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:
Lewis Hamilton’s future should not be taken for granted
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
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
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
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.”
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
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.
Brundle believes the Mercedes team principal knows he stepped over the line
Alain Prost hits out after Alpine departure
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.
Celebrating with a song - looking back at Jenson Button’s world title
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
“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
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.”
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