F1 news LIVE as Lewis Hamilton rejects ‘cheating’ allegations ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

F1 news LIVE as Lewis Hamilton rejects ‘cheating’ allegations ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have battled it out all season and it all comes down to the final two races of the Formula 1 season with the Red Bull star hoping to finish the job in Saudi Arabia but likely aware enough to know it will rumble on to the finale in Abu Dhabi.

In the most exciting F1 season for years, Jeddah is set to showcase more thrills and spills in both the Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship. The Belgian-Dutch driver has an eight point advantage, while Mercedes are just five points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors’ standings, which is also fascinating as Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez play crucial roles as the No 2 drivers for both teams. And while this Sunday will be pivotal, the drama could stretch to Abu Dhabi in the final weekend.

The long straights of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit are expected to favour Mercedes and they will be trying to plot a one-two finish. But if Hamilton was to win and collect the bonus point for fastest lap, with Verstappen finishing second, it would create the extraordinary scenario of both drivers having 269.5 points going into the final Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner have been involved in back-and-forth encounters too, drawing amusement from some and disdain from others, as the fight goes on for the constructor championship as well as the drivers’ title. Elsewhere outside the big two, Fernando Alonso’s podium finish, the changing team line-ups for next year and even the additions of rules such as sprint qualifying have all been big talking points in Formula One recently.

Here’s all the latest F1 news and reaction as the build-up to Saudi Arabia continues:

Read More

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F1 news | Saudi Arabian Grand Prix build-up

Jeddah Corniche Circuit lights up Saudi Arabia from sky ahead of Grand Prix

17:15 , Jack Rathborn

The lights at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit can be seen from the sky after footage of the track was shared on social media ahead of this weekend’s race.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has labelled the Saudi Arabian Jeddah street circuit as “insane”, tipping it to deliver “excitement and drama” as the F1 title race enters its final two races.

“We head to Saudi Arabia for their first race where the track looks insane from I’ve seen,” the Red Bull boss said. “It’s hugely fast and the first sector is like Suzuka, but with walls! It is going to be a massive challenge and I’m sure there will be plenty of excitement and drama.

“We will be watching the Formula 2 race very carefully. On paper, it looks like a power-sensitive circuit, so you’d say that tends to favour Mercedes and it looks as though they feel that way too, but you just don’t know.

“Then we go to Abu Dhabi, where in 2020 we were the first team to beat Mercedes since 2013, but they’ve changed the circuit considerably. We will be preparing as best as we can to go there and perform and see where we end up.

“Whatever happens at the end of this championship, we will know that we have given it everything we have got. The racing this year has been incredible, and the rivalry is intense, it polarises opinions, but it also draws in a huge audience, which has been wonderful to be a part of.”

Sebastian Vettel highlights Aston Martin’s biggest 2021 weakness

17:00 , Jack Rathborn

Sebastian Vettel has bemoaned Aston Martin’s “draggy car” as the reason for a disappointing 2021 F1 campaign.

The team has blamed Formula 1’s call to enforce small changes to the cars’ floors for a lack of speed, which has seen them drop down to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship.

And Vettel, who is struggling to log top 10 finishes, has highlighted a lack of “downforce” for the disappointing results.

“We had races where the car felt really good, we had other races where I struggled a lot,” Vettel told Autosport.

“Overall, what matters is how competitive you are. In competitive terms, I think our car is a bit too draggy.

“We are not having a super-efficient car, plus we don’t have enough downforce. That I think is the main weakness.

“From there, it’s difficult to overcome that.”

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi (AFP)
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi (AFP)

Mercedes and Red Bull told to lodge official protest or shut up

16:45 , Jack Rathborn

Ralf Schumacher has urged Mercedes and Red Bull to make an official protest or shut up as the war of words rumbles on ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Red Bull are most recently upset with Mercedes’ rear wing, with claims that it illegally flexes, though no official complaint has been made, leaving that prospect ominously hanging over the championship race.

Schumacher told Speedweek.com: “I hope some of the topics of the last few weeks will move a little to the side. I hope the team bosses hold back a little more, and of course I also wish the FIA don’t have to decide the World Champion in the end.

“For example, I found all these discussions about the wings so idle – these mutual accusations that one team is doing that with the front wing, the other team is doing that with the rear wing.

“I say either you have facts and you lodge a protest or you should all shut up.

“I think such a great fight should stay clean. Everything else is a shame about this great World Championship. And I’m expressly addressing both sides here.”

Pirelli confirms tyre compounds for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

16:30 , Jack Rathborn

Pirelli has confirmed the tyre compounds for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and they will be one step softer than those used for the Qatar Grand Prix.

The drivers in Jeddah will receive two sets of C2 (hard tyres), three sets of C3 (medium tyres) and eight sets of C4 (soft tyres).

“Jeddah is probably the biggest unknown we face all year... with the track being completed very close to the race,” said Pirelli Head of F1 and Car Racing Mario Isola.

“As a result, we can only rely on simulations from F1 and the teams, along with other information we’ve collected, to come up with our nomination.

“This street circuit looks set to be quite different to anything else, and the high speeds with fast corners will obviously play a big part in the way that the tyres behave.

“Jeddah has more corners than any other track on the calendar, and one of them – Turn 13 – also has 12-degree banking, so there are plenty of different elements that will keep the tyres working hard.”

Lewis Hamilton reveals 2021 F1 world title would be his best

16:15 , Jack Rathborn

British Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton says a 2021 triumph would represent his best-ever season in the sport.

The Mercedes man trails Max Verstappen in the championship by eight points, as he looks to win an eighth title in F1.

Having come from more than 30 points back earlier in the season to now win back-to-back races at Brazil and Qatar, Hamilton says that a record-breaking triumph this year would be his finest achievement.

Lewis Hamilton reveals 2021 F1 world title would be his best

Lewis Hamilton hits back at claims he’s ‘cheating’ in F1 title battle

16:00 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton has responded to repeated claims from Christian Horner that Mercedes have been boosted by using illegal rear wing parts on their cars this season, saying such comments are “the worst” to make in sport.

Mercedes and Red Bull have been locked in a three-pronged battle for much of the past few months in Formula One, with Hamilton’s on-track rivalrly with Max Verstappen the most notable aspect. The Dutchman still leads the championship fight heading into the final two races of the season, while Mercedes lead the constructor standings by just five points.

More frequently of late, though, has been the two team chiefs sniping through the media at each other, with Horner and Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff repeatedly taking aim in interviews and press conferences.

Lewis Hamilton hits back at claims he’s ‘cheating’ in F1 title battle

Williams Team Principal Jost Capito tests positive for Covid-19

15:45 , Jack Rathborn

Williams CEO and Team Principal Jost Capito has been ruled out of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19.

Capito, who has headed up Williams since February 2021 under new owners Dorilton Capital, will remain in the UK ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Formula 1 released the following statement: “The FIA and Formula 1 can confirm that Williams Racing CEO and Team Principal Jost Capito has tested positive for COVID-19 prior to travelling to Jeddah for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“Jost is now following UK national health authority guidelines. There has been no wider impact on Williams Racing personnel and the team will continue to operate trackside as planned.”

Jost Capito, CEO of Williams, has contracted Covid (Getty)
Jost Capito, CEO of Williams, has contracted Covid (Getty)

Lando Norris ready to F1 win races in 2022 with McLaren

15:30 , Jack Rathborn

“I definitely feel much more confident that if I was to fight for a win suddenly in the first race next year, especially after being in the position I was in in Russia, I think I’d feel very confident in that position,” Norris said.

