F1 news LIVE: Max Verstappen risking reputation in Lewis Hamilton rivalry, warns Martin Brundle

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·39-min read
F1 news LIVE: Max Verstappen risking reputation in Lewis Hamilton rivalry, warns Martin Brundle
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  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver
  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • Jos Verstappen
    Racecar driver

Follow all the latest news from Formula 1 as the fallout from Saudi Arabia continues ahead of the final grand prix of the season in Abu Dhabi this weekend, where either Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen will be crowned 2021 F1 world champion.

Hamilton and Verstappen are level on points going into the final race after Hamilton’s chaotic win in Jeddah, which came after the two clashed multiple times including physical contact when Verstappen suddenly slowed under orders to let Hamilton past him, having illegally held on to the race lead earlier in the night. Hamilton was not prepared and ran into the back of his rival, damaging his front wing. Six laps later, Verstappen eventually handed the lead to Hamilton, who went on to win.

The result means Hamilton, chasing his eighth world title, is level on points with Verstappen, hunting his maiden championship of what is sure to be a stellar career in Formula 1. The pair both have 369.5 points and head to this weekend’s finale in Abu Dhabi with everything to play for. Follow all the latest news and updates below.

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Lewis Hamilton feared Max Verstappen may put him out of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

F1 news

  • Horner blasts Masi negotiations to being at a ‘local market'

  • Masi seeks to explain decisions after controversial race

  • Verstappen ‘would do anything’ to win first F1 title, father claims

  • Sky Sports urged to make F1 finale free-to-air

  • Wolff fears ‘messy’ end to Hamilton and Verstappen title race

  • Brawn backs race director Masi after controversial GP

  • Tyson Fury defends Verstappen over ‘horrible’ media treatment

F1 news

21:30 , Ben Burrows

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen head to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend locked on level points at the top of Formula One’s drivers’ championship.

The Brit is aiming for a record eighth drivers’ title and kept his hopes alive with a third win in three races at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Having stormed to pole position on Saturday, Hamilton came out on top in a wild race which was twice halted by red flags and saw him tangle with the Red Bull of Verstappen - who he labelled “f****** crazy” - as the pair wrestled on the track and bickered over the radio.

The pair have been trading places at the top of the standings all season and here we look at how the title will be decided at Yas Marina.

What do Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen need to do to win F1 title?

F1 news

20:50 , Ben Burrows

Max Verstappen was branded “a bad sportsman” after walking off the podium without celebrating at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen finished second to title rival Lewis Hamilton in Jeddah after a race full of controversy and contention, which included the pair making contact when Verstappen suddenly slowed to let the Briton past under stewards’ orders.

Asked why he walked off, Verstappen blamed the lack of champagne – Saudi Arabian customs dictate rose water is used for the traditional drinks spraying instead. “Because there was no champagne,” Verstappen explained. “It wasn’t fun.”

But BBC Sport commentator Sulaiman Folarin was unimpressed with the Red Bull driver, saying: “Max Verstappen just confirmed he is a bad sportsman. He walked off the stage without celebrating as customary. Where are his apologists?”

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

F1 news

20:18 , Ben Burrows

Jos Verstappen admits he respects Lewis Hamilton but hinted that starts and ends with the Mercedes driver’s exploits on the track.

The father of Max Verstappen has been seen emotionally reacting throughout races this season as his son takes the Red Bull to the brink of an F1 title.

But Hamilton, who has pulled level in pursuit of a record-breaking eighth world title, has no relationship with Verstappen senior beyond the track.

“I never speak to Lewis. He doesn’t need to speak to me. I’m nothing to him. I respect him as a driver, but the rest… nothing,” he told the Daily Mail.

“Max and Lewis only speak on the podium, very little. When I see Max with other drivers, I think they get on very well. But with Lewis, nothing. Lewis is in his own world.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

F1 news

19:49 , Ben Burrows

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has insisted that his rivalry with Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner is “absolutely genuine”.

Wolff and Horner have clashed several times this season as the on-track battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen has intensified.

But Wolff has refuted claims that the tension between the pair is staged for Netflix’s Drive to Survive cameras ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.

“Yeah, it’s absolutely genuine because there is so much at stake,” Wolff told the F1 Nation podcast. “They’re ambitious people, ambitious team who are fighting tooth and nail for this championship.”

“Once you’re in that [battle], you have no ability to create a space for another person. At least for me, I have no negative or positive emotions. I’m just trying to stay in that place.

