Verstappen Retains F1 World Championship After Dramatic Japan GP

Verstappen Max (ned) celebrates race victory and world championship on the podium in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Credit: Florent Gooden/AFP.

 

Max Verstappen said it was a “crazy feeling” to retain his Formula One world championship Sunday in dramatic fashion after winning a rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix and then seeing his nearest rival Charles Leclerc relegated to third by a five-second penalty.

The result gave Red Bull driver Verstappen an unassailable 113-point lead in the championship, making him only the third driver after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel to clinch the title with four races to spare.

Ferrari’s Leclerc crossed the line second in front of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, but he was hit with a penalty after squeezing Perez in the final chicane and being deemed to have gained an advantage by leaving the track.

READ ALSO: Italy To Face England In Euro 2024 Qualifying

Verstappen was only informed he had retained his title midway through the post-race TV interview, and even the driver himself was not sure if he had sealed the deal.

“It’s a crazy feeling of course as I didn’t expect it when I crossed the line,” said a surprised Verstappen.

“Was it going to be half points? I didn’t know how many points I was going to get. I was happy with the race we had.”

The race got off to a chaotic start in heavy rain.

Leclerc was quicker off the line than pole-sitter Verstappen, who admitted he made “a terrible start” before the Dutchman regained the lead with a brave overtake around the outside of turn one.

“It was very close but that’s what people like to see,” Verstappen said.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz spun out on the first lap and the Williams of Alex Albon broke down prompting a safety car.

A red flag soon followed and forced the drivers back to the pit lane for more than an hour before the action restarted at the second time of asking under a safety car rolling restart.

Verstappen resumed with a lead over Leclerc and Perez and extended it with ease once the safety car period ended and track conditions gradually improved.

 ‘Congratulations to Max’

“It was very difficult and they made the right call,” Verstappen said of the red flag.

“The first time they tried to restart it was not right. Once we got going it was fine.”

Verstappen took the chequered flag but there was a furious battle for seconds behind him, with Leclerc cutting across a corner while jostling for position with Perez.

Leclerc beat Perez to the line but later conceded that his penalty was “the right thing to do”.

“I don’t have much to say — I made a mistake and tried to minimise it,” said Leclerc, who led the championship early in the season.

“Huge congratulations to Max and Red Bull. Max has been incredible and it’s a title fully deserved.”

Verstappen has won 12 of 18 races in 2022 and thanked his team for an “incredible” year.

“The first (championship) is a little more emotional, the second one is beautiful,” he said.

“It’s been a special year, and you need to remind yourself as this kind of years you don’t have very often.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Verstappen had “grown” as a driver.

“Carrying that number one this year, he’s done it with a lot of pride,” he said.

French driver Pierre Gasly reacted furiously after passing a tractor on the track early in the race.

AlphaTauri’s Gasly said he could have been killed after encountering the vehicle, which was deployed to recover Sainz’s car.

It brought back painful memories of the tragic 2014 race at Suzuka when another French driver Jules Bianchi died after colliding with a recovery vehicle in poor conditions.

That prompted a review of the safety and the introduction of the “halo” cockpit head protection system for drivers.

AFP

Lewis Hamilton Racially Abused On Social Media Over Controversial British GP Win

Race winner Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates after the Formula One British Grand Prix motor race at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 18, 2021. LARS BARON / POOL / AFP
Race winner Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates after the Formula One British Grand Prix motor race at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 18, 2021. LARS BARON / POOL / AFP

 

Lewis Hamilton was the victim of “multiple instances of racist abuse on social media” during and after his controversial win in the British Grand Prix, according to a joint statement by Formula One, the FIA and his Mercedes team. 

The seven-time world champion was involved early on in an incident that saw championship leader Max Verstappen plough his Red Bull into a wall and out of the race.

Hamilton was hit by a 10 second penalty but went on to win the race and close the gap in the title race to just eight points.

“During, and after, yesterday’s British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was subjected to multiple instances of racist abuse on social media following an in-race collision,” they said in a joint statement condemning the behaviour “in the strongest possible terms”.

“These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.

“Formula 1, the FIA, the drivers and the teams are working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport, and such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated.”

Verstappen, who was taken to hospital for checks after the race, later accused Hamilton of “disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour”.

