Formula One has confirmed this evening that Interlagos will continue to host the Brazilian Grand Prix until 2025.
“We are pleased to announce the city of São Paulo will continue to host the Brazilian Grand Prix until 2025 and look forward to working with our new promoter in the years ahead,” Chase Carey, the outgoing CEO of Formula One, said in a statement.
“Brazil is a very important market for Formula 1 with devoted fans and a long history in the sport.
“The race in Brazil has always been a highlight for our fans, the drivers and our partners and we look forward to providing Formula 1 fans with an exciting race at Interlagos in 2021 and over the next five years,” Carey added.
Meanwhile, Bruno Covas, the mayor of Sao Paulo, said they made a “tremendous effort” to keep the Brazilian Grand Prix in the city amid a proposal to race at a new venue in Rio.
“It is a great joy to be able to announce that Interlagos will continue to host one of the of the most important events in world motorsports,” Covas said.
“We made a tremendous effort to keep the race in our city. We have robust infrastructure for tourists, public safety and offer top-notch services.
“We believe that hosting the grand prix, in addition to promoting our city to the world, will continue to bring important contributions such as job creation and income generation.”
He added that according to studies he has seen, “for every R$1 invested in the São Paulo GP, R$5.20 is generated for the local economy.”
Next season’s race at Interlagos, the 2021 Formula 1 Grande Prêmio de São Paulo, will take place on 14 November.
Formula One also announced today that there is a new organiser for the event in the form of Brasil Motorsport, which is owned by investment entities controlled by Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi-based global investment company.
Alan Adler has been appointed by Mubadala to lead this new partnership with Formula One.
“We are very excited to be able to work with Formula 1,” Adler said.
“The F1 race has been held in Interlagos since the 1980s, and it is one of the most respected circuits on the calendar.
“Brazilians are motorsports and speed enthusiasts, and Brazil has a long tradition of producing great drivers, which in turn has created a great legion of F1 fans in our country.
“I believe that due to our experience working with reputable global brands, we can do a great job at uniting sports, brands, and entertainment. With this, we will be able to provide new experiences for the public, both on and off the track.”
It’s unclear which venue will host the event after 2025 and whether or not Formula One has abandoned plans to race in Rio after triggering backlash from environmentalist groups and stakeholders of the sport, including seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
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Alex Albon is set to be axed by Red Bull, with Ted Kravitz recently citing sources as saying Sergio Perez will replace him and a source telling Formula1News.co.uk in early November that the Thai driver will not be retained by the team beyond 2020.
However, former F1 driver Martin Brundle believes Albon provided Red Bull with “timely ammunition” to keep him as a result of his performance in the season finale at Abu Dhabi.
“Alex Albon had arguably his strongest day all season from a team perspective, passing Lando Norris with a nice move and then staying well within the pit-stop window of both Mercedes, which took away their opportunity to try something different with one car on a second stop in order to try to destabilise Max Verstappen’s metronomic progress out front,” Brundle wrote in his latest column for Sky Sports F1.
“Albon was the fastest car on track in the final quarter of the race and closed to within a second-and-a-half of Hamilton, and four seconds of Bottas who finished second.
“For those in the team keen to retain Albon next season, it provided timely ammunition,” he added.Analysis: How Strong Was Alex Albon’s Abu Dhabi GP?
While it’s fair to say the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was probably Albon’s best race of the season, it was hardly a strong performance.
In qualifying, Max Verstappen took pole with his Red Bull RB16, while Albon could only manage P5 in equal machinery, behind both Mercedes and the McLaren of Lando Norris.
As for the race, the Red Bull was clearly the fastest car, but Albon was nevertheless outpaced by the two Mercedes, though he was catching Lewis Hamilton towards the end.
More alarmingly, he finished the race around 20 seconds behind Verstappen – and this gap would have been around 30 seconds if an early safety car hadn’t bunched the field up and allowed him to close the gap to his Red Bull team-mate.
