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Aston Martin announce key exit, Williams win case and Lewis Hamilton linked to Hollywood

An action-packed off-season in Formula 1 sees Lewis Hamilton’s future still widely discussed. The Mercedes star is yet to respond to messages from..

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Aston Martin announce key exit, Williams win case and Lewis Hamilton linked to Hollywood

An action-packed off-season in Formula 1 sees Lewis Hamilton’s future still widely discussed. The Mercedes star is yet to respond to messages from the FIA, the sport’s governing body, according to the body’s new president, Mohammed bin Sulayem. The controversial end to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi has also raised doubts over the future of race director Michael Masi, with Mercedes furious with his role and decisions that influenced Max Verstappen emerging victorious in the title race.

Hamilton has attended public events to receive his knighthood and bid farewell to now-former Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, but he has remained tight-lipped over the divisive finish to the championship, with some suggesting the seven-time world champion could even be considering walking away from the sport.

Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson became the latest figure to criticise how the final lap unfolded at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, warning that the sport had moved into “dangerous territory” as it risks integrity for the sake of entertainment. Johansson added that Masi’s decision to allow only five cars to unlap themselves “completely ignored any level of common sense”.

Meanwhile, Verstappen has been celebrating his maiden world championship title in the US and was pictured with boxing’s pound-for-pound superstar Canelo Alvarez last weekend. However, the Dutchman has been warned that his aggressive driving style could lead to a ban in the 2022 season. Verstappen currently has seven points on his F1 licence – picked up for disciplinary infractions – with 12 points invoking an automatic one-race suspension.

Follow all the latest F1 updates as we build up to the new season below:

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Williams win £26.3m case against former sponsor

15:48 , Jack Rathborn

Williams have been awarded $35.7 million (£26.3m) in an arbitration case after a dispute with former title sponsor ROKiT.

The case in the United States comes after the pair joined forces in 2019 on a three-year contract, while quickly extending the partnership to 2023 later that year.

But after the 2020 season was delayed due to the Covid pandemic, the pair split.

As reported by MotorsportWeek.com, Williams won the case against ROKiT at a London Court of International Arbitration tribunal in 2021, ordering ROKiT to stump up “roughly £26.2m in missed payments, as well as a $1m in bonus payment.”

Arbitrator Klaus Reichert SC has now ruled in favour of Williams, stating that ROKiT did not pay the money owed to Williams, meaning the matter is now settled and the Grove outfit can concentrate on the 2022 season, with the outstanding sponsorship money now due soon.

‘Just rumours’: Lewis Hamilton retirement talk played down by FIA president

15:45 , Jack Rathborn

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says it’s “just rumours” that Lewis Hamilton will retire from Formula 1 before the 2022 season.

There have been reports the British driver doesn’t want to race again due to the circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton was overtaken on the last lap by Max Verstappen to be denied a record eighth world title after race director Michael Masi allowed some cars to unlap themselves and others not.

Hamilton has hardly been seen in public since, only being pictured at Windsor Castle after being given his knighthood.

Ben Sulayem said: “No, I don’t think so, they are just rumours. Has he declared that he is not going to run? Exactly, no. When you are a driver, you speak for yourself and not what others say about you.

“I trust that this is not the case. Lewis is an important part of the sport and of F1, his achievements, Verstappen is there…I am sure we will find a very exciting F1 next season.”

Lewis Hamilton was ‘lucky’ in F1 title race, Honda chief claims

15:30 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton was “lucky” on several occasions during the Formula One season and was fortunate to take the title race to the final Grand Prix of the year, it has been suggested.

Hamilton lost out on a record-breaking eighth world championship when he was passed by title rival Max Verstappen on the final lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver had won three races in a row to head into the race at the Yas Marina Circuit level on points with Verstappen and was leading until a late crash from Nicolas Latifi triggered a safety car.

And Mercedes were left furious after race director Michael Masi controversially allowed five cars to unlap themselves, putting Verstappen behind Hamilton ahead of the final-lap shootout, with the Red Bull driver having pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres. Mercedes protested the race result before withdrawing their appeals, with team boss Toto Wolff branding the way Masi had allowed the race to unfold was “unacceptable.”

However, theead of Honda F1, Masashi Yamamoto, has claimed that Hamilton benefitted from a similar situation at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier in the season.

Honda powered Red Bull’s engine last season, their final campaign as an engine provider in F1.

“Lewis made a mistake, went off the track and lost a lot of time,” Yamamoto said, referring to April’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, in which Verstappen beat Hamilton to first place.

“However, the red flag allowed his car to be repaired and he was able to make up the lost lap time. Lewis has been lucky a few times this season and this was one of them.”

Mick Schumacher impresses Sebastian Vettel with work ethic in debut F1 season

15:15 , Jack Rathborn

Sebastian Vettel has praised Mick Schumacher’s work ethic during his debut Formula 1 season.

Schumacher, son of F1 legend Michael, raced for Haas in the 2021 campaign and finished 19th overall in his rookie year without scoring a championship point.

Despite a disappointing season for Haas, Vettel was impressed by the 22-year-old and has commended him by saying he was the first one in and the last one out of the paddock.

“I think the offset from the start of the season for that team was poor because they had no development and they were far behind,” Vettel told Race Fans.

“But I think we should look throughout the year. Mick’s been very happy, enthusiastic and happy to put work in, and he’s been one of the first ones, if not the first ones, every single day to come to the paddock and one of the latest ones to leave, and showing huge interest in trying to push the team along.

“Apart from the job on track that he did, apart from some maybe small mistakes that happened in your first year, I think he’s done a great job. So I really wish that he gets a much better car next year to show what he’s able to do.”

Max Verstappen downplays controversy surrounding maiden world title

15:00 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen has downplayed any controversial aspect to his maiden world title for Red Bull last season after the thrilling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Belgian-Dutch driver maintains controversy is not new in the sport, backing up comments from his boss Christian Horner that any debate over his validity as champion will be forgotten soon.

“Even with championships won 30 years ago or whatever, there has also been controversy,” Verstappen said.

“Nowadays, when people look back at the footage they enjoy it. It’s just part of the sport.”

