F1 news LIVE: Max Verstappen tipped to beat Lewis Hamilton to world title

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·39 min read
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  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver
  • Christian Horner
    Christian Horner
    Team Principal of Red Bull Racing

Lewis Hamilton is now within touching distance of the top of the Formula 1 standings after a second successive victory helped cut Max Verstappen’s lead to just eight points.

Two races remain, at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Yas Marina in the United Arab Emirates, both circuits with layouts including a series long straights. That should favour the Mercedes car over the Red Bull, meaning one of the most intense battles the sport has seen in its modern history is set to go down to the wire.

Off track, team principals Toto Wolff and Christian Horner have been engaged in something of a slanging match, while the FIA’s policing of the sport in regards to penalties dished out to drivers has come in for heavy criticism. That combination of scintillating action on circuit and controversy off it means the pressure is rising and the smallest of margins could make all the difference

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

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

Formula 1 latest news

  • Lewis Hamilton has ‘clever’ strategy in F1 title race

  • Alain Prost tips Max Verstappen to have extra motivation to win championship

  • Concerns over whether Saudi Arabian track will be ready on time for GP

  • Toto Wolff and Christian Horner feud labelled ‘terrible’, ‘tacky’, and ‘childish’

Hulkenberg praises ‘cool’ Verstappen

15:00 , Dan Austin

Former Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg has praised Max Verstappen for staying ‘cool’ in the Formula 1 title fight.

The German gets on well with the 24-year-old championship, who reportedly wanted Red Bull to take Hulkenberg as his team-mate for this year when it became clear Alex Albon would not be retained.

The seat went to Sergio Perez, though, and Hulkenberg has spent the two seasons since he departed Renault as reserve driver for Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point.) The 34-year-old has been impressed by both Verstappen and rival Lewis Hamilton’s mentality this season, but reserved special praise for the former due to this being his first time fighting at the very top.

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

Don’t take Mercedes advantage in Saudi Arabia for granted, says ex-driver

14:51 , Dan Austin

Former F1 driver and Sky Germany commentator Marc Surer says nobody should take for granted that the Jeddah circuit in Saudi Arabia will favour the Mercedes over Red Bull.

The straight lines and high speeds anticipated at the Red Sea venue suggest that the Mercedes’ engine could give it an advantage over the Red Bull, especially after Lewis Hamilton drove through the field claim a sensational victory in Brazil.

Surer, who drove in 88 grands prix for teams including Brabham and Arrows between 1979 and 1986, isn’t convinced, though. “How often did we think in advance that a track would be better for Mercedes or better for Red Bull? And then it was exactly the other way around,” he told F1-Insider.com.

“If that’s the case again in Saudi Arabia, then Red Bull would be the favourites. A powerful engine helps, but it’s not just straight ahead. There are a few fast corners that, with the right set-up, could give the Red Bull an advantage. It is also a street circuit, so often separate laws apply.”

Mazepin still open to purchasing an F1 team

14:38 , Dan Austin

Dmitry Mazepin, father of Haas driver Nikita, remains open to purchasing a Formula 1 team after losing out in the past.

The Russian oligarch attempted to purchase Force India when it was up for sale in July 2018, but lost out to Lawrence Stroll, who re-branded it to Racing Point and latterly Aston Martin.

Ural Kali, the fertiliser company in which Mazepin is a significant shareholder, has a long-term agreement to sponsor the Haas car, which is running in a livery inspired by the Russian flag for 2021. The terms of the deal have also resulted in Nikita Mazepin being given a race seat for the foreseeable future, despite a dreadful rookie season.

Now the elder Mazepin says he remains open to the idea of buying a team outright.

“”We have big ambitions in motorsport and [buying a team] remains a possibility for us,” he told Match TV in his native Russia. “We want to expand our presence in F1. The real crown for this journey would be to own a Formula 1 team. Currently we are not in any negotiations because everyone is taking time out to see how things unfold in 2022 [when the F1 regulations change and the grid order could be shaken up].”

Williams advisor Button backs Albon to succeed return

14:27 , Dan Austin

2009 Formula world champion Jenson Button is backing Alex Albon to perform when he returns to the grid with Williams next season.

Button now serves as an advisor to the Williams board, having made his F1 debut with the team in 2000, and believes that Albon’s personality will help him hit the ground running after a year out of the sport.

