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F1 news LIVE: FIA update on Abu Dhabi Grand Prix inquiry process that could decide Lewis Hamilton’s future

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Mercedes are growing “increasingly confident” that Lewis Hamilton will return for the 2022 season, with the seven-time world champion said to be keeping in shape at his home in Colorado ahead of pre-season testing next month.

Hamilton has remained tight-lipped over his future since the hugely controversial end to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitting the Briton was “disillusioned” with the FIA. Mercedes also moved to deny reports that the decision to drop their legal appeal against the result included any agreement that race director Michael Masi would be sacked.

Masi’s position has remained under intense scrutiny since he appeared to break the FIA’s own regulations by allowing a select number of cars to unlap themselves to enable a final lap shootout between Hamilton and Max Verstappen. However, there are currently few obvious candidates to replace the Australian.

Four-time world champion Alain Prost was more cautious over Hamilton’s future, rating the chance that he will return to the track next season at just “50-50”. Some have speculated that Hamilton wants to see the outcome of the FIA’s official report on how events unfolded in Abu Dhabi before committing to a return, with the investigation set to be concluded early next month.

Follow all the latest F1 news below:

Formula 1 latest news ahead of 2022 season

  • Mercedes ‘confident’ Lewis Hamilton won’t retire

  • FIA outlines details of key Abu Dhabi Grand Prix inquiry

  • Hamilton ‘sabbatical year’ raised as possibility for 2022

  • Michael Masi was ‘overwhelmed’ by F1 season finale, claims Bernie Ecclestone

  • Lando Norris opens up on racing at Monaco GP

Sergio Perez backed over Lewis Hamilton’s ‘dangerous driving’ claim

20:00 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko has defended Sergio Perez by claiming his driving tactics in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were “very fair” despite objection from Lewis Hamilton.

“He slowed down Hamilton by eight seconds in two laps, but in a very fair way,” Marko told ServusTV after Hamilton’s “dangerous” accusation.

“Of course he said ‘dangerous driving’ again, we know that.

“He is incredibly loyal and a team player. Of course, we have discussed certain scenarios with him and he then delivers them – and without grumbling or any rebellion or questioning.”

Mercedes ‘confident’ Lewis Hamilton won’t retire

19:30 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes are quietly confident that Lewis Hamilton will resist retirement and continue his glittering career in Formula One next season.

There has been speculation that the seven-time world champion could walk away from the sport following the bitter ending to the 2021 campaign in Abu Dhabi with Max Verstappen edging him out in the title race.

But The Times report that the Briton is ramping up training to remain in shape in his mountain home in Colorado.

Hamilton is also expected at the pre-season testing next month in Barcelona and further testing in Bahrain in March.

FIA ‘set deadline for end of Abu Dhabi investigation’

19:00 , Jack Rathborn

The FIA will reportedly announce findings into their investigation over the controversial events at the Abu Dhabi by Thursday 3 February.

That’s according to Sky Sports’ Craig Slater, with fury over how Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap following decisions made by race director Michael Masi.

Mercedes have refuted making a deal with the FIA that Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis would depart before next season.

“They (Mercedes) want to find out what the FIA decide should be the fall-out from what went on over those final laps in Abu Dhabi where, as far as they are concerned, Lewis Hamilton lost an eighth World title because of a misreading of the rules, chiefly by race director Michael Masi,” Slater said on Sky Sports News.

“I can report that three weeks is how long the FIA have set themselves to deal with this matter. Work only began in earnest on it on Monday [January 10], that’s to say this FIA commission started to interview those involved.

“They also say to me that the [internal] investigation will be thorough, objective and transparent as well. This should be done by February 3rd, at which point the FIA have a [World] Motor Sport Council meeting and hopefully they expect to announce those findings by then.”

Hamilton to follow Rosberg in retirement decision?

18:40 , Dylan Terry

Jacques Villeneuve has compared Lewis Hamilton’s retirement decision to that of his former teammate Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg retired after winning the F1 world title for Mercedes in 2016, denying Hamilton a third successive championship.

And Villeneuve believes the Brit could opt to make a similarly surprising decision before the 2022 season gets underway.

“Who knows? Nobody expected Nico Rosberg to not come back,” the world champion recently told reporters.

“Suddenly he woke up one morning and told everyone he wasn’t passionate about racing anymore. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Lewis, but who knows?”

Hamilton only ‘50-50’ to return to F1 for 2022 season, Prost claims

18:20 , Dylan Terry

There is only a “50-50” chance that Lewis Hamilton returns to Formula One for the 2022 season, according to four-time world champion Alain Prost.

“It’s difficult to put yourself in his place,” Prost told Le Journal du Dimanche. “He surely has as many reasons to stop as to continue. It’s 50-50.

“He took a hell of a blow to the head, but it would be really sad if he wasn’t here this season.”

Bolukbasi moves from Esports to Formula 2

18:00 , Dylan Terry

History made as Cem Bolukbasi becomes the first driver to move from Esports to Formula 2 for the 2022 season.