Christian Horner maintains ‘short memories’ will see controversial end to F1 title race forgotten

14:45 , Jack Rathborn

Christian Horner is adamant that fans’ “short memories” will ensure the controversy surrounding Max Verstappen title win over Lewis Hamilton will soon be forgotten.

“People in this business have such very short memories,’ said Horner said (h/t GPFans). “We’ve even forgotten what happened [earlier in the year]. It was such a long racing season.

“Max is absolutely a deserving world champion. When you look at the championship as a whole, of course, the events in Abu Dhabi drew an awful lot of comment but that happens in sport.

“We had a lot of bad luck last year, we got fortunate with a safety car, we made the right strategic calls, great strategy, great teamwork and great execution by Max, and we won the race.

“Time will move on. Max is a very deserving world champion, we are incredibly proud of that, and the history books will always show he is the 2021 world champion.”

Toto Wolff insists fixing F1 goes beyond firing Michael Masi

14:30 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists fixing Formula 1 is a more complicated problem than simply firing director Michael Masi after the shambolic scenes in Abu Dhabi to conclude the 2021 F1 season.

“It’s a bigger problem, my values ​​are simply not compatible with the decisions that were made,” Wolff told the Spanish branch of Motorsport.com.

“It is not just about replacing the race director. The whole decision-making system must be improved.

“It’s one thing to drive hard and have different points of view between drivers and teams, that’s normal. But inconsistent decisions inevitably lead to controversy, much of it totally unnecessary.”

Lewis Hamilton linked to Hollywood movie about Formula 1

14:15 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton is reportedly connected with discussions over a new Hollywood movie surrounding Formula 1.

Entertainment website Deadline says Apple TV could snag the rights, with Brad Pitt primed to feature as one of the drivers returning from retirement to mentor a young upstart in what would be “his final stab at glory on the track as the younger driver’s team-mate”.

The plot is similar to Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes from 2010 to 2012.

And the original report from Deadline says that: “we hear that British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is involved in some capacity”.

The latest update does not mention the seven-time former world champion, with a budget of around $140m and director Joseph Kosinski, who directed the forthcoming Top Gun: Maverick, on board alongside Ehren Kruger the scriptwriter and Jerry Bruckheimer the producer.

Bernie Ecclestone not convinced Lewis Hamilton returns to F1

14:05 , Jack Rathborn

Bernie Ecclestone does not believe Lewis Hamilton returns to F1 as his future remains the source of rumour and debate after taking a break from both mainstream and social media.

“I don’t think he’s coming back,” he told Blick.

“His disappointment is too great. And you can understand that in a way. Now it would be time, with also seven World Championship titles like Michael Schumacher, to tackle his dream of becoming a fashion entrepreneur.”

Mercedes appeared to confirm their star man would not opt for retirement though, tweeting a picture of Hamilton and adding the caption: “Adversity causes some to break; others to break records.”

David Coulthard: Lewis Hamilton had to ‘fight fire’ in F1 title battle

13:57 , Jack Rathborn

David Coulthard has likened Lewis Hamilton’s role in last season’s dramatic F1 title fight with Max Verstappen to “fighting fire”.

“The way he [Verstappen] drives, the thing that I find most impressive…[if] there’s a gap, he goes for it, it’s not even a doubt,” Coulthard told Channel 4.

“I used to weigh up ‘should I risk it now, should I not risk it’, he just goes ‘I can see the biscuit’ he risks it for the biscuit, he just goes, it really is quite special.

“And when you actually see how Lewis is defending against that, Lewis is an exceptional racing driver, but he’s had to open the door on more than one occasion because he’s come up against, if he’s fire, he’s come up against fire, and how do you fight fire?”

Michael Masi told Abu Dhabi decisions ‘completely ignored any level of common sense’

13:42 , Jack Rathborn

Former Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson has told Michael Masi his decisions at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lacked “common sense”,

The race director decided to restart the final event of the year after Nicholas Latifi crashed. He also allowed some cars to unlap themselves and for others not to.

This meant Max Verstappen, who had pitted for a change of tyres when the safety car was out, was right behind Lewis Hamilton who had the lead for the majority of the race. The Dutchman overtook the British star and claimed his first world championship.

“I guess it’s positive for F1 that everyone is chiming in, that there’s so much passion for either side, Lewis or Max,” Johansson told F1i.com. “Whether it’s intentional or not, the entertainment value of this controversy has gone through the roof.

Michael Masi told Abu Dhabi decisions ‘completely ignored any level of common sense’

Junior picture of Lewis Hamilton racing emerges

13:20 , Jack Rathborn

Giedo van der Garde has shared a picture of himself and Lewis Hamilton competing as juniors.

The former F1 driver points out he also wore No 33, like compatriot Max Verstappen, while chasing down the seven-time world champion.

A reserve driver for Sauber in 2014, Van der Garde gave the Red Bull star a shoutout by sharing an old picture.

Max Verstappen meets Canelo Alvarez

13:05 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen has mixed with boxing Canelo Alvarez since clinching his first Formula 1 world title.

The pair were seen together at Seaspice in Miami.

Canelo was in the Florida city to support training partner Frank Sanchez in his latest heavyweight fight.


Canelo Alvarez meets Max Verstappen in Miami (Instagram)

Canelo Alvarez meets Max Verstappen in Miami (Instagram)

F1 cars set for new minimum weight in 2022 season

12:48 , Jack Rathborn

Formula 1 cars are set to be heavier than ever ahead of the 2022 season.

Cars will now have a minimum weight of 790kg this year, around 38kg heavier than last term.

That is almost a 150kg rise in 10 years as technology advances.

Lando Norris backs Ferrari for podiums and wins in 2022

12:26 , Jack Rathborn

Lando Norris expects a surge from Ferrari in 2022 with more podium contention and even a few victories.

Norris believes the power unit will help the Scuderia after a year battling with McLaren for third place.

The British driver finished between the Ferrari drivers, ahead of Charles Leclerc in P6 and behind Carlos Sainz in P5.

“The progress they’ve made in the latter part of the season has had nothing to do with the car,” Norris said, as quoted by Marca.

“They have only improved their power units. I don’t think they’ve ever had a terrible car.

“Even in the last few years, I don’t think they’ve had a terrible car. They just lacked on the engine side.”

Ocon praises current state of Formula 1

12:05 , Jack Rathborn

Esteban Ocon claims the state of Formula 1 right now is “fantastic”.

