Max Verstappen wins third consecutive Formula One world championship
F1 stars should return to the track rested and recovered this weekend after a two-week break from competitive action. Max Verstappen mathematically sealed the title in Qatar last time out, but there is still plenty left to race for across the last five Grands Prix of the season.
For starters, competition is intensifying to take second place behind the Dutchman in the Drivers’ Championship. Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz are the only other two drivers to have won a race this year, but the ultra-consistent Lewis Hamilton is also making a play for the second step on the podium.
The Mercedes star will have another chance to put crucial points on the board in Austin this weekend. But a superb set of mid-season developments from McLaren has thrust Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri into the mix too, with race wins not out of the question.
With all this to delve into and more, follow Express Sport‘s live F1 updates below…
Don’t miss… Christian Horner ‘wants Marko axed’ as Hamilton may face further punishment[LATEST]
That’s all from us tonight, but be sure to check back tomorrow for all the latest news and build-up to this weekend’s Grand Prix in Austin.
Stroll talks son’s struggles
Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll has defended his son and driver Lance Stroll after a string of disappointing performances this season.
He trails team-mate Fernando Alonso by 136 points but but Stroll’s father has bemoaned a lack of luck.
“Lance started the year on the back foot with two broken wrists for the first half-dozen races, which was very challenging, but really did a heroic job – and he’s had an unfortunate amount of bad luck,” Stroll told Sky Sports.
“He’s had nine retirements due to engine failures, or a rear-wing fail [at the Japanese Grand Prix].
“Half of the races it hasn’t been anything to do with his own abilities, he has just had a lot of bad luck, sadly.”
Horner calls for action
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has called for team bosses to consider action surrounding ‘third car’ regulations at races.
Sergio Perez was forced to start from the pit lane in Qatar after the team were found to have worked on his car while parc ferme restrictions were in place.
But Horner believes that there are no other options but to build a ‘third car’ as he wants the rules to be changed.
“I think it’s something that team managers need to look at, something a bit more sensible,” he said. “Because now for two weeks with Williams and ourselves, it has been far from ideal.
“With the damage to the crash structure and so on, that would have been impossible. They did a phenomenal job to turn it all around.”
Mick Schumacher return
Mick Schumacher has moved a step closer to a return to the F1 grid as he undergoes a test with Alpine.
Motorsport-Magazin has claimed that the former Haas star – and current Mercedes reserve driver – will test the French team’s WEC prototype.
“It’s true that we’re talking with Mick about the possibility to race in our endurance programme with the A424,” Alpine interim team boss Bruno Famin said. “It would be a good opportunity for both parties I think.”
Hamilton impact on new Mercedes car
Mercedes technical chief James Allison has admitted that Lewis Hamilton’s influence on next season’s car is both a help and a hindrance.
The Brit has failed to hold back when discussing what changes he would make to improve for the 2024 campaign, something that Allison was asked about and whether those comments helped the team.
“Bit of both,” Allison told the F1 Nation podcast when asked if Hamilton was helping or hindering.
“I think that drivers sometimes conflate identifying a problem with knowing what the solution is. Where it’s a massive help is the accurate description of what is difficult about extracting lap time from the car.
“If they can say ‘here it is letting me down because the front axle is too weak, here it’s letting me down because the rear axle is too weak. Here, it just feels bizarre and I don’t trust it’ that’s ever so helpful.
“Because you can have a million pressure sensors on the car, loads of load cells, accelerometers up the ying yang, but ultimately, those are a little bit sort of stunted in their ability to tell you truly what the car is doing.”
Horner discusses Marko ‘feud’
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has played down reports that he wants team advisor Helmut Marko to leave.
Horner opened up on their relationship together and admitted that the 80-year-old has a job until he wants to walk away.
“For as long as he wants to continue,” Horner said when discussing Marko’s potential exit.
“He’s still a very spritely 80-year-old – I don’t see any change in the way that we work. Roles evolve and the business has evolved so much since we first came into the sport.”
