F1 latest news LIVE: Lewis Hamilton’s future still in doubt after teams’ crunch talks with FIA

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·13-min read
F1 latest news LIVE: Lewis Hamilton’s future still in doubt after teams’ crunch talks with FIA
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Lewis Hamilton’s future remains unresolved as the new Formula 1 season draws closer.

The Briton has maintained radio silence since being left “disillusioned” with the FIA over how the title-deciding race in Abu Dhabi controversially unfolded last year, with Max Verstappen’s win branded “unsatisfactory” by Damon Hill this week. Mercedes reportedly want race director Michael Masi to stand down as a result and team chiefs and the FIA are said to have met in London this week for a one-hour summit to discuss several outstanding issues.

McLaren team principal Zak Brown admitted Hamilton’s return shouldn’t be taken for granted and that the Briton was still incredibly frustrated. Brown also reserved criticism for Mercedes’ chief Toto Wolff too, though, saying the Austrian’s lobbying of the FIA during races had been “unacceptable”. The FIA’s report into the final race will not be released until two days before the new season begins in Bahrain in March. Follow all the latest F1 news below:

F1 latest news

Lewis Hamilton’s future should not be taken for granted

16:29 , Tom Kershaw

Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One future should not be taken for granted, Zak Brown has insisted – with the McLaren boss admitting he would not be surprised if the seven-time world champion sensationally quits.

More than a month on from the controversial conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which denied Hamilton a record eighth title, the Mercedes driver is said to be debating whether to return to the grid in 2022.

Hamilton has been conspicuous by his absence from social media in the weeks since the debacle in the desert.

An FIA inquiry was launched last week, but the governing body’s findings might not be made public until the eve of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

Race director Michael Masi’s position is also in the spotlight after he was accused of bending the rules to allow Max Verstappen the chance to beat Hamilton in a one-lap shootout.

And Brown, who is in regular contact with Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “I wouldn’t be shocked if Lewis stopped and I don’t think anyone should take for granted that he is coming back.

“We should not discount or not recognise his frustration and anger and maybe he hasn’t taken a decision yet, and maybe what he is doing is taking time to make that decision. I don’t think we should rule retirement out or make light of it.”

2022 Formula 1 Calendar

14:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And if you need a reminder of the dates for the 2022 season, Sky Sports has you covered, two months out from what will be the first qualifying of the season on Saturday 19 March in Bahrain.

2022 F1 Car Launch Dates

14:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

We are less than a month away from the launch of some of the new cars for 2022, and announcement dates have begun trickling in from teams. To mark your diary, here are the ones we’ve had confirmed so far:

Aston Martin - February 10

McLaren – February 11

Ferrari – February 17

Mercedes – February 18

Fernando Alonso: Alpine are “in better shape” than this time last year

13:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Alain Prost may not be happy, but Fernando Alonso is encouraged by the direction that Alpine are heading in as the team looks to build on encouraging 2021 performances from the Spaniard and teammate Esteban Ocon, though does caution that improvements must be made.

“We are still not on top of all the problems, but everyone will have a different opinion,” Alonso explained.

“Obviously with experience working for different teams, I could see some things that we were weak, other areas we were very strong. You try always to make the team stronger and stronger, and more prepared into 2022.

“I think we are in better shape now than what we were in March, in Bahrain, but still a few things I’m sure that we’ll have to fix.

“I think we need for sure to close the gap on the engine, that’s why there is this new project, and also we need to close the gap on the aero performance.

“It’s difficult to know what is the gap, so at the moment there are only hopes but I understand that these hopes are for everybody. It’s not only to us, and it’s a completely unknown territory what we will find [this] year.”

Fernando Alonso believes Alpine are heading in the right direction (Getty Images)
Fernando Alonso believes Alpine are heading in the right direction (Getty Images)

Settling in

13:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It is the time of year when drivers making offseason switches of teams begin to acquaint themselves with new colleagues and surroundings, and a cheerful Alex Albon, returning to the grid in 2022 after a year as a Red Bull reserve driver, seems rather pleased to be back.

