F1 news LIVE: Lewis Hamilton urged not to retire and has ‘informed Mercedes of decision’

F1 news LIVE: Lewis Hamilton urged not to retire and has ‘informed Mercedes of decision’

Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula 1 remains a hot topic as we enter the off-season with the Briton yet to clarify whether he will return with Mercedes following a crushing loss in the title race to Max Verstappen.

The Briton has gone off the radar since defeat at the thrilling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, sparking speculation over whether he will return as teammate to new Mercedes driver George Russell.

There is expectation that the seven-time world champion will be back, with Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali adamant Hamilton will “recharge the his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win an eighth world title.”

But the impact of Russell’s arrival, replacing Valtteri Bottas, will prove fascinating and may change the dynamic of the title race between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the possibility of a third title contender - or more, should the new rules shift the balance of power.

During the fraught and intense 2021 season, incidents on track cost Red Bull close to an eye-watering €4m, the third-highest figure among all drivers behind Mick Schumacher of Haas (€4.2m) and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (€4.1m). Verstappen’s tally is more than three times that of his fierce rival Hamilton, who set Mercedes back €1.2m over the year, according to Sky Germany.

Of course the Dutchman, who clinched his maiden world title in thrilling but controversial fashion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, would put some of that cost down to Hamilton himself after blaming the Briton for their high-speed incident at Copse Corner during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, one of the fastest turns in Formula 1 where the pair made contact and Verstappen was sent flying across the gravel into the barriers. Follow all the latest F1 news below.

F1 latest news

  • F1 boss: No doubt about Lewis Hamilton return for 2022

  • Red Bull car ‘almost on a par’ with Mercedes for 2022

  • Max Verstappen opens up on when he knew he could beat Lewis Hamilton to F1 world title

  • Max Verstappen thought Red Bull promotion was ‘nonsense'

  • Red Bull eye boost from Russell impact on Hamilton

  • Jenson Button’s advice for George Russell after Mercedes move

  • Carlos Sainz hoping Lewis Hamilton does not retire

19:00 , Karl Matchett

Decision-making must improve from those in charge of Formula One, says Toto Wolff, if the off-track discussions and controversies from this year are not to be repeated in future.

Much of the recently finished season was embroiled in recriminations, appeals and complaints, with drivers and team chiefs alike unsure of how or why certain rulings were handed out.

The biggest and most obvious of those was of course in the finale at Abu Dhabi, where Max Verstappen won the race and the title in the final lap after Michael Masi’s decision to take the safety car away after unlapping only the cars between the Red Bull driver and then-leader Lewis Hamilton, who ultimately finished second.

Wolff and Mercedes were furious at the call which was season-deciding and appeared to have no precedent, and the boss says it was symptomatic of what went on throughout the entire campaign.

Full report:

Toto Wolff claims F1’s ‘inconsistent’ decision-making led to 2021 controversies

18:40 , Karl Matchett

“It’s McLaren 1-2 at Monza...”

It produced one of the shocks of the season, with Lando Norris getting past Charles Leclerc into second meaning the top two podium spots in Italy went to the same team which wasn’t Red Bull or Mercedes for a change.

It also earned Lando the best overtake of the year award.

F1 news

18:20 , Karl Matchett

He’d no doubt have preferred that many Grand Prix victories rather than Driver of the Day awards, but Sergio Perez definitely played a big part in the title race and the season as a whole regardless!

F1 news

17:59 , Karl Matchett

Bernie Ecclestone believes Lewis Hamilton will retire from Formula One due to the disappointment of losing the world title in a dramatic season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton was denied a record eighth world title in agonising fashion after Max Verstappen passed him on the last lap to collect his maiden F1 championship. The victory was a controversial one, though, after FIA race director Michael Masi came under fire for his interpretation of rules relating to lapped cars under safety car conditions in the closing stages.

And former F1 chief executive Ecclestone does not believe Hamilton will return for the 2022 season, which starts in Bahrain in March.

Full report:

Bernie Ecclestone tips Lewis Hamilton to quit F1 after missing out on title

F1 news

17:20 , Karl Matchett

Formula One needs to clarify its rulings and make it faster to understand what any outcome of incidents will be if it is to move on from a controversial 2021 season.

That’s the view of Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, who told Sky Sports that a change in FIA president, the off-season and the way the recent campaign ended all provide F1 with the need and the potential for immediate change.

Being clear about which incidents are worthy of punishment will leave drivers in the know about what they can and can’t do, he explained, while the post-race discussions and counter-appeals would also become a thing of the past if everybody knew which offences would be punished.

“The sport needs to make progress,” Rosberg said.

“It starts even with all the overtaking, the wheel-to-wheel action.”

Full report:

F1 rules must be ‘easier to understand’ to avoid controversy repeat

F1 news

17:00 , Karl Matchett

Decision-making must improve from those in charge of Formula One, says Toto Wolff, if the off-track discussions and controversies from this year are not to be repeated in future.

“It is a wider problem. If you look at most of the controversies that have happened this year, it was about decisions, sporting decisions on the track, the inconsistency of the execution of the regulations on track.

“It is one thing to drive hard and to have differences of opinion among the drivers and the teams, it is in the nature of the game.

“But inconsistent decision making leads to controversies, leads to polarisation and that was the grounds for many of the totally unnecessary controversies on the track.”

Toto Wolff claims F1’s ‘inconsistent’ decision-making led to 2021 controversies

F1 news

16:40 , Karl Matchett

Charles Leclerc says he’s still working on finding a balance between performance in qualifying and race days, but he has picked out one area he feels has improved in his driving during the year.

“Definitely the race management in general,” he said to Motorsport Week.

“I think since early 2020 I’ve started to say it’s one of my weaknesses, especially after 2019 when I’ve had a lot of good qualifyings but then in the race I was struggling a bit more.

“We were struggling a bit more as a team, but also as a driver I was struggling more than others so I put a lot of work into it in 2020, I got much better and I think in 2021 it’s actually one of my strengths now.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

F1 news

16:20 , Karl Matchett

Nick Yelloly has given reason for hope to those who want to see Aston Martin challenge far more next year, saying the initial tests on the new car are positive.

“We have been working on the 2022 car for a long time, with our first running in the sim back in March,” he said.

“Obviously when we get the new car on the track, that will be the main point. But in general, the car feels very, very good and we test each new idea out on the simulator before even thinking about any build process.

“We have made big gains since March and now we look forward to the February running in Barcelona.”

F1 news

16:00 , Karl Matchett

Former F1 champion Nico Rosberg has demanded the FIA make it far clearer who is in the right or wrong when incidents occur on the track, by providing clarity in the rules on overtaking and more.

“The sport needs to make progress,” Rosberg said to Sky.

“It starts even with all the overtaking, the wheel-to-wheel action.

“The FIA needs to tighten all that up so that we don’t have all these discussions.

“It would be better for the sport if it was much easier to understand. Also in wheel-to-wheel racing; who is now right and wrong, what needs to be done. A quick decision is made, and we go on.

“We need to get rid of all these discussions, that’s important.”

F1 2021 season recap

15:40 , Karl Matchett

Here’s every race and every podium place from the season just ended - which races will linger longest in the memory?

Bahrain - Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas

Italy - Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris

Portugal - Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas

Spain - Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas

Monaco - Verstappen, Sainz, Norris

Azerbaijan - Perez, Vettel, Gasly

France - Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

Austria - Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas

Austria - Verstappen, Bottas, Norris

Great Britain - Hamilton, Leclerc, Bottas

Hungary - Ocon, Hamilton, Sainz

Belgium - Verstappen, Russell, Hamilton

Netherlands - Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas

Italy - Ricciardo, Norris, Bottas

Russia - Hamilton, Verstappen, Sainz

Turkey - Bottas, Verstappen, Perez

United States - Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

Mexico - Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

Brazil - Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas

Qatar - Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso

Saudi Arabia - Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas

Abu Dhabi - Verstappen, Hamilton, Sainz

F1 news

15:21 , Karl Matchett

Who failed to impress in the F1 2021 season?

Nikita Mazepin’s awful showings across the year with Haas, Michael Masi’s failures as a race director - especially in that final race - and Yuki Tsunoda struggling at times in his rookie campaign after a promising opening have made Planet F1’s “five biggest flop’s” of 2021.

There’s also a note for an underwhelming season for Australian Daniel Ricciardo, even after he won at Monza, and the expectation is that he’ll have to improve next term after the off-season back home.

Aston Martin, too, need to see big improvements after poor showings throughout this year - they clocked up just 77 points to finish seventh in the constructor standings. With Vettel and Stroll behind the wheel of their cars, they should be faring far better.

F1 news: Leclerc missed out on 40 points through no fault of his own, says Ferrari boss

15:06 , Karl Matchett

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc was unlucky in the 2021 season and he lost 40 points due to “race situations”.

The boss pointed to two races in particular where Leclerc could have picked up points. In the Monaco Grand Prix he took pole position but damage to his car meant he couldn’t race and in Hungary he was taken out by Lance Stroll in the first lap.

Binotto said: “We should not forget that in his season, there are a couple of examples, which is Monaco and Budapest, where he didn’t score but I think he has been unlucky as a driver in those occasions.

“Without that, it’s difficult to say what he would have finished at the end of the race, but maybe at least 40 points missing on his classification. So without that again I think he would have been a lot further ahead in the championship.”

Leclerc finished seventh in the driver standings, but an additional 40 would have seen him risen to fourth - ahead of Lando Norris, team-mate Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

‘Unlucky’ Charles Leclerc lost 40 points during F1 season, Ferrari chief claims

F1 news: Alonso keen for 2022 improvements

14:49 , Karl Matchett

Fernando Alonso believes he can be even quicker in 2022 after his 2021 preseason was hampered by a cycling accident.

Alonso enjoyed a good year with French team Alpine (formerly Renault), finishing 10th in the drivers’ championship and even notching a podium at the end of the season in Qatar.