A public supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Hamilton gave his support a week ago to the England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho who were also abused after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

“I hope this opens a conversation around acceptance,” he wrote on Instagram at the time.

“We must work towards a society that doesn’t require Black players to prove their value or place in society only through victory.”

 

AFP

Verstappen Accuses Hamilton Of Disrespect After British Grand Prix Crash

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the sprint session of the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 17, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the sprint session of the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 17, 2021.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Lewis Hamilton was accused of being “dangerous and disrespectful” in reviving his Formula One title defence by winning the British Grand Prix on Sunday after a first lap crash that left championship leader Max Verstappen complaining he had been “taken out”.

Hamilton retorted after the race that he would “not be bullied”.

Roared on by a crowd of more than 140,000, Hamilton attempted to overtake Verstappen on Copse corner on the first lap.

Verstappen refused to yield. The two touched wheels and the Red Bull went careening off the track and into the barrier. Hamilton drove on with just a broken wheel rim.

“Glad I’m ok,” tweeted Verstappen from hospital. “Very disappointed with being taken out like this.”

His boss Cristian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, had already laid into Hamilton who won his home race for the eighth time.

“I hope Lewis is very happy with himself,” said Horner. “That’s a hollow victory.”

“Copse is one of the fastest corners in the world. You don’t stick a wheel up the inside. That’s just dirty driving.”

Hamilton said after the race that he had felt “a lot of anger after the shunt” and blamed Verstappen.

“I don’t feel he needs to be aggressive as he is,” he said. “I would never back down from anyone. I will not be bullied into being less aggressive.

“We needed the points. He left a gap and I went for it.”

Charles Leclerc grabbed the lead before racing was suspended while crews cleared away the Red Bull and Verstappen was taken to hospital for tests.

Verstappen was later discharged from hospital “following a thorough medical examination, without any major injuries,” said the team.

It was “a pretty impressive impact,” said Dr. Ian Roberts, Formula One’s medical rescue co-ordinator.

He said Verstappen was “a little winded to say the least” but added there were “no injuries apparent at the moment”.

Stewards imposed a 10 second-penalty, the second lightest punishment available to them, on Hamilton who was still able to chase down Leclerc.

“The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track,” said Verstappen’s tweet. “Watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour but we move on.”

Hamilton’s win ended Red Bull’s streak of five straight victories to cut Verstappen’s lead in the championship to eight points.

Monegasque Leclerc was second, 3.81sec back to revive Ferrari’s season.

The second Mercedes, driven by Finn Valtteri Bottas, who had allowed Hamilton to pass after the penalty, was third, ahead of the McLarens of Briton Lando Norris and Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

It was a bad afternoon for Red Bull with Sergio Perez finishing 16th and outside the points to drop from third to fifth in the standings.

‘It looked desperate’

Horner focused his frustration on Hamilton.

“I don’t care what Lewis said. That’s a hollow victory.”

“It shouldn’t be like that. Max has incurred a 51g accident. Lewis is a seven-time world champion. He shouldn’t be making manoeuvres like that, It’s unacceptable,” Horner said.

“It was dangerous, it looked desperate, he’s put a competitor in hospital.”

“The biggest result for us was that he was uninjured. I hope Lewis is very happy with himself.”

A photo combination of Lewis Hamilton (L) and Max Verstappen.
A photo combination of Lewis Hamilton (L) and Max Verstappen.

 

Horner was also dissatisfied with the punishment.

“It wasn’t much of a penalty,” Horner said.

Hamilton took his penalty during a pit stop when running second and came back on to the track in fifth place.

“Regardless of whether I agree with the penalty I just take it on the chin,” he said.

“I’m not going to let anything get in the way of the crowd’s enjoyment of the weekend and the national anthem and the British flag.”

“It was so physical, chasing down Charles. I was giving absolutely everything, didn’t know if my tyres were going to last.”

Leclerc was disappointed after having victory snatched away, but could still take pride in a strong drive and a first podium finish of the season.

“It’s difficult to enjoy 100 per cent,” he said. “I gave 200 per cent. I gave all of me but it was just not enough in the last two laps.”

AFP

Verstappen Wins First Sprint Race To Claim British Grand Prix Pole

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the sprint session of the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 17, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the sprint session of the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 17, 2021.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

World championship leader Max Verstappen won Formula One’s inaugural sprint race on Saturday to take pole position for the British Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver finished the 100km dash ahead of defending world champion Lewis Hamilton with Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes in third place.

