F1 LIVE: Lewis Hamilton aiming to be ‘purest driver’ amid Max Verstappen rivalry

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·35 min read
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  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver

After the fallout from the Qatar Grand Prix, who propelled Lewis Hamilton to favourite for the Formula 1 drivers’ championship, the build-up to Saudi Arabia and how Max Verstappen will react with his advantage now within reach of the seven-time world champion.

The Briton is only eight points behind the Dutch driver and with just two races to go, having timed his latest excellent drive to perfection in a comprehensive win from start to finish, there is no room for error for either driver now.

Verstappen showed his toughness to limit the damage after a damaging grid penalty took a win out of the question, surging up from seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty to snatch second, while also landing a late blow on Mercedes with the bonus point for the fastest lap.

The sport is flying right now, and the iconic Fernando Alonso delivered some nostalgia with a first F1 podium in seven years to the delight of Alpine, with his performance topping Indy Sport’s Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings.

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

Read More

Lewis Hamilton wins Qatar Grand Prix to close gap on Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton insists there’s ‘no time to celebrate’ after Qatar Grand Prix win

F1: Toto Wolff hails Lewis Hamilton’s ‘superhero powers’ after Qatar Grand Prix win

Fernando Alonso offers precious reminder of class of old with Qatar Grand Prix podium

F1 news

  • Lewis Hamilton now favourite to lift title after Qatar

  • Max Verstappen bemoans treatment by stewards

  • Lewis Hamilton determined to be ‘the purest of drivers'

Hamilton hopes rainbow helmet can spark ‘positive change'

16:47 , Tom Kershaw

“For months now I’ve been thinking about these last three races and the location [in the Middle East],” Hamilton said.

“I’ve been trying to think, ‘what is it that I can do?’. I’m only one person; the sport and all the drivers together, and athletes, can do more.

“In the last race I finally came up with the idea and luckily in a really short space of time I got my helmet painter to send me a clip of this image with the flag over my helmet and I was like ‘that’s what I want for the next race so can you make it happen?’.

“He made it happen and it’s been amazing to see the positive response.”

Van de Grint: Mercedes and Red Bull bickering is ‘tacky'

16:08 , Tom Kershaw

Former Bridgestone tyre engineer Kees van de Grint has labelled the back-and-forth barbs between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner as “tacky”.

“I think that’s terrible. I think it’s tacky,” Van de Grint said. “And then marshals are insulted. It is childish.”

“Let everyone focus on their own cars. We have a fantastic season. We have two great drivers who actually downgrade the rest of the field. Fantastic, that’s motorsport.

“We look at motorsport, and not at this sort of thing, right? When I hear terms that I don’t want to repeat, that annoys me too. I am sorry to hear that.”

F1 news: Brundle says Verstappen penalty ‘harsh'

15:25 , Lawrence Ostlere

Martin Brundle has criticised the FIA’s decision to penalise Max Vertsappen for failing to obey yellow flags during qualifying at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Verstappen and MercedesValtteri Bottas were hit with five- and three-place grid penalties respectively after failing to slow down under yellow flags.

Full story:

Max Verstappen penalty at Qatar Grand Prix was ‘harsh’, says Martin Brundle

Glock: ‘Bottas never in position to drive forward to support Lewis’

14:55 , Tom Kershaw

Timo Glock has been unimpressed with Valtteri Bottas’ driving this season and criticised the Mercedes driver’s latest performance in Qatar.

Bottas was hit with a grid penalty and then endured a poor start before being unluckily suffering a puncture that ruled him out of the race.

“He’s never in a position where you realise that he really wants to drive forward to support Lewis Hamilton,” Timo Glock said. “He drives his races without taking any risks and he always need motivation from Toto Wolff. I think Lewis and Max are on their own to decide the championship.”

Hulkenberg: ‘It’s crazy how cool Verstappen is’

14:33 , Tom Kershaw

Nico Hulkenberg has praised Max Verstappen’s ability to maintain composure in such a nail-biting race for the championship, considering the vast gap in experience between the Dutch driver and Lewis Hamilton.

“These guys don’t get nervous, those are just normal things in a race,” he told Servus TV. “Lewis is not nervous, he is already fighting for his eighth world title. From Max, it’s crazy how cool he is when you realise this is his first fight for a world title.”

Hulkenberg also praised Hamilton’s “sensational” performance in Brazil, where the Briton came from tenth on the grid to take victory and reignite his hopes of a record-breaking eighth title.

