F1 news LIVE: Mercedes hold secret test for new upgrades ahead of Spanish Grand Prix

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·44-min read
F1 news LIVE: Mercedes hold secret test for new upgrades ahead of Spanish Grand Prix
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Mercedes have reportedly been testing upgrades ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at a behind closed doors filming day with George Russell at the wheel. F1’s rules allow for two filming days a year where teams can run up to 100km in their current cars, enabling them to trial new upgrades. Mercedes are still searching for their old edge after a difficult start to the season, with Russell already 55 points adrift of championship leader Charles Leclerc while Lewis Hamilton’s struggles have seen him fall even further back.

Ferrari are said to have used one of their own filming days last week as Leclerc seeks to halt Verstappen’s momentum. The Red Bull driver and reigning world champion has won the last two races after reliability issues mired the start to his season. The Dutchman has fine memories of Barcelona, having won his first F1 race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya back in 2016, and is confident he can further reduce the gap at the top of the drivers’ standings.

“We had an incredible week in Miami, I’ve had some time to rest with my family since and now I’m looking forward to driving in Barcelona again,” Verstappen said. “Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going from the last few races with a clean start from Friday onwards.” Follow all the build-up to the F1 Spanish Grand Prix below:

F1 latest news

  • Mercedes test upgrades ahead of Spanish GP

  • F1 opt not to replace Russian GP

  • Verstappen won’t rule out future move

Jenson Button hints at future F1 team principal role

Thursday 19 May 2022 20:00 , Michael Jones

Jenson Button has hinted he could one day be tempted by a team principal role in Formula One.

The former F1 world champion currently works as a Sky Sports pundit and an advisor for Williams, and he has had some experience of leading a team in the recently devised Extreme E series.

F1’s Drive to Survive docu-series on Netflix has brought the role of team principals to the fore, and in particular the rivalry between Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes Toto Wolff.

Jenson Button hints at future F1 team principal role

Mercedes hold secret test in bid to close gap on Ferrari and Red Bull

Thursday 19 May 2022 19:45 , Michael Jones

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have taken part in a secret test as they scramble to return to the front of the Formula One pack.

Hamilton has been cast a distant 68 points adrift of championship leader Charles Leclerc ahead of the sixth round of the season in Spain on Sunday.

Mercedes are expected to bring a number of new parts to Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in the hope of combating their ‘porpoising’ woes which have all but put an end to Hamilton’s bid for a record eighth title.

Mercedes hold secret test in bid to close gap on Ferrari and Red Bull

‘This is F1’: Fernando Alonso takes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton’s struggles

Thursday 19 May 2022 19:30 , Michael Jones

Fernando Alonso has suggested Lewis Hamilton’s struggles are par for the course when it comes to Formula One, stating the car and team behind it are defining factors as much as the driver.

While Hamilton has been a regular challenger for the championship since the days he and Alonso were teammates near the start of his career, this season has been a disappointment for the Brit as Mercedes struggle to make the new design work.

He sits sixth in the drivers’ standings after five races, while Mercedes are third in the constructors’ table, some way off the pace set by Ferrari and Red Bull.

‘This is F1’: Alonso takes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton’s struggles

F1 opts against replacing cancelled Russian GP with another race

Thursday 19 May 2022 19:15 , Michael Jones

Formula One has reduced the current season from 23 races to 22 after opting against replacing the cancelled Russian Grand Prix.

The Sochi race, which was originally scheduled to take place on September 25, was pulled from the calendar in late February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

F1 bosses subsequently cancelled its contract with the Russian Grand Prix, which had been due to move to Igora Drive, 40 miles north of St Petersburg, from next year.

F1 opts against replacing cancelled Russian GP with another race

Sebastian Vettel tipped to have ‘disastrous’ Spanish Grand Prix for Aston Martin

Thursday 19 May 2022 19:00 , Michael Jones

Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel is set to have a “disastrous” Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, Ralf Schumacher has warned.

Vettel’s team, Aston Martin, has dropped towards the back of the grid this season after struggling with F1’s new car regulations.

Schumacher, a former F1 driver, has previously slammed Aston Martin’s 2022 car as a “disaster” and the team are only above Williams in the constructors standings.

Sebastian Vettel tipped to have ‘disastrous’ Spanish Grand Prix for Aston Martin

Toto Wolff ramps up Max Verstappen mind games with ‘easier’ jibe

Thursday 19 May 2022 18:45 , Michael Jones

It has been made “easier” for Max Verstappen to challenge for the Formula One title this season and defend his championship, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has claimed.

The Dutchman trails Charles Leclerc in the standings after he twice failed to finish over the first three races of the season, but he has racked up three wins overall to cut the championship lead.

Verstappen was involved with an intense title fight with Lewis Hamilton last season but it is Ferrari who have been his closer challengers this campaign after Mercedes’ performance struggles.

Toto Wolff ramps up Max Verstappen mind games with ‘easier’ jibe

Christian Horner surprised by Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s ‘unbelievable start’

Thursday 19 May 2022 18:30 , Michael Jones

Christian Horner has admitted he did not expect Red Bull to be as competitive as they have been in the wake of Max Verstappen‘s maiden world title.

