Lewis Hamilton finished only 17th in practice for the Italian Grand Prix as Sergio Perez crashed out.

Carlos Sainz provided Ferrari’s home fans with reason for cheer by posting the fastest time at the Italian team’s home track in Monza.

The Spaniard, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, edged out McLaren’s Lando Norris by 0.019 seconds with championship leader Max Verstappen in fifth place, two tenths back.

But seven-time world champion Hamilton, who signed a new £50million-a-year contract with Mercedes earlier this week, ended up only 17th of the 19 drivers who set a time after bemoaning the lack of straight-line speed.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell finished ninth, 0.821sec slower than Sainz.

While Verstappen has romped to 11 wins from 13 this season – and could become the first driver in history to seal 10 consecutive victories on Sunday – his team-mate Perez has endured a turbulent campaign.

And the Mexican faced more misery here after he lost control of his Red Bull machine through the high-speed Parabolica.

Perez ran on to the gravel on the exit of the corner leading into the main straight and skidded across the sandtrap before nudging the wall.

Perez was able to limp back to the pits but team principal Christian Horner was left grimacing on the Red Bull pit wall.

Before his spin, Perez had displayed encouraging pace – finishing third, 0.185 behind Sainz – and unusually ahead of Verstappen.

Verstappen, 138 points clear in the world standings on his unstoppable march towards a hat-trick of titles, ended the opening running at the top of the time charts. But his best effort in the day’s concluding running was scuppered by traffic.

The 25-year-old wanted to go for another timed lap, only for his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to tell him “it isn’t qualifying”.

The Dutch driver was also fined 500 euros (£428) for breaking the 50mph pit-lane speed limit by 3mph.

However, given his crushing dominance this year, he will head into the remainder of the weekend as the favourite to land another win and better the record he shares with Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren have bounced back from a poor start to the year following an upgrade at June’s Austrian Grand Prix. Behind Norris in second place, Oscar Piastri finished fourth.

Elsewhere, Charles Leclerc, who won here to the delight of the Tifosi in 2019, was sixth, one place ahead of the ever-impressive Alex Albon in his Williams, with Fernando Alonso eighth for Aston Martin.

Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll failed to set a lap after he broke down with a fuel system failure in the opening moments.

Ferrari have lost their appeal to the FIA over a time penalty handed to Carlos Sainz at the Australian Grand Prix.

Sainz was punished following a collision with Fernando Alonso during the race on April 2.

He was demoted from fourth to 12th place after making contact with Alonso's Aston Martin in a chaotic penultimate-lap standing restart.

There were another two crashes prior to a red flag being waved for a third time in Melbourne, where Red Bull's Max Verstappen triumphed.

Ferrari appealed the decision, but on Tuesday it was confirmed the Italian team had been unsuccessful.

"There is no significant and relevant new element that was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned. The Petition is therefore dismissed," an FIA statement read after a hearing on Tuesday.

"We considered the fact that this collision took place at the first corner on the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.

"However, we decided that notwithstanding that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for SAI to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so. We therefore imposed a five-second time penalty."

Ferrari said they were "naturally disappointed" with the decision, adding they felt "that we had provided sufficient significant new elements for the FIA to re-examine the decision especially in the context of the particular conditions and multiple incidents that occurred during the final restart."

Their statement concluded: "We are however respectful of the process and of the FIA decision. We are now looking forward to entering broader discussions with the FIA, Formula One, and all the teams, with the aim of further improving the policing of our sport, in order to ensure the highest level of fairness and consistency that our sport deserves.

Ferrari will begin their challenge to a costly time penalty imposed on Carlos Sainz at the Australian Grand Prix when they take part in a hearing on Tuesday.

Motorsport's world governing body, the FIA, confirmed the Italian team would get their chance to petition for a review of the five-second penalty when they meet with stewards.

The punishment was imposed on Sainz after his collision with Fernando Alonso during the April 2 race.

Sainz was demoted from fourth to 12th place after making contact with his Spanish compatriot's Aston Martin following a chaotic penultimate-lap standing restart.

There were another two crashes prior to a red flag being waved for a third time at Albert Park.

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were involved in a collision, while Logan Sargeant ran into the AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries but none of those four drivers were penalised.

Sainz was not impressed with the punishment imposed on him and Scuderia team principal Fred Vasseur confirmed Ferrari would appeal against the decision that cost the driver a points finish.