“I think he’s a very mature character. He has got the pace,” the 41-year-old told Sky Sports F1. “Alongside Max [Verstappen] it was very difficult, and it just shows you that Formula 1 is about fitness, but it’s about mental strength as well. Putting him in a different environment, alongside Nicky [Latifi] I think they will work really well together, and grow as a team together hopefully.”

Albon was promoted to a full-time Red Bull race seat after just half a season with Alpha Tauri in 2019, but was dropped at the end of 2020 in favour of Sergio Perez after a disappointing campaign in which he could only finish seventh in the standings.

Leclerc has no concerns with new Ferrari chassis

14:14 , Dan Austin

Charles Leclerc says he no concerns about using his new Ferrari chassis at the final two races of the season in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The chassis was found to have taken damage after Saturday’s qualifying session at Losail, with the circuit having proved punishing for cars throughout all three practice sessions due to its harsh kerbs.

Leclerc, though, says that switching from one chassis to another is not something which makes too much difference for a driver.

“I do not have any concerns once I knew the chassis was changed,” he told reporters in Qatar after last weekend’s race. “It is normally not a thing where you have much difference if you are going to another chassis.”

Team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed the original chassis “will be repaired will very likely be the spare for the rest of the season.”

Other intriguing championship battles to be resolved

14:03 , Dan Austin

All the attention is on the top of standings in both the drivers’ championship and constructors’ championship, of course, but there remain plenty of interesting battles taking place lower down the grid as drivers and teams try to pull themselves up the rankings.

In the constructors’ championship, the closest battle is between Alpine and Alpha Tauri over P5. The combination of Fernando Alonso’s first podium in 104 races and Esteban Ocon’s impressive fifth-place at Qatar, where both Pierra Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda failed to score points, allowed the French squad to overhaul their Italian rivals and pull out a 25-point lead.

Meanwhile, the battle for the ‘best of the rest’ title in the drivers’ championship is heating up. Lando Norris is currently fifth, behind both Mercedes and Red Bull drivers, but the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclcerc and Carlos Sainz are hot on his heels, with just 7.5 points separating all three.

With the Ferrari looking the faster car heading into the final two races, don’t be surprised if Norris drops to seventh come the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.

Piastri says criticism of Zhou’s Alfa Romeo move is ‘pretty unfair’

13:54 , Dan Austin

Formula 2 championship leader Oscar Piastri says criticism of incoming Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou is “pretty unfair”

Zhou will become the first full-time Chinese driver in F1 when he partners Valtteri Bottas for the Swiss outfit in 2022, after being chosen to take a seat plenty of others, Piastri included, were also under consideration for.

Plenty believed that 20-year-old Piastri’s assault on the F2 title in his rookie campaign in the series meant he deserved the drive over 22-year-old Zhou, who has failed to win the F2 championship in three seasons but brings significant financial backing.

Piastri, though, says those criticising Zhou are wrong. “Obviously he's copped quite a bit of negativity on social media and stuff, and I think most of it is pretty unfair to be honest," the Australian said. "OK, we all know he's bringing some financial backing behind him, but he's not doing poorly.

"He's second in the championship, he's got the same amount of wins as me, he led the championship for the first part of the year. I'm excited to see how he goes and I think he'll do a pretty good job."

Russell admits disappointment with Williams form

13:44 , Dan Austin

George Russell has admitted he is disappointed with the downturn in form Williams have been experiencing in recent races.

The 23-year-old finished in the point in four out of five races between Hungary and Russia across August and September, including a second-place finish at the rained-off Belgian Grand Prix.

Since then, though, Russell’s best result has been 13th-place at the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the team now 12 points ahead of Alfa Romeo in the standings with two races remaining.

“I think everybody within the team is a little bit frustrated at the moment,” he told Autosport. “I think we need to go away and understand what’s changed.

“[Earlier in the season] we normally had difficult Sundays but we had really great Saturdays to compensate, and it’s easier to hang onto a position than attack for a position given our car pace.

“But for whatever reason, the pace hasn’t been there on a Saturday either, so we need to make the most of it in these last two and make sure we seal that P8, because that’s the main thing for us at the moment.”

Prost says uncertainty gives Verstappen extra motivation to win championship

13:35 , Dan Austin

Four-time Formula 1 world champion Alain Prost says Max Verstappen has extra motiviation win this year’s title as the Red Bull driver “does not know” if he will have another opportunity again.