Red Bull threw all their energy and resources into last year’s RB16B car in an effort to help Verstappen overcome Lewis Hamilton, which of course he did in dramatic circumstances in the final race in Abu Dhabi, leaving them behind the curve when it came to the new regulations.

After five races of the new season Verstappen is well in the mix at the top of the standings once more, 19 points behind early pace-setter Charles Leclerc of Ferrari. Red Bull have struggled with reliability in their new RB18 car, but Verstappen has won every race he has finished so far.

Christian Horner surprised by Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s ‘unbelievable start’

Charles Leclerc ‘lost the brakes’ when crashing legendary Ferrari in Monaco

Thursday 19 May 2022 18:16 , Michael Jones

Charles Leclerc has revealed that a braking issue caused his crash while driving Niki Lauda’s 1974 Ferrari in Monaco.

The Ferrari driver was enjoying a demonstration drive at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix when he lost control of the rear of a classic 312 entering La Rascasse, colliding with the barriers and damaging the rear wing.

It continued a strange run of misfortune for the Monegasque on his home Monte Carlo streets, with Leclerc yet to finish a Monaco Grand Prix during his Formula 1 career.

Charles Leclerc ‘lost the brakes’ when crashing legendary Ferrari in Monaco

FIA should have taken ‘different approach’ over Lewis Hamilton jewellery ban

Thursday 19 May 2022 18:01 , Michael Jones

Formula One is right to ban jewellery from the cockpit but the governing FIA could have enforced the rule in a less confrontational way, according to Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) chairman Alex Wurz.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and the FIA were in a standoff at this month’s Miami Grand Prix over piercings the Mercedes driver has raced with for years and said he could not remove.

Hamilton has been told to take them out by the Monaco Grand Prix on 29 May but has said he has no intention of doing so.

FIA should have taken ‘different approach’ over Lewis Hamilton jewellery ban

F1 drivers all have ‘concern’ over race direction, claims Alonso

Thursday 19 May 2022 17:46 , Michael Jones

Fernando Alonso has hit out at the new race directors in Formula One, suggesting that the two-person replacement for Michael Masi has not had the desired effects.

Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas are due to split the role this season, with the former overseeing the five races so far and the latter stepping in for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Masi was removed from the role after criticism of his handling of the season finale, where Max Verstappen was allowed to pass Lewis Hamilton in contentious fashion to claim the last race and the championship itself.

An overhaul to the race directors’ approach and the team around them was revealed by the FIA ahead of the season but, when asked about criticism of the Miami Grand Prix track surface, Alonso played down the fact that there are issues to solve there and instead suggested that “all the drivers” have far bigger concerns over race authority to worry about.

“We have to give Miami time. The weekend was very good overall for F1, with the expectation and the guests that were there – it shows the growth of popularity in the United States,” the Alpine man said, per Spanish media.

“I give it good marks, although I’m sure there are things to improve and tweak after the experience of the first race. That happens at all circuits.

“Probably the most worrying thing is the race direction and the stewards. With all the changes that have taken place, they haven’t adapted too well and it’s a concern for all the drivers right now.”

Mercedes secret test of new upgrades confirmed

Thursday 19 May 2022 17:31 , Michael Jones

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have taken part in a secret test as they scramble to return to the front of the Formula One pack.

Hamilton has been cast a distant 68 points adrift of championship leader Charles Leclerc ahead of the sixth round of the season in Spain on Sunday.

Mercedes are expected to bring a number of new parts to Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in the hope of combating their ‘porpoising’ woes which have all but put an end to Hamilton’s bid for a record eighth title.

And it is understood that Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell drove the revamped Mercedes at a behind-closed-doors test on Wednesday.

F1 teams are allocated two filming days each season, with Mercedes electing to use their second of the year at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France.

Russell, who is 23 points ahead of Hamilton in the championship standings, completed the permitted 62 miles of running – equivalent to a third of a race distance.

‘Weight saving’ made Miami GP more difficult for Ricciardo

Thursday 19 May 2022 17:19 , Michael Jones

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo admits that the Miami Grand Prix was made even tougher by the team’s decision to cut back on the amount of drink his car could hold in order to save weight.

The 32-year-old clearly showed the effects of a hectic afternoon in the Florida humidity and he compared racing in the Miami heat to similar races in Singapore and Malaysia.

“Yeah, it’s got that heat factor to it,” Ricciardo told to Autosport. “It’s tough as well, because I mean, everyone’s obviously fighting for that last bit of weight.

“We don’t have the luxury of putting three litres in the drink system. So we have a little bit, and it’s never enough fluid. Naturally, you’re gonna get dehydrated. And yeah, this heat was was pretty real.

“They’re [Singapore and Malaysia] the tough ones, obviously. I mean, everyone obviously worked hard today, it is hot, drivers, mechanics, everyone’s feeling the heat.”

At the end of the race, Ricciardo thought that he had made the points but was told he finished 11th prior to getting a time penalty for going off the track in a battle with Kevin Magnussen which sent him down to 13th.

“Actually when I crossed the line, I honestly thought I was 10th,” he said. “It’s hard to know, obviously [there are] battles and cars going off here and there. But I was kind of doing a calculation in my head thinking that enough cars had kind of gone off, or I passed, to be somewhere inside the points.