At 40, the two-time world champion will be the oldest driver on the F1 grid next season since Kimi Raikkonen has now retired. But he believes he can do even better with the opportunity for a full winter preparation after pre-season was disrupted in 2021. More below:

Fernando Alonso explains why he is bullish about 2022 F1 season

Max Verstappen thought Red Bull promotion was ‘nonsense’

14:32 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen’s initial reaction to news of a promotion at Red Bull in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix was that it was “nonsense”.

Verstappen’s first full-time drive came with the junior team Toro Rosso at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, before stepping up in place of Daniil Kvyat at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, making it a memorable debut after snatching victory.

“That’s right, yes,” Red Bull’s driver programme boss Helmut Marko told Motorsport.com when discussing the rumour. Jos did realise something was going on and that Max might be driving for Red Bull, but Max thought it was sheer nonsense.

“I called Jos early in the morning and told him we had to meet in Graz. During the lunch that followed, I could not get straight to the point. At the same time, there were all sorts of things going on in England in terms of contracts and preparations, so I had to talk around it a bit.

“It was only at the end of that lunch that I was able to get down to business, when Max was already wondering why he was there at all.

“Anyway, before Max came to Graz he could have known what would happen, especially if he had listened to Jos. (Laughs) Coincidentally, we discussed it over dinner in Austin this year.”

Lando Norris beats Max Vertsappen to win Best Overtake of 2021

14:19 , Jack Rathborn

Lando Norris has won Formula 1’s award for Best Overtake of 2021.

The Briton beat off competition from fellow-finalist Max Vertsappen, with 53.8 per cent of the vote.

And the McLaren driver made light of his victory of the world champion, tweeting: “Wow. My first F1 win.”

Red Bull got ‘lucky’ in F1 title race finale, claims Juan Pablo Montoya

14:03 , Jack Rathborn

Juan Pablo Montoya maintains that Red Bull got “lucky” in their Formula 1 title triumph over Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

“Yes, you’re trying to race, but racing in a way where you really want to get in the way, and Lewis knows if he goes for it they would crash and call it a racing incident and they (Red Bull) were counting on that,” said the Colombian, who raced in F1 between 2001 and 2006.

“Red Bull played all the cards to get it (the title) and in the end they did – luck was on their side. Whether they made the right decisions or not is up to the FIA to analyse.”

Sergio Perez ‘would have been destroyed 20 years ago’ for helping Max Verstappen

13:48 , Jack Rathborn

Juan Pablo Montoya maintains Sergio Perez’s role in helping to deliver Max Verstappen the Formula 1 title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would have seen him “destroyed” back in his day.

“Oh my God, it’s good that Checo got involved and helped Max. And I think he did a very good job for Max,” the Colombian said.

“Twenty years ago, if the second driver did that, he would have been destroyed. And if Rubens (Barrichello) ever helped Michael (Schumacher), everyone said ‘oh my God, why are you helping Michael? You gave up a win, a position?’

“And it was a big drama at the time, whereas today they say ‘oh, he helped him, he got in the way and it was good that he did it’. Those are points of view.”

“I don’t know [what has changed]. It’s pretty crazy.

“Honestly, I think if you were supporting Max you would think what ‘Checo’ did was sensational because it helped him. But if you were supporting Lewis or you were neutral, you would wonder why he got involved.”

Valtteri Bottas labelled a ‘failure’ for Abu Dhabi performance

13:32 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas has been labelled a ‘failure’ for his Abu Dhabi performance and inability to help Lewis Hamilton secure the world title.

That is the view of former F1 driver Marc Surer, who maintains the Finn could have done more, like Sergio Perez to assist his teammate as Max Verstappen dramatically snatched the title from the Briton

The Swiss said: “Bottas is actually a failure in traffic. He always gets stuck and has an insanely hard time.

“The guy just can’t overtake other cars that are over a second slower with the fastest car in the field. That’s his weakness.

“Max wouldn’t have made it. Overtaking two cars in one lap would not have worked. But Bottas was nowhere.

“He [Bottas] always gets it right on a single lap [in qualifying], and he sometimes gets it so right he is ahead of Hamilton. He can do that – and that is precisely Perez’s weakness.”

Lewis Hamilton ‘informs Mercedes of decision not to retire’

13:17 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton will not retire, according to reports, with the Briton already informing Mercedes of his decision to come back after falling agonisingly short in the F1 title race last season.

The Briton has spoken with Mercedes, report Motorsport.com, and will see out his two-year deal.

Hamilton will be keen to prove his worth over world champion Max Verstappen, while the challenge to assert his superiority over teammate George Russell exists, with his compatriot potentially providing more competition than Valtteri Bottas did.

Carlos Sainz hoping Lewis Hamilton does not retire

13:00 , Jack Rathborn

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has urged Lewis Hamilton to continue racing amid doubts over his future in the sport after a crushing end to the 2021 F1 title race.

“I don’t know what Hamilton will decide to do,” Sainz told Marca.

“I hope Hamilton doesn’t retire, I want to continue racing with him.

“He’s one of the best in history and I want to continue sharing the grid with him.”

Toto Wolff claims F1 decision-making led to regular 2021 controversy

12:45 , Karl Matchett

Decision-making must improve from those in charge of Formula One, says Toto Wolff, if the off-track discussions and controversies from this year are not to be repeated in future.

“It is a wider problem. If you look at most of the controversies that have happened this year, it was about decisions, sporting decisions on the track, the inconsistency of the execution of the regulations on track.

“It is one thing to drive hard and to have differences of opinion among the drivers and the teams, it is in the nature of the game.

“But inconsistent decision making leads to controversies, leads to polarisation and that was the grounds for many of the totally unnecessary controversies on the track.”

F1 drivers reveal secret Santa gifts

12:32 , Karl Matchett

Everybody wants to see Daniel Ricciardo with a Fernando Alonso tattoo on him, right? One step closer here as the F1 secret Santa between the drivers takes a slightly bizarre turn!

Good to see the spirit and humour is intact for most of them - not sure Mazepin was overly impressed with his gift but Alonso himself got a thoughtful one considering what happened last year!

Leclerc focused on self-improvement in 2022

12:15 , Karl Matchett

Charles Leclerc says he’s still working on finding a balance between performance in qualifying and race days, but he has picked out one area he feels has improved in his driving during the year.

“Definitely the race management in general,” he said to Motorsport Week.

“I think since early 2020 I’ve started to say it’s one of my weaknesses, especially after 2019 when I’ve had a lot of good qualifyings but then in the race I was struggling a bit more.

“We were struggling a bit more as a team, but also as a driver I was struggling more than others so I put a lot of work into it in 2020, I got much better and I think in 2021 it’s actually one of my strengths now.”

Aston Martin optimistic over new season improvements

12:03 , Karl Matchett

Nick Yelloly has given reason for hope to those who want to see Aston Martin challenge far more next year, saying the initial tests on the new car are positive.

“We have been working on the 2022 car for a long time, with our first running in the sim back in March,” he said.

“Obviously when we get the new car on the track, that will be the main point. But in general, the car feels very, very good and we test each new idea out on the simulator before even thinking about any build process.

“We have made big gains since March and now we look forward to the February running in Barcelona.”

F1 rules must be clearer in 2022 - Rosberg

11:45 , Karl Matchett

Former F1 champion Nico Rosberg has had enough of the constant post-race arguments of who was in the right or wrong when on-track incidents take place.

He has told Sky Sports that the rules have become clearer so everyone knows what’s the correct procedure to avoid incidents occuring - and knows who is in the wrong if they do happen.

“The sport needs to make progress,” Rosberg said.

“It starts even with all the overtaking, the wheel-to-wheel action.

“The FIA needs to tighten all that up so that we don’t have all these discussions.

“It would be better for the sport if it was much easier to understand. Also in wheel-to-wheel racing; who is now right and wrong, what needs to be done. A quick decision is made, and we go on.

“We need to get rid of all these discussions, that’s important.”

Mazepin and Masi headline F1’s “flops” of the year

11:32 , Karl Matchett

Nikita Mazepin’s dismal performance across the year, Michael Masi’s failures as a race director and Yuki Tsunoda struggling at times in his rookie campaign have made Planet F1’s “five biggest flop’s” of 2021.

There’s also a mention for an underwhelming season for Daniel Ricciardo, despite winning the Italian Grand Prix, and the expectation is that he’ll have to improve next term after the off-season back home.

Aston Martin, too, need to see big improvements after poor showings throughout this year.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Leclerc unlucky with his final season tally, says Ferrari chief

11:14 , Karl Matchett

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc was unlucky in the 2021 season and he lost 40 points due to “race situations”.

The boss pointed to two races in particular where Leclerc could have picked up points. In the Monaco Grand Prix he took pole position but damage to his car meant he couldn’t race and in Hungary he was taken out by Lance Stroll in the first lap.

Binotto said: “We should not forget that in his season, there are a couple of examples, which is Monaco and Budapest, where he didn’t score but I think he has been unlucky as a driver in those occasions.

“Without that, it’s difficult to say what he would have finished at the end of the race, but maybe at least 40 points missing on his classification. So without that again I think he would have been a lot further ahead in the championship.”

Leclerc finished seventh in the driver standings, but an additional 40 would have seen him risen to fourth.

Alonso optimistic that improvements are ahead in 2022

10:51 , Karl Matchett

Fernando Alonso believes he can be even quicker in 2022 after his 2021 preseason was hampered by a cycling accident.

Alonso enjoyed a good year with French team Alpine (formerly Renault), finishing 10th in the drivers’ championship and even notching a podium at the end of the season in Qatar.

