F1 LIVE: George Russell says he spent ‘too long’ at Williams as he waited for Mercedes shot

Home » F1 LIVE: George Russell says he spent ‘too long’ at Williams as he waited for Mercedes shot
F1 LIVE: George Russell says he spent ‘too long’ at Williams as he waited for Mercedes shot

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Charles Leclerc reignited his world championship hopes by racing to victory at the Austrian Grand Prix as team-mate Carlos Sainz emerged unscathed from his Ferrari after it caught fire. Leclerc passed championship leader Max Verstappen three times to claim his first triumph since he took the chequered flag in Australia on April 10. Verstappen finished second after Sainz’s engine expired with 14 laps remaining.

Sainz broke down at the uphill Turn 4 but moments later later his car dramatically caught alight. With Sainz still in his cockpit and his car rolling downhill, the Spaniard had to battle gravity as he unstrapped his seatbelts and attempted to leap from his flaming machine.

The television cameras cut away from the flashpoint, but seconds later, Sainz was seen walking away from his wreckage, with the flames extinguished by marshals. Sainz’s retirement allowed Lewis Hamilton to take third with Mercedes team-mate George Russell fourth despite an opening-lap collision with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

At the half-way mark of the 2022 season, Verstappen has a 38-point lead from Leclerc in second, while Perez – who retired from Sunday’s race – is third a further 19 points back. The next race is the weekend of 22-24 July at Circuit Paul Ricard at the French Grand Prix.

Follow all the latest reaction to Sunday’s race at the Austrian Grand Prix:


Sebastian Vettel says his future at Aston Martin will be decided ‘in the coming weeks’

Sebastian Vettel says his future at Aston Martin will be decided “in the coming weeks” amid uncertainty over the German’s future in Formula 1.

Four-time world champion Vettel, who has competed in every season of F1 since his debut in 2007, has only scored 15 points so far this season and lies 14th in the Drivers’ Championship as Aston continue to struggle in their 2022 car, particularly in qualifying.

With the 35-year-old’s contract coming to an end at the end of this season – and with a host of non-motoring interests in his role as a climate and social justice activist – Vettel’s future in the sport is shrouded in doubt but the man himself says his decision will depend on whether he will be able to fight for race wins in the coming years.

Asked by F1-Insider.com whether he wants to stay at Aston Martin beyond 2022, Vettel replied: “The decision is still pending, but I will think about it in the coming weeks. Of course, it also depends on how the car develops and how much potential I see in the team. I have already emphasised several times that I want to fight for points, but also for victories. Otherwise the fun is lost.

“So in the next few weeks, together with my family, I have to find out how realistic my goals are and how much energy I still feel inside me to continue growing together with the team.”

Vettel also opted not to elaborate on whether he would seek a seat at a different team for 2023 onwards should he decided not to renew his contract at Aston.

“I’m not thinking about that at the moment,” he said when asked if a change of team would be an option. “Aston Martin is my first point of contact and the project I want to take forward.”


Spielberg follows Silverstone in delivering much-needed intrigue as F1 season reaches halfway stage

The season desperately needed this. After a period of Red Bull domination stretching from late-April to the end of June – and six race victories on the trot – a return to conventional tracks in Europe has spiced up a campaign which was in danger of becoming a formality by the summer break.

Now at the halfway mark, 11 races into a 22-race calendar, Max Verstappen’s 38-point cushion at the top of the world championship table could conceivably have been far greater. Victories at Silverstone and Spielberg could have made the Dutchman realistically uncatchable. Yet two Ferrari wins – one apiece for Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc – keeps the race alive and maintains intrigue amid a European mid-season swing which will define which direction Formula One heads in 2022.

Yet look beyond the leaderboard for a moment and the enthralling manner of the racing in the space of the past week or so is the greatest indicator that a Verstappen procession to a second title is far from set in stone. While the aggressive drama of Silverstone will be difficult to match as indisputably the race of the year so far, Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix saw 67 overtakes.

Race-winner Leclerc had to jaunt past Verstappen three times to consolidate his spot at the top of the podium. The new regulations designed to improve wheel-to-wheel racing finally look to be having an impact on the track.