The Dutchman leads the standings by eight points with two races remaining, but the final two tarcks at Jeddah and Yas Marina are thought to favour the Mercedes car thanks to their long straights and high speeds.

“You want to win the first championship because you do not know if you’re going to have a second chance.” Prost told the In The Fast Lane podcast. “I think it will be really great if Max could get the title, because he’s a young guy, and he really deserves it for what he has done since the beginning.”

McLaren admit pitiful triple-header points haul is ‘painful’

13:26 , Dan Austin

Team principal Andreas Seidl has admitted that McLaren’s poor total of four points from the past three Formula 1 races is “painful”, with Ferrari pushing ahead and taking control of third-place in the constructors’ championship.

Daniel Ricciardo failed to score in any of the events in Mexico, Brazil, and Qatar, while Lando Norris could only manage two ninth-place finishes. Ferrari are now 39.5 points ahead with only two rounds remaining.

"I think to a certain degree we have to accept that it has been tough for the entire team, scoring four points in three races is obviously painful," explained Seidl. "But if we also look at what happened and how we lost a lot of points, things have been out of our hands or bad luck. And that is part of the sport we are in.

"I think the good thing is that we have seen the gap [in Qatar] and we had a competitive car, two drivers who were competitive on track and the team did a good job with pitstops. So we just have to come back to Saudi and strike back."

Alonso believes career achievements are fair reflection of talent

13:17 , Dan Austin

Fernando Alonso believes the titles he has won in his career are a fair reflection of his driving talent.

The Spaniard won the Formula 1 championship in 2005 and 2006 with Renault while competing with Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari, but has failed to add another despite being widely considered one of the most talented drivers the sport has ever seen.

The 40-year-old has often switched to the wrong team at the wrong time, attempting and almost succeeding in dragging a mediocre Ferrari to championship glory in 2012, before s dreadful second spell with McLaren between 2015 and 2018 in a car which was extremely unreliable.

“I think you get what you deserve,” Alonso told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. “When I think of my career, I had the luck to win two championships. I [won] Le Mans, Daytona, the World Endurance Championship, World Karting Championship – I see myself with more than what I dream of when I started my career. So I will never consider unfair or unlucky, my results.”

Marko says Red Bull aren’t afraid of Hamilton’s ‘spicy’ engine

13:08 , Dan Austin

The head of Red Bull’s young driver programme says the team aren’t afraid of the engine Lewis Hamilton used to take victory in Brazil, which will be back in his car for Saudi Arabia and was labelled “spicy” by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Mercedes switched out the engine which helped Hamilton to a barnstorming win at Interlagos in favour of a previous model in Qatar, in order to ensure it is as reliable as possible for the final to events at Jeddah and Yas Marina.

Marko, though, says it’s return is no concern. “We saw in Qatar that Hamilton’s speed advantage on the straights in Qatar was no longer that great and was more or less within the normal range. This is due to the fact that after more stringent tests by the FIA, Mercedes no longer used its extremely flexible rear wing.”

“Mercedes will be using the rocket motor from Brazil in Saudi Arabia again, [but] because you can no longer lower the spoiler, it will no longer bring an advantage of 0.4 seconds.”

Vettel and Schumacher to represent Germany in Race of Champions

12:59 , Dan Austin

Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher are set to represent Germany in the 2022 Race of Champions, which will be held in Sweden on a snow and ice track.

The Race of Champions is an annual event which sees the world’s leading racing and rally drivers face-off against one another in a one-off event, and has previously been held at venues including Wembley Stadium and the Stade de France in Paris. The Nations Cup sees drivers of the same nationality compete together to try and take the crown for their home country.

Past winners include David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Heikki Kovalainen, with Vettel himself taking victory at the 2015 event.

“I’m really looking forward to being back competing in the Race of Champions again and to represent Germany together with Mick,” Vettel said.

Masi rejects Hamilton comments on lack of racing clarity

12:50 , Dan Austin

FIA Race Director Michael Masi has rejected claims made by Lewis Hamilton that the rules around what constitutes fair and unfair racing in Formula 1 are unclear.

The incident at Interlagos a fortnight ago, when Hamilton was run off the road by Max Verstappen after the Dutchman missed the entry to Turn 4, has led drivers including George Russell and Carlos Sainz to say that drivers are uncertain about what is within the rules and what will see them punished.