Alonso on who impressed him during time away

17:40 , Dylan Terry

Fernando Alonso has revealed the two drivers who impressed him most during his time away from Formula 1.

He revealed: “I said at the beginning of the championship as well, before it had even started, in Bahrain, that the driver that impressed me more when I was at home watching on TV was George [Russell], on the performance in the Williams, and Max [Verstappen]. Those were the two guys that I was switching on the TV.”

“And Daniel (Ricciardo) because he was in the Renault and that car was very interesting to me last year, but no, I mean, they were giving something extra and that was the reason why I was putting on the TV.”

F1 teams expected to play ‘a few tricks’ to exploit 2022 rule changes

17:20 , Dylan Terry

Formula 1 engineers will perform some “trickery” to capitalise on the sport’s new regulations, according to McLaren technical director James Key.

“I think the sensitivities around elastics certainly have changed,” Key said. “It’s well understood that from the regulations that have been discussed of late with how to better manage flexible…I shouldn’t say flexible components but components that can flex and make a difference is probably more accurate.

“Some of the tests are more stringent I think so the rear wing tests, for example, will be a little bit tougher. Some of the things that have happened earlier in the year have carried through into ’22 and I think there is a lot of attention being paid to that.

“Front wings similarly, and the front wing in ’22 is a massive thing but it has still got a stringent set of guidelines on stiffnesses. So I think there will always be a few tricks to play but I don’t think there’s going to be something easy to exploit there.”

Ricciardo believes drivers’ emotions aren’t taken into account

17:00 , Dylan Terry

Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo believes people don’t consider drivers’ feelings when they are criticised by fans and in the media.

“I think with anyone in the spotlight or anyone on TV, sometimes to the outside they are not seen as, like, real people,” he said, per Autosport.com.

“It’s like, if you’re an actor…oh, that’s Brad Pitt. He’s superman. He could do anything or whatever. Like he doesn’t get sad or emotional or whatever. But as you know, you guys would feel it, we travel so much that you do miss loved ones. So having that kind of times 10 is tricky.

“I wouldn’t say it affects me in the act of driving. But particularly when maybe it doesn’t go well, then it definitely has an effect because all you want is some of that support and family love. And also when it doesn’t go well, you can also feel very lonely.

“There are elements which I think they would have helped, if they were here. It would have helped me to snap out of a bad mood or a low moment a bit quicker.”

Audi want to ‘surprise’ motorsport as F1 rumours swirl

16:40 , Dylan Terry

Audi are out to “surprise” with their plans in motorsport but have insisted they remain focussed on the Dakar Rally and 24 Hours of Le Mans as rumours swirl over a possible entry on to the Formula 1 grid.

The German manufacturer has been widely tipped to join F1 at the change of engine regulations before the 2026 season, either as a constructor outright or an engine supplier.

The Bavaria-based subsidiary of the Volkswagen group has been connected with a buyout of Mercedes, and Sport1 has said that Audi remain interested in a stake.

FIA outlines details on Abu Dhabi Grand Prix inquiry

16:23 , Ben Burrows

The FIA have outlined the process and next steps for the inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

They plan to discuss the deployment of the Safety Car, which ultimately led to Max Verstappen passing Lewis Hamilton to become world champion.

It has been reported that Hamilton is waiting on the results of the inquiry before deciding whether to return to the sport in 2022.

The FIA say the results will be published on 18 March.

Verstappen’s father acted like a ‘lunatic’ to improve son’s driving

16:20 , Dylan Terry

Max Verstappen’s father Jos has revealed his son viewed him as a “lunatic” for his role in making the Dutchman the “man to beat” in Formula 1.

“I even hung over the pit wall in Formula 3 to encourage him to go faster. I have to say, it helped,” said Jos during an interview with CarNext, according to GPFans.

“He saw me as a lunatic. Hanging over the pit wall. Luckily, he doesn’t need that now. It’s in him and he brings it out now. He knows how to qualify.

“At the beginning of his career in Formula 3, he had to search for that perfect lap. He has improved enormously in Formula 1. Now he is the man to beat on the track.”

Red Bull chief criticises Hamilton for ‘media-loving life’

16:00 , Dylan Terry

Red Bull boss Helmut Marko has accused Lewis Hamilton of leading a “media-loving life” when describing what’s different between the seven-time champion and Max Verstappen.

The two rivals have different personalities and approaches to the media. But of late Hamilton hasn’t been appearing publicly and has hardly been seen since Verstappen denied him a record eighth world title.

The pair headed into the final race of the season on equal points and the Dutchman overtook the Mercedes star in the last lap.

“There is the seven-time world champion who leads a rather media-loving life,” Marko told ServusTV.

Hamilton was pictured at Windsor Castle just days after losing in controversial circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to receive his knighthood. But since then he hasn’t made a statement or been on social media.

What are the new law changes for the 2022 season?

