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F1 LIVE practice results as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen begin battle

·30 min read

It’s almost here, the penultimate F1 race in the calendar, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Today will provide an insight into how Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen get on at Jeddah’s Corniche Circuit.

It’s practice Friday, as the most exciting Formula 1 season in years nears its finale, with the Red Bull star able to knock off his Mercedes rival as early as this weekend, though everybody expects the seven-time world champion to at least survive until Abu Dhabi, if not take another chunk into the Belgian-Dutch driver’s lead, which currently stands at a slender eight points.

While there will be many thrills and spills left in the Drivers’ Championship, there is sure to be drama, too, in the Constructors’ Championship. This will emphasise the drives of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, who both have pivotal roles to play in our their teammates negotiate the final two races of the season.

In terms of track dynamic, there will be long straights at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit this weekend, which ought to favour Mercedes as they gun for a one-two finish. But if Hamilton was to win and collect the bonus point for fastest lap, with Verstappen finishing second, it would create the extraordinary scenario of both drivers having 269.5 points going into the final Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner have been involved in back-and-forth encounters too, drawing amusement from some and disdain from others, as the fight goes on for the constructor championship as well as the drivers’ title. Elsewhere outside the big two, Fernando Alonso’s podium finish, the changing team line-ups for next year and even the additions of rules such as sprint qualifying have all been big talking points in Formula One recently.

Here’s all the latest F1 news and reaction as the build-up to Saudi Arabia continues:

Read More

Lewis Hamilton hits back at claims he’s ‘cheating’ in F1 title battle

Martin Brundle identifies key advantage Lewis Hamilton has over Max Verstappen in F1 title fight

Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen battle ending in crash would be ‘sad for F1’, says Damon Hill

F1 news and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix build-up

  • Lewis Hamilton addresses ‘pretty terrifying’ LGBTQ+ laws in Saudi Arabia

  • Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

  • Bernie Ecclestone claims Lewis Hamilton has been ‘lucky’

  • Toto Wolff confirms Lewis Hamilton will have use of ‘spicy’ engine at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

  • Charles Leclerc analyses Ferrari’s hopes for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

  • Max Verstappen fastest in practice with Lewis Hamilton just behind in second

  • Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice times

Lewis Hamilton has been ‘lucky’, claims Bernie Ecclestone

17:30 , Jack Rathborn

“It is difficult to say which one will prevail,” Bernie Ecclestone told the Mail. “I think it now depends on a little bit of good or bad luck that either of them bumps into.

“Generally, the public — and this is nothing against Lewis, he has done a first-class job — probably wants to see somebody else be world champion. That is the feeling I get from people.

“Lewis has been a bit luckier until now. Whether that luck will remain or run out we’ll have to see. Max as champion would be good for Formula One. Mercedes have been great, but it would be good if someone else came to the fore.”

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

17:29 , Jack Rathborn

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:29.018

2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.061s

3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0272s

4. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) +0.579s

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.786s

Carlos Sainz on Ferrari battle with McLaren for P3

17:15 , Jack Rathborn

“We need to outscore them by four or five points, I think, this weekend, which, looking at recent results might seem like a likely scenario. But we need to remind ourselves that McLaren have been in the fight in every race that we’ve outscored them,” Carlos Sainz says when discussing Ferrari’s battle with McLaren to claim P3 - the Scuderia are 39.5 points and need five more points than their rivals to wrap up bronze on the F1 season.

“It’s not like we were on an easy route to outscore them before their trouble in the last three races, so it’s been really tight still; we’ve just managed to make less mistakes, put everything together with both cars and outscore them.

“But I feel like here they might have the faster car and they will bring the fight down to Abu Dhabi, probably.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

17:14 , Jack Rathborn

That didn’t last long, Max Verstappen slices off 0.667secs from Lando Norris’ pace-setting time.

The Red Bull star is on the mediums.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

17:11 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas is having issues, he locks up as his tyres were not ready.

The Mercedes driver will go again, but there’s a hint of the right way to go from Lando Norris.

He’s out for the second practice on the soft tyres, while the others have taken either the mediums or hards.

The McLaren man quickly goes top, logging a 1:30.771 to go top.

Lando Norris: ‘No more Mr Nice Guy!’

17:00 , Jack Rathborn

“We’re still at the point with George and myself and Alex and Charles [where] there’s a lot of compliments and we get along and we chat,” Lando Norris said. “But things always change when you become competitive against each other.

