Hamilton taking a break from 'toxic' social media as brother dismisses worries over F1 star

By Sports Desk December 27, 2021

Lewis Hamilton is relaxing at the ski slopes and doing "fine" after losing out to Max Verstappen in the battle for the Formula One title, his brother Nicolas has said.

Seven-time champion Hamilton was denied a record-breaking eighth title when he was beaten in a controversial finish to the second-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 12.

Mercedes were furious with how race rules were applied in a safety-car situation and challenged the result, believing Hamilton was unfairly denied victory in the race and the championship when Dutchman Verstappen passed him on the last lap.

The crushing blow has led to speculation Hamilton could retire from motor racing, with the 36-year-old and his team left distraught by the outcome.

Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone last week cast doubt on whether Hamilton would return to the sport in 2022, when he is due to partner George Russell for Mercedes.

Since being denied another title, Hamilton has gone quiet on social media and stopped following the select few Instagram accounts that he previously watched.

But Nicolas Hamilton says his superstar brother is merely unwinding with family, saying on livestreaming service Twitch: "Lewis is fine. I think he's just having a bit of a social media break which I don't blame him for.

"Social media can be a very toxic place. But he's cool though. He's fine. Yeah, he's all right. He's watching the kids ski at the moment."

Hamilton also missed out in the F1 team principals' driver of the year vote, coming in second to champion Verstappen.

The result of a poll of team chiefs was revealed on the official F1 website on Monday, with Red Bull star Verstappen top of that particular podium too.

With principals appraising drivers based on the race system, where first place earns 25 points and 10th takes only one, Verstappen scored a total of 213 points, with Hamilton scoring 192 in second place.


Team principals' driver of the year result: 1. Max Verstappen 213, 2. Lewis Hamilton 192, 3. Lando Norris 110, 4. Carlos Sainz 85, 5. Charles Leclerc 70, 6. Fernando Alonso 69, 7. Pierre Gasly 64, 8. George Russell 44, 9. Valtteri Bottas 43, 10. Esteban Ocon 41.

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    Formula One has confirmed there will be just 22 grands prix in the 2022 season after cancelling the Russian Grand Prix earlier this year.

    F1 bosses tore up their contract with organisers of the Russian race in March.

    Promoters Rosgonki had a deal that was due to run until 2025, with St Petersburg due to replace Sochi as host of the race next year.

    However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine led F1 chiefs to declare the 2022 race in Sochi had been cancelled, and it has now been confirmed there will be no replacement, meaning just 22 races will take place instead of the previous 23.

    A statement on the F1 website on Wednesday read: "The 2022 Formula 1 calendar will now run to 22 races rather than the originally planned 23, following the decision not to replace the Russian Grand Prix.

    "It was announced on February 25 that, following meetings between Formula 1, the FIA and the teams, the championship would not race at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, which was set to be held on September 23-25.

    "But it's now been revealed that there will be no additional Grand Prix added to the calendar to fill the gap – meaning the 2022 calendar will run to 22 races."

    After five races of the 2022 season, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leads the way in the drivers' standings on 104 points, with defending champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull in second on 85.

    The Spanish Grand Prix takes place on Sunday in Barcelona.

  • Red Bull closing on Ferrari as F1 returns to Europe ahead of Spanish GP Red Bull closing on Ferrari as F1 returns to Europe ahead of Spanish GP

    The drivers' and constructors' championships both heating up as Formula One makes its seasonal return to Europe seems fitting. 

    After legs in the Middle East, Australia and North America, Red Bull are comprehensively in the fight against Ferrari heading into this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

    With consecutive race wins at the Emilia Romagna GP and Miami GP following DNFs in Bahrain and Australia, Max Verstappen has closed the gap to standings leader Charles Leclerc to 19 points.

    After coming perilously close to such an error at Imola, a single mistake or DNF for Leclerc and a full points haul for Verstappen could see momentum in the drivers' championship completely shift.

    Barcelona is a happy hunting ground for Verstappen, who claimed victory there in 2016 in only his first drive for Red Bull.

    It could continue if the reigning world champion secures pole position, having converted 14 career poles into 10 race victories, the best rate of any driver in F1 history.

    Meanwhile, with Sergio Perez also contributing with solid driving and good race pace on Sunday, Red Bull have cut the gap in the constructors' standings to only six points.

    Only in Monaco have the team collected more points than in Spain, with 332 compared to 312, but that could change this weekend.

    With a fifth consecutive top-four finish, Perez could equal his best such run of results, recorded between Turkey and Qatar last season.

    Ferrari set for upgrades

    The gravity of Red Bull's resurgence could arguably be crystallised in the likelihood Ferrari will have upgrades installed for this weekend after only tinkering and researching on race weekends to this point.

    Leclerc will be looking to lead from the front, with all four of his race wins in F1 coming from pole position.

    Carlos Sainz will also be hoping for a strong finish at his home grand prix, where he has accumulated the most points (40) in his career alongside Monaco.

    Can Mercedes challenge?

    While they might not be a championship contender in either the drivers' or constructors' standings, Mercedes have at least shown improved performance to potentially challenge for podiums and race wins.

    The Silver Arrows come into this contest having taken the past nine pole positions in Barcelona, and they will likely need to make it another to challenge on Sunday.

    Lewis Hamilton is still waiting to surpass Michael Schumacher for the most consecutive seasons with a race win.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 104
    2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 85
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 66
    4. George Russell (Mercedes) 59 
    5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 53

    Constructors

    1. Ferrari 157
    2. Red Bull 151
    3. Mercedes 95
    4. McLaren 46
    5. Alfa Romeo 31

  • 'It is a rule for the right reasons' – GPDA chairman Wurz backs F1 jewellery ban but wanted 'different' FIA approach 'It is a rule for the right reasons' – GPDA chairman Wurz backs F1 jewellery ban but wanted 'different' FIA approach

    Formula One's governing body the FIA could have taken a "different approach" to enforce the jewellery ban on drivers, even if it is right to impose the ruling.

    That is the message from Alex Wurz, who is regularly involved in education on driver safety in his role as Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) chairman.

    New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, reminded drivers at the Australian Grand Prix in early April that the FIA's code prohibits drivers wearing jewellery in the car.

    Wittich reiterated the same message before the Miami Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton was embroiled in a stand-off with the FIA over piercings that he has raced with for years and says he cannot remove.

    The FIA prohibits wearing body piercings or neck chains in competition, but offered Hamilton a two-race grace period to remove all of his jewellery before the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29.

    Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who agreed to remove his earrings in the car for the Miami race, insisted Formula One risks taking "a step backwards" with "bigger fish to fry" in the sport.

    Wurz believes the ruling, which has been in place since 2004, should be enforced, but suggested the FIA could have handled the matter in a different fashion.

    "It is a rule for the right reasons," said ex-driver Wurz. "I would have probably liked a slightly different approach of how to deliver the message.

    "I don't want to end up in football where there are more hands in the air and verbal abuse...you have to work together. It's a style I would have preferred in this case."

    Wurz also said he could not forget a talk he attended in his younger days by Danish former driver Kris Nissen, who had a serious crash involving a fire accident at the Fuji circuit in Japan in 1988.

    "He showed his body and said 'look at this'," Wurz added.

    "For him the absolute most painful thing after fire, and it wasn't a long fire, was the rubber [elastic] in his normal pants being burnt into the skin. He said [it was] for years agony and pain. And it educated me.

    "At this moment I said I don't want to live these consequences, only for [not] taking my pants off and putting fireproof underpants on. The same with jewellery."

    Formula One next heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

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