F1 news LIVE: Lewis Hamilton aiming to be ‘purest driver’ amid Max Verstappen rivalry

After the fallout from the Qatar Grand Prix, who propelled Lewis Hamilton to favourite for the Formula 1 drivers’ championship, the build-up to Saudi Arabia and how Max Verstappen will react with his advantage now within reach of the seven-time world champion.

The Briton is only eight points behind the Dutch driver and with just two races to go, having timed his latest excellent drive to perfection in a comprehensive win from start to finish, there is no room for error for either driver now.

Verstappen showed his toughness to limit the damage after a damaging grid penalty took a win out of the question, surging up from seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty to snatch second, while also landing a late blow on Mercedes with the bonus point for the fastest lap.

The sport is flying right now, and the iconic Fernando Alonso delivered some nostalgia with a first F1 podium in seven years to the delight of Alpine, with his performance topping Indy Sport’s Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings.

Here’s all the latest F1 news and reaction from Qatar as the build-up to Saudi Arabia begins:

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Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen battle detailed by fastest laps

The intensity of Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen in pursuit of the drivers’ championship in Formula 1 this season is personified by the pair’s fastest laps in Qatar.

The Briton coasting to victory, partially due to the Belgian-Dutch driver’s grid penalty, which could not prevent a second place finish.

But the details surrounding their fastest laps shows how each showed themselves to be a true champion by responding to each other’s performance.

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Lewis Hamilton determined to be ‘the purest of drivers’

Lewis Hamilton has taken a stance over proving himself to be a ‘pure’ driver, contrasting with title rival Max Verstappen, who has shown himself to be somebody who pushes the limits.

“It’s just how my dad raised me,” said Hamilton. “He said to always do your talking on the track.

“I was bullied as a kid, both at school but also on track, and we wanted to beat them the right way, not by a car falling off or colliding.

“Then, there is no denying that you’re better. If you have collisions, they can say, ‘oh, yeah, but this happened, this is one tactic that that driver has.’

“I want to be the purest of drivers, through speed, through sheer hard work and determination, so there’s no denying at the end what I’ve accomplished.”

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When and where Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen title race will be decided

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This championship could come down to a matter of one or two points, and if it does, moments like this fastest lap of Max Verstappen’s in Qatar on Sunday – which earned him one bonus point – will prove vital.

F1 news

Lewis Hamilton will have his newest engine back in place for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix as Mercedes look to launch a late assault to retain the Formula One drivers’ championship title.

The British racer closed the gap on leader Max Verstappen by winning the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Dutchman just eight points ahead with two races to go.

Hamilton, the reigning champion, can again emerge triumphant for 2021 if he wins the last two events of the season – and he’ll have the machinery from his successful Brazilian Grand Prix back in his car next time out.

The improvements made to his engine on that occasion meant that despite a grid penalty – plus being excluded from qualifying – he came from 10th to triumph in Sao Paulo and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff feels the layout of the track in Saudi Arabia means it’s ideal to bring back the so-called ‘rocket engine’, after it was replaced in Qatar.

“Saudi should be a good track for us, but we know this year when you think it’s a good one it can turn the other way around,” he said on Sky F1.

Full story:

Lewis Hamilton set to get ‘spicy equipment’ in Saudi Arabia, Toto Wolff reveals

Mercedes are aiming to top the table in both driver and constructor standings

F1 news

Ralph Schumacher has poured doubt over suspicions Mercedes are bending the rules to win the Formula 1 world championship, saying they are fast enough not to cheat.

Questions have been asked of Mercedes in recent weeks as Lewis Hamilton was hit with grid-place penalties, first for yet another engine change and then over the specification of his rear wing.

Hamilton won the Qatar Grand Prix to cut his deficit to Max Verstappen to eight points at the top of the drivers’ championship, with two races to go.

“We have seen again here [in Qatar] that Mercedes is fast enough and does not have to cheat,” former F1 driver Schumacher told Sky Deutschland. “I do not assume that any team wilfully disregard the rules. If you go close to the limit, something can always go wrong and you get into grey areas.”

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A reminder of one of the biggest stories from the fallout of this weekend in Qatar:

Christian Horner’s outburst at a “rogue marshal” is simply “not accepted”, the FIA has confirmed.

The Red Bull team boss was seen criticising volunteers working for Formula 1 at the Qatar Grand Prix.

And Horner was incensed after a yellow flag was waved, leading to Max Verstappen’s grid penalty.

Horner has since apologised and blamed the nature of his comments due to being “under the pressure of competition”.

FIA race director Michael Masi insists that is no excuse.

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Lewis Hamilton closed further on Max Verstappen in a thrilling drivers’ championship with a dominant win at the Qatar Grand Prix.

But despite narrowing the gap to just eight points with two races remaining, the Belgian-Dutch driver (351.5 points) can close the deal in Saudi Arabia in what has been a fascinating F1 season.

Alternatively, the seven-time world champion (343.5 points) can usurp the Red Bull star for the first time since the 15th race of the season at the Russian Grand Prix, when the Briton had a two-point advantage. That ramps up the pressure at the first-ever race at the Jeddah street track on 5 December, with one mistake likely to prove vital.

There is the prospect of a first-ever title race with both drivers tied on points, while Hamilton could become the first winner since Nico Rosberg in 2016 to win the title with less Grand Prix victories than a rival, as he currently trails Verstappen 9-7.

Here’s how the title race can come to a premature close before the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 12 December.

When and where Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen title race will be decided

The Red Bull star can close the deal with a race to spare to land his first F1 world title

F1 news

Here’s what Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said this weekend about Mercedes’ contentious back wing:

“Mercedes have slowed down over the course of the practice sessions [in Qatar] and this is due to the fact that they used a rear wing that was no longer bendable, as their top speed was in the normal range,” he told Sky Germany.

“I assume they will not use it again either as the FIA has the tools to check this. I can’t see them taking that risk. We have numerous pictures from each of the recent Grand Prix that you can see this has been happening, and that’s what our concern has been.”

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