“We’re still in a friendly phase because we never raced each other.

“But if all of sudden we go into next year and in the middle of the championship it’s me and Max and Lewis, I don’t think there will be as much Mr Nice Guy. That’s just the way it works.”

Lando Norris walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Lando Norris walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)

Record eighth title would not make Lewis Hamilton greater than Michael Schumacher

16:45 , Jack Rathborn

Bernie Ecclestone is adamant that a record eighth world title for Lewis Hamilton will not take him above Michael Schumacher in the eyes of the fans as the greatest F1 driver of all time.

“No, not at all,” Bernie Ecclestone told RTL when discussing whether Lewis Hamilton clinching a record eighth title would take him above Michael Schumacher as the greatest of all time in F1.

“In fact, I’m surprised Lewis didn’t say at the beginning of the year ‘I’m stepping down, I don’t want to win more races or World Championships than Michael’.”

Valtteri Bottas will remain ‘professional’ and keep it clean against Max Verstappen

16:15 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas has vowed to remain ‘professional’ and keep his racing clean against Max Verstappen at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as the title race nears a conclusion.

“Every point in this championship is obviously super important and both me and Lewis will try to get every point we can,” explained the Mercedes driver.

“But also, we are racers that have respect and I also think in that situation Max wouldn’t do the calculations and what it would do in the points.

“I don’t think anyone is going to change the way we race.

“We’re going to race as hard and as well and as professionally as we can to get the best result.”

Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas speak to the media ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (EPA)
Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas speak to the media ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (EPA)

Daniel Ricciardo on Cyril Abiteboul tattoo: ‘I lost faith that it was ever going to happen’

16:00 , Jack Rathborn

“I was just worried that it became so long that it was… irrelevant,” said Daniel Ricciardo.

“It was hard with travel, Covid, just trying to tee up the times. I thought if it gets too long, we might just forget about it but it seems everyone was pretty excited for it.

“It’s a real thing. Zak [Brown] and Cyril are now stamped for life. It was good because a lot of people I think lost faith that it was ever going to happen but we got there, it was a good time.

“There was definitely some negotiating – design, size and all those things – but actually in the end, pretty happy with the result,” he added.

Lewis Hamilton revelling in ‘uncharted territory’ ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

15:45 , Jack Rathborn

“It’s different in one sense because we’ve got two incredibly close teams, it’s different because we’re fighting for uncharted territory, no one’s ever won eight titles, team or driver, so that’s quite fresh and new,” said Hamilton, who will leave Saudi Arabia level on points with Verstappen to set up a winner takes all Abu Dhabi finale if he wins with the fastest lap ahead of the Dutchman.

“Then on the other side I’m more relaxed than I’ve ever been. I remember how it was my first championship and even my second and third, the sleepless nights and all those sorts of things.

“Obviously, (I’m) a lot more sure about myself and just applied myself better than ever before. All I can do is prepare the best I can for what’s up ahead of me and I 100% know I have.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

15:31 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton walks in the Paddock (Getty)
Lewis Hamilton walks in the Paddock (Getty)
Lewis Hamilton during previews (Getty)
Lewis Hamilton during previews (Getty)
 (Getty)
(Getty)
Lewis Hamilton during practice (REUTERS)
Lewis Hamilton during practice (REUTERS)

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

15:28 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton’s surge to a potential record eighth Formula One world title continued at pace as he set the fastest time in first practice for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver has won the last two races to close within eight points of championship leader Max Verstappen heading into the final two grands prix of the year.

Hamilton led the way off the track on Wednesday, speaking out against human rights issues and the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in Saudi Arabia, admitting he was not comfortable racing in the country.

But he was certainly at home on the track on Friday, as a time of one minute 29.786 seconds saw him beat Verstappen by just 0.056 seconds, with the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in third.

Workers were still preparing the new venue into the late hours of Thursday night, with a planned ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the circuit promptly cancelled as final touches were put into place.

The Formula Two practice session also started late due to a minor “operational issue” before the F1 cars hit the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for the first time at 16:30 local time.

With the track untested and both qualifying and Sunday’s race taking place in the evening, this session was more of a feeling-out hour for the drivers.

But nevertheless, Hamilton will be pleased to top the timesheets, with Pierre Gasly fourth fastest for AlphaTauri and the Aston Martin of Antonio Giovinazzi fifth.