And ahead of last weekend’s race in Qatar, Hamilton told a press conference: “It’s still not clear what the limits of the track are. It’s clearly not the white line anymore on overtaking, so we just go for it. We just ask for consistency, so if it’s the same as the last race and that’s the same for all of us in those scenarios, then it’s fine.”

Masi vehemently disagrees, though, and told reporters: “I think it’s been made clear to them what is expected. I think some of them agree, some of them disagree. That’s always with each and every one of them, they have agreed and disagreed all the way through. We’ve given them some overall guidance, but also been very clear on the fact that each and every case will be judged on its merits.”

Binotto says Ferrari has always prioritised 2022 over 2021

12:41 , Dan Austin

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the team has always prioritised the design of its revamped 2022 car over developments to its 2021 machinery.

The Italian team has been locked in a battle with McLaren for third place in the constructors’ championship all season long, but wants to be back winning races and is targeting the massive regulation change coming next season as an opportunity to return to the very top of the sport.

Finishing third higher in the championship this season would mean a significant increase in prize money compares to finishing fourth, but Binotto says that isn’t the priority.

"[We developed] the power unit later [this year], but again that was a development in view of 2022,” he said. “So all our efforts from the very start of the season has always been the 2022 car. We never compromised it. It never came into our mind even to at some stage try to penalise 2022 at the benefit of 2021.”

Lauda criticises ‘childish’ Wolff and Horner

12:32 , Dan Austin

Mathias Lauda, son of legendary Formula 1 champions Niki Lauda, has labelled Toto Wolff and Christian Horner “childish” after their rivalry took a nastier turn in Qatar.

Horner told a press conference he had “no relationship” with Wolff and didn’t “need to kiss his a***”, while the Austrian said that the Red Bull team principal had been “naughty” after beings punished by the FIA with a formal warning for negative comments made about volunteer marshals at the Losail circuit.

“I think the drivers behave more maturely than the team bosses,” Lauda told ServusTV. “With Max and Lewis, there were never any serious problems all season, even after the incident at Silverstone. Actually, the team bosses are childish.”

Mercedes lose key aerodynamics man to Aston Martin

12:23 , Dan Austin

Aston Martin have continued their pillaging of personnel from around the Formula 1 paddock by poaching Mercedes’ chief aerodynamicist Eric Blandin.

The Frenchman will be joining the Silverstone-based outfit, re-branded as Aston Martin for 2022 after previously running under names including Racing Point, Force India and Jordan, at some point in 2022 with an exact date not yet revealed by either team.

Blandin joins the Red Bull head of aerodynamics Dan Fallows in switching to Aston Martin, who, under the stewardship of billionaire Lawrence Stroll, are aiming to compete for championships by the middle of the decade.

Full story:

Aston Martin poach key member of Mercedes technical team

Wolff ‘frustrated' by Verstappen’s bonus fastest lap point

12:14 , Dan Austin

Toto Wolff says he is “somewhat frustrated” that Max Verstappen was able to take the extra point for fastest lap at Losail last Sunday.

The Dutchman was able to pit for soft tyres at the end of the race after building up a sufficient buffer to Fernando Alonso in the Alpine behind, and set a purple time in order to take what could turn out to be a pivotal point which limited the damage Lewis Hamilton’s win did to his advantage in the standings.

“Lewis was great, but that point they have achieved is somewhat frustrating,” the Mercedes team principal told Sky Sports F1. “The good thing is that the car was fast and it seems that we are in a good position. Lewis had control of the race from start to finish and that is a good indication for what is to come in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.”

Steiner weighs in on Mercedes and Red Bull poilitics

12:05 , Dan Austin

The Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has weighed in on the political wrangling between Mercedes and Red Bull, after a week full of controversy in Qatar.

Red Bull complained about Mercedes’ rear wing in the wake of Hamilton’s win in Brazil, this his straight-line speed unmatched by anybody else on the grid, while Mercedes requested a right to review hearing with the FIA as they sought punishment for Max Verstappen after he drove Lewis Hamilton off the circuit at Interlagos.

Steiner says that competition off-track is fine by him, unless things become “unfair.”

“We fight with everything that is possible,” Steiner told Sport1.de. “It’s all about the world championship title. Whatever means are used, as long as it doesn’t get unfair, I have no problem with that. That makes it interesting and keeps the season exciting.”

Seidl says Wolff and Horner war of words has gone too far

11:56 , Dan Austin

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says the way of words between his Mercedes and Bull counterparts has gone too far.