“Of course I’d still be nervous and whatever but I think I’ll be a lot more confident than if I didn’t have the year I’ve had this year and experienced some of the things I’ve experienced this season. But I feel much more confident of knowing what I’ve got to do when I’m in that position. So I think from that side I’m ready for it.

“But I guess you never know how much better you’re going to do, as a lot of it depends on the car and things like that. Sometimes you’ve got to be lucky, sometimes you’re unlucky. I worked hard over the winter to make a lot of these improvements. One thing that made me very happy is seeing the improvements actually quite obviously have an effect and take place and show straight away in terms of results.

“Predominantly from a driver confidence, driver mentality point of view, I feel very confident,” added Norris. “Whether that means we’re going to do well or not [next year], we’ll just have to wait and see.

“From how I feel and what I’ve learned and things, then I feel like I can continue and make some improvements over the winter again and go into next year starting off how I feel like I’ve ended, which is still better than how I started this season. But the circumstances will just be so different in next year’s car. Maybe you’ll need different driving styles and things like that, as it’s going to be a very different car.”

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

15:15 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has accused Lewis Hamilton “subtle little digs” and “provocations” towards Max Verstappen to gain an edge in the Formula 1 title race.

There has been a war of words between Red Bull and Mercedes throughout an engrossing season, which has included the team principals Horner and Toto Wolff verbally sparring in public.

F1 legend Alain Prost claimed the trash talk has gone too far, but Horner maintains the seven-time world champion is trying to use the media to unsettle Verstappen, who holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton heading into the final two races.

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

Lewis Hamilton ‘constantly’ looks for support but Max Verstappen ‘anyone around him’

15:00 , Jack Rathborn

A theory as to what separates Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen has been outlined by Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli, the founder of Formula Medicine.

The head of the sports medicine centre in Viareggio believes the Belgian-Dutch driver has greater self-confidence, though the Briton has assembled a larger support team.

“In my opinion mentally Max is little bit stronger than Lewis,” he told the F1 Nation podcast. “Max is the kind of character who is only focused on himself. He has huge self-confidence.

“Lewis is just looking for external support. He’s that kind of person. You can see by the team radio how much he talks. He is looking for security, asking what the strategy is. Max never does this.

“Or he [Lewis] is trying to have the support of the people, the fans. We saw with the Brazilian flag, And he has a physio who is always with him. Nobody knows who the physio is for Max.

“Lewis is the one that needs to create a familiar environment that will protest him. Max is the type of driver who doesn’t need anyone around him. He needs himself.”

Damon Hill accused of ‘losing impartiality’ over Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

14:45 , Jack Rathborn

Christian Horner has leaped to the defence of Max Verstappen by accusing Damon Hill of losing impartiality while analysing Formula 1 this season.

Hill lauded the performance of Lewis Hamilton in Brazil as “one of the best drives I’ve ever seen in F1”, and Horner claims the former world champion has never taken a liking to Verstappen.

“We’ve got a British driver going for a record-breaking World Championship,” Horner told the Telegraph. “And Damon obviously has never been a fan of Max… if you talk to the Dutch then Max can walk on water.

“That’s just the way things are reported. And, you know, sometimes impartiality does get lost.”

Drivers in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit

14:35 , Jack Rathborn

Daniel Ricciardo rides in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Daniel Ricciardo rides in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Valtteri Bottas rides in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Valtteri Bottas rides in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Lando Norris walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Lando Norris walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)

Drivers walk in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit

14:20 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Max Verstappen walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Pierre Gasly walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Pierre Gasly walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Yuki Tsunoda walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Yuki Tsunoda walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)

Lewis Hamilton ready to bring ‘triple-A game’ to beat Max Verstappen

14:10 , Jack Rathborn

“I’m loving it,” Hamilton said after closing in on Verstappen after victory at the Qatar GP.

“I love the close battle, and the pressure and the demands it puts on you and the whole team.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it but these next two races need even better performance. We’ll be bringing out triple-A game for those ones.”

Fernando Alonso will miss ‘different’ Kimi Raikkonen in F1

13:58 , Jack Rathborn

“I think Kimi will be missed in Formula 1,” said Fernando Alonso on Kimi Raikkonen, who will end his F1 career after this season. “I like him a lot, the way in his own way he loves the sport, and has been for so many years in Formula 1.

“I think he’s very honest always, which I really like that part of Kimi. And I think outside he is maybe, mask off of being a cold and Iceman, there is a very good person inside that you meet from time to time outside the circuit.

“We meet in airports, restaurants, places that you are not in this paddock environment and Kimi is a different person.

“As I said, he has been outstanding for Formula 1, and he will be missed because he has his own character and he was different.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

Martin Brundle warns George Russell to be wary of going on “missing list” after joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

13:50 , Jack Rathborn

Ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle has warned George Russell to watch out for going on the “missing list” next season when he teams up with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

“He is confident, and you need to be,” Brundle said. “I don’t know which other young driver would have coped with Imola, where you throw away, for the second consecutive year, Williams points and wipe out the works Mercedes you’re hoping to get in en route with your accident, and then get out and blame that driver, and then get a lift home with Toto [Wolff] on his jet that night.

“So, you know, he is a confident lad. I think he’s got a nice balance of confidence that stops just short of arrogance. And I think that’s exactly where you need to be up against Lewis, who’s comfortable, knows Mercedes.

“And he’ll need to be good, he’ll need a strong head. And I think he’ll do just fine. When you’re in a second half of the grid team you can sparkle every so often and everybody talks about it, and then you go on the missing list and nobody notices.

Lewis Hamilton walks in the paddock during previews ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

13:35 , Jack Rathborn

 (Getty)
(Getty)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Lewis Hamilton willing to help George Russell become next British F1 champion

13:20 , Jack Rathborn

“I’m in a different place. I really want to see him succeed,” Lewis Hamilton told Motorsport.com.

“There’s going to be a point where I don’t continue in this sport. He’s my teammate and he’s going to be the next Brit that I want to see win a world championship.

“So I really hope that, while we are going to be competing and I want to win on track, I hope I can have a positive influence on how he conducts himself within the team. Whether it’s the time he commits to engineering, or how he churns through the data, or even just how he drives on track.”

Williams appoints former VW motorsport boss as F1 sporting director

13:05 , Jack Rathborn

Williams have hired former VW motorsport boss Sven Smeets as their F1 sporting director.

Having served under Williams CEO and F1 chief Jost Capito for Volkswagen’s World Rally Championship team, Smeets also helped deliver three consecutive drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in WRC.

After attending the Qatar Grand Prix, Smeets’ appointment is now official, and will be “responsible for the sporting governance and representation of the team in all sporting matters related to the FIA, other teams, and motorsport associations” with “overall accountability for the race team”.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Key stats

12:50 , Jack Rathborn

F1 drivers can expect the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to deliver an average speed of 250kph.

There is a maximum speed of 330kph, while forecasts are tipping temperatures at a scorching 31c.

Key parts of the race will be turn 1 for overtaking, while there are three DRS zones available.

Jeddah Corniche Circuit lights up Saudi Arabia from sky ahead of Grand Prix

12:35 , Jack Rathborn

The lights at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit can be seen from the sky after footage of the track was shared on social media ahead of this weekend’s race.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has labelled the Saudi Arabian Jeddah street circuit as “insane”, tipping it to deliver “excitement and drama” as the F1 title race enters its final two races.

“We head to Saudi Arabia for their first race where the track looks insane from I’ve seen,” the Red Bull boss said. “It’s hugely fast and the first sector is like Suzuka, but with walls! It is going to be a massive challenge and I’m sure there will be plenty of excitement and drama.