“I think we will show respect to each other once the championship is won, in either direction. As heated it can be between individuals, it’s gonna calm down [after the season].”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

F1 news

19:25 , Ben Burrows

There have been a number of changes to the Yas Marina Circuit as F1 heads to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season, which could prove pivotal in the title race between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

The track has been shortened and the number of corners has been reduced from 21 to 16 in an attempt to make the circuit faster and allow for more overtaking.

“The changes to the track, which have been designed to provide more overtaking opportunities, will increase speeds and loads through some corners,” said circuit designer Jarno Zaffelli.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

F1 news

18:50 , Ben Burrows

There was an “open and frank” exchange of words between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, according to F1 race director Michael Masi.

The F1 title rivals were summoned to the stewards following their dramatic collision at Sunday’s to explain the incident as well as several controversies during the race.

Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for forcing Hamilton off the road and gaining an off-track advantage at Turn 2 and then a post-race 10-second penalty for causing the collision, which saw the Mercedes driver run into the back of the Red Bull car.

“It is an intense championship battle between two fantastic drivers and two great teams,” Masi said. “So that’s part of an intense championship battle on both sides.

“I think there’s always discussion on various things, so if there is a lot. That’s part of why we have a drivers’ meeting to have an open and frank discussion between us and exchange views.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

F1 news

18:22 , Ben Burrows

Max Verstappen risks being remembered as an “unfair driver” if he continues to push the limits in his F1 title battle with Lewis Hamilton, according to Martin Brundle .

Hamilton accused Verstappen of driving “over the limit” at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and said that he has had to avoid colliding with the Red Bull driver throughout the season due to his aggressive driving.

The championship rivals did collide in a dramatic incident on Lap 37, in which Verstappen was handed a 10-second penalty for braking into Hamilton unexpectedly when he was ordered to let the Mercedes past.

“I’m in awe of Verstappen’s driving skills and racing nous,” Brundle wrote his in Sky Sports column. “His touch and control behind the wheel is something to behold, but it saddens me that he’s resorting to such tactics, he’s better than that.

“And for all his outwardly carefree attitude it will be such a shame if his legacy is to be labelled as an unfair driver.

“Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher had their faults too, and I was on the receiving end from both of them on occasions, but it’s a sizeable dent on their immense reputations, not a positive.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

F1 news

18:00 , Jamie Braidwood

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen head to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend locked on level points at the top of Formula One’s drivers’ championship.

The Brit is aiming for a record eighth drivers’ title and kept his hopes alive with a third win in three races at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Having stormed to pole position on Saturday, Hamilton came out on top in a wild race which was twice halted by red flags and saw him tangle with the Red Bull of Verstappen - who he labelled “f****** crazy” - as the pair wrestled on the track and bickered over the radio.

The pair have been trading places at the top of the standings all season and here we look at how the title will be decided at Yas Marina:

What do Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen need to do to win F1 title?

F1 news

17:40 , Jamie Braidwood

One of the greatest and most unpredictable Formula One seasons in recent memory goes down to the wire in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will go into the season-ending Grand Prix level on points and with the championship on the line.

Here are the session times ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this week (all times GMT):

Practice 1: Friday 10 December: 9:30am - 1030am

Practice 2: Friday 10 December: 1pm -2pm

Practice 3: Saturday 11 December: 10am-11am

Qualifying: Saturday 11 December: 1pm

Race: Sunday 12 December: 1pm

F1 news

17:20 , Jamie Braidwood

Jos Verstappen admits he respects Lewis Hamilton but hinted that starts and ends with the Mercedes driver’s exploits on the track.

The father of Max Verstappen has been seen emotionally reacting throughout races this season as his son takes the Red Bull to the brink of an F1 title.

But Hamilton, who has pulled level in pursuit of a record-breaking eighth world title, has no relationship with Verstappen senior beyond the track.

“I never speak to Lewis. He doesn’t need to speak to me. I’m nothing to him. I respect him as a driver, but the rest… nothing,” he told the Daily Mail.

“Max and Lewis only speak on the podium, very little. When I see Max with other drivers, I think they get on very well. But with Lewis, nothing. Lewis is in his own world.”

More here:

Max Verstappen’s father admits tension with Lewis Hamilton

F1 news

17:00 , Jamie Braidwood

Boxing champion Tyson Fury has defended Max Verstappen following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and has claimed the Red Bull driver has been unfairly treated by the media.

Fury drew comparisons to his own career in the video message he posted on his Instagram story ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“Just been doing a bit of reading up about the F1 rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, and how Max is being made out to be a bit of a bad boy in the media,” Fury said.

