F1 LIVE: Toto Wolff admits he still thinks about last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi GP ‘every day’

·21-min read
F1 LIVE: Toto Wolff admits he still thinks about last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi GP ‘every day’

Max Verstappen has called on Red Bull to keep their foot to the floor despite his huge advantage in the Formula 1 title race. The Belgian-Dutchman, who had to wait until the final race of last season to beat Lewis Hamilton to a first drivers’ crown, holds an 80-point lead over Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc at the summer break.

Despite Ferrari’s resurgence at the front of the grid, Verstappen has still won eight races including last time out in Hungary. Verstappen though is keen to keep pushing when racing resumes - at the Belgian Grand Prix - later this month.

“I think as a team we still want to win more races and that’s what we’ll definitely try to do and after the break,” he said. “Of course, we know that our car in general is quick, but I think throughout the race Ferrari was also very fast.” Verstappen will next be in action in the first race after the summer break at Spa-Francorchamps next week, 26-28 August, at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, where Oscar Piastri will end up in 2023 remains shrouded in uncertainty after the Alpine test driver insisted he would not be racing for the team next year, with Daniel Ricciardo seemingly in danger of losing his seat at McLaren. This follows Fernando Alonso’s surprise move to Aston Martin as a consequence of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement.

F1 NEWS AND UPDATES

F1 news: Daniel Ricciardo will not receive ‘another chance’ in F1 if he leaves McLaren, predicts Ralf Schumacher

17:29 , Kieran Jackson

Daniel Ricciardo won’t get another chance in Formula 1 should he not stay at McLaren next season, predicts former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher. Ricciardo has a contract at McLaren until the end of 2023 and put speculation over his future seemingly to bed last month when he insisted he wanted to see out his deal despite struggling this season.

But McLaren have been heavily linked with Alpine test driver Oscar Piastri since the start of the summer break, with the 2021 F2 champion insisting he won’t be driving for Alpine next season despite the team announcing him as their replacement for Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso.

Piastri’s statement has led many to believe that he has a seat lined up elsewhere, with McLaren the favourite for his signature and talk of the Woking-based team buying-out Ricciardo’s contract has been mooted.

But Schumacher, who raced for Williams, Jordan and Toyota during his time in the sport, believes 33-year-old Ricciardo won’t get another drive if he leaves McLaren, even though he has been linked with moving to Alpine to take that spare 2023 seat alongside Esteban Ocon.

“There is the question of Daniel Ricciardo,” Schumacher toldSky Germany. “Personally, I can’t imagine him getting another chance in Formula 1. But I wouldn’t know who Alpine should take at the moment.”

Daniel Ricciardo won’t get another chance in Formula 1 should he not stay at McLaren next season, predicts former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)
Daniel Ricciardo won’t get another chance in Formula 1 should he not stay at McLaren next season, predicts former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)

Formula E: Stoffel Vandoorne wins drivers’ title after claiming second in Seoul behind Edoardo Mortara

16:59 , Kieran Jackson

Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne secured the Drivers’ World Championship title with a typically assured drive in the final race of Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

Vandoorne kept his cool in the searing heat in Seoul, South Korea to finish second in the race and make it back-to-back Teams’ titles for Mercedes-EQ, in addition to his own victory.

The race itself was won by ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara, who finishes third in the drivers’ standings behind runner-up Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing). This podium was remarkably Vandoorne’s eighth of the season – and it is that consistency which has set the Belgian above his rivals throughout the championship and delivered a comfortable 33-point gap to the top in the final standings.

And speaking after the race, an emotional Vandoorne acknowledged that consistency has been key to his title win. “World Champion – wow. It is just the best feeling ever,” he said. “Just look at the season we have had, the consistency, the car has been amazing. The team has done an amazing job and I think every single one of us deserves this. What we have accomplished is something special.

“Mitch has pushed me all the way along – the same with Edo – they were there all the time. It was really about the consistency in the end, they all have more wins than me, but I have the most podiums I think.”

Vandoorne wins Formula E drivers’ title after taking second in Seoul behind Mortara

F1 news: Aston Martin boss champions team’s F1 future with podium spots as standard

16:29 , Kieran Jackson

Aston Martin have made very few waves in the 2022 Formula One season, ninth out of 10 in the constructors’ standings and with just 20 points on the board between the three drivers they have used.