“We will be watching the Formula 2 race very carefully. On paper, it looks like a power-sensitive circuit, so you’d say that tends to favour Mercedes and it looks as though they feel that way too, but you just don’t know.

“Then we go to Abu Dhabi, where in 2020 we were the first team to beat Mercedes since 2013, but they’ve changed the circuit considerably. We will be preparing as best as we can to go there and perform and see where we end up.

“Whatever happens at the end of this championship, we will know that we have given it everything we have got. The racing this year has been incredible, and the rivalry is intense, it polarises opinions, but it also draws in a huge audience, which has been wonderful to be a part of.”

Sebastian Vettel highlights Aston Martin’s biggest 2021 weakness

12:20 , Jack Rathborn

Sebastian Vettel has bemoaned Aston Martin’s “draggy car” as the reason for a disappointing 2021 F1 campaign.

The team has blamed Formula 1’s call to enforce small changes to the cars’ floors for a lack of speed, which has seen them drop down to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship.

And Vettel, who is struggling to log top 10 finishes, has highlighted a lack of “downforce” for the disappointing results.

“We had races where the car felt really good, we had other races where I struggled a lot,” Vettel told Autosport.

“Overall, what matters is how competitive you are. In competitive terms, I think our car is a bit too draggy.

“We are not having a super-efficient car, plus we don’t have enough downforce. That I think is the main weakness.

“From there, it’s difficult to overcome that.”

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi (AFP)
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi (AFP)

Mercedes and Red Bull told to lodge official protest or shut up

12:10 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes and Red Bull told to lodge official protest or shut up

Ralf Schumacher has urged Mercedes and Red Bull to make an official protest or shut up as the war of words rumbles on ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Red Bull are most recently upset with Mercedes’ rear wing, with claims that it illegally flexes, though no official complaint has been made, leaving that prospect ominously hanging over the championship race.

Schumacher told Speedweek.com: “I hope some of the topics of the last few weeks will move a little to the side. I hope the team bosses hold back a little more, and of course I also wish the FIA don’t have to decide the World Champion in the end.

“For example, I found all these discussions about the wings so idle – these mutual accusations that one team is doing that with the front wing, the other team is doing that with the rear wing.

“I say either you have facts and you lodge a protest or you should all shut up.

“I think such a great fight should stay clean. Everything else is a shame about this great World Championship. And I’m expressly addressing both sides here.”

Pirelli confirms tyre compounds for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

11:40 , Jack Rathborn

Pirelli has confirmed the tyre compounds for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and they will be one step softer than those used for the Qatar Grand Prix.

The drivers in Jeddah will receive two sets of C2 (hard tyres), three sets of C3 (medium tyres) and eight sets of C4 (soft tyres).

"Jeddah is probably the biggest unknown we face all year... with the track being completed very close to the race," said Pirelli Head of F1 and Car Racing Mario Isola.

"As a result, we can only rely on simulations from F1 and the teams, along with other information we've collected, to come up with our nomination.

"This street circuit looks set to be quite different to anything else, and the high speeds with fast corners will obviously play a big part in the way that the tyres behave.

"Jeddah has more corners than any other track on the calendar, and one of them – Turn 13 – also has 12-degree banking, so there are plenty of different elements that will keep the tyres working hard."

Lewis Hamilton hits back at claims he’s ‘cheating’ in F1 title battle

11:29 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton has responded to repeated claims from Christian Horner that Mercedes have been boosted by using illegal rear wing parts on their cars this season, saying such comments are “the worst” to make in sport.

Mercedes and Red Bull have been locked in a three-pronged battle for much of the past few months in Formula One, with Hamilton’s on-track rivalrly with Max Verstappen the most notable aspect. The Dutchman still leads the championship fight heading into the final two races of the season, while Mercedes lead the constructor standings by just five points.

More frequently of late, though, has been the two team chiefs sniping through the media at each other, with Horner and Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff repeatedly taking aim in interviews and press conferences.

Lewis Hamilton hits back at claims he’s ‘cheating’ in F1 title battle

Lewis Hamilton reveals 2021 F1 world title would be his best

10:59 , Jack Rathborn

British Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton says a 2021 triumph would represent his best-ever season in the sport.

The Mercedes man trails Max Verstappen in the championship by eight points, as he looks to win an eighth title in F1.

Having come from more than 30 points back earlier in the season to now win back-to-back races at Brazil and Qatar, Hamilton says that a record-breaking triumph this year would be his finest achievement.

Lewis Hamilton reveals 2021 F1 world title would be his best

Williams Team Principal Jost Capito tests positive for Covid-19

10:49 , Jack Rathborn

Williams CEO and Team Principal Jost Capito has been ruled out of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19.

Capito, who has headed up Williams since February 2021 under new owners Dorilton Capital, will remain in the UK ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Formula 1 released the following statement: “The FIA and Formula 1 can confirm that Williams Racing CEO and Team Principal Jost Capito has tested positive for COVID-19 prior to travelling to Jeddah for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“Jost is now following UK national health authority guidelines. There has been no wider impact on Williams Racing personnel and the team will continue to operate trackside as planned.”

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

10:43 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has accused Lewis Hamilton “subtle little digs” and “provocations” towards Max Verstappen to gain an edge in the Formula 1 title race.

There has been a war of words between Red Bull and Mercedes throughout an engrossing season, which has included the team principals Horner and Toto Wolff verbally sparring in public.

F1 legend Alain Prost claimed the trash talk has gone too far, but Horner maintains the seven-time world champion is trying to use the media to unsettle Verstappen, who holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton heading into the final two races.

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

Lando Norris ready to win F1 races in 2022 with McLaren

09:59 , Jack Rathborn

“I definitely feel much more confident that if I was to fight for a win suddenly in the first race next year, especially after being in the position I was in in Russia, I think I’d feel very confident in that position,” Norris said.

“Of course I’d still be nervous and whatever but I think I’ll be a lot more confident than if I didn’t have the year I’ve had this year and experienced some of the things I’ve experienced this season. But I feel much more confident of knowing what I’ve got to do when I’m in that position. So I think from that side I’m ready for it.

“But I guess you never know how much better you’re going to do, as a lot of it depends on the car and things like that. Sometimes you’ve got to be lucky, sometimes you’re unlucky. I worked hard over the winter to make a lot of these improvements. One thing that made me very happy is seeing the improvements actually quite obviously have an effect and take place and show straight away in terms of results.

“Predominantly from a driver confidence, driver mentality point of view, I feel very confident,” added Norris. “Whether that means we’re going to do well or not [next year], we’ll just have to wait and see.

“From how I feel and what I’ve learned and things, then I feel like I can continue and make some improvements over the winter again and go into next year starting off how I feel like I’ve ended, which is still better than how I started this season. But the circumstances will just be so different in next year’s car. Maybe you’ll need different driving styles and things like that, as it’s going to be a very different car.”

Damon Hill accused of ‘losing impartiality’ over Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

09:34 , Jack Rathborn

Christian Horner has leaped to the defence of Max Verstappen by accusing Damon Hill of losing impartiality while analysing Formula 1 this season.

Hill lauded the performance of Lewis Hamilton in Brazil as “one of the best drives I’ve ever seen in F1”, and Horner claims the former world champion has never taken a liking to Verstappen.

“We’ve got a British driver going for a record-breaking World Championship,” Horner told the Telegraph. “And Damon obviously has never been a fan of Max… if you talk to the Dutch then Max can walk on water.

“That’s just the way things are reported. And, you know, sometimes impartiality does get lost.”

