F1 news LIVE: Lewis Hamilton now favourite for title as Max Verstappen bemoans stewards

Mercedes Requests Review Of Verstappen/Hamilton Battle

Lewis Hamilton is now favourite to win the F1 drivers’ championship after winning the Qatar Grand Prix to close the gap to his title rival and current standings leaders Max Verstappen. The seven-time world champion is now within eight points of the Dutch driver, with two races to go, after an excellent drive that saw him dominate from start to finish after claiming pole position with a sublime qualifying performance.

Verstappen did his best to limit the damage though, rising from seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty to finish second, while also salvaging his day further with a valuable late point added for the fastest lap. There was some nostalgia too, as Fernando Alonso claimed a first Formula 1 podium in seven years to deliver for Alpine, doing enough to seize the highest rating in Indy Sport’s Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings.

Verstappen said the title race is “exciting” but also complained about his treatment by the stewards. “No surprises there,” he said of the penalty. ““I never get presents from them so it’s ok. But in the end once I knew I was starting seventh I was just very motivated to move ahead and that’s exactly what we did. We had a good first lap and then after five laps we were second again. Then I just tried to keep the gap small which we did throughout the whole race so they couldn’t do an extra stop. It gave me the fastest lap at the end, so I was definitely happy with that.”

Here’s all the latest F1 news and reaction from Qatar as the build-up to Saudi Arabia begins:

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F1 news

British sporting royalty right here. Beckham was in attendance in Qatar and sent a message on social media after Hamilton’s victory.

Karl Matchett23 November 2021 13:05

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Red Bull’s Horner has no regrets over behaviour at Qatar Grand Prix

Christian Horner has no regret over his actions at the Qatar Grand Prix as the Red Bull team boss saw Lewis Hamilton close the gap to championship-leader Max Verstappen.

Hamilton roared to a lights-to-flag victory in Formula One’s inaugural race in Doha, taking the Mercedes driver to within eight points of Red Bull’s Verstappen with two races to go.

The Qatar Grand Prix lacked some of the excitement of recent races on the track – but Horner and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff more than made amends off it.

The pair clashed during a Thursday press conference as the news broke that Mercedes had failed in a bid to review the decision not to punish Verstappen for an incident with Hamilton a week earlier in Brazil.

Horner said he had “no relationship” with Wolff, was not there to “kiss his a**e” and that he would not be spending Christmas with the German – unless Wolff was “in panto this year”.

A trackside marshal was next to face Horner’s ire after Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty for not sufficiently slowing for double-waved yellow flags towards the end of qualifying.

“It’s a rogue marshal that stuck out a flag out. He wasn’t told to do so. This is a crucial blow in the world championship,” Horner told Sky Sports F1, and his words landed him in hot water with the FIA after he was summoned to the stewards to explain his comments.

Horner got off with an official warning and also apologised to the marshal in question and offered to participate in the 2022 FIA International Stewards Programme as a result.

But asked if his outburst showed that the pressure of a close-run title fight was getting to him, Horner said: “Not at all – watch the interview and make your own opinion.

“Everyone has a right to an opinion and I gave an opinion.”

Pushed on if he regretted his recent behaviour, he added: “Not at all, I believe in my team, I’m a straight-talker and have always conducted myself in that manner.

“I’m not an overly-emotional person, I don’t rant at camera and I think the way I have conducted myself, I have no issues with it and would do exactly the same.”

Karl Matchett23 November 2021 12:47

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F1 news

That Bottas puncture made for quite a sight on the track:

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 12:34

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F1 news

Valtteri Bottas revealed after the Qatar Grand Prix that his Mercedes had a different spec to his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas picked up a puncture and before an eventual retirement as he failed to finish the race, which Hamilton won to close the gap to Verstappen at the top of the standings to eight points.

“I have found out the reason, but I cannot give details,” he said, according to Finnish outlet Ilta Sanomat. “But my car was no longer quite the same as it was, nor was it the same as Lewis’s.

“There were little differences in the cars.”

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 12:21

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F1 news

Ralph Schumacher has poured doubt over suspicions Mercedes are bending the rules to win the Formula 1 world championship, saying they are fast enough not to cheat.

Questions have been asked of Mercedes in recent weeks as Lewis Hamilton was hit with grid-place penalties, first for yet another engine change and then for his rear wing.

“We have seen again here [in Qatar] that Mercedes is fast enough and does not have to cheat,” he told Sky Deutschland. “I do not assume that any team wilfully disregard the rules. If you go close to the limit, something can always go wrong and you get into grey areas.”