“But yeah, we came up short. So I don’t think there were any ‘what could have beens’ today. We were just not quick enough.

“We were just hanging on. And I think when everyone’s in a tow, we’re still lacking a bit on the straights. I think obviously a little bit of a drag and stuff.”

‘This is F1’: Alonso takes subtle dig at Hamilton’s struggles

Thursday 19 May 2022 17:05 , Michael Jones

Fernando Alonso has suggested Lewis Hamilton’s struggles are par for the course when it comes to Formula One, stating the car and team behind it are defining factors as much as the driver.

While Hamilton has been a regular challenger for the championship since the days he and Alonso were teammates near the start of his career, this season has been a disappointment for the Brit as Mercedes struggle to make the new design work.

He sits sixth in the drivers’ standings after five races, while Mercedes are third in the constructors’ table, some way off the pace set by Ferrari and Red Bull.

“This is the nature of the sport. Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress,” Alonso told BBC Sport. “This year we see that the driver is very important in F1 but not crucial.

“Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and 100-and-something pole positions.

“And now he is doing a mega lap - as he said in Australia or somewhere like that - and he is one second behind. So, yeah - welcome [to our world].”

Formula E champion De Vries to make F1 bow

Thursday 19 May 2022 16:50 , Michael Jones

More than one Formula One team will this weekend take the opportunity to give a rookie driver a taste of the action at the highest level, with Nyck de Vries set to be behind the wheel for Williams in the first free practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Regulations state teams must provide two opportunities during the 2022 season for rookies, with 27-year-old De Vries therefore set for his first taste of an F1 race weekend.

The reserve driver for Mercedes has taken part in end-of-season testing for the team, but this will be his first opportunity to be involved during the campaign.

De Vries is the reigning Formula E champion and has won two of the eight races in that category so far this season.

He will be taking over Alex Albon’s seat for Williams in FP1, after they opted against using their own test driver Roy Nissany.

“I’m obviously very thankful and grateful for the opportunity to run in an FP1 session and kind of get to know the team, but also to kind of get myself out there during a Formula 1 weekend,” de Vries told Motorsport.

“I haven’t really thought about real targets. It’s only a one-hour session and you get like three runs on two different [tyre] compounds, which are both at the extreme end of the spectrum.

“So it will be a very interesting, exciting challenge. But I’m looking forward to the experience and hopefully I can do well. From a kind of expectations point of view, I don’t really know what to expect!”

F1 faces ‘mission’ to find next US racer, says Hamilton

Thursday 19 May 2022 16:35 , Michael Jones

Lewis Hamilton believes it will be a “good mission” for Formula One to find the sport’s next American star.

The sport’s popularity in the US continues to boom after the first-ever Miami Grand Prix - one of two American races this season with the United States GP set for Texas in October.

But there is not a single American driver on the grid in 2022, something which Hamilton feels may be a result of athletes choosing other sports.

“It doesn’t really surprise me. I think it’s perhaps more a cultural thing. You know, here in the States it’s the NFL, NBA. It’s NASCAR, IndyCar,” he said.

“In my 16 years of coming over here it’s been such a slow build, trying to bring awareness of the sport. Unfortunately, the Americans have to wake up at odd times in order to watch a Grand Prix.”

The USA has not had a F1 world champion since Mario Andretti claimed the title way back in 1978.

New F1 race directors praised after FIA demote Masi

Thursday 19 May 2022 16:21 , Michael Jones

Formula 1’s new race directors have been praised for a “very good start” to the 2022 season after the removal of Michael Masi.

Masi, who had been lead race director since 2019, lost the role after his part in the controversial ending to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that allowed Max Verstappen to win his maiden world title.

The Australian was replaced by a two-pronged team of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, assisted by the vastly-experienced Herbie Blash.

The refreshing of the race direction team came as part of wider changes, with team principals no longer afforded as direct access to the race director during the race.

Andreas Seidl, team principal at McLaren, has been pleased with the start that Wittich, who has served as race director at each of the first five races, in particular has made.

Verstappen vs Leclerc ‘could go all the way’

Thursday 19 May 2022 16:09 , Michael Jones

Team principal for Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, feels the race for the F1 championship will be another year-long struggle between the early top two - though had hoped for a pressure-free year of Max Verstappen retaining his title.

After the scintillating and controversial nature of his win over Lewis Hamilton last year, Verstappen and Red Bull would have been confident of another strong campaign, while also hoping the likes of Mercedes fell away while getting to grips with the new car designs and regulations.

That has certainly happened - but in their place, Ferrari have emerged as credible challengers and Charles Leclerc has claimed two victories already this season. Combined with Verstappen failing to finish in Bahrain and Australia, it means the reigning champion trails Leclerc in the standings after five races by 19 points, with Horner expecting that battle to go on all year long.

“Look, there is a long, long way to go and it is so tight with Ferrari. There has been some great racing,” he said. “You can see there is a great respect between Charles and Max, they are enjoying racing each other, you can see that.

“I was rather hoping we weren’t set for another competitive year like last year but it looks like this one could well go all the way as well.”

Hamilton claims poor form won’t stop Mercedes in their tracks

Thursday 19 May 2022 15:56 , Michael Jones

Lewis Hamilton has vowed to fight on after a difficult start to the 2022 F1 season, saying that poor form won’t stop Mercedes in their tracks.