Lewis Hamilton ‘constantly’ looks for support but Max Verstappen ‘anyone around him’

09:07 , Jack Rathborn

A theory as to what separates Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen has been outlined by Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli, the founder of Formula Medicine.

The head of the sports medicine centre in Viareggio believes the Belgian-Dutch driver has greater self-confidence, though the Briton has assembled a larger support team.

“In my opinion mentally Max is little bit stronger than Lewis,” he told the F1 Nation podcast. “Max is the kind of character who is only focused on himself. He has huge self-confidence.

“Lewis is just looking for external support. He’s that kind of person. You can see by the team radio how much he talks. He is looking for security, asking what the strategy is. Max never does this.

“Or he [Lewis] is trying to have the support of the people, the fans. We saw with the Brazilian flag, And he has a physio who is always with him. Nobody knows who the physio is for Max.

“Lewis is the one that needs to create a familiar environment that will protest him. Max is the type of driver who doesn’t need anyone around him. He needs himself.”

Lewis Hamilton ready to bring ‘triple-A game’ to beat Max Verstappen

08:48 , Jack Rathborn

“I’m loving it,” Hamilton said after closing in on Verstappen after victory at the Qatar GP.

“I love the close battle, and the pressure and the demands it puts on you and the whole team.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it but these next two races need even better performance. We’ll be bringing out triple-A game for those ones.”

Lando Norris pinpoints reason for Ferrari advantage over McLaren

Wednesday 1 December 2021 22:10 , Jack Rathborn

Lando Norris believes Ferrari’s late-season engine upgrade has proven decisive as the Scuderia moved 39.5 points clear of the Woking-based team.

“It’s helped them,” Norris said (h/t motorsport.com). “They were very good on energy before. They have a lot of deployment, which, in some circuits doesn’t make a massive difference, but in other circuits definitely helps.

“When we are clipping on the straight, and we lose 20 km/h, they just keep going. It makes a big difference in terms of how you can race them and overtake and stuff.

“I think it’s just been very close all season and I still believe we’ve done a better job as a team. I think there’s been more races where they’ve been quicker, but they’ve just made more mistakes than us. They should be further ahead.

“But it’s tough. If I look at the drivers’ championship, I’m still ahead of both of them [Ferrari drivers]. So of course, I want the team to be up there. But I feel like I’ve done as much as I can to help out on that side of it.”

Lando Norris expects Daniel Ricciardo bounce back when things click at McLaren F1

Wednesday 1 December 2021 21:05 , Jack Rathborn

Lando Norris is not taking his impressive year for granted after outperforming Daniel Ricciardo.

He currently has153 points compared to the Australian’s 105, but expects a tougher battle next season.

“I think it’s been very good for me. It’s also been one of the parts making me enjoy a bit more the environment,” Norris said (h/t motorsport.com). “There’s always that question of when you go up against a driver like that: are you going to do well? Is he going to beat me in every single qualifying or race of the season?

“Those thoughts go through your head a little bit for the year. So when none of that happens then you feel like ‘okay, if I can do this against him and he could beat this guy when he was in the same car, then I must be in a decent place.’ So it makes you think of good things.

“But then, on the flip side, it doesn’t make me feel like I’m suddenly the best driver in the world. There have still been some races where he has been quicker than me and qualifying sessions where he has been a bit quicker.

“I know he’s still Daniel. Once he clicks and finds his way and so on, I hope to still be quicker than him. But I know it’s not going to be like, I’m always quicker because he’s a very, very good driver.

“But my confidence has definitely come up with how I feel like I’ve performed. And it’s not necessarily all because I’ve beaten Daniel.

Charles Leclerc highlights dangerous precedent from Max Verstappen defensive move in Brazil

Wednesday 1 December 2021 20:30 , Jack Rathborn

“You always need to adapt to every situation, every decision the stewards are doing,” Charles Leclerc said.

“As soon as I knew it wasn’t a penalty for Max in Austria [in 2019], I went to Silverstone and I changed my driving.

“So I think that’s a bit the same for every driver. We will always try to race at the limits of what we are allowed to do. And that’s what I will do in case these things are allowed.”

Carlos Sainz calls for ‘deeper conversation’ over drivers defending position on track

Wednesday 1 December 2021 20:00 , Jack Rathborn

“We’ve given them some overall guidance, but also been very clear on the fact that each and every case will be judged on its merits,” Carlos Sainz said over the limit for drivers when it comes to defending.

“Everyone tries to sort of blanket incidents and say, that’s all the same, and that’s all the same, but they’re not.

“The analysis that goes into each and every incident is exactly that, having a look at all the circumstances on the day.

“In terms of racing approach it’s not very clear still,” he said as per Motorsport.com.

“I think you’ve heard us already talk about this because we don’t know exactly what is going to happen race by race.

“But as I said to the media, it looks like in the winter there’s going to be a deeper conversation about the way that we go racing that hopefully should clarify things a bit more.”

Sebastian Vettel claims any argument with Kimi Raikkonen means ‘the problem is you’

Wednesday 1 December 2021 19:45 , Jack Rathborn

“Will he be missed? Yes,” said Vettel, quoted by GPFans. “I think he was a true character and I enjoyed the time I had with him as a team-mate, but to be fair I got to know him already before.

“He is probably one of the very few drivers I’ve met from day one until the present day that hasn’t changed in the sense that he has been very open, welcoming me as a young child or a young kid when I entered Formula 1.

“And at that time he was probably the most established Formula 1 driver, at least one of them.

“Great respect. I don’t think you can have an argument or a problem with Kimi. If you do, the problem is not him, the problem is you.”

Max Verstappen has been unlucky and should already be champion, claims Ralf Schumacher

Wednesday 1 December 2021 19:30 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen has been unlucky and should already be champion, claims Ralf Schumacher “Innocently bowled off the track at Silverstone, innocent victim of the collision at the start in Hungary, plus the blowout in Baku,” Ralf Schumacher explained to Speedweek.com.

“Max has been really unlucky, he should have been world champion a long time ago.

“Max can say to himself in defeat: ‘Well, we were close, it didn’t work out, but I still have enough time for new attempts’. So from my point of view, the pressure will be more on Lewis.”

Max Verstappen could follow Lewis Hamilton and change engine in Abu Dhabi

Wednesday 1 December 2021 19:10 , Jack Rathborn

‘An engine change is currently not planned for Saudi Arabia. If there will be an engine change, it will be in Abu Dhabi,” Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told F1-insider.com.

That would be incredible drama for the finale in Abu Dhabi, given the incurred five-place grid penalty.

It could serve as a distraction to Mercedes, though it would also complicate Max Verstappen’s race strategy.

But Red Bull will explore every possibility, including Honda assisting with a fresh engine to seal the title.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix street circuit is ‘insane’, says Red Bull principal Christian Horner

Wednesday 1 December 2021 18:50 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah street circuit looks “insane” and will set the stage for “excitement and drama” as the F1 title race enters its final two races.

This weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the country’s first foray into F1 and will be the penultimate race of a thrilling season, before the culmination in Abu Dhabi a week later.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by eight points in the standings going into the final two races, but the long straights of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit are expected to play into the hands of Mercedes and their reigning champion, searching for a record eighth world title.

Saudi Arabian street circuit is ‘insane’, says Red Bull boss Christian Horner

What does Max Verstappen need to do to win the F1 title this weekend?

Wednesday 1 December 2021 18:30 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen has the chance to win his maiden Formula One drivers’ title in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

While Lewis Hamilton’s back-to-back race wins mean the battle is likely to go down to next week’s finale in Abu Dhabi there are certain scenarios in which the Dutchman could put his rival out of reach with a race to spare.