“I know what it feels like to be treated horribly by the media. And it’s not nice, you know, especially when you’re young and you’re ambitious and you want to win.

“So give him a bit of a break, he’s only a young lad trying his best. Good luck to both of them in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”

F1 news

16:40 , Jamie Braidwood

The Formula One world championship title race between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen must be decided on the track and not in the stewards’ room, F1 chief Ross Brawn has warned.

Hamilton and Verstappen head into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points but the Red Bull driver would win the championship if both drivers fail to finish.

The title rivals collided at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday as tensions escalated between Mercedes and Red Bull.

“This sport has had everything this season – and it gave us even more on Sunday,” Brawn wrote in his F1 column. “So much intrigue, so much tension, so much fighting between the two main protagonists. It was just sensational.

”I think it’s been 47 years since we went into the last race with both contenders on the same points and I think everybody wants to see a fabulous contest in Abu Dhabi.

“It will be tough. Neither will give an inch, but we want a sporting competition. We don’t want to step over the line. We don’t want this championship to be decided by stewards’ decisions and to end up in the appeal courts or elsewhere, it must end up on the track in Abu Dhabi with the best driver winning.”

F1 news

16:23 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen was branded “a bad sportsman” after walking off the podium without celebrating at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen finished second to title rival Lewis Hamilton in Jeddah after a race full of controversy and contention, which included the pair making contact when Verstappen suddenly slowed to let the Briton past under stewards’ orders.

Asked why he walked off, Verstappen blamed the lack of champagne – Saudi Arabian customs dictate rose water is used for the traditional drinks spraying instead. “Because there was no champagne,” Verstappen explained. “It wasn’t fun.”

But BBC Sport commentator Sulaiman Folarin was unimpressed with the Red Bull driver, saying: “Max Verstappen just confirmed he is a bad sportsman. He walked off the stage without celebrating as customary. Where are his apologists?”

More here:

Max Verstappen branded ‘bad sportsman’ after walking off Jeddah podium

F1 news

16:07 , Jamie Braidwood

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s title battle is making Formula One look like the “UFC” as rules are being ignored between the championship contenders, according to former driver David Coulthard.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix brought more controversy and wheel-to-wheel action between the pair, who are now level on points heading into the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Hamilton’s third victory in row sets up a thrilling conclusion to the season at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend but the action at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit was not to everyone’s taste, with former world champion Jacques Villeneuve warning that Formula One had become a “Hollywood show”.

And Coulthard, who battled with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, said that there had a blatant disregarding of the rules at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, adding that the sport was becoming “F1 UFC”.

“If we look at UFC, as far as I know there’s only two rules and it’s about below the belt and it’s about the eyes, and everything else goes,” Coulthard said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“This now feels like Formula One has been redefined as F1 UFC, and pretty much anything is going, and then the stewards are stepping in.”

‘Anything goes’: Formula 1 has become ‘F1 UFC’, David Coulthard claims

F1 news

15:50 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen “did not do anything wrong” in his collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, according to former F1 world champion Damon Hill.

Verstappen had been ordered to give his place back to Hamilton after controversial forcing the Mercedes wide as he attempted the overtake.

The Red Bull driver slowed down along the straight but that caused Hamilton to drive into the back of him in a bizarre moment during the closing stages of the race.

“Obviously it is up to the drivers who have to give up the position to do it as safely as possible, but I don't see what Verstappen did wrong,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.

“I don’t think Hamilton understood exactly what was going on. Lewis isn't intimidated by Verstappen, but he knows he needs to be cautious when he gets close to the Dutchman.

“Verstappen is a rider who drives without compromise, but he has the talent to do it.”

F1 news

15:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has insisted that his rivalry with Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner is “absolutely genuine”.

Wolff and Horner have clashed several times this season as the on-track battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen has intensified.

But Wolff has refuted claims that the tension between the pair is staged for Netflix’s Drive to Survive cameras ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.

“Yeah, it’s absolutely genuine because there is so much at stake,” Wolff told the F1 Nation podcast. “They’re ambitious people, ambitious team who are fighting tooth and nail for this championship.”

“Once you’re in that [battle], you have no ability to create a space for another person. At least for me, I have no negative or positive emotions. I’m just trying to stay in that place.

“I think we will show respect to each other once the championship is won, in either direction. As heated it can be between individuals, it’s gonna calm down [after the season].”

F1 news

15:10 , Jamie Braidwood

F1 risks becoming a “Hollywood show” after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has warned.