15:45 , Dylan Terry

There will be changes to the wind tunnel and CFD testing structure which will mean the amount of testing will be cut depending on the teams finishing place in 2021.

Figures supplied mean each team will have within one of the six aerodynamic testing periods: 320 windtunnel runs, 80 hours of wind-on time with teams allowed to spend a total of 400 hours within the windtunnel.

Percentage values apply depending on where each team finishes. A first place finish in the constructors’ standings rewards a team a multiplier of 70%, meaning a team’s time in the windtunnel is handicapped, But finishing 10th comes with a 115% multiplier and so they will have more time. CFD terms will work in the same way.

The cost cap is expected to drop to $140m from the $145m allowed in the 2021 season.

There will also be an increase in the sprint races with six in the 2022 season, up from three in the 2021 term.

Mercedes yet to identify Hamilton replacement

15:35 , Dylan Terry

Mercedes are yet to identify a replacement for Lewis Hamilton if the seven-time champion decides to retire, according to reports.

According to The Mail, no candidates have been discussed within the team as they hope Hamilton will continue for the 2022 season.

It is believed the Brit is waiting on the result of the FIA inquiry into the Abu Dhabi GP before making his mind up.

He needs just one more world title to surpass Michael Schumacher’s tally of seven championships.

Audi want to ‘surprise’ motorsport as F1 rumours swirl

15:25 , Dylan Terry

Audi are out to “surprise” with their plans in motorsport but have insisted they remain focussed on the Dakar Rally and 24 Hours of Le Mans as rumours swirl over a possible entry on to the Formula 1 grid.

The German manufacturer has been widely tipped to join F1 at the change of engine regulations before the 2026 season, either as a constructor outright or an engine supplier.

The Bavaria-based subsidiary of the Volkswagen group has been connected with a buyout of Mercedes, and Sport1 has said that Audi remain interested in a stake.

Esports meets real life

15:15 , Dylan Terry

Cem Bolukbasi will compete in Formula 2 in 2022. He has made his name on the Esports circuit and is now set to make history.

Wolff celebrates 50th birthday

15:05 , Dylan Terry

Yesterday, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff celebrated his 50th birthday as the F1 community paid homage to the Austrian.

The executive has been integral to Mercedes’ success over the last decade and remains one of the most valuable assets in their team.

Bottas reveals what was ‘really impressive’ about Hamilton

14:55 , Dylan Terry

Valtteri Bottas has praised Lewis Hamilton for his ability to continue to improve every year during the pair’s time together at Mercedes.

“You know, with Lewis, what has been really impressive is that every year he’s been able to develop,” Bottas explained to the Formula 1 website.

“He’s got such a big experience in Formula 1 but still he’s been able to always learn more, become better and better.

“For sure, I’ve developed every year as a driver but so has Lewis, and it doesn’t come automatically. He works for it, because he knows that the competition always gets tougher.

“I’ve definitely learned many things from him, like driving-wise, set-up-wise, lots of small things here and there, but just it’s been impressive that he’s been able to still develop and not to get too comfortable, ever.

“He always wants more out of himself and the team around him, so that’s been the same thing every year – he keeps getting better.”

Hulkenberg gives assessment of 2022 car

14:45 , Dylan Terry

Former Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg has delivered his assessment of the cars for the upcoming season after being granted permission to test the new Aston Martin model.

He said: “They [F1] aimed [for the car] to be a bit slower, more challenging to drive, to have more focus on drivers that can make a difference rather than car performance and aerodynamics dominate.

“From my initial experience, however, the new cars are pretty damn fast and not necessarily slower than the last generation. The driving experience hasn’t changed that much either, at least in the simulator.

“It will be very interesting to see whether these cars can really follow the car in front better.

“In the simulator, the cornering speeds are extremely high, so the risk of ‘dirty air’ is still given and it´s difficult for me to imagine that following another car comfortably at these speeds will be easy.

“Anyhow, I hope we will [be] positively surprised. Once pre-season testing starts, drivers and teams will find out how the cars really behave on track.”

Leclerc on improvements in 2021 season

14:35 , Dylan Terry

Charles Leclerc feels he significantly improved his race management during the 2021 season despite a disappointing seventh place finish in the drivers’ championship.

He said: "Definitely the race management in general. Again, that’s since early 2020 I started to say it was one of my weaknesses; especially in 2019, I had a lot of good qualifying [sessions] but in the race, I was struggling a bit more.

“We were struggling a bit more as a team, but as a driver I could feel 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 [was] actually one of my strengths.”

Verstappen sign spotted in Milton Keynes

14:25 , Dylan Terry

A ‘Max Verstappen World Champion 2021’ sign has popped up in Milton Keynes following his triumph at the end of last year.

The Dutchman prevented Lewis Hamilton from securing a record-breaking eighth title as he overtook the Brit on the final lap of the final race of the season to clinch the championship in the most dramatic fashion.

Can he do the same again in 2022?

