Wednesday, 19 Jan, 2022

Lewis Hamilton future unclear as Valtteri Bottas reveals Mercedes issue

Lewis Hamilton’s future remains unclear with the seven-time world champion remaining off the grid for the time being after a bitter ending to the..


Lewis Hamilton future unclear as Valtteri Bottas reveals Mercedes issue

Lewis Hamilton’s future remains unclear with the seven-time world champion remaining off the grid for the time being after a bitter ending to the 2021 season for the Briton and Mercedes as Max Verstappen snatched the title from their grasp in a thrilling final lap in Abu Dhabi.

There is plenty of speculation and news surrounding the new season with new rules and regulations introduced to bring greater variety, while the manner of the finale last season has ensured discussions remain ongoing between Mercedes, Toto Wolff and the FIA, with Michael Masi’s decisions and performance scrutinised further. There is even a two-month wait for the results of the FIA’s inquiry into the highly controversial ending to the race, with Formula One’s governing body confirming their findings will be released on the eve of the opening weekend of the 2022 F1 season.

Away from Hamilton and Mercedes, there is a shuffle on the grid with plenty of drivers out of contract and more speculation surrounding who will emerge as part of a fresh-look team for the 2022 campaign. Sergio Perez did wonders for Verstappen’s title hopes with a fine drive in Abu Dhabi, but his future remains unclear with Red Bull. Elsewhere Carlos Sainz at Ferrari, Fernando Alonso at Alpine, Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri, Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin, Nicholas Latifi at Williams, Alex Albon at Williams, Guanyu Zhou at Alfa Romeo and Mick Schumacher at Haas all need to extend their contracts or secure a seat elsewhere.

Mercedes will need the FIA to mend their relationship with race director Michael Masi after withdrawing their appeals of the result in Abu Dhabi on the condition that the FIA would analyse the closing stages of the race, in order to “improve the robustness of the rules, governance and decision-making in Formula One”.

Meanwhile newly-elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been in touch with Hamilton as the governing body looks to regain the seven-time champion’s trust in the sport, but the results of the inquiry are said to be crucial in whether they are successful. Follow all the latest F1 news below:

Formula 1 news

  • Mercedes ‘confident’ Lewis Hamilton won’t retire
  • FIA outlines details of key Abu Dhabi Grand Prix inquiry
  • Hamilton ‘sabbatical year’ raised as possibility for 2022
  • Valtteri Bottas admits Hamilton’s ‘dominance’ a hindrance at Mercedes
  • Lando Norris opens up on racing at Monaco GP

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

14:00 , Jack Rathborn

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

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

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

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

F1 racing can be “very lonely”

13:48 , Thomas Schlachter

Daniel Ricciardo has discussed the impact of being away from friends and family whilst travelling the world during the F1 season.

Speaking to, Ricciardo said: “But as you know, you guys would feel it, we travel so much that you do miss loved ones. So having that kind of times 10 is tricky.

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

Read more here.

© Provided by The Independent
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

13:27 , Thomas Schlachter

Whether Lewis Hamilton will return to Formula 1 is still unclear, and his Mercedes Boss has weighed in on the conversation.

Toto Wolff said: “It would be an indictment for the whole of Formula 1 if the best driver decided to quit because of outrageous decisions,” in an interview with Krone.

“I really hope we will see him again. He is the most important part of our sport,”

Wolff has always remained confident that Lewis Hamilton will feature next season and, if he does, the Brit will be fighting for a record eighth world championship.

© Provided by The Independent
Will we get to see Lewis Hamilton back in a Mercedes next season? (Getty Images)

Alpine looking for 2024 championship?

13:14 , Thomas Schlachter

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi says Alpine will be looking to compete for wins and titles by the end of 2024.

Speaking to, Rossi said: “Formula 1 is about winning until the end of the next regulatory period.

“We want to win races and possibly the championship. And that’s until the end of 2024 or 2025, depending on when the regulatory period ends.”

The Alpine CEO has taken inspiration from other teams who have competed for championships in recent years.

“We saw at Mercedes and Red Bull that it took them a good four or five years to create the team they wanted. So that’s the timeline we’re on.”