Albon to Red Bull doubt
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has explained why Alex Albon will not be picked to replace Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen’s team-mate.
Perez’s contract is up at the end of next season, though there have been rumours that the team may find a new number two prior to that date – though it will not be Albon.
“He was actually doing quite well until he was turned around twice by [Lewis] Hamilton, in a victorious position in Austria, and that got on his nerves a bit,” Marko said regarding Albon before being asked about a potential return to the team.
“It gets brought up a lot,” Marko replied. “But unfortunately Albon signed a long-term contract and won’t be on the market until probably 2026.”
Verstappen comments on Perez form
Max Verstappen has informed his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez that Formula 1 is “a hard sport” after his recent spell of poor form.
Perez’s future at the team has been in doubt and now the Dutchman has explained why his team-mate has struggled in comparison to the three-time F1 champion.
“At the end of the day, this is a hard sport,” Verstappen told ServusTV. “We are of course team-mates, and we work well together, I already did that with Pierre [Gasly] and Alex [Albon]. Bottom line, you have to perform.
“It is difficult to say why different things sometimes don’t go exactly as they should.”
Wolff reacts to Qatar crash
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has admitted his frustration at the Qatar Grand Prix crash between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Russell recovered to P4 but his team-mate was unable to continue after their collision, as Wolff gave his thoughts on the incident.
“The last round in Qatar was a case of what might have been,” he said. “As a team, you never want to see your cars collide. It was frustrating to leave a lot of points on the table, particularly as the pace of the car was strong.
“It was encouraging though to see how the drivers and the team reacted. Both Lewis and George know the team comes first and do not ever intend to jeopardise that.
“I am sure we will all grow from this moment. We’re now focused on Austin and making sure we get the most out of each upcoming weekend.”
Trent and McIlroy invest in Alpine
Alpine have announced that British sport stars Trent Alexander-Arnold, Rory McIlroy and Anthony Joshua are part of an investment group pumping £164million into the F1 outfit.
Otro Capital first announced a partnership with Alpine earlier this summer, with Wrexham co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney named as a few of the backers for the American group.
NFL duo Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are also involved, as well as former Manchester United and Chelsea hero Juan Mata.
Simulation predicts Verstappen vs Schumacher
Ever wondered how newly-crowned three-time world champion Max Verstappen would stack up against F1 legend Michael Schumacher?
The pair never fought it out on track, but sports data analysts at Grosvenor Sport have created a simulation in an attempt to settle the score.
And the results suggest that Verstappen would be ahead of the former Ferrari star in the Drivers’ Championship… but only marginally.
Whereas nearest challenger Sergio Perez is a full 209 points adrift in the current standings, the simulation suggests that Schumacher would be only 11 points behind, which would create a nail-biting finish over the final five races of the season.
Hamilton set to be granted FIA wish
Lewis Hamilton’s hopes look set to be turned into reality with the FIA considering implementing a ‘development start date’ of sorts ahead of the 2026 technical regulation changes to prevent teams from gaining an unfair advantage.
This was something Hamilton had previously campaigned for. He suggested to Sky Sports F1 earlier this season: “I think the FIA should probably put a time when everyone is allowed to start developing on the next year’s car. So August 1, that’s when everybody can start so then no one can get an advantage on the next year, cause that sucks.
“It would make more sense. They should. Say for example you start the season and you know you have a bad car, you can just say I’m not going to bother developing this car and put all this money into next year’s car and have an advantage.”
According to a report from the German news outlet Auto Motor und Sport, discussions are already underway regarding a technical rule change that would prevent teams from commencing their development on the 2026 cars before January 2025.
Perez speaks out on future
Sergio Perez believes that he still has three or four more years left in F1 amid rumours that he could be axed by Red Bull at the end of the season.
The Mexican has proven no challenge for Max Verstappen, who sealed a third consecutive world title with five races to spare.
But Perez has suggested that his Red Bull future is safe.