Ferrari’s Sainz showing clear improvement

14:15 , Dylan Terry

Carlos Sainz has shown clear progression over the last four years in particular.

His move from McLaren to Ferrari was a bold one but he was rewarded with a fifth place finish in the drivers’ championship in 2021 - the highest place finisher outside of Mercedes and Red Bull.

Now he hopes to go one step further by challenging for the title in 2022.

Sainz ‘100 per cent ready’ for world title fight

14:05 , Dylan Terry

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz feels he is ‘100 per cent’ ready to challenge for the world championship in 2022.

“Yes, 100%,” he replied when asked whether he is ready to challenge for the title. “Especially... this second half of the season has given me the right confidence with the car, the right confidence with the team, to know I’m ready for whatever comes next year.

“That combined with the amount of hard work we are putting into the 2022 project has put me into the right mindset.”

Drive to Survive: Season Four

13:55 , Dylan Terry

I think we can all agree on this.

The fourth season of Drive to Survive will be put on Netflix ahead of the 2022 season. There is no official release date yet, but it is expected to come out in March

Alonso ‘sad’ to see Honda leave F1

13:45 , Dylan Terry

Fernando Alonso has admitted he is ‘sad’ to see Honda leave Formula One but is hopeful they will return in the future.

“Obviously, when they left McLaren, I think they were not in a point of dreaming of the Formula 1 championship. But they did a very good job, they appointed the right people,” he told Motorsport.com.

“I think they changed the management, and they introduced a new philosophy and they did the job, and I’m so happy for them. And I’m sad that they are leaving now. But hopefully they come back.”

FIA president sends text to Hamilton amid retirement talk

13:35 , Dylan Terry

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has sent a text to Lewis Hamilton as he looks to avoid the seven-time champion announcing his retirement.

The Brit’s future remains up in the air following his controversial loss to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

The FIA are leading a full inquiry into what happened and will provide their findings to the teams by February 3.

"Mohammed Ben Sulayem has come in and made it a matter of urgency that this gets sorted out," said Craig Slater, of Sky Sports F1.

"He is taking personal involvement himself, he has texted Lewis Hamilton for example, and he wants to get this done properly as soon as it can be done."

Hamilton to follow Rosberg in retirement decision?

13:25 , Dylan Terry

Jacques Villeneuve has compared Lewis Hamilton’s retirement decision to that of his former teammate Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg retired after winning the F1 world title for Mercedes in 2016, denying Hamilton a third successive championship.

And Villeneuve believes the Brit could opt to make a similarly surprising decision before the 2022 season gets underway.

“Who knows? Nobody expected Nico Rosberg to not come back,” the world champion recently told reporters.

“Suddenly he woke up one morning and told everyone he wasn’t passionate about racing anymore. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Lewis, but who knows?”

McLaren boss calls for end to teams ‘influencing’ F1 race officials

13:15 , Dylan Terry

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has called for an end to team principals influencing the Formula 1 race director during grands prix.

The 2021 season ended in controversy in Abu Dhabi as Lewis Hamilton’s final-race lead was cut down by safety car regulations allowing Max Verstappen the chance to overtake on the last lap, an opportunity he took to become world champion for the first time.

The race was also contentious for highlighting the regular communication between team principals, like Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, with race director Michael Masi, as they attempted to sway his crucial in-race decisions in their favour.

The race was viewed by millions around the world, many of whom were only passing F1 fans and who were left questioning the fairness and integrity of the sport, and Brown says there needs to be “less influence” from the teams.

“I think everyone was pretty confused,” Brown told RACER, referring to the events of Abu Dhabi. “There were enough people disgruntled throughout the year that we need to look at the rules. And keep in mind that it’s the teams who make most of these rules.

“So as you’ve heard me bang on about, I’d continue to like to see less influence from the teams, because we’re the ones who developed half of these rules.”

Standings for 2021 season

13:00 , Dylan Terry

Here was the top 10 for the 2021 season in the drivers’ championship.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battled it out for the title and finished more than 150 points ahead of their nearest challenger.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, followed by Verstappen’s Red Bull partner Sergio Perez.

The Ferraris and McLarens came next as Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo propped up the top eight.

And Pierre Gasly enjoyed a successful season with Alpha Tauri in ninth, while two-time champion Fernando Alonso squeezed into the top 10 with Alpine.

 (F1 standings)
(F1 standings)

Norris felt he was in Sainz ‘shadow’ at McLaren

12:45 , Dylan Terry

Lando Norris has said he felt as if he was in Carlos Sainz’s “shadow” when the pair raced for McLaren together.

Sainz performed well for McLaren but moved to Ferrari to replace Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season. He ended up with more points than Charles Leclerc and Norris believes his former McLaren colleague could win the world title if given the right car.

“I think Carlos is one of the best Formula 1 drivers. It also made me not look so good because he’s an extremely good driver. He did a very good job,” said Norris, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.