At 40, the two-time world champion will be the oldest driver on the F1 grid next season since Kimi Raikkonen has now retired. But he believes he can do even better with the opportunity for a full winter preparation after pre-season was disrupted in 2021. More below:

Fernando Alonso explains why he is bullish about 2022 F1 season

Ferrari enjoyed a productive 2021

10:35 , Karl Matchett

Lots to look forward to for Ferrari next season, after Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished fifth and seventh respectively in the driver standings.

They clocked up five podium finishes between them, with Ferrari finishing third in the constructor championship.

Lewis Hamilton will return with ‘even more desire’ in 2022

10:17 , Karl Matchett

Lewis Hamilton will have “even more desire” to win a record eighth Formula 1 title next season, says chief Stefano Domenicali.

The British driver just missed out on the record this season after he was pipped to the title in the final race of the campaign. Hamilton was leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was overtaken by Max Verstappen in the last lap to lose out.

The circumstances around the defeat makes Domenicali believe Hamilton will be back with a vengeance.

“Lewis Hamilton? I’m sure he will recharge his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win the eighth world title,” he told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport. Full report:

Lewis Hamilton will return with ‘even more desire’ in 2022, F1 chief claims

Max Verstappen thought Red Bull promotion was ‘nonsense'

09:51 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen’s initial reaction to news of a promotion at Red Bull in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix was that it was “nonsense”.

Verstappen’s first full-time drive came with the junior team Toro Rosso at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, before stepping up in place of Daniil Kvyat at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, making it a memorable debut after snatching victory.

“That’s right, yes,” Red Bull’s driver programme boss Helmut Marko told Motorsport.com when discussing the rumour. Jos did realise something was going on and that Max might be driving for Red Bull, but Max thought it was sheer nonsense.

“I called Jos early in the morning and told him we had to meet in Graz. During the lunch that followed, I could not get straight to the point. At the same time, there were all sorts of things going on in England in terms of contracts and preparations, so I had to talk around it a bit.

“It was only at the end of that lunch that I was able to get down to business, when Max was already wondering why he was there at all.

“Anyway, before Max came to Graz he could have known what would happen, especially if he had listened to Jos. (Laughs) Coincidentally, we discussed it over dinner in Austin this year.”

09:35 , Jack Rathborn

Ian Poulter fixes Carlos Sainz’s golf swing

09:25 , Jack Rathborn

Carlos Sainz’s other passion away from the track is golf.

And Ian Poulter gave him a quick lesson a few weeks ago, as the Spaniard bids to lower his handicap from 11 to five.

Lando Norris beats Max Vertsappen to win Best Overtake of 2021

09:09 , Jack Rathborn

Lando Norris has won Formula 1’s award for Best Overtake of 2021.

The Briton beat off competition from fellow-finalist Max Vertsappen, with 53.8 per cent of the vote.

And the McLaren driver made light of his victory of the world champion, tweeting: “Wow. My first F1 win.”

Red Bull got ‘lucky’ in F1 title race finale, claims Juan Pablo Montoya

08:51 , Jack Rathborn

Juan Pablo Montoya maintains that Red Bull got “lucky” in their Formula 1 title triumph over Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

“Yes, you’re trying to race, but racing in a way where you really want to get in the way, and Lewis knows if he goes for it they would crash and call it a racing incident and they (Red Bull) were counting on that,” said the Colombian, who raced in F1 between 2001 and 2006.

“Red Bull played all the cards to get it (the title) and in the end they did – luck was on their side. Whether they made the right decisions or not is up to the FIA to analyse.”

Sergio Perez ‘would have been destroyed 20 years ago’ for helping Max Verstappen

08:35 , Jack Rathborn

Juan Pablo Montoya maintains Sergio Perez’s role in helping to deliver Max Verstappen the Formula 1 title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would have seen him “destroyed” back in his day.

“Oh my God, it’s good that Checo got involved and helped Max. And I think he did a very good job for Max,” the Colombian said.

“Twenty years ago, if the second driver did that, he would have been destroyed. And if Rubens (Barrichello) ever helped Michael (Schumacher), everyone said ‘oh my God, why are you helping Michael? You gave up a win, a position?’

“And it was a big drama at the time, whereas today they say ‘oh, he helped him, he got in the way and it was good that he did it’. Those are points of view.”

“I don’t know [what has changed]. It’s pretty crazy.

“Honestly, I think if you were supporting Max you would think what ‘Checo’ did was sensational because it helped him. But if you were supporting Lewis or you were neutral, you would wonder why he got involved.”

Valtteri Bottas labelled a ‘failure’ for Abu Dhabi performance

08:20 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas has been labelled a ‘failure’ for his Abu Dhabi performance and inability to help Lewis Hamilton secure the world title.

That is the view of former F1 driver Marc Surer, who maintains the Finn could have done more, like Sergio Perez to assist his teammate as Max Verstappen dramatically snatched the title from the Briton

The Swiss said: “Bottas is actually a failure in traffic. He always gets stuck and has an insanely hard time.

“The guy just can’t overtake other cars that are over a second slower with the fastest car in the field. That’s his weakness.

“Max wouldn’t have made it. Overtaking two cars in one lap would not have worked. But Bottas was nowhere.

“He [Bottas] always gets it right on a single lap [in qualifying], and he sometimes gets it so right he is ahead of Hamilton. He can do that – and that is precisely Perez’s weakness.”

Lewis Hamilton ‘informs Mercedes of decision not to retire’

08:05 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton will not retire, according to reports, with the Briton already informing Mercedes of his decision to come back after falling agonisingly short in the F1 title race last season.

The Briton has spoken with Mercedes, report Motorsport.com, and will see out his two-year deal.

Hamilton will be keen to prove his worth over world champion Max Verstappen, while the challenge to assert his superiority over teammate George Russell exists, with his compatriot potentially providing more competition than Valtteri Bottas did.

Carlos Sainz hoping Lewis Hamilton does not retire

07:46 , Jack Rathborn

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has urged Lewis Hamilton to continue racing amid doubts over his future in the sport after a crushing end to the 2021 F1 title race.

“I don’t know what Hamilton will decide to do,” Sainz told Marca.

“I hope Hamilton doesn’t retire, I want to continue racing with him.

“He’s one of the best in history and I want to continue sharing the grid with him.”

Jenson Button’s advice for George Russell after Mercedes move

07:42 , Jack Rathborn

“He’s got to not put pressure on himself,” Button said to Sky Sports F1.

“He can’t think: ‘I’m going to get in the car and be quicker than Lewis on day one.’

“He’s got to build up to it, otherwise he’s going to shoot himself in the foot. You can’t be too confident alongside Lewis.”

F1 news

Thursday 23 December 2021 16:37 , Lawrence Ostlere

Haas boss Guenther Steiner has backed Dmitry Mazepin’s idea to bring in an incentive scheme to help retain staff.

After finishing in P5 in the Constructors’ Championship back in 2018, Haas have struggled with consecutive finishes at P9.

But despite the decline and complete

focus this season on 2022 by surrendering the season early, Steiner has not seen a “mass exodus”.

And he has now thrown his weight behind Dmitry Mazepin, father of Haas driver Nikita, who has suggested a loyalty bonus for those who stay for the long-term battle with the team.

“We speak with other people and they have the same issue,” Steiner told GPFans. “It’s nothing different. It’s just a few people are leaving. Every year, they are leaving. If he [Mazepin] had to give them an incentive, if he can do it right, I’m all for it. People leaving, I think that’s every season. At the end of the season, some people leave.

“For example, on the technical side of things, we have more people than we had before, when they are staying. There was not that many people leaving. It’s more of a race thing because it’s a calendar of 23 races. People just want to have another career. They are doing something different but it’s not being outrageous.

“It’s a little bit more than normal, but it’s the end of every year. Some people move away a little bit because otherwise, the race mechanics normally are young because they need to be young.

“It’s quite physical to do this job and if somebody sees an opportunity, when he moves on, it’s okay to do something better. I don’t stop them, but a mass exodus…it’s not true.”

Haas boss Guenther Steiner (Getty Images)
Haas boss Guenther Steiner (Getty Images)

Ferrari boss says Leclerc unlucky in 2021

Thursday 23 December 2021 15:46 , Lawrence Ostlere

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc was unlucky in the 2021 season and he lost 40 points due to “race situations”.

Binotto said: “We should not forget that in his season, there are a couple of examples, which is Monaco and Budapest, where he didn’t score but I think he has been unlucky as a driver in those occasions.

“Without that, it’s difficult to say what he would have finished at the end of the race, but maybe at least 40 points missing on his classification. So without that again I think he would have been a lot further ahead in the championship.”

Leclerc finished seventh and 31 points off of fourth place which is why Binotto added he has nothing but good things to say about his driver.

Full story:

‘Unlucky’ Charles Leclerc lost 40 points during F1 season, Ferrari chief claims

F1 news: Alonso backs himself to shine in 2022

Thursday 23 December 2021 15:27 , Lawrence Ostlere

Fernando Alonso believes he can be even quicker in 2022 after his 2021 preseason was hampered by a cycling accident.

“I am planning to have a different preparation next year, but not because the car will be different because I think the cars will be very similar in terms of driving and forces and lap times etc, but just because this winter I couldn’t do a proper preparation after the bike accident,” he explained.

“I was just counting the days to go to [the first race in] Bahrain and it was just on time to go to Bahrain, but not with a proper physical programme, so this winter, I want to do it a little bit more.”

Full story:

Fernando Alonso explains why he is bullish about 2022 F1 season

Max Verstappen opens up on when he knew he could beat Lewis Hamilton to F1 world title

Thursday 23 December 2021 15:10 , Jack Rathborn

“It’s difficult [to say] because I was in the lead, and back to second, and then in the lead again,” Verstappen said.

“There was never a point where I thought, ‘Okay, we’ve got it in the bag’, because every race I could either win or be second.

“It was all about the attention of details where you could make the difference in terms of winning or being second.”