Indeed, it’s arguable the most headlines they have made all year have come as the result of Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement recently, and the amount of tributes from all corners of motorsports towards him thereafter.

However, team principal Mike Krack believes a longer-term view of Aston Martin looks far more impressive, after seeing key additions to the staff this year, the signing of Fernando Alonso as Vettel’s replacement and investment into a near-completed new factory and a wind tunnel for 2024.

“In the future, I see Aston Martin F1 as a team where success is the norm,” Krack told Aston Martin’s website. “I see a team that’s not surprised to be on the podium, that’s not surprised to be winning races. We need to reach a point where we’re constantly delivering excellent results on the track, but also believe in our ability to do so.

“We’re talking about building a winning culture here – this takes time – and, first, we have to develop a faster car. Our journey has only just begun and there will be challenges, but the fighting spirit of Aston Martin F1 is second to none.”

Aston Martin boss champions F1 future with podium spots as standard

F1 news: Toto Wolff admits he still thinks about last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi GP ‘every day’

15:29 , Kieran Jackson

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he still thinks about the controversial finale of last year’s World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix “every day.” Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed his first world title after overtaking Lewis Hamilton - chasing a record-breaking eighth crown - on the final lap at Yas Marina.

However, the enthralling finale only occurred due to a late safety car as a result of Nicholas Latifi’s crash, with Verstappen running in second place pitting for fresh soft tyres. Then-F1 race director Michael Masi originally decided not to allow lapped cars to overtake the safety car, with five cars in between Hamilton in first and Verstappen in second, before changing his mind on the penultimate lap and immediately ending the safety car period.

Masi was removed from his job ahead of this season as a result of not following the correct regulations, with a subsequent FIA investigation putting the decisions in race control that day down to “human error.”

Wolff, who was livid at the time and made his feelings known over team radio, admits he still thinks about the finale at a daily rate, but did admit that Verstappen was a “deserving champion.”

Wolff admits he still thinks about last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi GP ‘every day’

F1 news: Which rookies will Red Bull, Mercedes and every F1 team give practice sessions to this season?

14:59 , Kieran Jackson

Formula One houses some of the very best motorsport drivers on the planet, but as Sebastian Vettel’s retirement reinforces, none can be around forever. That means a continual emphasis from every team within F1 to develop potential future faces of the sport in their own way, such as through Alpine’s academy setup or Red Bull’s sprawling racing empire.

Regulations in Formula One’s 2022 season also dictate that both named drivers in each team have to allow one free practice session each to a rookie in their car, aiding their experience and on-track mileage in fully functioning F1 vehicles.

Those rookies are effectively any driver who has started two Grands Prix or fewer, with Ferrari the latest to confirm their own plans in this regard: former F2 racer Robert Shwartzman, their test and reserve driver, will be taking to the track in the second half of the season. The 22-year-old will drive under an Israeli flag, with Russian athletes currently banned. “For us, it’s Robert Shwartzman that will do our two FP1s,” Laurent Mekies of Ferrari told the media.

“We haven’t exactly decided on which events it’s going to be, [but] you are right in saying that you would not pick races like Singapore or races where the race drivers need more running. I don’t think we have an issue in doing it during one of the weekends where we have Pirelli testing.”

As such, Shwartzman looks set to replace Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in FP1 sessions ahead of different races in the second half of the season, joining the likes of Nyck de Vries and the now-dropped Juri Vips in getting a taste of elite action.

Which rookies will every F1 team give FP1 sessions to this season?

F1 news: Daniel Ricciardo will not receive ‘another chance’ in F1 if he leaves McLaren, predicts Ralf Schumacher

14:36 , Kieran Jackson

Daniel Ricciardo won’t get another chance in Formula 1 should he not stay at McLaren next season, predicts former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher. Ricciardo has a contract at McLaren until the end of 2023 and put speculation over his future seemingly to bed last month when he insisted he wanted to see out his deal despite struggling this season.

But McLaren have been heavily linked with Alpine test driver Oscar Piastri since the start of the summer break, with the 2021 F2 champion insisting he won’t be driving for Alpine next season despite the team announcing him as their replacement for Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso.