”It is possible that Lewis was spurred on by the difficult weekend in Brazil,” he added. “It was a sensational performance from Lewis, faultless. Psychology certainly plays a part here.

“Lewis drove a perfect qualifying lap in Doha, you could see that from the onboard footage.”

Aston Martin poach Blandin from Mercedes

14:10 , Tom Kershaw

Aston Martin have poached Mercedes’ chief aerodynamicist Eric Blandin.

Blandin was aero team leader at Jaguar Racing during its transition to Red Bull Racing and worked with Dan Fallows during that period. Fallows, the current head of aerodynamics at Red Bull, is set to become Aston Martin’s technical director next season.

Blandin joined Mercedes in 2011 as a principal aerodynamicist and was promoted in 2017.

“We can confirm that Eric Blandin will begin working for Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team next year. His exact start date is not yet confirmed,” a statement read.

“The transition from Mercedes AMG F1 Team to ourselves will be an amicable one.”

Ricciardo reveals reason behind lack of pace in Qatar

13:29 , Tom Kershaw

“In fuel saving, that’s where it got lost,” said the popular McLaren driver, who ultimately finished 12th. “We had a few things going on today. So already from Lap 1, I had some fuel warnings on the dash which you don’t get on Lap 1, so I ignored it, because I thought okay, it’s just an error in the dash.

“But then quite early, I was told that you need to seriously start saving fuel. I saved quite a lot, like already what I thought was too much, and I was told it’s not enough, it’s not enough, to the point where we were… probably going two seconds a lap slower. And with that, tyres get cold, brakes get cold, so you lose even more ultimately.

“[The fuel saving] never seemed to be enough. So I was kind of thinking, what’s the point of staying out, because obviously there’s an error and maybe we just messed up but we’re just cruising.

“So we had to do that for the majority of the race. Then I was told no more fuel saving and pushed like crazy [laughs]. I don’t know why I always laugh, I don’t mean to laugh. It was painful and it’s just obviously something that’s gone wrong in the data or the calculations today and we were getting the wrong information.

“So that’s what we need to look into, because our race was dictated by the numbers we were receiving and clearly those numbers were wrong.”

Hamilton: Mercedes 2021 car is a ‘monster diva'

12:59 , Tom Kershaw

“I’ve generally been very happy with my commitment and my performance,” Hamilton said ahead of the penultimate race of the season. “But I would say what I’ve noticed this year, which is just a fact, is that the car has been very, very hard to set up.

“I can’t remember if it was last year or before, Toto would say it was a diva. But this one is a monster of a diva. And what we often find, plus we’ve had less practice time, is that it’s been harder to get the car in the right window.

“Therefore, when you don’t get the car in the right window, you just limit your potential. So I’m just not able to maximise my ability through the setup not being in the right place, and it’s been very, very hard to get it into the right place.

“[In Brazil]I got the car exactly where I wanted. And that was like literally hitting the nail on the head. But that’s like maybe once or twice we’ve done that this year.”

Jacky Ickx frustrated by F1’s extensive rule book

12:43 , Tom Kershaw

“Personally, I am frustrated with Formula 1, and in particular with the current rules of what should be, for me, philosophically speaking, a fight,” the eight-time grand prix winner said.

“It is is a battle between men who assume a risk freely agreed. And men who fight each other at 300 km/h and more.

“The progress of the events is arbitrated by people who certainly mean well but who, in my opinion, and maybe I’m wrong but, aside from one of them at every race, are people who have never driven racing cars.

“I am not sure that we can, in terms of event, course of the race, in the name of heightened safety, treat the grand prix as a traffic accident.

“We have broken the essential momentum of the race, the combativeness and the very nature of this sport and these drivers, through a succession of penalties and fines. ”

Lammers urges Verstappen to be cautious

11:35 , Tom Kershaw

Jan Lammers has warned Max Verstappen that his aggressive “on the limit” racing style could cost him the championship.

Verstappen escaped punishment after forcing Hamilton off the track in Brazil but Lammers believes his fellow Dutchman is now skating on thin ice if there are any further incidents in the final two races.

“He just poked the organisation in the eye,” Lammers said. “Of course, that’s all very well but it’s on the limit. Because what if a situation arises in the last Grands Prix where they are in doubt about whether to give a penalty or not?

“Or if they have to choose between a five or ten-second penalty? What do you think it will be?”