F1 commentator claims anti-Max Verstappen agenda from ‘English experts’

Thursday 23 December 2021 14:55 , Jack Rathborn

Russian Formula 1 commentator Alexei Popov believes there is an agenda against Max Verstappen from “English experts”.

“That’s exactly the point of view of the English experts, who have been pushing it very gently in the last few races. And before, it was not pushed very much. They started preloading Max with this story beforehand,” he told championat.com.

“In fact, this is what sport is all about. I pay attention – in our country (Russia) people are fans of the cult of (Ayrton) Senna, which changed Formula 1 in the direction of prohibitive rigidity.

“And we have people who are mostly fans of Michael Schumacher, who has moved F1 towards even more extreme rigidity. Against their backdrop, Max Verstappen is still just learning!

“And I will remember the same Lewis, who is now driving gently because he has had a car advantage for years, but in the moments when he had a weak car…there were a couple of years at McLaren and I remember Hamilton was reproached for excessively hard driving, and he said ‘yes, I would be happy to drive differently if I had a super-fast car, and here it is my only chance’. But the same is true for Max.

“Yes, at times this year Verstappen had the fastest car and won several races in a row. But when the fastest car was with Mercedes, the only chance for Max not to lose was to go into every braking zone to the limit, trying to overtake when he felt he could overtake.”

Toto Wolff wants ban on team principals talking to race chiefs after Abu Dhabi rant

Thursday 23 December 2021 14:40 , Jack Rathborn

Toto Wolff is pushing for team principals to be banned from speaking during races to F1’s race director.

Wolff was himself often heard speaking to Michael Masi, but after a farcical ending to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Mercedes chief is keen for a shift in the rules.

“I agree with Ross [Brawn],” Wolff told Motorsport.com, agreeing that team officials should not be allowed to speak to the race director mid-race.

“But I equally blame Ross and myself because we have been part of the decision making to broadcast more of the channels for the purpose of transparency and entertainment for the fans.

“There is so much going on on the intercom that giving fans a little bit of an overview of all the little dramas that happen, like is the car breaking down, are we having some kind of strategy discussions, was meant well. But I think we overshot.

“I need to take myself by the nose, and Christian. We were given the opportunity to talk to the race director directly, and because we fight so fiercely for the interests of our teams all of us, we overstepped.

“We will stop this contact next year. It’s unacceptable that team bosses put Michael under such pressure during the race. It’s like the coaches negotiating with the referee in football.”

Michael Masi was often heard speaking with Toto Wolff and other team principals mid-race last season (Getty)
Michael Masi was often heard speaking with Toto Wolff and other team principals mid-race last season (Getty)

Red Bull chief wants F1 age limit to be lowered

Thursday 23 December 2021 14:25 , Jack Rathborn

Formula One should reverse a rule-change which doesn’t let drivers partake in races until they turn 18, says Helmut Marko, pointing to the success of new world champion Max Verstappen as proof that more is required to judge each new case than a simple number of age.

The Red Bull racer claimed his first title after victory in Abu Dhabi recently, having made his F1 debut at age 17 for Toro Rosso.

But rules were changed soon afterwards to prevent a Super Licence being obtained until drivers were at least 18, and that regulation remains in place today.

Red Bull chief wants F1 age limit to be lowered

Fernando Alonso ‘not involved much’ in Alpine 2022 F1 car development

Thursday 23 December 2021 14:10 , Jack Rathborn

Fernando Alonso admits he is not involved much in Alpine’s development of their 2022 F1 car.

The two-time world champion has discussed how early restrictions on development for the 2022 season in 2020 meant he was not consulted much.

“Not much, to be honest,” Alonso said when asked involved he is in the process. “If I’m honest, then the development has been followed by all the designers, the simulations, the new regulations were too strict at the beginning so there were a lot of clarification as to what we could do and not do with FIA and things like that.

“It is a strange new project for everybody, I feel. Now from December and January we will start the work in the simulator and hopefully our implication will be a little bit more.”

Toto Wolff ‘confident’ about FIA changes with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes frustrations shared

Thursday 23 December 2021 13:55 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff maintains he is confident that the FIA will draft in positive changes to the F1 rules after the controversial ending to the 2021 season.

“I think in this day and age of transparency, such decisions cannot be made anymore in backroom deals,” Wolff said.

“And why I am optimistic is that most stakeholders in the sport will share my frustration on the decisions that have been made all throughout the year.

“Everyone who is a racer, you guys [the media], us, knows what happened. Nevertheless, I have confidence because we will be all pulling on the same rope in the same directions.

“The teams and I have feedback from the teams and the drivers, I had assurances Peter Bayer [FIA secretary-general for motor sport] and Stefano [Domenicali - F1 CEO] that in the next weeks and months, we will close the gaps that have opened up more and more over the last few years.”

Haas looking at loyalty scheme to retain staff for 2022 and beyond

Thursday 23 December 2021 13:40 , Jack Rathborn

Haas boss Guenther Steiner has backed Dmitry Mazepin’s idea to bring in an incentive scheme to help retain staff.

After finishing in P5 in the Constructors’ Championship back in 2018, Haas have struggled with consecutive finishes at P9.

But despite the decline and complete focus this season on 2022 by surrendering the season early, Steiner has not seen a “mass exodus”.

And he has now thrown his weight behind Dmitry Mazepin, father of Haas driver Nikita, who has suggested a loyalty bonus for those who stay for the long-term battle with the team.

“We speak with other people and they have the same issue,” Steiner told GPFans. “It’s nothing different. It’s just a few people are leaving. Every year, they are leaving. If he [Mazepin] had to give them an incentive, if he can do it right, I’m all for it. People leaving, I think that’s every season. At the end of the season, some people leave.

“For example, on the technical side of things, we have more people than we had before, when they are staying. There was not that many people leaving. It’s more of a race thing because it’s a calendar of 23 races. People just want to have another career. They are doing something different but it’s not being outrageous.

“It’s a little bit more than normal, but it’s the end of every year. Some people move away a little bit because otherwise, the race mechanics normally are young because they need to be young.

“It’s quite physical to do this job and if somebody sees an opportunity, when he moves on, it’s okay to do something better. I don’t stop them, but a mass exodus…it’s not true.”

Leclerc lost 40 points to bad luck, says Ferrari boss

Thursday 23 December 2021 13:33 , Lawrence Ostlere

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc was unlucky in the 2021 season and he lost 40 points due to “race situations”.

The boss pointed to two races in particular where Leclerc could have picked up points. In the Monaco Grand Prix he took pole position but damage to his car meant he couldn’t race and in Hungary he was taken out by Lance Stroll in the first lap.

Binotto said: “We should not forget that in his season, there are a couple of examples, which is Monaco and Budapest, where he didn’t score but I think he has been unlucky as a driver in those occasions.

“Without that, it’s difficult to say what he would have finished at the end of the race, but maybe at least 40 points missing on his classification. So without that again I think he would have been a lot further ahead in the championship.”

Full story:

‘Unlucky’ Charles Leclerc lost 40 points during F1 season, Ferrari chief claims

Red Bull car ‘almost on a par’ with Mercedes for 2022

Thursday 23 December 2021 13:25 , Jack Rathborn

Helmut Marko insists Red Bull are developing a car “almost on a par” with Mercedes, with both teams tipped to battle it out at the front once again in 2022, despite new rules and regulations designed to bring in greater competition on the track.

“Max drove in the simulator in between [races],” Helmut Marko told Servus TV. “He can drive a car that is relatively unstable in the rear, for him the car has to be as fast as possible, it doesn’t have to be comfortable.

“At the moment we believe that we are almost on a par with Mercedes. The engine will also change a lot [with synthetic fuel being introduced]. That is a drastic change.

“We believe that we are both in front again unless someone manages a golden shot like with the double diffuser.”

F1 news: Alonso bullish on 2022 chances

Thursday 23 December 2021 13:19 , Lawrence Ostlere

Fernando Alonso believes he can be even quicker in 2022 after his 2021 preseason was hampered by a cycling accident.

Alonso enjoyed a good year with French team Alpine (formerly Renault), finishing 10th in the drivers’ championship and even notching a podium at the end of the season in Qatar.

At 40, the two-time world champion will be the oldest driver on the F1 grid next season since Kimi Raikkonen has now retired. But he believes he can do even better with the opportunity for a full winter preparation.

Full story:

Fernando Alonso explains why he is bullish about 2022 F1 season

F1 boss: No doubt about Lewis Hamilton return for 2022

Thursday 23 December 2021 13:10 , Jack Rathborn

After a thrilling F1 title race, doubt has been cast over the return of Lewis Hamilton for 2022 to resume his rivalry with world champion Max Verstappen.

But Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali is adamant the Briton will be back, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: “I’m sure he will recharge the his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win an eighth world title.”

Max Verstappen opens up on when he knew he could beat Lewis Hamilton to F1 world title

Thursday 23 December 2021 12:26 , Jack Rathborn

“It’s difficult [to say] because I was in the lead, and back to second, and then in the lead again,” Verstappen said.

“There was never a point where I thought, ‘Okay, we’ve got it in the bag’, because every race I could either win or be second.

“It was all about the attention of details where you could make the difference in terms of winning or being second.”

F1 commentator claims anti-Max Verstappen agenda from ‘English experts’

Thursday 23 December 2021 11:40 , Jack Rathborn

Russian Formula 1 commentator Alexei Popov believes there is an agenda against Max Verstappen from “English experts”.

“That’s exactly the point of view of the English experts, who have been pushing it very gently in the last few races. And before, it was not pushed very much. They started preloading Max with this story beforehand,” he told championat.com.

“In fact, this is what sport is all about. I pay attention – in our country (Russia) people are fans of the cult of (Ayrton) Senna, which changed Formula 1 in the direction of prohibitive rigidity.

“And we have people who are mostly fans of Michael Schumacher, who has moved F1 towards even more extreme rigidity. Against their backdrop, Max Verstappen is still just learning!