“I think I was a bit in his shadow because he did a great job. More and more people are now realising what he’s capable of.”

Gasly frustrated by lack of Red Bull recognition

12:30 , Dylan Terry

Pierre Gasly has expressed frustration over a lack of “recognition and reward” from Red Bull in his Formula 1 career.

Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, Gasly said: “My desire, my will to fight for world championships is very strong. I’m in Formula 1 to fight at the top. That motivates me to keep improving.

“I won’t lie, it’s hard to deliver a season like that. And then when I compare myself to those who got the opportunity for a Red Bull seat, it’s disappointing. Based on the numbers and results, I have delivered a better performance than anyone else in this team.

“But at the end of the day, I don’t get the recognition and reward for that. That’s hard to swallow. It disappoints me, of course. I know what I want to achieve in this sport. I want to fight at the top. That hasn’t changed.

“Next year it won’t be that far yet, but that doesn’t mean if it’s not there in 2022 it won’t happen in 2023. I continue to give full throttle and believe in myself.

“I hope the AlphaTauri will be as good as it was this season, despite the change in regulations.”

Honda to make F1 return in the future?

12:13 , Dylan Terry

Honda motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto believes the Japanese manufacturer will return to F1 in the future.

“Personally I hope and expect Honda will come back to Formula 1,” he told F1.com.

“It depends on young people in Honda being passionate about motorsport and if they can convince senior management to come back. But history repeats, so I hope it can happen.”

Bottas joins up with Alfa Romeo

11:55 , Dylan Terry

Valtteri Bottas has joined up with his new team Alfa Romeo ahead of the 2022 Formula One season.

The Finn was replaced at Mercedes by George Russell and so in turn began searching for a new seat for the upcoming campaign.

And Alfa Romeo opted to change both drivers for 2022 - with Bottas and Chinese racer Guanyu Zhou coming in for Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen.

Mercedes confident Hamilton won’t retire

11:45 , Dylan Terry

Mercedes remain confident that Lewis Hamilton will not retire and will compete in the 2022 Formula One season.

There has been rumours the seven-time world champion could walk away from the sport after missing out on the 2021 championship to Max Verstappen.

But The Times report that the Briton is ramping up training to remain in shape in his mountain home in Colorado.

Hamilton is also expected to take part in the pre-season testing next month in Barcelona and in Bahrain in March.

Russell predicts F1 ‘underdogs’ may prevail early on in 2022 season

11:35 , Dylan Terry

Mercedes driver George Russell says “underdog” teams could “prevail” in early races in the 2022 season due to the new car regulations.

The new rules could see the likes of Haas, AlphaTauri and Williams put in solid performances which could cause upsets for Mercedes and Red Bull. The opportunity for more competition and excitement to see each team’s new car is making Russell looking forward to the new season, which begins in March.

“I’m really excited to see the new cars and what they offer for everyone,” said Russell, quoted by Autosport. “That’s really exciting, but also I’m looking forward to being part of the development of a car that will be progressing drastically throughout a season, working with the designers, working on the simulator, putting lots of work in to progress.

“I’m sure it won’t necessarily be who is quickest at race one will win, and I’m sure there will be some interesting designs out there and might be some underdogs who prevail in the opening tests or races.”

One month on from Verstappen’s title win

11:25 , Dylan Terry

One month on from Max Verstappen’s title victory and Red Bull admit it is still ‘sinking in’ following a dramatic conclusion to the 2021 season.

Mercedes excited ahead of 2022 season

11:10 , Dylan Terry

Safe to say Mercedes are excited about the 2022 Formula 1 season as they bid to reclaim the drivers’ championship they lost in dramatic circumstances last year.

They will also look to defend the constructors’ title which they have claimed in each of the previous eight seasons.

More on race director Michael Masi

11:00 , Dylan Terry

Ex-Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone believes race director Michael Masi was “overwhelmed” by the 2021 season.

“He was in many cases overwhelmed with his job the whole season and maybe shouldn’t have had it at all,” Ecclestone told BILD. But it was the right decision to let them race.”

“About being robbed, it’s complete and utter nonsense. If you want to think about it carefully, on the first lap of that race he [Hamilton] went off the circuit and came back on again and Verstappen stayed on the circuit and did absolutely nothing wrong.

“Lewis wasn’t punished at all for that so he shouldn’t be complaining too much. These things happen all the time in sports. We shouldn’t blame the race director, he did exactly what was the right thing to do.”

Abu Dhabi GP investigation update

10:50 , Dylan Terry

Sky Sports journalist Craig Slater has provided an update into the investigation the FIA are conducting over what went on at the Abu Dhabi GP.

Max Verstappen was able to pass Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the season to win the title - a move which was helped by the decisions of FIA race director Michael Masi.

Hamilton ‘sabbatical year’ raised as possibility for 2022

10:40 , Dylan Terry

Lewis Hamilton could take a “sabbatical year” from Formula One if he does not receive assurances from the FIA that there will be changes to how its rules are enforced ahead of next season, it was been warned.