Here, we run through the permutations.

What does Max Verstappen need to do to win the F1 title this weekend?

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly excited for future after ‘getting a taste’ for front row grid slots

Wednesday 1 December 2021 18:15 , Jack Rathborn

Pierre Gasly insists he has “got a taste” for front row grid slots after experiencing it for the first time since 2017 in Qatar.

The AlphaTauri driver admits it is “now more complicated” to secure P5 in the standings after dropping 25 points behind Alpine.

But he is now excited by the future: “It was great to be back in the front row. It was the first time since I competed in Super Formula in Japan in 2017.

“To be on the grid alongside pole setter Lewis Hamilton was very cool. I hope that there will be more successes of this kind in the future.

“Even if I didn’t manage to do it entirely on my own, we’ve been close to the first places on the grid a couple of times this year, and it was a good experience. I got a taste for it.”

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen duel likened to Senna vs Prost

Wednesday 1 December 2021 18:00 , Jack Rathborn

“This battle is brilliant for Formula 1,” former F1 driver Anthony Davidson told Sky Sports, discussing the similarities between this rivalry and the iconic battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Those battles defined F1 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with iconic seasons in 1989 and 1990 eventually decided by chaotic penultimate-round collisions in Japan.

“For anyone who missed out on being too young in the Senna and Prost era, this is it. This is what you missed out on.

“It’s happening right again, history repeating itself.”

Lando Norris pinpoints reason for Ferrari advantage over McLaren

Wednesday 1 December 2021 17:45 , Jack Rathborn

Lando Norris believes Ferrari’s late-season engine upgrade has proven decisive as the Scuderia moved 39.5 points clear of the Woking-based team.

“It's helped them,” Norris said (h/t motorsport.com). “They were very good on energy before. They have a lot of deployment, which, in some circuits doesn't make a massive difference, but in other circuits definitely helps.

“When we are clipping on the straight, and we lose 20 km/h, they just keep going. It makes a big difference in terms of how you can race them and overtake and stuff.

“I think it’s just been very close all season and I still believe we’ve done a better job as a team. I think there’s been more races where they’ve been quicker, but they’ve just made more mistakes than us. They should be further ahead.

“But it’s tough. If I look at the drivers’ championship, I’m still ahead of both of them [Ferrari drivers]. So of course, I want the team to be up there. But I feel like I’ve done as much as I can to help out on that side of it.”

Carlos Sainz calls for ‘deeper conversation’ over drivers defending position on track

Wednesday 1 December 2021 17:30 , Jack Rathborn

“We’ve given them some overall guidance, but also been very clear on the fact that each and every case will be judged on its merits,” Carlos Sainz said over the limit for drivers when it comes to defending.

“Everyone tries to sort of blanket incidents and say, that’s all the same, and that’s all the same, but they’re not.

“The analysis that goes into each and every incident is exactly that, having a look at all the circumstances on the day.

“In terms of racing approach it’s not very clear still,” he said as per Motorsport.com.

“I think you’ve heard us already talk about this because we don’t know exactly what is going to happen race by race.

“But as I said to the media, it looks like in the winter there’s going to be a deeper conversation about the way that we go racing that hopefully should clarify things a bit more.”

Valtteri Bottas and George Russell open up after ‘surprise’ at late punctures at Qatar Grand Prix

Wednesday 1 December 2021 17:15 , Jack Rathborn

The Qatar Grand Prix delivered late drama with three punctures in the inaugural race, which prompted each driver to admit they were surprised as they had “no warning”.

Valtteri Bottas, who was denied a probable podium chance, said: “It was without any vibration before without any loss of grip, so it was quite strange.”

“We knew we were pushing it to the limit, but there was no vibration and we felt comfortable. That was the best opportunity for us to get to the podium and I think if we stopped one or two laps later we would have got it.”

While Toto Wolff added: “Valtteri’s puncture came out of nowhere. We tried to reconstruct it, and there was literally no indication... just a tiny vibration, never enough to pit a car.”

The Williams suffered badly with both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi going down on back-to-back laps.

“It’s something that the team spoke about prior to the race, that from within the car it might feel fine but it could just go at any point,” said Russell. “It was a bit of a surprise, but we were never really in the fight for anything meaningful.”

While Latifi added: “To be honest there was no warning, and that was the confusing part for me.

“A year ago in Silverstone you start to feel a massive vibration, but here - it was obviously a consideration - but once George’s tyre went I was like OK I feel fine, I don’t feel limited from that tyre. Then it went a lap later!”

Red Bull principal Christian Horner lauds Max Verstappen ‘maturity’

Wednesday 1 December 2021 17:00 , Jack Rathborn

‘‘Make no mistake, fighting for your first F1 title is an intense moment in your racing career, but the maturity Max has shown throughout the campaign has been extremely impressive,’’ Christian Horner says in his Red Bull column.

‘’He’s relaxed and dealing with the pressure incredibly well, I think he is driving better than ever. A good example of this was during the race in Qatar, when he did not feel we could catch Lewis, but commented over the that radio he ‘wanted to have some fun’.

“Max is plain-speaking and he calls it how he sees it. He doesn’t work with a sports psychologist; it is just how he copes with it.”

Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman handed F1 test with Haas

Wednesday 1 December 2021 16:45 , Jack Rathborn

Ferrari junior and Formula 2 frontrunner Robert Shwartzman has been confirmed to test Haas after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Shwartzman will feature as part of the young driver test on Tuesday, 14 December for a two-day post-season tyre test.

It will be more experience for Shwartzman who got behind the wheel of the Ferrari this year.

“This will be my first test with Haas F1 Team and I’m really looking forward to getting to know a new team, environment and also to learn as much as possible from them,” he said.

“Having the chance to drive for another F1 team is just incredible and I can’t wait to work with everyone.”

While Shwartzman will look forward to collaborating with Haas, his immediate priority is F2, where he is third in the standings with two races left.

“We’re looking forward to testing with Robert at Yas Marina in December,” added Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

“He’s obviously highly rated by Ferrari – having been part of their driver program since the end of 2017.

“His ability is clearly in evidence when you look at his performances over the last few seasons – most notably his rookie campaign in Formula 2 last year – competing against the likes of our own two drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

“We are pleased to be able to give Robert an outing in a Formula 1 car and we look forward to working with him in Abu Dhabi.”

Lando Norris expects Daniel Ricciardo bounce back when things click at McLaren F1

Wednesday 1 December 2021 16:20 , Jack Rathborn

Lando Norris is not taking his impressive year for granted after outperforming Daniel Ricciardo.

He currently has153 points compared to the Australian’s 105, but expects a tougher battle next season.

“I think it’s been very good for me. It’s also been one of the parts making me enjoy a bit more the environment,” Norris said (h/t motorsport.com). “There’s always that question of when you go up against a driver like that: are you going to do well? Is he going to beat me in every single qualifying or race of the season?

“Those thoughts go through your head a little bit for the year. So when none of that happens then you feel like ‘okay, if I can do this against him and he could beat this guy when he was in the same car, then I must be in a decent place.’ So it makes you think of good things.

“But then, on the flip side, it doesn’t make me feel like I’m suddenly the best driver in the world. There have still been some races where he has been quicker than me and qualifying sessions where he has been a bit quicker.

“I know he’s still Daniel. Once he clicks and finds his way and so on, I hope to still be quicker than him. But I know it’s not going to be like, I’m always quicker because he’s a very, very good driver.

“But my confidence has definitely come up with how I feel like I’ve performed. And it’s not necessarily all because I’ve beaten Daniel.”