“And I will remember the same Lewis, who is now driving gently because he has had a car advantage for years, but in the moments when he had a weak car…there were a couple of years at McLaren and I remember Hamilton was reproached for excessively hard driving, and he said ‘yes, I would be happy to drive differently if I had a super-fast car, and here it is my only chance’. But the same is true for Max.

“Yes, at times this year Verstappen had the fastest car and won several races in a row. But when the fastest car was with Mercedes, the only chance for Max not to lose was to go into every braking zone to the limit, trying to overtake when he felt he could overtake.”

Max Verstappen dominates laps lead during 2021 season

Thursday 23 December 2021 11:25 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen led for an incredible 652 laps last season, despite the fine margins in the drivers’ championship with Lewis Hamilton.

The entire rest of the field led for 645 laps, while Hamilton was next closest with 297 laps and nobody else broke 100.

Toto Wolff wants ban on team principals talking to race chiefs after Abu Dhabi rant

Thursday 23 December 2021 11:10 , Jack Rathborn

Toto Wolff is pushing for team principals to be banned from speaking during races to F1's race director.

Wolff was himself often heard speaking to Michael Masi, but after a farcical ending to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Mercedes chief is keen for a shift in the rules.

“I agree with Ross [Brawn],” Wolff told Motorsport.com, agreeing that team officials should not be allowed to speak to the race director mid-race.

“But I equally blame Ross and myself because we have been part of the decision making to broadcast more of the channels for the purpose of transparency and entertainment for the fans.

“There is so much going on on the intercom that giving fans a little bit of an overview of all the little dramas that happen, like is the car breaking down, are we having some kind of strategy discussions, was meant well. But I think we overshot.

“I need to take myself by the nose, and Christian. We were given the opportunity to talk to the race director directly, and because we fight so fiercely for the interests of our teams all of us, we overstepped.

“We will stop this contact next year. It’s unacceptable that team bosses put Michael under such pressure during the race. It’s like the coaches negotiating with the referee in football.”

Michael Masi was often heard speaking mid-race to Toto Wolff (PA Archive)
Michael Masi was often heard speaking mid-race to Toto Wolff (PA Archive)

Red Bull chief wants F1 age limit to be lowered

Thursday 23 December 2021 10:55 , Jack Rathborn

Formula One should reverse a rule-change which doesn’t let drivers partake in races until they turn 18, says Helmut Marko, pointing to the success of new world champion Max Verstappen as proof that more is required to judge each new case than a simple number of age.

The Red Bull racer claimed his first title after victory in Abu Dhabi recently, having made his F1 debut at age 17 for Toro Rosso.

But rules were changed soon afterwards to prevent a Super Licence being obtained until drivers were at least 18, and that regulation remains in place today.

Red Bull chief wants F1 age limit to be lowered

Fernando Alonso ‘not involved much' in Alpine 2022 F1 car development

Thursday 23 December 2021 10:25 , Jack Rathborn

Fernando Alonso admits he is not involved much in Alpine’s development of their 2022 F1 car.

The two-time world champion has discussed how early restrictions on development for the 2022 season in 2020 meant he was not consulted much.

“Not much, to be honest,” Alonso said when asked involved he is in the process. “If I’m honest, then the development has been followed by all the designers, the simulations, the new regulations were too strict at the beginning so there were a lot of clarification as to what we could do and not do with FIA and things like that.

“It is a strange new project for everybody, I feel. Now from December and January we will start the work in the simulator and hopefully our implication will be a little bit more.”

Toto Wolff ‘confident’ about FIA changes with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes frustrations shared

Thursday 23 December 2021 10:06 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff maintains he is confident that the FIA will draft in positive changes to the F1 rules after the controversial ending to the 2021 season.

“I think in this day and age of transparency, such decisions cannot be made anymore in backroom deals,” Wolff said.

“And why I am optimistic is that most stakeholders in the sport will share my frustration on the decisions that have been made all throughout the year.

“Everyone who is a racer, you guys [the media], us, knows what happened. Nevertheless, I have confidence because we will be all pulling on the same rope in the same directions.

“The teams and I have feedback from the teams and the drivers, I had assurances Peter Bayer [FIA secretary-general for motor sport] and Stefano [Domenicali - F1 CEO] that in the next weeks and months, we will close the gaps that have opened up more and more over the last few years.”

Haas looking at loyalty scheme to retain staff for 2022 and beyond

Thursday 23 December 2021 09:32 , Jack Rathborn

Haas boss Guenther Steiner has backed Dmitry Mazepin’s idea to bring in an incentive scheme to help retain staff.

After finishing in P5 in the Constructors’ Championship back in 2018, Haas have struggled with consecutive finishes at P9.

But despite the decline and complete focus this season on 2022 by surrendering the season early, Steiner has not seen a “mass exodus”.

And he has now thrown his weight behind Dmitry Mazepin, father of Haas driver Nikita, who has suggested a loyalty bonus for those who stay for the long-term battle with the team.

“We speak with other people and they have the same issue,” Steiner told GPFans. “It’s nothing different. It’s just a few people are leaving. Every year, they are leaving. If he [Mazepin] had to give them an incentive, if he can do it right, I’m all for it. People leaving, I think that’s every season. At the end of the season, some people leave.

“For example, on the technical side of things, we have more people than we had before, when they are staying. There was not that many people leaving. It’s more of a race thing because it’s a calendar of 23 races. People just want to have another career. They are doing something different but it’s not being outrageous.

“It’s a little bit more than normal, but it’s the end of every year. Some people move away a little bit because otherwise, the race mechanics normally are young because they need to be young.

“It’s quite physical to do this job and if somebody sees an opportunity, when he moves on, it’s okay to do something better. I don’t stop them, but a mass exodus…it’s not true.”

Red Bull car ‘almost on a par’ with Mercedes for 2022

Thursday 23 December 2021 09:25 , Jack Rathborn

vHelmut Marko insists Red Bull are developing a car “almost on a par” with Mercedes, with both teams tipped to battle it out at the front once again in 2022, despite new rules and regulations designed to bring in greater competition on the track.

“Max drove in the simulator in between [races],” Helmut Marko told Servus TV. “He can drive a car that is relatively unstable in the rear, for him the car has to be as fast as possible, it doesn’t have to be comfortable.

“At the moment we believe that we are almost on a par with Mercedes. The engine will also change a lot [with synthetic fuel being introduced]. That is a drastic change.

“We believe that we are both in front again unless someone manages a golden shot like with the double diffuser.”

F1 boss: No doubt about Lewis Hamilton return for 2022

Thursday 23 December 2021 09:15 , Jack Rathborn

After a thrilling F1 title race, doubt has been cast over the return of Lewis Hamilton for 2022 to resume his rivalry with world champion Max Verstappen.

But Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali is adamant the Briton will be back, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: “I’m sure he will recharge the his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win an eighth world title.”

F1 news: Verstappen thinks Hamilton should continue

Wednesday 22 December 2021 16:47 , Lawrence Ostlere

Verstappen thinks Hamilton should not retire after he lost the world title in controversial fashion in Abu Dhabi.

“You should also understand this is racing and these things can happen to you,” Verstappen said. “I think he should just look back at what he has achieved, and that should give him a lot of comfort and that drive to keep on going.

“He is still trying to challenge for that eighth title, and he can do that again next year, so I don’t see any reason why to give up or stop now.”

F1 news: Hamilton will have ‘more desire' next season

Wednesday 22 December 2021 16:26 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton will have “even more desire” to win a record eighth Formula 1 title next season, says chief Stefano Domenicali.

The British driver just missed out on the record this season after he was pipped to the title in the final race of the campaign. Hamilton was leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was overtaken by Max Verstappen in the last lap to lose out.

The circumstances around the defeat makes Domenicali believe Hamilton will be back with a vengeance.

“Lewis Hamilton? I’m sure he will recharge his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win the eighth world title,” he told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Full story:

Lewis Hamilton will return with ‘even more desire’ in 2022, F1 chief claims

Audi nearing moving to F1

Wednesday 22 December 2021 15:44 , Lawrence Ostlere

Audi is on the verge of confirming its entry into Formula 1, it has been reported.

The manufacturer has been closely following developments around technical regulations for power units in the 2026 season, with key figures at Audi apparently content with the FIA’s progress.

In a letter to motorsport’s governing body, Audi board chairman Markus Duesmann and Audi Technical Development board member Oliver Hoffmann suggested that draft regulations are fair to both existing teams and newcomers.

The letter has been seen by RaceFans and RacingNews365.

F1 is seeking a new manufacturer to replace Honda, whose engines will now be made by Red Bull, and Audi seems set to confirm its entry – which would come ahead of the 2026 season – in the coming weeks.

Audi’s fellow Volkswagen Group brand Porsche has also shown interest in joining F1, though Audi appears closer to making a commitment to the sport.

Red Bull talk up chances next season

Wednesday 22 December 2021 15:19 , Lawrence Ostlere

Red Bull believe they could benefit from George Russell’s impact at Mercedes over Lewis Hamilton.

Toto Wolff believes his team’s new recruit could even threaten the seven-time world champion’s status as the leading driver in his debut season, admitting: “It could also happen in the first year and would be a luxury problem we would then have to solve”.

But another impact could be Russell’s speed contributing to a weakened Hamilton title bid, though Helmut Marko concedes he needs to see Russell’s speed mid-race, as opposed to solely qualification.

“I first have to see how fast Russell really is,” Marko told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“In qualifying, he was fast last season. But in the races, he was hardly superior to Nicholas Latifi. So we have to wait and see how fast he will be in the race.

“If he can indeed match Hamilton’s speed, that could be an advantage for us.”

New FIA president dismisses Bernie Ecclestone involvement

Wednesday 22 December 2021 14:45 , Jack Rathborn

New FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem has rejected suggestions Bernie Ecclestone is playing a part in his team despite his wife appointed in a senior position in his administration.