“The Mercedes is currently the more stable package,” he added. “Max gives everything and shows how good he is. Under normal circumstances, however, he has no chance. Maybe he will have the luck that he has lacked so far. If he had that already at the beginning of the season, he might now be world champion.”

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 11:06

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F1 news: standings

1. Max Verstappen, 351.5.

2. Lewis Hamilton, 343.5.

7. Carlos Sainz Jr, 145.5.

8. Daniel Ricciardo, 105.

12. Sebastian Vettel, 43.

18. Antonio Giovinazzi, 1.

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 10:41

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F1 news

Christian Horner sounded understandably like a man under pressure this weekend. “I think we’ve been pretty good with our emotions,” Horner told Sky F1. “I haven’t been pointing and swearing at cameras and all that kind of thing.

“I’m just straight and I tell you what I think. If I think you are being an arse then I will tell you that you are being an arse,” he told his interviewer, Damon Hill. “Look, I’ve spoken to the FIA and apologised if any offence was caused [referring to his “rogue marshal” comment]. It wasn’t my intention to cause offence and my frustration wasn’t with an individual marshal, it was with the situation itself.”

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 10:09

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F1 news

Lewis Hamilton will have his newest engine back in place for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix as Mercedes look to launch a late assault to retain the Formula One drivers’ championship title.

The British racer closed the gap on leader Max Verstappen by winning the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Dutchman just eight points ahead with two races to go.

Hamilton, the reigning champion, can again emerge triumphant for 2021 if he wins the last two events of the season – and he’ll have the machinery from his successful Brazilian Grand Prix back in his car next time out.

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 09:41

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F1 news: The permutations

Max Verstappen will have his first shot at clinching the Formula One title in Saudi Arabia in two weeks’ time but Red Bull’s championship leader could also see his advantage disappear entirely.

The 2021 title battle remains too close to call, with Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton closing the gap to eight points with another dominant win in Qatar on Sunday.

With two races remaining, the prospect of a winner-takes-all shootout in the final round at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina is very much alive.

For Verstappen to clinch the title at the inaugural Saudi Grand Prix in Jeddah on Dec. 5, he must finish at least second.

But if Hamilton wins that race with a bonus point for fastest lap, and Verstappen is second, the pair will leave level on points and the Red Bull driver ahead 9-8 on race wins.

In that scenario, the title will be won by whoever finishes ahead of the other in the final race, unless they take each other out.

Should Hamilton win in Jeddah and Verstappen finish lower than second, it will be the Mercedes driver leading into the final race.

Other current title permutations all involve Verstappen finishing second in Jeddah, with or without fastest lap, but Hamilton failing to win.

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 09:13

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Horner has no regrets

Christian Horner has no regret over his actions at the Qatar Grand Prix as the Red Bull team boss saw Lewis Hamilton close the gap to championship-leader Max Verstappen.

Hamilton roared to a lights-to-flag victory in Formula One’s inaugural race in Doha, taking the Mercedes driver to within eight points of Red Bull’s Verstappen with two races to go.

The Qatar Grand Prix lacked some of the excitement of recent races on the track – but Horner and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff more than made amends off it.

The pair clashed during a Thursday press conference as the news broke that Mercedes had failed in a bid to review the decision not to punish Verstappen for an incident with Hamilton a week earlier in Brazil.

Horner said he had “no relationship” with Wolff, was not there to “kiss his a**e” and that he would not be spending Christmas with the German – unless Wolff was “in panto this year”.

A trackside marshal was next to face Horner’s ire after Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty for not sufficiently slowing for double-waved yellow flags towards the end of qualifying.

“It’s a rogue marshal that stuck out a flag out. He wasn’t told to do so. This is a crucial blow in the world championship,” Horner told Sky Sports F1, and his words landed him in hot water with the FIA after he was summoned to the stewards to explain his comments.

Horner got off with an official warning and also apologised to the marshal in question and offered to participate in the 2022 FIA International Stewards Programme as a result.

But asked if his outburst showed that the pressure of a close-run title fight was getting to him, Horner said: “Not at all – watch the interview and make your own opinion.

“Everyone has a right to an opinion and I gave an opinion.”

Pushed on if he regretted his recent behaviour, he added: “Not at all, I believe in my team, I’m a straight-talker and have always conducted myself in that manner.

“I’m not an overly-emotional person, I don’t rant at camera and I think the way I have conducted myself, I have no issues with it and would do exactly the same.”

Lawrence Ostlere23 November 2021 08:56

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