Martin Brundle adds his voice to those calling for crackdown on race director discussions

13:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Martin Brundle has called for a return to the methods of the late race director Charlie Whiting in a bid to prevent further controversy after both Toto Wolff and Michael Masi were criticised following the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff’s Michael Masi comments ‘completely unacceptable’, Martin Brundle claims

Alain Prost hits out after Alpine departure

12:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There was a bit of a surprise earlier this week when it was revealed that four-time world champion Alain Prost would no longer be part of the Alpine set-up.

Prost has since said that he turned down an offer to remain a non-executive director at the French team having fallen out with Laurent Rossi, accusing the chief executive of saying that he no longer requires Prost’s advice.

“Laurent Rossi’s desire is to be alone, not to be polluted by anyone,” the four-time World Champion told L’Equipe. “He told me himself he no longer needed to be advised. It was in Qatar, but he still offered me a contract in Abu Dhabi, which I refused.

“It was a project in which I believed, and I still believe, an ambitious project which has restored incredible motivation within the group.

“But now, there is a real desire to put a lot of people on the sidelines. Laurent Rossi wants all the light.

“Me, what interests me is the challenge of being in a team and being listened to and involved in certain decisions.

Alain Prost has left Alpine (Getty)
Alain Prost has left Alpine (Getty)

Celebrating with a song - looking back at Jenson Button’s world title

12:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another look back at one of Jenson Button’s finest moments in a Formula 1 car, the Brit showing combining brains with Brawn to take his sole Drivers’ Championship - and celebrating in style.

George Russell on Jenson Button

11:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“I’ve been fortunate even prior to Jenson joining Williams again that I had a good relationship with him,” said George Russell of Williams’ senior advisor.

“He was very open and always there whenever needed… but he’s more so now actually due to the Covid rules [that] have opened up.

“[He’s] always in the garage, in the hospitality, talking to the engineers, to myself, to Jost [Capito, CEO of Williams] and I think that’s really great, just to sound ideas off him and get his feedback and input from his own experiences because obviously he’s had a huge amount of experience. So it’s unique to have somebody like Jenson a part of your team.”

Nicholas Latifi and George Russell hail the influence of Jenson Button

11:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Birthday boy Jenson Button, 42 today, returned to Williams in an advisory role last year, and both Nicholas Latifi and George Russell have hailed the impact of the former world champion in some rather kind comments released on the F1 website.

“I guess from the personal side, I’m still very new to Formula 1. He’s given me little words of wisdom on starting out, good approaches, bad approaches and whatnot and yes, just the odd little bits of encouragement after qualifying or after the race if I manage to bump into him,” Latifi explained. “He obviously has a wealth of experience in the sport and the unique perspective as a driver which is good for me personally, and even his old race engineer [Dave Robson] is with our team as well so we have a relationship as well.”

Nicolas Latifi and George Russell have hailed Jenson Button’s influence (Getty Images)
Nicolas Latifi and George Russell have hailed Jenson Button’s influence (Getty Images)

Grosjean’s ‘heart was pumping' during F1 finale

11:41 , Tom Kershaw

Romain Grosjean said his “heart was pumping like hell” when he watched F1’s controversial season finale and admitted that, although he thought Hamilton was hard done by in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen was a deserving winner over the course of the season.

“I loved it!” said Grosjean. “It was exciting, my heart was pumping like hell. And I think having two cars fighting over one lap for the World Championship was amazing.

“I think the wrong conception is to think that the world championship went on one lap. It was 22 Grands Prix, and if you look at the full season, you know Max had the puncture in Baku, Valtteri Bottas crashed into Verstappen in Hungary, there was the Silverstone race [clash between Hamilton and Verstappen]. I think at the end, if we look at how many points were lost by Verstappen, not necessarily by his fault, he was the one that deserved more the championship.