Fabiana Ecclestone was elected as vice-president for sport for South America.

Sulayem said when asked about her appointment: “It’s nothing to do with me.”

“This is history for the FIA, to have the first ever female nominated in all our history,” said Sulayem, quoted by Motorsport.com. “We are not talking about commissions, we are talking about the vice-president [of sport].

“So when I approached them, I approached them not because of her name, I approached them because of her credibility. And the choice was made on merit.

“She has been involved in mobility in the club of Brazil and she has been involved in the F1 of Brazil. So she has the sport and mobility side and she has been in two of the Commissions, so her experience is there.

“Bernie said ‘you have to convince her, it’s nothing to do with me’. So that was where his help stopped, actually.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Is the Horner vs Wolff narrative based in reality?

Wednesday 22 December 2021 14:28 , Lawrence Ostlere

However, Hill’s view wasn’t shared by his Sky colleague Natalie Pinkham but she did concede the pair don’t dislike each other.

“I don’t [think it’s a front],” she said. “I think they’re very different people, who actually probably wouldn’t really enjoy a beer together.

“I just think they’re different people. They’re both great, but they’re very different and it’s the same with Max and Lewis. They don’t dislike each other, but they would never sit down and have a natter and a bowl of pasta together. I think we’re talking about very different characters.”

Full story:

Wolff and Horner rivalry is a ‘front’, claims Hill

F1 news: Hill questions Wolff-Horner rivalry

Wednesday 22 December 2021 14:02 , Lawrence Ostlere

Former Formula 1 driver Damon Hill believes Toto Wolff and Christian Horner’s rivalry is a “front”.

The two team bosses of Mercedes and Red Bull have exchanged strong words in the press building a tension between them and adding to the Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s rivalry.

Horner even told Sky ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that while he respects Wolff, he doesn’t have to like him. However, Hill has waded in on their relationship and believes it isn’t entirely real.

“I think it’s a front, actually,” Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast. “I think it’s a front that they’ve put on. It’s just so sad, that you have these two camps.

“They’re both experiencing all the pressure, and all the same or similar kind of experiences. The victories, the defeats, and the kind of rivalry and all that they’re experiencing.

“But they can’t share it together, do you know what I mean? Maybe one day, when the war is over, they’ll be able to have a cup of tea together.”

Valtteri Bottas recalls how 2018 made him ‘a lot tougher’

Wednesday 22 December 2021 13:45 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas has recalled how 2018 helped him become a tougher person and driver, having failed to win a race for Mercedes - the only season during a five-year spell with the team he failed to manage that.

“2018, being very honest, it was not my favourite car,” Bottas said in a YouTube video on the Mercedes channel.

“I struggled a bit that season. Obviously I had some strong races and I remember very well in Baku I was leading with one lap to go and had a puncture on the main straight. I should have won that race. There were many other unlucky events as well that year.

“I think overall I was pretty quick but never nailed the whole race weekend and never had a win that year. But plenty of podiums, so still good success in a way and as a team we secured the title in Brazil. As a team, [it was] a really successful season.”

Valtteri Bottas, right, admitted he was “gutted” for Lewis Hamilton (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)
Valtteri Bottas, right, admitted he was “gutted” for Lewis Hamilton (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)

Sebastian Vettel left with ‘strange impression’ after F1 title finale

Wednesday 22 December 2021 13:30 , Jack Rathborn

The F1 title race finale has left a “strange impression” on Sebastian Vettel.

With Max Verstappen usurping Lewis Hamilton in the final lap to clinch a maiden title, the former world champion admitted he felt bad for the Briton, and claims “both drivers deserved the title”.

“The whole thing left quite a strange impression,” the German told Blick. “The field behind the Safety Car should have been sorted much earlier. I made the suggestion on the radio after the first lap.

“I had only seen that on the last lap the Dutch fans jumped up. Then I knew: Max is in front. And Lewis had no chance with his tyres.

“Well, both deserved the title. It’s a shame for Hamilton, because he had a really strong second half of the season. Now I just congratulate both drivers.”

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel talk at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Getty)
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel talk at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Getty)

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enjoy warm moment off camera before Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Wednesday 22 December 2021 13:15 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a moment of mutual respect before their battle in Abu Dhabi to decide the F1 world title, but it was not caught on camera, Tom Clarkson has revealed.

“There was a funny moment on the weekend where, prior to having Max and Lewis together on Thursday, there was a big discussion about ‘do we go for the cheesy handshake shot’,” Clarkson said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“Which I think you [F1 Nation co-host Damon Hill] and [Michael] Schumacher did a few times, didn’t you? So it’s ‘are we going to go for the cheesy handshake shot because that’s what all the newspapers will want?’

“Anyway, Max arrives early, sits down and we are just having a chat. About three minutes later, Lewis walks in, walks straight over, fist-bumps him and goes ‘how you doin’, man?’ and they have a bit of a chat.

“I thought ‘brilliant, that’s the shot, I don’t need to worry about this cheesy handshake thing anymore’.

“And we had a Netflix camera in there. We had the two cameras we have in the press conference room anyway. There was even a photographer in there as well.”

Netflix cameras missed Hamilton-Verstappen moment

Wednesday 22 December 2021 12:31 , Lawrence Ostlere

There was a “brilliant” moment between Formula 1 rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during the Abu Dhabi race weekend but cameras failed to capture it.

Before their press conference, journalist Tom Clarkson said Hamilton entered the room and gave Verstappen a fist bump and asked how he was doing. Clarkson remarked it was the perfect shot between the title rivals instead of a staged handshake.

However, it didn’t pan out how Clarkson imagined it. He told the F1 Nation podcast: “I thought ‘brilliant, that’s the shot, I don’t need to worry about this cheesy handshake thing anymore’. We had a Netflix camera in there. We had the two cameras we have in the press conference room anyway. There was even a photographer in there as well.

“So the press conference happens and they have a good natter. And then at the end, I said to the Netflix guy ‘ah, you must have enjoyed the fist-bump’. And he goes ‘oh, I missed it, mate, I missed it’.

“So nobody knows about this fist-bump except for me and the people in [there], about three others in the room!”

Full story:

F1 cameras missed ‘brilliant’ moment between Hamilton and Verstappen in Abu Dhabi

Wolff compares title decider to ‘hand of God'

Wednesday 22 December 2021 12:00 , Lawrence Ostlere

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has compared Lewis Hamilton missing out on the Formula One world title to Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ - but denied claims the driver was “cheated” out of a record-breaking eighth championship.

Hamilton was beaten to the title by Max Verstappen in a controversial final lap shootout at the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Mercedes initially saw their protest of the race result dismissed by stewards before they withdrew their appeal of Verstappen’s championship.

Mercedes and Wolff were left furious after Verstappen was allowed to position himself behind Hamilton on fresh tyres following a late safety car at the Yas Marina Circuit. Wolff called the actions of race director Michael Masi “unacceptable” while Mercedes boss and Wolff’s wife Susie has also claimed that Hamilton was “robbed” of the championship.

In an interview with BILD, Wolff went on to compare Verstappen’s dramatic title win to Maradona’s infamous first goal against England at the 1986 World Cup, as well as England’s winner against Germany in the 1966 World Cup final that caused debate over whether it crossed the line.

“It is definitely on a par with the ‘Hand of God’ by Diego Maradona or the Wembley goal from 1966,” Wolff said.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Rosberg backs Hamilton to stay in F1

Wednesday 22 December 2021 11:48 , Jack Rathborn

Hamilton’s former teammate, Nico Rosberg, has backed the British driver to line up on the grid for the 2022 season.

“It was heart-breaking for him, absolutely, because up until four laps from the end he was almost certain to be world champion,” Rosberg told Sky Sports. “Then with this change of procedure or whatever you want to call it, suddenly he lost the world championship. It was tough, it was extremely tough.

“But of course I do count on him being back on the grid next year and fighting to get back that world championship that kind of got taken away from him in a way.”

Nico Rosberg was the 2016 world champion (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Archive)
Nico Rosberg was the 2016 world champion (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Archive)

New FIA president dismisses Bernie Ecclestone involvement

Wednesday 22 December 2021 11:36 , Jack Rathborn

New FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem has rejected suggestions Bernie Ecclestone is playing a part in his team despite his wife appointed in a senior position in his administration.

Fabiana Ecclestone was elected as vice-president for sport for South America.

Sulayem said when asked about her appointment: “It’s nothing to do with me.”

“This is history for the FIA, to have the first ever female nominated in all our history,” said Sulayem, quoted by Motorsport.com. “We are not talking about commissions, we are talking about the vice-president [of sport].

“So when I approached them, I approached them not because of her name, I approached them because of her credibility. And the choice was made on merit.

“She has been involved in mobility in the club of Brazil and she has been involved in the F1 of Brazil. So she has the sport and mobility side and she has been in two of the Commissions, so her experience is there.

“Bernie said ‘you have to convince her, it’s nothing to do with me’. So that was where his help stopped, actually.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Hamilton says F1 has ‘different feel’ amid retirement talk

Wednesday 22 December 2021 11:25 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton admitted before the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he has a “different feel” for Formula One, amid rumours that he could retire from the sport.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff revealed that he and Hamilton had been left “disillusioned” by how the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were allowed to unfold, while they also snubbed the FIA’s season-ending prizegiving gala in Paris.

Hamilton, 36, signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes before the start of this season and his deal with the team runs until the end of 2023.

But when the seven-time champion discussed his future in the sport in an interview with Town & Country magazine in November, he expressed doubts over whether he still had the same levels of motivation now he is in the final years of his F1 career.

“When I was younger, all I could think about was training and winning and being the best I could be,” Hamilton said. “Now, I have a different feel.”