Mercedes have lacked pace so far this term - badly trailing front-runners Red Bull and Ferrari, while struggling with ‘porpoising’ as the car continues to bounce on the track.

Hamilton currently lies sixth in the drivers’ standings, a mammoth 68 points behind champions leader Charles Leclerc, and also trails his team-mate George Russell, who sits fourth.

But the seven-time world champion isn’t quitting on the season and is adamant that eventual success will be all the sweeter given the problems

“I love working with this team,” said Hamilton of Mercedes. “Being in a team is such a privilege and working with so many people towards a common goal.

“And everyone lifted each other up. Incredible how supportive everyone has been through the difficult times, and then we’ve had the most incredible times together.

“So, you know, a couple of bad races is not going to stop us in our tracks. This is where we unite: this is where we learn more about ourselves as individuals; this is where we grow the most. And it makes that eventual success – which I have no doubts we will eventually get to – taste even better.”

‘We’re on it’: Andretti determined to secure F1 team by 2024

Thursday 19 May 2022 15:42 , Michael Jones

Former world champion Mario Andretti has confirmed he is working on plans to bring a new team to the Formula One grid from 2024, but there is a “process they must respect” amid warnings from current teams.

Andretti, the 1978 world champion, and his son Michael, also a former F1 driver and a champion in IndyCar, have been linked with bringing an American team to the grid after were reported to be in interested in purchasing Sauber last year.

Reports of Andretti submitting paperwork to the FIA surfaced earlier this year, in what would be the first new team to join to the grid since Haas’ entry in 2017, but was met with scepticism from Red Bull principal Christian Horner and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

‘We’re on it’: Mario Andretti determined to secure F1 team by 2024

Vettel defends F1 when questioned over climate change

Thursday 19 May 2022 15:30 , Michael Jones

Sebastian Vettel’s biggest obstacle in addressing climate change is his role as a Formula 1 driver and the seemingly hypocritical viewpoint he speaks from.

Formula 1 is one of the biggest gas-guzzling sports in the world as 20 cars are fuelled for each race, each qualifying session, each practice session. The sport jet sets all around the world and relys heavily on fossil fuels for its entertainment but Vettel defended F1 by saying that it also played a positive role in society.

“On the other hand, you know, we were entertaining people during Covid,” he said. “We were one of the first ones to start again, when everybody’s heads were about to explode.

“I’m not saying Formula 1 has this huge position in the world to deliver entertainment. There’s plenty of people - if you talk about entertainment, sports, culture, comedy - a lot of people who couldn’t perform, and a lot of people missed that. And I think if we didn’t have that, in general, we’d probably go mad.”

The sport is also taking big steps to become more sustainable. The hybrid engines used in the F1 cars are already the most efficient in the world, they have made a revolutionary step forward in thermal efficiency which is the measure of converting fuel energy to power and the sport has plans to go net-zero carbon by 2030.

To ensure this Formula 1 is constantly working on the efficiency of the engine - the thermal efficiency on F1 cars is more than 50% which is up from the 30% or so of a standard road-going petrol engine - and it plans to introduce fully sustainable, carbon-neutral fuels with the new engines in 2026.

The sport’s bosses argue that there will still be millions of petrol- and diesel-engined cars on the roads after 2030 and that using sustainable fuels would have a dramatic effect on reducing global carbon emissions.

Leclerc crashes Lauda’s Ferrari

Thursday 19 May 2022 15:20 , Michael Jones

Charles Leclerc’s bad luck in Monaco struck again after crashing Niki Lauda’s classic Ferrari Formula 1 car on the streets of his hometown.

Leclerc was involved in the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, where he took out the 1974 Ferrari 312 B3, a car made famous by Lauda at the time.

The rear of the car stepped away from Leclerc after entering La Rascasse, leaving him to collide into the barriers.

Afterwards the 24-year-old posted about the incident on social media, joking about his unfortunate F1 record at Monaco.

He tweeted: “When you thought you already had all the bad luck of the world in Monaco and you lose the brakes into Rascasse with one of the most iconic historical Ferrari Formula 1 cars…”

Red Bull deny Ferrari claims about spending

Thursday 19 May 2022 15:08 , Michael Jones

Red Bull have denied Ferrari’s suggestion that they have spent heavily early in the 2022 season to make improvements to their car.

Max Verstappen has secured victory at the last two races at Imola and in Miami after Red Bull made tweaks to their car after problems with reliability.

That has helped Christian Horner’s team close the gap to Ferrari at the top of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship standings, with just six points separating the two manufacturers in the teams’ prize.

Mattia Binotto, team principal at Ferrari, hinted after the Miami Grand Prix that he was unsure if Red Bull would be able to continue to develop with the need to control spending and stay within the budget cap.

However Red Bull have now refuted the accusation that they have over-spent early in the season.

Verstappen not ruling out future Ferrari or Mercedes move

Thursday 19 May 2022 14:53 , Michael Jones

Max Verstappen has refused to rule out a switch to Mercedes or Ferrari in the future, though the reigning Formula 1 champion has insisted that there is ‘no reason to leave’ Red Bull just yet.

Verstappen, 24, claimed his first drivers’ title on a dramatic final lap in last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the last race of the year.