The 1997 world champion was highly critical of the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and the chaos that unfolded at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

“It wasn’t F1, it was rental karting,” Villeneuve told Autosport. “Everything was wrong. So I’m not sure what to say.

“And it’s hard to stay neutral, it’s hard to give a comment on what happened every time and be perceived as being neutral. You will always be perceived as taking sides, and that’s when it becomes a bit too much.

“Do we want sport and good F1? Or do we just want a Hollywood show? If you want a Hollywood show, today was amazing. But is that what F1 is all about? I don’t know. I mean, I think today Frank [Williams] would have turned in his grave, seeing this race.

“And then when you see the team principals, everybody is shouting, and putting pressure even on the marshals and so on, that become ridiculous. It really has become ridiculous.

“It was great for the fans. So that probably will increase the viewership. Which is great for F1. But we’re starting to get away from the sport, that’s all. So ultimately, it depends if you’re a purist or not.”

F1 news

14:50 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen “crossed a red line” at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix as he battled title rival Lewis Hamilton for the championship lead, according to former F1 driver Timo Glock.

Hamilton was critical Verstappen’s driving at a chaotic race and accused the 24-year-old of driving “over the limit”. The seven-time world champion added that rules don’t seem to “apply” to the Dutchman.

“It was a tough fight, partly over the edge, of course,” Glock told Sky Germany. “One or two times a red line was crossed. You can see that Max is acting very aggressively because he knows that Lewis has to withdraw, so to speak.

“You saw that at one or the other restart. He’s taking the full risk because he says, ‘If we’re both kicked out, we’re both gone.’

“Of course, that helps him a lot more than Hamilton, who has to take the points with him to keep the world championship fight open.”

Hamilton’s victory at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit moved him level with Verstappen with one race of the season remaining.

F1 news

14:30 , Jamie Braidwood

F1 chief Ross Brawn has defended Michael Masi’s handling of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after the race director came under criticism from Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

After a chaotic race, Horner claimed that F1 had been missing the experience of Masi’s late predecessor Charlie Whiting and also said that the race director’s conversation with Red Bull, which attracted attention after it was broadcast on TV, was like being at “local market”.

“I’d like to compliment the FIA and race director Michael Masi in handling well what was an extremely difficult race,” F1 director Brawn said. “I know some people feel some of the decisions were controversial but I don’t.

“The situation you had with Max and Lewis at the restart, when Michael recommended that Max drop behind Esteban [Ocon] and Lewis, was handled well as the alternative was to report him to the stewards and that could have ended up with a time penalty.

“I think Michael dealt with it pragmatically. This type of discussion goes on several times during a race. If a driver gets by someone or defends unfairly, the race director will tell the team to correct the position.

“Some people seem to think Michael was doing a deal. He wasn’t doing a deal. It was simple: you accept the decision of the race director, with a known outcome, or it gets passed to the stewards to handle it.”

F1 news

14:10 , Jamie Braidwood

Yas Marina Circuit designer Jarno Zaffelli said the changes to the track should see Mercedes and Red Bull “balanced” for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen won the race last season, ending a run of six years in a row in which Mercedes have claimed victory.

"Historically, Abu Dhabi has been a major Mercedes stronghold, also thanks to the 1.2 kilometre straight, where they can use all the power," Zaffelli added.

"But last year, Red Bull and Max Verstappen turned up and dominated proceedings from pole. Their major strength was in the tight twists and turns of the final sector.

"This year, the Red Bull is even more competitive, as we saw throughout the season and especially last Sunday in Jeddah. Following the latest modifications, the qualifying results will count a bit less.

"The layout, with the fast-flowing first and second sections, and the tight twists of Sector 3, make it balanced between the two cars. Turns 1, 5, 9 and 11 are the four spots where I expect to see neck-to-neck racing. It will be an exciting battle and may the best driver win."

F1 news

13:50 , Jamie Braidwood

There have been a number of changes to the Yas Marina Circuit as F1 heads to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season, which could prove pivotal in the title race between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

The track has been shortened and the number of corners has been reduced from 21 to 16 in an attempt to make the circuit faster and allow for more overtaking.

“The changes to the track, which have been designed to provide more overtaking opportunities, will increase speeds and loads through some corners,” said circuit designer Jarno Zaffelli.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

F1 news

13:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Christian Horner has also admitted that he is concerned by Lewis Hamilton’s straight-line speed ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, warning that the Mercedes is impossible to defend against in a straight line.