Hamilton wants to see Russell succeed at Mercedes

10:52 , Tom Kershaw

“You’ve seen George is hugely respectful,” Hamilton said. “He’s a super-talented young man and I think there’s a huge amount of respect already going in and we’ve got a nice balance at the moment.

“But he’s going to want to be quick, he’s going to want to show up and win, and do all those things that you do when you enter a new role.

“I remember in 2007 when I went up against [Fernando] Alonso. Of course, I wanted to beat him at the first race, so I appreciate and expect George to have that mentality, otherwise, he’s not a winner, you know?

“But I’m in a different place. I really want to see him succeed. There’s going to be a point where I don’t continue in this sport and, you know, he’s my teammate and he’s gonna be the next Brit that I want to see win a world championship.

“So while we are going to be competing and I want to win on track, I really hope I can have a positive influence on how he conducts himself within the team.

“Whether it’s the time he commits to engineering or how he churns through the data or even just how he drives on track.”

Number of titles not Verstappen’s priority

10:34 , Tom Kershaw

Max Verstappen insinuated that he has little desire to try and match Lewis Hamilton’s tally of seven world championship titles, claiming winning one is the “final goal”.

Verstappen holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton ahead of the final two races of the season, but asked about his goals going forwards, the 24-year-old hinted that he could look at what he can achieve beyond F1.

“In F1 not so much,” he said of his remaining goals in the sport. “Because [winning one chamionship] that’s it, you’ve completed it, and it then doesn’t really matter anymore how many you win because you’ve already won one.

“Of course, I would always try to win more, but that’s done, that’s the final goal, and will, of course, work very hard to try and achieve that, and after that, there’s a lot less pressure.”

Hakkinen: Advantage Hamilton in championship race

10:09 , Tom Kershaw

“If Formula 1 was a tennis match I would say that it was ‘advantage Hamilton’ following his dominant wins in Brazil and Qatar,” former world champion Mika Hakkinen said ahead of the penultimate race in Saudi Arabia.

“Although Max Verstappen leads the World Championship by eight points, Mercedes has responded by giving Lewis Hamilton a car with which he can really fight to defend his title.

Asked about the rivalry between Mercedes and Red Bull, which has occasionally boiled over this season, Hakkinen said he expected to see more flashpoints over the course of the final two races.

“In my opinion, we are seeing a sporting war between Mercedes and Red Bull,” he said.

“It’s a battle between Lewis and Max, team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, and the 2000 people who work for them. We have already seen some tense moments and I know we will see some more.”

Horner defends blunt attitute

09:56 , Tom Kershaw

Red Bull chief Christian Horner received a warning from the FIA stewards in Qatar after he suggested a “rogue marshal” was at fault for Max Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty.

Horner has been increasingly outspoken amid a tense championship race, with Mercedes’ rear wing and Yuki Tsunoda also on the wrong end of criticism.

However, while Horner did apologise for his comments in Qatar, he defended his right to speak freely and criticise, and insisted he had no regrets. “No, not at all. I believe in my team. I am a straight talker and I’ve always conducted myself in that manner,” he said.

“I’m not an overly emotional person, I don’t rant at cameras. I think the way I’ve conducted myself, I’ve got no issues with, and I’d do exactly the same [in the future].

“I think the only issue, regarding the marshal, was that if there was any personal offence taken for referencing a rogue yellow flag, it was not intended at any individual or any marshal.

“I don’t know whether you heard the interview that I gave [where the comments came from] but I didn’t feel that it was unreasonable.”

Albers: Horner doesn’t have a clue

09:25 , Tom Kershaw

Former F1 driver Christijan Albers believes that Toto Wolff is handling the pressure of the season’s thrilling climax better than Christian Horner.

Albers claimed that Wolff is better at keeping his emotions in check, after Horner suggested a “rogue marshal” caused Max Verstappen to be hit with a grid penalty last time out, and that the Mercedes chief has a far more extensive technical knowledge in the sport.

“Toto really asks his engineers how and what,” Albers said. “He’s more into the [technical] matters than Horner.

“Horner doesn’t have a clue. The issue is that he doesn’t delve into the matter. You see that Horner doesn’t ask his engineers any more questions when it comes to technique.”

Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have raised their games ahead of F1 season finale

09:09 , Jack Rathborn

Brundle said in his Sky Sports column: “There can be no doubt that Hamilton and Mercedes have raised their game at a pivotal point of the championship. Lewis has found renewed trust in the factory simulator and works late into the night at the track as he impressively finds new motivation for an eighth title despite his relative age, trophy warehouse, and significant bank balance.

