The Formula 1 season comes to a dramatic conclusion with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crowned world champion.
by Natalie Gagliordi | December 2021
The 2021 Formula 1 racing season has wrapped, and this year’s championship battle between Red Bull Racing Honda’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was one for the ages. Throughout the 22-race calendar this season, Hamilton and Verstappen took turns atop the podium and leaderboard, going toe-to-toe until the final showdown in Abu Dhabi, which saw Verstappen officially crowned as the F1 World Champion for 2021. For the Red Bull Racing Honda team, the 2021 season was marked by spectacular feats of speed, performance, and technology, and Oracle was glad to join forces as the team’s official cloud partner. Red Bull Racing Honda has been an incredible partner, and we wanted to take a moment to look back at their incredible 2021 season.
Days before the start of the 2021 race season, Red Bull Racing Honda and Oracle announced a new collaboration designed to advance the use of data science and analytics across the team. Red Bull Racing, a four-time Formula 1 World Constructors’ Champion team, tapped Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to leverage cutting-edge machine learning and artificial intelligence technology across its business—from the back office to the racetrack. The team also turned to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to support its engineering operation on the Red Bull Technology Campus, providing new resources and access to data. “Our engineers are absolutely eager in anticipation to get access to more of Oracle’s suite of tools and technology and simulation capability,” said Christian Horner, CEO and team principal of Red Bull Racing Honda.
Red Bull Racing’s 2021 F1 season got off to dramatic start. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen traded places atop the podium with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton several times—before notching five consecutive midseason wins from the Monaco Grand Prix (GP) to the Austrian GP. Verstappen emerged as a credible challenger to unseat Hamilton, who was going for a record-breaking eighth world championship win after claiming four straight titles from 2017 to 2020. The rivalry between the two drivers dominated the 2021 season, as the drivers edged one another out in a series of grand prix races across the globe. “It'd be fantastic to see the challenge all the way through to the end of the year,” Horner said.
To foster an even stronger relationship with its fans, Red Bull Racing Honda launched The Red Bull Racing Paddock, a new loyalty program within Formula 1 racing that offers fans a unique, personalized experience designed to bring the race action up close and incentivize engagement. The Paddock is the first fan-focused initiative to come from Oracle and Red Bull Racing Honda, with more efforts in the works to create exciting experiences for Red Bull Racing Honda’s passionate fanbase. “The fans are often overlooked, and we want to know who our fans are, we want to know what they’re interested in, and we want to be able to give them an insight that they can’t get anywhere else,” said Horner.
The French GP held at Circuit Paul Ricard in June ended with a thrilling win for Verstappen after the driver landed his second pole of the season and overtook Hamilton on the penultimate lap, securing a 12-point championship lead (including a bonus point for fastest lap) and Red Bull Racing's third victory in a row. Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez also claimed a podium position when he pulled ahead of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in the final laps, marking Red Bull Racing’s first double podium finish of the season.
At the first Dutch GP since 1985, hometown favorite Verstappen won a hard-fought race to regain the championship lead from Hamilton. Verstappen started the race on pole ahead of Hamilton and translated the slight advantage into a strong race performance that saw Verstappen gain a more than one second lead over Hamilton in the first lap. The victory, Verstappen's seventh of the season, was met with an explosion of orange flares in the grandstands and raucous applause from the 70,000-strong Zandvoort crowd, which included the king and royal family of the Netherlands.
For the first time in F1 since 1974, the top two championship contenders headed into the final round absolutely level on points, both determined to claim the chequered flag at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen and Hamilton’s season-long battle attracted the attention of new and existing fans worldwide and elevated the sport of Formula 1 to a new level of popularity. In what turned out to be one of the most climactic races in F1 history, Verstappen clinched his first F1 title victory after passing Hamilton on the final lap of the race. Verstappen’s win caps off an extraordinary 2021 season that saw him lead more laps than any other driver in any season of Formula 1 racing.
As Red Bull Racing Honda looks forward to next year’s season, the team is anticipating massive changes to its race car, with new chassis designs and integrated technology pushing the limits of speed and aerodynamics—all to meet new Formula 1 regulations for a new season. “Machine learning and artificial intelligence and all these different technologies are really helping us to push the boundaries,” Horner said. “And we'll see the outcome of that in next year's car, which will look nothing like the current set of cars that are racing on the grid.”