46, and we hear the following on the team radio: “I don’t see how we’re going to take this to the end”, Verstappen says. It’s for the first time this season; Verstappen sounds so disappointed. According to the informative AWS graphics, Hamilton’s newer set of tyres is giving him concern, but within the next 10 laps, the World Champion will be within striking distance of the Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton is behind Bottas in Lap 55 and has the advantage in terms of race speed. Hamilton is attempting to overtake his teammate, but Bottas is refusing to cooperate. At Turn 10, Hamilton dives past his teammate on the inside. That was not part of a team order; the Finn refused to let Hamilton pass him by earlier. 

Lap 54 and Bottas make a pit stop, and the Finn will challenge for the fastest lap point. Two laps later, we see Bottas earning the Fastest Lap as a result.

With 10 laps to go, we can see on the AWS system that Hamilton will be within striking distance of Verstappen in nine laps. Verstappen and Hamilton are now separated by just over a half-second on Lap 59. Keep in mind that Hamilton rejoined the race 22 seconds behind Red Bull when he pitted for the second time. It seems like the pace isn’t there for the Dutchman. What we thought was coming becomes a reality; Hamilton passes Verstappen into turn one and takes the lead of the race. 

It’s Lap 56, and Pierre Gasly has moved up to the tenth position. The AlphaTauri, had a close touch with Lance Stroll while braking, but it doesn’t matter for the Frenchman as he’s now into the points. That would be a good outcome for Alpha Tauri after Tsuonoda’s early retirement.

With Hamilton out of the picture, Red Bull has pitted Verstappen a second time to move him to fresher tyres in the hope of winning the fastest lap bonus point, a move that wasn’t a part of the original strategy. 

The chequered flag is waved as Hamilton is the first to cross the finish line after leading the race for the last 12 laps. For the fifth time in a row, the reigning World Champion wins the Spanish Grand Prix, extending his lead in the drivers’ standings. 

There’s no denial that Mercedes’ strategy was spot on, and it was the decisive factor. Verstappen made his pit stop in second position just in time to get the bonus point for the Fastest Lap. 

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes, you can be absolutely great at something and come close to being the best in your preferred field, but someone else always beats you by a hair. That’s just a life thing, and it happens a lot in Formula One. F1 has produced some legendary drivers, and some of the best go on to win one or multiple championships. Some of the best that is. I asked some of the GridTalk team to come up with a few suggestions of these drivers, so a big thanks to Mile, Charley, and Aimee for providing some of the suggestions. . For one reason or another, bad cars, poor decisions off the grid, or just bad luck, there are F1 drivers, past and present, who were champions that never were. Join us as we look at some of these racers.

Honourable Mentions

There are two people who I did consider but who ultimately didn’t cut it for this list. The criteria for this list is retired F1 drivers who, despite doing their best, never won a title. The people who I am not considering are drivers like Daniel Riccardo. He’s still an active racer, even though he’s sniffed gold before, despite never tasting it. Then there are one time champions, who could, and arguably should, have won more. People like Kimi Raikkonen, and Jaques Vielleneuve. Both men did win but could have gotten more. That latter category probably deserves its own list, so comment below if you want to see that.

1) BMW Williams Racing (2003)

Starting with a constructor. Did you think I was only going to talk about drivers? The Williams FW25 was a monster of a car, with its 10v BMW engine and the skilled drivers, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher. The team did have a lot of success in 2003. 4 wins, 4 poles, and 4 fastest laps. And, when the drivers weren’t winning, they were consistently on the podium or in the Top 10. The Williams FW25 came second in the constructor’s championship, its best result since 1997.

But what went wrong? A spin during the Australian Grand Prix by Montoya didn’t help or retire during the last race of the season. What really killed BMW Williams’ momentum was a complaint by Bridgestone and Ferrari about its tires. The Michelin tyres, used by BMW Williams, were technically wider than the oppositions. The narrower tyres helped knock the competitive edge off the cars. Incidentally, Montoya came third in the championship and Schumacher fifth.

2) Didier Pironi (1982)

The French driver raced in Formula One for four years. Initially racing with the underfunded Tyrrell Racing, who snatched him up, based on his performances in Formula Three, and his association with Elf. Following two seasons with Tyrrell, Pironi moved to Ligier Racing, where he got his first victory in 1980, and from 1981, Ferrari. It was 1982, In what was already a pretty sad season, after the death of Giles Villeneuve, when Pironi became a serious championship competitor. During the 1982 Formula One season, Pironi was leading the championship. By the German Grand Prix, he had 39 points, ahead of both McLaren’s John Watson and Keke Rosberg, racing for Williams.

The German Grand Prix was wet, so the ground force produced by the cars on such a wet track meant that cars right in front of you were pretty much invisible. During qualifying, Pironi crashed into the rear of Alain Prost’s Renault, sustaining injuries that would end his career in Formula One for good. That championship was eventually won by Keke Rosberg, relegating Pironi to second. However, his efforts did help Ferrari clinch the 1982 Constructor’s Championship.

3) Mark Webber (2010)

Mark Webber was always the bridesmaid but never the blushing bride he should have been. The Australian driver drove for Minardi, Jaguar, Williams, and finally, Red Bull. It was there he became the serious competitor we knew and loved in Formula One. The driver came so close to winning the Drivers’ Championship in 2010. However, a botched tyre strategy ruined his chances at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ultimately, he came second in 2010, behind the ascending Sebastian Vettel. The favouritism towards Vettel caused tension in the paddock, though Webber never blamed Seb for this. One hopes, in a parallel Earth, Webber was treated respectfully by his team and did win in 2010. Ultimately, he just missed out, and we missed out on a well-deserving champion.

