Tagged in: Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen will run number one on car as champion in 2022

Max Verstappen has confirmed he will run the number one on his car in 2022 as Formula One world champion, something no driver has done in F1 since 2014.

There has not been a number one car on the F1 grid since Sebastian Vettel’s in 2014, when the Red Bull driver was a defending four-time world champion.

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Since then, Lewis Hamilton has opted to keep his career number 44, while Nico Rosberg retired after winning the championship in 2016, meaning he did not have the chance to run it the following season.

Verstappen, who normally races with number 33, wants to make the switch for 2022.

“Yeah, I will run it,” Verstappen said on the subject. “How many times can you do that? I don’t know, maybe it’s the only time I can in my life.

“I think it’s the best number out there. I will definitely put it on the car.”

Verstappen’s championship was confirmed late on Sunday evening after the FIA dismissed a protest into how the final laps of the race unfolded.

A late safety car period helped Verstappen pit for fresh tyres, with a controversial FIA call to let lapped cars unlap themselves effectively moving Verstappen right up behind Hamilton for the restart.

When that restart took place, Verstappen caught and passed Hamilton and held the lead to claim his maiden championship.

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Title battle too close for comfort, says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff expects the Formula One title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull rival Max Verstappen to rage deep into the 2021 campaign, with the gap between the pair too close for comfort.

The 36-year-old Hamilton turned a five-point deficit to his 23-year-old Dutch rival into a two-point lead in the overall standings after racing to a landmark 100th victory in the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The duo have been engaged in a fierce battle all year long, with Hamilton aiming to become the first driver to win eight Formula One titles, as Verstappen hunts down his first championship triumph.

Thirty-two points is the widest the gap between the two has been, with the overall lead changing hands four times this year and three times in the last five races. There are seven races to go.

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“I think neither driver or neither team can have any comfort in the current situation because there is just no gap in terms of points,” Wolff, whose team is 33 points clear of Red Bull in the team standings, told reporters via video conference on Sunday.

“I think this is going to go very long.”

The 2014 Olympic Park venue that hosted Sunday’s race and Monza, scene of the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago, have traditionally been tracks that have played to Mercedes’ strengths.

While Hamilton seized back the overall lead in Russia and kept his team’s undefeated run in Sochi intact, he and Mercedes would have hoped to have come away with more.

The points difference between Verstappen and Hamilton was unchanged after the pair put each other out of the race in Monza.

In Russia, Verstappen concluded second, despite having started last after taking on a new engine.

Of the seven races to come, only Turkey, where Hamilton clinched his seventh title last year, appears to be a clear Mercedes favorite.

Hamilton may also need to take on a new power unit, which like Verstappen in Russia, would trigger penalties, sending him to the back of the grid.

“I’ve stopped trying to anticipate whether it’s a historically strong race for us or not because with the new regulation everything has changed so much,” said Wolff.

“But definitely we knew that Monza and Sochi would be coming more towards us and the reality is that we are where we are.”

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Hamilton plays down blow of another loss to Verstappen

Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton played down the pain of his latest defeat by Formula One leader Max Verstappen in France on Sunday and said the race was a real reflection of Red Bull’s pace.

The Briton had won at Le Castellet in 2018 and 2019, with no race last year due to COVID-19, but his hopes of a hat-trick ended when resurgent Red Bull out-smarted the champions on strategy.

The seventh race of the season was a reversal of the Spanish Grand Prix in May when Hamilton hunted down Verstappen, who stated then that he felt like a sitting duck, in the closing laps to win.

This time it was the champion who was on the receiving end as Verstappen made a second pitstop and used his fresher tyres to make up the time and overhaul Hamilton on the penultimate lap.

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Asked how gut-wrenching the feeling had been, Hamilton — now 12 points behind his Dutch rival — said it had not been at all.

“I think we did a great job today and it just didn’t work out,” he added.

“I’m not massively disappointed. I think I did the best job I could today. Of course, there were things we could probably have done slightly better but overall they have been quicker than us all weekend.

“It’s a true reflection of the pace they have.”

Hamilton had arrived at Le Castellet having scored just seven points from the past two races won by Red Bull and lagging Verstappen by four.

The 36-year-old recognized that another chance to win had e slipped through his fingers, his tally still stuck at a record 98 career victories.

“If we look in hindsight for sure if we’d have stopped earlier, before they stopped and come out ahead and just gone onto a two stop, we probably could have won the race,” he said.

“But it would still have been very difficult. Their pace was generally very, very strong.

“If he (Verstappen) had not made a mistake in turn one, they would have just led the race all the way probably.”

Verstappen started on pole but went wide at the start, letting Hamilton to take the lead which the Mercedes driver held until the pitstops, when the Dutch driver got back in front before taking a gamble and pitting again.

“Lewis’s tyres were really worn,” Verstappen said of the closing stages. “It was a fairly easy pass.”

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Hamilton ready for new contract talks with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton is ready to start new contract negotiations with Mercedes, meaning he would stay in Formula One beyond the end of 2021, and is hoping to have a new deal in place by August.