Ferrari’s pace over the course of the weekend was strong and a one-two finish looked inevitable heading into the final 15 laps. But the Prancing Horse’s reliability problems returned, with Sainz’s engine failing and his car rapidly catching fire. It is a problem which is unravelling Ferrari’s hopes in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, alongside questionable strategy calls.


Sacked F1 race director Michael Masi thankful for ‘overwhelming’ support

Sacked Formula One race director Michael Masi says he has been overwhelmed by the support he received following last season’s controversial championship decider.

Masi was speaking for the first time since his mishandling of the Abu Dhabi race on December 12 which allowed Max Verstappen to beat Lewis Hamilton to the title.

The Australian was stood down by the FIA, and it was announced on Tuesday that he has left the organisation – seven months after Hamilton was denied a record eighth crown.

Earlier this year, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Masi was subjected to death threats from angry fans.

But in a statement released on Wednesday, Masi, who did not address the contentious season finale, said: “The personal support of my family, friends, and colleagues globally during this journey and particularly in the last few months can only be described as overwhelming and something that I will forever cherish.


F1 to have tougher roll hoop tests next season after Guanyu Zhou’s crash at Silverstone

Formula One’s governing body said on Friday it will introduce tougher tests on the roll hoops of cars next season as a result of Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou’s big British Grand Prix crash.

Zhou’s Alfa Romeo flipped and skidded upside down along the track at Silverstone, with the roll hoop ripped off, before flying across a tyre wall and becoming wedged between the barriers and catch fence.

The rookie escaped unscathed, his head protected from serious injury by the titanium Halo device that rings the cockpit.

The FIA said its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met on Thursday representing the teams, governing body and commercial rights holders.

“The teams confirmed their availability to introduce more stringent measures on the roll hoops for 2023, and the FIA undertook to complete the relevant analyses and to communicate to the teams new requirements for the safety of the roll hoop,” it said.

The TAC also discussed the vertical oscillation of cars, commonly known as ‘porpoising’ — bouncing at speed like the movement of a porpoise through water. The aerodynamic phenomenon has been a consequence of this year’s major rules overhaul.


George Russell admits three years spent at Williams was ‘too long’ as he waited for Mercedes seat

George Russell admits the three years he spent with Williams was “too long” as he waited for a seat at Mercedes.

The 24-year-old joined Williams in 2019 but was consistently towards the back of the grid with the Oxford-based team as they struggled to give Russell a car capable of scoring points.

Russell impressed in a Mercedes during the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix – stepping in for a Covid-positive Lewis Hamilton – and qualified on the front row last year at Spa in a Williams amid wet conditions at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The race that followed did not take place, technically giving Russell his first podium in Formula 1, and a matter of days later Mercedes boss Toto Wolff signed up Russell to replace Valtteri Bottas for 2022. Yet Russell now admits he spent too long at the under-performing Williams team, though acknowledges that then-deputy team principal Claire Williams did well to tie him down to a long-term contract.

Russell told the Beyond the Grid pocast: “I think when we signed with Williams back in 2018, this was a team, bearing in mind, that had just spent three years scoring podiums, finishing P3, P3, P5 in the constructors’, and then they had a very bad year in 2018 where they finished last.

“But we thought that this was a team that at the time that can bounce back from this, and they’ll be back in the P5 to P3 region of competitiveness. So, we all sort of agreed that three years was a good period, fighting for points, maybe for podiums. In hindsight, three years driving on my own at the back of the grid was too long. But, unfortunately, Claire did quite a good job at the contract negotiations, and there was sort of no way out.”


Max Verstappen urges alcohol consumption to be regulated at F1 races after abuse allegations at Austrian GP

Max Verstappen has called for alcohol consumption at Formula One races to be regulated following allegations of abuse which cast a shadow over Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

A number of reports, including of sexual harassment, and homophobic and racist abuse, emerged on social media from people attending the race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Some 60,000 spectators travelled from Holland to support world champion Verstappen. One of the reported incidents included a female attendee saying five Dutch supporters lifted her dress up and said: “no [Lewis] Hamilton fan deserves respect”.

A large contingent of Verstappen’s Orange Army are expected at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest later this month, while organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort on September 4 are anticipating a race crowd in excess of 100,000.

“One thing that can be improved is the security around places to keep people more in check,” said world champion Verstappen, who leads Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the standings by 38 points. And of course it is not an excuse, but they watch the race, go back, party, have fun, and drink alcohol.”