Charles Leclerc highlights dangerous precedent from Max Verstappen defensive move in Brazil

Wednesday 1 December 2021 16:00 , Jack Rathborn

“You always need to adapt to every situation, every decision the stewards are doing,” Charles Leclerc said.

“As soon as I knew it wasn’t a penalty for Max in Austria [in 2019], I went to Silverstone and I changed my driving.

“So I think that’s a bit the same for every driver. We will always try to race at the limits of what we are allowed to do. And that’s what I will do in case these things are allowed.”

Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton: Tale of the Tape

Wednesday 1 December 2021 15:45 , Jack Rathborn

As we approach the final two races of the season, here’s a look at Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s key stats in what has been a thrilling title race.

The Red Bull star has the edge on wins, 9-7, and one more podium, which has come as a result of five more poles. Hamilton's timing has been exquisite though, trailing only by eight points with two races remaining, despite leading for 392 less laps.

Sebastian Vettel claims any argument with Kimi Raikkonen means ‘the problem is you'

Wednesday 1 December 2021 15:30 , Jack Rathborn

“Will he be missed? Yes,” said Vettel, quoted by GPFans. “I think he was a true character and I enjoyed the time I had with him as a team-mate, but to be fair I got to know him already before.

“He is probably one of the very few drivers I’ve met from day one until the present day that hasn’t changed in the sense that he has been very open, welcoming me as a young child or a young kid when I entered Formula 1.

“And at that time he was probably the most established Formula 1 driver, at least one of them.

“Great respect. I don’t think you can have an argument or a problem with Kimi. If you do, the problem is not him, the problem is you.”

Mick Schumacher’s surname is a ‘burden’ in F1 career, Felipe Massa claims

Wednesday 1 December 2021 15:15 , Jack Rathborn

Felipe Massa believes Mick Schumacher’s surname is a “burden” for the young driver.

Mick is the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, and has began his own Formula 1 journey with US team Haas. The team have struggled with performance and reliability all season, and have failed to pick up a single championship point.

Schumacher has not come under great scrutiny, partly due to the poor quality of his car and partly due to the erratic driving of his teammate, Nikita Mazepin.

“In general, the name Schumacher is a burden for Mick,” Massa told Die Welt. “It helps him to get sponsors and he gets a lot of support. But people expect things he can never fulfil. The pressure is extremely high.”

Mick Schumacher’s surname is a ‘burden’ in F1 career, Felipe Massa claims

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly excited for future after ‘getting a taste’ for front row grid slots

Wednesday 1 December 2021 15:09 , Jack Rathborn

Pierre Gasly insists he has “got a taste” for front row grid slots after experiencing it for the first time since 2017 in Qatar.

The AlphaTauri driver admits it is “now more complicated” to secure P5 in the standings after dropping 25 points behind Alpine.

But he is now excited by the future: “It was great to be back in the front row. It was the first time since I competed in Super Formula in Japan in 2017.

“To be on the grid alongside pole setter Lewis Hamilton was very cool. I hope that there will be more successes of this kind in the future.

“Even if I didn’t manage to do it entirely on my own, we’ve been close to the first places on the grid a couple of times this year, and it was a good experience. I got a taste for it.”

Spanish Grand Prix lands new deal to extend F1 relationship to 35 years

Wednesday 1 December 2021 15:00 , Jack Rathborn

The Spanish Grand Prix’s future has been decided after recent speculation with a new long-term deal for the track in Barcelona. The Circuit de Catalunya continues to be the home of the Spanish GP since 1991 and the new deal takes them up until 2026 at least.

Under the fresh terms, the track must be upgraded ahead of next year’s race in May. “We are delighted to announce this deal with Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,” said F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali.

“I want to thank to promoter and the authorities for their enthusiasm and commitment to keeping Formula 1 in Barcelona, with improvements that will be made to the track and facilities, and continuing our long history together.

“The teams and drivers always look forward to racing at the circuit and visiting Barcelona, and the Spanish fans will continue to see their national heroes, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz up close.”

Lewis Hamilton competes in the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo (AFP)
Lewis Hamilton competes in the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo (AFP)

Toto Wolff makes bold statement about Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Wednesday 1 December 2021 14:45 , Jack Rathborn

Toto Wolff claims Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes is in “the best place it has been all season” as a thrilling Formula One title race heads to Saudi Arabia this weekend.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton trails Red Bull rival Max Verstappen by eight points with just rounds of an enthralling see-saw battle to go.

The high-speed street circuit in Jeddah is expected to favour Hamilton’s machine over the race weekend with Wolff bullish about where the team are at in their preparations.

“The car has been performing well recently and is probably in the best place it has been all season, with the drivers confident to push it to the limit. That’s encouraging for the final races and gives us strong momentum to take forward,” he said.

Toto Wolff makes bold statement about Lewis Hamilton’s car ahead of Saudi Arabian GP

Nico Rosberg admits satisfaction at Lewis Hamilton success

Wednesday 1 December 2021 14:30 , Jack Rathborn

Nico Rosberg admits he “very often” reflects on his intense 2016 title battle with Lewis Hamilton, with his sense of achievement greater in hindsight due to the Briton’s subsequent success.

And with the Mercedes star poised to hunt down Max Verstappen and claim an eighth world title, Rosberg’s success may look even better.

“Every time I see Lewis win, it becomes clearer why it wasn’t quite so easy for me to beat him,” Rosberg said.

Hamilton is aiming for a fifth successive title and a seventh in eight years, making Rosberg’s achievement to edge out the Briton even more impressive.

First Saudi female racer appointed ambassador for F1 GP

Wednesday 1 December 2021 14:21 , Jack Rathborn

Saudi Arabia’s first female racing driver Reema Juffali has been appointed an ambassador for the country’s inaugural Formula One Grand Prix in Jeddah this week, organisers said on Monday.

The 29-year-old, who competed in the British Formula Three championship this year, will be one of the first to drive a lap of the street circuit along the shores of the Red Sea.

She will also take part in a track shakedown of a 1979 Williams Formula One car, which carried sponsorship for national airline Saudia.

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the activities over the race weekend and I hope that my story and journey can provide some inspiration to anyone thinking of following their dream,” she said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving in 2018 and Juffali became the first Saudi female license holder to compete in a series that same year.

Sunday’s Formula One race will be the third of four in the Middle East this season and could also be a title decider.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton by eight points ahead of the penultimate round.

Sebastian Vettel ‘no longer among top five F1 drivers'

Wednesday 1 December 2021 14:11 , Jack Rathborn

‘’If you had to nominate a top five of the current field, I wouldn’t put Seb there. He’s had his best time. Maybe you write down (besides Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen) Lando (Norris) and Charles Leclerc, but maybe also George (Russell), Sergio (Perez), Carlos Sainz or Fernando (Alonso).

“Fernando should definitely be on that list,’’ Martin Brundle told Sky Sports.

“No matter how you look at it, Seb is not one of them. He still has the experience and knowledge to be of great value to Aston Martin, but sometimes he just lacks something in wheel-to-wheel racing. That’s always been the case, but it’s got worse in recent years.”

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix street circuit is ‘insane’, says Red Bull principal Christian Horner

Wednesday 1 December 2021 14:03 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah street circuit looks “insane” and will set the stage for “excitement and drama” as the F1 title race enters its final two races.

This weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the country’s first foray into F1 and will be the penultimate race of a thrilling season, before the culmination in Abu Dhabi a week later.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by eight points in the standings going into the final two races, but the long straights of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit are expected to play into the hands of Mercedes and their reigning champion, searching for a record eighth world title.

