Sunday’s F1 news features a truly bizarre situation emerging from after the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Azerbaijan.
The FIA Prize Giving Gala took place on Friday night as the World Champions from across the motorsport spectrum were crowned, with Max Verstappen picking up the Drivers’ Championship trophy in Formula 1 for the third time.
But 24 hours after the ceremony, a bizarre claim from a fan at the ceremony has forced Mercedes to issue a statement regarding what’s happened to Lewis Hamilton’s trophy. Here’s a look at Sunday’s headlines…
Lewis Hamilton’s trophy ends up… with a fan?
On Saturday night, a social media profile on X (formerly Twitter) claimed to have been at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony and had left with the trophy given to Lewis Hamilton by the FIA for finished third in the 2023 championship.
Photos were posted by the profile, in what was alleged proof of having come into possession of the trophy.
But PlanetF1.com understands from a source close to the situation that Hamilton left the trophy on a table backstage after an official at the ceremony offered to take care of it and send it on to Hamilton as the World Champion left the venue.
Mercedes are believed to be currently trying to discover what happened to the trophy after all personnel from the team had left the Gala.
A statement from Mercedes has clarified Hamilton did not gift his trophy to anyone.
“Immediately after leaving the stage, and as has been done at previous prizegivings, Lewis accepted the offer from officials for the trophy to be sent on to the team and therefore left it in their care,” said the statement.
“We can confirm he did not give the trophy to anyone ‘as a gift’ as has been speculated.”
Mercedes’ troubled sidepods ’emblematic’ of a team lost
Mercedes’ much-maligned zero-sidepod concept wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of the team’s problems with the WW13 and W14, according to technical director James Allison – the British engineer having returned to the position earlier this year after a job swap with the now resigned Mike Elliott.
But the sidepods were indicative of a team that lost their way somewhat, according to Allison.
“Well, I don’t quite see the world the same way as you guys do, sort of looking at a sidepod and deciding that’s a concept,” said Allison.
“We definitely took a path with our car and I would say that’s from the tip of the nose to the very back of the tail which was not a competitive one.
“The most visually notable aspect of that was our sidepods of course, but by no means the definitive factor. It was not right from front to back and that’s the thing that we’ve had to learn and have had to deal with.
“And that’s taken us longer than we would have liked, but the sidepods are maybe emblematic of a team that took a little too long to figure out which way was up, but by no means the distinguishing feature that sealed our fate.”
Jenson Button on how Lewis Hamilton has evolved
It’s over a decade since Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were team-mates at McLaren, but the 2009 F1 World Champion believes Hamilton has continued to evolve and mature during the intervening years.
“He’s unbelievable in terms of his natural ability and I think he’s come a long way since we were team-mates as well in terms of a more rounded character in the car,” said Button.
“So he’s very difficult to beat and he’s also so relaxed. If he has a bad race, he’s kind of relaxed about it. He wasn’t like that 10 years ago.”
Tom Coronel hits out at Logan Sargeant
Dutch racer Tom Coronel believes Logan Sargeant is wasting a seat at Williams, and says someone of more talent deserves to be in the cockpit alongside Alex Albon.
“The combination of money and everything that comes with it and he can also drive quite well, he is not a complete pancake,” said Coronel on the RacingNews365.com podcast.
“But whether he belongs in a Formula 1 seat…we can be very clear about that: No. There is more talent which should be driving there.
“But it’s a combination of all sorts of ingredients. So has he earned it, in that style? Yes. I also think it’s clever when your parents spend so much money on that. That’s also special, and is also part of motorsport, so I think he can stay.”
Christian Horner opens up on Sergio Perez expectations for 2024
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com, Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he’s hopeful Sergio Perez will find more form during 2024 as the end of his contract looms.
“We’ve just got to work harder,” Horner said, in response to a question about whether it’s Perez needing to pull up his socks, or whether Red Bull is failing to extract the best out of their driver.
“Because we need him firing on all cylinders at 24 races next year because the competition will move closer.
“So we need both drivers as tightly bunched as we can in order to ensure that we do our utmost to defend both titles.”