So, while it was a strong race by Albon’s standards, the harsh reality is it was still far off the level you would expect from Red Bull’s second driver – and it’s hard to argue that a driver like Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg wouldn’t have done a better job.
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Racing Point, which will be rebranded Aston Martin Racing for the 2021 F1 season, is reportedly in talks with US information technology services corporation Cognizant regarding a title sponsorship deal.
Cognizant is believed to be in “advanced negotiations” with the Silverstone-based team, according to Motorsport-Total.com.
Racing Point’s current title sponsor, Austrian water treatment manufacturer BWT, may continue to sponsor the team in a reduced capacity.
The team is looking to work its way up the pecking order and establish itself as a front-runner in Formula One over the coming years.
It hopes it will benefit from F1’s budget cap, which will come into effect next season, and the more equitable distribution of prize money.
Their signing of Sebastian Vettel is a clear indication of the team’s growing ambition in Formula One, and the addition of the four-time World Champion to the constructor is likely to help them attract new, more lucrative sponsorship deals.
Although Racing Point narrowly missed out on securing third in the 2020 Constructors’ Championship, team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes there are many positives to carry into the new season ahead of their rebrand to Aston Martin Racing.
”It’s been a year of missed opportunities for several reasons – including more than our fair share of bad luck that cost us valuable points,” Szafnauer said after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
”We will take the disappointment tonight in our stride and focus on the positives of an incredibly strong season where we enjoyed some great moments.
“We have shown that we have a competitive car and team, which will give us a great base to come back even stronger in 2021 under the Aston Martin name,” he added.
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Callum Ilott will serve as Ferrari’s test driver next season, the Scuderia announced this week.
“I am very pleased to be joining Ferrari as its test driver from next year,” Ilott said in a statement.
“I look forward to contributing to the work the team does on and off track, and to all of the new things I can learn by taking on this exciting new challenge.
“I will give my all to do a good job and gain as much experience as possible to continue making progress as a driver.
“I would like to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy and Scuderia Ferrari for this great opportunity and their support. It has been an honour to be part of their programme for the past three years and I am pleased to continue our journey together,” he added.
Ilott, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, finished second in the Formula Two Drivers’ Standings, just 14 points adrift of Mick Schumacher.
The British driver was previously tipped to join the Haas F1 Team next year, but he missed out after the American racing outfit opted to sign Nikita Mazepin, who finished fifth in the 2020 F2 Championship.
Ilott took part in the Young Drivers’ Test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with Alfa Romeo, lapping around 1.5 seconds slower than the fastest lap of pacesetter Fernando Alonso in the Renault.
Commenting on the test, Ilott said: “It’s been an amazing day, driving an incredible car.
“From my personal point of view, I’ve really enjoyed it. It took a lot of focus to keep performing at this level, in such a powerful car, but it’s been really good and I hope to get more opportunities to drive this car in the future.”
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Red Bull are “close” to finalising a deal with Honda which will allow them to rebrand and continue to use the Japanese car-maker’s power units for the 2022 F1 season and beyond, team principal Christian Horner has revealed.
Horner said their discussions on the matter with the FIA have been “constructive”, adding that Honda have been “very accommodating.”
This agreement would allow Red Bull and Scuderia AlphaTauri to stay in Formula One without having to find a new engine supplier – and they are pushing for a freeze on engine development to prevent them falling behind the likes of Ferrari and Renault, and ending up with an even larger engine performance deficit to Mercedes.
“Well, obviously we are very focused on Plan A and Honda have been very accommodating, but nothing is finalised,” Horner said.
“We’ve got constructive discussions going on with Honda and the FIA and I think that we are close to coming to a conclusion.
“Obviously, the FIA are consulting with the other teams. I think there’s alignment regarding the freeze, it’s just should there be a safety net if an engine manufacturer undershoots from one season to the next,” the Red Bull team principal added.