“Mercedes have some powerful car set up tools and a fresh engine too for the remainder of the season which will ensure they are very fast, and no doubt they will be watching each other like hawks regarding interpretation of particularly the aero regulations. You couldn’t help but feel both teams were on their best behaviour with their rear wing elements in Qatar.”

Lewis Hamilton has no regrets over Max Verstappen collisions

09:03 , Jack Rathborn

“If you’re on the outside of a car, backing out is the sensible option pretty much all the time in order to see the end of the race,” Hamilton tells BBC Sport on his clashes with Verstappen at the British and Italian Grands Prix. “If you’re on the inside, there are scenarios where I truly believe I was in the right, [when] I’m almost wheel to wheel with the car.

“At Silverstone, for example. Go and look at the footage. My front wheel was alongside his front wheel, so it wasn’t like my wheel was next to his rear wheel going in. And in that scenario, if I had taken the approach [Max did] for example [in Brazil], just stayed on the gas and gone off track and then kept position, what would the scenario have been there? Would they have looked into the rules there?

“But anyways. I don’t mind being the one that… I am not too big or too successful to have to back out to fight another day. I know that is sometimes the route you have to take. You have to be the smarter one. And sometimes you lose points in doing that, for sure, but it’s not just about me. I have 2,000 people behind me and through that selfish decision I could make - ‘No, I’m going to hold my ground’ and don’t finish - that costs all my team potential bonuses at the end of the year, all the hard work they have to do, the damage of the car. I am conscious of those things also.”

Lewis Hamilton highlights ‘avoiding collision’ as key in Max Verstappen rivalry

08:43 , Jack Rathborn

“Rather than giving someone the benefit of the doubt, you have to know that’s what’s going to happen,” Hamilton told BBC Sport.

“So you always have to be ready to avoid a collision at all costs, [even] if it means going wide, because you want to see the end of the race, right? If you’re stubborn and you hold your ground, you’re going to crash.

“So that’s what I’ve just tried to do. I’ve tried to make sure I avoid the collision. And I think I’ve been pretty decent at it in most scenarios. You can’t always get it perfect.”

Qatar Grand Prix: Masi reported Horner over 'rogue marshal' comment

08:38 , Jack Rathborn

Formula One race director Michael Masi personally referred Red Bull team boss Christian Horner to Qatar Grand Prix stewards for television comments about a ‘rogue marshal’, the Australian said after Sunday’s race.

Horner apologised, was given an official warning and agreed to take part in an international stewards’ programme next February.

“It was a race director referral to the stewards,” Masi told reporters. “I don’t have time to go and search social media in the lead up to a race but I was advised of them (the comments) and referred Christian.

“Christian was very apologetic for his comments and as part of that obviously the stewards’ decision was straightforward.”

Masi said nobody should be criticised for acting in the interests of safety and pointed out that marshals were unpaid volunteers and the sport relied upon them.

“All of them give up a huge amount of time, and without them it won’t happen,” he said.

“That’s the part that a lot of people miss, and I’ll defend every volunteer official and every official around every racetrack around the world that that (criticism) is not accepted.”

Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen battle detailed by fastest laps

08:08 , Jack Rathborn

The intensity of Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen in pursuit of the drivers’ championship in Formula 1 this season is personified by the pair’s fastest laps in Qatar.

The Briton coasting to victory, partially due to the Belgian-Dutch driver’s grid penalty, which could not prevent a second place finish.

But the details surrounding their fastest laps shows how each showed themselves to be a true champion by responding to each other’s performance.

Lewis Hamilton determined to be ‘the purest of drivers’

07:39 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton has taken a stance over proving himself to be a ‘pure’ driver, contrasting with title rival Max Verstappen, who has shown himself to be somebody who pushes the limits.

“It’s just how my dad raised me,” said Hamilton. “He said to always do your talking on the track.

“I was bullied as a kid, both at school but also on track, and we wanted to beat them the right way, not by a car falling off or colliding.

“Then, there is no denying that you’re better. If you have collisions, they can say, ‘oh, yeah, but this happened, this is one tactic that that driver has.’

“I want to be the purest of drivers, through speed, through sheer hard work and determination, so there’s no denying at the end what I’ve accomplished.”