Ferrari were sixth and seventh in the form of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, as Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel rounded off the top 10.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice times

15:06 , Jack Rathborn

So next up is F2 Qualifying at 3.15pm.

Then it’s F1 Practice Two from 5pm.

Lewis Hamilton ‘more relaxed than ever’ ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

15:00 , Jack Rathborn

“There are a couple of bits, it is different in one sense because we have got two incredibly close teams, as a team we are fighting in uncharted territory, no team or driver has won eight titles. It is fresh and new.

“On the other side I am more relaxed than I have ever been. I have been around a long time and I remember how I was for my first championship, even my second and third, the sleepless nights and things.

“I’m more sure about myself, I can’t change anything from the past but all I can do is prepare the best I can for what is ahead of me and I know I can.”

Lewis Hamilton attends during the press conference ahead of the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Lewis Hamilton attends during the press conference ahead of the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)

14:58 , Jack Rathborn

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

14:56 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton came in below the 1.30 mark, posting 1:29.786, usurping Max Verstappen, who had dominated practice to that point.

Valtteri Bottas was second but Verstappen snatched second place late, squeezing inside the Finn and just 0.056s behind his title rival.

14:45 , Jack Rathborn

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

14:24 , Jack Rathborn

So, without much surprise we have Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen in the top three - in that order.

A notable performance so far from Antonio Giovinazzi as the Italian rises up to fifth in his Alfa Romeo in 1:30.318.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

14:22 , Jack Rathborn

 (AFP)
(AFP)
 (Getty)
(Getty)
 (Getty)
(Getty)

14:20 , Jack Rathborn

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice: Lewis Hamilton quickest

14:19 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton now quickest, that’s a 1:29.786 with a new set of new soft tyres, chapeau!

And all of a sudden, the Mercedes stack up a one-two with Valtteri Bottas second and Carlos Sainz and the Ferrari slot into third with 1:30.564.

Max Verstappen downplays Lewis Hamilton’s extra experience in title fight

14:15 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen admits seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is “better prepared” for a title fight but does not believe the extra experience gives his rival the upper hand with two races remaining.

While Hamilton seeks a record eighth drivers’ crown, Verstappen is looking to claim his first title after a fine season with Red Bull.

The Dutchman sits eight points clear at the top of the standings but heads into this weekend’s F1 debut in Saudi Arabia on the back foot, with Hamilton winning the last two races in Brazil and Qatar.

Hamilton, 36, claimed his first title back in 2008 and has racked up a further six in the past seven seasons as both he and Mercedes have dominated the sport.

“I think it’s natural of course that when you are in this stage of your career you are better prepared than what you were in your first or second, when Lewis was fighting for his first title,” said the 24-year-old Verstappen.

“I think it’s a natural progression and it’s very normal. I also feel much better prepared and more experienced than when I first came into Formula One.

“No, I don’t think that makes a big difference, because otherwise it would have shown already throughout the season.”

Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen gestures during press conference ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Getty)
Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen gestures during press conference ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Getty)

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice: Lewis Hamilton just behind Max Verstappen

14:12 , Jack Rathborn

As expected, here’s Lewis Hamilton, finally negotiating this Saudi track and replicate his title rival’s smooth transition in Jeddah.

It’s close, but Hamilton’s 1:30.678 can only lift him up to second place.

Max Verstappen remains quickest so far.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice

14:09 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen making a statement here, that’s a blinding lap in 1:30.014.

The Belgian-Dutchman goes for a little ride up one of the raised kerbs to produce sparks, but he’s enjoying these hard tyres.

14:05 , Jack Rathborn

Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda  during practice (Getty)
Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda during practice (Getty)
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen during practice (REUTERS)
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen during practice (REUTERS)
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen during practice (REUTERS)
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen during practice (REUTERS)

14:03 , Jack Rathborn

Liam Lawson of New Zealand and Hitech Grand Prix (7) drives during practice (Getty)
Liam Lawson of New Zealand and Hitech Grand Prix (7) drives during practice (Getty)
 (Getty)
(Getty)
Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Scuderia AlphaTauri prepares to drive in the garage during practice (Getty)
Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Scuderia AlphaTauri prepares to drive in the garage during practice (Getty)
Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 during practice (Getty)
Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 during practice (Getty)

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice: Valtteri Bottas closes on Max Verstappen

13:58 , Jack Rathborn

And a response from Lewis Hamilton as the seven-time world champion jumps up to seventh.