Continuing in this vein, Horner conceded that locking in engine performance for several years via a freeze on development “could be quite damaging” as it would prevent weaker power unit manufacturers from closing the gap to their rivals.
If this deal were to fall through for any reason, Red Bull and Scuderia AlphaTauri’s other option would be to arrange an engine supply deal with one of the three other existing F1 power unit manufactures.
Mercedes have already ruled out supplying engines to Red Bull due to supply constraints, as they will be supplying four teams from next year, with McLaren ditching Renault power for Mercedes.
Meanwhile, Ferrari and Renault have suggested they would potentially be open to supplying Red Bull and Scuderia AlphaTauri, though discussions on the matter have not been held.
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Japanese racing driver Yuki Tsunoda will replace Daniil Kvyat at Scuderia AlphaTauri next season, the Italy-based team announced on Wednesday morning.
This comes as over six weeks ago, Formula1News.co.uk revealed that Tsunoda would partner Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri in 2021 as long as he secures a Super Licence.
The Honda-backed driver, who will become the first Japanese driver to compete in Formula One since Kamui Kobayashi retired from the sport in 2014, has said he is looking forward to joining the grid and representing Japan.
“Like most racing drivers, it has always been my goal to race in Formula 1, so I am very happy with this news,” said Tsunoda.
“I want to thank Scuderia AlphaTauri, Red Bull and Dr. Marko for giving me this opportunity, and of course everyone from Honda, for all their support so far in my career, giving me great opportunities to race in Europe.
“I must also thank the teams that I have raced with to get to this point, particularly Carlin, with whom I have learned so much this year. I realise that I will be carrying the hopes of a lot of Japanese F1 fans next year and I will be doing my best for them too,” the 20-year-old added.
Meanwhile, Scuderia AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said: “Red Bull has been following Yuki’s career for a while now and I am sure he will be a great asset to our team.
“Watching him in Formula 2 this year, he has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding. During the test in Imola in November when he drove our 2018 car, his lap times were very consistent over a race simulation, he progressed throughout the day and gave our engineers useful feedback.
“In addition, his integration with the Honda engineers has been seamless, which certainly helps. At the test in Abu Dhabi this week, he proved to be a fast learner and that he is ready to make the step to Formula One.”
Tsunoda tested a 2018-spec Toro Rosso at Imola several weeks ago and took part in the Young Drivers’ Test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
The Imola test, combined with his P3 finish in the F2 standings, are enough for him to qualify for a Super Licence.
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Last week, it was announced that Louis Camilleri had resigned from his position as Ferrari’s CEO for “personal reasons”, with John Elkann, chairman of the luxury Italian car-maker, taking over his duties on an interim basis.
Luca di Montezemolo, who served as Ferrari’s president and chairman until September 2014, has not ruled out a return to the firm as he believes he can fix the Scuderia’s problems.
“Is it possible for me to return to Ferrari? The question should not be asked to me. No one has asked me anything,” di Montezemolo said in a recent interview with Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI).
“I think I know what the problems are and I can fix them, I know what needs to be tackled over time. But I see with great regret a weak Ferrari, out of the top positions, and that makes me worried because it’s a very difficult time for the team.”
He admitted that present-day Ferrari is a very different corporation to what it was back when he was at the helm:
“This is a very different Ferrari from mine. It pays great attention to the stock market, it has increased the production of the cars, but for the first time it has a leadership that does not know Formula 1.
“After Camilleri’s resignation, I hope they choose the new CEO well because there is a team to strengthen.”
Di Montezemolo went on to say that he believes Stefano Domenicali, who will replace Chase Carey as the CEO of Formula One next year, would have been the ideal replacement for Camilleri.
“I’m sorry to say, but there would have been a perfect person to lead Ferrari: I’m talking about Stefano Domenicali, who I am sure he will do very well in the new role.
“If they would like to hear any suggestions, I would be happy to share them. I love Ferrari very much.
“These are very difficult moments not only for the lack of victories and I want to avoid creating further elements of controversy,” he added.
