F1 news LIVE: Max Verstappen has ‘driven out of his skin’ to lead Red Bull’s title challenge with Mercedes

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton head into the final Formula One weekend level on points at the top of the driver standings, with the Dutch racer set to win if neither finish on account of more race wins this season. The big hope for viewers though is that both go the distance in another thrilling race, with this year’s title fight being one of the most thrilling in the sport’s history.

Fans were boosted by the news that Channel 4 will be showing the race in Abu Dhabu free-to-air, which F1 president Stefano Domenicali called a “thrilling finale to this epic season”. The first two practice sessions take place later on Friday and we’ll have all the latest build-up and action as the drivers prepare for their final challenge, as well as all the F1 news throughout the day.

The race on Sunday should prove to be one the most memorable on-track occasions in recent history.

Follow all the latest news and updates below.


Max Verstappen has ‘driven out of his skin’ for F1 title challenge

Red Bull’s title challenge to Mercedes in Formula One is an unprecedented rivalry and is thanks to the incredible efforts behind the wheel from Max Verstappen, says team boss Christian Horner.

“It’s the first time Mercedes have been in this position where they’re being challenged. You can see they’re uncomfortable with it,” he said on the Sports Desk podcast.

“Mercedes is a big machine – they have more people in marketing than we have in mechanics. It’s been very much David v Goliath this year.

“Lewis and Mercedes have had the better car since the summer break arguably, but Max has driven out of his skin – the wins in Austin and Mexico standing out.

“There’s been massive pressure on him – if you look at his home Grand Prix [in the Netherlands], and the way he’s dealt with that at a time when mental pressure of young athletes has come under such scrutiny, I think he’s been a shining light of how to deal with that pressure.”

F1 title decider to be shown live on Channel 4

The Formula One world championship showdown will be free to air as Channel 4 announced it will screen the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are locked on 369.5 points at the top of the drivers’ standings heading to Sunday’s race at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Now their winner-takes-all battle will be shown live on Channel 4, as well as on Sky Sports – which hosts all F1 races through its subscription services, having reportedly paid over £1billion for a five-year deal back in 2019.

Sky chief executive, UK and Europe, Stephen van Rooyen said: “Sunday’s Grand Prix is one of the biggest sporting events in the last decade, and could be a historic moment for British sport.

“We’ve chosen to gift the race to the whole country at Christmas through our partnership with Channel 4, so everyone can be part of a huge national moment as Lewis Hamilton goes for a historic eighth World Championship title.”

Formula One president Stefano Domenicali added: “We are excited that Sky will make the Grand Prix on Sunday available to Channel 4 viewers so everyone can tune in live for the thrilling finale to this epic season.”

Channel 4 struck a similar deal with Amazon Prime in September to show Emma Raducanu’s US Open victory.

F1 drivers are all ‘a bit crazy’ says Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton believes all F1 drivers are ‘a bit crazy’ ahead of his winner-takes-all battle with Max Verstappen on Sunday.

Hamilton and Max Verstappen go into the final race of the year tied on 369.5 points after a campaign of ebb-and-flow racing.

Reminded that he had labelled Verstappen ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous’ during last Sunday’s chaotic Saudi Arabian race, when he ran into the back of the suddenly slowing Red Bull, Hamilton played down those comments.

“When we are in the races we say all sorts of things,” he explained.

“We are in the heat of the moment, the adrenalin is firing, your emotions are on edge…I think ultimately us racing drivers we’re all a bit crazy to be able to do what we do and take the risks that we do.”

Schumacher will always be F1’s greatest driver, Vettel claims

Sebastian Vettel insists Michael Schumacher will remain the greatest driver in Formula One history – even if Lewis Hamilton was to win five more world championships.

Hamilton and Schumacher currently hold a record seven titles apiece but the Mercedes man can move clear if he outscores Max Verstappen at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The season-ending race at Yas Marina sees Hamilton and the Red Bull of Verstappen arrive tied on 369.5 points in the standings.

The Brit insists a potential eighth title would be the best of his career given the fight the pair have had.

Vettel, however, feels Schumacher – who won seven titles between 1994 and 2004 – will still be untouchable as the best in the sport’s history, even if Hamilton went on to add to his haul.

“Michael is my hero,” four-time world champion Vettel said of his fellow German.

“For that reason I probably don’t want Lewis to win but the truth is, they have both had a strong season, they are going into the last race with the opportunity to win the championship because they both deserve it.

“In a way, I’d be happy if Michael’s record still stands but even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest.

“Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships but it doesn’t change anything for me and I get along with Lewis.

“So the gut says I want Max to win just to keep the record alive but my head is clear in terms of ‘let the best man win’.”