Hamilton lost out on a record-breaking eighth F1 title to Max Verstappen on the last lap of the season at a hugely controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last month.

The 36-year-old is still yet to add any further comment on the result of the race, after Mercedes withdrew their appeal of Verstappen’s championship victory.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff did reveal, however, that Hamilton had been left “disillusioned” by how the closing stages of the Grand Prix were allowed to unfold by race director Michael Masi.

In withdrawing their appeals in the aftermath of the race, Mercedes confirmed that would “actively work” with the FIA to “build a better Formula One”.

Red Bull chief criticises Hamilton for ‘media-loving life’

10:30 , Dylan Terry

Red Bull boss Helmut Marko has accused Lewis Hamilton of leading a “media-loving life” when describing what’s different between the seven-time champion and Max Verstappen.

The two rivals have different personalities and approaches to the media. But of late Hamilton hasn’t been appearing publicly and has hardly been seen since Verstappen denied him a record eighth world title.

The pair headed into the final race of the season on equal points and the Dutchman overtook the Mercedes star in the last lap.

“There is the seven-time world champion who leads a rather media-loving life,” Marko told ServusTV.

Hamilton was pictured at Windsor Castle just days after losing in controversial circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to receive his knighthood. But since then he hasn’t made a statement or been on social media.

Norris describes Monaco GP

10:20 , Dylan Terry

Lando has revealed what it feels like to drive around the Monaco Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old finish fifth in the 2021 edition of the race, but it is during qualifying that the Brit admits he becomes concerned when having to drive at the absolute limit.

Vettel calls for more help over mental health of drivers in F1

10:10 , Dylan Terry

Sebastian Vettel has said Formula One has “catching up to do” in recognising the importance of mental health amongst drivers.

Vettel said: “I think mental health is just as important, if not more important, than physical health.

“If you break your leg or feel pain in your body, then we all see it as advisable to see a doctor for help, but we don’t think so when it comes to mental health.”

“I think there is still some catching up to do,” the Aston Martin driver added, as per Speedweek.com.

2022 driver line-up

09:55 , Dylan Terry

There have been a few changes to the grid for the 2022 season.

George Russell is coming in for Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes. Bottas and Guanyu Zhou replace Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo. And Alex Albon is in for Russell at Williams.

Which one are you most looking forward to watching?

FIA warned against ‘preferential’ team radios after Wolff and Horner controversy

09:45 , Dylan Terry

Formula 1 has been warned to not permit “preferential” communications between teams and the FIA.

Labour peer and Vice-Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Formula 1, told the Express: “There has to be integrity all around. There can’t be preferential communications with certain teams rather than others. I think that’s the important thing.

“There must be no repeat of this.”

Hamilton only ‘50-50’ to return to F1 for 2022 season, Prost claims

09:35 , Dylan Terry

There is only a “50-50” chance that Lewis Hamilton returns to Formula One for the 2022 season, according to four-time world champion Alain Prost.

“It’s difficult to put yourself in his place,” Prost told Le Journal du Dimanche. “He surely has as many reasons to stop as to continue. It’s 50-50.

“He took a hell of a blow to the head, but it would be really sad if he wasn’t here this season.”

Mercedes statement continued

09:25 , Dylan Terry

The team finished their statement by adding:

“And lastly, even though this Drivers’ Championship did not end the way we hoped, we could not be prouder of our team.

“Lewis, you are the greatest racer in the history of Formula 1 and you drove your heart out for every lap of this incredible season. You’re flawless sportsman on and off the track and you delivered a faultless performance. As a pure competitor and as a role model for millions around the world, we salute you.

“Valetteri [Bottas], you have been such important part of this team, delivering five Constructors’ Championships in five seasons. Thank you for your remarkable contribution to our motorsport history.

“Finally, to every one of the skilled and passionate women and men of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in Brackley and High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth; you’ve written a historic chapter in the Silver Arrow story by winning the eighth Constructors’ Championship -- in a row. This is an unprecedented achievement. In simple words: it’s awesome. You are awesome.”

Mercedes accept Verstappen title win

09:20 , Dylan Terry

A reminder that last month Mercedes revealed they would not appeal the outcome of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

A statement from the team read: "Dear Formula One community and fans. We left Dubai in disbelief of what we had just witnessed. Of course, it's part of the game to lose a race, but it's something different when you lose faith in racing.

"Together with Lewis, we have deliberated carefully over how to respond to the events at the Formula 1 season finale. We have always been guided by our love of sport and we believe that every competition should be won on merit. In the race on Sunday many felt, us included, that the way things unfolded was not right.

"The reason we protested the result on Sunday was because the Safety Car regulations were applied in a new way that affected the race result, after Lewis had been in a commanding lead and on course to win the World Championship.

"We appealed in the interest of sporting fairness, and we have since been in a constructive dialogue with the FIA and Formula 1 to create clarity for the future, so that all competitors know the rules under which they are racing, and how they are enforced. Thus, we welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of the rules, governance and decision making in Formula 1. We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal.