Hamilton has won the last three races since changing his engine at the Brazil Grand Prix and the seven-time world champion had the advantage in Saudi Arabia and was almost a second faster than Max Verstappen in sectors one and two.

Verstappen was able to get ahead of Hamilton following the red-flag restart but the Mercedes closed down the Red Bull and was able to supply significant pressure.

Verstappen was ordered to let Hamilton through after he pushed his title rival wide as he looked to make a move around the outside.

“You know, you can’t defend against that,” Horner told the F1 Nation Podcast. “It’s the most frustrating thing for a driver to be sitting with that kind of deficit.

“That’s what I think has been really frustrating, the last three or four races we have just been watching that dominant straight-line performance, which you can’t do anything about.”

F1 news

13:10 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen deserves to win the F1 title in Abu Dhabi this weekend as Lewis Hamilton has had the better car this season, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has claimed.

Verstappen and Hamilton are level on points heading into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in what has been one of the most enthralling title races in recent memory.

“Max is a fighter and if there’s a driver that deserves to win this world championship, it’s Max Verstappen, because Mercedes have had the better car,” Horner told the F1 Nation Podcast.

“He has driven outstandingly. Look how close Valtteri [Bottas] has been to Lewis this year. Max has been head and shoulders, for me, the driver of the year.

“He would be very deserving, you know, to win this championship. The way he’s driven this year, the way he’s conducted himself, I think has been outstanding.”

F1 news

12:50 , Jamie Braidwood

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he wants Max Verstappen to win the F1 championship in the right way, as his driver heads into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points with title rival Lewis Hamilton.

“You want to win on the track. Not in a stewards’ room, not in a gravel trap,” Horner said after the chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday. “You want to win it.

“It’s been a tough fight all the way through the year. There’s been some fantastic racing between these two drivers, and I hope that it’s a fair and clean race in Abu Dhabi.”

F1 news

12:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Red Bull are “not treated the same” to rivals Mercedes, according to team advisor Helmut Marko, after Max Verstappen was hit with two penalties at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

Verstappen was hit with a five-second penalty for forcing Hamilton wide as the championship rivals came close, and a 10-second penalty followed after Verstappen unexpectedly braked in front of Hamilton when ordered to let him past, causing a collision.

After the race, Marko insisted that Verstappen was not to blame for the incident and that his team had been unfairly punished, while there had been leniency showed to Hamilton for his driving at the restart when he was further than 10 car lengths behind Verstappen in the formation lap.

“[Hamilton] crashed into our car, he unfortunately put two cuts in the rear tyre. That was so severe that we couldn't attack anymore. We had to take speed out,” Marko said.

“That was the one thing. The next thing was at the second start, Hamilton was more than 10 [car] lengths behind. [Sebastian] Vettel got penalised in Budapest when he did it. But with this manoeuvre he [Hamilton] was preparing his tyre better for the start.

“Then he pushed Max off, no reaction. So we feel we are not treated the same.”

F1 news

12:10 , Jamie Braidwood

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has claimed Lewis Hamilton would have still won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix even if Max Verstappen had started on pole position.

Verstappen look set to secure pole for the penultimate race of the season until his dramatic crash in the final race of qualifying.

Mercedes were surprised at Red Bull’s pace but remained confident that they had the advantage over the long run.

“Even [Verstappen] starting from pole position wouldn’t have made a big difference, because our car was just stronger,” Wolff told the F1 Nation Podcast.

“But the race was so messy, so confusing that I think we could’ve lost the race twice with the damage and at the end to finish first and third is great.”

F1 news

11:51 , Jamie Braidwood

Enzo Fittipaldi suffered a fractured heel but escaped further injury following his horror crash with Theo Pourchaire in the F2 race in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

After Pourchaire stalled on the start line, Fittipaldi, the grandson of Formula 1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi, crashed into the back of the car in front in a sickening incident.

Both drivers were air-lifted to hospital but were conscious following the crash.

“Enzo is awake/alert and resting at the hospital,” said Fittpaldi’s brother, Pietro Fittipaldi, . “He has a fracture in his right heel but thankfully things are much better than what we all expected. Thank you to the FIA, the team and all the medical staff here in Saudi Arabia.”

F1 news

11:32 , Jamie Braidwood

Under-fire FIA race director Michael Masi has moved to explain a number of his decisions at at a chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The first-ever race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit was halted on two occasions by red flag stoppages and there were heated discussions between Masi and the teams.