Piastri’s statement has led many to believe that he has a seat lined up elsewhere, with McLaren the favourite for his signature and talk of the Woking-based team buying-out Ricciardo’s contract has been mooted.

But Schumacher, who raced for Williams, Jordan and Toyota during his time in the sport, believes 33-year-old Ricciardo won’t get another drive if he leaves McLaren, even though he has been linked with moving to Alpine to take that spare 2023 seat alongside Esteban Ocon.

“There is the question of Daniel Ricciardo,” Schumacher toldSky Germany. “Personally, I can’t imagine him getting another chance in Formula 1. But I wouldn’t know who Alpine should take at the moment.”

Daniel Ricciardo won’t get another chance in Formula 1 should he not stay at McLaren next season, predicts former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher (PA Wire)
Daniel Ricciardo won’t get another chance in Formula 1 should he not stay at McLaren next season, predicts former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher (PA Wire)

F1 news: Max Verstappen calls on Red Bull to keep pushing in F1 title race

13:59 , Kieran Jackson

Max Verstappen has called on Red Bull to keep their foot to the floor despite his huge advantage in the Formula 1 title race. The Belgian-Dutchman, who had to wait until the final race of last season to beat Lewis Hamilton to a first drivers’ crown, holds an 80-point lead over Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc at the summer break.

Despite Ferrari’s resurgence at the front of the grid, Verstappen has still won eight races including last time out in Hungary. Verstappen though is keen to keep pushing when racing resumes - at the Belgian Grand Prix - later this month.

“I think as a team we still want to win more races and that’s what we’ll definitely try to do and after the break,” he said. The first half of the season has seen Ferrari return to form with Leclerc Verstappen’s nearest title challenger.

They were again in the mix in Budapest only for a poor strategy call to cost them a race win with Verstappen emerging from 10th on the grid to take victory. Given the Ferrari’s pace, Verstappen knows there is no room for complacency from his team.

“Of course, we know that our car in general is quick, but I think throughout the race Ferrari was also very fast,” he added. “They just made the wrong call with the hard tyre. It is about choosing the right tyres at the right time. There’s still a lot of things we can look into and [that] we can do better.”

Max Verstappen calls on Red Bull to keep pushing in F1 title race

F1 news: Charles Leclerc will be the ‘real deal’ once he’s matured, says David Coulthard

13:27 , Kieran Jackson

Charles Leclerc can be the “real deal” in F1, according to former race winner David Coulthard, but only if he matures and irons out the errors currently plaguing his season. Leclerc sits a full 80 points behind Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship at the mid-season break despite starting on pole in seven of the 13 races so far in 2022.

Catastrophic strategic decisions by Ferrari and reliability issues have been the main cause of the Monegasque’s in-race struggles - that have come despite having a quicker car than Red Bull - but the 24-year-old has also made a couple of crucial individual errors.

At Imola, Leclerc spun out when going for an overtake while at the French Grand Prix he crashed out of the race when leading in what he has admitted was an unforced error. The Ferrari driver was particularly critical of himself for that crash at Paul Ricard but Coulthard, who is now a pundit after winning 13 races during a 14-year F1 career, has backed him to have a hugely successful career.

“I wasn’t surprised [that Leclerc was critical of himself] because that’s been part of how he’s been his whole time in Formula 1,” the Scot said. “Go back to Azerbaijan [in qualifying in 2019] in the Ferrari, popped it into the wall at the chicane and said ‘I’m so stupid, I’m so stupid’. He’s not stupid, he’s a brilliantly fast racing driver.”

Charles Leclerc will be the ‘real deal’ once he’s matured, says David Coulthard

Alice Powell: ‘Full on’ action for the Formula E simulator driver mentoring the next generation

12:29 , Kieran Jackson

Among the many championships and series throughout the world of motorsport, there’s no doubt that Formula E holds a particularly unique appeal for a number of reasons. Setting aside the natural differences of the all-electric championship to its fossil fuel cousins, and the sustainability focus which comes with it on its worldwide tour, one of the most defining characteristics of FE is with its races being held in everyday, frequently used city streets.

That means no fixed track, a race circuit which needs to be speedily put together and dismantled each race weekend, a very close-to-the-surface feeling of being within the city environment on racedays and, above all else, extremely flexible drivers.