The Alpine driver is thrilled at how the sport has transcended the hardcore fan market to gain in popularity.

“I think it’s fantastic how Formula 1 has developed,” he said, as per Motorsport-Total.com.

“There are things being tried, the races were interesting and there are definitely opportunities these days.

“It’s just crazy until the last lap. This last lap [of 2021] actually sums up the entire season well.

“Everyone is talking about Formula 1. Friends of mine weren’t really interested and are now fully involved. It’s great.”

Aston Martin announce departure of team boss Szafnauer

11:46 , Jamie Braidwood

Aston Martin have announced the shock departure of team boss Otmar Szafnauer.

In a statement, Aston Martin said: “Otmar Szafnauer has left the company and his role at Aston Martin will be managed within the leadership team until a replacement is appointed.

“We would like to thank him for the service provided to the team over the past 12 years and wish him well for the future as he will undoubtedly take on new challenges.

“Fortunately, we are led and managed by a strong group of individuals, and we are comfortable to take a little time to explore options before announcing a new team structure.

“The focus of the team is currently on preparing the most competitive car possible for the start of the 2022 season.”

While Szafnauer has not announced his next move, he denied reports last season linking him with Alpine.

Martin Brundle tips Honda for F1 comeback

11:30 , Jack Rathborn

Martin Brundle believes Honda will be back soon after waving goodbye to Formula after clinching glory with Red Bull following Max Verstappen’s world title.

The Japanese engine manufacturer will continue to work alongside Red Bull and AlphaTauri through Red Bull’s new Powertrains division, but they have taken a step back in terms of being an official engine manufacturer.

But Brundle believes Honda may well resume a more prominent role in the sport in the near future.

“Red Bull have still been very generous and wanting to maintain a relationship with Honda in the transition,” Brundle said on Sky Sports F1.

“They’ll come back, and we hope that the Volkswagen Group, Audi will join. Formula 1 is stratospheric at the moment, so they can always make a decision to come back.”

Jenson Button admits it’s ‘a shame’ McLaren didn’t extend relationship with Honda in F1

11:15 , Jack Rathborn

Jenson Button admits it’s “a shame” McLaren didn’t extend their relationship with Honda in F1 after the Japanese manufacturer’s world title success in partnership with Red Bull.

After ending a six-year absence from the sport in 2015, three unsuccessful years with McLaren saw Honda initially link up with Toro Rosso in 2018.

And after switching over to Red Bull the following season, they delivered for Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, before announcing an end to their time in the sport once again, going out on a high.

“I was with them at the start of this [V6 hybrid] project and it wasn’t easy for them,” Button told Autosport. “In the hybrid era, they struggled when they first came in. They were obviously a couple of years behind everyone else. [There were] lots of reliability issues.

“And I think it’s a shame that McLaren didn’t hang on with them. It was very easy for them to point the finger when they weren’t competitive and they pointed to the most unreliable part, which was the engine.

“But now moving forward, working with a team like Red Bull and all their experience, it seems that they’ve found a really good partnership. It’s nice to see Honda winning again, because their last win before the era with Red Bull was mine in 2006, a long time ago in sport. So it’s great to see them winning.”

Alpine ‘very encouraged’ after progress in F1 last season

11:00 , Jack Rathborn

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski maintains it is “very encouraging” how his team progressed last season.

Despite inconsistency, Alpine landed a shock maiden win for Esteban Ocon in Hungary, while Fernando Alonso delivered a podium finish in Qatar.

It was enough to edge out AlphaTauri for fifth in the constructors’ championship, while Budkowski is encouraged ahead of the challenge to close the gap on Ferrari and McLaren to fight for third.

“Given that we’ve had the same engine pretty much for the last three years, the frozen chassis and gearbox for strategic reasons to invest our resources elsewhere, we’ve actually done pretty well with the platform that we had,” Budkowski said.

“Both at the track and in terms of developing the areas where we could, so it is very encouraging for next season. Now we know our numbers, but we don’t know other people’s numbers.”

Fernando Alonso admits 2007 gave wrong impression of happiness in Formula 1

10:48 , Jack Rathborn

Fernando Alonso insists he remains as happy as ever in F1 after a season with Alpine because of misconceptions about him in 2007.

A podium and a big part in Alpine’s fifth-placed finish in the constructors’ championship has not made him happier, with the Spaniard insisting his time with McLaren in 2007 was misinterpreted.

“I probably disagree with that, because when I joined Ferrari, I had exactly the same questions from you guys,” Alonso said.

“I remember perfectly, answering questions: ‘Why do you feel so happy now? Is it being in an Italian team and you are Spanish, it’s a better fit and you feel happy?’ And I said yes, maybe it’s because of that, we have the same sense of humour, we have the same Latin character, so maybe that’s the reason why I’m happy.

“Then I came back to McLaren in 2015, and it was the same comments: ‘Why are you so happy now? Because in Ferrari, you felt a little bit down the last two years and frustrated, and now you seem that even if you are not fighting for the championship and it was the bad seasons of Honda etc, you’re still quite happy off-track, so why that change from Fernando?’

“And then when I was in endurance [racing] or Dakar or Indy: ‘Why are you so much more relaxed now? In Formula 1, you seemed frustrated etc?’ And now it’s the same comment.”

Mercedes told they should have signed Lando Norris over George Russell

10:31 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes’ decision to choose George Russell over Lando Norris to likely be Lewis Hamilton’s teammate next season has been questioned.

The Silver Arrows opted for Russell to replace Valtteri Bottas for the upcoming 2022 season.

The F1: Chequered Flag podcast team have detailed why Norris would have been a better selection.

Jack Nicholls said: “If I’m Mercedes and I have a free choice in that second seat alongside Hamilton, I think I’m picking Norris over Russell after this year.”

Jolyon Palmer agreed: “I’m going with Jack on it, I’m going with Lando.

“The way that he held off Lewis Hamilton at the end of that Sochi race until the strategy and the tyre choice got away from him, was unbelievable.

“For a guy that has never won a race, to have a seven-time World Champion breathing down his neck in a Mercedes…

“Then it starts raining, and he’s still off the road a couple of times, scrabbling around, but keeping Hamilton, we all know how good he is in the wet, behind him.