“I try to be constructive but I’m worried because Ferrari never led a lap in the whole  World Championship.
“There are problems that come from afar and create questions about the future. These are two-fold. First of all, a horizontal organisation that does not hold up in Formula 1.
“It is typical of those who lack experience and knowledge and perhaps not even the humility to see how the best teams are organised or how Ferrari itself was organised.
“Secondly, to win you need to have some element in the team that makes a difference and brings new skills.
“I had a very strong team because I’ve always tried to choose experienced people,” the Italian concluded.
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Nikita Mazepin did himself no favours when he posted a video of him groping an Instagram model onto social media earlier this month.
But, although the Haas F1 Team were quick to condemn the “abhorrent” incident, it seems the Russian racing driver will escape relatively unscathed.
Discussing the incident, Dutch journalist Louis Dekker has said he believes the American racing outfit simply cannot drop Mazepin – despite a petition urging them to do so receiving over 30,000 signatures – as they would be bankrupt without his father’s investment.
“Without Mazepin, I’m afraid Haas is bankrupt. The team brought him in purely for the money,” Dekker said.
Nikita Mazepin’s father, Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, is believed to be paying the Haas F1 Team around $20 million per year as part of the multi-year contract his son signed with them earlier this month.
Meanwhile, ex-F1 driver Jan Lammers said people with the sort of wealth of the Mazepin family can usually get away with stuff like this, as they have “f*** you money.”
“People who are so rich are also called people with f*** you money. They can do whatever they want.
“This behaviour is, of course, reprehensible. He has overdue maintenance in parenting. His behaviour does not fit into the world of Formula 1.
“He’s very controversial at the moment,” he added.
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Racing Point missed out on third in the 2020 F1 Constructors’ Championship to McLaren after Sergio Perez retired from the Abu Dhabi GP due to a mechanical failure and Lance Stroll could only manage P10.
This was especially disappointing for the Silverstone-based team, which will be rebranded Aston Martin Racing next year, as they had the third-fastest car throughout the season.
Speaking after his DNF at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Perez described the outcome of the race as a “shame” and fired a thinly veiled jibe at Stroll, suggesting that he isn’t a “strong” racing driver.
“It’s a shame, because it cost us a lot in the Constructors’ Championship and they beat us,” Perez said.
“No doubt we had a better car than McLaren, but in the end they overtook us. I’ve always said finishing the races would make a difference, but we had problems with our cars.
“McLaren deserves it a lot too, proving that having two strong drivers in the team makes a very important difference,” the Mexican added.
In total, Racing Point scored 210 points, but they were docked 15 points earlier in the season after the FIA determined that they had illegally copied the brake ducts of the 2019 Mercedes F1 car.
So, they finished their 2020 campaign with 195 points, seven points adrift of McLaren’s tally of 202 points.
Perez scored almost twice as many points as his younger team-mate, bringing in 125 points to Stroll’s 75 despite the Canadian competing in one more race than him.
Nico Hulkenberg also scored ten points for the team, as he competed in three grand prix due to Perez testing positive for COVID-19 towards the start of the year and subsequently missing both races at Silverstone, and Stroll later missing the Eifel Grand Prix for the same reason.
The McLaren drivers’ points distribution was considerably more even, with Carlos Sainz scoring 105 and Lando Norris contributing 97.
Despite his retirement at the season finale, Sergio Perez still finished fourth in the Drivers’ Standings with six points more than Daniel Ricciardo.
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The Mercedes W11, which allowed Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to comfortably win the 2020 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Titles, is the fastest racing car ever – and it’s likely to remain so for a while, with next year’s cars set to be considerably slower.
Following the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes posted a tweet of its two drivers doing donuts ahead of the W11 being retired.December 13, 2020
Red Bull were quick to reply to the tweet to poke fun at Racing Point following the Copygate scandal earlier this year.
“Retirement? Your 2021 car is ready for collection, @RacingPointF1,” Red Bull posted in response to the tweet.
