F1 news LIVE: Bernie Ecclestone accuses Mercedes of ‘bullying’ Max Verstappen ahead of Abu Dhabi

Verstappen and Hamilton go into F1 season finale level on points

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen face off for one final time in this spectacular Formula 1 season this weekend, as the title rivals head to the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi level on points.

This is the first time the top two drivers have headed into the final round of the campaign on level points since 1974, after Hamilton’s dramatic win in the chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at Jeddah last time out.

The seven-time world champion is on a superb run of three consecutive victories, and one more could guarantee him a title that would take him to eight, more than any other driver in the history of the sport. Verstappen currently leads the standings by virtue of winning one more race so far this season, meaning that if neither driver finishes in Abu Dhabi, the Dutchman would win his maiden drivers’ championship.

The race on Sunday could be one of the most intense, hard-fought finales in the history of the sport.

Follow all the latest news and updates below.


FIA warns points could be deducted in Abu Dhabi

FIA Race Director Michael Masi has issued a warning to teams and drivers that points can be deducted for any serious misdemeanours at Abu Dhabi.

Masi issues notes before ever grand prix and used the opportunity ahead of this weekend’s title decider to make clear that any overly dirty driving will be severely punished.

The Australian warned against: “Any infringement of the principles of fairness in competition, behaviour in an unsportsmanlike manner or attempt to influence the result of a competition in a way that is contrary to sporting ethics,” before adding: “The stewards may also decide to impose the following penalties: Suspension for one or more competitions, withdrawal of points for the championship.”

Dan Austin9 December 2021 10:51


Abu Dhabi agrees 10-year extension to host F1 finale

The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi has agreed a 10-year extension of its contract with Formula 1 to host the season finale.

“We are delighted to confirm that we will be racing in Abu Dhabi until 2030 under this new agreement,” said F1 CEO and president Stefano Domenicali in an announcement at the circuit on Thursday morning.

Dan Austin9 December 2021 10:41


Wolff says common sense is key with stewards’ decisions

In the wake of Helmut Marko’s original comments blaming Lewis Hamilton for the clash with Max Verstappen, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has called for “common sense” over any intervention made by stewards.

Verstappen was eventually penalised for the incident with a ten second time penalty post-race, while Marko apologised for his comments, and Wolff says emotions should be kept in check.

“Someone is always going to be unhappy about things. I’m trying, with all my bias, still to try to look at things with a common sense. I guess I’m not always successful in the heat of the moment.”

Dan Austin9 December 2021 10:34


Marko apologises for comments on Verstappen and Hamilton collision

The director Red Bull’s young driver program Helmut Marko has apologised for comments made in the wake of the collision between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton as the former slowed to give back the lead to the latter in Saudi Arabia.

Marko originally blamed Hamilton, saying TV crews at Jeddah: “We feel we have been treated unfairly. We are working to prove Max’s braking pressure did not increase when he crashed with Hamilton. Hamilton simply misjudged and drove into Max’s car. Unfortunately, that left two big cuts in our rear tyre. That’s why we couldn’t attack anymore.”

The Austrian backed down afterwards, though, telling f1-insider.com: “At the time of the television interview, I passed on exactly the information I had previously received from the engineers. They obviously weren’t right, so I’m sorry.”

Dan Austin9 December 2021 10:18


Mercedes have “performance” advantage, says Red Bull

Christian Horner says Mercedes have a performance advantage over Red Bull right now, which his team must overcome to best Lewis Hamilton in the battle for the drivers’ championship.

Hamilton has won three consecutive races to go into the final round at Yas Marina level with Max Verstappen, and Horner says the Mercedes is simply faster right now.

Dan Austin9 December 2021 10:07


When will F1 drivers face the media today?

All 20 Formula drivers will face the media today in traditional Thursday press conferences.

Drivers are paired together by F1 staff in a different order this weekend, and the organisers have given everybody what they want by teaming Lewis Hamilton with Max Verstappen in front of the press.

Valtteri Bottas will also be paired with Sergio Perez as the battle for the constructors’ championship between Mercedes and Red Bull continues, while the retiring Kimi Raikkonen’s final F1 press conference will see him sat alongside William’s George Russell.

The press session gets underway at 13:30 GMT, so for full details and timings of when Hamilton and Verstappen will be live, check the article below:

Dan Austin9 December 2021 09:56


Horner calls Hamilton “very wily” amid defence of Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton can be “very wily” in on-track battles with Max Verstappen says Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, amid criticism of the Dutchman’s driving in Saudi Arabia from various former drivers and pundits.

Verstappen received two penalties at Jeddah as his defence of the lead bordered on recklessness rather than racing, but Hamilton eventually came through to win despite taking damage from the collision caused when his title rival braked when trying to give the lead back.

“Lewis is very wily with the way he does it sometimes,” Horner explained. “These are two guys that are fighting over such fine margins, and pushing it to the boundary. And if you don’t want them to have the ability to run wide, then put a gravel trap over there.”

Dan Austin9 December 2021 09:47


Horner believes luck is on Hamilton’s side

Horner also told the media in Saudi Arabia last weekend that “luck” is playing a significant part in Lewis Hamilton’s title battle resurgence.

The seven-time world champion has won the last three races in spectacular finish to level things up in the standings, but Horner believes skill and speed are not the only factors playing a role.

Dan Austin9 December 2021 09:39


Horner hoping for “clean and fair” Abu Dhabi finale

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says is hoping for a “clean and fair” conclusion to the Formula 1 season at Abu Dhabi.

The campaign has been marked by collisions between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton after several crucial junctures, with stewards’ decisions and rights to appeal hearings dominating the back end of the season as much as the on track racing.

“You want to win on the track,” he told the press. “Not in a stewards’ room, not in a gravel trap. You want to win it. It’s been a tough fight all the way through the year. There’s been some fantastic racing between these two drivers, and I hope that it’s a fair and clean race in Abu Dhabi.”

Dan Austin9 December 2021 09:31


Verstappen’s dad respects Hamilton only as a driver

Max Verstappen’s former F1 driver dad Jos says he says “respects” Lewis Hamilton as a driver, but “the rest, nothing.”

The Dutchman droverhis own motorsport career before managing his son’s, earning two podiums in 106 race starts for teams including Benneton, Arrow and Minardi, and says he has no relationship whatsoever with Hamilton.

“I never speak to Lewis. He doesn’t need to speak to me. I’m nothing to him. I respect him as a driver, but the rest…nothing,” he told the Daily Mail. “Max and Lewis only speak on the podium, very little. When I see Max with other drivers, I think they get on very well. But with Lewis, nothing. Lewis is in his own world.”

The elder Verstappen has previously been given two suspended prison sentences, one for a 1998 assault which a left a man with a fractured skull, and another for threatening a woman over text message while breaching a restraining order in 2018.

Jos Verstappen was also arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of an ex-girlfriend after he allegedly drove a car into her, before charges were later withdrawn.

Dan Austin9 December 2021 09:17


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