F1 news, standings and more ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
It’s practice Friday, as the most exciting Formula 1 season in years nears its finale, with the Red Bull star able to knock off his Mercedes rival as early as this weekend, though everybody expects the seven-time world champion to at least survive until Abu Dhabi, if not take another chunk into the Belgian-Dutch driver’s lead, which currently stands at a slender eight points.
While there will be many thrills and spills left in the Drivers’ Championship, there is sure to be drama, too, in the Constructors’ Championship. This will emphasise the drives of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, who both have pivotal roles to play in our their teammates negotiate the final two races of the season.
In terms of track dynamic, there will be long straights at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit this weekend, which ought to favour Mercedes as they gun for a one-two finish. But if Hamilton was to win and collect the bonus point for fastest lap, with Verstappen finishing second, it would create the extraordinary scenario of both drivers having 269.5 points going into the final Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.
Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner have been involved in back-and-forth encounters too, drawing amusement from some and disdain from others, as the fight goes on for the constructor championship as well as the drivers’ title. Elsewhere outside the big two, Fernando Alonso’s podium finish, the changing team line-ups for next year and even the additions of rules such as sprint qualifying have all been big talking points in Formula One recently.
Here’s all the latest F1 news and reaction as the build-up to Saudi Arabia continues:
Red Bull hint at engine change for Max Verstappen as F1 season reaches final two races
The Dutchman leads defending champion Lewis Hamilton by eight points with two races left this season, with the Briton having served two engine-related grid penalties this year, while Verstappen is still on his third engine – the permitted amount.
But, with Hamilton closing in, the 24-year-old might be forced to change engines before the year is over, receiving a five-place grid penalty if he is to do so.
The Dutchman leads defending champion Lewis Hamilton by eight points with two races left this year
Max Verstappen primed for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice schedule
1pm – F1 Practice One Live (session starts 1.30pm)
3.15pm – F2 Qualifying Live
4.45pm – F1 Practice Two Live (session starts 5pm)
Bernie Ecclestone questions whether Lewis Hamilton’s ‘luck will run out’ in F1 title race
The 36-year-old Brit, who is trying to win a record-breaking eighth title, has won the last two Grands Prix in Brazil and Qatar to reduce the gap between himself and Max Verstappen to just eight points.
But Ecclestone, who also feels a new world champion could be good for the sport, questions whether Hamilton’s good fortune may be about to come to an end.
Bernie Ecclestone ‘surprised’ Lewis Hamilton wants to beat Michael Schumacher title record
The Mercedes driver is battling with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for this season’s title, which would elevate the Briton above the legendary German to eight titles.
And the former F1 supremo maintains such a feat would not instantly confirm his status as the greatest driver in the sport’s history.
“No, not at all,” Ecclestone told RTL when discussing whether Hamilton would be remembered as the greatest if he secured the record for most world titles by himself.
“In fact, I’m surprised Lewis didn’t say at the beginning of the year, ‘I’m stepping down, I don’t want to win more races or World Championships than Michael’.”
The Mercedes driver can surpass the legendary German to eight F1 world titles if he beats out Max Verstappen this season
Charles Leclerc analyses Ferrari’s hopes for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
“On paper it looks like it’s not going to be one of our best tracks because obviously very long straights and a very high-speed track, but on the other hand it’s a city track so anything can happen,” Charles Leclerc said of Ferrari’s hopes in Jeddah.
“Hopefully as drivers we can make the difference and yes, I am just really looking forward to tomorrow to try this track for the first time.”
Carlos Sainz on Ferrari battle with McLaren for P3
“We need to outscore them by four or five points, I think, this weekend, which, looking at recent results might seem like a likely scenario. But we need to remind ourselves that McLaren have been in the fight in every race that we’ve outscored them,” Carlos Sainz says when discussing Ferrari’s battle with McLaren to claim P3 – the Scuderia are 39.5 points and need five more points than their rivals to wrap up bronze on the F1 season.
“It’s not like we were on an easy route to outscore them before their trouble in the last three races, so it’s been really tight still; we’ve just managed to make less mistakes, put everything together with both cars and outscore them.
“But I feel like here they might have the faster car and they will bring the fight down to Abu Dhabi, probably.”
Lando Norris: ‘No more Mr Nice Guy!’
“We’re still at the point with George and myself and Alex and Charles [where] there’s a lot of compliments and we get along and we chat,” Lando Norris said. “But things always change when you become competitive against each other.
“We’re still in a friendly phase because we never raced each other.
“But if all of sudden we go into next year and in the middle of the championship it’s me and Max and Lewis, I don’t think there will be as much Mr Nice Guy. That’s just the way it works.”
Mercedes F1 urged to rethink deal with insulation firm linked to Grenfell Tower fire
Mercedes F1 have been urged to rethink deal with insulation firm linked to Grenfell Tower fire.
The F1 team have penned a deal with Kingspan, who made some of the insulation used in the cladding of the building.
And the deal has been described as “truly shocking” by Grenfell survivors.
Michael Gove said he was “deeply disappointed”, though Kingspan said it played no role in the design of the cladding.
“This news has shattered us,” a statement from Grenfell United, a group of survivors and bereaved families from the fire, said.
The group also urged Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, led by Lewis Hamilton, “to immediately sever your relationship” with the company.
Toto Wolff confirms Lewis Hamilton will have ‘spicy’ engine again at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
“Saudi should be a good track for us but we know that this year when you think it is a good one, it can turn the other way around,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“But there is a long straight, we will get our spicy equipment, engine, out for Saudi Arabia that we didn’t use [in Qatar] and hopefully Valtteri is right up there.
“We need him but, in any case, if everybody finishes the race it is going to go to Abu Dhabi.”