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Formula 1: Breakout Stars and Flops of 2021 So Far


Formula 1: Breakout Stars and Flops of 2021 So Far

The current 2021 Formula 1 season has been quite a fun one, with Max Verstappen finally posing a serious threat to Lewis Hamilton’s years-long dominance.

But aside from that exciting and competitive race for the drivers’ championship, this season has also seen a couple of new stars finally breaking out with terrific performances in the first few races of the season.

On the other hand, though, there have also been a few drivers who were much-hyped at the start of the season but have flopped thus far.

So read on below as SBOTOP takes a close look at both those breakout stars and the disappointing flops of the current Formula 1 season.

The Stars – Sergio Perez & Lando Norris

After a decade of being a solid and dependable Formula 1 driver, Sergio Perez is finally making the jump to stardom this year. The 31-year-old took over for Alex Albon – a potential star who has not quite hit his full potential – as Max Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull this season. And while the Dutchman is off dominating the drivers’ championship, Perez is more than holding his own.

Perez admittedly had a slow start to the season, but things finally began to turn around when he defied the Formula 1 2021 odds by winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – his second career victory – after Verstappen retired late. He then followed that up with a third-place finish in France.

Perez is currently third in the drivers’ standings behind Verstappen and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton. And thanks to his success, Red Bull have also built up a sizable lead over Mercedes in the constructor’s standings.

And directly behind Perez is McLaren’s Lando Norris, who is also breaking out and having his best season to date in F1.

After having just one podium finish in his first two seasons, the 21-year-old Norris has three already through nine races. That includes a third-place finish in the most recent Austrian Grand Prix, his second straight podium finish at the Red Bull Ring.

Moreover, Norris’ Formula 1 2021 results have been remarkably consistent; he is the only driver who has picked up at least a point in all nine races thus far.

With his undoubted driving ability, coupled with his charismatic personality as he often displays on his social media, Norris is seemingly the complete package who looks set to be one of F1’s top stars for years to come.

The Flops – Daniel Ricciardo & Nikita Mazepin

Norris’ impressive rise has coincided with teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s continued decline. The Aussie was brought in to replace Carlos Sainz, who moved to Ferrari, as their lead driver this season. But instead, he has been consistently off the pace and outperformed by his younger teammate.

Through nine races, Ricciardo has a mere 40 points to Norris’ 101, and has come nowhere close to a podium finish; his best finish to date has been sixth on three different occasions.

McLaren are disappointed in Ricciardo’s performances thus far, and deservedly so. The 32-year-old possesses a ton of talent and experience, with seven career wins and 31 podium finishes to his name. He was even touted as a future world champion.

However, his star has been on the wane ever since his disappointing stint at Renault, and the early returns at McLaren have not been particularly promising.

But it has been even worse for Haas’ Nikita Mazepin, who has been quite a disaster in every sense of the word during his debut season.

The 22-year-old Russian rookie is perhaps the most unpopular driver on the grid, and has already clashed with other drivers because of his poor and reckless driving. That list including fellow rookie and teammate Mick Schumacher because of a last-lap incident in Azerbaijan.

Schumacher has consistently outperformed Mazepin race after race. To make matters even worse, Mazepin has pinned the blame on his poor pace on the team for giving him what he alleges to be a heavier car.

Unlike Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda, who has had similar outbursts, Mazepin has not shown the sort of ability and potential for stardom that the AlphaTauri driver has, which makes his aggressive attitude even more unearned.

On any other team, Mazepin would probably be long gone by now based on his awful performances this season. But because Mazepin’s father’s company is a sponsor of the AlphaTauri team, Nikita’s seat appears to be safe for the foreseeable future despite the fact that he has been an unmitigated flop.

 

 

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