He’s 2.321s off the pace set by his title rival Max Verstappen.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice: Valtteri Bottas closes on Max Verstappen

13:57 , Jack Rathborn

That didn’t take long, Verstappen is joined by Valtteri Bottas at the top, with the Mercedes star, on the soft compounds, posting 1:33.014 to go second.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice: Max Verstappen goes fastest early on in practice

13:55 , Jack Rathborn

The new Corniche Circuit in Jeddah has been described by Martin Brundle as “Silverstone, with Monaco’s walls.”

Championship leader Max Verstappen goes quickest with a 1:33.614 following three laps, the Red Bull star is on the hard tyres.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Practice: Red Flags Out

13:53 , Jack Rathborn

Logan Sargeant, ahead of his Formula 2 debut this weekend with HWA, hammered the wall during practice.

And the same fate met teammate Alessio Deledda, prompting an early end to the Italian’s session.

‘Like Suzuka with walls’: Jeddah’s controversial circuit ripe for drama in first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

13:46 , Jack Rathborn

And so to Jeddah. In the north of the city tucked against the Red Sea coast is the home of the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, dubbed the “fastest street circuit in the world”. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was only completed only last week after an intense eight-month building project, and FIA race director Michael Masi visited to give the track official approval. “The progress that I have seen on each of my visits over recent months has been remarkable,” Masi said. “Jeddah will provide an interesting new challenge for the drivers and teams.”

“Interesting” is one word for it. MercedesValtteri Bottas called it “extreme”. Red Bull boss Christian Horner called it “insane”. Dangerous might be another word: drivers have talked this week about the importance of hugging the apex of its many fast corners, but that means skirting perilously close to the wall. “It’s going to be very high speed and not much run-off,” said Damon Hill this week. “It’s high risk, high jeopardy.”

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the season’s second night race, played out over 6km on the second longest track on the calendar after Spa. It will be incredibly fast too, taking a physical toll on the drivers with average speeds of 250km/hr and a top speed of 322km/hr on the back straight, where cars zip along a lagoon past a gleaming new hotel. The circuit itself is reminiscent of another night-time track, Singapore, with low walls and high metal fencing either side of a narrow road lit up by twinkling lights, but it carries the speed of circuits more famous for their relentless adrenaline ride. “It’s like Suzuka with walls,” explained Horner this week.

‘Like Suzuka with walls’: Jeddah’s controversial street circuit ripe for drama

Lewis Hamilton addresses ‘pretty terrifying’ LGBTQ+ laws in Saudi Arabia

13:00 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton is in the midst of the most exciting Formula One title battle in recent memory but insists he is uncomfortable racing in Saudi Arabia highlighting the country’s “pretty terrifying” LGBTQ+ laws.

The inaugural race in Jeddah is the penultimate grand prix of the 2021 season in which reigning champion Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen have tussled for the title.

Verstappen is just eight points clear heading into Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabia but Hamilton has the momentum of winning the previous two races for Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton addresses ‘pretty terrifying’ LGBTQ+ laws in Saudi Arabia

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

12:45 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has accused Lewis Hamilton “subtle little digs” and “provocations” towards Max Verstappen to gain an edge in the Formula 1 title race.

There has been a war of words between Red Bull and Mercedes throughout an engrossing season, which has included the team principals Horner and Toto Wolff verbally sparring in public.

F1 legend Alain Prost claimed the trash talk has gone too far, but Horner maintains the seven-time world champion is trying to use the media to unsettle Verstappen, who holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton heading into the final two races.

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

Ralf Schumacher outlines Max Verstappen’s ‘pressure’ advantage over Lewis Hamilton

12:37 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton has more pressure on him than Max Verstappen heading into the final two races of the season, according to F1 driver Ralf Schumacher.

Verstappen, 24, leads Hamilton, 36, by eight points heading into the final two races of the season in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton has closed the gap with victories in Brazil and Qatar as he looks to surpass Michael Schumacher’s record by winning an eighth drivers’ championship.

Ralf Schumacher outlines Max Verstappen’s ‘pressure’ advantage over Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull confront F1 chiefs over Mercedes battle and ‘one-sided’ decisions

12:30 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull boss Helmut Marko discussed “one-sided” decisions in favour of Mercedes with Formula 1 bosses this season.

