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F1 news – latest: Lewis Hamilton back Susie Wolff over FIA challenge as Verstappen responds to Mercedes link

F1 news – latest: Lewis Hamilton back Susie Wolff over FIA challenge as Verstappen responds to Mercedes link

Susie Wolff has filed a criminal complaint against the FIA over a controversial inquiry into her last year. The F1 Academy boss and her husband, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, were the subject of an investigation into claims of an alleged conflict of interest.

The probe arose in December after a report in Business F1 magazine claimed that other team principals were concerned Toto Wolff was benefiting from information shared by his wife. Two days after the FIA announced its compliance department was “looking into” the allegations, the federation said it “can confirm that there is no ongoing investigation in terms of ethical or disciplinary inquiries involving any individual”.

At the time, Susie Wolff vehemently denied the allegations – calling them “intimidatory and misogynistic”.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Max Verstappen did not rule out moving to Mercedes amid unrest at Red Bull while Lewis Hamilton backed his boss’ wife Susie in her battle against the FIA.

Follow all the latest news from the world of Formula 1

F1 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX - LATEST NEWS

  • Susie Wolff has launched legal action against the FIA

  • Lewis Hamilton backs Susie Wolff in legal action against FIA

  • Max Verstappen: ‘I can understand why Mercedes want me’

  • Carlos Sainz admits he could miss Australian Grand Prix

F1 power rankings: The Independent’s 2024 fantasy tips ahead of Australian Grand Prix

14:51 , Kieran Jackson

Two races down, 22 to go. Currently, with Red Bull already over the hills and far away out in front of the chasing pack, the sense of predictability we became accustomed to in F1 last year already looks set to resonate in 2024.

Max Verstappen has dominated the first two grands prix of the season, claiming pole position and the race victory comfortably in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Arguably of more significance is the performance of the other Red Bull driver, Sergio Perez, in finishing next-best behind in second on both occasions.

It leaves the rest of the pack with a mountain to climb, as they squabble for position and every last point. Ollie Bearman’s stand-in performance on debut for Ferrari in Jeddah was impressive, as the 18-year-old took the chequered flag in seventh.

But Bearman won’t be involved in this, as The Independent ranks the usual 20-driver grid from last to first in this season’s power rankings, with the position of drivers based on their most recent performances and their expectations at the start of the season.

At the end, The Independent also gives their take on potential picks for F1 Fantasy, ahead of the third race this weekend in Australia.

The Independent’s Formula 1 power rankings and fantasy tips

Daniel Ricciardo on potential Red Bull seat for 2025:

14:10 , Kieran Jackson

“I don’t buy into any of the stories, if you will. I know what my position is in the team and I know what, let’s say… some potential things that could happen if I do very well.

“But it’s like everything, any team you’re with, if you have a really strong season it could lead to maybe something different or increase your position where you currently are. It’s always our objective to do the best we can. I think whatever happens will happen or can happen.

“My objective is to drive this car as good as I can. Now, getting back into a car, I’m definitely not looking too far ahead. Am I thinking about the Red Bull seat that you speak of? No. I know if I do some really good results maybe then that can present itself potentially.

“It’s not something I think about because 12 months ago I wasn’t in this position, I didn’t know if I would be back in this position, so I just take it weekend after weekend.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

FULL STORY: Susie Wolff has launched legal action against the FIA

13:31 , Kieran Jackson

Susie Wolff has filed a criminal complaint against the FIA over a controversial inquiry into her last year.

The F1 Academy boss and her husband, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, were the subject of an investigation into claims of an alleged conflict of interest.

The probe arose in December after a report in Business F1 magazine claimed that other team principals were concerned Toto Wolff was benefiting from information shared by his wife.

Two days after the FIA announced its compliance department was “looking into” the allegations, the federation said it “can confirm that there is no ongoing investigation in terms of ethical or disciplinary inquiries involving any individual”.

Susie Wolff takes legal action over FIA conflict of interest inquiry

Sky F1 reveal major coverage change for upcoming races

13:14 , Kieran Jackson

Sky F1 will use a new London-based studio for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix coverage – the first time their whole presenting team will not be on-site at a race.

Sky Sports presenter Natalie Pinkham revealed the new studio on Thursday, equipped with augmented reality graphics. It will be in use for the next three races in Australia, Japan and China.

Sky commentators David Croft and Martin Brundle will still be on-site at Albert Park in Melbourne, as will pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz and presenter Rachel Brookes.

