In many ways, the 2021 Formula 1 season was a fluke.
Perhaps the finest championship battle of all time was decided in a manner which will forever divide as Max Verstappen wrestled the title from Lewis Hamilton, who for so long was 'the man to beat.'
That night in Abu Dhabi was symbolic as Hamilton's grip from the crown was never going to be relinquished quietly. It had to be yanked from his grasp as the next great in the line of succession that stretches back to Fangio and Clark to Stewart and Senna took his place on the throne.
"The King is dead; long live the King!"
Verstappen placed the full stop on the Hamilton era as Hamilton did to Michael Schumacher. It is extremely unlikely that Hamilton will ever scale the heights of 2014-2020 again in the remainder of his career when that new Mercedes contract is finally signed.
Since Abu Dhabi, Verstappen has won 25 Grands Prix of the 34 held, finished second three times and has a third place.
He has finished seventh (twice) more times than that sole P3 in the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix.
And in 2023, he is on the cusp of one of the greatest seasons by any sportsperson in any sport in any era.
But as Mika Hakkinen exclusively told RacingNews365 that is just "motor racing."
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Verstappen's dominance and Hakkinen's comments
Up until the 2023 summer break, 12 Grands Prix have been held and Verstappen has won 10 of them and finished second in the other two.
He's also won two of the three Sprints for good measure.
Of the 336 points on offer, he has claimed 314 of them for a strike rate of 93.45%. From when this run of eight straight wins began in Miami, 214 points have been possible.
Verstappen has taken 211 of them, only missing the fastest lap in Monaco, Canada and Belgium.
"All the time he is raising his personal limits and his performance, which is great, but of course, when fans who are not fans of Max are looking, they think it is boring, but the fans of Max think it is the best thing," Hakkinen told RacingNews365.
"Max is a winner at the moment, Red Bull is a winner at the moment and this is motor racing.
"Is it going to last forever? No, because that's how history repeats itself."
The two-time World Champion is spot on in his assessment.
In the Schumacher heyday or the Hamilton era, at times, the dominance, the wins, the titles seemed robotic but it is just what happens when one team is so far above the rest both technically and operationally.
Yes, the RB19 is a work of art and if it does go on to win every Grand Prix this season will go down as the greatest F1 car, but it still needs to be driven. Just because race wins are within reach doesn't entitle it to win them.
There might be more races for Verstappen to win these days owing to the extended calendars - but he's still got to go out and win them.
Look at Sergio Perez - he has been unable to match Verstappen in the same machinery as was the case with Rubens Barrichello and Valtteri Bottas before him.
It is just the cycle of Grand Prix racing where one team steals such an advantage over the pack that the rest are busy fighting amongst themselves for the scraps while the dominant squad clean house.
Throw in the fact that there is not a sharper team trackside in the pitlane than Christian Horner's outfit and it makes for a potent combination.
It might seem easy for Red Bull but this is the white-hot environment of elite sport.
It is far from easy but that is not the problem of Red Bull. They've just done the best possible job they can and have found themselves leaving the others for dust.
That is the problem, and responsibility of Mercedes and Ferrari in particular.
These are the two behemoths that are currently being given the what for by what Horner likes to remind us is the marketing arm of a "fizzy energy drink."
But what does this have to do with 2021?
Just the way things are
In short, 2021 created an unrealistic notion of what Grand Prix racing is.
Seasons like that come about once in a generation with two cars and drivers as equal as is possible to be.
Coupled with finally cracking the American enigma that had puzzled Grand Prix racing since the earliest days of the World Championship and the thrilling on-track battles, newer eyeballs and fans would perhaps expect every season to be like that.
The easy bit was done in getting the eyeballs onto the product in the first place, but the hard bit is retaining them. How exactly do you square Verstappen's dominance and keep casual viewers interested when the advantage is likely to be locked in until the end of the current rules cycle in 2025?
Granted, Verstappen's dominance is on a level higher than that of Schumacher or Hamilton, but at the end of the day this is just the latest cycle that has been the rule rather than the exception in F1.
2021 was firmly the exception.
Who do you think would win if Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were Formula 1 teammates at Red Bull? Let us know in the comments and by voting in the poll below!