4) Jacky Ickx (1969 and 1970)

Not just a one time almost champion, but a two time almost champion. Ickx was a great racer. The 6 time Le Manns 24 Hour champion certainly was a great racer and proved that winning the Formula One World Champion isn’t the be-all and end-all of what makes a racer great. As it goes, Ickx very nearly was the World Champion twice. His first near-win was in 1969, with Brabham. A shaky start at the beginning of the season meant that he started poorly. However, once Jack Brabham had to retire from the season due to a broken foot, his team came behind him. He scored some decent podium finishes and the odd win that brought him behind Jacky Stewart. However, his 2nd place in Mexico made him runner up for the F1 World Championship.

1970, however, was a different kettle of fish. Now racing for Ferrari, he battled with Jochen Rindt for the championship. After an accident at the Spanish Grand Prix gave him severe burns to his legs, he returned to action in Monaco, where he came fifth. However, things changed when Rindt died in Monza during qualifying for the 1970 San Marino Grand Prix. By this point, Ickx won 5 out of 9 races that season, with 4 to go. He was the only man who could have surpassed Rindt’s point count. In the end, he didn’t. A win at Mexico didn’t help him surpass Rindt’s total point score, making Rindt the first and only posthumous World Champion of F1.

In 2011, Ickx admitted he was happy not to win that season against a man who couldn’t defend himself. While he lost the championship, he certainly won for Sportsmanship.

5) Felipe Massa (2008)

Massa was Ferrari’s next big thing. After the dominance with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello between 2000-2005, Ferrari looked to the future with its two drivers. Kimi Raikkonen’s win of the 2007 World Championship showed a bright future for the Tifosi to look forward to. And, maybe, that future could have been shared with Massa.

Massa’s performance during the 2008 season was neck and neck with Lewis Hamilton, the then young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed McLaren hopeful who was runner up in 2007. Massa’s six race wins that season to Hamilton’s five wins certainly made this championship fight tight. There really wasn’t a lot in it, and when it came down to the last race of the season, in Brazil. Massa needed not only to win that race, but he needed Hamilton to come Sixth or lower to win the Championship. Half of that actually happened. I remember watching this race with my Dad, and I can remember the drama of this one. Massa crossed the finish line first before cutting to the paddock, with Massa’s family cheering, the engineers hugging and high fiving. Then, like a great white shark, we cut to Hamilton’s overtaking of Timo Glock. Hamilton came fifth and won the title by a single point.

The podium after that was awkward, to say the least. It was a bittersweet victory for the Tifosi, Massa, his family, and Brazil. His 2008 near-win was followed by further bad luck in 2009, when Massa was hit with a piece of debris, causing a crash, and head injury, which wrote him off for that season.

6) Clay Regazzoni (1974)

Clay Regazzoni came second in the 1974 Formula One World Championship, behind Emerson Fittipaldi. Losing the title by only 4 points, Regazzoni’s runner up position was achieved because of one race: The 1974 Belgian Grand Prix. During that race, the Ferrari driver’s pole position put him in the lead to start with, with Fittipaldi in Fourth place. The race was tight. The top six were each hot on the heels of each other, with Regazzoni in the lead. His lead would end due to one error: ‘The pair scythed through the traffic which ultimately destroyed hopes of a fight for the lead. The victim would be Regazzoni, who misjudged a move on the recovering Pace and ran onto the grass, allowing Fittipaldi to charge through into the lead’.

Regazzoni would come fourth, and Fittipaldi coming first. Ultimately, that mistake cost him the points that would have given Regazzoni the lead, and ultimately, the championship.

7) David Coulthard (2001)

How could we not discuss Coulthard? That man was Mark Webber before Mark Webber. Heck, he even raced with Mark Webber in Red Bull! DC was the number two for too much of his career. Starting in Williams, after the death of Aryton Senna in 1994, he moved to McLaren in 1996 and stayed with the team up until 2004. And, as I said, he was number two for a good chunk of his career. Firstly, to Damon Hill, who became the number one driver in the aftermath of Senna’s death. Then, to Mika Hakkinen in McLaren.

However, by 2001, Hakkinen was burnt out and wanted to leave F1. His performance, compared to Coulthard’s, was not good. Crashes, retirements, and poor placement on the grid meant Hakkinen’s title challenge to Michael Schumacher was doomed. Conversely, Coulthard did well. Winning in Brazil and Austria. However, retirements in four races meant that the momentum he had gained had begun to slow down. Schumacher won the title, with Coulthard being 58 points behind.

Ultimately, throughout his career, Coulthard won 13 races and was almost always the number two driver, or stuck in a bad car, a la Red Bull in 2005-2007.

8) Sir Stirling Moss (1955-1961)

How could we not end this list on the most obvious man? Sir Stirling Moss. There frankly is nothing new I could add to the mountains of articles, interviews, TV documentaries, and films about this man—the Four Time Runner Up and Three-Time 3rd Placer in the F1 World Championship between 1955 to 1961. Look him up yourself because the man is a British hero. His stiff upper lip attitude and perseverance are why we hail him as a hero over here. We knighted him despite his lack of championships.

Conclusion

Formula One is a funny old sport. Lots of great athletes, fantastic racers, and excellent cars that all could have been champions but were beaten out by other teams. It just goes to show that life is unfair, sometimes. However, you either relish your misery or take it on the chin and stand up again. These racers all are champions in our minds and hearts. And if there is any we missed out on, let us know who we should consider because we may always revisit the champions that never were.

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