"To Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing: we would like to express our sincere respect for your achievements this season. You made this Formula 1 Championship title fight truly epic. Max, we congratulate you and your entire team. We look forward to taking the fight to you on the track next season.

Pre-season testing

09:15 , Dylan Terry

When will we learn our first pieces of information about the teams for the 2022 season? Well, here are the dates for the first and second rounds of testing.

First test: Barcelona, Spain - 23-25 February

Second test: Sakhir, Bahrain - 10-12 March

Provisional calendar for 2022 season

09:10 , Dylan Terry

Provisional 2022 F1 calendar

20 March: Bahrain (Sakhir)27 March: Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)10 April: Australia (Melbourne)24 April: Emilia Romagna (Imola)8 May: Miami (Miami)22 May: Spain (Barcelona)29 May: Monaco (Monaco)12 June: Azerbaijan (Baku)19 June: Canada (Montreal)3 July: Great Britain (Silverstone)10 July: Austria (Spielberg)24 July: France (Le Castellet)31 July: Hungary (Budapest)28 August: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)4 September: Netherlands (Zandvoort)11 September: Italy (Monza)25 September: Russia (Sochi)2 October: Singapore (Marina Bay)9 October: Japan (Suzuka)23 October: USA (Austin)30 October: Mexico (Mexico City)13 November: Brazil (Sao Paulo)20 November: Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)

Line-up for 2022 F1 grid

09:05 , Dylan Terry

  • Mercedes; Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

  • Red Bull: Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez

  • Ferrari: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

  • McLaren:Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo

  • Alpine; Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon

  • AlphaTauri: Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda

  • Aston Martin: Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll

  • Williams: Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi

  • Alfa Romeo: Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou

  • Haas: Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher

Honda to make F1 return in the future?

09:00 , Dylan Terry

Honda motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto believes the Japanese manufacturer will return to F1 in the future.

“Personally I hope and expect Honda will come back to Formula 1,” he told F1.com.

“It depends on young people in Honda being passionate about motorsport and if they can convince senior management to come back. But history repeats, so I hope it can happen.”

Bolukbasi moves from Esports to Formula 2

08:55 , Dylan Terry

History made as Cem Bolukbasi becomes the first driver to move from Esports to Formula 2 for the 2022 season.

Alonso on who impressed him during time away

08:50 , Dylan Terry

Fernando Alonso has revealed the two drivers who impressed him most during his time away from Formula 1.

He revealed: “I said at the beginning of the championship as well, before it had even started, in Bahrain, that the driver that impressed me more when I was at home watching on TV was George [Russell], on the performance in the Williams, and Max [Verstappen]. Those were the two guys that I was switching on the TV.”

“And Daniel (Ricciardo) because he was in the Renault and that car was very interesting to me last year, but no, I mean, they were giving something extra and that was the reason why I was putting on the TV.”

F1 teams expected to play ‘a few tricks’ to exploit 2022 rule changes

08:45 , Dylan Terry

Formula 1 engineers will perform some “trickery” to capitalise on the sport’s new regulations, according to McLaren technical director James Key.

“I think the sensitivities around elastics certainly have changed,” Key said. “It’s well understood that from the regulations that have been discussed of late with how to better manage flexible…I shouldn’t say flexible components but components that can flex and make a difference is probably more accurate.

“Some of the tests are more stringent I think so the rear wing tests, for example, will be a little bit tougher. Some of the things that have happened earlier in the year have carried through into ’22 and I think there is a lot of attention being paid to that.

“Front wings similarly, and the front wing in ’22 is a massive thing but it has still got a stringent set of guidelines on stiffnesses. So I think there will always be a few tricks to play but I don’t think there’s going to be something easy to exploit there.”

Ricciardo believes drivers’ emotions aren’t taken into account

08:40 , Dylan Terry

Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo believes people don’t consider drivers’ feelings when they are criticised by fans and in the media.

“I think with anyone in the spotlight or anyone on TV, sometimes to the outside they are not seen as, like, real people,” he said, per Autosport.com.

“It’s like, if you’re an actor…oh, that’s Brad Pitt. He’s superman. He could do anything or whatever. Like he doesn’t get sad or emotional or whatever. But as you know, you guys would feel it, we travel so much that you do miss loved ones. So having that kind of times 10 is tricky.

“I wouldn’t say it affects me in the act of driving. But particularly when maybe it doesn’t go well, then it definitely has an effect because all you want is some of that support and family love. And also when it doesn’t go well, you can also feel very lonely.

“There are elements which I think they would have helped, if they were here. It would have helped me to snap out of a bad mood or a low moment a bit quicker.”

Audi want to ‘surprise’ motorsport as F1 rumours swirl

08:35 , Dylan Terry

Audi are out to “surprise” with their plans in motorsport but have insisted they remain focussed on the Dakar Rally and 24 Hours of Le Mans as rumours swirl over a possible entry on to the Formula 1 grid.

