F1 LIVE: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists his team are still ‘lacking’ despite upturn in form

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·23-min read
F1 LIVE: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists his team are still ‘lacking’ despite upturn in form
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Alex Albon has signed on for a second season and more at Williams as the saga of where Oscar Piastri ends up in Formula 1 next year rumbles on.

Albon, 26, joined the Oxford-based team at the start of 2022 having been dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2020 and spending last year as a test driver. The British-Thai driver has scored all three of Williams’ Championship points this season - including a memorable drive in Melbourne in April - and has now put speculation about his future to bed by signing a “multi-year agreement.”

There was not, however, any news regarding the future of Albon’s current teammate Nicholas Latifi, with rumours that Piastri could take up the second seat at Williams next year. The announcement comes amid the situation regarding Piastri and his rejection of a seat at Alpine, after the team announced him as Fernando Alonso’s replacement for 2023.

In a tweet of his own, Albon mocked Piastri’s tweet from Tuesday night saying: “I understand that, with my agreement, Williams Racing have put out a press release this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is right and I have signed a contract with Williams for 2023. I will be driving for Williams next year.”

Key Points

F1 news: George Russell accuses Red Bull and Ferrari of ‘pushing the regulations’

Thursday 4 August 2022 17:45 , Kieran Jackson

George Russell took aim at Red Bull and Ferrari for “pushing the regulations” after the Brit finished on the podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The 24-year-old had earned the first pole position of his career in Budapest on Saturday before Max Verstappen stormed through the field to win his eighth race of the season, with Russell having to settle for third place behind teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes were hampered by porpoisng and bouncing throughout the first half of the 2022 season, with constant problems with their floor damaging their Championship prospects.

Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix in June, the FIA issued a new technical directive with the intention of limiting the porposing by cracking down on so-called “flexi-floors”, with the deadline coming for the first race after the summer break in Belgium.

Russell believes that while Mercedes have “respected” the regulations, Ferrari and Red Bull have “pushed” them and hope that the new rules have an adverse impact on Red Bull and Ferrari.

“Spa is going to be interesting,” Russell said. “There is some changes to some of the regulations which may bring other teams towards us. I think we as a team have a lot of confidence in ourselves and faith that we are doing a great job and there’s no reason we can’t be in the mix.”

George Russell accuses Red Bull and Ferrari of ‘pushing the regulations’

F1 news: F1 chief Stefano Domenicali hints at role for Sebastian Vettel to stay in the sport post-retirement

Thursday 4 August 2022 17:22 , Kieran Jackson

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has hinted that a role will be offered to Sebastian Vettel to stay in the sport in some capacity after he announced his retirement last week.

The four-time world champion announced before the Hungarian Grand Prix that this season with Aston Martin would be his last in F1, with the German keen to pursue other interests and spend more time with his family.

Domenicali, who was Ferrari boss while Vettel won his World Championships at Red Bull, admitted he was surprised by the news but revealed that he is keen for Vettel’s and F1’s relationship to “remain close in the future” after a conversation between the pair following Vettel’s announcement.

“Among other things, we talked about his decision and the future,” Domenicali told BILD. “Sebastian will always be associated with Formula 1. And of course we want that connection to remain close in the future.

“If he is interested in becoming part of our system and the approaches fit together, I would of course welcome him here. But we already know that, after the season, he wants to sort himself out and enjoy time with his family.”

F1 chief Domenicali hints at role for Vettel to stay in the sport post-retirement

F1 news: Alpine boss admits age was a factor in not offering Fernando Alonso a long-term contract

Thursday 4 August 2022 17:00 , Kieran Jackson

Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer admits that Alonso’s ability in the car as he progreses into his 40s was a factor in not offering the Spaniard a long-term contract.

Two-time world champion Alonso stunned F1 and his own team by accepting a “multi-year contract” to race for Aston Martin from next year, leaving Alpine with a spare seat to partner Esteban Ocon in 2023.

While reserve driver Oscar Piastri was their first choice and Alpine announced him as their driver, Piastri has since insisted he has not signed a contract and won’t be racing for Alpine next year.

It has been a torrid week for Szafnauer but prior to the Piastri saga emerging, the Romanian-American spoke about the factors at play in not offering 41-year-old Alonso a longer deal.

“There does come a time where something happens physiologically to a driver, and you don’t have the same abilities you did when you were younger,” Szafnauer said. “I think it happened to Michael. I think it’s fair to say Michael Schumacher at 42 was not the same driver he was at 32 or 35. And it happens to other sportsmen too.