Immediately afterwards, the Dutch-Belgian asked Red Bull over the team radio: “Can we do this for another 10-15 years together?”

While Verstappen remains committed to the team, he was asked by Motorsport-Magazin – per Sky Germany – whether he would ever move to Mercedes or Ferrari in the future.

“At the end of the contract, I will only be 31 years old,” he reportedly said. “Then I still have the option to continue or not. I’m still not old at the end of the contract.”

Max Verstappen not ruling out Ferrari or Mercedes move in future

Button hints at future F1 team principal role

Thursday 19 May 2022 14:44 , Michael Jones

Jenson Button has hinted he could one day be tempted by a team principal role in Formula One.

The former F1 world champion currently works as a Sky Sports pundit and an advisor for Williams, and he has had some experience of leading a team in the recently devised Extreme E series.

F1’s Drive to Survive docu-series on Netflix has brought the role of team principals to the fore, and in particular the rivalry between Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes Toto Wolff.

Commenting on an online Q&A, Button says he could potentially see himself in such a position in the future.

“It looks like a tough job [with] lots of arguing with other team principals,” said Button. “But who knows what the future holds? There is a lot of other stuff that I would like to do but yeah, maybe one day.”

F1 opts against replacing cancelled Russian GP

Thursday 19 May 2022 14:30 , Michael Jones

Formula One has reduced the current season from 23 races to 22 after opting against replacing the cancelled Russian Grand Prix.

The Sochi race, which was originally scheduled to take place on 25 September, was pulled from the calendar in late February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

F1 bosses subsequently cancelled its contract with the Russian Grand Prix, which had been due to move to Igora Drive, 40 miles north of St Petersburg, from next year.

Reports initially suggested this year’s round-17 gap could be filled by a return to Qatar – which hosted its first grand prix last year – or a second race in Singapore. But organisers have confirmed the schedule will be shortened.

F1 opts against replacing cancelled Russian GP with another race

McLaren confirm updates ahead of Spanish GP

Thursday 19 May 2022 14:17 , Michael Jones

McLaren are another team that has been testing new upgrades ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Andreas Seidl confirmed the team have made their first major changes of the season to their MCL36 car.

McLaren have not had the start to the season they were hoping for with the team currently fourth in the constructors’ standings, 111 points behind leaders Ferrari, while Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are seventh and 11th respectively in the drivers’ standings.

“We are bringing some upgrades to the car for the weekend,” Seidl said in his official race preview. “I know it’s been an extremely busy week or so for many of the teams making changes ahead of Barcelona, so it’s going to continue to be a tight fight for points.

“We performed well at this track in pre-season testing, so it will be interesting to see how our car will perform with the upgrades we’ve made since then. Hopefully we can have some good battles and get both cars back into the fight for good points.”

Mercedes test new upgrades to W13 car

Thursday 19 May 2022 14:08 , Michael Jones

Mercedes reportedly used one of their filming days yesterday to test upgrades to their W13 car in France with George Russell behind the wheel. Toto Wolff and co. have struggled to solve the porpoising issues that have hampered the team’s start to the season but they will have benefitted from an additional 100km of testing ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

A report in Italy claimed that Mercedes had seen progress during those trials, with a new rear wing configuration and an updated power unit allowing for an improvement in straight-line speed. Russell had previously labelled the car a “killer to drive”, with the British driver already trailing championship leader Charles Leclerc by 55 points, while Lewis Hamilton is even further adrift.

F1 drivers all have ‘concern’ over race direction, claims Alonso

Thursday 19 May 2022 13:28 , Tom Kershaw

Fernando Alonso has hit out at the new race directors in Formula One, suggesting that the two-person replacement for Michael Masi has not had the desired effects.

Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas are due to split the role this season, with the former overseeing the five races so far and the latter stepping in for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Masi was removed from the role after criticism of his handling of the season finale, where Max Verstappen was allowed to pass Lewis Hamilton in contentious fashion to claim the last race and the championship itself.

An overhaul to the race directors’ approach and the team around them was revealed by the FIA ahead of the season but, when asked about criticism of the Miami Grand Prix track surface, Alonso played down the fact that there are issues to solve there and instead suggested that “all the drivers” have far bigger concerns over race authority to worry about.

“We have to give Miami time. The weekend was very good overall for F1, with the expectation and the guests that were there – it shows the growth of popularity in the United States,” the Alpine man said, per Spanish media.

“I give it good marks, although I’m sure there are things to improve and tweak after the experience of the first race. That happens at all circuits.

“Probably the most worrying thing is the race direction and the stewards. With all the changes that have taken place, they haven’t adapted too well and it’s a concern for all the drivers right now.”

Mercedes secret test of new upgrades confirmed

Thursday 19 May 2022 13:05 , Tom Kershaw

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have taken part in a secret test as they scramble to return to the front of the Formula One pack.

Hamilton has been cast a distant 68 points adrift of championship leader Charles Leclerc ahead of the sixth round of the season in Spain on Sunday.

Mercedes are expected to bring a number of new parts to Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in the hope of combating their ‘porpoising’ woes which have all but put an end to Hamilton’s bid for a record eighth title.

And it is understood that Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell drove the revamped Mercedes at a behind-closed-doors test on Wednesday.

