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Formula 1

Verstappen completes unwanted ‘track limits’ triple

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Verstappen completes unwanted 'track limits' triple

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen completed an unwanted ‘track limits’ triple when he was stripped of a fastest lap bonus point at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday.

The deletion for going too far off the track came a day after the Dutch 23-year-old missed out on pole position when he also ran marginally wide in qualifying.

Victory also slipped through his fingers in Bahrain last month when he had to hand back the lead to Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton for a breach while overtaking the seven-time Formula One world champion.

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“Now we’ve lost the victory, fastest lap, and pole position,” commented Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko to Sky Sports Germany. “All good things come in threes. I hope that’s the end of it.”

Verstappen, who finished second and is now eight points behind race winner Hamilton, was told his fastest lap had been deleted just before the podium celebrations.

“Oh really? That’s a good one,” he said with a look that made clear he was not amused. “That’s a bit odd because they (the stewards) were not checking track limits in 14, but whatever.”

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Updated notes circulated by race director Michael Masi had in fact notified teams of the change on Saturday morning, setting out the limits for turn 14.

Verstappen is enjoying his best ever start to a season, winning one race and finishing second in the other two won by Hamilton, but he acknowledged the title battle would come down to fine margins and avoiding mistakes.

“It’s close. I wish it was closer,” he said.

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“It’s a long season and we can’t afford to have any retirement or silly mistakes so we just have to keep on doing what we’re doing.”

Team boss Christian Horner said the track limits rule and the consistency of its application was a continuing ‘bone of contention’.

He said his other driver Sergio Perez, who finished fourth, had been “super-frustrated” earlier in the race when he was passed by McLaren’s Lando Norris who appeared to go off track without punishment.

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“We get a document from the FIA and it changes from one day to the next. The application of these are frustrating,” said Horner.

Formula 1

Will the FIA’s decision on Masi stand well with Mercedes and Hamilton?

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Will the FIA’s decision on Masi stand well with Mercedes and Hamilton?

After a controversial end to the 2021 season that saw Max Verstappen clinch his first F1 title, many have criticized race director Michael Masi for allegedly “snatching” the title from Hamilton and “handing” it over to Verstappen.

Some, if not many, believe that Masi’s decision to restart the race on the last lap was a deliberate move to deny Hamilton the win in a race he had led from lap one. Mercedes were obviously pissed off by the result, which denied their leading driver a possible record eighth championship title.

According to reports, Mercedes wants Masi gone before the 2022 season gets underway, but nothing has been decided yet about the 44-year-old. According to the Daily Mail, some believe that Masi should stay, but others think that if he does, the reputation of F1 will be jeopardized.

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As per reports, Mercedes and F1 held friendly talks over the issue but didn’t reach a unanimous decision. However, the sporting body has allegedly decided that Masi will stay, which will be to Mercedes and Hamilton’s disappointment and anger.

Hamilton hasn’t disclosed whether he will participate in this coming F1 season, and if Michael stays, the chances of the 36-year old’s return to the track might probably be further minimized. “I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” stated Brown, McLaren’s CEO, who urged the sport not to ignore Lewis’ frustration or anger.

With nothing decided for certain, though, everyone, especially the involved parties, can only wait, fingers crossed that what is settled in the end benefits both sides. There’s hope of that happening if the new FIA president is as diligent as Brown described. “…I believe he will be a change agent…,” Brown assured.

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Formula 1

Hamilton thinks rating who is best will be easy if he and Max drove the same car

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Hamilton thinks rating who is best will be easy if he and Max drove the same car

Whether it will be a record eighth title for Hamilton, or a brilliant second for Verstappen, is still unclear, and so is the answer to who is the best driver between the two.

After an exciting and perhaps controversial 2021 season, F1 will usher in an anticipated 2022 as the two leading drivers and current biggest rivals take to their wheels for another title race.

After a brilliant 14-year F1 career and four consecutive titles (2017–2020), one would go for Hamilton, but some think he has the advantage of a better car.

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The comparison goes way back, and in 2019, Lewis thought of the simplest solution to this argument: having Verstappen drive the same car. “I see stories that we have different cars and that’s the only way I beat him, so that would give me the opportunity to show that is not the case.”

Mercedes have dominated F1 for close to ten years, with Red Bull seeming content as runners-up most of that time, but last year saw a different outcome as the latter made it clear they were out to end their rival’s dominance.

The 36-year old’s suggestion is unlikely to take root though, as Verstappen is contracted to RedBull for at least another two seasons, while Mercedes has already signed a new teammate for the 7-time champion.

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That leaves the field open for all to see and judge. Hopefully, they (Hamilton and Verstappen) make the next few seasons where they’ll compete as exciting as they have been, from which everyone will judge who to crown king.

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Formula 1

Mercedes to demand Michael Masi is fired or Lewis Hamilton ‘will quit’

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Mercedes to demand Michael Masi is fired or Lewis Hamilton 'will quit'

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team chief, is expected to demand that FIA race director Michael Masi be fired, or Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, would retire from the sport.

On Friday, Wolff will meet with Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the incoming FIA president, to discuss the happenings of the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Max Verstappen won his first world victory in dramatic and contentious conditions, as he and title challenger Lewis Hamilton were equal on points heading into the finale at the Yas Marina Circuit.

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On the penultimate lap of the championship, the Dutchman overtook the seven-time world champion, who had led for much of the race, after a late Safety Car and tyre replacement switched momentum in his favor.

Mercedes’ rage was directed primarily towards Masi, who initially refused to allow vehicles to unlap themselves, as is customary, only to reverse his decision in order to set up the last lap clash between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Mercedes is alleged to have withdrawn their petition against the race results after reaching an agreement with the FIA, which stated that Michael Masi and FIA director of single-seater technical affairs Nikolas Tombazis would be fired ahead of the 2022 championship.

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After the season finale, Hamilton and the Mercedes crew did not give any additional media interviews. Since the events of December 12th, 2021, the 37-year-old has yet to post on his social media accounts, and he is rumored to have yet to commit to the upcoming season.

The FIA is expected to fire Masi, but one of the incoming president’s backers, Bernie Ecclestone, does not feel the Australian should be fired.

“I see no reason whatsoever why Michael should not continue in his job,” Ecclestone told The Daily Mail. “He did what he thought what was best.

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“You can say I would do this or that or the other. But it would have been awful if the final race had ended under a safety car.

“Michael would have got in just as much trouble. He is a good man and the FIA should stick by him.”

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the new FIA president who took over from Jean Todt in December, denied reports that Hamilton would retire before next competition.

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“No, I don’t think he will [quit],” Ben Sulayem told reporters. “I’ll ask your question, did Lewis declare that he’s not going to race? No. Exactly. Being a driver, you declare yourself, you don’t let the rumours [talk].

“I’m confident that Lewis [will return]. Lewis is a big part of motorsport, and of course of Formula 1, the new era [can add to] Lewis’s wins and achievements, and also Verstappen is there.

“I am very confident that you will see a very challenging Formula 1 season next year.”

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