Alpine boss admits age was a factor in not offering Alonso a long-term contract

F1 news: Lewis Hamilton joins Denver Broncos ownership group ahead of $4.65bn sale

Thursday 4 August 2022 16:30 , Kieran Jackson

Lewis Hamilton has joined forces with the Denver Broncos ownership group ahead of the Walton-Penner family’s $4.65bn takeover of the NFL franchise.

Seven-time F1 world champion Hamilton joined a consortium with Serena Williams back in April in an attempt to buy Chelsea FC as part of Sir Martin Broughton’s bid, but LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly ultimately proved victorious.

Yet the 37-year-old racing driver, who regularly spends his winters at his home in the Colorado mountains, has joined forces with the Broncos’ new ownership group, with Walmart chairman Rob Walton saying Hamilton’s “resilient spirit and standard of excellence will be an asset”.

Hamilton will work alongside former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who also joined the ownership group just over two weeks ago. Hamilton tweeted: “Excited to join an incredible group of owners and become a part of the Broncos story!! Honoured to work with a world class team and serve as an example of the value of more diverse leadership across all sports.”

The Walton-Penner family are on the verge of completing their multi-billion dollar takeover of the 2015 NFL champions, which needs approval by the NFL owners when they meet in Minneapolis next Tuesday. If the purchase is approved as expected, the deal would be the highest price ever for an American sports franchise.

Lewis Hamilton joins Denver Broncos ownership group ahead of $4.65bn sale

F1 news: Charles Leclerc doesn’t rule out ‘taking risks’ racing against Max Verstappen later this season

Thursday 4 August 2022 15:59 , Kieran Jackson

Charles Leclerc admits his racing against Max Verstappen could see him take more risks later this season should he reignite his Championship hunt.

Nothing short of a disastrous few weeks has seen Leclerc pick up just eight points in two races after the Ferrari star crashed out of the French Grand Prix whilst in the lead, while in Hungary an ill-advised strategy call to pit to hard compound tyres resulted in the Monegasque tumbling down the order, eventually finishing sixth.

Verstappen, meanwhile, won both races and has now stretched his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Standings to 80 points with nine races left, with the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa first up after the summer break.

Yet Leclerc, who has battled Verstappen on track numerous times this season without a collision, acknowledges that he might take more risks if he remains in contention throughout the latter stages of the season.

“It [the way you race] depends on the situation, on the person you’re facing, your opponent - how far is he willing to go?” Leclerc told the BBC. “This year, either I had a big advantage in the championship and then you are not really willing to take those risks. Or he had a big advantage in the championship and he is not really willing to risk. Or I am not really willing to risk because I need to catch up points.”

Charles Leclerc doesn’t rule out ‘taking risks’ racing against Max Verstappen

F1 news: Toto Wolff downplays recent form and insists Mercedes are still ‘lacking’ up against Red Bull and Ferrari

Thursday 4 August 2022 15:30 , Kieran Jackson

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has downplayed the recent form of the Constructors champions and insists his team are “still lacking to the frontrunners” of Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes have earned double podiums in the last two races in France and Hungary, with George Russell a surprise pole sitter in Budapest - the Silver Arrows’ first pole position of the season.

Despite not being able to hold position as Max Verstappen’s surged through the pack, Russell still finished third with teammate Lewis Hamilton second and the seven-time world champion has now been on the podium in the last five races.

However, Mercedes are yet to win a race in the opening 13 rounds of the 2022 season and despite the recent upturn in form, Wolff is keen to downplay expectations and insists Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is still a “dominant force” on the right tyre compound.

“I think we need to be careful that it’s not specific to Budapest [and] that we just landed in the perfect window,” Wolff said. “The other teams, Ferrari especially yesterday, complained about the tyre not being where it should have been. So, in my personal opinion, we’re still lacking to the front runners.”

Toto Wolff says Mercedes are still ‘lacking’ up against Red Bull and Ferrari

F1 news: Oscar Piastri turning down an F1 seat at Alpine for 2023 is ‘very surprising’, says Paul di Resta

Thursday 4 August 2022 14:59 , Kieran Jackson

Oscar Piastri’s firm denial of Alpine announcing him as their driver for the 2023 F1 season is “very surprising” given the team’s “great upwards trajectory”, says former F1 driver Paul di Resta.

A dramatic couple of days has seen Fernando Alonso stun the paddock by signing a “multi-year contract” with Aston Martin from next year, leaving Alpine with a seat to fill to partner Esteban Ocon.