“It was really legendary stuff I think from Norris.”

Jenson Button expects Lewis Hamilton to race in 2022

10:00 , Jack Rathborn

Jenson Button believes Lewis Hamilton will return to F1 in 2022 despite speculation over his future after falling short against Max Verstappen in last season’s dramatic title race.

“Anything is possible as we all know in sport. We are very emotional characters and tensions run high,” Button, the 2009 champion, told Sky Sports.

“Personally – I don’t know Lewis that well now, I knew him seven or eight years ago – but I wouldn’t see him walking away, especially as he’s just lost the world championship, I think he will come back fighting next year and we’ll be back on, game on in March.”

F1 rules must be tightened for 2022 season, says Nico Rosberg

09:45 , Jack Rathborn

Nico Rosberg maintains that F1 must tightened up its regulations after a controversial finish to the season with off-track decisions influencing results on the track as Max Verstappen edged out Lewis Hamilton to land his maiden world title.

“The sport needs to make progress,” Rosberg told Sky Sports News.

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

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

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

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

‘Just rumours’: Lewis Hamilton retirement talk played down by FIA president

09:30 , Jack Rathborn

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says it’s “just rumours” that Lewis Hamilton will retire from Formula 1 before the 2022 season.

There have been reports the British driver doesn’t want to race again due to the circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton was overtaken on the last lap by Max Verstappen to be denied a record eighth world title after race director Michael Masi allowed some cars to unlap themselves and others not.

Hamilton has hardly been seen in public since, only being pictured at Windsor Castle after being given his knighthood.

Ben Sulayem said: “No, I don’t think so, they are just rumours. Has he declared that he is not going to run? Exactly, no. When you are a driver, you speak for yourself and not what others say about you.

“I trust that this is not the case. Lewis is an important part of the sport and of F1, his achievements, Verstappen is there…I am sure we will find a very exciting F1 next season.”



‘Just rumours’: Lewis Hamilton retirement talk played down by FIA president

Lewis Hamilton was ‘lucky’ in F1 title race, Honda chief claims

09:15 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton was “lucky” on several occasions during the Formula One season and was fortunate to take the title race to the final Grand Prix of the year, it has been suggested.

Hamilton lost out on a record-breaking eighth world championship when he was passed by title rival Max Verstappen on the final lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver had won three races in a row to head into the race at the Yas Marina Circuit level on points with Verstappen and was leading until a late crash from Nicolas Latifi triggered a safety car.

And Mercedes were left furious after race director Michael Masi controversially allowed five cars to unlap themselves, putting Verstappen behind Hamilton ahead of the final-lap shootout, with the Red Bull driver having pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres. Mercedes protested the race result before withdrawing their appeals, with team boss Toto Wolff branding the way Masi had allowed the race to unfold was “unacceptable.”

However, theead of Honda F1, Masashi Yamamoto, has claimed that Hamilton benefitted from a similar situation at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier in the season.

Honda powered Red Bull’s engine last season, their final campaign as an engine provider in F1.

“Lewis made a mistake, went off the track and lost a lot of time,” Yamamoto said, referring to April’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, in which Verstappen beat Hamilton to first place.

“However, the red flag allowed his car to be repaired and he was able to make up the lost lap time. Lewis has been lucky a few times this season and this was one of them.”

Mick Schumacher impresses Sebastian Vettel with work ethic in debut F1 season

09:00 , Jack Rathborn

Sebastian Vettel has praised Mick Schumacher’s work ethic during his debut Formula 1 season.

Schumacher, son of F1 legend Michael, raced for Haas in the 2021 campaign and finished 19th overall in his rookie year without scoring a championship point.

Despite a disappointing season for Haas, Vettel was impressed by the 22-year-old and has commended him by saying he was the first one in and the last one out of the paddock.

“I think the offset from the start of the season for that team was poor because they had no development and they were far behind,” Vettel told Race Fans.

“But I think we should look throughout the year. Mick’s been very happy, enthusiastic and happy to put work in, and he’s been one of the first ones, if not the first ones, every single day to come to the paddock and one of the latest ones to leave, and showing huge interest in trying to push the team along.

“Apart from the job on track that he did, apart from some maybe small mistakes that happened in your first year, I think he’s done a great job. So I really wish that he gets a much better car next year to show what he’s able to do.”

Max Verstappen downplays controversy surrounding maiden world title

08:45 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen has downplayed any controversial aspect to his maiden world title for Red Bull last season after the thrilling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Belgian-Dutch driver maintains controversy is not new in the sport, backing up comments from his boss Christian Horner that any debate over his validity as champion will be forgotten soon.

“Even with championships won 30 years ago or whatever, there has also been controversy,” Verstappen said.

“Nowadays, when people look back at the footage they enjoy it. It’s just part of the sport.”

Christian Horner maintains ‘short memories’ will see controversial end to F1 title race forgotten

08:25 , Jack Rathborn

Christian Horner is adamant that fans’ “short memories” will ensure the controversy surrounding Max Verstappen title win over Lewis Hamilton will soon be forgotten.

“People in this business have such very short memories,’ said Horner said (h/t GPFans). “We’ve even forgotten what happened [earlier in the year]. It was such a long racing season.

“Max is absolutely a deserving world champion. When you look at the championship as a whole, of course, the events in Abu Dhabi drew an awful lot of comment but that happens in sport.

“We had a lot of bad luck last year, we got fortunate with a safety car, we made the right strategic calls, great strategy, great teamwork and great execution by Max, and we won the race.

“Time will move on. Max is a very deserving world champion, we are incredibly proud of that, and the history books will always show he is the 2021 world champion.”

Bernie Ecclestone not convinced Lewis Hamilton returns to F1

08:17 , Jack Rathborn

Bernie Ecclestone does not believe Lewis Hamilton returns to F1 as his future remains the source of rumour and debate after taking a break from both mainstream and social media.

“I don’t think he’s coming back,” he told Blick.

“His disappointment is too great. And you can understand that in a way. Now it would be time, with also seven World Championship titles like Michael Schumacher, to tackle his dream of becoming a fashion entrepreneur.”

Mercedes appeared to confirm their star man would not opt for retirement though, tweeting a picture of Hamilton and adding the caption: “Adversity causes some to break; others to break records.”