In a statement issued on Friday, the FIA said: "The stewards of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix have received a letter from Nikolas Tombazis, single-seater director of the FIA, attaching a petition by competitor Scuderia Ferrari dated 6th April 2023 under article 14 of the FIA international sporting code, seeking a review of the stewards' decision number 46 made within the framework of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix and requesting that the stewards: 'consider such request and to make a determination whether or not a significant and relevant new element exists in relation to the decision/incident'.

"The driver(s) and team representative(s) are required to report to the stewards for a virtual hearing to be held on 18th April 2023 at 0800 CET in relation to the petition."

Ferrari have lodged an appeal against Carlos Sainz's five-second penalty for his collision with Fernando Alonso during the Australian Grand Prix last Sunday.

Sainz was demoted from fourth to 12th place after the Spaniard was sanctioned for making contact with his compatriot's Aston Martin following a chaotic penultimate-lap standing restart.

There were another two crashes prior to a red flag being waved for a third time at Albert Park.

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were involved in a collision, while Logan Sargeant ran into the AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries but none of those four drivers were penalised.

Sainz was not impressed with the punishment imposed on him and Scuderia team principal Fred Vasseur has confirmed the team have challenged the decision to hit the 28-year-old with a penalty that left him out of the points.

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were involved in a heavy collision, while William's Logan Sargeant ran into the AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries.

Vasseur said: "We did the petition for review of the case, we sent it to the FIA.

"As we are discussing with the FIA, I don't want to disclose any details of this discussion."

He added: "The only thing is that about Gasly-Ocon, also Sargeant-De Vries turn one, and the reaction of the stewards was not the same.

"What we can expect is to at least have an open discussion with them.

"Also for the good of the sport, to avoid to have this kind of decision when you have three cases at the same corner and not the same decision."

Charles Leclerc rued "the worst start to the season ever" as his Ferrari posted a second retirement of 2023 at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Monegasque spun off on three turns in at Albert Park after a collision with Aston Martin's Lance Stroll, ending his race inside the opening lap.

Following a 39th-lap retirement in Bahrain with engine trouble and a seventh-place finish in Saudi Arabia, it continues a rough campaign for Leclerc.

Speaking afterwards, the 25-year-old refused to place the blame at Stroll's feet, but acknowledged his first three races are a nadir in his Formula 1 career.

"[It is] just extremely frustrating," he said. "I mean, it's the worst start to the season ever, really. It is really frustrating.

"I'm not pointing the finger at Lance because I think he had no choice once Fernando [Alonso] slowed down the car the second time.

"For me, it was just impossible to see whether Lance was staying behind Fernando or if he was just in between. I obviously didn't think he was there."

It marked a pointless day for Ferrari, with Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz demoted from fourth to 12th with a controversial five-second time penalty.

The Spaniard was handed the punishment for running into Alonso amid the race's restart in the wake of its second red flag, with just two laps to go.

After a rolling restart the third time around ensured he could not build an advantage to keep him in the points, Sainz was left fuming afterwards.

"I think it's the most unfair penalty I've seen in my life," he told media. "I [would] prefer to go back to the stewards, have a conversation with them.

"Maybe I can come back and talk [then]. I honestly cannot do it [now]. It's too unfair, and I don't feel well to speak."

Sergio Perez has taken new power unit components ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver has taken a new energy store (ES) and control electronics (CE) for the second race of the 2023 Formula One season.

No penalty will be issued for the Mexican driver, though he finds himself in a tricky situation for the remainder of the campaign as only two ES changes are allowed over the course of the season, while three CE's are permitted.

Perez is now in a similar situation to that of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was forced into an ES change ahead of the season opener in Bahrain and has taken another unit for this weekend – resulting in a 10-place grid penalty.

Leclerc, alongside team-mate Carlos Sainz and McLaren's Lando Norris, has also taken a second internal combustion engine (ICE) for Saudi Arabia, with three permitted during a season, while both Leclerc and Norris have taken an additional MGU-H.

Norris has seen further changes in the form of a new turbocharger, MGU-K and exhaust system for the weekend in Saudi Arabia.

Max Verstappen leads the championship standings ahead of team-mate Perez after a Red Bull one-two in Bahrain, with Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso third.

A new Formula One season is upon us and the 2023 campaign will be the longest in the history of the elite motorsport class.