F1 teams are allocated two filming days each season, with Mercedes electing to use their second of the year at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France.

Russell, who is 23 points ahead of Hamilton in the championship standings, completed the permitted 62 miles of running – equivalent to a third of a race distance.

‘Weight saving’ made Miami GP more difficult for Ricciardo

Thursday 19 May 2022 12:44 , Tom Kershaw

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo admits that the Miami Grand Prix was made even tougher by the team’s decision to cut back on the amount of drink his car could hold in order to save weight.

The 32-year-old clearly showed the effects of a hectic afternoon in the Florida humidity and he compared racing in the Miami heat to similar races in Singapore and Malaysia.

“Yeah, it’s got that heat factor to it,” Ricciardo told to Autosport. “It’s tough as well, because I mean, everyone’s obviously fighting for that last bit of weight.

“We don’t have the luxury of putting three litres in the drink system. So we have a little bit, and it’s never enough fluid. Naturally, you’re gonna get dehydrated. And yeah, this heat was was pretty real.

“They’re [Singapore and Malaysia] the tough ones, obviously. I mean, everyone obviously worked hard today, it is hot, drivers, mechanics, everyone’s feeling the heat.”

At the end of the race, Ricciardo thought that he had made the points but was told he finished 11th prior to getting a time penalty for going off the track in a battle with Kevin Magnussen which sent him down to 13th.

“Actually when I crossed the line, I honestly thought I was 10th,” he said. “It’s hard to know, obviously [there are] battles and cars going off here and there. But I was kind of doing a calculation in my head thinking that enough cars had kind of gone off, or I passed, to be somewhere inside the points.

“But yeah, we came up short. So I don’t think there were any ‘what could have beens’ today. We were just not quick enough.

“We were just hanging on. And I think when everyone’s in a tow, we’re still lacking a bit on the straights. I think obviously a little bit of a drag and stuff.”

‘This is F1’: Alonso takes subtle dig at Hamilton’s struggles

Thursday 19 May 2022 12:25 , Tom Kershaw

Fernando Alonso has suggested Lewis Hamilton’s struggles are par for the course when it comes to Formula One, stating the car and team behind it are defining factors as much as the driver.

While Hamilton has been a regular challenger for the championship since the days he and Alonso were teammates near the start of his career, this season has been a disappointment for the Brit as Mercedes struggle to make the new design work.

He sits sixth in the drivers’ standings after five races, while Mercedes are third in the constructors’ table, some way off the pace set by Ferrari and Red Bull.

“This is the nature of the sport. Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress,” Alonso told BBC Sport. “This year we see that the driver is very important in F1 but not crucial.

“Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and 100-and-something pole positions.

“And now he is doing a mega lap - as he said in Australia or somewhere like that - and he is one second behind. So, yeah - welcome [to our world].”

Formula E champion De Vries to make F1 bow

Thursday 19 May 2022 12:03 , Tom Kershaw

More than one Formula One team will this weekend take the opportunity to give a rookie driver a taste of the action at the highest level, with Nyck de Vries set to be behind the wheel for Williams in the first free practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Regulations state teams must provide two opportunities during the 2022 season for rookies, with 27-year-old De Vries therefore set for his first taste of an F1 race weekend.

The reserve driver for Mercedes has taken part in end-of-season testing for the team, but this will be his first opportunity to be involved during the campaign.

De Vries is the reigning Formula E champion and has won two of the eight races in that category so far this season.

He will be taking over Alex Albon’s seat for Williams in FP1, after they opted against using their own test driver Roy Nissany.

“I’m obviously very thankful and grateful for the opportunity to run in an FP1 session and kind of get to know the team, but also to kind of get myself out there during a Formula 1 weekend,” de Vries told Motorsport.

“I haven’t really thought about real targets. It’s only a one-hour session and you get like three runs on two different [tyre] compounds, which are both at the extreme end of the spectrum.

“So it will be a very interesting, exciting challenge. But I’m looking forward to the experience and hopefully I can do well. From a kind of expectations point of view, I don’t really know what to expect!”

F1 faces ‘mission’ to find next US racer, says Hamilton

Thursday 19 May 2022 11:44 , Tom Kershaw

Lewis Hamilton believes it will be a “good mission” for Formula One to find the sport’s next American star.

The sport’s popularity in the US continues to boom after the first-ever Miami Grand Prix - one of two American races this season with the United States GP set for Texas in October.

But there is not a single American driver on the grid in 2022, something which Hamilton feels may be a result of athletes choosing other sports.

“It doesn’t really surprise me. I think it’s perhaps more a cultural thing. You know, here in the States it’s the NFL, NBA. It’s NASCAR, IndyCar,” he said.

“In my 16 years of coming over here it’s been such a slow build, trying to bring awareness of the sport. Unfortunately, the Americans have to wake up at odd times in order to watch a Grand Prix.”

The USA has not had a F1 world champion since Mario Andretti claimed the title way back in 1978.

New F1 race directors praised after FIA demote Masi

Thursday 19 May 2022 11:29 , Tom Kershaw

Formula 1’s new race directors have been praised for a “very good start” to the 2022 season after the removal of Michael Masi.