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner have become increasingly angsty with each other as the pressure in the title fight has increased, with the latter in particular coming in for heavy criticism in Qatar for comments about volunteer marshals which earned him a formal warning from the FIA for breaching the international sporting code.

Seidl says he understand that pressure can make things more intense, but believes that things have crossed a line.

“If you watch everything which is ongoing at the moment, it is clear, obviously, there's a lot at stake,” the German explained to media. “It's different to the battles we are in further back, and is obviously great to a certain degree for the fans, and for the show, because in the end it should be entertainment as well. But I definitely think that some of the comments we've seen in recent weeks, it's definitely not something I could imagine would come from us in such a situation.

“I think it's very important, and it doesn't matter if you fight for wins, or if you are last, that you always keep respect for the competitors, for the FIA, for F1.”

F1 drivers ‘don’t fully understand’ rules after Max Verstappen verdict

11:47 , Dan Austin

George Russell and Carlos Sainz have both expressed their confusion at the FIA’s decision not to penalise Max Verstappen after he ran wide and forced Lewis Hamilton off the track in Brazil.

“For me, that was not even close to the line,” Russell, who will join Hamilton at Mercedes next season, told reporters in Qatar. “It was well beyond the line what went on. If this was the last lap of the race, in my mind that would have been a slam-dunk penalty for Max.”

“You have to judge the incident on a case-by-case basis. That’s what they’ve always told us, it’s not the consequence of that incident, it is the incident itself.”

Sainz concurred, saying:” It looks like over the winter there’s going to be some more deep conversations about how we go racing as a sport. We need to rethink the whole approach because the way it’s been working this year, it’s clear that the drivers don’t fully understand what is going to happen depending on what you do.”

Full story:

F1 drivers ‘don’t fully understand’ rules after Max Verstappen verdict

Binotto says Ferrari 'can’t wait for season to end’

11:39 , Dan Austin

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has revealed the Scuderia ‘can’t wait for the season to end.’

The Italian outfit is third in the constructors’ championship, 39.5 points ahead of rivals McLaren, but has not had the pace to seriously challenge for race victories all campaign long.

The car has seen little development across the course of the season, with efforts concentrated on the 2022 vehicle designed for significant regulation changes, which could shake up the order of the grid and give Ferrari a chance to return to the top.

“What we had to learn, we have learned,” he told Corriere dello Sport. “We’re no longer developing anything [on this year’s car] and it’s inevitable that we’re scrambling to open a different chapter with a new car. I’ll say it sincerely: we can’t take it any more. We can’t wait for this season to end.”

Hamilton back in the simulator to find advantage in title fight

11:34 , Dan Austin

Lewis Hamilton has revealed he has been back in the simulator at Mercedes’ F1 HQ in Brackley as he tries to find an advantage over Max Verstappen with two rounds to go.

Hamilton has famously never been a fan of simulators, insisting it did not reflect a real racing environment and that he preferred to avoid it when possible. But on Wednesday, the seven-time world champion shared a photo to his Instagram story from the simulator as he studied the intricacies of the Jeddah Circuit, ahead of its debut on the Formula 1 calendar.

Full story:

Lewis Hamilton steps back into simulator in search for F1 title edge

Alonso regrets lack of battles with Hamilton

11:18 , Dan Austin

Fernando Alonso says a lack of battling with Lewis Hamilton is one of the ‘missing points’ in his Formula 1 career.

The Spaniard was team-mate with the Briton at McLaren in the latter’s rookie season in 2007, but in-fighting within the team and clashes of personalities meant that neither won the world championship, which went to Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari that was the inferior car.

“In 2007 I think we both were not ready,” Alonso told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. “Understandably, he was maybe not ready for the fight because he was a rookie and coming into Formula 1, and I was not performing at my best, not really integrated with the team.

“In the following years, I had a better package in Ferrari than him when he was in McLaren, so we didn’t fight really directly, and now when he switched to Mercedes, he had a better package and we never had the opportunity again to fight together. So, that’s a missing point in my career. But, obviously, he’s a legend of the sport and he, like Michael, pushed you to the limit because if you want to beat Lewis, you need to perform at your best.”

Hamilton calls Mercedes car ‘monster diva’ after setup issues

11:10 , Dan Austin

Lewis Hamilton has called the current Mercedes F1 car a “monster diva” because of the difficulty the team has found in finding its sweet spot for race setups at different circuits.