Lewis Hamilton linked to Hollywood movie about Formula 1

07:57 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton is reportedly connected with discussions over a new Hollywood movie surrounding Formula 1.

Entertainment website Deadline says Apple TV could snag the rights, with Brad Pitt primed to feature as one of the drivers returning from retirement to mentor a young upstart in what would be “his final stab at glory on the track as the younger driver’s team-mate”.

The plot is similar to Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes from 2010 to 2012.

And the original report from Deadline says that: “we hear that British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is involved in some capacity”.

The latest update does not mention the seven-time former world champion, with a budget of around $140m and director Joseph Kosinski, who directed the forthcoming Top Gun: Maverick, on board alongside Ehren Kruger the scriptwriter and Jerry Bruckheimer the producer.

Toto Wolff insists fixing F1 goes beyond firing Michael Masi

07:44 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists fixing Formula 1 is a more complicated problem than simply firing director Michael Masi after the shambolic scenes in Abu Dhabi to conclude the 2021 F1 season.

“It’s a bigger problem, my values ​​are simply not compatible with the decisions that were made,” Wolff told the Spanish branch of Motorsport.com.

“It is not just about replacing the race director. The whole decision-making system must be improved.

“It’s one thing to drive hard and have different points of view between drivers and teams, that’s normal. But inconsistent decisions inevitably lead to controversy, much of it totally unnecessary.”

Horner: People will ‘move on’ from 2021 controversy

Tuesday 4 January 2022 20:25 , Jamie Braidwood

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes people’s “short memories” will mean fans will forget the controversial ending to the 2021 season.

Max Verstappen won his first world championship after race director Michael Masi made some questionable calls. Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton headed into the final race on equal points and the British star had led for the majority of the race. However, Nicholas Latifi crashed with a few laps to go which deployed the safety car.

Masi ruled the race could be finished but that some cars could unlap and others couldn’t. This meant Verstappen was right behind Hamilton on fresh tyres as he overtook him to claim the title. The controversial conclusion to the race is still being discussed among fans but Horner insists it will soon be ancient history.

“People in this business have such very short memories,” said Horner, quoted by GPFans. “We’ve even forgotten what happened [earlier in the year]. It was such a long racing season.

“Max is absolutely a deserving world champion. When you look at the championship as a whole, of course, the events in Abu Dhabi drew an awful lot of comment but that happens in sport.

“Time will move on. Max is a very deserving world champion, we are incredibly proud of that, and the history books will always show he is the 2021 world champion.”

Vettel impressed by Schumacher work ethic

Tuesday 4 January 2022 19:45 , Jamie Braidwood

Sebastian Vettel has praised Mick Schumacher’s work ethic during his debut Formula 1 season.

Schumacher, son of F1 legend Michael, raced for Haas in the 2021 campaign and finished 19th overall in his rookie year without scoring a championship point.

Despite a disappointing season for Haas, Vettel was impressed by the 22-year-old and has commended him by saying he was the first one in and the last one out of the paddock.

“I think the offset from the start of the season for that team was poor because they had no development and they were far behind,” Vettel told Race Fans.

“But I think we should look throughout the year. Mick’s been very happy, enthusiastic and happy to put work in, and he’s been one of the first ones, if not the first ones, every single day to come to the paddock and one of the latest ones to leave, and showing huge interest in trying to push the team along.

“Apart from the job on track that he did, apart from some maybe small mistakes that happened in your first year, I think he’s done a great job. So I really wish that he gets a much better car next year to show what he’s able to do.”



Mick Schumacher impresses Sebastian Vettel with work ethic in debut F1 season

Hamilton not responding to new FIA president

Tuesday 4 January 2022 19:14 , Tom Kershaw

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has revealed that Lewis Hamilton has not been responding to the governing body’s messages after they threatened to punish the seven-time world champion for failing to attend the prize-giving gala.

“I’ve sent him messages,” Ben Sulayem said. “I don’t think he’s 100 per cent ready to respond right now. We don’t blame him. I understand his position, as a driver, obviously, he is at a different level.

“But there are also rules. As you read in the press, the new president is going to sanction; of course they [the media] spice things up a lot with what is important for others.

“But for me it’s not particularly related to a certain driver or a certain team. It’s general. There are rules we have to respect, and we have to respect the integrity of the FIA. And I can’t judge anyone until I know the exact facts.

“In fact, my first objective is to go through the whole Abu Dhabi file.

“I think of course by not being at the gala, it’s something that Lewis and his team knew. But at the end of the day, we’re human too. There was stress and pressure.”

Domenicali disappointed about German GP

Tuesday 4 January 2022 18:50 , Tom Kershaw

Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali has expressed his disappointment over Germany’s apparent lack of appetite to host another grand prix.

Once a fixture of the F1 season, the German GP was dropped from the calendar in 2015, 2017 and 2021 and that looks set to be the case again next year.

Domenicali said he was surprised by the country’s declining interest.

“Very important. We have to make sure the traditional grands prix keep their place,” he said. “And believe me, I’m disappointed and also sad that we don’t have a German Grand Prix at the moment. But unfortunately, I don’t see any real interest from Germany in becoming part of the Formula 1 calendar again. That’s a shame and actually hard to believe. I hope this will change again in the future.

“We have so many requests from all over the world. We could easily race on 30 different circuits. And to see that nobody from Germany is ringing the bell is regrettable.”

Verstappen’s engine feedback the most insightful

Tuesday 4 January 2022 18:20 , Tom Kershaw

Honda hailed Max Verstappen’s feedback as the most insightful they’ve received after the manufacturer officially bowed out of F1.

Honda have supplied engines to Red Bull and AlphaTauri for the last three seasons and relied on feedback from drivers to gain every possible advantage in an effort to end Lewis Hamilton’s reign of dominance.

“It is not necessary to say anything about Max’s sporting achievements, they are unprecedented for us,” said Honda’s F1 chief executive, Masashi Yamamoto.

“But it’s not just about the sporting achievements, his feedback has also been very important for us.

“He is an extremely fast driver and the detailed feedback from someone of that calibre has accelerated our development. All four drivers provided valuable feedback, but especially Max.”