Verstappen went into the weekend with a 32-point lead over seven-time champion Hamilton who is hoping to capture an eighth British Grand Prix triumph on Sunday.

“We were pushing each other hard as the tyres were blistering a lot,” said Verstappen who collected three points for his win.

Hamilton took two and Bottas one.

“I am happy to have scored the three points and it is funny to say I have scored the pole position too, but we’ll take it,” added the Dutchman.

Hamilton started the sprint at the front of the grid having topped qualifying on Friday.

However, he admitted he will face a battle to secure a 99th career win in front of around 90,000 fans on Sunday.

“First of all, let me say thank you to the fans, their energy is amazing,” he said.

“I gave it everything today, I’m just sorry I couldn’t win it for them. Tomorrow we will fight again, but Red Bull are just so strong.”

Saturday’s sprint qualifying race was the first of three planned for this year.

Another will follow at the Italian Grand Prix in September with the third venue still to be confirmed.

 

AFP

Mercedes Confirm Dismissal Of Four Staff For Racist Offences

Mercedes’ Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas competes during the qualifying session for the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at The Sochi Autodrom Circuit in Sochi on September 28, 2019. Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP

 

The Mercedes Formula One team confirmed on Saturday that they had dismissed four members of staff following an internal investigation into an incident of racist bullying.

A statement from Mercedes said that Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix confirmed “four individuals were dismissed from the company on August 2. These dismissals followed an internal investigation that confirmed breaches of our diversity and equality policy.”

Reports on Saturday said the four workers were employed in the team’s IT department and said they had bullied a Muslim employee. Three others were disciplined for breaching diversity rules.

“We condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms and acted immediately upon the complaint,” said Mercedes. “We value the diversity of our employees and it is a source of strength for our team.

“Our working environment is based on appreciation and mutual respect.”

Reports in UK newspapers, The Sun and the Mirror said that staff organised a poll during Ramadan in which workers guessed when their Muslim colleague would break his fast.

A source told The Sun: “This was a really horrible case of racist bullying. They had been picking on one Muslim guy for years. It all came to light when they pinned up the poll.”

Defending five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drives for the Mercedes team, has been a vocal critic of racism.

Final appeals against the dismissals were held last week before the team confirmed the decisions taken.

Austrian Formula One Legend Niki Lauda Dies At 70

Austrian former Formula One driver Niki Lauda looks on during the first day of the Formula One pre-season tests at Jerez racetrack in Jerez.  Jorge Guerrero / AFP

 

Legendary Formula One driver Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family said in a statement released to Austrian media early Tuesday.

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” the statement read.

Lauda’s death comes eight months after he underwent a lung transplant.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain,” added the statement.

READ ALSO: Koepka Returns To World No. 1 After Fourth Major Title

“A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”

Lauda won the Formula One drivers’ world championship three times, in 1975 and 1977 for Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren.

“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away. Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history. #RIPNiki,” his former team tweeted on their verified account.

Lauda had been non-executive chairman at Mercedes F1 since 2012 and he was instrumental in bringing in Lewis Hamilton to spark a run of success that has brought five consecutive world drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

During his driving career, Lauda suffered horrific injuries on August 1, 1976, when, having already won five races that season, his vehicle burst into flames on the Nuerburgring in Germany.

He suffered severe burns on his face and hands, and inhaled toxic fumes which damaged his lungs.

Despite being given the last rites in hospital he made an almost miraculous recovery to race again just six weeks later still bandaged and in intense pain.

AFP

Hamilton Wins 5th Formula One World Title

 

Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth drivers’ world championship on Sunday to draw level with Juan Manuel Fangio in the Formula One record books when he finished fourth behind a victorious Max Verstappen in the Mexican Grand Prix.

The 33-year-old Briton’s only remaining championship rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, who needed a victory, with Hamilton outside the top seven, to keep his hopes alive, finished second.

Hamilton’s success – the third time he has taken the title without finishing on the race podium – elevated him to a supreme club alongside Fangio with only seven-time champion Michael Schumacher ahead of him.

He was adding the 2018 crown to his championship wins in 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

He celebrated by executing ‘doughnut’ wheel spins for the cheering crowd before leaping out of his car and into the arms of his team.

