Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have produced some of their best driving in the opening chapters of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship. Every round has felt like a war as the battle between Mercedes and Red Bull continues to intensify.
It’s Verstappen who leads the way in the Drivers’ Championship with a four-point lead over Hamilton. Red Bull are at the top of the Constructors’ Standings with a 26-point advantage to Mercedes.
The opening four events saw Hamilton and Verstappen go wheel to wheel whilst the most recent races in Monaco and Azerbaijan has seen the pendulum swing many times in the race for the title.
RacingNews365.com takes a look at the mistakes Hamilton and Verstappen have made so far after six rounds.
Round 1: Bahrain GP
The season-opener set the tone for what was to come. Verstappen and Hamilton lined up on the front row of the grid and went toe to toe over 56 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit.
Both drivers were right on the limit but it was Hamilton who came out on top, making the most of the FIA's grey area surround track limits by going out wide at Turn 4 in the first half of the race.
However, Verstappen still had an opportunity to win in Bahrain as he went around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 4 in the closing stages. He had the move done until a kick of oversteer put him off the track, meaning he had to give the position back.
It was a small error when it mattered most, as is the case for most of the mistakes later in this article.
Round 2: Emilia Romagna GP
A sloppy qualifying from Verstappen in Imola saw teammate Sergio Perez outqualify the Dutchman as Hamilton took a surprise pole position.
However, Verstappen made up for it almost instantly with a stunning start to take the inside line in wet conditions to lead the race after the first chicane, having braked super late to edge Hamilton off the track.
The big moment came at the halfway mark of the Emilia Romagna GP when Hamilton was closing in on race leader Verstappen, only to make an uncharacteristic mistake at the Tosa hairpin.
Hamilton was lapping Williams' George Russell and went onto the wet part of the track on dry tyres which meant he simply locked up and went of the track.
The seven-time world champion managed to reverse out and was ironically saved by Russell who had a high-speed collision with Valtteri Bottas to bring out a safety car and red flag. Hamilton produced a brilliant comeback drive to finish second.
Round 3: Portuguese GP
Mercedes had the better car in Portimao but they were far from their superior best which gave Verstappen an opportunity to capitalise. Verstappen set a time in Q3 that was quick enough for pole position but made a mistake by running wide at Turn 4 to have his lap time deleted.
A poor safety car restart early in the race from Hamilton saw Verstappen overtake the Mercedes driver but Verstappen made a small error himself when chasing Bottas which allowed Hamilton to get back past.
Perhaps Hamilton was going to overtake Verstappen anyway, or maybe a perfect weekend from the Red Bull driver could have seen him on the top step of the podium.
Round 4: Spanish GP
Similarly to Bahrain, the championship protagonists were in a league of their own. Just 0.036 seconds split Hamilton and Verstappen as the defending champion took his 100th career pole position.
Verstappen made a remarkable overtake at the start of the race and from there, neither driver put a foot wrong. Maybe, Verstappen could have driven a little more slowly to save his tyres and back up the pack to limit Hamilton's strategic options but other than that, both drivers were exemplary.
Round 5: Monaco GP
There were no mistakes as such from either driver at the Monaco GP but Hamilton's inability to find the right tyre window was a surprise, especially when Bottas fared significantly better on the C5 Pirelli tyres.
In the race, Mercedes got the strategy wrong but it ultimately all came from Hamilton's poor qualifying when he started the Grand Prix down in seventh.
Round 6: Azerbaijan GP
In a similar-fashion to Monaco, Verstappen failed to get the most out of his first Q3 run and was unfortunate that the session ended early due to red flags. However, there is always a high danger of an anti-climatic qualifying on a street circuit.
But, Verstappen was at his absolute best in the race before a dramatic tyre blowout put him out of the race.
It looked like Hamilton was going to retake the championship lead having lost the top spot to Verstappen after Monaco. But, Hamilton made a very costly error on the standing start restart when he flicked the 'magic' button which moves the brake bias all the way to the front.
This caused Hamilton to lockup as he went straight on, having momentarily taken the lead. A gut wrenching moment for Hamilton whilst Verstappen was relieved to retain his place at the top of the standings.
Who has made more mistakes
Verstappen has made a series of small mistakes and is yet to have the perfect weekend. However, he has been able to bounce back from these errors brilliantly.
Meanwhile, Hamilton has had the luck on his side. The Bottas and Russell accident saved his Imola race and Verstappen's tyre blowout meant Verstappen missed out on the chance to extend his lead in the championship by a further 10 points.
Hamilton's errors have had bigger consequences and it's been surprising to see F1's most successful driver make so many mistakes.
With such a close championship, these small miscalculations or blunders could prove very costly and it's vital that Hamilton and Verstappen execute every weekend to maximise their results.
The pressure will only increase so expect more frailties to appear in the coming races.