After Max Verstappen gained an off-track advantage after battling with title rival Lewis Hamilton, Masi at one point offered Red Bull the option to give a place back rather than risking intervention from the stewards.

The conversation between the FIA and the team was broadcast live on television and Red Bull principle Christian Horner later called the negotiations to being at a “local market”.

Horner also claimed that Formula 1 was missing the “experience” of former race director Charlie Whiting, but Masi defended his handling of the race and was adamant that his conversion with Red Bull had been a “normal discussion”.

More here:

FIA race director explains decisions behind chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

F1 news

11:10 , Jamie Braidwood

Lewis Hamilton’s bid to win a record eighth Formula One world title should be made free-to-air in the UK, according to a group of leading MPs and House of Lords peers.

Hamilton heads into the season-ending Saudi Arabia Grand Prix level on points with Max Verstappen - the first time since 1974 that the two leading drivers have been level on points going into the final round.

Sky Sports hold the rights to Formula One in the UK and they are facing calls to make the final race of what has been an enthralling season to be available for all to watch, in the same way that Emma Raducanu’s US Open win in September was made free-to-air by Amazon Prime in a deal with Channel 4.

The calls have been led by Lord Hain, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorsport, who told The Telegraph: “I hope Sky will agree with a free-to-air TV channel to make this historic event available to all the many millions who would want to watch and cheer on Lewis, who is Britain’s biggest ever global sports star on the threshold of Formula 1 immortality.”

F1 news

10:55 , Jamie Braidwood

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hopes the F1 title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will not be decided by a “messy situation”.

Verstappen and Hamilton head into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points but the risk of a race-ending collision between the drivers was made clear during a chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton was pushed wide by Verstappen in an incident at Turn 4 before the rivals did collide in a bizarre incident when the Red Bull was ordered to give the place back to the seven-time world champion.

“I would hope that [Sunday’s] race has enough repercussions that everybody’s going to learn from it and adapt for the final race,” Wolff said.

“Similar driving, if it were to be deemed by the stewards as over the line, would then probably also be penalised in Abu Dhabi, and that could well end in a messy situation for everybody. I don’t think that the championship has deserved a result which was influenced by a collision.

“The emotions are running very, very high. As long as we have a clean race fighting for the drivers’ world championship in Abu Dhabi, it was a great season.”

F1 news

10:39 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will head into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points, although the Red Bull driver will win the championship for the first time if neither driver finishes the race as he has nine wins this season to Hamilton’s eight.

And Martin Brundle says the 24-year-old has been “playing the game” by forcing Hamilton onto the back foot as the risk to him of crashing out of a race is much greater.

“He’s been playing the game given that, with his points advantage, Hamilton simply can’t afford to have an accident with him and lose an opportunity to reduce the points deficit,” Brundle said.

“Even now despite being absolutely level on points going into the final round, for the first time in F1 since 1974, that remains the case given that he has a 9-8 race victory tally should there be a count-back.

“Such is Max’s car control and cunning he’s sometimes able to pull off the audacious moves and leave a margin of doubt as to whether it’s hard racing or simply a professional foul outside of the regulations. And it’s those moments, such as the infamous turn four in Brazil, which are generating the confusion, controversies and inconsistencies.”

More here:

Max Verstappen risks being remembered as an ‘unfair driver’, warns Martin Brundle

F1 news

10:20 , Jamie Braidwood

Jos Verstappen admits he respects Lewis Hamilton but hinted that starts and ends with the Mercedes driver’s exploits on the track.

The father of Max Verstappen has been seen emotionally reacting throughout races this season as his son takes the Red Bull to the brink of an F1 title.

But Hamilton, who has pulled level in pursuit of a record-breaking eighth world title, has no relationship with Verstappen senior beyond the track.

“I never speak to Lewis. He doesn’t need to speak to me. I’m nothing to him. I respect him as a driver, but the rest… nothing,” he told the Daily Mail. “Max and Lewis only speak on the podium, very little. When I see Max with other drivers, I think they get on very well. But with Lewis, nothing. Lewis is in his own world.”

More here:

Max Verstappen’s father admits tension with Lewis Hamilton

F1 news

10:12 , Jamie Braidwood

Sergio Perez had a disappointing race at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but Red Bull once again secured the fastest pit stop of the race.

Red Bull picked up their 12th fastest pit stop award of the season with a 2.2-second stop for the Mexican. By comparison, Lewis Hamilton’s pit stop was 2.49 seconds

Max Verstappen did not stop in the pits during the race as he was able to change his tyres, controversially, during the first red flag stoppage.