Alpine reserve driver and 2021 F2 champion Oscar Piastri was on Tuesday evening announced as the team’s F1 driver next year in a press release which raised suspicions after it didn’t include any quotes from the 21-year-old himself.

Hours later, Piastri insisted this press release had been published “without his permission” and he has “not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023”, adding he will “not be driving for Alpine next year.” Williams have on Wednesday morning published a cryptic tweet teasing an announcement this afternoon at 3:00pm BST.

Despite rumours the Australian - who is managed by nine time Grand Prix winner Mark Webber - has been in talks with both McLaren and Williams, Di Resta admits he is “very surprised” that Piastri hasn’t accepted the offer of a seat at Alpine, who are currently fourth in the 2022 Constructors Standings.

Piastri turning down Alpine F1 seat for 2023 is ‘very surprising’, says Di Resta

F1 news: Alex Albon signs multi-year agreement at Williams as Oscar Piastri’s F1 seat saga rumbles on

Thursday 4 August 2022 13:30 , Kieran Jackson

Alex Albon has signed on for a second season and more at Williams as the saga of where Oscar Piastri ends up in Formula 1 next year rumbles on. Albon, 26, joined the Oxford-based team at the start of 2022 having been dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2020 and spending last year as a test driver.

The British-Thai driver has scored all three of Williams’ Championship points this season - including a memorable drive in Melbourne in April - and has now put speculation about his future to bed by signing a “multi-year agreement.”

“Well, I’m here for 2023 and beyond. It’s been a good year this year, we wanted more, but this is the goal [points at trophies] and that’s what we’re going for,” Albon said in a video on Williams’ F1 website. “It’s nice to have some peace of mind, obviously, going forward about my career and then to be with Williams. Obviously we’ve had a really good start to the season, really enjoyed my time here. For the future and for the rest of the season we’ll keep our heads down. We’re going to focus on maximising the car and doing the best job we can. But to know it goes beyond that is very exciting.”

There was not, however, any news regarding the future of Albon’s current teammate Nicholas Latifi, with rumours that Piastri could take up the second seat at Williams next year. The announcement comes amid the situation regarding Piastri and his rejection of a seat at Alpine, after the team announced him as Fernando Alonso’s replacement for 2023.

In a tweet of his own, Albon mocked Piastri’s tweet from Tuesday night saying: “I understand that, with my agreement, Williams Racing have put out a press release this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is right and I have signed a contract with Williams for 2023. I will be driving for Williams next year.”

Alex Albon extends his deal at Williams

F1 news: Toto Wolff downplays recent form and insists Mercedes are still ‘lacking’ up against Red Bull and Ferrari

Thursday 4 August 2022 13:00 , Kieran Jackson

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has downplayed the recent form of the Constructors champions and insists his team are “still lacking to the frontrunners” of Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes have earned double podiums in the last two races in France and Hungary, with George Russell a surprise pole sitter in Budapest - the Silver Arrows’ first pole position of the season.

Despite not being able to hold position as Max Verstappen’s surged through the pack, Russell still finished third with teammate Lewis Hamilton second and the seven-time world champion has now been on the podium in the last five races.

However, Mercedes are yet to win a race in the opening 13 rounds of the 2022 season and despite the recent upturn in form, Wolff is keen to downplay expectations and insists Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is still a “dominant force” on the right tyre compound.

“I think we need to be careful that it’s not specific to Budapest [and] that we just landed in the perfect window,” Wolff said. “The other teams, Ferrari especially yesterday, complained about the tyre not being where it should have been. So, in my personal opinion, we’re still lacking to the front runners.”

Toto Wolff says Mercedes are still ‘lacking’ up against Red Bull and Ferrari

F1 news: Fernando Alonso hoping to rediscover winning touch after joining Aston Martin

Thursday 4 August 2022 12:29 , Kieran Jackson

Fernando Alonso said his intention is to win again in Formula One after completing a shock move to Aston Martin.

The double world champion was revealed as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement just four days after the 35-year-old German announced he will retire at the end of the year. Alonso’s multi-season deal will see him remain on the grid beyond his 43rd birthday.

His capture is a major coup for Aston Martin, who moved at speed to land a grandee name after Vettel informed them last Wednesday he would not continue beyond this season.

It is understood Alonso initially staged informal talks with the British team earlier this year, before agreeing terms on a contract which could run to as many as three seasons. Alonso’s contract with Alpine was due to expire at the end of the season and talks over a renewal had stalled.