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 19:02 , Lawrence Ostlere

How will this F1 title be decided? Here’s how:

When and where Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen title race will be decided

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 18:44 , Lawrence Ostlere

This championship could come down to a matter of one or two points, and if it does, moments like this fastest lap of Max Verstappen’s in Qatar on Sunday – which earned him one bonus point – will prove vital.

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 18:22 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton will have his newest engine back in place for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix as Mercedes look to launch a late assault to retain the Formula One drivers’ championship title.

The British racer closed the gap on leader Max Verstappen by winning the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Dutchman just eight points ahead with two races to go.

Hamilton, the reigning champion, can again emerge triumphant for 2021 if he wins the last two events of the season - and he’ll have the machinery from his successful Brazilian Grand Prix back in his car next time out.

The improvements made to his engine on that occasion meant that despite a grid penalty - plus being excluded from qualifying - he came from 10th to triumph in Sao Paulo and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff feels the layout of the track in Saudi Arabia means it’s ideal to bring back the so-called ‘rocket engine’, after it was replaced in Qatar.

“Saudi should be a good track for us, but we know this year when you think it’s a good one it can turn the other way around,” he said on Sky F1.

Full story:

Lewis Hamilton set to get ‘spicy equipment’ in Saudi Arabia, Toto Wolff reveals

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 17:55 , Lawrence Ostlere

Ralph Schumacher has poured doubt over suspicions Mercedes are bending the rules to win the Formula 1 world championship, saying they are fast enough not to cheat.

Questions have been asked of Mercedes in recent weeks as Lewis Hamilton was hit with grid-place penalties, first for yet another engine change and then over the specification of his rear wing.

Hamilton won the Qatar Grand Prix to cut his deficit to Max Verstappen to eight points at the top of the drivers’ championship, with two races to go.

“We have seen again here [in Qatar] that Mercedes is fast enough and does not have to cheat,” former F1 driver Schumacher told Sky Deutschland. “I do not assume that any team wilfully disregard the rules. If you go close to the limit, something can always go wrong and you get into grey areas.”

Who is Guanyu Zhou?

Tuesday 23 November 2021 17:03 , Lawrence Ostlere

The 22-year-old will replace Antonio Giovinazzi in the team’s second seat alongside Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in a new-look line-up in 2022. Find out more:

Guanyu Zhou: F1’s first Chinese driver after ‘dream’ Alfa Romeo move

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 16:33 , Lawrence Ostlere

A reminder of one of the biggest stories from the fallout of this weekend in Qatar:

Christian Horner’s outburst at a “rogue marshal” is simply “not accepted”, the FIA has confirmed.

The Red Bull team boss was seen criticising volunteers working for Formula 1 at the Qatar Grand Prix.

And Horner was incensed after a yellow flag was waved, leading to Max Verstappen’s grid penalty.

Horner has since apologised and blamed the nature of his comments due to being “under the pressure of competition”.

FIA race director Michael Masi insists that is no excuse.

Full story:

Christian Horner’s ‘rogue marshal’ outburst ‘not accepted’, FIA confirms

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 16:17 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton closed further on Max Verstappen in a thrilling drivers’ championship with a dominant win at the Qatar Grand Prix.

But despite narrowing the gap to just eight points with two races remaining, the Belgian-Dutch driver (351.5 points) can close the deal in Saudi Arabia in what has been a fascinating F1 season.

Alternatively, the seven-time world champion (343.5 points) can usurp the Red Bull star for the first time since the 15th race of the season at the Russian Grand Prix, when the Briton had a two-point advantage. That ramps up the pressure at the first-ever race at the Jeddah street track on 5 December, with one mistake likely to prove vital.

There is the prospect of a first-ever title race with both drivers tied on points, while Hamilton could become the first winner since Nico Rosberg in 2016 to win the title with less Grand Prix victories than a rival, as he currently trails Verstappen 9-7.

Here’s how the title race can come to a premature close before the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 12 December.

When and where Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen title race will be decided

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 15:58 , Lawrence Ostlere

Here’s what Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said this weekend about Mercedes’ contentious back wing:

“Mercedes have slowed down over the course of the practice sessions [in Qatar] and this is due to the fact that they used a rear wing that was no longer bendable, as their top speed was in the normal range,” he told Sky Germany.

“I assume they will not use it again either as the FIA has the tools to check this. I can’t see them taking that risk. We have numerous pictures from each of the recent Grand Prix that you can see this has been happening, and that’s what our concern has been.”