Red Bull have nine of the 10 fastest pit stop times so far this season.

F1 news

10:00 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen risks being remembered as an “unfair driver” if he continues to push the limits in his F1 title battle with Lewis Hamilton, according to Martin Brundle .

Hamilton accused Verstappen of driving “over the limit” at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and said that he has had to avoid colliding with the Red Bull driver throughout the season due to his aggressive driving.

The championship rivals did collide in a dramatic incident on Lap 37, in which Verstappen was handed a 10-second penalty for braking into Hamilton unexpectedly when he was ordered to let the Mercedes past.

“I’m in awe of Verstappen’s driving skills and racing nous,” Brundle wrote his in Sky Sports column. “His touch and control behind the wheel is something to behold, but it saddens me that he’s resorting to such tactics, he’s better than that.

“And for all his outwardly carefree attitude it will be such a shame if his legacy is to be labelled as an unfair driver.

“Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher had their faults too, and I was on the receiving end from both of them on occasions, but it’s a sizeable dent on their immense reputations, not a positive.”

F1 news

09:51 , Jamie Braidwood

Haas suffered another miserable race weekend as drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin both crashed out of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to extend their run in F1 without picking up a point. But, given that both of their drivers emerged from their crashes unscathed, the double DNF could have been much worse.

In explaining his horror crash which caused the second red flag stoppage, Mazepin said: “I was fighting with [Lance] Stroll out of Turn 2. Turn 3’s always easy flat and it was meant to be for both cars. But all of a sudden the car in front, it was George [Russell], he braked, I also tried to brake but there’s no way to stop from over 200[km/h] to zero.

“Looking at the replay obviously, there was a car on the inside, [Russell] tried to avoid it himself but he was the last car, so he reacted on the high side and I just couldn’t avoid him, because the track was so narrow.”

“I was pushing a bit too much, trying to get back into the DRS window from George and lost it going into Turn 22,” Schumacher explained. “The pace seemed to be there, we were comfortably keeping up with the Williams and I think that’s what we weren’t really anticipating. Therefore obviously [I was] highly motivated – and maybe a bit too much in that case.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

F1 news

09:40 , Jamie Braidwood

Christian Horner also compared Red Bull’s negotiations with the FIA during last Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to being at a “local market”.

After the race was called to a halt for a second time due to a red flag, Formula 1 race director Michael Masi asked Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley if they would accept moving Max Verstappen down a grid position for the restart.

Verstappen had overtaken Hamilton after the first restart but only by running off the track around the outside and gaining an unfair advantage.

Wheatley effectively asked Red Bull to consider giving back the place or else risk intervention from the stewards, who would have had the power to hand Verstappen a penalty.

The communication between the FIA and the Red Bull director was broadcast live on television.

“There was this pretty surreal discussion between Michael and Jonathan, which was like being at the local market with a bit of trading for position versus penalty,” Horner said.

More here:

‘Like being at the local market’: Christian Horner lifts lid on FIA negotiations

F1 news

09:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Michael Masi has also sought to explain a number of his decisions at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on what was a busy day for the stewards and race director.

Sunday’s race was halted on two occasions by red flag stoppages and there were heated discussions between Masi and the teams.

At one point, Masi offered Red Bull the option to give a place back to Hamilton after Verstappen had gained an off-track advantage.

“It’s very much a normal discussion that happens regularly on a number of occasions and has [done] all year, and previously,” Masi said.

“I wouldn’t call it a deal, as from a race director’s perspective I have no authority to instruct the teams to do anything in that situation. I can give them an offer, [I have] the ability to do that but the choice is theirs.

“The stewards are obviously empowered to give penalties, but I can give them my perspective. That’s why I offered them the ability to give that position up.”

F1 news

09:20 , Jamie Braidwood

There was an “open and frank” exchange of words between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, according to F1 race director Michael Masi.

The F1 title rivals were summoned to the stewards following their dramatic collision at Sunday’s to explain the incident as well as several controversies during the race.

Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for forcing Hamilton off the road and gaining an off-track advantage at Turn 2 and then a post-race 10-second penalty for causing the collision, which saw the Mercedes driver run into the back of the Red Bull car.

“It is an intense championship battle between two fantastic drivers and two great teams,” Masi said. “So that’s part of an intense championship battle on both sides.

“I think there’s always discussion on various things, so if there is a lot. That’s part of why we have a drivers’ meeting to have an open and frank discussion between us and exchange views.”