“On the Abu Dhabi race, Lewis deserved more the championship. He got unlucky over the last lap. But as a race fan, I loved that last lap, and it was super exciting to watch.”

Pirelli report encouraging results after testing of 2022 tyres

11:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Pirelli 28 days of last year testing a new 18-inch tyre, which will be introduced in 2022. Some have feared that the new compounds would lead to significantly slower cars, but Mario Isola – Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing – was encouraged by test results using mule cars from nine of the ten Formula 1 teams.

“In terms of wear, it’s difficult to make a prediction because we were using mule cars, so we need to wait for the real performance of the new 2022 cars,” Isola explained.

“We have simulations coming from the teams, simulations are telling us that the new cars are not much slower compared to last year’s cars.

“At the beginning we were talking about more than three seconds per lap; now it’s half a second, one second, so if they start with only one second difference it means that during the season they probably achieve the same level of performance that we had in 2021.”

New FIA president visits F1 HQ

10:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The FIA appointed a new president in December, with Mohammed bin Sulayem succeeding Jean Todt at the top of the governing body having been a vice-president since 2008. He’s the first president from outside Europe in the organisation’s history - four Frenchmen, three Belgians, two Brits, an Italian and an Austrian, if you are counting - and bin Sulayem has been in London for some meetings with Formula 1.

Damon Hill on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

10:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Sky Sports are looking back at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix over the last few days, more than one month on from the dramatic desert denouement to the 2021 F1 season. Damon Hill has been talking about that controversial ending - and suggested that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes may be right to feel aggrieved...

Max Verstappen’s F1 title win was ‘unsatisfactory’, says Damon Hill

Jenson Button’s birthday

10:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s Jenson Button’s birthday today, with the 2009 World Champion turning 42. It seems a good opportunity to relieve one of his most famous wins - holding his nerve to overtake a sliding Sebastian Vettel in 2011.

F1 impasse could see sprint races scrapped in 2022

09:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Back to Zak Brown, who is not happy at all about the attempts of some teams to block the expansion of the popular sprint race format in an attempt to hold out for more money.

Brown believes that a proposed doubling of the number of sprint race events for next season may now not occur.

F1 impasse could see sprint races scrapped in 2022

Dan Fallows allowed to leave Red Bull for Aston Martin after deal agreed

09:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It was announced in June last year that well-regarded aerodynamicist Dan Fallows would be leaving Red Bull to take up the role of technical director at Aston Martin, but since there has been a mighty squabble over when Fallows would be able to start work with his new team. A cumbersome contract could have meant Fallows remaining in his current post for an extended period, with Christian Horner saying last year that “it certainly won’t be within the next couple of years”.

Well, now it will. The two teams have finally reached an agreement that will see Fallows start at Aston Martin on April 2, soon after the start of the new season on March 20.

Fallows, who will bring to a close a more than 15-year association with Red Bull, said he is excited to get to work: “I’ve enjoyed many happy years at Red Bull Racing and am proud of what we achieved. I am looking forward to next season and a new challenge.”

The move reunites Fallows with Sebastian Vettel.

George in Germany

08:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

More on the seven-time world champion in a bit, but his soon-to-be Mercedes colleague George Russell has been enjoying a jaunt to Germany and a visit to the headquarters of his new team.

McLaren boss “wouldn’t be shocked" if Lewis Hamilton quits Formula One

08:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Let’s begin with Zak Brown, who had a rather extended natter at a press conference yesterday on all manner of F1 topics.

The McLaren chief executive would not be surprised if Lewis Hamilton retires...

McLaren boss ‘wouldn’t be shocked’ if Lewis Hamilton quits Formula One

Good morning!

08:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

We are now little more than two months away from the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season, and there is plenty of news to dig through this morning. Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of all the latest on F1’s best and brightest both on the grid and beyond.

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