F1 news LIVE: Lewis Hamilton urged not to retire and has ‘informed Mercedes of decision’

World champion Verstappen reflects on ‘insane, intense, and crazy’ season

Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula 1 remains a hot topic as we enter the off-season with the Briton yet to clarify whether he will return with Mercedes following a crushing loss in the title race to Max Verstappen.

The Briton has gone off the radar since defeat at the thrilling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, sparking speculation over whether he will return as teammate to new Mercedes driver George Russell.

There is expectation that the seven-time world champion will be back, with Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali adamant Hamilton will “recharge the his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win an eighth world title.”

But the impact of Russell’s arrival, replacing Valtteri Bottas, will prove fascinating and may change the dynamic of the title race between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the possibility of a third title contender – or more, should the new rules shift the balance of power.

During the fraught and intense 2021 season, incidents on track cost Red Bull close to an eye-watering €4m, the third-highest figure among all drivers behind Mick Schumacher of Haas (€4.2m) and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (€4.1m). Verstappen’s tally is more than three times that of his fierce rival Hamilton, who set Mercedes back €1.2m over the year, according to Sky Germany.

Of course the Dutchman, who clinched his maiden world title in thrilling but controversial fashion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, would put some of that cost down to Hamilton himself after blaming the Briton for their high-speed incident at Copse Corner during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, one of the fastest turns in Formula 1 where the pair made contact and Verstappen was sent flying across the gravel into the barriers. Follow all the latest F1 news below.

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Mazepin and Masi headline F1’s “flops” of the year

Nikita Mazepin’s dismal performance across the year, Michael Masi’s failures as a race director and Yuki Tsunoda struggling at times in his rookie campaign have made Planet F1’s “five biggest flop’s” of 2021.

There’s also a mention for an underwhelming season for Daniel Ricciardo, despite winning the Italian Grand Prix, and the expectation is that he’ll have to improve next term after the off-season back home.

Aston Martin, too, need to see big improvements after poor showings throughout this year.

(Getty Images)

Karl Matchett24 December 2021 11:32

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Leclerc unlucky with his final season tally, says Ferrari chief

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc was unlucky in the 2021 season and he lost 40 points due to “race situations”.

The boss pointed to two races in particular where Leclerc could have picked up points. In the Monaco Grand Prix he took pole position but damage to his car meant he couldn’t race and in Hungary he was taken out by Lance Stroll in the first lap.

Binotto said: “We should not forget that in his season, there are a couple of examples, which is Monaco and Budapest, where he didn’t score but I think he has been unlucky as a driver in those occasions.

“Without that, it’s difficult to say what he would have finished at the end of the race, but maybe at least 40 points missing on his classification. So without that again I think he would have been a lot further ahead in the championship.”

Leclerc finished seventh in the driver standings, but an additional 40 would have seen him risen to fourth.

Karl Matchett24 December 2021 11:14

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Alonso optimistic that improvements are ahead in 2022

Fernando Alonso believes he can be even quicker in 2022 after his 2021 preseason was hampered by a cycling accident.

Alonso enjoyed a good year with French team Alpine (formerly Renault), finishing 10th in the drivers’ championship and even notching a podium at the end of the season in Qatar.

At 40, the two-time world champion will be the oldest driver on the F1 grid next season since Kimi Raikkonen has now retired. But he believes he can do even better with the opportunity for a full winter preparation after pre-season was disrupted in 2021. More below:

Karl Matchett24 December 2021 10:51

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Ferrari enjoyed a productive 2021

Lots to look forward to for Ferrari next season, after Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished fifth and seventh respectively in the driver standings.

They clocked up five podium finishes between them, with Ferrari finishing third in the constructor championship.

Karl Matchett24 December 2021 10:35

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Lewis Hamilton will return with ‘even more desire’ in 2022

Lewis Hamilton will have “even more desire” to win a record eighth Formula 1 title next season, says chief Stefano Domenicali.

The British driver just missed out on the record this season after he was pipped to the title in the final race of the campaign. Hamilton was leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was overtaken by Max Verstappen in the last lap to lose out.

The circumstances around the defeat makes Domenicali believe Hamilton will be back with a vengeance.

“Lewis Hamilton? I’m sure he will recharge his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win the eighth world title,” he told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport. Full report:

Karl Matchett24 December 2021 10:17

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Max Verstappen thought Red Bull promotion was ‘nonsense’

Max Verstappen’s initial reaction to news of a promotion at Red Bull in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix was that it was “nonsense”.

Verstappen’s first full-time drive came with the junior team Toro Rosso at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, before stepping up in place of Daniil Kvyat at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, making it a memorable debut after snatching victory.

“That’s right, yes,” Red Bull’s driver programme boss Helmut Marko told Motorsport.com when discussing the rumour. Jos did realise something was going on and that Max might be driving for Red Bull, but Max thought it was sheer nonsense.

“I called Jos early in the morning and told him we had to meet in Graz. During the lunch that followed, I could not get straight to the point. At the same time, there were all sorts of things going on in England in terms of contracts and preparations, so I had to talk around it a bit.

“It was only at the end of that lunch that I was able to get down to business, when Max was already wondering why he was there at all.

“Anyway, before Max came to Graz he could have known what would happen, especially if he had listened to Jos. (Laughs) Coincidentally, we discussed it over dinner in Austin this year.”

Jack Rathborn24 December 2021 09:51

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Jack Rathborn24 December 2021 09:35

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Ian Poulter fixes Carlos Sainz’s golf swing

Carlos Sainz’s other passion away from the track is golf.

And Ian Poulter gave him a quick lesson a few weeks ago, as the Spaniard bids to lower his handicap from 11 to five.

Jack Rathborn24 December 2021 09:25

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Lando Norris beats Max Vertsappen to win Best Overtake of 2021

Lando Norris has won Formula 1’s award for Best Overtake of 2021.

The Briton beat off competition from fellow-finalist Max Vertsappen, with 53.8 per cent of the vote.

And the McLaren driver made light of his victory of the world champion, tweeting: “Wow. My first F1 win.”

Jack Rathborn24 December 2021 09:09

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Red Bull got ‘lucky’ in F1 title race finale, claims Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya maintains that Red Bull got “lucky” in their Formula 1 title triumph over Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

“Yes, you’re trying to race, but racing in a way where you really want to get in the way, and Lewis knows if he goes for it they would crash and call it a racing incident and they (Red Bull) were counting on that,” said the Colombian, who raced in F1 between 2001 and 2006.

“Red Bull played all the cards to get it (the title) and in the end they did – luck was on their side. Whether they made the right decisions or not is up to the FIA to analyse.”

Jack Rathborn24 December 2021 08:51