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 15:05 , Lawrence Ostlere

Here’s Dan Austin on Fernando Alonso’s podium finish:

“Olé! Ole!” bellowed Fernando Alonso over the Alpine team radio as he crossed the line to take third-place at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.

The 40-year-old drove a fast, reliable race at the Losail International Circuit race as he held off challenges from Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez to secure a first Formula 1 podium since he finished second at the Hungarian GP for Ferrari at the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014.

You can read the full article here:

Fernando Alonso offers precious reminder of class of old with Qatar Grand Prix podium

F1 news: Verstappen penalty harsh, says Brundle

Tuesday 23 November 2021 13:52 , Lawrence Ostlere

Martin Brundle has criticised the FIA’s decision to penalise Max Vertsappen for failing to adhere to yellow flags during qualifying at the Qatar Grand Prix. Writing in his Sky Sports column, Brundle said the penalties for both Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were “harsh”.

I’m a fully paid up advocate that yellow flags must be respected as an absolute priority, but from the cockpit on Sunday the drivers would have been on their final qualifying effort exiting the last corner with no visible flags, no incident warning lights on their steering wheel or messages from the pit wall, a blaze of red lights in the night time sky at the finish line indicating the qualifying session is over (one red light and the chequered flag would be sufficient), spotting the DRS activation line which had been re-enabled, pulling up through the gears whilst then working out what that car (Pierre Gasly’s three wheeling Alpha Tauri) on the right hand side was actually doing.

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 13:20 , Karl Matchett

Lewis Hamilton will have his “rocket engine” back in his car when the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix gets underway.

The Brit reverted to his other engine in Qatar and strolled to victory, but the pace in his latest piece of machinery was on show in Brazil when went from 10th to first to take the chequered flag.

Lewis Hamilton set to get ‘spicy equipment’ in Saudi Arabia, Toto Wolff reveals

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 13:05 , Karl Matchett

British sporting royalty right here. Beckham was in attendance in Qatar and sent a message on social media after Hamilton’s victory.

Red Bull’s Horner has no regrets over behaviour at Qatar Grand Prix

Tuesday 23 November 2021 12:47 , Karl Matchett

Christian Horner has no regret over his actions at the Qatar Grand Prix as the Red Bull team boss saw Lewis Hamilton close the gap to championship-leader Max Verstappen.

Hamilton roared to a lights-to-flag victory in Formula One's inaugural race in Doha, taking the Mercedes driver to within eight points of Red Bull's Verstappen with two races to go.

The Qatar Grand Prix lacked some of the excitement of recent races on the track - but Horner and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff more than made amends off it.

The pair clashed during a Thursday press conference as the news broke that Mercedes had failed in a bid to review the decision not to punish Verstappen for an incident with Hamilton a week earlier in Brazil.

Horner said he had "no relationship" with Wolff, was not there to "kiss his a**e" and that he would not be spending Christmas with the German - unless Wolff was "in panto this year".

A trackside marshal was next to face Horner's ire after Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty for not sufficiently slowing for double-waved yellow flags towards the end of qualifying.

"It's a rogue marshal that stuck out a flag out. He wasn't told to do so. This is a crucial blow in the world championship," Horner told Sky Sports F1, and his words landed him in hot water with the FIA after he was summoned to the stewards to explain his comments.

Horner got off with an official warning and also apologised to the marshal in question and offered to participate in the 2022 FIA International Stewards Programme as a result.

But asked if his outburst showed that the pressure of a close-run title fight was getting to him, Horner said: "Not at all - watch the interview and make your own opinion.

"Everyone has a right to an opinion and I gave an opinion."

Pushed on if he regretted his recent behaviour, he added: "Not at all, I believe in my team, I'm a straight-talker and have always conducted myself in that manner.

"I'm not an overly-emotional person, I don't rant at camera and I think the way I have conducted myself, I have no issues with it and would do exactly the same."

PA

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 12:34 , Lawrence Ostlere

That Bottas puncture made for quite a sight on the track:

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 12:21 , Lawrence Ostlere

Valtteri Bottas revealed after the Qatar Grand Prix that his Mercedes had a different spec to his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas picked up a puncture and before an eventual retirement as he failed to finish the race, which Hamilton won to close the gap to Verstappen at the top of the standings to eight points.

“I have found out the reason, but I cannot give details,” he said, according to Finnish outlet Ilta Sanomat. “But my car was no longer quite the same as it was, nor was it the same as Lewis’s.

