Hamilton suggests boxing ring to settle Mercedes-Red Bull row

By Sports Desk June 05, 2021

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen would like to see team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner don boxing gloves to settle their differences.

Hamilton and Verstappen are engaged in a title tussle in Formula One but have so far maintained pleasantries off the track in front of the media.

The same cannot be said for Mercedes chief Wolff and Red Bull counterpart Horner.

When Horner this week suggested his opposite number "keep [his] mouth shut" as the Silver Arrows struggled in practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Wolff fired back that the Red Bull boss was "a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera".

For Hamilton, who qualified in second, and Verstappen, in third, the row was the source of some amusement in Baku on Saturday.

"We should get them in a ring," Hamilton offered.

Verstappen added: "Yeah, but I think the weight division is a bit of a problem. In the height, the reach...

"I mean I'm all for a ring anyway, even in Formula One – instead of penalties!"

Pressed for further comment, Verstappen said: "It's Formula One. There are a lot of stakes involved so everyone wants to win, everyone is competitive.

"I guess it's just a natural thing and it's good for people to read, right? A bit of fire behind it."

Hamilton said: "Naturally, they're the two top leaders of the teams and they've both contributed hugely to the success of both teams.

"[They are] great leaders and of course they're head to head because we are head to head in this tight battle. We generally just like to do our talking on the track, so we're just keeping our heads down."

Hamilton did just that in qualifying, although he had not anticipated such a competitive display.

The defending champion was seventh in FP1, 11th in FP2 and "still pretty much a disaster" in third in FP3.

However, Hamilton was only denied a 101st career pole by Charles Leclerc, who again profited from a late red flag – this time caused by an incident involving team-mate Carlos Sainz, having himself crashed last time out.

"Honestly, it's one of the greatest feelings for us, for the difficult experience we've gone through and being out of the top 10 all weekend and really struggling to understand and extract performance from our car," Hamilton said.

"It feels fantastic. Congratulations to Charles, who did a fantastic job given the difficult circumstances out there.

"Yeah, it's just a bit overwhelming, really happy to be up here, grateful to have got the lap in, and it puts us in for a much different race than we anticipated after yesterday."

Verstappen was less impressed by how qualifying panned out, bemoaning "all this s*** all the time happening" when the session was cut short.

With Red Bull concurrently leading both the drivers' championship and the constructors' championship for the first time since 2013, Verstappen is looking for the first back-to-back wins of his career.

Not since the Hybrid Era began in 2014 have his team had two victories in a row.

Meanwhile, Lando Norris, a distant third in the standings, will start from P9 due to a three-place grid penalty.

Norris, who has earned points at a career-best 10 consecutive races, qualified in sixth but was deemed to have continued on the track under one of the session's record-equalling four red flags.

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    Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner is being investigated following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner denies the claim.

    Horner addressed the media alongside four other F1 team principals on the second day of this week’s three-day test in Bahrain on Thursday. The new season starts in the Gulf kingdom next Saturday.

    Asked why he has not moved aside as team principal and chief executive of Red Bull Racing with the investigation under way, Horner replied: “As you are well aware there is a process going on which I form part of, and as I form part of that process, I am afraid I cannot comment on it.”

    Horner was then asked if he could provided a timeline as to when the investigation might be over.

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    Sources have indicated to the PA news agency that there could be a resolution before the opening race on March 2.

    On Wednesday, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called for Red Bull’s probe to be transparent, and said the controversy is “an issue for all of Formula One”.

    McLaren chief executive Zak Brown, speaking in the same press conference as Horner on Thursday, echoed Wolff’s comments.

    “The allegations are extremely serious,” said Brown. “McLaren hold themselves to the highest standards of diversity, equality and inclusion.

    “These are extremely important to us and our partners, and to everyone in Formula One.

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    Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races last year as Max Verstappen stormed to the world championship.

    The Dutch driver, in his heavily upgraded machine, set an impressive pace on the opening day in Bahrain, finishing 1.1 seconds clear of anyone else.

    Mercedes’ George Russell said: “Red Bull are definitely the favourites and definitely a step ahead of everyone here in Bahrain. They have had an impressive winter, no doubt.

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  • Second morning of F1 testing in Bahrain cut short due to loose drain cover Second morning of F1 testing in Bahrain cut short due to loose drain cover

    Formula One’s second morning of testing was cancelled after a loose drain cover struck Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc hit the debris at Turn 11 in Bahrain, and the running was red-flagged with one hour and 40 minutes remaining.

    Circuit officials attempted to repair the track, but after a delay of nearly 40 minutes, it was announced that the running would not resume.

    The one-hour lunch break, was brought forward by an hour. The afternoon session will now run for five hours, instead of four, starting one hour earlier than planned at 2pm local time (11am GMT).

    Ferrari said the impact caused damage to the floor of Leclerc’s Ferrari, which has since been replaced.

    It is unclear at this stage how extensive the damage was to Hamilton’s Mercedes.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc were unharmed in the incidents.

    Last November, a water valve cover broke free from the newly-laid tarmac of the Las Vegas street circuit and tore into the underbelly of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at 210mph.

    Speaking at the time, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur called the incident “unacceptable”.

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    Max Verstappen finished fastest on Wednesday. The test concludes on Friday ahead of next Saturday’s first round of the season, also in the Gulf kingdom.

  • Second morning of testing in Bahrain cancelled due to loose drain cover Second morning of testing in Bahrain cancelled due to loose drain cover

    Formula One’s second morning of testing was cancelled after a loose drain cover struck Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc hit the debris at Turn 11 in Bahrain, and the running was red-flagged with one hour and 40 minutes remaining.

    Circuit officials attempted to repair the track, but after a delay of nearly 40 minutes, it was announced that the running would not resume.

    The one-hour lunch break, was brought forward by an hour. The afternoon session will now run for five hours, instead of four, starting one hour earlier than planned at 2pm local time (11am GMT).

    Ferrari said the impact caused damage to the floor of Leclerc’s Ferrari, which has since been replaced.

    It is unclear at this stage how extensive the damage was to Hamilton’s Mercedes.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc were unharmed in the incidents.

    Last November, a water valve cover broke free from the newly-laid tarmac of the Las Vegas street circuit and tore into the underbelly of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at 210mph.

    Speaking at the time, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur called the incident “unacceptable”.

    Hamilton, competing in his final season for Mercedes ahead of his switch to Ferrari, is scheduled to be behind the wheel of his new machine all day. He was sixth when the red flag was deployed.

    Max Verstappen finished fastest on Wednesday. The test concludes on Friday ahead of next Saturday’s first round of the season, also in the Gulf kingdom.

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