“I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to learn, develop and succeed,” said Alonso, who won two consecutive championships for Renault in 2005 and 2006.

“This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula One today. We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front, and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.”

Fernando Alonso hoping to rediscover winning touch after joining Aston Martin

F1 news: Oscar Piastri ‘will not be driving for Alpine next year’ despite team announcement

Thursday 4 August 2022 11:59 , Kieran Jackson

Oscar Piastri says he will not be driving for Alpine next season, just hours after the Formula One team announced he would be replacing Fernando Alonso. Piastri, the Formula 2 champion, said Alpine’s announcement earlier in the day that he would take their vacant 2023 seat had been made without his agreement.

Alpine’s press release did not contain quotes from the 21-year-old, sparking uncertainty at whether Piastri was even aware of the team’s decision. And in an embarrassing turn of events for Alpine, just hours after their statement Piastri reacted to the news by denying that he had signed a contract for next season.

The Australian wrote on Twitter: “I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”

Piastri is a test driver at Alpine and, with two-time world champion Alonso leaving to replace Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin, seemed a good fit for the team. But there have also been rumours that Piastri has held talks with McLaren, with Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer suggesting there was a “pre-agreement” elsewhere.

“There are some considerations going from a reserve driver contract with options to becoming a racing driver contract,” Szafnauer said earlier on Tuesday. “I’m not privy to whatever pre-arrangement he has with McLaren if any at all but I hear the same rumours you do. But I do know he does have contractual obligations to us and we do to him.”

Oscar Piastri ‘will not be driving for Alpine next year’ despite team announcement

F1 news: George Russell accuses Red Bull and Ferrari of ‘pushing the regulations’

Thursday 4 August 2022 11:29 , Kieran Jackson

George Russell took aim at Red Bull and Ferrari for “pushing the regulations” after the Brit finished on the podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The 24-year-old had earned the first pole position of his career in Budapest on Saturday before Max Verstappen stormed through the field to win his eighth race of the season, with Russell having to settle for third place behind teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes were hampered by porpoisng and bouncing throughout the first half of the 2022 season, with constant problems with their floor damaging their Championship prospects.

Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix in June, the FIA issued a new technical directive with the intention of limiting the porposing by cracking down on so-called “flexi-floors”, with the deadline coming for the first race after the summer break in Belgium.

Russell believes that while Mercedes have “respected” the regulations, Ferrari and Red Bull have “pushed” them and hope that the new rules have an adverse impact on Red Bull and Ferrari.

“Spa is going to be interesting,” Russell said. “There is some changes to some of the regulations which may bring other teams towards us. I think we as a team have a lot of confidence in ourselves and faith that we are doing a great job and there’s no reason we can’t be in the mix.”

George Russell accuses Red Bull and Ferrari of ‘pushing the regulations’

F1 news: Charles Leclerc doesn’t rule out ‘taking risks’ racing against Max Verstappen later this season

Thursday 4 August 2022 10:59 , Kieran Jackson

Charles Leclerc admits his racing against Max Verstappen could see him take more risks later this season should he reignite his Championship hunt.

Nothing short of a disastrous few weeks has seen Leclerc pick up just eight points in two races after the Ferrari star crashed out of the French Grand Prix whilst in the lead, while in Hungary an ill-advised strategy call to pit to hard compound tyres resulted in the Monegasque tumbling down the order, eventually finishing sixth.

Verstappen, meanwhile, won both races and has now stretched his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Standings to 80 points with nine races left, with the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa first up after the summer break.

Yet Leclerc, who has battled Verstappen on track numerous times this season without a collision, acknowledges that he might take more risks if he remains in contention throughout the latter stages of the season.

“It [the way you race] depends on the situation, on the person you’re facing, your opponent - how far is he willing to go?” Leclerc told the BBC. “This year, either I had a big advantage in the championship and then you are not really willing to take those risks. Or he had a big advantage in the championship and he is not really willing to risk. Or I am not really willing to risk because I need to catch up points.”

Charles Leclerc doesn’t rule out ‘taking risks’ racing against Max Verstappen

F1 news: Lewis Hamilton joins Denver Broncos ownership group ahead of $4.65bn sale

Thursday 4 August 2022 10:29 , Kieran Jackson

Lewis Hamilton has joined forces with the Denver Broncos ownership group ahead of the Walton-Penner family’s $4.65bn takeover of the NFL franchise.

Seven-time F1 world champion Hamilton joined a consortium with Serena Williams back in April in an attempt to buy Chelsea FC as part of Sir Martin Broughton’s bid, but LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly ultimately proved victorious.