The number of races is rising to 23, with Las Vegas joining the show, though drama will not be limited to the track.

Two seasons ago, the controversial conclusion to the campaign in Abu Dhabi was a dominant story, while last year saw Red Bull's budget cap breach and an Oscar Piastri fight between Alpine and McLaren, as well as frustrations with governing body the FIA, notably over the drivers' freedom of expression.

Get set for sporting theatre to unfold over the course of the season ahead, though the biggest talking point centres around whether anyone can dethrone Red Bull.

Red Bull gives you wins

Max Verstappen finished at the front in 15 of 22 races last season, setting a record for the most triumphs in a single campaign, and he has won over half of the events in the past two years (25 wins from 44 races).

While pre-season testing never offers a full indication of what lies ahead, Red Bull's strength was still evident and the consensus is that the defending champions will begin the campaign with an advantage over their rivals.

 

If that gap cannot be reduced, the biggest threat to a third consecutive crown for Verstappen may come from team-mate Carlos Perez. Should that happen, tempers may flare as they did in Sao Paulo in November when Verstappen refused a team order to allow the Mexican through.

One aspect that may provide hope to Red Bull's rivals is the punishment issued for the budget cap breach, which included a 10 per cent reduction in aerodynamic testing allowance for 12 months. While it came too late to have a major implication on the overall develop of this year's car, it could restrict the team's ability to fix any issues that arise.

Ferrari's fight to the front

A season that offered so much promise for Ferrari last term ultimately fell away through mistakes in race strategy and engine failures, the latter of which resulted in the team having to run in a low-power mode to avoid further woes.

Charles Leclerc certainly has the ability to go head to head with perennial rival Verstappen, who he has raced since his junior days, while Carlos Sainz got his long-awaited maiden F1 win at Silverstone last year.

The appointment of Fred Vasseur as team principal, replacing Mattia Binotto, hands the Scuderia an experienced head on the pit wall and may result in fewer questionable calls in race strategy.

Ferrari are confident they can mount a challenge this season and, even though Leclerc has conceded Red Bull may start with an advantage, he believes the Prancing Horse can respond.

"The target is still [to win the title]. Even if we are starting a bit of the back foot compared to them in terms of performance, I'm sure we can come back," Leclerc told Sky Sports.

Mercedes on a mission

Any hopes of a Mercedes revival in 2023 appear to have stalled already, with testing performances suggesting the team may have to look over their shoulders at those chasing from behind rather than competing at the top.

Mercedes' design continues to divide opinion, with a zero-pod approach being vastly different to their rivals and leading to questions about whether they have stuck to their guns out of pride rather than sporting merit.

With Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel, there is always a chance and the Briton will be determined to come back and add to his record 103 race wins having failed to secure a victory last season – the first campaign in his career when he has not registered a win.

The seven-time world champion was outperformed by team-mate George Russell last season, however. Russell secured a maiden race win in the penultimate race and offered consistency throughout the campaign.

Best of the rest

The biggest surprise of the testing weekend in Bahrain was the pace shown by Aston Martin who, with the addition of Fernando Alonso, have a driver who could mount a serious threat to the bigger guns on the grid.

Though a third world title for the Spaniard may be a stretch, regular podiums and dethroning one of the big three in the constructors' championship is certainly an achievable goal.

At Alpine, great care will be taken to ensure French compatriots Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon do not find themselves butting heads, with a frosty relationship over the years, while McLaren have already admitted they missed their development targets and start on the back foot as a result.

Andreas Seidl, now at the helm of Alfa Romeo-Sauber, enters with high expectations ahead of the team's transition into Audi in 2026, while AlphaTauri's long-term future continues to be questioned despite assurances Red Bull will not sell their second-string team.

Expect the season to also see further rumblings regarding new additions to the grid, with Porsche and Andretti among those pushing to join.

As ever, there is plenty to watch out for in F1 and from the first corner to the last there are likely to be surprises along the way.

George Russell was lauded by team-mate Lewis Hamilton after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the first-time Formula One race winner left "speechless" by his success.

Having won Saturday's sprint race, Russell led from the start in an eventful race on Sunday, coming out on top after two restarts following safety cars at the Interlagos Circuit. 

Russell had to fend off Hamilton – who had earlier clashed with Max Verstappen but come away largely unscathed and unpunished – after the second safety car, but there was no bad blood between the Mercedes duo at the end.