The two F1 teams have been enthralled in battles due to how close a title race it has been between their respective drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Currently Verstappen leads Hamilton by eight points with just two races to go.

Marko says he spoke to the FIA and Liberty Media about regulatory changes around the rear wing which were implemented after Mercedes complained about Red Bull.

Red Bull confront F1 chiefs over Mercedes and ‘one-sided’ decisions

Red Bull hint at engine change for Max Verstappen as F1 season reaches final two races

12:15 , Jack Rathborn

An engine change and grid penalty are not off the cards for Max Verstappen before the Formula 1 season is up, according to Red Bull.

The Dutchman leads defending champion Lewis Hamilton by eight points with two races left this season, with the Briton having served two engine-related grid penalties this year, while Verstappen is still on his third engine – the permitted amount.

But, with Hamilton closing in, the 24-year-old might be forced to change engines before the year is over, receiving a five-place grid penalty if he is to do so.

Red Bull hint at engine change for Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen primed for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

12:11 , Jack Rathborn

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice schedule

12:00 , Jack Rathborn

1pm - F1 Practice One Live (session starts 1.30pm)

3.15pm - F2 Qualifying Live

4.45pm - F1 Practice Two Live (session starts 5pm)

Bernie Ecclestone questions whether Lewis Hamilton’s ‘luck will run out’ in F1 title race

11:57 , Jack Rathborn

Former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone believes Lewis Hamilton’s luck may have ‘run out’ heading into the final two races of the season.

The 36-year-old Brit, who is trying to win a record-breaking eighth title, has won the last two Grands Prix in Brazil and Qatar to reduce the gap between himself and Max Verstappen to just eight points.

But Ecclestone, who also feels a new world champion could be good for the sport, questions whether Hamilton’s good fortune may be about to come to an end.

Bernie Ecclestone ‘surprised’ Lewis Hamilton wants to beat Michael Schumacher title record

11:29 , Jack Rathborn

Bernie Ecclestone admits he is “surprised” that Lewis Hamilton has not retired out of respect for Michael Schumacher’s record tally of Formula 1 world titles.

The Mercedes driver is battling with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for this season’s title, which would elevate the Briton above the legendary German to eight titles.

And the former F1 supremo maintains such a feat would not instantly confirm his status as the greatest driver in the sport’s history.

“No, not at all,” Ecclestone told RTL when discussing whether Hamilton would be remembered as the greatest if he secured the record for most world titles by himself.

“In fact, I’m surprised Lewis didn’t say at the beginning of the year, ‘I’m stepping down, I don’t want to win more races or World Championships than Michael’.”

Bernie Ecclestone ‘surprised’ Lewis Hamilton wants to beat Michael Schumacher record

Charles Leclerc analyses Ferrari’s hopes for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

11:12 , Jack Rathborn

“On paper it looks like it’s not going to be one of our best tracks because obviously very long straights and a very high-speed track, but on the other hand it’s a city track so anything can happen,” Charles Leclerc said of Ferrari’s hopes in Jeddah.

“Hopefully as drivers we can make the difference and yes, I am just really looking forward to tomorrow to try this track for the first time.”

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Carlos Sainz on Ferrari battle with McLaren for P3

11:03 , Jack Rathborn

“We need to outscore them by four or five points, I think, this weekend, which, looking at recent results might seem like a likely scenario. But we need to remind ourselves that McLaren have been in the fight in every race that we’ve outscored them,” Carlos Sainz says when discussing Ferrari’s battle with McLaren to claim P3 - the Scuderia are 39.5 points and need five more points than their rivals to wrap up bronze on the F1 season.

“It’s not like we were on an easy route to outscore them before their trouble in the last three races, so it’s been really tight still; we’ve just managed to make less mistakes, put everything together with both cars and outscore them.

“But I feel like here they might have the faster car and they will bring the fight down to Abu Dhabi, probably.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

Lando Norris: ‘No more Mr Nice Guy!’

10:51 , Jack Rathborn

“We’re still at the point with George and myself and Alex and Charles [where] there’s a lot of compliments and we get along and we chat,” Lando Norris said. “But things always change when you become competitive against each other.

“We’re still in a friendly phase because we never raced each other.

“But if all of sudden we go into next year and in the middle of the championship it’s me and Max and Lewis, I don’t think there will be as much Mr Nice Guy. That’s just the way it works.”