However Pinkham, alongside pundits Naomi Schiff and Karun Chandok, will be based in London this weekend for coverage of the third race of the 2024 season.

Sky F1 reveal major coverage change for upcoming races

George Russell responds to recent controversies surrounding FIA president Mohammed Ben Sualyem:

12:26 , Kieran Jackson

“You trust that the leaders in this sport have the best interest at their heart rather than their own interests,” said Russell when asked if Ben Sulayem is the right person to lead the FIA.

“It goes back to the transparency side of things. If things are transparent and we see the outcome of these cases, we all have a chance to judge for ourselves, with all of the facts and figures in front of us.

“But when we don’t have the facts and figures and there is no transparency, you always think there’s something being hidden.

“That’s why I think it’s so important for the sport now, as Lewis said, to send the right message, to everybody who’s supporting Formula 1, watching Formula 1, wants to be involved in Formula 1, that things aren’t just swept under the carpet.”

Carlos Sainz admits he could miss Australian Grand Prix with Ollie Bearman on standby

11:55 , Kieran Jackson

Carlos Sainz admits he could miss this Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix if he “doesn’t feel good” in practice on Friday.

The Ferrari driver missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix two weeks ago after undergoing abdominal surgery for appendicitis.

British 18-year-old Ollie Bearman stood in for Sainz and impressed, finishing seventh on debut, and is waiting in the wings should Sainz be unfit to race in Melbourne this weekend.

However, Sainz is “feeling positive” about returning to the cockpit but revealed he has plans to check in with the FIA’s medical delegate after second practice on Friday.

Carlos Sainz admits he could miss Australian Grand Prix

Oscar Piastri on hopes for home race:

11:29 , Kieran Jackson

“I think being realistic, yes, being in the fight for the third-quickest team is probably where we’re at at the moment.

“I think we were a step closer to being close to Ferrari, at least anyway in Saudi, but we’re still… We don’t quite have enough at the moment.

“So I think probably the fight is with Mercedes at the moment for us.

“Hopefully we can start challenging a bit more later in the year, but for now, I think as much as I don’t want to put people’s hopes down at home, I think any more than sort of P5 is going to require some good fortune, yes.”

 (Tim Goode/PA Wire)
(Tim Goode/PA Wire)

Will Fernando Alonso join Red Bull?

10:59 , Kieran Jackson

“Nothing to comment. Everything I say now is just a guess and rumours, so I have nothing to comment.”

On deciding about his future, the 42-year-old added: “I think it’s going to be before summer. At the launch of the car I said after a few races and now I see that every race I have been asked the same questions.

“If I say summer, maybe I have a few races without any questions. I think it’s the same thing I have been saying. I need to decide first how I feel. After that, I will see what possibilities are out there.

“My priority is to speak with Aston first, to speak with them as they gave me the opportunity two years ago. That’s the minimum I will do. If we feel that we’re happy with each other that will be an easy choice. If we don’t agree first then I will look elsewhere.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

F1 power rankings: The Independent’s 2024 fantasy tips ahead of Australian Grand Prix

10:43 , Kieran Jackson

Two races down, 22 to go. Currently, with Red Bull already over the hills and far away out in front of the chasing pack, the sense of predictability we became accustomed to in F1 last year already looks set to resonate in 2024.

Max Verstappen has dominated the first two grands prix of the season, claiming pole position and the race victory comfortably in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Arguably of more significance is the performance of the other Red Bull driver, Sergio Perez, in finishing next-best behind in second on both occasions.

It leaves the rest of the pack with a mountain to climb, as they squabble for position and every last point. Ollie Bearman’s stand-in performance on debut for Ferrari in Jeddah was impressive, as the 18-year-old took the chequered flag in seventh.

But Bearman won’t be involved in this, as The Independent ranks the usual 20-driver grid from last to first in this season’s power rankings, with the position of drivers based on their most recent performances and their expectations at the start of the season.

At the end, The Independent also gives their take on potential picks for F1 Fantasy, ahead of the third race this weekend in Australia.

The Independent’s Formula 1 power rankings and fantasy tips

Carlos Sainz responds to fitness concerns ahead of Australian GP

10:13 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz missed the race in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago after having surgery on his appendix.

Speaking to media ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Sainz said: “I’ll let you know tomorrow when I get back in the car and the G-forces throw me around a bit.

“But I feel ready. I’ve done as much as possible to recover and you cannot imagine the effort and logistics that I have done to be fit for this race. Progress, I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made and now, as I said, it’s time to jump in the car and see how I feel.

