Hamilton knighted after heartbreak of losing F1 title

By Sports Desk December 15, 2021

Lewis Hamilton has been knighted three days after he was dethroned as Formula One world champion in the most dramatic fashion.

Hamilton was well on course to win a record eighth F1 title at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday but was overtaken by Max Verstappen on the final lap.

With fresh tyres fitted, Red Bull driver Verstappen went on to snatch his maiden F1 crown, capitalising on race director Michael Masi controversially ruling that lapped cars could overtake the safety car before it headed in to leave one last lap of racing between the contenders.

Hamilton claimed on the team radio that the incredible finale had been "manipulated" and Mercedes lodged two complaints with the stewards, both of which were rejected – prompting the Silver Arrows to lodge a notice of their intention to appeal.

After the heartbreak of seeing his four-year reign as champion come to an end, the Brit was given a new title when he was knighted by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old F1 legend became Sir Lewis Hamilton, having been named in the New Year Honours list at the end of 2020 after matching Michael Schumacher's record tally of seven world titles.

Hamilton's mother, Carmen Lockhart, watched her son join Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jack Brabham as the only F1 drivers to be knighted.

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  • 'The driver is very important in F1, but not crucial' – Fernando Alonso verdict on Lewis Hamilton's struggles 'The driver is very important in F1, but not crucial' – Fernando Alonso verdict on Lewis Hamilton's struggles

    Fernando Alonso claims seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton now knows how the other drivers feel, as Mercedes struggle to keep up with the pace-setters this season.

    Hamilton, 37, won six of the seven titles leading into the 2021 season, but he appears incapable of getting back to the mountain top just now, with Mercedes so much slower than Ferrari and Red Bull.

    Alonso, 40, won back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, and after a strong run with Ferrari in the early 2010s, he struggled mightily after his move to McLaren, finishing 17th, 10th, 15th and 11th from 2015 to 2018.

    After trying his hand at other racing disciplines in 2019 and 2020, Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021, where he is now partnered with Esteban Ocon as the two battle it out in the midfield with a car that cannot compete for wins.

    Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Alonso highlighted how often the success of a driver can be out of their hands, and expressed only limited sympathy for Hamilton's struggles this season.

    "This is the nature of the sport," Alonso said. "Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress.

    "This year we see that the driver is very important in F1, but not crucial. Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and 100-and-something pole positions.

    "Now he is doing a mega lap – as he said in Australia or somewhere like that – and he is one second behind. So, yeah – welcome."

    Alonso compared his championship years to Hamilton's, saying often the true stars of the team are behind the scenes, while the drivers get to soak in all the glory.

    "To have more than 100 pole positions in F1 is something unthinkable. You need to have the best car and package for many, many years," Alonso said.

    "He deserves everything he's achieved in the past, but this year is a good reminder that in all those records and numbers, there is a big part on what you have in your hands as a package in the car."

    In a show of respect for this generation's most successful driver, Alonso predicted Hamilton will rebound from a slow start and finish ahead of team-mate George Russell this season.

    "George has been very fast in the last few years and I think everyone was expecting him to be a tough competitor for Lewis," Alonso said. "But I still believe Lewis will eventually finish the championship in front.

    "This is just a five-race championship [so far], but eventually when things are more tricky or [there are] difficult situations, Lewis will still have more experience and maybe more talent."

  • Formula One confirm Russian Grand Prix will not be replaced for 2022 season Formula One confirm Russian Grand Prix will not be replaced for 2022 season

    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

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