© Provided by The Independent
Ocon celebrating his Hungary victory (Getty Images)

New Team Principal at Aston Martin

12:55 , Thomas Schlachter

Aston Martin have a new man in charge.

Mike Krack, former BMW motorsport head, has been announced as the new Team Principal taking over from Otmar Szafnauer.

“It is a thrill and an honour to have been appointed to the position of Team Principal of Aston Martin,” said Krack.

“Aston Martin is one of the greatest automotive brands in the world, and to have been asked to play a leading role in delivering the on-track Formula One success that such an illustrious name so richly deserves is a challenge that I plan to embrace with energy and enthusiasm.”

Mike Krack has been appointed Team Principal at @AstonMartinF1 #F1

— Formula 1 (@F1) January 14, 2022

George Russell “has more to learn.”

12:35 , Thomas Schlachter

Williams’ head of vehicle performance has said: “There is no doubt [George Russell] still has more to learn.”

When speaking to Dave Robson went on to say that this is “because working at Mercedes is a different story than with us”

However, Robson backs the 23-year-old for great success with his new team.

“His work ethic and the way he brings the team together, along with his skills and his confidence in making decisions, those are the real key factors.”

Russell will be racing alongside fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton, if the 7-time winner returns to action.

© Provided by The Independent
George Russell (left) will be racing alongside Lewis Hamilton next season (AFP via Getty Images)

12:14 , Thomas Schlachter

Damon Hill went on to speak about the decisions that race director Michael Masi made at the conclusion of the race, again on Sky Sports.

“I think in some sense it was [the race] manipulated because I think that race director Michael Masi was under pressure to allow this exciting, thrilling race to happen between the two drivers.”

Hill believes that Masi, “caved into pressure,” when managing the conclusion and allowed the straight shootout between Verstappen and Hamilton to take place as a result.

© Provided by The Independent
Max Verstappen (right) celebrating his F1 championship win (Getty Images)

Damon Hill has his say on F1 finale

12:00 , Thomas Schlachter

Damon Hill has also spoken on Sky Sports about the F1 season’s conclusion and like many he wasn’t happy with how it ended.

Hill said that: “Ultimately the Lewis Hamilton fans feel very aggrieved. The way the decision went disadvantaged them and they felt robbed.”

Hill continued to say that the entire way the season ended was, “unsatisfactory.”

“But was it a satisfactory way of deciding a championship? You’d have to say it was unsatisfactory and I think it might even have been unfair.”

A “fresh start” for F1?

11:45 , Thomas Schlachter

Michael Masi’s position as race director has become “untenable,” and there could be changes made ahead of the upcoming F1 season.

Sky Sports’ Craig Slater has said: “There’s no question about it. Masi is under pressure”

“Is it the case now that his position is untenable? Would announcing his departure from the role of race director, perhaps, by the FIA at least signal a fresh start in that sense?”

The situation has now become a “headache” for the sport of Formula 1 and the debate is set to continue.

Read more here

© Provided by The Independent
Will Michael Masi be back for next season? (Getty Images)

“A great shame for Formula 1″

11:27 , Thomas Schlachter

Martin Brundle has reflected on the controversial end to the F1 season and says, “mistakes were made,” when speaking on Sky Sports.

“It was a great shame for Formula 1, we had all eyes on us and then it was clumsy, it confused people and it upset the fans.”

However, he also hit back at those who have questioned the legitimacy of the race director, Michael Masi, and those who believe there was something underhand about the conclusion.

“I do not believe, knowing the people, that there was malice involved from race control.”

McLaren’s “very successful year”

11:17 , Thomas Schlachter

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren’s F1 team, has said that despite finishing fourth this year the team were still able to have “a very successful year.”

Brown was speaking at an end-of-year roundtable and outlined the goals that were set for the last season, Brown said: “This year we wanted to close the gap to the front, and we’ve done that.”

“We’ve scored more points per race than we did last year, we had more podiums than last year, we got our great 1-2 at Monza, we had our pole in Russia.”

Brown will be hoping the success continues into next season and McLaren can continue to make great strides forward.