"What an amazing feeling," said Russell after sealing Mercedes' first win of the season. "Just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible. 

"It has been an emotional rollercoaster this season. This was a tough race, I felt in control.

"Lewis was super-fast and when I saw the Safety Car, I thought this is going to be a really difficult end, he put me under so much pressure.

"I am speechless. On the in lap, all of these memories start flooding back, starting with my mum and dad at go-karting and going through to all of the support I have had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager.

"The list is endless. I can't thank them all enough, I am super proud."

Hamilton said: "A huge congratulations to George. What an amazing drive he did today.

"He did an amazing qualifying yesterday, so he truly deserves it. To my team, so proud of everyone back at the factory and here. This is an incredible result. 

"We’ve worked so hard through this year to get a 1-2 and to get a win, and so this is hugely deserved by everybody so a huge thank you."

On his collision with old rival Verstappen, who received a five-second time penalty, Hamilton added: "What can I say, you know how it is with Max."

The harmony in the Mercedes camp was not replicated in the other teams. 

While Red Bull's Sergio Perez was left infuriated by Verstappen, who refused to hand sixth place back to the Mexican after failing to overtake Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc also wanted Ferrari to concede Carlos Sainz's place on the podium to boost his chances of finishing second in the world championship.

Leclerc will now head into the final race in Abu Dhabi on level points with Perez.

"I think we can be happy with that," said Sainz. "It is a shame that Mercedes are so quick but congratulations to George."

Mercedes enjoyed a strong Saturday ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix as George Russell won the sprint race at Interlagos.

Kevin Magnussen was the surprise pole holder after his brilliant qualifying session on Friday, though the Haas driver, who had promised to go "maximum attack" slipped well down the grid.

Russell qualified third and delivered a brilliant drive to claim his first race win and get himself on pole for Sunday's grand prix.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari clinched second, though a five-place penalty should see Lewis Hamilton join his team-mate at the front of the grid, although the result will be subject to a stewards' enquiry.

Hamilton will be investigated, along with Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu, for his position in his grid box at the start of the sprint.

Should he retain his place in second, Hamilton – who is aiming to equal Michael Schumacher as the driver with the most wins at Interlagos (four) – will take his place on the front row for the first time in 2022.

Max Verstappen went out on mediums instead of soft tyres, and that decision backfired as he dropped from second to fourth, though the world champion will move up thanks to Sainz's penalty, which came as a result of the Spaniard clipping the Dutchman's Red Bull.

Sergio Perez, Verstappen's team-mate, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris will start ahead of Sainz, while Magnussen will have to settle for eighth.

For Mercedes, the omens are good, with 15 of the last 17 winners at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix having come from the front row, with eight of the winners having started on pole.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. George Russell (Mercedes)
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +3.995
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +4.492
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +10.494
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +11.855
6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +13.133
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +25.624
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +28.768
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +30.218
10. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) +34.170

Max Verstappen powered to a record 14th win of his championship-winning season as the Red Bull driver roared to victory at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Dutchman matched Formula One's single-season wins record shared by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel when he snatched a 13th success last week in Austin at the United States Grand Prix, and in Mexico City he went one better.

Many in the crowd were willing on Verstappen's Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez, but he had to settle for third place and another podium, a repeat of his result last year at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Perez separated the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton, who finished second, and George Russell, who took fourth, with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in fifth and sixth.

It was a race that was bereft of drama, and the tone was set from the start. It was clean as pole-sitter Verstappen held off the Mercedes pair, with Hamilton nudging ahead of Russell in the early stages and Perez getting between the Silver Arrows as he climbed to third place.

That was how it finished, of course, and there was little to report of any import between the start and finish.

Hamilton had cast doubt on Mercedes' ability to get a first win of the season, and despite taking second and fourth, they never really looked like rivalling Verstappen for the win.

Three-quarters of the way through the race, Hamilton asked his team whether he was running on the wrong tyres and was told by the Mercedes garage they were confident in their strategy. At the finish, he again cast doubt on team tactics.

He had also pointed to power drop-offs. At that stage, Verstappen led Hamilton by just over 10 seconds, and Mercedes were counting on the Red Bulls needing second pit stops, but that prospect went away.