Yet the 37-year-old racing driver, who regularly spends his winters at his home in the Colorado mountains, has joined forces with the Broncos’ new ownership group, with Walmart chairman Rob Walton saying Hamilton’s “resilient spirit and standard of excellence will be an asset”.

Hamilton will work alongside former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who also joined the ownership group just over two weeks ago. Hamilton tweeted: “Excited to join an incredible group of owners and become a part of the Broncos story!! Honoured to work with a world class team and serve as an example of the value of more diverse leadership across all sports.”

The Walton-Penner family are on the verge of completing their multi-billion dollar takeover of the 2015 NFL champions, which needs approval by the NFL owners when they meet in Minneapolis next Tuesday. If the purchase is approved as expected, the deal would be the highest price ever for an American sports franchise.

Lewis Hamilton joins Denver Broncos ownership group ahead of $4.65bn sale

F1 news: Oscar Piastri turning down an F1 seat at Alpine for 2023 is ‘very surprising’, says Paul di Resta

Thursday 4 August 2022 09:59 , Kieran Jackson

Oscar Piastri’s firm denial of Alpine announcing him as their driver for the 2023 F1 season is “very surprising” given the team’s “great upwards trajectory”, says former F1 driver Paul di Resta.

A dramatic couple of days has seen Fernando Alonso stun the paddock by signing a “multi-year contract” with Aston Martin from next year, leaving Alpine with a seat to fill to partner Esteban Ocon.

Alpine reserve driver and 2021 F2 champion Oscar Piastri was on Tuesday evening announced as the team’s F1 driver next year in a press release which raised suspicions after it didn’t include any quotes from the 21-year-old himself.

Hours later, Piastri insisted this press release had been published “without his permission” and he has “not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023”, adding he will “not be driving for Alpine next year.” Williams have on Wednesday morning published a cryptic tweet teasing an announcement this afternoon at 3:00pm BST.

Despite rumours the Australian - who is managed by nine time Grand Prix winner Mark Webber - has been in talks with both McLaren and Williams, Di Resta admits he is “very surprised” that Piastri hasn’t accepted the offer of a seat at Alpine, who are currently fourth in the 2022 Constructors Standings.

Piastri turning down Alpine F1 seat for 2023 is ‘very surprising’, says Di Resta

F1 news: Alex Albon signs multi-year agreement at Williams as Oscar Piastri’s F1 seat saga rumbles on

Thursday 4 August 2022 09:25 , Kieran Jackson

Alex Albon has signed on for a second season and more at Williams as the saga of where Oscar Piastri ends up in Formula 1 next year rumbles on. Albon, 26, joined the Oxford-based team at the start of 2022 having been dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2020 and spending last year as a test driver.

The British-Thai driver has scored all three of Williams’ Championship points this season - including a memorable drive in Melbourne in April - and has now put speculation about his future to bed by signing a “multi-year agreement.”

“Well, I’m here for 2023 and beyond. It’s been a good year this year, we wanted more, but this is the goal [points at trophies] and that’s what we’re going for,” Albon said in a video on Williams’ F1 website. “It’s nice to have some peace of mind, obviously, going forward about my career and then to be with Williams. Obviously we’ve had a really good start to the season, really enjoyed my time here. For the future and for the rest of the season we’ll keep our heads down. We’re going to focus on maximising the car and doing the best job we can. But to know it goes beyond that is very exciting.”

There was not, however, any news regarding the future of Albon’s current teammate Nicholas Latifi, with rumours that Piastri could take up the second seat at Williams next year. The announcement comes amid the situation regarding Piastri and his rejection of a seat at Alpine, after the team announced him as Fernando Alonso’s replacement for 2023.

In a tweet of his own, Albon mocked Piastri’s tweet from Tuesday night saying: “I understand that, with my agreement, Williams Racing have put out a press release this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is right and I have signed a contract with Williams for 2023. I will be driving for Williams next year.”

A dramatic couple of days has seen Alonso stun the paddock by signing a “multi-year contract” with Aston Martin from next year, leaving Alpine with a seat to fill to partner Esteban Ocon.

Last year’s F2 champion Piastri was on Tuesday evening announced as the team’s F1 driver next year in a press release which raised suspicions after it didn’t include any quotes from the 21-year-old himself and, hours later, Piastri insisted this press release had been published “without his permission” and he has “not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023”, adding he will “not be driving for Alpine next year.”

Alex Albon extends his deal at Williams

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