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The 10 most surprising moments of the 2021 F1 season so far

Across the first 11 rounds, the 2021 Formula 1 season has been a thriller. It's also thrown up plenty of surprises. RacingNews365.com takes a look at some of these standout moments...

It's been a long time since Formula 1 has produced a rollercoaster run of races, but that all changed this year after the first 11 rounds of the 2021 F1 season. Half of the grid have been on the podium and nearly every race featured a moment that surprised or shocked the world of F1.

A true title fight

Many people thought 2021 would see the continuation of Mercedes' dominance in F1's turbo-hybrid era. But Red Bull came flying out of the blocks and have been a match for the mighty Mercedes at every event so far. The Bahrain Grand Prix set the tone for the rest of the season as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went head to head in a race-long battle. Since Verstappen was forced to hand back the lead of the race in Sakhir, for an illegal overtake, Mercedes and Red Bull have been slugging it out every weekend with the sport's top two drivers going wheel-to-wheel in the opening four races.

Russell and Bottas collide

An incident fresh in our memory is the clash between George Russell and Valtteri Bottas at Imola. Russell attempted an overtake on Bottas after getting a run along the main straight, but touched the wet white line and speared into the side of the Mercedes driver at around 320km/h. Both drivers hit the tyre barriers hard, causing a red flag, and there was a heated exchange when a furious Russell slapped Bottas on the helmet.

Norris' incredible form

The Emilia Romagna GP also saw Lando Norris claim his first of three podiums in the first half of the season. Prior to Budapest, Norris was the only driver to have scored points at every race and, from a driver who was under pressure to have a big year, he has delivered in abundance. He's driving better than ever and his relentless consistency to beat teammate Daniel Ricciardo, often by a big margin, has been remarkable.

Leclerc's pole positions

Ferrari entered 2021 on the back of their worst season in F1 for 40 years. Their improvement has been very impressive and Charles Leclerc's performance to take pole position at the Monaco and Azerbaijan Grand Prix was incredible. To do it on two street circuits reaffirmed Leclerc's driver skill to push the limits of the cars without finding the barriers, although he did crash on his way to pole position in Monaco. Ferrari have also had three podiums so far in 2021, the first coming in Monte Carlo with Carlos Sainz before Leclerc came close to winning the British GP. Sainz was also promoted to the top three last time out in Hungary, following Vettel's disqualification, having started from 15th on the grid.

Hamilton's mistakes

The seven-time World Champion has not been at his best in the first half of the season, with small errors in high-pressure situations. Hamilton skidded off the road at Imola when chasing Verstappen and lost the race win in Baku when he flicked the brake magic button on his steering wheel on the standing start restart , causing his front brakes to lockup immediately as he fell to the back of the field. The stewards deemed his clash with Verstappen at Silverstone to be his fault too, so it's certainly not been vintage Hamilton so far this year, despite his eight-point lead in the Drivers' Championship.

Verstappen's tyre blowout

Hamilton had the opportunity to win the Azerbaijan GP after Verstappen's spectacular tyre blowout on the main straight, which was the second of its kind in Baku, following Lance Stroll's earlier tyre failure. Verstappen was just five laps away from winning the race as 25 points disappeared instantly. The incident did offer some opportunities for other drivers, though.

Vettel's and Gasly's podiums

The chaos in Azerbaijan saw Sergio Perez win his first race for Red Bull, whilst Sebastian Vettel took a shock second place for Aston Martin. Pierre Gasly was involved in a titanic battle with Charles Leclerc at the end of the Grand Prix, coming out on top to take the third podium of his F1 career. From a relatively normal race, the final stages of the race in Baku were manic.

Russell makes it to Q3

George Russell has produced some sensational qualifying laps and he came 0.008 of a second away from making the final part of qualifying at the Styrian Grand Prix for Williams. However, he managed to get on the right side of the clock one week later at the Red Bull Ring and remarkably did it once again two weeks later at Silverstone to make it back-to-back Q3 appearances. During his Q3 run at the British GP, Russell had the track to himself and was cheered all the way around his lap on a beautiful Friday evening to start the Sprint Race in eighth place.

Ocon's wonderful win

Esteban Ocon went through a difficult period during F1's triple-header but he came into the Hungarian GP in a confident mood after a much-improved Silverstone weekend. A crazy Turn 1 saw most of the frontrunners out of contention and Ocon found himself in the lead of the race when Hamilton opted not to pit for dry tyres at the end of the formation lap for the standing start restart. Despite having the pressure of a four-time World Champion behind him for over 60 laps, Ocon did not put a foot wrong and won his maiden Grand Prix with a brilliant drive .

Latifi scores points

Also in Hungary, Williams had an equally incredible double points finish with Nicholas Latifi scoring by far the best result of his F1 career in seventh place with George Russell in eighth. Williams took advantage of misfortune and incidents across the field to bring huge joy to the team after a very difficult two years. Even though we're only at the halfway mark of the season, F1 in 2021 has already had everything you could hope for. Let us know what you think has been the biggest surprise of the year so far.

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