Other teams and the broader F1 community reacted to the exchange with more jokes and memes.— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) December 13, 2020
lmao you guys are wild pic.twitter.com/QedZlA5K2l— mari IS SO PROUD OF ALEX ALBON (@lovelyalbon) December 13, 2020
At least the banter was fresh.— BWT Racing Point F1 Team (@RacingPointF1) December 13, 2020 December 13, 2020
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Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton had a difficult end to the 2020 F1 season, with him contracting COVID-19 earlier this month and being outpaced at the season finale by Max Verstappen and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes is set to expire in just a few weeks, but the Brit is hopeful that a new deal will be agreed before Christmas.
After finishing third in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, Hamilton was asked about the status of his contract extension negotiations with Mercedes.
He said the talks will “hopefully” start over the coming weeks, adding, “we’d love to get it done before Christmas I think.”
“I plan to be here next year, I want to be here next year. I think us as a team have more to do together, more to achieve both in the sport and even more outside the sport.
“So yeah, I hope we can begin this week discussions and hopefully get it tied up before Christmas,” Hamilton added.
Following George Russell’s impressive drive in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes W11 at the Sakhir GP earlier this month, ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle said the seven-time World Champion’s value to the Silver Arrows has been “capped” by the young Brit.
“With Hamilton playing hard to get regarding a signature on a new contract, and doubts whether Valtteri Bottas was really stepping up to the plate lately despite his miserable luck, George would answer a few questions one way or the other,” Brundle wrote in a recent column for Sky Sports F1.
“And so it proved to be as he assuredly led the race after a perfect start, and without being entirely comfortable inside the car or fully up to speed with all of its systems, Russell dramatically raised his own value and opportunities, capped Hamilton’s, and dented Bottas’,” the former F1 driver added.
Hamilton joined the Mercedes works team at the end of the 2012 season after spending six years with McLaren.
In his eight-year tenure with the Silver Arrows, Hamilton has won six Drivers’ Titles and recorded 74 grand prix victories.
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Russian racing driver Nikita Mazepin caused a storm on social media last week after he posted a video of him groping an Instagram model onto his Instagram story.
F1 fans quickly called on the Haas F1 Team to tear up Mazepin’s contract and find a replacement for him.
However, the Haas F1 Team instead issued a statement condemning the “abhorrent” incident and said they would deal with the matter internally, without providing further information.
Calls for Nikita Mazepin’s contract to be voided by the Haas F1 Team are persisting, with a petition gaining over 30,000 signatures.
However, some people believe that the matter is being blown out of proportion and it’s simply time to move on.
For instance, Igor Ermilin, a former presidential advisor to Russia’s auto racing federation, suggested that the matter has been dealt with and the F1 community should stop using it to discredit Mazepin.
“Today, Formula 1 drivers are emasculated, because of their communication with the media, with corporations, with sponsors. There are very few individuals left now,” Ermilin said.
Continuing, he said: “Social media is an evil that unfortunately gives everyone the opportunity to interfere with others’ privacy. A Formula 1 driver is a normal person who faces consequences for every sneeze.
“Everyone knows that similar things happen in the personal lives of everyone else. We must give those involved with sport the opportunity to remain human.”
Meanwhile, Vitaly Petrov’s former manager, Oksana Kosachenko, also insisted that the incident shouldn’t spell the end of Mazepin’s racing career.
“Everything that had to be done, Nikita did. He apologised and I think that’s enough. Because of a second and a half of footage, it became the biggest nightmare story of all time and everything must be taken away from him now?
“His words made absolutely clear that he has drawn all the conclusions, namely, that as a Formula 1 driver you are under closer scrutiny by both the media and enemies in the paddock.
“He has the brains, the competent management and parents who will tell him how to behave in this situation,” she concluded.
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A study published by Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), an international anti-tobacco industry group, has warned that Formula One and MotoGP remain the only major global sports competitions that still allow tobacco companies to advertise to fans via lucrative sponsorship deals with teams.