Mick Schumacher says he is “not afraid of fighting anyone” on track after battles with Lewis Hamilton in Austria

Mick Schumacher insists he is “not afraid of fighting anyone” after his battles with Lewis Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Haas driver enjoyed wheel-to-wheel action with the Mercedes star during the sprint on Saturday, when Hamilton overtook him late on, and during Sunday’s race.

“The main thing that I learned is everybody is human and everybody makes mistakes,” Schumacher said of his tussle with the seven-time world champion.

“Everybody is under pressure [and] sometimes it gets to a point where they do make mistakes. So, that’s important for me to know that, and not be afraid of fighting anybody out there.”

After scoring points for the second week running, Schumacher added: “I think a lot of people underestimated us at the start of the weekend and it was nice to prove them wrong. We were fast enough to fight again with Lewis, something really special.”

(AFP via Getty Images)


Fernando Alonso believes Formula 1 is still ‘too boring’ and ‘predictable’ despite new regulations

Fernando Alonso says Formula 1 is still “too boring” and “predictable” this season despite the new regulations for 2022 designed to improve racing.

The two-time world champion returned to the sport in 2021 with Alpine after a two-year absence and has made it known that this year’s new regulations – designed to enhance wheel-to-wheel racing across the field – is what is keeping him in the cockpit.

Yet Alonso, who turns 41 later this month, has scored just 29 points in 11 races and lies 10th in the Drivers’ Championship and told Dutch outlet NOS that the impact of the 2022 cars has been “so-so”, adding it is now simply “all about Red Bull and Ferrari.”

“Unfortunately, Formula 1 is still very predictable,” Alonso said. “It’s all about Red Bull and Ferrari. Only Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Pérez can win. I don’t know of any other sport where it goes like this.

“The GPs have become more fun and with these cars you can fight better. Still, I think it’s too boring, but it’s also part of F1. There will always be teams that are faster than others.”


‘I’m not walking away’: Daniel Ricciardo vows to fight at McLaren despite F1 struggles

Daniel Ricciardo says he will not walk away from McLaren despite question marks over his future with the British team.

Ricciardo, an eight-time grand prix winner, has a contract with McLaren until the end of 2023.

But American driver Colton Herta, 22, completed a two-day test for McLaren at Portimao this week, while the British team have also announced IndyCar champion Alex Palou, 25, will be added to their squad of drivers next year.

However, Ricciardo, 33, who addressed McLaren’s staff at their Woking factory on Wednesday, wrote on Instagram: “There have been a lot of rumours around my future in Formula One, but I want you to hear it from me.

“I am committed to McLaren until the end of next year and am not walking away from the sport. Appreciate it hasn’t always been easy, but who wants easy? I’m working my a** off with the team to make improvements and get the car right and back to the front where it belongs.”


COMMENT: Michael Masi’s FIA departure is the end of a sorry tale for a man all too often left in the lurch

For a man remembered for making the wrong call at the most pivotal time, Michael Masi’s final decision in calling it quits with the FIA is unequivocally best for just about all involved.

Sacked as F1 race director in February as a consequence of last year’s controversial season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, the FIA did not need the softly-spoken Australian hanging around like a bad smell. On paper, they were always insistent a new role would be found and new president Mohammed ben Sulayem said as recently as May that the 43-year-old could even return to his previous role in charge at race weekends.

In reality, there was no chance of that. And there is no chance now. Five months on, with no update brewing, Masi has left world motorsport’s governing body entirely. Yes he made a mistake, a “human error” as described in the report that followed. But having been hung out to dry – both during and after the 2021 season – who can actually blame Masi for calling it a day?

Tuesday’s statement doesn’t tell the half of it. Masi moved back to Australia in April and his permanent relocation was referenced, alongside “closer to his family” and “new challenges.” After Charlie Whiting’s untimely passing in 2019, Masi was thrust into the top job in world motorsport and a role which saw him live out of a suitcase in Elephant & Castle, south London, for three years straight.

With just a year as a deputy race director for Formula 2 and Formula 3 under his belt and amid a pandemic which made travel, track inspecting and race directing harder than ever before, Masi had his hands (he only has two) full in a record-breaking 22-race campaign.

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