© Provided by The Independent
McLaren celebrating their 1-2 at Monza (Getty Images)

Alpine part company with executive director Marcin Budkowski

10:59 , Jack Rathborn

Alpine has parted company with executive director Marcin Budkowski.

After joining the team in 2017, when it was known as Renault, following a decade with the FIA and McLaren.

Alpine’s managerial structure has three pillars, including Budkowski, meaning CEO Laurent Rossi will step up for the time being while a replacement is found.

Rossi said: “I would like to thank Marcin for his commitment and contribution to the team’s results over the last four years.

“The team is fully focused on getting the car ready for the first race in Bahrain and deliver a step beyond in performance.”

While Budkowski added: “I truly enjoyed being part of the leadership team of Renault then Alpine F1 Team, working with such a talented and dedicated group of people.

“I will be watching the team’s progress fondly in the seasons to come.”

Ocon’s win only good enough for bronze

10:53 , Thomas Schlachter

Esteban Ocon’s win in Hungary was only his team’s third-best moment of the season according to Alpine boss.

When speaking to the Alpine Chief Executive, Laurent Rossi said: “it’s surprising for everyone, it wasn’t as much as the 19 points we scored for the podium and fifth place in Qatar, or the strong finish with Esteban’s fourth place in Saudi Arabia.”

You can read more on this here

© Provided by The Independent
Ocon celebrating his Hungary victory (Getty Images)

McLaren won’t challenge for F1 title until 2024

10:46 , Jack Rathborn

McLaren CEO Zak Brown admits his team will not compete for F1 titles until 2024.

“I’m really happy with our people which is what is first and foremost important,” Brown said, according to GPFans, while assessing the current level of his team, which will have Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on the grid next season.

“As everyone knows, we had our challenges [in 2020] financially and those have all been resolved and now we are deploying our maximum resources to catch up on the technical infrastructure under the budget cap.

“The wind tunnel is under heavy construction as we speak. We’ve lots of investment so we’re financially very healthy so that is all behind us. Then, on track, we just want to continue each year until we have our infrastructure in place which, unfortunately, really won’t be until the ’24 season.

“It won’t be complete for another 18 months and of course, that is when you start developing the ’24 car and we will make the best with what we have, but it certainly won’t be until ’24 that we can say we have got everything we need.”

George Russell’s style is ‘between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button’

10:32 , Jack Rathborn

George Russell’s style has been described by Williams’ Dave Robson as “between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button”.

“A good question. I think Jenson and Lewis were quite different and in terms of driving style, George is also different,” Robson told

“He’s kind of in between the two. To a certain extent it’s about using the tyres and they’ve changed, so I don’t know what Lewis’ style is like these days.

“The most important thing is that George is able to adapt. He drives quite instinctively and I think he continues to improve. He has the talent.”

Martin Brundle calls for Michael Masi to receive more support

10:19 , Jack Rathborn

Martin Brundle believes Michael Masi needs support, not to be pushed out of Formula 1 altogether.

The race director attracted controversy after his impact on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but rather than banish him entirely, Brundle believes the workload requires a better support team.

“This is way too big of a job for one person to handle this in a 23-race season, it’s only going to grow,” said Brundle.

“Masi, if he stays, needs a lot of support around him and I suspect that is what they’re looking at at the moment.

“And who would actually want to step into his shoes right now?”

Aston Martin announce car launch date for 2022 season

10:07 , Jack Rathborn

Aston Martin have announced their car launch date for the 2022 F1 season.

The Silverstone-based outfit will reveal all on 10 February at its road car factory in Gaydon, where they produce their Aston Martin Lagonda.

The event to showcase the AMR22 will see Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll attend.

Aston Martin will hope for a much-improved season and begin testing on 23 February at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya before the season-opener in Bahrain on 20 March.

Valtteri Bottas pinpoints main difference between himself and Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

09:55 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas believes Lewis Hamilton’s “race pace and tyre management” are the biggest differences between their success at Mercedes.

“Many times he had to copy my setup for the qualifying last minute,” Valtteri Bottas told GPFans.