STOP estimates that Formula One has generated in excess of $4.5 billion of revenue from sponsorship deals with tobacco brands in the sport’s 70-year history.
Tobacco companies spent over $100 million over the course of the 2020 F1 season alone, STOP noted.
It warned that there has been a marked increase in tobacco sponsorship in Formula One in recent years, with the 2019 and 2020 seasons having the highest level of tobacco sponsorship since 2011.
McLaren and Ferrari have both been the subject of criticism in recent years due to their sponsorship deals with tobacco companies.
Ferrari has long been a partner of Philip Morris International, and during the 2018 season their cars appeared with Mission Winnow branding in what is considered to be an attempt by the tobacco manufacturing giant to circumvent anti-tobacco advertising laws and the FIA’s regulations on the matter.
Meanwhile, McLaren has a similar sponsorship partnership with British American Tobacco’s “A Better Tomorrow” initiative.
Tobacco advertising in Formula One was outlawed by the FIA at the end of the 2006 season, and many F1 fans and stakeholders have been understandably critical of the industry’s continued attempts to use the sport to increase brand awareness and generate sales.
“Making lung cancer and addiction cool is a tall order; F1 sponsorship hits the spot perfectly,” Professor Gerard Hastings, founder of the Institute for Social Marketing and Health, said in a recent interview with CNN.
Reacting to STOP’s recent report, FIA President Jean Todt said F1’s governing body remains “firmly opposed to tobacco advertising and continues to stand by its 2003 recommendations.”
However, he stressed that they “are not in a position to interfere with the private commercial arrangements of teams and their sponsors”, adding “we will continue to monitor the compliance with the applicable laws.”
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Over the weekend, it was announced that the Silverstone Circuit’s International Pits Straight will be renamed the “Hamilton Straight” to pay tribute to the seven-time World Champion’s success in Formula One.
It will become the only part of the circuit, which has long played host to the British Grand Prix, to be named after a racing driver.
Reacting to the tribute, Lewis Hamilton said he is “blown away” and was evidently shocked by the news.
“That is insane. That is definitely a curveball. I don’t even know what to say,” Hamilton replied after British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) President David Coulthard announced the tribute on Channel 4.
Continuing, Hamilton said: “I remember going to Silverstone and watching Nigel Mansell and seeing that incredible crowd and I have also experienced it year-on-year. It is something so close to my heart.
“I am blown away. No driver has had that, so I am very grateful, very humbled, and a big thank you to everyone for supporting me. I hope I can continue to make the BRDC and the Brits proud for the time I am racing,” the seven-time World Champion added.
The tribute to Hamilton’s record-breaking achievements in Formula One came at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, on his return to F1 after missing the Sakhir Grand Prix due to him testing positive for COVID-19.
Hamilton finished the race in third position, with his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas just ahead of him and Red Bull ace Max Verstappen claiming victory after a commanding performance.
Speaking after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton said he has not been “100 percent” this weekend but was “generally happy” with his performance.
“You can’t win them all, so I think considering the past couple of weeks I’m really generally happy with the weekend.
“At obviously not 100 percent it doesn’t feel as good as perhaps you would like, but congratulations to Max.
“That was a really hard race for me, physically all year I’ve been fine, but today I definitely wasn’t, I’m just glad it’s over,” he added.
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Over the weekend, Red Bull Racing said they will finalise their 2021 driver line-up by Christmas at the very latest, insisting that they have not yet made a decision on the fate of Alex Albon.
It has long been speculated that, should Red Bull decide to drop Albon, Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg are favourite to replace the Thai driver.
Following the lacklustre Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sky Sports F1 pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz cited sources in the paddock as saying that Red Bull have decided to run Perez alongside Max Verstappen next year.
“We are expecting an announcement maybe in the next coming week that Sergio Perez has joined the team, and Alex Albon is staying on as a test and reserve driver,” Kravitz revealed in his 2020 Abu Dhabi GP notebook.
