Hamilton named Sports Personality of the Year
Lewis Hamilton has been voted for the second time as BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The seven-times world champion beat the five other contenders in a public vote on Sunday night.
Hamilton has won the top award twice and has finished runner up four times since 2007, losing last year to Ben Stokes and Geraint Thomas in 2018. His only other SPOTY win was in 2014.
Hamilton was also recognised for his support of global social issues, having set up the Hamilton Commission to help drive equality within motorsport and STEM subjects, along with his willingness to spread awareness of systemic racism and inequality in other areas of society.
In a video message, the seven-time champion said, “I just want to say congratulations to all the incredible nominees because I’m so proud of what they have achieved this year and I really want to say thank you for everyone that’s called in and voted for me. I really wasn’t expecting this knowing that there’s so many great contenders.”
Mercedes was also nominated for team of the year and Toto Wolff for manager/coach of the year, which were decided by a panel of experts.
Hamilton says SPOTY also highlights how many hero’s we have in the UK which we should be proud of. Adding, “I’m just really proud to be amongst them all, and I will continue to try and do my part for representing the country in the best way I can, and please everyone out there, go out and follow your dreams.”
Capitan Sir Tom Moore, who captured the hearts of many drivers and people around the world, won the Helen Rollason Award, recognising outstanding achievement in the face of adversity and was introduced to the show in 1999 in memory of the BBC journalist and presenter.
Wolff “committed to life” to Mercedes
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal, Toto Wolff says he is “committed to life” to Mercedes F1 after increasing his shareholding and agreeing to continue as its team principal for at least three more years.
On Friday, the German manufacturer announced a restructure of its ownership with Wolff increasing his shareholding in the team, and INEOS buying a third of the shares. The new structure gives Daimler, INEOS and Wolff a third of the division each, creating three equal partners.
At the same time, it was announced the Austrian had signed a new three year deal as CEO and team principal. Wolff had been publicly weighing up his exact position with Mercedes, despite his commitment to remaining part of the team, saying the role was “taking its toll” after eight seasons.
There was a suggestion in the announcement that Wolff would transition to ‘a new executive function,’ when he decides it is the right time. He also said he saw himself as being part of the team for life.
When asked about his new team principal agreement, Wolff told Motorsport.com, “That is a misunderstanding I haven’t committed to a further three years. I have committed for life.
“We are three shareholders that own the company today, and irrespective of my own role, I could be team principal, CEO, executive chairman, at any time. But Mercedes is what I do.”
Wolff has been team principal since 2013, he is seen as one of the masterminds behind the teams record-breaking run of seven consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
Lewis Hamilton has won six of those seven titles and said on Friday that he was “proud” to see Wolff continuing in the role
News in Brief
Albon “hurt” by being replaced by Perez
Alex Albon admits “it hurts” after he was replaced at Red Bull by Sergio Perez for the 2021 season. The British-Thai driver will be demoted to test and reserve driver after Perez was brought in to partner Max Verstappen.
Albon on social media, “I gave it everything out there, but it wasn’t quite enough. I have more to give and my focus is getting back for 2022 and to wave the Thai flag again.”
Schumacher needs time
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto expects Mick Schumacher to have a tough Formula One debut with Haas next year before getting more up to speed in 2022. Schumacher won this year’s Formula Two championship, and Binotto warned that the German normally takes eighteen months to develop.
Ferrari had small achievements in 2020
Ferrari’s sporting director Laurent Mekies says that the team had “a lot of small, very significant achievements” during 2020, despite the team having one of its worst seasons since 1980.
Drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel could only manage a combined three podiums as the team suffered from a lack of both aerodynamic and engine performance with the SF1000. But 2021 could be just as bad with the regulations meaning this year’s cars are largely being carried over to next year.
These changes were prompted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the teams now having to use the same chassis next year. While aerodynamic development is allowed, but further meaningful changes to the cars are subject to a restrictive token system.
Despite options to overhaul its cars being limited, Ferrari has confidence that it can carry over the lesson they have learned this year. Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Mekies told Motorsport.com, “There were a lot of small, very significant achievements in the year, that were unnoticed because we were at the back.”
“It’s something that hopefully will make us stronger, and that we will carry on to the next year. What we take from that is even in such hard time, in such globally difficult conditions, the way we have tried and pushed our limits.”
He says when you are down you take more risk, and that what you need to do to get a good result.
Ferrari has already announced it would be using most of its tokens to redesign the rear-end of the car in a bid to improve the synergy between the existing chassis and the latest development of the SF1000’s aerodynamics.
Mekies says it was clear early on that the pandemic would make it difficult to resolve the performance aspects.
Ferrari announces launch plans
Ferrari has announced it will launch its 2021 car, the SF21, just before the start of pre-season testing in March. Although there is a chassis freeze, teams are allowed to make aerodynamic changes, as well as spending two development tokens to make other modifications.