“Driving style-wise, tyre management is one of his big strengths, and in any condition and circumstances, he always finds a way, how to be able to extend a stint or the best way to efficiently keep the tyres in a good condition.

“That race pace and tyre management part has probably been the biggest difference between me and Lewis and consistency is what he’s had with those things.”

Martin Brundle warns ‘be careful what you wish for’ over Michael Masi future

09:43 , Jack Rathborn

Ex-F1 racer and pundit Martin Brundle claims there is no obvious successor to Michael Masi currently as the pressure mounts on the race director.

Brundle even warned Mercedes and Toto Wolff, who were furious after his intervention in Abu Dhabi, “to be careful what you wish for”.

“Who would you replace him with? Be careful what you wish for I would say in this,” Brundle said.

“And what I absolutely know for sure is that changing Michael Masi will not fix the problem.”

Johnny Herbert maintains Michael Masi has ‘done too much damage to F1’

09:33 , Jack Rathborn

Ex-F1 racer Johnny Herbert maintains race director Michael Masi has ‘done too much damage’ to the series to remain in his role for 2022.

“In many respects…and in all respects, no,” Herbert told Sky Sports when discussing if he could survive the controversy in Abu Dhabi. “Because I think he has done too much damage to Formula 1 and I think because of the position that he’s in, we have got to have trust.

“And I think that trust has completely and utterly evaporated. “The problem is, is who do you replace him with? Because obviously experience is going to be very, very important for the man who slots into that position,” said Herbert.

“Michael was very fortunate, he was sort of underneath Charlie Whiting [former F1 race director] when Charlie was the head of it and he learnt a lot of good things from that point of view.

“Is there anybody that sort of stands out for me at the moment to replace him? No. And that is the conundrum.”

Toto Wolff set for crunch talks with new FIA president

09:10 , Jack Rathborn

Toto Wolff is set for crunch talks with new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

After succeeding Jean Todt as FIA president, Ben Sulayem will speak with Wolff on Friday, according to GPFans.

The fallout from Abu Dhabi will be top of the agenda, though the investigation’s findings will not be released until 18 March (the day of free practice for the 2022 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix).

Valtteri Bottas claims Lewis Hamilton dominance a hindrance at Mercedes

08:52 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas claims Lewis Hamilton’s dominance was a hindrance to him at Mercedes.

The Finn was praised for his role in helping Mercedes land all five constructors’ titles during his tenure with his impressive teamwork and performances.

But Bottas has now revealed what he learned with the Silver Arrows ahead of a lead role at Alfa Romeo.

“I’ve been in a position that I’ve got to know Lewis pretty well as a human being as well, not just as a Formula 1 champion, and learned that he fully deserves everything he’s achieved,” he told GPFans. “He’s got the talent, but then he puts that into good use and he works really hard.

“Obviously, his lifestyle is also different in a way that, he might be in New York just a day before the race weekend, whatever, doing other things. But when he is in his working mode and in this Formula 1 mode, he’s never leaving any stone unturned and he’s always pushing the team a lot.

“I feel like in the last few years, he’s been more in a lead role, and for me, it’s been quite difficult to try and take a lead role, because he’s been, obviously, here before and he’s pretty dominant in the way he works with a team. Also, setting up the car for sure, I’ve learned a few things, but also many [other] things.”

Lando Norris lifts lid on what it’s like to race at Monaco GP

08:41 , Jack Rathborn

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

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

What’s it like to drive an F1 car around the streets of Monaco? @LandoNorris tells us 🇲🇨 #LogitechGChallenge #ad

— WTF1 (@wtf1official) January 12, 2022

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

08:33 , Jack Rathborn

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

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

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

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

Hamilton ‘sabbatical year’ raised as possibility for 2022

08:27 , Jack Rathborn

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

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

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

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

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

FIA outlines details on Abu Dhabi Grand Prix inquiry

08:23 , Jack Rathborn

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

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

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

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

FIA Statement #F1

— FIA (@fia) January 13, 2022

Mercedes ‘confident’ Lewis Hamilton won’t retire

08:22 , Jack Rathborn

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

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

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

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

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

08:21 , Jack Rathborn

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

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

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

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