F1 news, standings and more ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
It’s the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend as the Formula 1 season reaches its exciting climax in the penultimate race in the calendar, med Lewis Hamilton og Max Verstappen battling it out in Jeddah for the Drivers’ Championship – and you can follow all the latest news and updates from around the world. The Belgian-Dutch driver has an eight point advantage, while Mercedes are just five points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors’ standings, which is also fascinating as Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez play crucial roles as the No 2 drivers for both teams. And while this Sunday will be pivotal, the drama could stretch to Abu Dhabi in the final weekend.
The long straights of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit are expected to favour Mercedes and they will be trying to plot 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 Formel en recently.
Here’s all the latest F1 news and reaction as the build-up to Saudi Arabia continues:
Red Bull principal Christian Horner lauds Max Verstappen ‘maturity’
‘‘Make no mistake, fighting for your first F1 title is an intense moment in your racing career, but the maturity Max has shown throughout the campaign has been extremely impressive,’’ Christian Horner says in his Red Bull column.
‘’He’s relaxed and dealing with the pressure incredibly well, I think he is driving better than ever. A good example of this was during the race in Qatar, when he did not feel we could catch Lewis, but commented over the that radio he ‘wanted to have some fun’.
“Max is plain-speaking and he calls it how he sees it. He doesn’t work with a sports psychologist; it is just how he copes with it.”
Max Verstappen could follow Lewis Hamilton and change engine in Abu Dhabi
‘An engine change is currently not planned for Saudi Arabia. If there will be an engine change, it will be in Abu Dhabi,” Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told F1-insider.com.
That would be incredible drama for the finale in Abu Dhabi, given the incurred five-place grid penalty.
It could serve as a distraction to Mercedes, though it would also complicate Max Verstappen’s race strategy.
But Red Bull will explore every possibility, including Honda assisting with a fresh engine to seal the title.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen duel likened to Senna vs Prost
“This battle is brilliant for Formula 1,” former F1 driver Anthony Davidson told Sky Sports, discussing the similarities between this rivalry and the iconic battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
Those battles defined F1 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with iconic seasons in 1989 og 1990 eventually decided by chaotic penultimate-round collisions in Japan.
“For anyone who missed out on being too young in the Senna and Prost era, det var det. This is what you missed out on.
“It’s happening right again, history repeating itself.”
Valtteri Bottas and George Russell open up after ‘surprise’ at late punctures at Qatar Grand Prix
The Qatar Grand Prix delivered late drama with three punctures in the inaugural race, which prompted each driver to admit they were surprised as they had “no warning”.
Valtteri Bottas, who was denied a probable podium chance, sa: “It was without any vibration before without any loss of grip, so it was quite strange.”
“We knew we were pushing it to the limit, but there was no vibration and we felt comfortable. That was the best opportunity for us to get to the podium and I think if we stopped one or two laps later we would have got it.”
While Toto Wolff added: “Valtteri’s puncture came out of nowhere. We tried to reconstruct it, and there was literally no indication… just a tiny vibration, never enough to pit a car.”
The Williams suffered badly with both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi going down on back-to-back laps.
“It’s something that the team spoke about prior to the race, that from within the car it might feel fine but it could just go at any point,” said Russell. “It was a bit of a surprise, but we were never really in the fight for anything meaningful.”
While Latifi added: “To be honest there was no warning, and that was the confusing part for me.
“A year ago in Silverstone you start to feel a massive vibration, but here – it was obviously a consideration – but once George’s tyre went I was like OK I feel fine, I don’t feel limited from that tyre. Then it went a lap later!”
Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman handed F1 test with Haas
Ferrari junior and Formula 2 frontrunner Robert Shwartzman has been confirmed to test Haas after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Shwartzman will feature as part of the young driver test on Tuesday, 14 December for a two-day post-season tyre test.
It will be more experience for Shwartzman who got behind the wheel of the Ferrari this year.
“This will be my first test with Haas F1 Team and I’m really looking forward to getting to know a new team, environment and also to learn as much as possible from them," han sa.
“Having the chance to drive for another F1 team is just incredible and I can’t wait to work with everyone.”
While Shwartzman will look forward to collaborating with Haas, his immediate priority is F2, where he is third in the standings with two races left.
“We’re looking forward to testing with Robert at Yas Marina in December,” added Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.
“He’s obviously highly rated by Ferrari – having been part of their driver program since the end of 2017.
“His ability is clearly in evidence when you look at his performances over the last few seasons – most notably his rookie campaign in Formula 2 last year – competing against the likes of our own two drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
“We are pleased to be able to give Robert an outing in a Formula 1 car and we look forward to working with him in Abu Dhabi.”
Mick Schumacher’s surname is a ‘burden’ in F1 career, Felipe Massa claims
Mick is the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, and has began his own Formula 1 journey with US team Haas. The team have struggled with performance and reliability all season, and have failed to pick up a single championship point.
Schumacher has not come under great scrutiny, partly due to the poor quality of his car and partly due to the erratic driving of his teammate, Nikita Mazepin.
“In general, the name Schumacher is a burden for Mick,” Massa told Die Welt. “It helps him to get sponsors and he gets a lot of support. But people expect things he can never fulfil. The pressure is extremely high.
Schumacher will remain at Haas next season
Spanish Grand Prix lands new deal to extend F1 relationship to 35 år
The Spanish Grand Prix’s future has been decided after recent speculation with a new long-term deal for the track in Barcelona.
The Circuit de Catalunya continues to be the home of the Spanish GP since 1991 and the new deal takes them up until 2026 i det minste.
Under the fresh terms, the track must be upgraded ahead of next year’s race in May.
“We are delighted to announce this deal with Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,” said F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali.
“I want to thank to promoter and the authorities for their enthusiasm and commitment to keeping Formula 1 in Barcelona, with improvements that will be made to the track and facilities, and continuing our long history together.
“The teams and drivers always look forward to racing at the circuit and visiting Barcelona, and the Spanish fans will continue to see their national heroes, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz up close.”
Alpine F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon attend Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris
Toto Wolff makes bold statement about Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Seven-time world champion Hamilton trails Red Bull rival Max Verstappen by eight points with just rounds of an enthralling see-saw battle to go.
The high-speed street circuit in Jeddah is expected to favour Hamilton’s machine over the race weekend with Wolff bullish about where the team are at in their preparations.
“The car has been performing well recently and is probably in the best place it has been all season, with the drivers confident to push it to the limit. That’s encouraging for the final races and gives us strong momentum to take forward," han sa.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton trails Red Bull rival Max Verstappen by eight points with just rounds of an enthralling see-saw battle to go
Nico Rosberg admits satisfaction at Lewis Hamilton success
Nico Rosberg admits he “very often” reflects on his intense 2016 title battle with Lewis Hamilton, with his sense of achievement greater in hindsight due to the Briton’s subsequent success.
And with the Mercedes star poised to hunt down Max Verstappen and claim an eighth world title, Rosberg’s success may look even better.
“Every time I see Lewis win, it becomes clearer why it wasn’t quite so easy for me to beat him,” Rosberg said.
Hamilton is aiming for a fifth successive title and a seventh in eight years, making Rosberg’s achievement to edge out the Briton even more impressive.