Ferrari says it aims to hold a team launch in the early part of the year, to introduce its management and driver line-up of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, but will not reveal its 2021 challenger until just before it runs on track for the first time.
Speaking to selected media from Maranello, team principal Mattia Binotto explained Ferrari’s plans for the pre-season period. He told the group of journalists “We already decided the name of the car next year. The car will be called SF21.”
“It’s a very simple name because we believe that next year is a transition to 2022. So, let’s keep SF21 the name of the car. It will be certainly partially a frozen car, same chassis as 2020.”
Binotto says the first event would present the team, drivers to fans, the teams’ partners and journalist, while the second event would possibly be in Barcelona testing would be where the car would be unveiled.
One of Ferrari’s key hopes of progress in 2021 is that an all-new engine will address the power deficit that it suffered from this season. He is confident that the dyno testing was running well, and the team will have a competitive power unit.
Binotto says the SF21 would address a key weakness of this year’s SF1000 of being too draggy, with improved aerodynamic efficiency having been a focal point for changes.
Red Bull never considered Vettel or Hulkenberg
Red Bull says that Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg were never seriously considered for a seat next year. The team began assessing its options to who would partner Max Verstappen in September, and whether it would replace Alex Albon.
Vettel and Hulkenberg were linked with the Milton Keynes-based outfit. On Friday, when announcing Sergio Perez, team principal Christian Horner said the Mexican was the only driver that the team looked at properly.
Asked by Motorsport.com, if anyone else was evaluated seriously, especially amid Vettel rumours earlier this year, Horner said: “No. There was no other. There was a brief discussion with Nico Hulkenberg. But it’s really accelerated over the last month, I would say.”
Horner admitted that it was good luck that Perez was free when they were looking for the best candidate possible. He also said that the Mexican didn’t have many options which he could follow, which gave them more time.
He also defended the decision to go outside the Red Bull programme, explaining the team had had to make a pragmatic choice about what suited it best when it felt that none of the juniors was ready yet for a top-line F1 chance.
Horner said, “There was no candidate on the junior program that was suitable. So we decided to go outside of the program for the first time since 2007. It was impossible to ignore Sergio’s performance this year.”
Haas impressed by Schumacher’s work ethic
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says Mick Schumacher’s work ethic and the way he integrated with the team were the most impressive aspects of his first F1 race weekend appearance.
Schumacher who will make his debut for Haas next year was given his first practice outing in Abu Dhabi after his first attempt to do one with Alfa Romeo called off because of rain at the Eifel Grand Prix.
Steiner, who has signed Schumacher for 2021, says that judging the German’s speed in free practice wasn’t right, but he said he saw enough in the garage to be convinced about how good he can be.
reflecting on Schumacher’s first run with the team, Steiner told Motorsport.com, “He did a fantastic job. I didn’t see it as a test session, as you cannot really see a lot of the potential of a driver there. But what you can see [is] how his personality is.”
“How he’s prepared to work and what he takes in. Because there is, for these young guys, a lot to be taken in, being the first time on a F1 circuit, especially if your last name is Schumacher. There’s a lot of eyes watching you and, if you are 21, you need to have a lot of confidence to do that.”
Steiner says observing Schumacher he worked very well with the engineers and was very clear with the team. Haas had placed no pressure on Schumacher, only asking him not to make a mistake. Steiner also says the German performed very well, and knew where he lost time.
The German also took part in the post-season Abu Dhabi test and will now have another day-and-a-half of running in pre-season testing at Barcelona in Spain next March ahead of his F1 race debut.
Alonso at a disadvantage from time out
Renault F1 director Marcin Budkowski believes that Fernando Alonso will be at a disadvantage when he returns to the sport next year, despite being allowed to test the car in Abu Dhabi.
The two times champion is returning to the sport next year two years after leaving McLaren, in that time he won two Le Mans 24 Hours, made a second start in the Indianapolis 500 and competed in the Dakar Rally.
In last weeks test, Alonso set the fastest time and completed a hundred and five laps. Asked if the Spaniard’s appearance in the post-season test would give him an advantage for next year, Renault F1 director Budkowski said the Spaniard will still be at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the grid.
Budkowski told Autosport, “I think you mean how much less of a disadvantage does he have? Because he hasn’t been driving for two years. I understand that for Carlos [Sainz] or Daniel [Ricciardo] changing teams next year and getting accustomed to a different team is tricky.”
“There’s lots to learn, different ways of working, different engineer, but in the case of Fernando he hasn’t been driving for two years at all.”
He says this was the reason why they are giving him track time was to get him back into a rhythm, into physical condition in areas like his neck.
With winter testing reduced from six to just three days in 2021, new and returning drivers will get less mileage to acclimate to their new machinery. Despite two decades of experience, Budkowski believes a reduced winter testing programme will still be a challenge for Alonso.