“There were little differences in the cars.”

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 11:06 , Lawrence Ostlere

Ralph Schumacher has poured doubt over suspicions Mercedes are bending the rules to win the Formula 1 world championship, saying they are fast enough not to cheat.

Questions have been asked of Mercedes in recent weeks as Lewis Hamilton was hit with grid-place penalties, first for yet another engine change and then for his rear wing.

“We have seen again here [in Qatar] that Mercedes is fast enough and does not have to cheat,” he told Sky Deutschland. “I do not assume that any team wilfully disregard the rules. If you go close to the limit, something can always go wrong and you get into grey areas.”

“The Mercedes is currently the more stable package,” he added. “Max gives everything and shows how good he is. Under normal circumstances, however, he has no chance. Maybe he will have the luck that he has lacked so far. If he had that already at the beginning of the season, he might now be world champion.”

F1 news: standings

Tuesday 23 November 2021 10:41 , Lawrence Ostlere

1. Max Verstappen, 351.5.

2. Lewis Hamilton, 343.5.

3. Valtteri Bottas, 203.

4. Sergio Perez, 190.

5. Lando Norris, 153.

6. Charles Leclerc, 152.

7. Carlos Sainz Jr, 145.5.

8. Daniel Ricciardo, 105.

9. Pierre Gasly, 92.

10. Fernando Alonso, 77.

11. Esteban Ocon, 60.

12. Sebastian Vettel, 43.

13. Lance Stroll, 34.

14. Yuki Tsunoda, 20.

15. George Russell, 16.

16. Kimi Raikkonen, 10.

17. Nicholas Latifi, 7.

18. Antonio Giovinazzi, 1.

19. Mick Schumacher, 0.

20. Robert Kubica, 0.

21. Nikita Mazepin, 0.

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 10:09 , Lawrence Ostlere

Christian Horner sounded understandably like a man under pressure this weekend. “I think we’ve been pretty good with our emotions,” Horner told Sky F1. “I haven’t been pointing and swearing at cameras and all that kind of thing.

“I’m just straight and I tell you what I think. If I think you are being an arse then I will tell you that you are being an arse,” he told his interviewer, Damon Hill. “Look, I’ve spoken to the FIA and apologised if any offence was caused [referring to his “rogue marshal” comment]. It wasn’t my intention to cause offence and my frustration wasn’t with an individual marshal, it was with the situation itself.”

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 09:41 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton will have his newest engine back in place for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix as Mercedes look to launch a late assault to retain the Formula One drivers’ championship title.

The British racer closed the gap on leader Max Verstappen by winning the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Dutchman just eight points ahead with two races to go.

Hamilton, the reigning champion, can again emerge triumphant for 2021 if he wins the last two events of the season - and he’ll have the machinery from his successful Brazilian Grand Prix back in his car next time out.

Full story:

Lewis Hamilton set to get ‘spicy equipment’ in Saudi Arabia, Toto Wolff reveals

F1 news: The permutations

Tuesday 23 November 2021 09:13 , Lawrence Ostlere

Max Verstappen will have his first shot at clinching the Formula One title in Saudi Arabia in two weeks’ time but Red Bull’s championship leader could also see his advantage disappear entirely.

The 2021 title battle remains too close to call, with Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton closing the gap to eight points with another dominant win in Qatar on Sunday.

With two races remaining, the prospect of a winner-takes-all shootout in the final round at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina is very much alive.

For Verstappen to clinch the title at the inaugural Saudi Grand Prix in Jeddah on Dec. 5, he must finish at least second.

But if Hamilton wins that race with a bonus point for fastest lap, and Verstappen is second, the pair will leave level on points and the Red Bull driver ahead 9-8 on race wins.

In that scenario, the title will be won by whoever finishes ahead of the other in the final race, unless they take each other out.

Should Hamilton win in Jeddah and Verstappen finish lower than second, it will be the Mercedes driver leading into the final race.

Other current title permutations all involve Verstappen finishing second in Jeddah, with or without fastest lap, but Hamilton failing to win.

Horner has no regrets

Tuesday 23 November 2021 08:56 , Lawrence Ostlere

Christian Horner has no regret over his actions at the Qatar Grand Prix as the Red Bull team boss saw Lewis Hamilton close the gap to championship-leader Max Verstappen.

Hamilton roared to a lights-to-flag victory in Formula One’s inaugural race in Doha, taking the Mercedes driver to within eight points of Red Bull’s Verstappen with two races to go.