Continuing, he said it looks like “Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have managed to convince [Red Bull owner] Dietrich Mateschitz, who wanted to keep the faith with Alex Albon, to sign Perez.”
Kravitz suggested that Red Bull will sign Sergio Perez on a one-year deal so they can re-evaluate their options at the end of 2021.
“It seems like there is nothing to lose. They might as well sign Checo on a one-year deal and see how it goes, and if he can’t do the job that they want him to do, they’ve got Alex Albon in reserve. That seems like what is going to happen.”
Following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola around six weeks ago, a source told Formula1News.co.uk that Red Bull have decided to axe Alex Albon at the end of the year and he will only be on the F1 grid with Scuderia AlphaTauri next season if Yuki Tsunoda fails to get a Super Licence.
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Polesitter Max Verstappen comfortably won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the two Mercedes finishing behind the Red Bull driver in the remaining podium positions.
However, surprising, Valtteri Bottas finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton on merit.
Speaking just after the race, Hamilton said he is “generally happy” with how the weekend has gone:
“You can’t win them all, so I think considering the past couple of weeks I’m really generally happy with the weekend,” Lewis Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 after finishing third in the Abu Dhabi GP.
“At obviously not 100 percent it doesn’t feel as good as perhaps you would like, but congratulations to Max.
“That was a really hard race for me, physically all year I’ve been fine, but today I definitely wasn’t, I’m just glad it’s over.
“Big thank you to the team for their continued support, it’s still a fantastic result to get two podium finishes,” the seven-time World Champion added.
When asked if he believes his recent COVID-19 infection hampered his performance today, Hamilton revealed that the race was very physically demanding for him.
“In terms of physically, yeah massively. I don’t think I’ve ever been so blown, my body’s not feeling great.
“But on the bright side, I made it through and I didn’t think anytime last week that I’d be here, so I’m just really truly grateful for my health and to be alive.
“I’m looking forward to recovering over the next period of time we have and getting back into training, getting my body back into where I know it should be,” he said.
Continuing, Hamilton said the Red Bulls had a pace advantage over Mercedes this weekend, though only Max Verstappen finished ahead of them, with Alex Albon crossing the finish line in fourth.
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Max Verstappen has won the 2020 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi after leading every lap of the grand prix ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
The top three finished the fairly dull race as they qualified, but there were several important changes outside the podium places.
After qualifying in P5, Alex Albon finished the race in fourth position, albeit around 20 seconds behind his Red Bull team-mate despite a safety car allowing the field to bunch up in the early phase of the grand prix.
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz crossed the finish line in fifth and sixth, respectively, allowing McLaren to steal third in the Constructors’ Championship from Racing Point.
Daniel Ricciardo had an impressive opening stint and benefitted from Sebastian Vettel holding up a gaggle of cars to finish the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in P7, ahead of Pierre Gasly.
Esteban Ocon overtook Lance Stroll on the last lap to finish ninth.
Stroll had a difficult race – and with Sergio Perez retiring early in the grand prix due to a mechanical failure – Racing Point were relying on the young Canadian to secure enough points to fend off McLaren and Renault in their battle for third in the Constructors’ Standings.
Daniil Kvyat finished just outside the points in what looks like his last race in Formula One, while Sebastian Vettel could only manage P14 in his final grand prix with Scuderia Ferrari.
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Ralf Schumacher has warned that Valtteri Bottas’ F1 career could be over if he doesn’t have a strong race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
The Finn was outperformed by George Russell when the young Brit filled in for Lewis Hamilton at last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, though Bottas ended up finishing one place ahead of him in P8.
Commenting on the prospect of Bottas losing his Mercedes seat to Russell next year, Schumacher said the Silver Arrows may decide to drop him unless he has a strong end to the season.
“Maybe it will depend on the last race. But if he has another race weekend like last, the risk is too great. His performance in the last races was really bad,” Schumacher told Motorsport-total.com.