Masi decisions ‘completely ignored any common sense’

Tuesday 4 January 2022 17:50 , Tom Kershaw

Johannson also reserved fierce criticism for FIA race director Michael Masi’s decision-making in Abu Dhabi after Nicholas Latifi crashed out.

“The only way it should have been done was by doing what you’d normally do and indeed what he did in the race prior,” he said. “As soon as they deployed the safety car with five laps to go they should have red flagged the race.

“That’s the only way to keep it level and keep the excitement until the end. You would have had everyone come into the pits while they clear the track, put new tyres on and go from there like they did at the Saudi Grand Prix when Red Bull rebuilt half their car and put new tyres on.

“Had that been done you could have had a fair five-lap shootout for the championship. Making the decisions he did and then changing his mind completely at the very last moment absolutely handed the race on a plate to Max and Red Bull after Lewis had done a flawless race.

“This last race was just the culmination of a series of incredibly bad calls that somehow seem to have escalated as the year went on.”

Johansson: F1 risks becoming like WWE

Tuesday 4 January 2022 17:25 , Tom Kershaw

Stefan Johannson became the latest former F1 driver to deplore how the season-deciding race in Abu Dhabi unfolded. The Swede, who started 79 races in an 11-year career, wrote on his blog that the sport’s pursuit of drama had led it into a “dangerous territory”, where competitive integrity is being sacrificed for the sake of entertainment.

“They both drove at such a high level and both their teams operated at equally high levels, and it would have been such an incredible ending to the year to have it decided fair and square on the racetrack.

“Instead, we now have this endless controversy and polarization. I’m sure the folks at Liberty are not complaining as this has lifted F1 to a whole new level in terms of people following.

“But, if this is the direction it will continue, where the entertainment comes before the sport, I think we’re getting into a very dangerous territory, I would hate to see F1 turning into the Motorsports version of the WWF [now known as WWE], where it’s just a show and the sport is secondary to the entertainment.

“The Netflix show has obviously helped lift the profile of F1 immensely, especially in the US. I know how many of the teams and drivers feel about it, but you still can’t deny the impact it’s had. Personally, I had to tune out after 15 minutes.

“I think it’s important to find a good balance going forward, I appreciate social media and marketing from every possible angle is important, but I would hate to see the drivers turning into some sort of comedians and clowns rather than brave young men doing their thing on Sunday afternoons.”

Ricciardo was a ‘slight disappointment’

Tuesday 4 January 2022 16:50 , Tom Kershaw

Former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne said he was delighted to see Daniel Ricciardo take victory at Monza in 2021, but admitted he was still slightly disappointed by the Australian’s overall performance.

Ricciardo, who was expected to take supremacy at McLaren last season, ultimately finished 45 points behind his teammate Lando Norris in the drivers’ championship.

“If I have to point to one small disappointment about the season, I would almost say Daniel Ricciardo,” Vandoorne said.

“It’s true that he won at Monza, but in general he was a little bit behind Lando Norris, whereas he is usually the leader in the teams he drives for.

“If you take away his win in Italy, 2021 is a bit of a difficult season for Daniel.”

Vandoorne did also reserve praise for the performance of Norris, too.

“This year Norris did a very good job,” he said. “He was sometimes unlucky at the end of the season when he lost a lot of points in the last races. But without that, he should have finished fifth in the championship.”

Button understands Honda’s decision to leave F1

Tuesday 4 January 2022 16:27 , Tom Kershaw

Jenson Button says he can understand Honda’s decision to leave F1, having had an insight into the money the manufacturer has spent in order to power Red Bull to glory.

Honda will maintain links with Red Bull until 2025 but officially left Formula One at the culmination of the 2021 season after seeing Max Verstappen reach the sport’s pinnacle with a maiden world title.

“They are so passionate about their racing, and it’s a shame to see them leaving again,” Button said. “But I kind of have an idea of how much they are spending, and it’s a lot of money, so I kind of get why they want to leave. It’s time.

“But they’ve had a fantastic year in the sport and it’s lovely for them, because it’s not been the easiest ride for them on this journey.”

Stewart says F1 finale was ‘pure, not Hollywood’

Tuesday 4 January 2022 15:59 , Tom Kershaw

Sir Jackie Stewart has defended the dramatic end to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and claimed that race director Michael Masi made the correct decision by allowing some cars to unlap themselves, making way for a final lap shootout between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

“I think it was handled in the right way. It was done correctly, there was no film business in this,” Stewart said.

“This was not Hollywood, this was pure and the public enjoy that authenticity. Never in the history of the sport has there been such a lock.”

Stewart, who also added that there had been no reason for a red flag, which would have allowed Hamilton to switch to softer tyres, believes that the 2021 season will go down as one of the greatest in the sport’s history.

“No, absolutely never in my life,” he said if he remembered another that was comparable. “Never in the history of Formula 1 has there been such a denouement as this year. This was extraordinarily special. It has been a great year anyway with two teams pushing each other to the limit.

“This year has been a great success and Max Verstappen has also performed exceptionally as an individual. Lewis Hamilton will be extremely disappointed, but he shouldn’t be at all. He too has completed a great season.”

Ferrari to ask drivers not to push limits

Tuesday 4 January 2022 15:40 , Tom Kershaw

Ferrari have instructed their drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, not to push the limits too far in the 2022 season in order to keep crash costs down and preserve the team’s development budget.

With brand new cars being brought in to comply with the 2022 season’s new regulations, the Ferrari team will need to be continuously developing the car while complying with a reduced $140m budget.

In the 2021 season, in which Ferrari finished third in the constructors’ championship, there wasn’t such a need to constantly be tweaking the car and so Leclerc and Sainz had been given more licence to take risks.

“We encouraged our drivers to push the limits because the competition between them helps us,” said Ferrari principal Laurent Mekies.

“Last year there was relatively little development on the car. We were better able to live with accidents in terms of the budget. That will be different in 2022. We need all the money for the development of the car.

“There is less money available for in-season development because the overall budget has shrunk. We will see more upgrades than in the 2021 season, but less than in 2018 or 2019.”

Horner: F1 fans will forget Abu Dhabi controversy

Tuesday 4 January 2022 14:53 , Tom Kershaw

Red Bull boss Christian Horner is adamant that the controversy that shrouded the season-deciding race in Abu Dhabi will not taint Max Verstappen’s deserved maiden world championship.