Unlike other championships, there’s not a lot of preparation time for those behind the wheel to get to grips with the circuit, with free practice, qualifying and the main race all taking place on the same day. If familiarity is a competitive advantage, extra information is of paramount importance.

That means a huge role has to be played by the team behind the driver, but also the team behind the team too: analysts and strategists, engineers and mechanics - and the test and development drivers, completing countless hours and laps in each team’s simulator, gathering data to be used by those at the track.

For British Formula E team Envision, that’s the job of Alice Powell, with the combined efforts of all involved leaving them fifth in the team standings heading into the final weekend of the season in Seoul.

“The work I do at Silverstone, where Envision are based, is great. There’s a fantastic group of people at the sim to help the team while they are on site,” Powell told the Independent ahead of the campaign finale.

Formula E’s sim driver mentoring the next generation of women in motorsport

F1 news: Toto Wolff admits he still thinks about last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi GP ‘every day’

11:59 , Kieran Jackson

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he still thinks about the controversial finale of last year’s World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix “every day.” Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed his first world title after overtaking Lewis Hamilton - chasing a record-breaking eighth crown - on the final lap at Yas Marina.

However, the enthralling finale only occurred due to a late safety car as a result of Nicholas Latifi’s crash, with Verstappen running in second place pitting for fresh soft tyres. Then-F1 race director Michael Masi originally decided not to allow lapped cars to overtake the safety car, with five cars in between Hamilton in first and Verstappen in second, before changing his mind on the penultimate lap and immediately ending the safety car period.

Masi was removed from his job ahead of this season as a result of not following the correct regulations, with a subsequent FIA investigation putting the decisions in race control that day down to “human error.”

Wolff, who was livid at the time and made his feelings known over team radio, admits he still thinks about the finale at a daily rate, but did admit that Verstappen was a “deserving champion.”

Wolff admits he still thinks about last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi GP ‘every day’

F1 news: ‘It’s very easy to pull his chain’: Christian Horner revels in Toto Wolff rivalry

11:29 , Kieran Jackson

Christian Horner has opened up on his rivalry with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, saying: “It’s very easy to pull his chain.” Last season the two F1 team principals mirrored the fierce competition on the track between their leading protagonists, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, with constant barbs in the media.

The tension intensified through the season as the drivers came to blows, with Wolff famously slamming his headphones against a desk when Verstappen and Hamilton crashed into one another, until the final race in Abu Dhabi where Verstappen took advantage of controversial safety car procedures to win his maiden world title in a final lap shootout, denying Hamilton what would have been a record eighth crown.

This season Mercedes have struggled to keep pace with Red Bull and the only team who have been able to compete, Ferrari, have struggled with reliability issues, leaving Verstappen 80 points clear at the top of the championship during the summer break.

Asked about his rivalry with Wolff, Horner – who has now won a total of nine F1 titles – told Sky Sports: “It’s not personal in any way! Toto is Toto. He’s done a phenomenal job with Mercedes. He’s obviously come into the sport from a very different background to me, he’s very much from a financial background. And it’s very easy to pull his chain, you can see it.”

‘It’s very easy to pull his chain’: Christian Horner revels in Toto Wolff rivalry

F1 news: Which rookies will Red Bull, Mercedes and every F1 team give practice sessions to this season?

10:59 , Kieran Jackson

Formula One houses some of the very best motorsport drivers on the planet, but as Sebastian Vettel’s retirement reinforces, none can be around forever. That means a continual emphasis from every team within F1 to develop potential future faces of the sport in their own way, such as through Alpine’s academy setup or Red Bull’s sprawling racing empire.

Regulations in Formula One’s 2022 season also dictate that both named drivers in each team have to allow one free practice session each to a rookie in their car, aiding their experience and on-track mileage in fully functioning F1 vehicles.

Those rookies are effectively any driver who has started two Grands Prix or fewer, with Ferrari the latest to confirm their own plans in this regard: former F2 racer Robert Shwartzman, their test and reserve driver, will be taking to the track in the second half of the season. The 22-year-old will drive under an Israeli flag, with Russian athletes currently banned. “For us, it’s Robert Shwartzman that will do our two FP1s,” Laurent Mekies of Ferrari told the media.