The 2017 Mercedes was notoriously difficult to manage and was the first car to be given the ‘diva’ label by team principal Toto Wolff, but Hamilton says the W12 is even more tough to get a handle on.

“What I've noticed this year, which is just a fact, is that the car has been very, very hard to set up,” he told the press. “But this one is a monster of a diva. 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.

Hamilton says he needs to avoid ‘selfish acts’ in Verstappen fight

11:02 , Dan Austin

Lewis Hamilton says he needs a ‘clever’ strategy to beat Max Verstappen to the Formula 1 drivers’ championship, and that ‘selfish acts’ at this stage could be costly for either man.

The seven-time world champion trails his rival by eight points going into the final two rounds of the season, with the tracks at Jeddah and Yas Marina set to favour the Mercedes car thanks to their long straights and high speeds.

“I don’t feel too big or too successful to avoid a fight,” the 36-year-old told Auto und Motor Sport. “I know that sometimes you have to take this path. You have to be the clever one. Sometimes you lose points, but it’s not just about me. I have 2,000 employees behind me.

“A selfish act where I stick to my point and don’t finish the race could cost my whole team the bonus payments at the end of the year. And then create more work on the damaged car.”

Schwartzmann to test for Haas at Abu Dhabi

10:55 , Dan Austin

Formula 2 driver and Ferrari junior Robert Schwartzman will drive for Haas at the post season rookie test in Abu Dhabi.

The annual event is designed to allow drivers who have never raced full-time in Formula 1 the chance to test themselves in the fastest single-seater racing machinery on the planet, while teams are able to assess which youngsters could become candidates for a permanent drive in future.

Schwartzman has raced for Prema in F2 for the past two seasons, scoring six wins in 39 starts. The 22-year-old Russian has his sites set on an F1 seat, and with Haas heavily-sponsored by Russian fertlisier company Ural Kali, that team is the most natural fit.

"This will be my first test with Haas and I'm really looking forward to getting to know a new team, environment and also to learn as much as possible from them,” Shwartzman said “Having the chance to drive for another F1 team is just incredible and I can't wait to work with everyone."

Saudi Arabia track struggling to be ready on time

10:42 , Dan Austin

The Saudi Arabia Formula 1 circuit is struggling to be completed on time, an F1 official admitted.

The Red Sea town of Jeddah is due to host the country’s inaugural F1 event in less than a fortnight’s time at a temporary street circuit, but preparations have been hampered by delays and organisers now face a race against to run the Grand Prix on schedule.

F1 sporting director Steve Nielsen told Autosport: “It’s an ambitious project, it will be a great facility.

“They’re up against it, they are, but they’re literally working 24/7 as they have been for quite a long time now. I saw some more photos this morning, and they’ve made huge progress. But still, a lot to do.

Full story:

Concerns over Saudi Arabian GP with ‘a lot to do’ to get track ready

Verstappen wants one title to ‘complete’ career

10:19 , Dan Austin

Max Verstappen has revealed winning the Formula One world title is his “final goal” in the sport and admitted it would not “matter” if he didn’t add another championship in his career.

Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time world champion and is determined to win a record-breaking eighth, Verstappen has admitted he will have “completed” F1 is he wins a maiden title this year.

“It then doesn’t really matter anymore how many you win because you’ve already won one,” Verstappen told the Chequered Flag podcast.

“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.”

Full story:

Max Verstappen reveals one F1 world title is 'final goal' for career

Wolff and Horner feud is ‘terrible’, ‘tacky’, and ‘childish'

10:10 , Dan Austin

Van der Grint also made his feelings clear about the increasing feud between Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner.

The pair clashed in a press conference in Qatar and exchanged a series of snippy remarks about each other, with Horner saying they had “no relationship” and that he doesn’t “need to kiss Toto’s a***.”

Van der Grint, though, believes both men need to grow up. “I think that’s terrible,” he told Motorsport.com. “I think it’s tacky. “And then marshals are insulted. It is childish. We have two great drivers who actually downgrade the rest of the field. Fantastic, that’s motorsport.

“When I hear terms that I don’t want to repeat, that annoys me too. I am sorry to hear that.”

Talk of Mercedes’ car being ‘illegal’ must stop, says Van Deer Grint

10:01 , Dan Austin

Former Formula 1 engineer Kees van der Grint says any talk of Mercedes’ car being illegal “must stop.”

