F1 news LIVE: Red Bull ‘almost on a par’ with Mercedes and ‘no doubt’ about Lewis Hamilton return

After a thrilling F1 title race, doubt has been cast over the return of Lewis Hamilton for 2022 to resume his rivalry with world champion Max Verstappen. But Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali is adamant the Briton will “recharge the his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win an eighth world title.”

The impact of George Russell’s arrival to Mercedes may change the dynamic between Hamilton and Verstappen too, with the possibility of a third title contender – or more, should the new rules shift the balance of power.

During the fraught and intense 2021 season, incidents on track cost Red Bull close to an eye-watering €4m, the third-highest figure among all drivers behind Mick Schumacher of Haas (€4.2m) and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (€4.1m). Verstappen’s tally is more than three times that of his fierce rival Hamilton, who set Mercedes back €1.2m over the year, according to Sky Germany.

Of course the Dutchman, who clinched his maiden world title in thrilling but controversial fashion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, would put some of that cost down to Hamilton himself after blaming the Briton for their high-speed incident at Copse Corner during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, one of the fastest turns in Formula 1 where the pair made contact and Verstappen was sent flying across the gravel into the barriers.

The cheapest driver to fund this season was Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, whose crashes cost only €280,000 – 15 times less than Schumacher. The bosses at French team Alpine will surely be grateful to their man for that. Follow all the latest F1 news below.


Haas looking at loyalty scheme to retain staff for 2022 and beyond

Haas boss Guenther Steiner has backed Dmitry Mazepin’s idea to bring in an incentive scheme to help retain staff.

After finishing in P5 in the Constructors’ Championship back in 2018, Haas have struggled with consecutive finishes at P9.

But despite the decline and complete focus this season on 2022 by surrendering the season early, Steiner has not seen a “mass exodus”.

And he has now thrown his weight behind Dmitry Mazepin, father of Haas driver Nikita, who has suggested a loyalty bonus for those who stay for the long-term battle with the team.

“We speak with other people and they have the same issue,” Steiner told GPFans. “It’s nothing different. It’s just a few people are leaving. Every year, they are leaving. If he [Mazepin] had to give them an incentive, if he can do it right, I’m all for it. People leaving, I think that’s every season. At the end of the season, some people leave.

“For example, on the technical side of things, we have more people than we had before, when they are staying. There was not that many people leaving. It’s more of a race thing because it’s a calendar of 23 races. People just want to have another career. They are doing something different but it’s not being outrageous.

“It’s a little bit more than normal, but it’s the end of every year. Some people move away a little bit because otherwise, the race mechanics normally are young because they need to be young.

“It’s quite physical to do this job and if somebody sees an opportunity, when he moves on, it’s okay to do something better. I don’t stop them, but a mass exodus…it’s not true.”

Red Bull car ‘almost on a par’ with Mercedes for 2022

vHelmut Marko insists Red Bull are developing a car “almost on a par” with Mercedes, with both teams tipped to battle it out at the front once again in 2022, despite new rules and regulations designed to bring in greater competition on the track.

“Max drove in the simulator in between [races],” Helmut Marko told Servus TV. “He can drive a car that is relatively unstable in the rear, for him the car has to be as fast as possible, it doesn’t have to be comfortable.

“At the moment we believe that we are almost on a par with Mercedes. The engine will also change a lot [with synthetic fuel being introduced]. That is a drastic change.

“We believe that we are both in front again unless someone manages a golden shot like with the double diffuser.”

F1 boss: No doubt about Lewis Hamilton return for 2022

After a thrilling F1 title race, doubt has been cast over the return of Lewis Hamilton for 2022 to resume his rivalry with world champion Max Verstappen.

But Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali is adamant the Briton will be back, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: “I’m sure he will recharge the his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win an eighth world title.”

F1 news: Verstappen thinks Hamilton should continue

Verstappen thinks Hamilton should not retire after he lost the world title in controversial fashion in Abu Dhabi.

“You should also understand this is racing and these things can happen to you,” Verstappen said. “I think he should just look back at what he has achieved, and that should give him a lot of comfort and that drive to keep on going.

“He is still trying to challenge for that eighth title, and he can do that again next year, so I don’t see any reason why to give up or stop now.”

F1 news: Hamilton will have ‘more desire' next season

Lewis Hamilton will have “even more desire” to win a record eighth Formula 1 title next season, says chief Stefano Domenicali.