Masi, who had been lead race director since 2019, lost the role after his part in the controversial ending to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that allowed Max Verstappen to win his maiden world title.

The Australian was replaced by a two-pronged team of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, assisted by the vastly-experienced Herbie Blash.

The refreshing of the race direction team came as part of wider changes, with team principals no longer afforded as direct access to the race director during the race.

Andreas Seidl, team principal at McLaren, has been pleased with the start that Wittich, who has served as race director at each of the first five races, in particular has made.

Verstappen vs Leclerc ‘could go all the way’

Thursday 19 May 2022 11:14 , Tom Kershaw

Team principal for Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, feels the race for the F1 championship will be another year-long struggle between the early top two - though had hoped for a pressure-free year of Max Verstappen retaining his title.

After the scintillating and controversial nature of his win over Lewis Hamilton last year, Verstappen and Red Bull would have been confident of another strong campaign, while also hoping the likes of Mercedes fell away while getting to grips with the new car designs and regulations.

That has certainly happened - but in their place, Ferrari have emerged as credible challengers and Charles Leclerc has claimed two victories already this season. Combined with Verstappen failing to finish in Bahrain and Australia, it means the reigning champion trails Leclerc in the standings after five races by 19 points, with Horner expecting that battle to go on all year long.

“Look, there is a long, long way to go and it is so tight with Ferrari. There has been some great racing,” he said. “You can see there is a great respect between Charles and Max, they are enjoying racing each other, you can see that.

“I was rather hoping we weren’t set for another competitive year like last year but it looks like this one could well go all the way as well.”

Hamilton claims poor form won’t stop Mercedes in their tracks

Thursday 19 May 2022 10:55 , Tom Kershaw

Lewis Hamilton has vowed to fight on after a difficult start to the 2022 F1 season, saying that poor form won’t stop Mercedes in their tracks.

Mercedes have lacked pace so far this term - badly trailing front-runners Red Bull and Ferrari, while struggling with ‘porpoising’ as the car continues to bounce on the track.

Hamilton currently lies sixth in the drivers’ standings, a mammoth 68 points behind champions leader Charles Leclerc, and also trails his team-mate George Russell, who sits fourth.

But the seven-time world champion isn’t quitting on the season and is adamant that eventual success will be all the sweeter given the problems

“I love working with this team,” said Hamilton of Mercedes. “Being in a team is such a privilege and working with so many people towards a common goal.

“And everyone lifted each other up. Incredible how supportive everyone has been through the difficult times, and then we’ve had the most incredible times together.

“So, you know, a couple of bad races is not going to stop us in our tracks. This is where we unite: this is where we learn more about ourselves as individuals; this is where we grow the most. And it makes that eventual success – which I have no doubts we will eventually get to – taste even better.”

‘We’re on it’: Andretti determined to secure F1 team by 2024

Thursday 19 May 2022 10:29 , Tom Kershaw

Former world champion Mario Andretti has confirmed he is working on plans to bring a new team to the Formula One grid from 2024, but there is a “process they must respect” amid warnings from current teams.

Andretti, the 1978 world champion, and his son Michael, also a former F1 driver and a champion in IndyCar, have been linked with bringing an American team to the grid after were reported to be in interested in purchasing Sauber last year.

Reports of Andretti submitting paperwork to the FIA surfaced earlier this year, in what would be the first new team to join to the grid since Haas’ entry in 2017, but was met with scepticism from Red Bull principal Christian Horner and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

‘We’re on it’: Mario Andretti determined to secure F1 team by 2024

Vettel defends F1 when questioned over climate change

Thursday 19 May 2022 10:14 , Tom Kershaw

Sebastian Vettel’s biggest obstacle in addressing climate change is his role as a Formula 1 driver and the seemingly hypocritical viewpoint he speaks from.

Formula 1 is one of the biggest gas-guzzling sports in the world as 20 cars are fuelled for each race, each qualifying session, each practice session. The sport jet sets all around the world and relys heavily on fossil fuels for its entertainment but Vettel defended F1 by saying that it also played a positive role in society.

“On the other hand, you know, we were entertaining people during Covid,” he said. “We were one of the first ones to start again, when everybody’s heads were about to explode.

“I’m not saying Formula 1 has this huge position in the world to deliver entertainment. There’s plenty of people - if you talk about entertainment, sports, culture, comedy - a lot of people who couldn’t perform, and a lot of people missed that. And I think if we didn’t have that, in general, we’d probably go mad.”

The sport is also taking big steps to become more sustainable. The hybrid engines used in the F1 cars are already the most efficient in the world, they have made a revolutionary step forward in thermal efficiency which is the measure of converting fuel energy to power and the sport has plans to go net-zero carbon by 2030.

To ensure this Formula 1 is constantly working on the efficiency of the engine - the thermal efficiency on F1 cars is more than 50% which is up from the 30% or so of a standard road-going petrol engine - and it plans to introduce fully sustainable, carbon-neutral fuels with the new engines in 2026.

The sport’s bosses argue that there will still be millions of petrol- and diesel-engined cars on the roads after 2030 and that using sustainable fuels would have a dramatic effect on reducing global carbon emissions.