The Qatar Grand Prix lacked some of the excitement of recent races on the track - but Horner and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff more than made amends off it.

The pair clashed during a Thursday press conference as the news broke that Mercedes had failed in a bid to review the decision not to punish Verstappen for an incident with Hamilton a week earlier in Brazil.

Horner said he had “no relationship” with Wolff, was not there to “kiss his a**e” and that he would not be spending Christmas with the German - unless Wolff was “in panto this year”.

A trackside marshal was next to face Horner’s ire after Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty for not sufficiently slowing for double-waved yellow flags towards the end of qualifying.

“It’s a rogue marshal that stuck out a flag out. He wasn’t told to do so. This is a crucial blow in the world championship,” Horner told Sky Sports F1, and his words landed him in hot water with the FIA after he was summoned to the stewards to explain his comments.

Horner got off with an official warning and also apologised to the marshal in question and offered to participate in the 2022 FIA International Stewards Programme as a result.

But asked if his outburst showed that the pressure of a close-run title fight was getting to him, Horner said: “Not at all - watch the interview and make your own opinion.

“Everyone has a right to an opinion and I gave an opinion.”

Pushed on if he regretted his recent behaviour, he added: “Not at all, I believe in my team, I’m a straight-talker and have always conducted myself in that manner.

“I’m not an overly-emotional person, I don’t rant at camera and I think the way I have conducted myself, I have no issues with it and would do exactly the same.”

F1 news: The season so far

Tuesday 23 November 2021 08:43 , Lawrence Ostlere

March 28 - Bahrain Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton)April 18 - Imola Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)May 2 - Portuguese Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton)May 9 - Spanish Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton)May 23 - Monaco Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)June 6 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Sergio Perez)June 20 - French Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)June 27 - Styrian Grand Prix 2021 (Max Verstappen)July 4 - Austrian Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)July 18 - British Grand Prix 2021 (Lewis Hamilton)Aug. 1 - Hungarian Grand Prix (Esteban Ocon)Aug. 29 - Belgian Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)Sept. 5 - Dutch Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)Sept. 12 - Gran Premio DItalia 2021 (Daniel Ricciardo)Sept. 26 - Russian Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton)Oct. 10 - Turkish Grand Prix 2021 (Valtteri Bottas)Oct. 24 - US Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)Nov. 7 - Mexican Grand Prix (Max Verstappen)Nov. 14 - Grande Premio do Brasil 2021 (Lewis Hamilton)Nov. 21 - Qatar Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton)Dec. 5 - Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.Dec. 12 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 08:30 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton is now favourite to win the drivers’ championship. Hamilton is 3/4 to clinch the title, according to oddschecker, which would be the eighth of his career, while Max Verstappen has been pushed back to 5/4. Verstappen still leads the championship by eight points but the form guide suggests Hamilton can get the two race wins he needs to usurp the Dutchman at the top in the final race.

Elsewhere Mercedes are strong favourites to retain the constructors’ championship at 18/11 vs Red Bull at 12/5, with a dominant position thanks to Valtteri Bottas outperforming Sergio Perez. And an interesting one: George Russell, soon to join Mercedes, is 6/1 to win the 2022 drivers’ championship.

F1 news

Tuesday 23 November 2021 08:23 , Lawrence Ostlere

Lewis Hamilton is now favourite to win the F1 drivers’ championship after winning the Qatar Grand Prix to close the gap to his title rival and current standings leaders Max Verstappen. The seven-time world champion is now within eight points of the Dutch driver, with two races to go, after an excellent drive that saw him dominate from start to finish after claiming pole position with a sublime qualifying performance.

Verstappen did his best to limit the damage though, rising from seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty to finish second, while also salvaging his day further with a valuable late point added for the fastest lap. There was some nostalgia too, as Fernando Alonso claimed a first Formula 1 podium in seven years to deliver for Alpine, doing enough to seize the highest rating in Indy Sport’s Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings.

Verstappen said the title race is “exciting” but also complained about his treatment by the stewards. “No surprises there,” he said of the penalty. ““I never get presents from them so it’s ok. But in the end once I knew I was starting seventh I was just very motivated to move ahead and that’s exactly what we did. We had a good first lap and then after five laps we were second again. Then I just tried to keep the gap small which we did throughout the whole race so they couldn’t do an extra stop. It gave me the fastest lap at the end, so I was definitely happy with that.”

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