After being congratulated by Vettel, Hamilton said: “It’s a very strange feeling, a very humbling experience. To complete this when Fangio did it as well, it’s a very surreal feeling.”

“That’s how you do it – that’s how you drive, Lewis,” said Hollywood film star Will Smith on Mercedes team radio after Hamilton took the chequered flag.

Hamilton, who started third on the grid, struggled with chronic tyre-wear after making a strong start in his Mercedes and settled for a cautious cruise to the title without a podium finish.

Verstappen, upstaged by his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying on Saturday, came home 17.108 seconds ahead of Vettel after the luckless Australian pole-sitter retired with nine laps remaining.

A puff of smoke signalled an engine failure and his eighth ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF) of the season while his 21-year-old Dutch tyro team-mate secured a repeat of his 2017 triumph, his second win this season and the fifth of his career.

Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen came home third ahead of Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Renault ahead of Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber and Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.

For Ferrari, it was a first double podium success in Mexico since 1990 with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell.

Hamilton To Tighten Title Grip With Fifth Russia Win

 

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton holds up the trophy on the podium after winning the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore on September 16, 2018.Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

 

Defending champions Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will seek to tighten their grip on this year’s Formula One world championship with a fifth triumph in five years at the Russian Grand Prix.

No other team has tasted a ‘vodka-laced’ victory since the event began at the former winter Olympic Games venue in 2014, Hamilton winning then and in 2015, Nico Rosberg in 2016 and Valtteri Bottas last year.

And with a 40-point lead on Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the title race, four-time champion Hamilton looks set to go into the final six races of the season in confident fashion after registering four wins in his last five outings.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, however, has warned against complacency as they enter the championship’s most critical spell.

Hamilton’s dazzling triumph in Singapore, where his pole lap was widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, may have lifted him into a position with a clear advantage, but Wolff has stressed that rivals Ferrari will be a serious threat in every contest.

“Obviously, it’s better to have a lead than not to, but there are six races to go and plenty of points to score –- so it doesn’t give us any comfort,” he said.

“We will continue to concentrate on every single session, trying to optimize the car in every possible area –- and we will go for the race win.

“There is no naive optimism about our situation within the team.

“Our mindset is very positive, we are energized, the factories are buzzing and we’re excited for the fight that we will certainly have in the next six races.

“We have a good track record in Sochi, but we know that Ferrari and Red Bull will give it everything to break our winning streak so we must fight as hard as ever.”

Wolff made it clear also that he will not be surprised to see Bottas recover his best form at a circuit where he won last year despite slipping out of serious contention in the title race.

“For every racing driver, it’s a very difficult situation because everything you dream about and everything you work for is to win the world championship,” he said.

 ‘Botta’s work ethic’

“When you realize you’re not in the hunt anymore, it’s very difficult to handle, but Valtteri has shown that he has the speed, the talent, and the work ethic to win in a Mercedes.

“He has always been a team player and that is one of his greatest traits. He could have won races this year, but the odds were against him.

“But luck isn’t a one-way street and I know Valtteri has every ingredient required to win at this level. He needs to work hard and trust that the tables will turn for him.”

Vettel, also chasing a fifth drivers’ crown, knows he also has to deliver this time after an unexpected struggle to third place in Singapore.

“I think Russia has been getting better for us in the last few years,” he said.

“It should suit our car too. I don’t think we have to fear any of the tracks that are coming up now.

“Our car is working pretty much everywhere and that’s a strength.”

Yet Vettel has claimed only one win in five as he has slipped behind an in-form Hamilton since his Singapore Sling.

Another victory on a weekend when he could claim his 80th pole and a 70th win would leave him, Hamilton, knowing that he can finish second in all five final races and, even if Vettel wins, still be crowned champion.

Red Bull could be a serious threat to both Ferrari and Mercedes, however, as Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who will turn 21 on Sunday, try to make the most of the tight street track that may favor their car’s performance.

AFP

Alonso Wins At Spa On Endurance Championship Debut

 FILE COPY McLaren’s Spanish driver Fernando Alonso walks prior to the third free practice session ahead of the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on April 28, 2018.
ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP

 

Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso won the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, his first race in the World Endurance Championship, on Saturday driving a Toyota TS050 Hybrid. 

The Spaniard shared the driving with Kazuki Nakajima of Japan and the Swiss Sebastien Buemi.