Leclerc crashes Lauda’s Ferrari

Thursday 19 May 2022 09:59 , Tom Kershaw

Charles Leclerc’s bad luck in Monaco struck again after crashing Niki Lauda’s classic Ferrari Formula 1 car on the streets of his hometown.

Leclerc was involved in the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, where he took out the 1974 Ferrari 312 B3, a car made famous by Lauda at the time.

The rear of the car stepped away from Leclerc after entering La Rascasse, leaving him to collide into the barriers.

Afterwards the 24-year-old posted about the incident on social media, joking about his unfortunate F1 record at Monaco.

He tweeted: “When you thought you already had all the bad luck of the world in Monaco and you lose the brakes into Rascasse with one of the most iconic historical Ferrari Formula 1 cars…”

Red Bull deny Ferrari claims about spending

Thursday 19 May 2022 09:44 , Tom Kershaw

Red Bull have denied Ferrari’s suggestion that they have spent heavily early in the 2022 season to make improvements to their car.

Max Verstappen has secured victory at the last two races at Imola and in Miami after Red Bull made tweaks to their car after problems with reliability.

That has helped Christian Horner’s team close the gap to Ferrari at the top of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship standings, with just six points separating the two manufacturers in the teams’ prize.

Mattia Binotto, team principal at Ferrari, hinted after the Miami Grand Prix that he was unsure if Red Bull would be able to continue to develop with the need to control spending and stay within the budget cap.

However Red Bull have now refuted the accusation that they have over-spent early in the season.

Verstappen not ruling out future Ferrari or Mercedes move

Thursday 19 May 2022 09:25 , Tom Kershaw

Max Verstappen has refused to rule out a switch to Mercedes or Ferrari in the future, though the reigning Formula 1 champion has insisted that there is ‘no reason to leave’ Red Bull just yet.

Verstappen, 24, claimed his first drivers’ title on a dramatic final lap in last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the last race of the year.

Immediately afterwards, the Dutch-Belgian asked Red Bull over the team radio: “Can we do this for another 10-15 years together?”

While Verstappen remains committed to the team, he was asked by Motorsport-Magazin – per Sky Germany – whether he would ever move to Mercedes or Ferrari in the future.

“At the end of the contract, I will only be 31 years old,” he reportedly said. “Then I still have the option to continue or not. I’m still not old at the end of the contract.”

Max Verstappen not ruling out Ferrari or Mercedes move in future

Button hints at future F1 team principal role

Thursday 19 May 2022 08:59 , Tom Kershaw

Jenson Button has hinted he could one day be tempted by a team principal role in Formula One.

The former F1 world champion currently works as a Sky Sports pundit and an advisor for Williams, and he has had some experience of leading a team in the recently devised Extreme E series.

F1’s Drive to Survive docu-series on Netflix has brought the role of team principals to the fore, and in particular the rivalry between Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes Toto Wolff.

Commenting on an online Q&A, Button says he could potentially see himself in such a position in the future.

“It looks like a tough job [with] lots of arguing with other team principals,” said Button. “But who knows what the future holds? There is a lot of other stuff that I would like to do but yeah, maybe one day.”

F1 opts against replacing cancelled Russian GP

Thursday 19 May 2022 08:44 , Tom Kershaw

Formula One has reduced the current season from 23 races to 22 after opting against replacing the cancelled Russian Grand Prix.

The Sochi race, which was originally scheduled to take place on 25 September, was pulled from the calendar in late February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

F1 bosses subsequently cancelled its contract with the Russian Grand Prix, which had been due to move to Igora Drive, 40 miles north of St Petersburg, from next year.

Reports initially suggested this year’s round-17 gap could be filled by a return to Qatar – which hosted its first grand prix last year – or a second race in Singapore. But organisers have confirmed the schedule will be shortened.

F1 opts against replacing cancelled Russian GP with another race

McLaren confirm updates ahead of Spanish GP

Thursday 19 May 2022 08:31 , Tom Kershaw

McLaren are another team that has been testing new upgrades ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Andreas Seidl confirmed the team have made their first major changes of the season to their MCL36 car.

McLaren have not had the start to the season they were hoping for with the team currently fourth in the constructors’ standings, 111 points behind leaders Ferrari, while Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are seventh and 11th respectively in the drivers’ standings.

“We are bringing some upgrades to the car for the weekend,” Seidl said in his official race preview. “I know it’s been an extremely busy week or so for many of the teams making changes ahead of Barcelona, so it’s going to continue to be a tight fight for points.

“We performed well at this track in pre-season testing, so it will be interesting to see how our car will perform with the upgrades we’ve made since then. Hopefully we can have some good battles and get both cars back into the fight for good points.”

Mercedes test new upgrades to W13 car

Thursday 19 May 2022 08:25 , Tom Kershaw

Mercedes reportedly used one of their filming days yesterday to test upgrades to their W13 car in France with George Russell behind the wheel. Toto Wolff and co. have struggled to solve the porpoising issues that have hampered the team’s start to the season but they will have benefitted from an additional 100km of testing ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

A report in Italy claimed that Mercedes had seen progress during those trials, with a new rear wing configuration and an updated power unit allowing for an improvement in straight-line speed. Russell had previously labelled the car a “killer to drive”, with the British driver already trailing championship leader Charles Leclerc by 55 points, while Lewis Hamilton is even further adrift.

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