Saudi Arabian street circuit is ‘insane’, says Red Bull boss Christian Horner

Lewis Hamilton backed to defeat Max Verstappen by former rival Nico Rosberg

Wednesday 1 December 2021 13:55 , Jack Rathborn

Speaking to SPORTBUZZER, Rosberg said: “It’s a sensationally close fight! Emotionally, I say Lewis. His experience speaks for him. But the championship is totally open.”

“Max is really super-strong. Mental strength is essential in a duel like this.

“It’s certainly not easy for Max because it’s the first time he’s been in such a situation. And then against the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time. In that respect, he already deserves the greatest recognition.

“You have to take advantage when Lewis has his weak phases, when he loses his motivation, his head,” Rosberg explained.

“Then it’s full attack! In other words, you have to score the maximum number of points possible because you should never write Lewis off. He always comes back.”

Nico Rosberg backs former rival Lewis Hamilton for F1 world title

What does Max Verstappen need to do to win the F1 title this weekend?

Wednesday 1 December 2021 13:47 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen has the chance to win his maiden Formula One drivers’ title in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

While Lewis Hamilton’s back-to-back race wins mean the battle is likely to go down to next week’s finale in Abu Dhabi there are certain scenarios in which the Dutchman could put his rival out of reach with a race to spare.

Here, we run through the permutations.

What does Max Verstappen need to do to win the F1 title this weekend?

Lewis Hamilton ‘shifting into overdrive’ in F1 title battle

Wednesday 1 December 2021 13:33 , Jack Rathborn

“It’s almost like he’s shifted into overdrive. He always did that after the summer break and then people just didn’t understand how it was possible that he kept grabbing the Mercedes titles. I think he’s done the same now, maybe a bit later than usual, but Mercedes have also shifted up a gear,’’ said Brundle according to Motorsport.com.

‘’Suddenly you wonder if he’s not the favourite for the championship, especially with this momentum right now. But all it takes is one misstep, one bit of unreliability, contact, a puncture or something and Max could decide it this weekend. It probably won’t happen, but it could.

“The balance is just beautiful. Red Bull will probably hope it goes back and forth a bit like the rest of the season’’, concludes the former F1 driver.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris moving from England to Monaco

Wednesday 1 December 2021 13:22 , Jack Rathborn

McLaren’s Lando Norris has announced he is moving from England to Monaco, with financial reasons playing a part in his decision.

The 22-year-old Briton has had a standout season with his Woking-based team and signed a multi-year contract extension in May.

“It’s something that obviously a lot of drivers do,” he told British media of the move. “Especially, with how racing is, we’ve seen for other drivers how quickly things can also go downhill.

“I still have to look after my life and things for my future.”

Monaco is a home to many of his Formula One rivals, including compatriot and seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton as well as Australian McLaren team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton has been criticised for his tax arrangements and Norris, already a fan favourite, expected also to face some negative reaction.

“But people do many things in life for money. This is just another one,” he said.

Max Verstappen has been unlucky and should already be champion, claims Ralf Schumacher

Wednesday 1 December 2021 13:12 , Jack Rathborn

“Innocently bowled off the track at Silverstone, innocent victim of the collision at the start in Hungary, plus the blowout in Baku,” Ralf Schumacher explained to Speedweek.com.

“Max has been really unlucky, he should have been world champion a long time ago.

“Max can say to himself in defeat: ‘Well, we were close, it didn’t work out, but I still have enough time for new attempts’. So from my point of view, the pressure will be more on Lewis.”

Red Bull principal Christian Horner lauds Max Verstappen ‘maturity’

Wednesday 1 December 2021 12:10 , Jack Rathborn

‘‘Make no mistake, fighting for your first F1 title is an intense moment in your racing career, but the maturity Max has shown throughout the campaign has been extremely impressive,’’ Christian Horner says in his Red Bull column.

‘’He’s relaxed and dealing with the pressure incredibly well, I think he is driving better than ever. A good example of this was during the race in Qatar, when he did not feel we could catch Lewis, but commented over the that radio he ‘wanted to have some fun’.

“Max is plain-speaking and he calls it how he sees it. He doesn’t work with a sports psychologist; it is just how he copes with it.”

Max Verstappen could follow Lewis Hamilton and change engine in Abu Dhabi

Wednesday 1 December 2021 11:45 , Jack Rathborn

‘An engine change is currently not planned for Saudi Arabia. If there will be an engine change, it will be in Abu Dhabi,” Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told F1-insider.com.

That would be incredible drama for the finale in Abu Dhabi, given the incurred five-place grid penalty.

It could serve as a distraction to Mercedes, though it would also complicate Max Verstappen’s race strategy.

But Red Bull will explore every possibility, including Honda assisting with a fresh engine to seal the title.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen duel likened to Senna vs Prost

Wednesday 1 December 2021 11:36 , Jack Rathborn

“This battle is brilliant for Formula 1,” former F1 driver Anthony Davidson told Sky Sports, discussing the similarities between this rivalry and the iconic battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Those battles defined F1 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with iconic seasons in 1989 and 1990 eventually decided by chaotic penultimate-round collisions in Japan.

“For anyone who missed out on being too young in the Senna and Prost era, this is it. This is what you missed out on.

“It’s happening right again, history repeating itself.”

Valtteri Bottas and George Russell open up after ‘surprise’ at late punctures at Qatar Grand Prix

Wednesday 1 December 2021 10:59 , Jack Rathborn

The Qatar Grand Prix delivered late drama with three punctures in the inaugural race, which prompted each driver to admit they were surprised as they had “no warning”.

Valtteri Bottas, who was denied a probable podium chance, said: “It was without any vibration before without any loss of grip, so it was quite strange.”

“We knew we were pushing it to the limit, but there was no vibration and we felt comfortable. That was the best opportunity for us to get to the podium and I think if we stopped one or two laps later we would have got it.”

While Toto Wolff added: “Valtteri’s puncture came out of nowhere. We tried to reconstruct it, and there was literally no indication... just a tiny vibration, never enough to pit a car.”

The Williams suffered badly with both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi going down on back-to-back laps.

“It’s something that the team spoke about prior to the race, that from within the car it might feel fine but it could just go at any point,” said Russell. “It was a bit of a surprise, but we were never really in the fight for anything meaningful.”

While Latifi added: “To be honest there was no warning, and that was the confusing part for me.

“A year ago in Silverstone you start to feel a massive vibration, but here - it was obviously a consideration - but once George’s tyre went I was like OK I feel fine, I don’t feel limited from that tyre. Then it went a lap later!”

Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman handed F1 test with Haas

Wednesday 1 December 2021 10:21 , Jack Rathborn

Ferrari junior and Formula 2 frontrunner Robert Shwartzman has been confirmed to test Haas after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Shwartzman will feature as part of the young driver test on Tuesday, 14 December for a two-day post-season tyre test.

It will be more experience for Shwartzman who got behind the wheel of the Ferrari this year.

“This will be my first test with Haas F1 Team and I’m really looking forward to getting to know a new team, environment and also to learn as much as possible from them,” he said.

“Having the chance to drive for another F1 team is just incredible and I can’t wait to work with everyone.”

While Shwartzman will look forward to collaborating with Haas, his immediate priority is F2, where he is third in the standings with two races left.

“We’re looking forward to testing with Robert at Yas Marina in December,” added Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

“He’s obviously highly rated by Ferrari – having been part of their driver program since the end of 2017.

“His ability is clearly in evidence when you look at his performances over the last few seasons – most notably his rookie campaign in Formula 2 last year – competing against the likes of our own two drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

“We are pleased to be able to give Robert an outing in a Formula 1 car and we look forward to working with him in Abu Dhabi.”