Lewis Hamilton reveals ‘different feel’ for F1 amid retirement talk

Sebastian Vettel left with ‘strange impression’ after F1 title finale

Wednesday 22 December 2021 11:13 , Jack Rathborn

The F1 title race finale has left a “strange impression” on Sebastian Vettel.

With Max Verstappen usurping Lewis Hamilton in the final lap to clinch a maiden title, the former world champion admitted he felt bad for the Briton, and claims “both drivers deserved the title”.

“The whole thing left quite a strange impression,” the German told Blick. “The field behind the Safety Car should have been sorted much earlier. I made the suggestion on the radio after the first lap.

“I had only seen that on the last lap the Dutch fans jumped up. Then I knew: Max is in front. And Lewis had no chance with his tyres.

“Well, both deserved the title. It’s a shame for Hamilton, because he had a really strong second half of the season. Now I just congratulate both drivers.”

Sebastian Vettel speaking to the media before the US Grand Prix (Getty)
Sebastian Vettel speaking to the media before the US Grand Prix (Getty)

F1 news: Latifi reveals death threats

Wednesday 22 December 2021 11:02 , Lawrence Ostlere

Nicholas Latifi has revealed he received death threats on social media following his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that inadvertently led to Max Verstappen beating Lewis Hamilton to the Formula One title on the last lap of the season.

The Williams driver lost control of his car and hit the wall at the Yas Marina Circuit, triggering a safety car with five laps of the race remaining.

Hamilton was on course to win a record-breaking eighth F1 championship but Latifi’s crash changed the course of history, allowing Verstappen to switch onto a fresh set of soft tyres and catch up with Hamilton before overtaking him in the dramatic last-lap shootout.

Latifi later apologised for the innocuous crash, which the Canadian said was caused by dirt on his tyres, as well as the role he played in influencing the outcome of the championship battle.

But in a further post on social media on Tuesday, released more than a week after the end of the F1 season, Latifi revealed the extent of the “hate, abuse and death threats” he was sent online in the aftermath of the race. The 26-year-old also said some of “those closest” to him had received abuse as well.

Full story:

Nicholas Latifi reveals death threats after role in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale

Wolff admits he ‘overstepped’ during F1 finale

Wednesday 22 December 2021 10:50 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he “overstepped” during his rant at race director Michael Masi at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Wolff admitted his fault while backing a ban on teams being able to speak to officials during the race. The Mercedes boss and Red Bull chief Christian Horner were both able to speak to Masi while he was deciding what to do after a crash at the final formula 1 race of the season.

Their conversations have been criticised alongside Masi’s decision to allow some cars to unlap themselves and others not. The discussions have led to F1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn to call for a ban and Wolff has supported the idea.

“I agree with Ross,” Wolff told Motorsport.com. “But I equally blame Ross and myself because we have been part of the decision making to broadcast more of the channels for the purpose of transparency and entertainment for the fans.

“There is so much going on on the intercom that giving fans a little bit of an overview of all the little dramas that happen, like is the car breaking down, are we having some kind of strategy discussions, was meant well. But I think we overshot.

“I need to take myself by the nose, and Christian. We were given the opportunity to talk to the race director directly, and because we fight so fiercely for the interests of our teams all of us overstepped.”

Valtteri Bottas recalls how 2018 made him ‘a lot tougher’

Wednesday 22 December 2021 10:36 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas has recalled how 2018 helped him become a tougher person and driver, having failed to win a race for Mercedes - the only season during a five-year spell with the team he failed to manage that.

“2018, being very honest, it was not my favourite car,” Bottas said in a YouTube video on the Mercedes channel.

“I struggled a bit that season. Obviously I had some strong races and I remember very well in Baku I was leading with one lap to go and had a puncture on the main straight. I should have won that race. There were many other unlucky events as well that year.

“I think overall I was pretty quick but never nailed the whole race weekend and never had a win that year. But plenty of podiums, so still good success in a way and as a team we secured the title in Brazil. As a team, [it was] a really successful season.”

Valtteri Bottas will race for Alfa Romeo next year (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)
Valtteri Bottas will race for Alfa Romeo next year (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enjoy warm moment off camera before Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Wednesday 22 December 2021 10:25 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a moment of mutual respect before their battle in Abu Dhabi to decide the F1 world title, but it was not caught on camera, Tom Clarkson has revealed.

“There was a funny moment on the weekend where, prior to having Max and Lewis together on Thursday, there was a big discussion about ‘do we go for the cheesy handshake shot’,” Clarkson said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“Which I think you [F1 Nation co-host Damon Hill] and [Michael] Schumacher did a few times, didn’t you? So it’s ‘are we going to go for the cheesy handshake shot because that’s what all the newspapers will want?’

“Anyway, Max arrives early, sits down and we are just having a chat. About three minutes later, Lewis walks in, walks straight over, fist-bumps him and goes ‘how you doin’, man?’ and they have a bit of a chat.

“I thought ‘brilliant, that’s the shot, I don’t need to worry about this cheesy handshake thing anymore’.

“And we had a Netflix camera in there. We had the two cameras we have in the press conference room anyway. There was even a photographer in there as well.”

Verstappen’s crash costs revealed

Wednesday 22 December 2021 10:12 , Lawrence Ostlere

Max Verstappen’s crashes during the 2021 Formula 1 season cost Red Bull almost €4m, it has been reported.

The Dutch-Belgian driver crashed three times this year – at the British and Italian grands prix, as well as in qualifying for the inaugural Saudi Arabian event.

Despite those mishaps, Verstappen was able to win his first world title on the final lap of the season finale in Abu Dhabi this month.

As such, Red Bull may be less concerned by the 24-year-old’s crashes and the resultant costs than in any other season.

Verstappen’s crashes cost the team almost exactly €3.9m in total, per Sky Germany – the third highest figure among all drivers this year.

Leading the list was Mick Schumacher of Haas, who reportedly cost his team €4.2m, followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with €4m.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was in fifth with €2.7m, while teammate and championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton was down in 15th on €1.2m.

In last place among the 20 drivers was Esteban Ocon of Alpine, reportedly costing the team €280,000.

Max Verstappen’s car is removed after his crash at the Italian Grand Prix (AFP via Getty Images)
Max Verstappen’s car is removed after his crash at the Italian Grand Prix (AFP via Getty Images)

Susie Wolff criticises FIA’s Abu Dhabi handling

Wednesday 22 December 2021 09:50 , Lawrence Ostlere

Susie Wolff, the former Formula 1 development driver and wife of Mercedes team principal Toto, has launched a scathing attack on the FIA over its handling of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The motorsport governing body has acknowledged that the reputation of Formula 1 has been “tarnished” by the decision of race director Michael Masi to allow some but not all lapped cars to overtake the safety car at the very end of the race, allowing Max Verstappen the chance to overtake Lewis Hamilton in one final lap of racing on fresh rubber.

Wolff still feels “sick” at the circumstances in which Hamilton lost the title.

“What happened is still hard to comprehend and still leaves me with a sick feeling,” she wrote in a social media statement. “Not the losing – and not Max or Red Bull – they are deserving winners and we always knew it was a strong possibility we may not win – but the way in which Lewis was robbed has left me in utter disbelief.

“The decision of one person within the governing body who applied a rule in a way which has never been done before in F1 single-handedly decided the F1 Driver World Championship. Rules are rules, they can’t be changed on a whim by one individual at the end of a race.

“The outcome of the last laps on Sunday? Those who know, they know, even those who can’t quite bring themselves to admit it. I hope by March of next year there is a governing body with sporting integrity and fairness at its core so I can fall back in love with F1.”

Wolff’s husband Toto said he and Hamilton “will never get over” the controversy and are “disillusioned” in his first press interviews since the season finale.

George Russell and Lando Norris offer support for Nicholas Latifi after F1 statement

Wednesday 22 December 2021 09:33 , Jack Rathborn

George Russell and Lando Norris have thrown their support behind Nicholas Latifi after he revealed that he received death threats on social media following his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that inadvertently led to Max Verstappen beating Lewis Hamilton to the Formula One title on the last lap of the season.

Russell, who is now Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes, tweeted: “Huge respect to you for speaking up, Nicholas Latifi.

“There’s no place for this kind of hatred in our world.”

While Lando Norris reposted the statement, adding: “Well said!”

David Coulthard X-rated message to Max Verstappen after victory over Lewis Hamilton

Wednesday 22 December 2021 09:22 , Jack Rathborn

An off-the-record conversation between David Coutlhard and Max Verstappen and his father has been revealed.

With the Briton congratulating the pair with colourful language.

A former Red Bull driver between 2005 and 2008, DC was delighted for the Dutch-Belgian driver.

“This is f****** awesome,” he said on the CarNext YouTube channel.

“It’s f****** awesome isn’t it. Well done, son.”

F1 commentator warns one team could enjoy ‘super-dominance’ in 2022

Wednesday 22 December 2021 09:12 , Jack Rathborn

Russian Formula 1 commentator Alexey Popov fears F1 could be set for a new era of one-team dominance.

Ahead of new regulations in 2022, after Mercedes dominated the turbo hybrid era, winning all but one trophy from 201- 2021, new aerodynamic regulations are designed to allow 20 drivers to compete more consistently.

But Popov fears that with teams switching focus at different times over the last year, there will be an exaggerated separation in the early stages of next season with a dominant force from the outset.

“I am very afraid of the first year of these new rules,” Popov told Championnat. “People expect so much, because Ross Brawn has come up with this new ‘ground effect’.

“But in my lifetime, the rules have changed many times and each time, instead of a tough fight, one person comes up with one thing in the grey area and they are a second and a half ahead. Then, the whole season becomes about everyone else painfully trying to just catch up.

“This year we got used to a multi-layered struggle: two teams for first place, two for third place, for fifth place. So what I really don’t want is for someone to handle Brawn’s ground effect much better than the others.

“Unfortunately my forecast is disappointing. I am afraid that we might see some sort of super-dominance again.”