Continuing, the ex-F1 driver said he believes Bottas could cost Mercedes the Constructors’ Championship next year:
“You can’t go into the next year with a driver like that and expect to collect points to win the Constructors’ Championship.
“I think he’s broken and I believe that after the weekend that George Russell showed, no one at Mercedes will want to take the risk again.
“I think the pendulum has already swung in one direction. “I would almost be surprised if he could rehabilitate himself this weekend,” he added.
Should Mercedes decide to ditch Bottas despite him recently signing a contract with them for 2021, Williams would be the most likely destination for him next season, as George Russell’s seat would suddenly become vacant.
However, Schumacher isn’t convinced that they would want Bottas to re-join them, so the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could potentially be his last race in Formula One.
“The question is: does Williams want this Valtteri Bottas or not? I suspect it will mean the end of his career.
“I don’t think anyone is saying ‘yeah!’ at the moment. If Mercedes does replace him now, they have good reason to do so,” Schumacher concluded.
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Renault are celebrating their 400th grand prix in Formula One this weekend and, ahead of their rebrand to Alpine next season, Fernando Alonso is driving the iconic, Championship-winning R25 at the Yas Marina Circuit to celebrate their time in the sport.
Alonso was on the racetrack while Lewis Hamilton was being interviewed by a reporter – and it was clear to see that the seven-time World Champion was distracted by the powerful yet refined sound of the Renault R25’s V10.
After being asked a question about the pace of the Mercedes W11 this weekend, Hamilton started his answer before being interrupted by the howls of the R25.
He then turned to his side before saying: “That sound is just so good. I mean, it’s the greatest sound of a racing car ever. I hate that they got rid of them.”
The current generation of F1 engines – the 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 hybrids – are considerably more powerful than the 3.0-litre V10s used prior to the 2006 season, but almost every single motorsport fan will agree they are no match when it comes to sound and exhilaration.
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The McLaren Group has announced this morning that it has attracted new long-term investment into McLaren Racing to help it “continue its growth as a global sports franchise” in Formula One and beyond.
The fresh round of investment is coming from MSP Sports Capital, a US-based sports investment group, which is co-investing with UBS O’Connor, LLC and The Najafi Companies, a Phoenix-based private equity firm.
Via the transaction, MSP Sports Capital will acquire a minority shareholding in McLaren Racing, while the McLaren Group will maintain its position as its majority shareholder.
Specifically, MSP Sports Capital will invest £185m into McLaren Racing to acquire an initial 15 percent stake that will increase to up to a 33 percent holding by the end of 2022.
The transaction gives McLaren Racing a total post-money valuation of £560mn.
Noteworthily, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown will maintain his post, while Paul Walsh will sit as chairman of McLaren Racing, and Jahm Najafi and Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa will become vice-chairmen.
Furthermore, as part of the deal, Jeff Moorad of MSP Sports Capital and Rodrigo Trelles Zabala of UBS O’Connor have been appointed to the board of directors of McLaren Racing, alongside Sultan Ojjeh and Will Griffiths of the McLaren Group.
The Woking-based automaker stressed that McLaren Automotive remains wholly owned by the McLaren Group and will not be affected by the transaction in any way.
Zak Brown described the investment as “a key moment in the progress of McLaren Racing” and said it will help the team achieve long-term success in Formula One and IndyCar.
“MSP Sports Capital is first and foremost a sports investor. They know the market and their team has considerable experience and proven success in global sports properties,” Brown said.
“They are a partner as much as a shareholder, with the ability to leverage their network and knowledge for the long-term benefit of McLaren Racing.
“This new investment bolsters our plan to return McLaren to contention for race wins and championships in Formula 1 and IndyCar, and will strengthen our positive momentum as we continue to focus relentlessly on our mission to return to the top of the podium,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jeff Moorad, principal at MSP, said they are “committed to assist the team in accomplishing its objective of returning to the front of the grid.”
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