After eight years at Mercedes, the seven-time world champion signed a one-year deal over the winter, meaning he will be out of contract again at the end of 2021.

The one-year deal came as a surprise following a rushed negotiation period at the end of the year, which resulted in team and driver agreeing to start their next contract talks earlier this year.

“We never want to be in the position that we were in in January, in February [this year],” Hamilton said. “It ruined my whole winter and I’m sure it wasn’t helpful for Toto’s, in terms of being out to be off and relaxed, so it felt like we didn’t really have much of a break.

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“I think we have to be sensible. Naturally we don’t have to rush anything, but I think we have to be sensible and start conversations.

“They’re very complex, it’s never a super simple procedure and so hopefully soon we can start, as long as it doesn’t interfere the actual job.

“We still have 19 races to do, but it would be great to get something in place before the break so then we could, again, be in that break and have a clear picture of the future.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is confident Hamilton will commit to F1 for more than a single year under his next contract.

“Yes, it should be [more than a year],” Wolff said. “We don’t want to be in a stressful situation every single year where we are absolutely flat-out trying to win races and needing to negotiate. I would rather that doesn’t happen every year.

“We just need to spend a day or two together, put it out there and decide which are the difficult components.

“We will then lock the door and won’t walk out until it is sorted. That works best for us, and it has worked best for us in the past.”

At 36 years old, Hamilton stated he still feels fit enough to continue in F1 over the coming years.

“There’s still some life in this old dog!” he joked. “I would say I’m more conscious than ever about my body, about my training regime.

“I’ve been training myself for a long time now but constantly growing and learning how to look after, naturally, the vessel that I’m given and feeling great.”

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Hamilton set to race in Abu Dhabi after negative COVID-19 test

Lewis Hamilton is set to return to action with Mercedes at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after testing negative for COVID-19.

The seven-time world champion missed last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID on the Monday before the race and was substituted by Williams driver George Russell.

Before the completion of 10 days in isolation in Bahrain, Hamilton tested negative for COVID on Wednesday, letting him to travel on Thursday to Abu Dhabi, where he tested negative for a second time on arrival in the United Arab Emirates.

“The FIA, Formula One and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team can today confirm that Lewis Hamilton has returned a number of negative COVID-19 tests,” an FIA statement said.

“He has completed his ten-day quarantine in Bahrain and was free to leave the country according to the Bahraini health authority regulations.

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“Lewis has now arrived in Abu Dhabi following confirmation from the authorities that he could do so and after quarantining has now received a further negative test result.

“The FIA COVID-19 protocols remain clear and have not changed. A negative pre-test result is necessary to be given access to the Formula One Paddock as set out in Appendix S to the International Sporting Code and another negative test result no more than 24 hours following arrival is required.

“Lewis, having now tested negative in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be granted access to the paddock.”

Hamilton’s return to the paddock means he will be able to take part in the first practice session for this weekend’s season finale.

Russell will return to Williams, meaning his replacement for the Sakhir Grand Prix, Jack Aitken, will not drive this weekend.

The news was confirmed by the FIA on Thursday evening when the governing body announced the official entry list for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Hamilton at Mercedes and Russell at Williams.

Speaking in a video posted on Instagram on Tuesday, Hamilton stated his week in isolation with the virus had been “one of the hardest weeks that I’ve had for some time”.

Russell concluded ninth in Hamilton’s car at the Sakhir Grand Prix. He was on target to win the race before a mistake at one of Mercedes’ pit stops resulted in the wrong tyres being fitted to his car, forcing him to make an additional pit stop before a puncture ruled him out of the running for victory.

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Hamilton wants three more years in F1

Lewis Hamilton expects to stay in Formula One for at least three more years, revealing he is motivated to stay in the sport by its lack of diversity and his desire to prove he deserves a space on the grid.

The six-time world champion is out of contract with Mercedes at the end of 2020 but is expected to negotiate a renewal with the team over the upcoming months.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, he revealed that he is targeting a minimum of three more years in the sport but confessed that nothing was concrete.

“I think you still have to earn the right to be here in terms of how you perform and continue to deliver,” he said. “So my goal is to continue to deliver as long as I can. I do see myself going for at least another three years.”

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Hamilton made his F1 debut in 2007 with McLaren, won his first title in 2008 and moved to Mercedes in 2013.

Since then he has added five more titles and looks set for a record-equaling seventh this year if he can fend off Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton said the delayed start to the season due to the coronavirus pandemic may have inadvertently extended his career by giving him time to rest and reflect.

“The COVID lockdown meant the first part of the season was cancelled, and while that was a negative in many, many ways, in some ways it gave a lot of life and energy to focus on some other things and that bit of time off was really a bit of breathing space. It has kind of giving me a renewed bit of energy to perhaps go longer.

“Ultimately I want to be able to perform at the level I am performing at now forever, but obviously there is a point at which physicality and the mental side can tail off. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but I don’t see that happening in a particular short term in the next two or three years, so I am definitely going to be here for the foreseeable future.”

Speaking about his motivation to stay in the sport, Hamilton cited the lack of drivers from his background in junior categories.

The 35-year-old is F1’s only Black driver and has taken the lead in campaigning for greater diversity in the sport.