Lando Norris walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)
Lando Norris walks in the paddock during previews ahead of F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Getty)

Mercedes F1 urged to rethink deal with insulation firm linked to Grenfell Tower fire

10:33 , Jack Rathborn

Mercedes F1 have been urged to rethink deal with insulation firm linked to Grenfell Tower fire.

The F1 team have penned a deal with Kingspan, who made some of the insulation used in the cladding of the building.

And the deal has been described as “truly shocking” by Grenfell survivors.

Michael Gove said he was “deeply disappointed”, though Kingspan said it played no role in the design of the cladding.

“This news has shattered us,” a statement from Grenfell United, a group of survivors and bereaved families from the fire, said.

The group also urged Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, led by Lewis Hamilton, “to immediately sever your relationship” with the company.

Toto Wolff confirms Lewis Hamilton will have ‘spicy’ engine again at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

10:00 , Jack Rathborn

“Saudi should be a good track for us but we know that this year when you think it is a good one, it can turn the other way around,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“But there is a long straight, we will get our spicy equipment, engine, out for Saudi Arabia that we didn’t use [in Qatar] and hopefully Valtteri is right up there.

“We need him but, in any case, if everybody finishes the race it is going to go to Abu Dhabi.”

Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner at the Grand Prix of Qatar (Getty)
Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner at the Grand Prix of Qatar (Getty)

Lewis Hamilton has been ‘lucky’, claims Bernie Ecclestone

09:50 , Jack Rathborn

“It is difficult to say which one will prevail,” Bernie Ecclestone told the Mail. “I think it now depends on a little bit of good or bad luck that either of them bumps into.

“Generally, the public — and this is nothing against Lewis, he has done a first-class job — probably wants to see somebody else be world champion. That is the feeling I get from people.

“Lewis has been a bit luckier until now. Whether that luck will remain or run out we’ll have to see. Max as champion would be good for Formula One. Mercedes have been great, but it would be good if someone else came to the fore.”

Record eighth title would not make Lewis Hamilton greater than Michael Schumacher

09:35 , Jack Rathborn

Bernie Ecclestone is adamant that a record eighth world title for Lewis Hamilton will not take him above Michael Schumacher in the eyes of the fans as the greatest F1 driver of all time.

“No, not at all,” Bernie Ecclestone told RTL when discussing whether Lewis Hamilton clinching a record eighth title would take him above Michael Schumacher as the greatest of all time in F1.

“In fact, I’m surprised Lewis didn’t say at the beginning of the year ‘I’m stepping down, I don’t want to win more races or World Championships than Michael’.”

Valtteri Bottas will remain ‘professional’ and keep it clean against Max Verstappen

09:15 , Jack Rathborn

Valtteri Bottas will remain ‘professional’ and keep it clean against Max Verstappen

Valtteri Bottas has vowed to remain ‘professional’ and keep his racing clean against Max Verstappen at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as the title race nears a conclusion.

“Every point in this championship is obviously super important and both me and Lewis will try to get every point we can,” explained the Mercedes driver.

“But also, we are racers that have respect and I also think in that situation Max wouldn’t do the calculations and what it would do in the points.

“I don’t think anyone is going to change the way we race.

“We’re going to race as hard and as well and as professionally as we can to get the best result.”

Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas speak to the media ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (EPA)
Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas speak to the media ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (EPA)

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Jeddah’s Corniche Circuit

09:00 , Jack Rathborn

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(AFP)
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(AFP)
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F1 drivers face the media ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

08:50 , Jack Rathborn

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
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(REUTERS)
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(REUTERS)

F1 drivers face the media ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

08:37 , Jack Rathborn

 (Getty)
(Getty)
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(REUTERS)
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Daniel Ricciardo on Cyril Abiteboul tattoo: ‘I lost faith that it was ever going to happen’

08:30 , Jack Rathborn

“I was just worried that it became so long that it was… irrelevant,” said Daniel Ricciardo.

“It was hard with travel, Covid, just trying to tee up the times. I thought if it gets too long, we might just forget about it but it seems everyone was pretty excited for it.

“It’s a real thing. Zak [Brown] and Cyril are now stamped for life. It was good because a lot of people I think lost faith that it was ever going to happen but we got there, it was a good time.

“There was definitely some negotiating – design, size and all those things – but actually in the end, pretty happy with the result,” he added.

