Follow all the latest F1 news and developments ahead of the 2022 season
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:
New Team Principal at Aston Martin
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.”
George Russell “has more to learn.”
Williams’ head of vehicle performance has said: “There is no doubt [George Russell] still has more to learn.”
When speaking to Motorsport.com 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.
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.
Damon Hill has his say on F1 finale
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?
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
“A great shame for Formula 1″
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”
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.
Alpine part company with executive director Marcin Budkowski
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
Esteban Ocon’s win in Hungary was only his team’s third-best moment of the season according to Alpine boss.
When speaking to Motorsport.com 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.”
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McLaren won’t challenge for F1 title until 2024
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.”