Van der Grint worked with Ferrari at the height of Michael Schumacher’s early 00s success, and says the Mercedes is simply faster than the Red Bull right now. Rumours about the Silver Arrows’ car falling foul of the rules have spread since Brazil, when Lewis Hamilton was significantly faster than any other car on track, and the rear wing as found by the FUA to have fallen foul of measurement restrictions.

"The speed differences between the teams was not that great in Qatar," Van de Grint told RTL GP. "Mercedes just got it right. Since the FIA has said that [the Mercedes] is not illegal, then the chatter about it must stop."

Verstappen’s Qatar penalty was ‘harsh’, says Brundle

09:53 , Dan Austin

Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle believes Max Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty for ignoring double yellow flags in Qatar was ‘harsh.’

The 24-year-old failed to slow once marshals were waving flags in the final part of qualifying, but there was confusion afterwards because DRS was still activated and no warning message appeared on drivers’ dashboards, indicating the track was clear and safe to continue driving at top speed.

IN his Sky Sports column, Brundle wrote: “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.”

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

Alfa Romeo admits finance a key consideration in Zhou arrival

09:45 , Dan Austin

Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur has admitted that Guanyu Zhou’s financial backing formed part of the reasoning for the 22-year-old’s promotion to a full-time F1 race seat with the team.

Zhou will become the first Chinese driver to race in F1 when he partners Valtteri Bottas in 2022, and is bringing a reported £20m worth of sponsorship to the team with him.

“The first criteria is the performance of the team,” Vasseur said. “It means that to be performant you need to have good drivers, good technicians, good engineers, a good feeling from the drivers, and a good budget [Money] was a pillar of the decision, for sure. I was always clear like this because we want to get the cost cap. It’s the best way for us to be performant.”

Lewis Hamilton details ‘clever’ strategy to defeat Max Verstappen and avoid ‘selfish act’

09:38 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton maintains he is being “clever” with his race strategy up against Max Verstappen as the Formula 1 title race approaches its finale.

The Briton now intends to pull out of risky on-track duels, which saw flash points at Silverstone and Monza earlier this season.

While both drivers left the track in Brazil after the Red Bull star forced them both wide at Turn 4 to retain his lead.

And Hamilton was asked if his strategy to back down against Verstappen on the track was a sign of weakness.

Lewis Hamilton details ‘clever’ strategy to defeat Max Verstappen

Kubica staying with Alfa Romeo for 2022

09:35 , Dan Austin

Robert Kubica will stick around at Alfa Romeo for 2022 after being confirmed as the team’s test and reserve driver for 2022.

The Pole stood in for Kimi Raikkonen at the Dutch and Italian grands prix in September after the Finn contracted Covid-19, scoring 15th and 14th-place finishes respectively. Kubica seemed destined to compete for the world championship earlier in his career after showing enormous potential with BMW Sauber and Renault, before a rallying accident caused significant damage to his body and prevented him from competing in F1 between 2011 and 2017.

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Robert Kubica to stay on at Alfa Romeo for 2022 F1 season

One corner cost Red Bull in Qatar, says Horner

09:26 , Dan Austin

Christian Horner says the difference in pace between Mercedes and his Red Bull team at the Qatar Grand Prix last weekend all came down to the slow left-hander at Turn 6.

The Losail circuit was making its debut on the F1 calendar and is made up of a series of high speed corners, but Turn 6 is one of the slowest on the track, and Horner believes the Silver Arrows were able to build a significant advantage there.

"I think there's one corner that's differentiated us all weekend and it's been Turn 6 ," Horner told reporters. "We lost two tenths a lap every lap from Friday to Sunday at that corner and I think that's one the things we need to go and understand and where we need to improve."

Horner has no regrets over behaviour in Qatar

09:17 , Dan Austin

Despite criticism from Albers and other F1 commentators and pundits, Christian Horner says he has no regrets over his behaviour in Qatar, which saw him given a formal warning by the FIA for breaching the international sporting code.

On the penalty given to Max Verstappen for ignoring double yellow flags, he said: “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.” FIA Race Director Michael Masi was unimpressed and summoned the 48-year-old to the stewards.

But asked on Sky Sports F1 f 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.”

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner has no regrets over his behaviour at Qatar GP

Christian Horner ‘doesn’t have a clue’ in comparison with Wolff

09:07 , Dan Austin

Former F1 driver Christijan Albers says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner ‘doesn’t have a clue’ compared to the more ‘professional’ Toto Wolff.