Verstappen explains key role of engineer Lambiase

Wednesday 22 December 2021 08:52 , Lawrence Ostlere

Max Verstappen has hinted that he would walk away from Formula One if key Red Bull race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase were to leave the team.

The world champion, who beat rival Lewis Hamilton to the championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, will be looking to defend his title next season.

Lambiase has been Verstappen’s race engineer ever since the Dutchman joined the team as an 18-year-old in 2016 and the pair are in direct contact during races.

Verstappen has previously spoken about how Lambiase is a calming influence during race weekend and the pair’s relationship has grown on and off the track.

And Verstappen, 24, has even revealed that he has told Lambiase that his presence is so important that he would consider quitting Formula One if he was to leave the sport.

Verstappen with race engineer Lambiase (Getty Images)
Verstappen with race engineer Lambiase (Getty Images)

“I have said to him I only work with him. As soon as he stops, I stop too,” Verstappen revealed to Ziggo Sport.

“Of course, we can be pretty strict with each other sometimes, but I want that too. He has to tell me when I’m being a jerk and I have to tell him. I always told him that.

“He can tell me that on the radio as well, but it’s been going really well lately. The last few years I tried to be the engineer and he tried to be the driver.”

Schumacher to be Ferrari reserve in 2022

Wednesday 22 December 2021 08:45 , Lawrence Ostlere

Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-times Formula One world champion Michael, will double up as a Ferrari reserve driver next season while also having a regular race seat at US-owned Haas.

Team boss Mattia Binotto told reporters that the 22-year-old German would be available to stand in at 11 of the record 23 scheduled races should Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz be unavailable.

Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, who lost his place at Swiss-based Alfa Romeo this year but has secured a drive in Formula E, will be reserve for the 12 races that do not clash with the electric series.

“Whenever he (Giovinazzi) will be at the race track he will be our reserve driver. And as well he will be available to our customer teams, so both Haas and Alfa Romeo,” said Binotto. “For the remaining 11 races... Mick Schumacher will be reserve driver for Ferrari.”

Full story:

Mick Schumacher to be Ferrari reserve driver in 2022 season alongside Haas seat

Red Bull eye boost from George Russell impact on Lewis Hamilton

Wednesday 22 December 2021 08:25 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull believe they could benefit from George Russell’s impact at Mercedes over Lewis Hamilton.

Toto Wolff believes his team’s new recruit could even threaten the seven-time world champion’s status as the leading driver in his debut season, admitting: “It could also happen in the first year and would be a luxury problem we would then have to solve”.

But another impact could be Russell’s speed contributing to a weakened Hamilton title bid, though Helmut Marko concedes he needs to see Russell’s speed mid-race, as opposed to solely qualification.

“I first have to see how fast Russell really is,” Marko told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“In qualifying, he was fast last season. But in the races, he was hardly superior to Nicholas Latifi. So we have to wait and see how fast he will be in the race.

“If he can indeed match Hamilton’s speed, that could be an advantage for us.”

F1 news

Tuesday 21 December 2021 19:15 , Ben Burrows

Williams driver Nicholas Latifi has revealed he has received death threats in the wake of Formula One’s controversial season finale.

The Canadian has been subjected to abuse after his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix sparked a chaotic end to the title race.

The 26-year-old crashed into a wall with five laps left, bringing out the safety car, while Lewis Hamilton was leading.

It allowed Max Verstappen to pit for fresher tyres and ultimately overtake Hamilton to win the drivers’ championship after FIA race director Michal Masi’s call to allow the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves.

Latifi wrote on his website on Tuesday: “Going back to the race weekend, as soon as the checkered flag dropped, I knew how things were likely to play out on social media.

“The fact that I felt it would be best if I deleted Instagram and Twitter on my phone for a few days says all we need to know about how cruel the online world can be.

“The ensuing hate, abuse, and threats on social media were not really a surprise to me as it’s just the stark reality of the world we live in right now.

“I’m no stranger to being talked about negatively online, I think every sports person who competes on the world stage knows they’re under extreme scrutiny and this comes with the territory sometimes.

“But as we’ve seen time and time again, across all different sports, it only takes one incident at the wrong time to have things completely blown out of proportion and bring out the worst in people who are so-called ‘fans’ of the sport.

“What shocked me was the extreme tone of the hate, abuse, and even the death threats I received.

“To the people who don’t understand or don’t agree with that, that’s fine with me. You can have your opinion. But to use those opinions to fuel hatred, abuse and threats of violence, not only to me, but to those closest to me as well, tells me these people are not true fans of the sport.

“Thankfully, I’m comfortable enough in my own skin, and I’ve been in this world long enough that I can do a pretty good job of just letting any negativity wash over me.

“But I know I’m not alone in thinking that a negative comment always seems to stick out more - and can sometimes be enough to drown out 100 positive ones.”

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

F1 news

Tuesday 21 December 2021 18:32 , Lawrence Ostlere

David Coulthard congratulated Max Verstappen for his “f****** awesome” Formula One world championship victory at the end of an exclusive interview just hours after the 24-year-old beat title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Full story:

David Coulthard congratulates Max Verstappen on ‘f****** awesome’ F1 title win

F1 news

Tuesday 21 December 2021 17:50 , Lawrence Ostlere

Max Verstappen has hinted that he would walk away from Formula One if key Red Bull race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase were to leave the team.

Full story:

Max Verstappen would quit F1 if key Red Bull engineer left

F1’s biggest stories...

Tuesday 21 December 2021 17:38 , Lawrence Ostlere

Here are some of the big stories this week...

Starting with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff comparing Lewis Hamilton missing out on the Formula One world title to Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, but denying claims the driver was “cheated” out of a record-breaking eighth championship.

Toto Wolff compares Lewis Hamilton F1 title defeat to Maradona ‘Hand of God’

F1 news

Tuesday 21 December 2021 17:22 , Lawrence Ostlere

Max Verstappen has paid tribute to Lewis Hamilton after the title rivals competed in one of the most dramatic and unpredictable F1 seasons in a generation.

In an in-depth interview on the CarNext YouTube channel, Verstappen discussed the 2021 season and his journey to becoming an F1 champion.

“Lewis is an amazing driver and an amazing competitor,” Verstappen said. “They really made it hard for us and everyone loved to see the two teams running against each other.

“We had some tough times but that’s all part of the sport and its emotion. Everyone wants to win and it could have gone either way.

“I tried to keep on pushing and sometimes miracles happen. Next year we’ll come back and try all over again.”

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen shared a fierce rivalry this season (AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen shared a fierce rivalry this season (AFP via Getty Images)

F1 news

Tuesday 21 December 2021 16:58 , Ben Burrows

Williams driver Nicholas Latifi has revealed he has received death threats in the wake of Formula One’s controversial season finale.

The Canadian has been subjected to abuse after his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix sparked a chaotic end to the title race.

The 26-year-old crashed into a wall with five laps left, bringing out the safety car, while Lewis Hamilton was leading.

It allowed Max Verstappen to pit for fresher tyres and ultimately overtake Hamilton to win the drivers’ championship after FIA race director Michael Masi’s call to allow the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves.

Latifi wrote on his website on Tuesday: “Going back to the race weekend, as soon as the checkered flag dropped, I knew how things were likely to play out on social media.

“The fact that I felt it would be best if I deleted Instagram and Twitter on my phone for a few days says all we need to know about how cruel the online world can be.

“The ensuing hate, abuse, and threats on social media were not really a surprise to me as it’s just the stark reality of the world we live in right now.

“I’m no stranger to being talked about negatively online, I think every sports person who competes on the world stage knows they’re under extreme scrutiny and this comes with the territory sometimes.

“But as we’ve seen time and time again, across all different sports, it only takes one incident at the wrong time to have things completely blown out of proportion and bring out the worst in people who are so-called ‘fans’ of the sport.

“What shocked me was the extreme tone of the hate, abuse, and even the death threats I received.

“To the people who don’t understand or don’t agree with that, that’s fine with me. You can have your opinion. But to use those opinions to fuel hatred, abuse and threats of violence, not only to me, but to those closest to me as well, tells me these people are not true fans of the sport.

“Thankfully, I’m comfortable enough in my own skin, and I’ve been in this world long enough that I can do a pretty good job of just letting any negativity wash over me.

“But I know I’m not alone in thinking that a negative comment always seems to stick out more - and can sometimes be enough to drown out 100 positive ones.”

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

F1 news

Tuesday 21 December 2021 16:44 , Lawrence Ostlere

Audi is on the verge of confirming its entry into Formula 1, it has been reported.

Read the full story:

Audi on verge of confirming entry into F1

F1 news

Tuesday 21 December 2021 16:22 , Lawrence Ostlere

Formula One commentator Jolyon Palmer believes Valtteri Bottas let down Lewis Hamilton in the decisive and dramatic final race of the season.

After Hamilton made his first and only pit stop, he emerged from the pit lane behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who refused to be overtaken easily, with the pair’s duel allowing Max Verstappen to close the gap significantly.

However, Bottas offered Hamilton no such support, having fallen down the grid at the start of the race and become stuck in the pack.

“Bottas had a shocker,” said Palmer. “Now, did that cost Hamilton the title? If Bottas is within a pit-stop window of Verstappen, Verstappen is not having ‘free’ stops willy nilly.

“A great driver for the team for so many years, his last race he went missing and it meant Verstappen had a ‘free’ stop at the Virtual Safety Car, ‘free’ stop at the Safety Car.

“If you’ve got another Mercedes there within 23 seconds of him, in a car that’s quicker with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel, he can’t do it and Hamilton is the champion.

“Bottas has been solid but when it counted, he couldn’t help his teammate, and Perez did everything he possibly could, and he was in contention to do so.”

Valtteri Bottas will race for Alfa Romeo next year (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)
Valtteri Bottas will race for Alfa Romeo next year (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)

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