Speaking about his motivation to stay in the sport, Hamilton cited the lack of drivers from his background in junior categories. The 35-year-old is F1’s only Black driver and has taken the lead in campaigning for greater diversity in the sport.

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Hamilton acquires his sixth-straight Formula One Championship

Lewis Hamilton can be ranked among the best drivers to ever get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. At this year’s United States Grand Prix, Hamilton further cemented his on-going legacy by clinching his sixth world drivers title with two races to go in the 2019 season.

Not only that, this is also Hamilton’s third championship in a row. Among the current crop of drivers, Only Sebastian Vettel has the most successive titles with four in a row.

Six titles also means that Hamilton has also defeated Juan Manuel Fangio in the most number of titles, and is now only one behind Michael Schumacher who has seven. Ever since the start of the turbo-hybrid era, the combination of Hamilton and Mercedes-AMG have been dominating the sport.

Just two weeks ago, the team bagged the constructor’s championship, their sixth straight title. That record places them tied with McLaren with most consecutive constructor’s championships.

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Hamilton’s season started off strong by finishing in the top two spots over the span of eight races.

He never suffered a single retirement this year, and placed in the points in the 19 races run so far. Aside from one particularly disastrous round during the German Grand Prix where he finished ninth, Hamilton would always be in the top five finishers.

Next year will be the last of the existing generation of Formula 1 cars. While there is no question that Mercedes-AMG and Lewis Hamilton will still be a force to be reckoned with in 2020, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the field will adapt to the new car and rule changes by 2021. 

The Circuit of the Americas had a special parking spot next to the podium reserved for the championship car.

There was only one car that could be. It was a silver Mercedes No. 44. “I remember watching this sport when I was younger,” Hamilton said. “It’s beyond surreal to think that this journey, that my life journey has brought me to this point.”

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Hamilton recovers to win Mexico GP

Lewis Hamilton recovered from a first-lap off to win the Mexican Grand Prix but will have to wait at least one more race to clinch the 2019 Formula 1 title.

Hamilton had a trip across the grass at the start of the race after contact with Max Verstappen and fell to fifth, but he executed a one-stop strategy exceptionally to overhaul both Ferraris and score his 10th triumph of the season.

Sebastian Vettel was unable to attack Hamilton after losing track position through strategy and had to settle for second in lead Ferrari, with Valtteri Bottas third.

Poleman and early race leader Charles Leclerc fell to fourth as a two-stop strategy and a slow second stop cost him dearly.

Ferrari had control of the race in the early stages despite Leclerc being lightly nerfed by Vettel after running wide under braking for the Turn 4 left-hander and slowing right down through the tight right-hand turn that followed on the first lap.

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Behind, though, Hamilton had already suffered an early setback as Verstappen challenged him on the inside into the first corner.

Hamilton had already been crowded out by Vettel on the run down to Turn 1 as they chased Leclerc of the line, a move he branded “dangerous” but one that was not inspected by the officials.

At the first corner, Hamilton ran wide and had a big snap of oversteer on the outside kerb, which lurched his car to the right and put him and Verstappen on the grass between the Turns 2 and 3 complex after they banged wheels.

The incident dropped Hamilton behind Alex Albon’s Red Bull and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz Jr, while Verstappen fell to eighth, behind Lando Norris and Bottas.

Hamilton’s win, with Bottas third, extended his championship lead by 10 points but he needed to add 14 points over Bottas to clinch his sixth title.

That means Hamilton now has a 74-point lead with 78 available in the final three races.

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Hamilton wins Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton was handed victory in the Russian Grand Prix after a virtual safety car cost Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc the lead.

Hamilton’s first win in four grands prix inched him closer to a sixth world title and came after Ferrari’s chances of victory fell apart following a controversy over Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel disobeying team orders.

Ferrari’s pre-race plan was for Leclerc to tow Vettel down into the first corner to remove the risk of Hamilton, starting second, taking the lead.

Leclerc played his side of the bargain, but once Vettel was in the lead, he refused a demand to let his team-mate back past him. After a series of conversations over the radio, Ferrari decided to do the swap later and Leclerc recovered first place when he was pitted four laps earlier and allowed to benefit from fresher tyres.

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But Vettel’s engine developed a problem in its hybrid system on his first lap out of the pits and when he was told to park the car, that led to the virtual safety car being deployed.

It was bad timing for Ferrari, because it meant Hamilton, who had been promoted into the lead by Ferrari’s pit stops, could stop under the VSC and lose far less time than under racing conditions, allowing him to keep the lead.

Leclerc then lost second place as well when George Russell crashed with an apparent braking problem just as the VSC was ending, bringing out the safety car.

Ferrari decided to pit Leclerc again to swap his medium tyres for softs, the same as the Mercedes drivers, and that dropped him to third behind Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Try as he might, Leclerc could not quite get close enough to attack Bottas, and Mercedes were able to deliver their first one-two since the British Grand Prix back in mid-July. Hamilton scored an extra point for fastest lap and his championship lead is now at 73 points. Mathematically, he cannot win the title at the next race in Japan – but he could well do it the race after that in Mexico.

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