“Right now I have a contract for next year, and it will be important to have a good year,” he said.
“I have the motivation to continue, and I want to stay for more years because I believe that I still have a lot to give in Formula 1.
“I would like to stay in F1 for at least three to four more years.”
Sainz addresses Ferrari contract talks
Carlos Sainz wants to remain at Ferrari for the ‘medium-to-long-term’ ahead of an anticipated round of contract talks.
The Spaniard is the only non-Red Bull driver to have won a Grand Prix this season.
But his Ferrari deal, along with that of Charles Leclerc, is poised to expire at the end of 2024.
“I think there’s never been a doubt that I’m very comfortable at Ferrari, that I want to be here for the medium-to-long-term,” Sainz explained to Sky Sports.
“Also, the fact that there was always high confidence between each party. For me, the wins and podiums, the only thing they do is reassure everything that we already knew.”
Marko puts Horner in his place
Helmut Marko has dismissed claims that Christian Horner could try and force him out of Red Bull.
The 80-year-old is rumoured to be the subject of an upcoming meeting, with his future hanging in the balance, but he insists that Horner does not have the power to axe him from the team.
“There is no summit, I have a contract until the end of year next,” he told Austrian news outlet OE24. “When and how I stop, when it is over, I decide, and not for example, Mr Horner.
“This is all just speculation, like also about [Sergio] Perez, there is no ultimatium. We’re winning too much – incredible things are happening and Max Verstappen’s performances should be appreciated more – it is extraordinary.
“It is very reassuring that there is still something like loyalty and appreciation.”
Norris offers McLaren advice
Lando Norris believes that McLaren should focus on making their F1 car easier to drive.
The team are in a good place after a series of effective upgrades, with Norris and Oscar Piastri notching back-to-back double podiums ahead of the United States Grand Prix.
“I think at the minute, that’s our next target with our development is still to make it a bit quicker, but also just to make the car a bit easier to drive in different conditions,” Norris explained.
“Both Oscar and my comments are still, like, you have to drive a car like this, it’s on a knife edge. If you’re not pushing to 100 per cent you’re just slow.
“So I feel like we’re doing a good job finding that level, but it’s just very difficult as soon as conditions change to this, we either go one way off this knife and they were just struggling a bit more. Finding that consistency is our next target and I think that all kind of ties together.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes fear
Lewis Hamilton is convinvced that his Mercedes is going to continue porpoising for the rest of the season.
The Silver Arrows have largely kept it under wraps in 2023, but Hamilton insists that it comes and goes depending on the track, and hopes that the issue will be eradicated altogether next year.
“This car is going to bounce for the rest of the year,” said the Brit. “But I feel optimistic for next year that it won’t be a characteristic on the car.
“It comes and goes – some races it isn’t bouncing and some races it is. But it is nowhere near as hardcore as when we had it [last year].”
‘Dream’ Perez replacement put forward
Former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg believes that Alex Albon would be a ‘dream’ candidate to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull.
Perez is under contract until the end of next season, but a string of underwhelming performances have left his immediate future up in the air.
Albon, meanwhile, continues to punch above his weight at Williams.
“Albon would be a dream candidate actually for the Red Bull mother team for next year to replace Sergio Perez,” Rosberg told Sky Sports.
“But unfortunately, as Helmut Marko was saying, Albon is locked in with a long-term contract there at Williams.”
Verstappen faces hammer blow
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has been warned that Max Verstappen would not react well to the sacking of team advisor Helmut Marko.
Reports indicate that a crunch meeting is due to be held this week, with Marko’s future on the chopping block.
Former F1 star Ralf Schumacher suggests that it would be a risky move by Horner, given the effect it could have on Verstappen.
“The connection between Dr. Marko and Verstappen should not be underestimated,” Schumacher told Sky Germany. “Dr. Marko promoted him very early on and is always on his side.
“We hear that Verstappen wouldn’t tolerate it, but I could rather do without Horner.”
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