“People in this business have such very short memories,” said Horner. “We’ve even forgotten what happened [earlier in the year]. It was such a long racing season.

“Max is absolutely a deserving world champion. When you look at the championship as a whole, of course, the events in Abu Dhabi drew an awful lot of comment but that happens in sport.

“We had a lot of bad luck last year, we got fortunate with a Safety Car, we made the right strategic calls, great strategy, great teamwork and great execution by Max, and we won the race.

“Time will move on. Max is a very deserving world champion, we are incredibly proud of that, and the history books will always show he is the 2021 world champion.”

Albon believes Verstappen win was ‘karma’

Tuesday 4 January 2022 14:38 , Tom Kershaw

Although many have deplored the farcical final lap finish in Abu Dhabi, Alex Albon leapt to the defence of Max Verstappen, insisting that the Dutch driver had been on the wrong end of several contentious decisions throughout the 2021 season.

“I understand both sides of the story, but I have to say I’m a bit of a believer. I feel many decisions or moments this year have gone against Max,” the Red Bull reserve driver said.

“Just look at Silverstone, Hungary, Jeddah and even the first lap in Abu Dhabi. So yes, we were incredibly lucky at the last minute, but at the same time I think we earned that luck.

“Nothing against Lewis and Mercedes, but in a way we got the karma we deserved as a team that Sunday. That’s how most things balance out over a season.”

Sainz reveals his favourite rivals to race against

Tuesday 4 January 2022 14:19 , Tom Kershaw

Carlos Sainz enjoyed a terrific season at Ferrari, eventually finishing ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, and has named his favourite rivals to battle against on the track.

“I just enjoy battling guys like Charles, Lando and George when he will get the Mercedes next year,” said the Spaniard.

“It’s a generation of drivers that, even if I am not exactly the age they are, I just enjoy fighting with them. I think they are on a very good level, but in a way they also manage to keep it clean on track and put together good battles.

“This year, if you look at the midfield and the way we have managed to behave ourselves and race, it’s been really positive.

“Let’s see next year if we are all fighting for higher stakes if we can keep it that way, because personally I enjoy it a lot. But I feel capable of fighting anyone, for sure.”

Rosberg felt ‘incredible pain’ after Hamilton loss

Tuesday 4 January 2022 13:59 , Tom Kershaw

Nico Rosberg said his allegiance to Mercedes meant he was left with an “incredible pain” after seeing Lewis Hamilton denied a record-breaking eighth world championship.

“I felt pain, incredible pain. I don’t have anything to do with Mercedes now, but of course it’s my family from before, and an incredible pain,” he said.

“They were 99% sure they were going to win the world championship until there were three laps to go. After losing it, and losing it in a fight like that, where they couldn’t do anything because the tyres had 50 laps on them…unbelievable pain.

“It’s a shame it ended up like that with a bit of a strange decision by the FIA.”

Verstappen: Defeat would not have made me work harder

Tuesday 4 January 2022 13:43 , Tom Kershaw

Verstappen was also asked if he expected Mercedes to be like a “wounded animal” in the title fight next season.

However, the Dutchman insisted that regardless of the result of the championship, he expects that both Mercedes and Red Bull were already giving their absolute utmost to beat one another.

“A wounded bull is still very strong! But luckily, I’m not wounded,” he said.

“I don’t work like that, because then you have the wrong attitude in general. If that will make you work harder, then you’re not working hard enough before that. We, as a team, I think are always working hard – it doesn’t matter if you lose or win.

“I don’t know how they (Mercedes) work. At least I know from my experience that if I lose, it would not make me work harder because I work the same already, if I am winning or not winning.”

Verstappen hopes for more title rivals in 2022

Tuesday 4 January 2022 13:26 , Tom Kershaw

Max Verstappen hopes that other young drivers will break through in 2022 and duel with him and Lewis Hamilton for the F1 title.

“Lewis is 36 now, so maybe there are a few more years for him, hopefully a few more years for me after that,” said Verstappen. “I hope, of course, he will stay in the sport a bit longer and we can have more of these battles.

“But I also hope other young guys – because hopefully with the new rules more teams will be more competitive – that we all have that fight against him as well. He’s a seven-time world champion and it has been a pleasure to race against him this year especially.”

Bottas feels ‘unbeatable’ on his best days

Tuesday 4 January 2022 13:13 , Tom Kershaw

Bottas himself has insisted he feels “unbeatable” on his best days, despite struggling to challenge Lewis Hamilton during his time at Mercedes.

“I honestly feel like on my best days, whether it’s a race or qualifying, I’m unbeatable. But unfortunately, I don’t always have the best days,” Bottas told The Race. “No-one has!

“I can’t say I exceeded any of my expectations. I have pretty high expectations for myself, personally. Maybe a bit too high.

“I can’t say I exceeded anything. Where I feel like I failed, obviously I didn’t manage to win the Drivers’ Championship. But it wasn’t simple alongside Lewis. He always got the upper hand.

“I feel like the ones who know about the sport and who follow the sport, they definitely acknowledge I can be pretty fast on my day.

“The baseline level as a driver like Lewis is so high that it’s quite tricky to outperform him all the time.”

Vettel: Bottas can revel in central role at Alfa Romeo

Tuesday 4 January 2022 12:58 , Tom Kershaw

Sebastian Vettel said it was “a shame” to see Valtteri Bottas leave Mercedes – but believes the Finn can revel in being the main man at Alfa Romeo.

George Williams will succeed Bottas at Mercedes next season while Bottas will partner rookie Guanyu Zhou.

“Somehow I think it’s a shame that he has to leave Mercedes,” Vettel said. “But maybe the new regulations for the Swiss team in 2022 will suit him, so that things will finally be more balanced in the field and he will have more chances.

“Valtteri is one of the most straightforward and honest drivers. And above all, Bottas is also one of the fastest drivers in the field.”

“I’m happy that he can play a much more central role there than before. Bottas certainly didn’t always have it easy in the five years alongside Hamilton. But I’m also sure that he was always treated fairly at Mercedes.”

Latifi defends gap to Russell

Tuesday 4 January 2022 12:45 , Tom Kershaw

Nicholas Latifi has defended the distance between his and George Russell’s performances at Williams last season, suggesting the gap was not always as large as it seemed.

