F1 news LIVE: Aston Martin announce Otmar Szafnauer exit as Lewis Hamilton linked to Hollywood movie

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World champion Verstappen reflects on ‘insane, intense, and crazy’ season

An action-packed off-season in Formula 1 sees Lewis Hamilton’s future still widely discussed. The Mercedes star is yet to respond to messages from the FIA, the sport’s governing body, according to the body’s new president, Mohammed bin Sulayem. The controversial end to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi has also raised doubts over the future of race director Michael Masi, with Mercedes furious with his role and decisions that influenced Max Verstappen emerging victorious in the title race.

Hamilton has attended public events to receive his knighthood and bid farewell to now-former Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, but he has remained tight-lipped over the divisive finish to the championship, with some suggesting the seven-time world champion could even be considering walking away from the sport.

Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson became the latest figure to criticise how the final lap unfolded at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, warning that the sport had moved into “dangerous territory” as it risks integrity for the sake of entertainment. Johansson added that Masi’s decision to allow only five cars to unlap themselves “completely ignored any level of common sense”.

Meanwhile, Verstappen has been celebrating his maiden world championship title in the US and was pictured with boxing’s pound-for-pound superstar Canelo Alvarez last weekend. However, the Dutchman has been warned that his aggressive driving style could lead to a ban in the 2022 season. Verstappen currently has seven points on his F1 licence – picked up for disciplinary infractions – with 12 points invoking an automatic one-race suspension.

Follow all the latest F1 updates as we build up to the new season below:

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Lewis Hamilton linked to Hollywood movie about Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton is reportedly connected with discussions over a new Hollywood movie surrounding Formula 1.

Entertainment website Deadline says Apple TV could snag the rights, with Brad Pitt primed to feature as one of the drivers returning from retirement to mentor a young upstart in what would be “his final stab at glory on the track as the younger driver’s team-mate”.

The plot is similar to Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes from 2010 to 2012.

And the original report from Deadline says that: “we hear that British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is involved in some capacity”.

The latest update does not mention the seven-time former world champion, with a budget of around $140m and director Joseph Kosinski, who directed the forthcoming Top Gun: Maverick, on board alongside Ehren Kruger the scriptwriter and Jerry Bruckheimer the producer.

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 14:15

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Bernie Ecclestone not convinced Lewis Hamilton returns to F1

Bernie Ecclestone does not believe Lewis Hamilton returns to F1 as his future remains the source of rumour and debate after taking a break from both mainstream and social media.

“I don’t think he’s coming back,” he told Blick.

“His disappointment is too great. And you can understand that in a way. Now it would be time, with also seven World Championship titles like Michael Schumacher, to tackle his dream of becoming a fashion entrepreneur.”

Mercedes appeared to confirm their star man would not opt for retirement though, tweeting a picture of Hamilton and adding the caption: “Adversity causes some to break; others to break records.”

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 14:05

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David Coulthard: Lewis Hamilton had to ‘fight fire’ in F1 title battle

David Coulthard has likened Lewis Hamilton’s role in last season’s dramatic F1 title fight with Max Verstappen to “fighting fire”.

“The way he [Verstappen] drives, the thing that I find most impressive…[if] there’s a gap, he goes for it, it’s not even a doubt,” Coulthard told Channel 4.

“I used to weigh up ‘should I risk it now, should I not risk it’, he just goes ‘I can see the biscuit’ he risks it for the biscuit, he just goes, it really is quite special.

“And when you actually see how Lewis is defending against that, Lewis is an exceptional racing driver, but he’s had to open the door on more than one occasion because he’s come up against, if he’s fire, he’s come up against fire, and how do you fight fire?”

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 13:57

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Michael Masi told Abu Dhabi decisions ‘completely ignored any level of common sense’

Former Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson has told Michael Masi his decisions at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lacked “common sense”,

“I guess it’s positive for F1 that everyone is chiming in, that there’s so much passion for either side, Lewis or Max,” Johansson told F1i.com. “Whether it’s intentional or not, the entertainment value of this controversy has gone through the roof.

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 13:42

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Junior picture of Lewis Hamilton racing emerges

Giedo van der Garde has shared a picture of himself and Lewis Hamilton competing as juniors.

The former F1 driver points out he also wore No 33, like compatriot Max Verstappen, while chasing down the seven-time world champion.

A reserve driver for Sauber in 2014, Van der Garde gave the Red Bull star a shoutout by sharing an old picture.

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 13:20

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Max Verstappen meets Canelo Alvarez

Max Verstappen has mixed with boxing Canelo Alvarez since clinching his first Formula 1 world title.

The pair were seen together at Seaspice in Miami.

Canelo was in the Florida city to support training partner Frank Sanchez in his latest heavyweight fight.

Canelo Alvarez meets Max Verstappen in Miami

(Instagram)

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 13:05

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F1 cars set for new minimum weight in 2022 season

Formula 1 cars are set to be heavier than ever ahead of the 2022 season.

Cars will now have a minimum weight of 790kg this year, around 38kg heavier than last term.

That is almost a 150kg rise in 10 years as technology advances.

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 12:48

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Lando Norris backs Ferrari for podiums and wins in 2022

Lando Norris expects a surge from Ferrari in 2022 with more podium contention and even a few victories.

Norris believes the power unit will help the Scuderia after a year battling with McLaren for third place.

The British driver finished between the Ferrari drivers, ahead of Charles Leclerc in P6 and behind Carlos Sainz in P5.

“The progress they’ve made in the latter part of the season has had nothing to do with the car,” Norris said, as quoted by Marca.

“They have only improved their power units. I don’t think they’ve ever had a terrible car.

“Even in the last few years, I don’t think they’ve had a terrible car. They just lacked on the engine side.”

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 12:26

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Ocon praises current state of Formula 1

Esteban Ocon claims the state of Formula 1 right now is “fantastic”.

The Alpine driver is thrilled at how the sport has transcended the hardcore fan market to gain in popularity.

“There are things being tried, the races were interesting and there are definitely opportunities these days.

“It’s just crazy until the last lap. This last lap [of 2021] actually sums up the entire season well.

“Everyone is talking about Formula 1. Friends of mine weren’t really interested and are now fully involved. It’s great.”

Jack Rathborn5 January 2022 12:05

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Aston Martin announce departure of team boss Szafnauer

Aston Martin have announced the shock departure of team boss Otmar Szafnauer.

In a statement, Aston Martin said: “Otmar Szafnauer has left the company and his role at Aston Martin will be managed within the leadership team until a replacement is appointed.

“We would like to thank him for the service provided to the team over the past 12 years and wish him well for the future as he will undoubtedly take on new challenges.

“Fortunately, we are led and managed by a strong group of individuals, and we are comfortable to take a little time to explore options before announcing a new team structure.

“The focus of the team is currently on preparing the most competitive car possible for the start of the 2022 season.”

While Szafnauer has not announced his next move, he denied reports last season linking him with Alpine.

Jamie Braidwood5 January 2022 11:46

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