“We haven’t exactly decided on which events it’s going to be, [but] you are right in saying that you would not pick races like Singapore or races where the race drivers need more running. I don’t think we have an issue in doing it during one of the weekends where we have Pirelli testing.”

As such, Shwartzman looks set to replace Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in FP1 sessions ahead of different races in the second half of the season, joining the likes of Nyck de Vries and the now-dropped Juri Vips in getting a taste of elite action.

Which rookies will every F1 team give FP1 sessions to this season?

Formula E: Stoffel Vandoorne wins drivers’ title after claiming second in Seoul behind Edoardo Mortara

10:29 , Kieran Jackson

Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne secured the Drivers’ World Championship title with a typically assured drive in the final race of Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

Vandoorne kept his cool in the searing heat in Seoul, South Korea to finish second in the race and make it back-to-back Teams’ titles for Mercedes-EQ, in addition to his own victory.

The race itself was won by ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara, who finishes third in the drivers’ standings behind runner-up Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing). This podium was remarkably Vandoorne’s eighth of the season – and it is that consistency which has set the Belgian above his rivals throughout the championship and delivered a comfortable 33-point gap to the top in the final standings.

And speaking after the race, an emotional Vandoorne acknowledged that consistency has been key to his title win. “World Champion – wow. It is just the best feeling ever,” he said. “Just look at the season we have had, the consistency, the car has been amazing. The team has done an amazing job and I think every single one of us deserves this. What we have accomplished is something special.

“Mitch has pushed me all the way along – the same with Edo – they were there all the time. It was really about the consistency in the end, they all have more wins than me, but I have the most podiums I think.”

Vandoorne wins Formula E drivers’ title after taking second in Seoul behind Mortara

F1 news: Aston Martin boss champions team’s F1 future with podium spots as standard

09:59 , Kieran Jackson

Aston Martin have made very few waves in the 2022 Formula One season, ninth out of 10 in the constructors’ standings and with just 20 points on the board between the three drivers they have used.

Indeed, it’s arguable the most headlines they have made all year have come as the result of Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement recently, and the amount of tributes from all corners of motorsports towards him thereafter.

However, team principal Mike Krack believes a longer-term view of Aston Martin looks far more impressive, after seeing key additions to the staff this year, the signing of Fernando Alonso as Vettel’s replacement and investment into a near-completed new factory and a wind tunnel for 2024.

“In the future, I see Aston Martin F1 as a team where success is the norm,” Krack told Aston Martin’s website. “I see a team that’s not surprised to be on the podium, that’s not surprised to be winning races. We need to reach a point where we’re constantly delivering excellent results on the track, but also believe in our ability to do so.

“We’re talking about building a winning culture here – this takes time – and, first, we have to develop a faster car. Our journey has only just begun and there will be challenges, but the fighting spirit of Aston Martin F1 is second to none.”

Aston Martin boss champions F1 future with podium spots as standard

F1 news: Max Verstappen calls on Red Bull to keep pushing in F1 title race

09:44 , Kieran Jackson

Max Verstappen has called on Red Bull to keep their foot to the floor despite his huge advantage in the Formula 1 title race. The Belgian-Dutchman, who had to wait until the final race of last season to beat Lewis Hamilton to a first drivers’ crown, holds an 80-point lead over Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc at the summer break.

Despite Ferrari’s resurgence at the front of the grid, Verstappen has still won eight races including last time out in Hungary. Verstappen though is keen to keep pushing when racing resumes - at the Belgian Grand Prix - later this month.

“I think as a team we still want to win more races and that’s what we’ll definitely try to do and after the break,” he said. The first half of the season has seen Ferrari return to form with Leclerc Verstappen’s nearest title challenger.

They were again in the mix in Budapest only for a poor strategy call to cost them a race win with Verstappen emerging from 10th on the grid to take victory. Given the Ferrari’s pace, Verstappen knows there is no room for complacency from his team.

“Of course, we know that our car in general is quick, but I think throughout the race Ferrari was also very fast,” he added. “They just made the wrong call with the hard tyre. It is about choosing the right tyres at the right time. There’s still a lot of things we can look into and [that] we can do better.”

Max Verstappen calls on Red Bull to keep pushing in F1 title race