Word on the beat, January 2022

Double China, McLaren for sale and wonky wings: behind the scenes in F1

Guanyu Zhou portrait

● With negotiations having broken down between Michael Andretti and Sauber over the purchase of the team, Andretti will continue to look for F1 opportunities.

● A new Chinese Grand Prix deal has been agreed, with a contract which will secure the Shanghai race until 2025. There has even been talk of a second race in China now that F2 frontrunner Guanyu Zhou (top) has secured an F1 ride with Alfa Romeo to become China’s first-ever full-time Formula 1 driver.

Max Verstappen was typically forthright when asked why he had chosen to touch the rear wing of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in parc fermé at Interlagos after qualifying, something for which he was fined £42,000. “I was just looking at how much their rear wing was flexing – at that point… There has been some talk. I think there are still things to look into because it seems at a certain speed the wing is flexing. At the beginning of the season we had to all change the rear wings because of the back-off but it seems like something is still backing off over there. That’s why I went to have a look.”

McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo on track

● With rumours surrounding a possible equity stake in McLaren from Audi (see column), there are further stories (denied by BMW) that BMW is interested in buying the automotive arm of the group, which was separated from the race team two years ago.

George Russell will begin his Mercedes works driver career immediately after the season finale at Abu Dhabi, driving the car at the post-season test.

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