Lewis Hamilton revelling in ‘uncharted territory’ ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

08:22 , Jack Rathborn

“It’s different in one sense because we’ve got two incredibly close teams, it’s different because we’re fighting for uncharted territory, no one’s ever won eight titles, team or driver, so that’s quite fresh and new,” said Hamilton, who will leave Saudi Arabia level on points with Verstappen to set up a winner takes all Abu Dhabi finale if he wins with the fastest lap ahead of the Dutchman.

“Then on the other side I’m more relaxed than I’ve ever been. I remember how it was my first championship and even my second and third, the sleepless nights and all those sorts of things.

“Obviously, (I’m) a lot more sure about myself and just applied myself better than ever before. All I can do is prepare the best I can for what’s up ahead of me and I 100% know I have.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

Max Verstappen downplays Lewis Hamilton’s extra experience in title fight

07:59 , Jack Rathborn

Max Verstappen admits seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is “better prepared” for a title fight but does not believe the extra experience gives his rival the upper hand with two races remaining.

While Hamilton seeks a record eighth drivers’ crown, Verstappen is looking to claim his first title after a fine season with Red Bull.

The Dutchman sits eight points clear at the top of the standings but heads into this weekend’s F1 debut in Saudi Arabia on the back foot, with Hamilton winning the last two races in Brazil and Qatar.

Hamilton, 36, claimed his first title back in 2008 and has racked up a further six in the past seven seasons as both he and Mercedes have dominated the sport.

“I think it’s natural of course that when you are in this stage of your career you are better prepared than what you were in your first or second, when Lewis was fighting for his first title,” said the 24-year-old Verstappen.

“I think it’s a natural progression and it’s very normal. I also feel much better prepared and more experienced than when I first came into Formula One.

“No, I don’t think that makes a big difference, because otherwise it would have shown already throughout the season.”

Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen gestures during press conference ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Getty)
Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen gestures during press conference ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Getty)

Lewis Hamilton addresses ‘pretty terrifying’ LGBTQ+ laws in Saudi Arabia

07:40 , Jack Rathborn

Lewis Hamilton is in the midst of the most exciting Formula One title battle in recent memory but insists he is uncomfortable racing in Saudi Arabia highlighting the country’s “pretty terrifying” LGBTQ+ laws.

The inaugural race in Jeddah is the penultimate grand prix of the 2021 season in which reigning champion Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen have tussled for the title.

Verstappen is just eight points clear heading into Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabia but Hamilton has the momentum of winning the previous two races for Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton addresses ‘pretty terrifying’ LGBTQ+ laws in Saudi Arabia

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

07:39 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has accused Lewis Hamilton “subtle little digs” and “provocations” towards Max Verstappen to gain an edge in the Formula 1 title race.

There has been a war of words between Red Bull and Mercedes throughout an engrossing season, which has included the team principals Horner and Toto Wolff verbally sparring in public.

F1 legend Alain Prost claimed the trash talk has gone too far, but Horner maintains the seven-time world champion is trying to use the media to unsettle Verstappen, who holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton heading into the final two races.

Lewis Hamilton accused of dropping ‘subtle little digs’ in F1 title race

Red Bull confront F1 chiefs over Mercedes battle and ‘one-sided’ decisions

07:38 , Jack Rathborn

Red Bull boss Helmut Marko discussed “one-sided” decisions in favour of Mercedes with Formula 1 bosses this season.

The two F1 teams have been enthralled in battles due to how close a title race it has been between their respective drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Currently Verstappen leads Hamilton by eight points with just two races to go.

Marko says he spoke to the FIA and Liberty Media about regulatory changes around the rear wing which were implemented after Mercedes complained about Red Bull.

Red Bull hint at engine change for Max Verstappen as F1 season reaches final two races

07:37 , Jack Rathborn

An engine change and grid penalty are not off the cards for Max Verstappen before the Formula 1 season is up, according to Red Bull.

The Dutchman leads defending champion Lewis Hamilton by eight points with two races left this season, with the Briton having served two engine-related grid penalties this year, while Verstappen is still on his third engine – the permitted amount.

But, with Hamilton closing in, the 24-year-old might be forced to change engines before the year is over, receiving a five-place grid penalty if he is to do so.

Red Bull hint at engine change for Max Verstappen

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice schedule

07:25 , Jack Rathborn

10.45am - F2 Practice Live

1pm - F1 Practice One Live (session starts 1.30pm)

3.15pm - F2 Qualifying Live

4.45pm - F1 Practice Two Live (session starts 5pm)

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