“It’s not like I’ll be 100 per cent for it because obviously I’ve been 10 days in bed – not 10 days training and going to the simulator and preparing for a normal weekend. But, if I’m fit to race and I don’t have any pain or any bad symptoms, I can still put together a strong weekend and the target will be to challenge the Red Bull.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton backs Susie Wolff in legal action against FIA

09:58 , Kieran Jackson

Lewis Hamilton said he has never supported Formula One’s ruler Mohammed ben Sulayem – and believes the sport is sending out a “message that if you file a complaint, you will be fired” amid the Christian Horner controversy.

Ben Sulayem, elected as FIA president in December 2021, was cleared by his own organisation’s ethics committee on Wednesday after he was accused of meddling with the result of last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and attempting to block the certification of F1’s £500m Las Vegas Grand Prix on the Strip in November.

But four hours later, on another whirlwind day in the controversy-hit world of F1, Susie Wolff announced she has filed a criminal complaint against the FIA following the sporting federation’s conflict of interest inquiry into her and husband Toto, the team principal of Hamilton’s Mercedes team, in December.

Earlier this month, Christian Horner’s accuser was suspended on full pay in the wake of Red Bull’s investigation into alleged “inappropriate behaviour” by the F1 team principal. The employee of the Milton Keynes team has since appealed against the decision to exonerate Horner.

Full piece below:

Lewis Hamilton backs Susie Wolff in legal action against FIA

Daniel Ricciardo on potential Red Bull seat for 2025:

09:52 , Kieran Jackson

“I don’t buy into any of the stories, if you will. I know what my position is in the team and I know what, let’s say… some potential things that could happen if I do very well.

“But it’s like everything, any team you’re with, if you have a really strong season it could lead to maybe something different or increase your position where you currently are. It’s always our objective to do the best we can. I think whatever happens will happen or can happen.

“My objective is to drive this car as good as I can. Now, getting back into a car, I’m definitely not looking too far ahead. Am I thinking about the Red Bull seat that you speak of? No. I know if I do some really good results maybe then that can present itself potentially.

“It’s not something I think about because 12 months ago I wasn’t in this position, I didn’t know if I would be back in this position, so I just take it weekend after weekend.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Max Verstappen: ‘I can understand why Mercedes want me’

09:44 , Kieran Jackson

Max Verstappen said he can understand why Toto Wolff wants to take him to Mercedes – but the triple world champion insists it’s his “intention” to see out his contract with Red Bull.

Following Verstappen’s ninth consecutive victory in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, Wolff revealed for the first time that he would “love” to sign Verstappen as a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen, 26, is under contract with Red Bull until 2028, but his future is in the spotlight amid the in-fighting at Formula 1’s dominant team.

And responding to Wolff’s comments ahead of Sunday’s third round of the season in Australia, Verstappen replied with a smile: “I can understand (why).”

Full quotes below:

Max Verstappen: ‘I can understand why Mercedes want me’

FULL STORY: Susie Wolff has launched legal action against the FIA

09:40 , Kieran Jackson

Susie Wolff has filed a criminal complaint against the FIA over a controversial inquiry into her last year.

The F1 Academy boss and her husband, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, were the subject of an investigation into claims of an alleged conflict of interest.

The probe arose in December after a report in Business F1 magazine claimed that other team principals were concerned Toto Wolff was benefiting from information shared by his wife.

Two days after the FIA announced its compliance department was “looking into” the allegations, the federation said it “can confirm that there is no ongoing investigation in terms of ethical or disciplinary inquiries involving any individual”.

Susie Wolff takes legal action over FIA conflict of interest inquiry

F1 news – latest: Susie Wolff launches FIA legal action as Verstappen responds to Mercedes link

09:39 , Kieran Jackson

Susie Wolff has filed a criminal complaint against the FIA over a controversial inquiry into her last year. The F1 Academy boss and her husband, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, were the subject of an investigation into claims of an alleged conflict of interest.

The probe arose in December after a report in Business F1 magazine claimed that other team principals were concerned Toto Wolff was benefiting from information shared by his wife. Two days after the FIA announced its compliance department was “looking into” the allegations, the federation said it “can confirm that there is no ongoing investigation in terms of ethical or disciplinary inquiries involving any individual”.

At the time, Susie Wolff vehemently denied the allegations – calling them “intimidatory and misogynistic”.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Max Verstappen did not rule out moving to Mercedes amid unrest at Red Bull while Lewis Hamilton backed his boss’ wife Susie in her battle against the FIA.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)