The world champion may already be known, but the tension has not yet gone away from Formula 1. On the contrary, the Brazilian Grand Prix has heated up some controversies ahead of the final race in Abu Dhabi. Is it boiling point in the Emirates?
Verstappen – Perez
Checo is a legend. Last year, Max Verstappen waved plenty of praise at teammate Sergio Perez, after he took on Lewis Hamilton in the crucial final race in Abu Dhabi. It even earned Perez the nickname “Mexico’s Minister of Defense.”
After a year, the love between the Dutchman and the Mexican seems to have cooled, especially after the Grand Prix in Brazil. The world champion refused to give way to his teammate at Interlagos, despite Perez desperate for points in the battle for second place.
With sixth place, Perez would have had two points over Charles Leclerc (Ferrari). But due to Verstappen’s stubbornness, they entered the final race on equal points. So Perez must do better than Leclerc in Abu Dhabi to win 1-2 in the final result of the World Cup for Red Bull for the first time.
Why, then, has Verstappen already refused to give up his place to Perez? “I have my reasons for that. We talked about it,” Verstappen’s brief explanation was.
“Thanks for that. It shows who he really is,” the Mexican glee. In May, Perez gave Verstappen a free chance to win in Spain. And when Verstappen boycotted Sky Sports in Mexico, Perez was also silent in front of his microphones.
The circuit was abuzz with rumors about Verstappen’s motives. The most interesting story: Verstappen will still be disappointed after the Monaco GP in May. In qualifying, Pérez had deliberately crashed to secure his third position on the grid and thus denied Verstappen the chance to do better. Perez also won this race.
Will that still haunt the Dutchman’s head after 5 months and 10 wins? In Abu Dhabi, Verstappen has already promised to lend a hand to Perez. “If he needs help, I’ll be there,” said the world champion. But see first and then believe.
The rivalry between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton reached a boiling point last year. At the Grand Prix in Silverstone, Hamilton put the Dutchman in a gravel trap, at the Italian Grand Prix Verstappen flew over the British halo and in Abu Dhabi Verstappen denied Hamilton his eighth world title after a controversial decision.
This season, the battle between the two may have been at the front – Mercedes haven’t been able to compete at the front for a long time – but the rivalry is anything but buried. This is proven again in Brazil.
Verstappen tried to overtake Hamilton in the “Senna S”, but the Briton simply refused to budge. Result: Hamilton on the wing, Verstappen broke on the front wing and a 5-second penalty.
I thought after last year we would put it behind us, that we would just race.
They both pointed fingers at each other after that. Verstappen said: “I thought that after last year we would fall behind, that we would just race. I want to race. I want a good fight, but if the other one doesn’t want it…”
Hamilton was then asked if he thought Verstappen had a problem with him. “No, I’m not worried about that,” said the seven-time world champion. “I think it’s normal to become a target when you’re successful. But it’s something I’ve never seen.”
In any case, the race in Abu Dhabi will open some old wounds for Hamilton. The Briton would like to take his first win of the season in the last race of the season.
Lewis Hamilton had put Valtteri Bottas in the offside pecking order at Mercedes in recent seasons, but in 2022 he’s got a young and ambitious wolf by his side in George Russell.
Russell had shown his speed several times at Williams, and his solid credentials had earned him the nickname “Mr. Saturday”. And Russell had no intention of standing in the shadow of the seven-time world champion at Mercedes.
The 24-year-old Briton seemed to have a better handle on the bumpy Silver Arrow at the start of the season and even outsprinted Hamilton three times in a row at the start of May. Only Nico Rosberg has succeeded in recent years.
Hamilton did not expect Russell to now give Mercedes their first win of the season. But he denied that there were negative feelings in Brazil. “I feel really good. We worked hard to fight for the podium, so I’m happy for the whole team,” said Hamilton.
However, Hamilton will want to show in Abu Dhabi that he is the outright leader at Mercedes. And this is only possible by winning.
The higher you finish in the Constructors Championship, the more money you get in the bank account. So for Alpine and McLaren, who are fighting for fourth place in Abu Dhabi, there is still some welcome money at stake.
After the TV series about Oscar Piastri – Alpine announces the young talent as Fernando Alonso’s successor, but has already signed with McLaren – the two racing stables are very keen to put each other at odds.
Although they may have to be careful not to get shot in the foot in the Alps. Alonso will drive for Aston Martin next year, but the 41-year-old Spaniard will not take part in the madness.
In the sprint race in Brazil, Alonso and teammate Esteban Ocon collided twice. Alonso lost his front wing and had to settle for 16th on the grid. However, he finished fifth in the race, with some cooperation from Ocon letting the Spaniard through after some slowing.
Since both Lando Norris (breakdown) and Daniel Ricciardo (collision with Magnussen) have retired in their McLarens, Alpine now has a 19-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship. What is the biggest danger in Abu Dhabi: McLaren or internal rivalry?
Give a fake laugh. This is how Mick Schumacher looked in jubilant celebration of Kevin Magnussen’s pole position. While the Dane had put Haas on pole for the sprint race in Brazil, the German was … last.
P1 or P20. They also know what they like best at Haas. So it seems that Schumacher’s expiring contract will not be extended, although four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel believes in his compatriot.
At Haas, they have their eyes on another German: Nico Hulkenberg (35). With 184 races under its belt – but not a single podium – the American team is choosing to experiment.
For Schumacher, Abu Dhabi seems to be his last achievement in Formula 1. Although he had better make a great impression. There is always the possibility that Logan Sargeant, who gets a chance at Williams, may not get the necessary super licence.
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