F1 news

09:10 , Jamie Braidwood

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix showed that Formula One was missing the experience of former race director Charlie Whiting, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Horner was left frustrated by a number of decisions at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and was highly critical of Michael Masi. Whiting, the long-time race director, who passed away in 2019.

Horner said: “I think we’re over-regulated. There’s rules about 10 car lengths, then the formation lap isn’t a formation lap if it’s a restart. It feels that there’s too many rules.

“It felt like today the sport missed Charlie Whiting, I’m sorry to say, but the experience that he had…

“It’s obviously frustrating but it’s difficult for Michael [Masi] and the stewards, particularly at this type of venue, type of circuit, with the amount of debris and types of corner there are. But it’s the same for everybody.”

He added: “Obviously pretty much every decision went against us, as they did in Doha a couple of weeks ago. Then we saw two incidents yesterday that... it’s been variable to say the least.”

F1 news

08:59 , Lawrence Ostlere

What do Hamilton and Verstappen need to do to win the title? It is pretty much winner takes all, but here are the permutations if things get messy/complicated:

What do Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen need to do to win F1 title?

F1 news

08:49 , Lawrence Ostlere

Max Verstappen “will do anything” to defeat Lewis Hamilton in this weekend’s Formula One title decider in Abu Dhabi.

Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton head into the season’s final race level on points after their acrimonious rivalry peaked in Saudi Arabia last weekend, with a series of flashpoints dominating a chaotic race before Hamilton eventually prevailed.

However, due to Verstappen having won more races this season, a crash that renders both drivers to finish the race in Abu Dhabi would hand the Red Bull driver his first world championship.

Asked whether his son would consider ramming Hamilton off the road, the Dutchman’s father, Jos, a former F1 driver himself, told the Daily Mail: “I don’t think that will happen.

“Max absolutely wants to win. He will definitely go for it. He will clearly try to beat him. He will do everything to get the win, that’s for sure. It will be exciting.”

Full story:

Max Verstappen ‘will do anything’ to beat Lewis Hamilton, says father

F1 news

08:39 , Lawrence Ostlere

Max Verstappen is risking his reputation with his controversial title tactics, writes Martin Brundle on Sky:

Such is Max’s car control and cunning he’s sometimes able to pull off the audacious moves and leave a margin of doubt as to whether it’s hard racing or simply a professional foul outside of the regulations. And it’s those moments, such as the infamous turn four in Brazil, which are generating the confusion, controversies and inconsistencies.

I’m in awe of Verstappen’s driving skills and racing nous, and have championed him since the Chinese Grand Prix of 2015 when he was in the Toro Rosso. His touch and control behind the wheel is something to behold, but it saddens me that he’s resorting to such tactics, he’s better than that.

And for all his carefree attitude it will be such a shame if his legacy is to be labelled as an unfair driver.

F1 news

08:33 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton admitted he took a “risk” to go for the fastest lap at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix despite having a broken front wing, with Mercedes admitting he may have reconsidered his decision if he had known the extent of the damage.

Hamilton won a thrilling race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and the bonus point he secured for achieving the fastest lap moved him level with title rival Max Verstappen ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next weekend.

The first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was packed full of incident and controversy, with several red flag stoppages and a collision between Hamilton and Verstappen in the closing stages of the race which saw the Mercedes driver run into the back of the Red Bull car.

The collision caused further damage to Hamilton’s front wing after Mercedes said the seven-time world champion had also been clipped by Esteban Ocon earlier in the race.

But despite a section of his front wing almost hanging off his car, Hamilton still went for the fastest lap to add a further point to his championship total. “I took a lot of risk to get that,” Hamilton said.

F1 news

08:25 , Lawrence Ostlere

Follow all the latest news from Formula 1 as the fallout from Saudi Arabia continues ahead of the final grand prix of the season in Abu Dhabi this weekend, where either Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen will be crowned 2021 F1 world champion.

Hamilton and Verstappen are level on points going into the final race after Hamilton’s chaotic win in Jeddah, which came after the two clashed multiple times including physical contact when Verstappen suddenly slowed under orders to let Hamilton past him, having illegally held on to the race lead earlier in the night. Hamilton was not prepared and ran into the back of his rival, damaging his front wing. Six laps later, Verstappen eventually handed the lead to Hamilton, who went on to win.

The result means Hamilton, chasing his eighth world title, is level on points with Verstappen, hunting his maiden championship of what is sure to be a stellar career in Formula 1. The pair both have 369.5 points and head to this weekend’s finale in Abu Dhabi with everything to play for.

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