Mick Schumacher’s surname is a ‘burden’ in F1 career, Felipe Massa claims

Wednesday 1 December 2021 10:09 , Jack Rathborn

Felipe Massa believes Mick Schumacher’s surname is a “burden” for the young driver.

Mick is the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, and has began his own Formula 1 journey with US team Haas. The team have struggled with performance and reliability all season, and have failed to pick up a single championship point.

Schumacher has not come under great scrutiny, partly due to the poor quality of his car and partly due to the erratic driving of his teammate, Nikita Mazepin.

“In general, the name Schumacher is a burden for Mick,” Massa told Die Welt. “It helps him to get sponsors and he gets a lot of support. But people expect things he can never fulfil. The pressure is extremely high.

Mick Schumacher’s surname is a ‘burden’ in F1 career, Felipe Massa claims

Spanish Grand Prix lands new deal to extend F1 relationship to 35 years

Wednesday 1 December 2021 09:59 , Jack Rathborn

The Spanish Grand Prix’s future has been decided after recent speculation with a new long-term deal for the track in Barcelona.

The Circuit de Catalunya continues to be the home of the Spanish GP since 1991 and the new deal takes them up until 2026 at least.

Under the fresh terms, the track must be upgraded ahead of next year’s race in May.

“We are delighted to announce this deal with Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,” said F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali.

“I want to thank to promoter and the authorities for their enthusiasm and commitment to keeping Formula 1 in Barcelona, with improvements that will be made to the track and facilities, and continuing our long history together.

“The teams and drivers always look forward to racing at the circuit and visiting Barcelona, and the Spanish fans will continue to see their national heroes, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz up close.”

Lewis Hamilton competes in the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo (AFP)
Lewis Hamilton competes in the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo (AFP)

Alpine F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon attend Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris

Wednesday 1 December 2021 09:52 , Jack Rathborn

Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon of Alpine F1 Team during the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France (EPA)
Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon of Alpine F1 Team during the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France (EPA)
Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon of Alpine F1 Team during the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France (EPA)
Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon of Alpine F1 Team during the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France (EPA)
Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon of Alpine F1 Team during the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France (AFP)
Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon of Alpine F1 Team during the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France (AFP)

Toto Wolff makes bold statement about Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Wednesday 1 December 2021 09:42 , Jack Rathborn

Toto Wolff claims Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes is in “the best place it has been all season” as a thrilling Formula One title race heads to Saudi Arabia this weekend.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton trails Red Bull rival Max Verstappen by eight points with just rounds of an enthralling see-saw battle to go.

The high-speed street circuit in Jeddah is expected to favour Hamilton’s machine over the race weekend with Wolff bullish about where the team are at in their preparations.

“The car has been performing well recently and is probably in the best place it has been all season, with the drivers confident to push it to the limit. That’s encouraging for the final races and gives us strong momentum to take forward,” he said.

Toto Wolff makes bold statement about Lewis Hamilton’s car ahead of Saudi Arabian GP

Nico Rosberg admits satisfaction at Lewis Hamilton success

Wednesday 1 December 2021 09:08 , Jack Rathborn

Nico Rosberg admits he “very often” reflects on his intense 2016 title battle with Lewis Hamilton, with his sense of achievement greater in hindsight due to the Briton’s subsequent success.

And with the Mercedes star poised to hunt down Max Verstappen and claim an eighth world title, Rosberg’s success may look even better.

“Every time I see Lewis win, it becomes clearer why it wasn’t quite so easy for me to beat him,” Rosberg said.

Hamilton is aiming for a fifth successive title and a seventh in eight years, making Rosberg’s achievement to edge out the Briton even more impressive.

First Saudi female racer appointed ambassador for F1 GP

Wednesday 1 December 2021 08:50 , Jack Rathborn

Saudi Arabia’s first female racing driver Reema Juffali has been appointed an ambassador for the country’s inaugural Formula One Grand Prix in Jeddah this week, organisers said on Monday.

The 29-year-old, who competed in the British Formula Three championship this year, will be one of the first to drive a lap of the street circuit along the shores of the Red Sea.

She will also take part in a track shakedown of a 1979 Williams Formula One car, which carried sponsorship for national airline Saudia.

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the activities over the race weekend and I hope that my story and journey can provide some inspiration to anyone thinking of following their dream,” she said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving in 2018 and Juffali became the first Saudi female license holder to compete in a series that same year.

Sunday’s Formula One race will be the third of four in the Middle East this season and could also be a title decider.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton by eight points ahead of the penultimate round.

McLaren’s Lando Norris moving from England to Monaco

Wednesday 1 December 2021 08:36 , Jack Rathborn

F1 driver Lando Norris has revealed he will move to Monaco at the end of the season, saying: “People do many things in life for money – this is just another one.”

The 22-year-old British driver has enjoyed a stellar season with McLaren and is currently fifth in the standings with two races to go – the best of the rest after Red Bull and Mercedes. Norris extended his McLaren contract earlier this year, and says now is the right moment to move from his current base near the team factory in Woking to the tax haven of Monte Carlo.

“It’s something that obviously a lot of drivers go to do and especially, with how racing is, I think we’ve seen for other drivers how quickly things can also go downhill and so on,” said Norris. “I have to look after my things for my future.

Lewis Hamilton ‘shifting into overdrive’ in F1 title battle

Wednesday 1 December 2021 08:25 , Jack Rathborn

“It’s almost like he’s shifted into overdrive. He always did that after the summer break and then people just didn’t understand how it was possible that he kept grabbing the Mercedes titles. I think he’s done the same now, maybe a bit later than usual, but Mercedes have also shifted up a gear,’’ said Brundle according to Motorsport.com.

‘’Suddenly you wonder if he’s not the favourite for the championship, especially with this momentum right now. But all it takes is one misstep, one bit of unreliability, contact, a puncture or something and Max could decide it this weekend. It probably won’t happen, but it could.

“The balance is just beautiful. Red Bull will probably hope it goes back and forth a bit like the rest of the season’’, concludes the former F1 driver.”

Lewis Hamilton backed to defeat Max Verstappen by former rival Nico Rosberg

Wednesday 1 December 2021 07:50 , Jack Rathborn

Speaking to SPORTBUZZER, Rosberg said: “It’s a sensationally close fight! Emotionally, I say Lewis. His experience speaks for him. But the championship is totally open.”

“Max is really super-strong. Mental strength is essential in a duel like this.

“It’s certainly not easy for Max because it’s the first time he’s been in such a situation. And then against the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time. In that respect, he already deserves the greatest recognition.

“You have to take advantage when Lewis has his weak phases, when he loses his motivation, his head,” Rosberg explained.

“Then it’s full attack! In other words, you have to score the maximum number of points possible because you should never write Lewis off. He always comes back.”

Sebastian Vettel ‘no longer among top five F1 drivers'

Wednesday 1 December 2021 07:46 , Jack Rathborn

‘’If you had to nominate a top five of the current field, I wouldn’t put Seb there. He’s had his best time. Maybe you write down (besides Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen) Lando (Norris) and Charles Leclerc, but maybe also George (Russell), Sergio (Perez), Carlos Sainz or Fernando (Alonso).

“Fernando should definitely be on that list,’’ Martin Brundle told Sky Sports.

“No matter how you look at it, Seb is not one of them. He still has the experience and knowledge to be of great value to Aston Martin, but sometimes he just lacks something in wheel-to-wheel racing. That’s always been the case, but it’s got worse in recent years.”

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