The British driver just missed out on the record this season after he was pipped to the title in the final race of the campaign. Hamilton was leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was overtaken by Max Verstappen in the last lap to lose out.

The circumstances around the defeat makes Domenicali believe Hamilton will be back with a vengeance.

“Lewis Hamilton? I’m sure he will recharge his batteries and come back with even more desire than before to win the eighth world title,” he told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Full story:

Lewis Hamilton will return with ‘even more desire’ in 2022, F1 chief claims

Hamilton just needs one more world title to break Michael Schumacher’s all-time record

Audi nearing moving to F1

Audi is on the verge of confirming its entry into Formula 1, it has been reported.

The manufacturer has been closely following developments around technical regulations for power units in the 2026 season, with key figures at Audi apparently content with the FIA’s progress.

In a letter to motorsport’s governing body, Audi board chairman Markus Duesmann and Audi Technical Development board member Oliver Hoffmann suggested that draft regulations are fair to both existing teams and newcomers.

The letter has been seen by RaceFans and RacingNews365.

F1 is seeking a new manufacturer to replace Honda, whose engines will now be made by Red Bull, and Audi seems set to confirm its entry – which would come ahead of the 2026 season – in the coming weeks.

Audi’s fellow Volkswagen Group brand Porsche has also shown interest in joining F1, though Audi appears closer to making a commitment to the sport.

Red Bull talk up chances next season

Red Bull believe they could benefit from George Russell’s impact at Mercedes over Lewis Hamilton.

Toto Wolff believes his team’s new recruit could even threaten the seven-time world champion’s status as the leading driver in his debut season, admitting: “It could also happen in the first year and would be a luxury problem we would then have to solve”.

But another impact could be Russell’s speed contributing to a weakened Hamilton title bid, though Helmut Marko concedes he needs to see Russell’s speed mid-race, as opposed to solely qualification.

“I first have to see how fast Russell really is,” Marko told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“In qualifying, he was fast last season. But in the races, he was hardly superior to Nicholas Latifi. So we have to wait and see how fast he will be in the race.

“If he can indeed match Hamilton’s speed, that could be an advantage for us.”

New FIA president dismisses Bernie Ecclestone involvement

New FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem has rejected suggestions Bernie Ecclestone is playing a part in his team despite his wife appointed in a senior position in his administration.

Fabiana Ecclestone was elected as vice-president for sport for South America.

Sulayem said when asked about her appointment: “It’s nothing to do with me.”

“This is history for the FIA, to have the first ever female nominated in all our history,” said Sulayem, quoted by Motorsport.com. “We are not talking about commissions, we are talking about the vice-president [of sport].

“So when I approached them, I approached them not because of her name, I approached them because of her credibility. And the choice was made on merit.

“She has been involved in mobility in the club of Brazil and she has been involved in the F1 of Brazil. So she has the sport and mobility side and she has been in two of the Commissions, so her experience is there.

“Bernie said ‘you have to convince her, it’s nothing to do with me’. So that was where his help stopped, actually.”

Is the Horner vs Wolff narrative based in reality?

However, Hill’s view wasn’t shared by his Sky colleague Natalie Pinkham but she did concede the pair don’t dislike each other.

“I don’t [think it’s a front],” she said. “I think they’re very different people, who actually probably wouldn’t really enjoy a beer together.

“I just think they’re different people. They’re both great, but they’re very different and it’s the same with Max and Lewis. They don’t dislike each other, but they would never sit down and have a natter and a bowl of pasta together. I think we’re talking about very different characters.”

Full story:

Wolff and Horner rivalry is a ‘front’, claims Hill

Wolff and Horner clashed in the 2021 F1 season but Hill doesn’t believe the rivalry

F1 news: Hill questions Wolff-Horner rivalry

Former Formula 1 driver Damon Hill believes Toto Wolff and Christian Horner’s rivalry is a “front”.

The two team bosses of Mercedes and Red Bull have exchanged strong words in the press building a tension between them and adding to the Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s rivalry.

Horner even told Sky ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that while he respects Wolff, he doesn’t have to like him. However, Hill has waded in on their relationship and believes it isn’t entirely real.

“I think it’s a front, actually,” Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast. “I think it’s a front that they’ve put on. It’s just so sad, that you have these two camps.

“They’re both experiencing all the pressure, and all the same or similar kind of experiences. The victories, the defeats, and the kind of rivalry and all that they’re experiencing.

“But they can’t share it together, do you know what I mean? Maybe one day, when the war is over, they’ll be able to have a cup of tea together.”

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