Verstappen’s opinion of Hamilton has changed ‘not in a positive way'

Max Verstappen has revealed his opinion of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes has changed during the course of their season-long title battle – and not in a good way.

Hamilton and Verstappen go into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday tied on 369.5 points after a year of ebb and flow racing.

Hamilton collided with the back of Verstappen’s car in last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and the latter was hit with a 10-second time penalty for slowing down without due caution, having already been handed a five-second penalty for earlier gaining an advantage by leaving the track.

Verstappen was labelled a “f****** crazy guy” by Hamilton over the team radio as their rivalry ramped up.

Asked if his opinion of Mercedes and Hamilton had altered over the course of the season, the Dutchman replied: “Yes, very much so. And not in a positive way.

“Clearly only I was wrong somehow, like I said other people do exactly the same thing and get nothing.

“Both of us were off the track into turn one and somehow they judged that it was my fault, that I don’t agree with.

“The other penalty (causing the collision) as well I don’t agree with, then afterwards he (Hamilton) pushes me off the track, he even looks at me, he doesn’t turn in, he just pushes me outside the white line, the track edge, and he only gets a warning for that.

“It’s not how it should be, it’s not fair because it seems like other drivers can do different things, and it seems like only I get a penalty.”

Verstappen not thinking about possibility of crash

Verstappen has been quick to stress incidents similar to Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1990 and Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill four years later – where the two drivers fighting for the title crashed out in the last race of the campaign – are not something that have crossed his mind.

“I think as a driver you don’t think about these things,” he said. “You just want to do the best you can as a team.

“Naturally the media starts to say these things. I don’t really have a lot more to comment on that, just arrive here trying to do the best I can, be prepared and winner takes all.”

Hamilton ‘would like to believe’ Verstappen keeps F1 title fight clean

Lewis Hamilton has played down suggestions title rival Max Verstappen could take him out of this weekend’s season-defining Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – a move which would see the Dutchman crowned Formula One world champion.

Hamilton collided with the back of Verstappen’s car in last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, resulting in the latter being hit with a 10-second time penalty for slowing down without due caution, having already been handed a five-second punishment for earlier gaining an advantage by leaving the track.

Verstappen was labelled a “f****** crazy guy” by Hamilton over the team radio as their rivalry ramped up.

The Dutchman would be world champion if a coming-together took both drivers out of the race this weekend – something which would not be unique in the history of F1.

But, sat either side of the trophy they are both desperate to claim as theirs, the pair were in a more understanding mood on Thursday evening in Abu Dhabi.

Asked if he trusted Verstappen to keep their battle contained on the track, seven-time champion Hamilton replied: “I do believe that everyone here racing comes to win. I would like to believe everyone wants to do it the right way – I don’t even let that creep into my mind.

“I can’t control those things around me. All I can control is what I do in terms of preparation and how I conduct myself.

“I honestly don’t give it any energy. I’m here to do the best job I can with this incredible team. We go full steam ahead with the same focus and we don’t waste energy on things that are out of our control.”

Honda hoping to bow out with Verstappen championship win

Honda will make its exit from Formula 1 after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, after the Japanese company decided to end its F1 operation last year.

Red Bull will take over the manufacturing of its own engines for 2022 onwards, as Honda brings to and end its latest F1 stint, which began with a partnership with McLaren in 2015. The team would love to go out with a championship win for Max Verstappen, according to Honda F1 Managing Director Masashi Yamamoto.

“Along with Red Bull Racing, we are fighting hard against Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton for both titles,” Yamamoto said. “Therefore even if our time in this sport is coming to an end, our commitment to performing at our best this weekend is as strong as always.”

Verstappen claims unfair treatment from stewards

Max Verstappen told Sky Sports earlier today that he believes the F1 stewards are treating him unfairly in comparison with Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull driver’s methods have come under scrutiny after several on track clashes with Hamilton in recent weeks, and he was given two separate penalties at Jeddah last weekend.

“Clearly I’m penalised,” the Dutchman said. “Clearly I get treated differently to other drivers. I get penalised and others get away with the same thing. I already paid the FIA plenty of fines, that’s good dinner and wine.”

Hamilton believes Mercedes will improve at Yas Marina

At this circuit last year Max Verstappen secured a comfortable victory, with Mercedes left far behind owing to a combination of its cars being hard on their tyres, their engine not being powerful enough for the straights after a long season, and Lewis Hamilton struggling with the remnants of a Covid-19 infection.

The Briton now believes the team will be much strong this time around.

“Last year they beat us,” he told Sky Sports. “One thing I was reminded of is I came back from Covid [after missing the Sakhir Grand Prix]. They will be strong this time but the places we were weak last year will not be weak anymore.”

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Source: Read Full Article