Alonso has been given permission by his F1 team McLaren to compete in six rounds of the world endurance championship, including the flagship 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

Last year the Spaniard missed the Monaco Grand Prix to compete in the Indianapolis 500 as part of his dream of winning motor sport’s Triple Crown of Monaco, the Indy 500 and Le Mans.

The 2005 and 2006 F1 champion is sixth in the Formula One drivers’ standings after four races for McLaren after a seventh-place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Alonso’s Toyota started Saturday’s race on the front row after a Friday qualifying session marred by the spectacular crash of Brazilian rookie Pietro Fittipaldi.

Fittipaldi was airlifted to a Liege hospital by helicopter before undergoing surgery on two broken legs after his DragonSpeed car swerved wildly coming out of a corner and smacked into a wall head-on.

The 21-year-old is the grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi, the two-time F1 world champion and twice winner of the Indy 500.

AFP

Racing Driver Hamilton Instagram Account Emptied

Formula One, Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton’s Instagram account has been completely emptied as the fall out over his lapse of judgement when recently lambasting a nephew for wearing a princess dress continues.

Four-time Formula One world champion Hamilton had shared a video with his 5.7 million followers mocking his nephew sporting a blue and pink dress and waving a pink heart-shaped furry wand over the Christmas holidays.

In the video, which has since been taken down, Hamilton shouts: “Boys don’t wear princess dresses” which led to the youngster covering his ears with his hands.

The 32-year-old’s actions drew criticism on social media from users who felt his nephew should be free to wear whatever he wanted.

Hamilton took down the Instagram post and later tweeted an apology, which has also now been deleted.

He was further criticised for liking some of the replies to his Twitter post, one of which said he had no need to apologise to the “PC brigade”.

”Yesterday I was playing around with my nephew and realised that my words were inappropriate so I removed the post,” Hamilton wrote in his Twitter apology.

Now all that remains on the photo sharing site on Hamilton’s official page is the message ‘Dare to be the greatest. Inspire, spread love, and live every day to the fullest.’

AFP

Formula One: Alonso Signs New Mclaren Deal

Fernando Alonso

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso on Thursday signed a new one-year contract with McLaren in a boost for the struggling Formula One team.

“It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren. It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here,” the Spaniard announced in a statement.

By penning a deal for the 2018 season Alonso is pinning his hopes on the famous British marque regaining its winning tradition as they switch from the under-performing Honda power unit to Renault engines.

“McLaren has the technical resource and financial strength to be able to very quickly win races and world championships in F1,” the 36-year-old Alonso said.

“Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgot-ten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon,” added the driver who won both his world titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault.

Alonso, who has dabbled in IndyCar, has chosen to stick with the team he joined three years ago rather than accept offers from both inside and outside F1.

He has a long-term goal of becoming only the second driver to complete the Triple Crown — winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and the Indy500.

McLaren, who have not won a race since 2012 when Jenson Button triumphed in Brazil, were thrilled at their star driver’s vote of confidence.

“With Fernando, there is no doubt that we have a driver who can help us achieve our goal of winning again in F1 -– and, believe me, we are all keen to do that,” said McLaren executive director Zak Brown.

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier added: “Today’s announcement shows that he’s fully committed to racing and winning as a McLaren driver.

“And, while we’ve often shared his frustrations over the past few years, we now feel that we can deliver on our promise to give him a competitive car next season.”

Alonso will once again be teamed up with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne in 2018.

“With Fernando and Stoffel, we’re lucky to be writing a fresh chapter with what we believe to be the best driver line-up in Formula 1,” commented Boullier.

Ahead of Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Alonso is 16th in the driver’s standings after mustering just 10 points, three fewer than Vandoorne.

AFP

Ferrari’s Vettel Out Of Japan Grand Prix

Ferrari’s German driver Sebastian Vettel. Kiyoshi OTA / AFP

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire from the Japanese Grand Prix with engine trouble after just four laps Sunday, leaving his Formula One title hopes in tatters.

The German began on the front row alongside championship leader Lewis Hamilton but his mechanics were working on a spark plug problem on the grid and Vettel complained of a lack of power after the start.

Hamilton began the day leading Vettel by 34 points with five races left.

If the Briton steers his Mercedes to victory, he will stretch that lead to 59 points with just 100 left to play for.

AFP