Wolff has led Mercedes to seven consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship double title wins since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014, and Dutchman Albers says the Austrian is the superior team boss.

“I’m not a Toto fan, I’m not a Horner fan, but I do think Toto handles it better I must tell you, more professional,” the ex-Minardi driver told De Telegraaf. “That too, and Toto really asks his engineers how and what. He’s more into the [technical] matters than Horner,” he said.

“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.”

Massa compares title fight to Senna and Prost

08:58 , Dan Austin

Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has said he seems similarities between the current title fight and the legendary rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

The Brazilian went toe-to-toe with Hamilton for the drivers’ championship in 2008 and was set to take the title until the Briton passed Toyota’s Timo Glock at the very final corner of the season at Interlagos, securing the first crown of his career.

“It’s not only the battle, but the personalities of these two drivers is something the fans love to see and throw their support behind,” Massa told the F1 website. “I think that’s fantastic. We all know Senna-Prost. We can’t forget. This is a similar situation.”

Verstappen’s ‘on the limits behaviour’ could cost him title

08:50 , Dan Austin

Max Verstappen’s ‘on the limits’ behaviour could cost him the Formula 1 world championship, according to former driver Jan Lammers.

Dutchman Lammers entered 41 F1 grands prix between 1979 and 1992, failing to score a podium for teams including Shadow and ATS.

The 650year-old now believes that his compatriot could lose to Lewis Hamilton if he doesn’t rein himself in.

“He just poked the organisation in the eye,” Lammers said on the NOS F1 podcast in regards to Verstappen’s grid penalty in Qatar and criticism of the FIA in the aftermath. “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?

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Max Verstappen’s ‘on the limit’ behaviour could cost him F1 title

Hamilton aiming to be the “purest” to beat Verstappen to title

08:36 , Dan Austin

Lewis Hamilton says he is aiming to be the “purest” of drivers to beat Max Verstappen to the drivers’ championship.

The seven-time world champion trails the Dutchman by just eight points after his thrilling victory in Brazil and controlled win in Qatar helped reduce the deficit, with two round left to go at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Yas Marina in the United Arab Emirates.

Hamilton said he hoped to win his record-breaking eighth title through “speed, sheer hard work and determination”, without the caveat of any crashes or collisions.

“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.

Hamilton said he hoped to win his record-breaking eighth title through “speed, sheer hard work and determination”, without the caveat of any crashes or collisions.

“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.

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Lewis Hamilton aiming to be ‘purest of drivers’ in Max Verstappen rivalry

Glock criticises Bottas for lack of Hamilton support

08:30 , Dan Austin

Former Formula 1 driver Timo Glock has criticised Valtteri Bottas for not doing enough to support Lewis Hamilton in his title fight with Max Verstappen.

The German spent five season in F1, most notably with Toyota as Jarno Trulli’s team-mate, scoring a single podium at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix. Glock believes the Finn does not have the required desire to support Hamilton fully.

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

Mercedes are too fast to cheat, says Ralf Schumacher, as Lewis Hamilton chases F1 world title

08:19 , Jack Rathborn

Ralf 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.

Mercedes are too fast to cheat, says Ralf Schumacher

F1 title race: When and where will Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen battle be decided?

08:18 , Jack Rathborn

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.

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

Lewis Hamilton details ‘clever’ strategy to beat Max Verstappen

08:17 , Jack Rathborn

“When you’re on the outside, it’s almost always the more sensible option to pull back so you can finish the race,” Hamilton told Auto Motor und Sport when asked if his strategy to back down against Verstappen on the track was a sign of weakness.

“On the inside, there were situations where I clearly saw myself as being in the right, like at Silverstone, for example. Look at the pictures again. My front wheel was level with his front wheel. It wasn’t that my front wheel was at the corner entrance level with his rear wheel. If I had acted like Max in Brazil in this situation, that is, had stayed on the gas, left the track and held the position, how would that have turned out?

“I don’t feel too big or too successful to avoid a fight. I know that sometimes you have to take this path. You have to be the clever one. Sometimes you lose points, but it’s not just about me. I have 2,000 employees behind me. A selfish act where I stick to my point and don’t finish the race could cost my whole team the bonus payments at the end of the year. And then create more work on the damaged car.”