The German manufacturer has been widely tipped to join F1 at the change of engine regulations before the 2026 season, either as a constructor outright or an engine supplier.

The Bavaria-based subsidiary of the Volkswagen group has been connected with a buyout of Mercedes, and Sport1 has said that Audi remain interested in a stake.

Verstappen’s father acted like a ‘lunatic’ to improve son’s driving

08:30 , Dylan Terry

Max Verstappen’s father Jos has revealed his son viewed him as a “lunatic” for his role in making the Dutchman the “man to beat” in Formula 1.

“I even hung over the pit wall in Formula 3 to encourage him to go faster. I have to say, it helped,” said Jos during an interview with CarNext, according to GPFans.

“He saw me as a lunatic. Hanging over the pit wall. Luckily, he doesn’t need that now. It’s in him and he brings it out now. He knows how to qualify.

“At the beginning of his career in Formula 3, he had to search for that perfect lap. He has improved enormously in Formula 1. Now he is the man to beat on the track.”

Ocon win ranked by Alpine chief as team’s third-best moment of 2021

08:25 , Dylan Terry

Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi has claimed that Esteban Ocon’s surprise victory at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix was not the team’s best moment of the Formula 1 season.

“It was a great moment in the season, a statement of the good work we did,” commented Rossi on Ocon’s Hungary victory to Motorsport.com.

“But I would say, and it’s surprising for everyone, it wasn’t as much as the 19 points we scored for the podium and fifth place in Qatar, or the strong finish with Esteban’s fourth place in Saudi Arabia.

“It’s more the progression and learning and constant improvement of the team that bodes well for the future of the brand. The win was great, don’t get me wrong, but it happened under specific circumstances.

“We held on for 65 laps so we deserved it, but under normal race conditions, like the last few, that’s what makes me feel confident and proud with the team. That was as important as the win.”

Bottas on ‘really impressive’ Hamilton

08:20 , Dylan Terry

Valtteri Bottas has praised Lewis Hamilton for his ability to continue to improve every year during the pair’s time together at Mercedes.

“You know, with Lewis, what has been really impressive is that every year he’s been able to develop,” Bottas explained to the Formula 1 website.

“He’s got such a big experience in Formula 1 but still he’s been able to always learn more, become better and better.

“For sure, I’ve developed every year as a driver but so has Lewis, and it doesn’t come automatically. He works for it, because he knows that the competition always gets tougher.

“I’ve definitely learned many things from him, like driving-wise, set-up-wise, lots of small things here and there, but just it’s been impressive that he’s been able to still develop and not to get too comfortable, ever.

“He always wants more out of himself and the team around him, so that’s been the same thing every year – he keeps getting better.”

Sergio Perez backed over Lewis Hamilton’s 'dangerous driving’ claim

07:45 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko has defended Sergio Perez by claiming his driving tactics in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were “very fair” despite objection from Lewis Hamilton.

“He slowed down Hamilton by eight seconds in two laps, but in a very fair way,” Marko told ServusTV after Hamilton’s “dangerous” accusation.

“Of course he said ‘dangerous driving’ again, we know that.

“He is incredibly loyal and a team player. Of course, we have discussed certain scenarios with him and he then delivers them – and without grumbling or any rebellion or questioning.”

FIA ‘set deadline for end of Abu Dhabi investigation’

07:30 , Jack Rathborn

The FIA will reportedly announce findings into their investigation over the controversial events at the Abu Dhabi by Thursday 3 February.

That’s according to Sky Sports’ Craig Slater, with fury over how Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap following decisions made by race director Michael Masi.

Mercedes have refuted making a deal with the FIA that Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis would depart before next season.

“They (Mercedes) want to find out what the FIA decide should be the fall-out from what went on over those final laps in Abu Dhabi where, as far as they are concerned, Lewis Hamilton lost an eighth World title because of a misreading of the rules, chiefly by race director Michael Masi,” Slater said on Sky Sports News.

“I can report that three weeks is how long the FIA have set themselves to deal with this matter. Work only began in earnest on it on Monday [January 10], that’s to say this FIA commission started to interview those involved.

“They also say to me that the [internal] investigation will be thorough, objective and transparent as well. This should be done by February 3rd, at which point the FIA have a [World] Motor Sport Council meeting and hopefully they expect to announce those findings by then.”

Mercedes ‘confident’ Lewis Hamilton won’t retire

07:21 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes are quietly confident that Lewis Hamilton will resist retirement and continue his glittering career in Formula One next season.

There has been speculation that the seven-time world champion could walk away from the sport following the bitter ending to the 2021 campaign in Abu Dhabi with Max Verstappen edging him out in the title race.

But The Times report that the Briton is ramping up training to remain in shape in his mountain home in Colorado.

Hamilton is also expected at the pre-season testing next month in Barcelona and further testing in Bahrain in March.

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