Russell routinely outperformed Latifi both in qualifying and on race days throughout the season, but while the Canadian admitted Lewis Hamilton’s new teammate is one of the best drivers on the track, he insisted the difference was exaggerated by narrowly missing out on Q2.

“Sometimes in my situation, it was frustrating to find myself out of Q2 by a very small margin, sometimes I was really close to George. Then of course he would improve his time in Q2, and at the end of the race his Q2 time would often be compared to my Q1 time, making it seem like a huge gap.

“But it always comforted me to know that the team had the picture of everything, and obviously I was very happy to see that before the summer break things improved, and continued in the right direction afterwards.

“I know I had one of the fastest drivers on the grid as a teammate, I think that will be even more clear to everyone next season.”

Gasly sympathises with Tsunoda’s struggles

Tuesday 4 January 2022 12:28 , Tom Kershaw

Pierre Gasly has sympathised with the struggles of his AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda after a difficult season for the young Japanese driver.

Tsunoda finished with just 32 points in comparison to Gasly’s 110, and only managed to outperform his teammate once in qualifying all season.

“It’s difficult because it takes so much energy focusing on your own thing,” Gasly said. “I think listening from what Yuki says, he learned quite a lot from looking at the data, seeing the way I work with the team, and just seeing my approach.

“I think he probably didn’t expect to struggle that much, from what he says, coming into Formula 1. The level in F1 at the moment in the midfield, it’s really hard.

“A four-time World Champion driving for Aston Martin (Vettel) with a double World Champion driving for Alpine [Alonso], very strong line-up at Ferrari, very strong line-up at McLaren, even Kimi, a champion at Alfa Romeo.

“The level is really high and probably higher than even the last couple of years. For sure, as a rookie coming in was not easy.”

Leclerc ‘very much’ pushed by Sainz

Tuesday 4 January 2022 12:10 , Tom Kershaw

Charles Leclerc has hailed the influence of his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, with the 24-year-old admitting he felt “pushed very, very much” as the pair jousted throughout the 2021 season.

Sainz eventually finished the season five points ahead of Leclerc, despite the predictions of many that the Monégasque would be the dominant driver out of the Ferrari pairing.

“We learned a lot,” Leclerc said. “As always when you have a new team-mate you always learn, [such as] the new ways Carlos is approaching race weekends, the way he works, his talent, his raw speed also, the way he takes the corners.

“He had an amazing year, so he obviously pushed me very, very much to try and perform better at every race and it’s just been extremely interesting.”

“I think maybe one of the strong points of Carlos is the race management and tyre management, and that was probably my weakness in 2019.

“I progressed a lot as a driver in 2020 and again last year, and part of last year was thanks to Carlos.”

Masi decisions ‘completely ignored any common sense’

Tuesday 4 January 2022 11:55 , Tom Kershaw

Johannson also reserved fierce criticism for FIA race director Michael Masi’s decision-making in Abu Dhabi after Nicholas Latifi crashed out.

“The only way it should have been done was by doing what you’d normally do and indeed what he did in the race prior,” he said. “As soon as they deployed the safety car with five laps to go they should have red flagged the race.

“That’s the only way to keep it level and keep the excitement until the end. You would have had everyone come into the pits while they clear the track, put new tyres on and go from there like they did at the Saudi Grand Prix when Red Bull rebuilt half their car and put new tyres on.

“Had that been done you could have had a fair five-lap shootout for the championship. Making the decisions he did and then changing his mind completely at the very last moment absolutely handed the race on a plate to Max and Red Bull after Lewis had done a flawless race.

“This last race was just the culmination of a series of incredibly bad calls that somehow seem to have escalated as the year went on.”

Johansson: F1 risks becoming like WWE

Tuesday 4 January 2022 11:43 , Tom Kershaw

Stefan Johannson has become the latest former F1 driver to deplore how the season-deciding race in Abu Dhabi unfolded. The Swede, who started 79 races in an 11-year career, wrote on his blog that the sport’s pursuit of drama had led it into a “dangerous territory”, where competitive integrity is being sacrificed for the sake of entertainment.

“They both drove at such a high level and both their teams operated at equally high levels, and it would have been such an incredible ending to the year to have it decided fair and square on the racetrack.

“Instead, we now have this endless controversy and polarization. I’m sure the folks at Liberty are not complaining as this has lifted F1 to a whole new level in terms of people following.

“But, if this is the direction it will continue, where the entertainment comes before the sport, I think we’re getting into a very dangerous territory, I would hate to see F1 turning into the Motorsports version of the WWF [now known as WWE], where it’s just a show and the sport is secondary to the entertainment.

“The Netflix show has obviously helped lift the profile of F1 immensely, especially in the US. I know how many of the teams and drivers feel about it, but you still can’t deny the impact it’s had. Personally, I had to tune out after 15 minutes.

“I think it’s important to find a good balance going forward, I appreciate social media and marketing from every possible angle is important, but I would hate to see the drivers turning into some sort of comedians and clowns rather than brave young men doing their thing on Sunday afternoons.”

Hamilton not responding to messages, reveals FIA president

Tuesday 4 January 2022 11:36 , Tom Kershaw

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of all the latest news from the world of Formula One.

Although the dust has now settled on Max Verstappen’s dramatic and highly controversial victory over Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, the ill-feeling continues to linger. The FIA’s new president, Mohammed bin Sulayem, revealed that the seven-time world champion was not responding to messages after the governing body threatened to penalise the Briton for failing to attend F1’s prize-giving gala.

“I’ve sent him messages,” Bin Sulayem said. “I don’t think he’s 100 per cent ready to respond right now. We don’t blame him. I understand his position, as a driver, obviously, he is at a different level.

“But there are also rules. As you read in the press, the new president is going to sanction; of course they [the media] spice things up a lot with what is important for others.

“But for me it’s not particularly related to a certain driver or a certain team. It’s general. There are rules we have to respect, and we have to respect the integrity of the FIA. And I can’t judge anyone until I know the exact facts.

“In fact, my first objective is to go through the whole Abu Dhabi file.

“I think of course by not being at the gala, it’s something that Lewis and his team knew. But at the end of the day, we’re human too. There was stress and pressure.”