Russell complained over the team radio that his tyres were "gone" on the 67th lap but was told "his tyres will be more gone than yours" as he looked to close in on third-placed Perez. Little changed as the drivers remained in the same order through to the finish.

A joyful Verstappen said on team radio, after being congratulated for his record drive: "Double podium as well, that's amazing here in Mexico, well done guys."

 

The Max and Lewis show rolls on

Verstappen and Hamilton were first and second, but the gap was 15 seconds by the end of the race and it was barely competitive. What the result means, though, is they have now finished first and second in a race on 33 occasions, extending the record they established in Austin.

Red Bull, meanwhile, have stretched their winning streak to nine races, matching a team-best set in the 2013 season when Sebastian Vettel won the closing nine races of that campaign.


F1? It's a team game

With Verstappen and Red Bull already having the championships wrapped up, others are jostling for places in the drivers' and constructors' standings.

Mercedes entered this race 53 points behind second-placed Ferrari, with only races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi to come, and they had a strong day, raising hopes the Silver Arrows could yet finish as runners-up. The gap is now down to 40 points.

Ferrari's Leclerc saw his run of five consecutive podium finishes come to an end in a race where he was rarely a factor up front.

Max Verstappen's dramatic victory at the United States Grand Prix gave Red Bull the Formula One constructors' title, a day after the death of team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

A record-equalling 13th win of the season for the irrepressible Verstappen, who already has the drivers' championship sewn up, secured the poignant achievement at the Circuit of The Americas.

Mercedes had monopolised the constructors' championship since 2014, but it has been a matter of time this season before they were dethroned.

Verstappen, hampered by an extended pit stop, slipped back to fifth place at one stage but roared back to the front of the field and produced a skilful overtaking move on Lewis Hamilton during the 50th lap to reclaim first position.

Mercedes had been chasing their first win of the season, but once Verstappen was in front of Hamilton it was game over. Verstappen and team boss Christian Horner dedicated the team success to Mateschitz immediately at the end of the race.

Charles Leclerc's Ferrari took third place, his first podium in Austin, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez fourth, Mercedes' George Russell fifth and McLaren's Lando Norris sixth.

Ferrari pole-sitter Carlos Sainz had the start of his nightmares, being overtaken by front-row rival Verstappen before the first corner and then spinning after colliding with Russell. Russell was handed a five-second penalty and Sainz's race was soon over as he came into the pits to retire, with radiator damage causing a water leak.

The safety car came out twice, firstly when Valtteri Bottas lost the back end of his Alfa Romeo and beached in the gravel on the 18th lap, and then when Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll collided, a flash point between the future Aston Martin team-mates.

Leclerc was a factor for much of the race, having done well to tear through the field after a 10-place engine change penalty meant he started from 12th on the grid.

A huge twist came with 20 laps remaining when Verstappen had his shocking pit stop. The world champion sarcastically told his team radio it had been "beautiful" but was told to focus on the race, and he subsequently showed why he and the team have been so dominant.

Verstappen matches Schumacher and Vettel

Michael Schumacher won 13 times for Ferrari in the 18-race 2004 campaign, while Sebastian Vettel won 13 in a 19-race 2013 season for Red Bull. Vettel was briefly a podium contender in this race but a 16.8 second pit stop scuttled his hopes.

Now Verstappen has equalled the single-season wins record Schumacher and Vettel shared, and as he said at the end of the race, he has "three more chances" to take the mark outright.

Aston thriller

The yellow flag came out when Alonso's Alpine ran into the back of Stroll's Aston Martin. The pair will be team-mates at Aston Martin next season, and as Alonso looked to overtake Stroll, it appeared Stroll moved to block the manoeuvre. That led to Alonso's car spectacularly bucking onto its rear wheels and running out of control before colliding with barriers.

Alonso was remarkably able to continue and reach the pits for repairs, but Stroll lost a tyre, amid strewn debris, and his race was over, with the stewards electing to leave it until after the race to pass any judgement.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz enjoyed his "adventure" in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, though he feels Red Bull are still favourites for Sunday's race.

The Spaniard secured the second pole of his Formula One season after a blistering final lap in Q3 in Austin, climbing over teammate Charles Leclerc, who will serve a 10-place grid penalty and will therefore start 12th in Sunday's race.

Sainz has the advantage on the front row, where eight of the last nine winners have started, but feels Max Verstappen, who will start alongside him, is favourite for the race.

"It was fun, a lot of fun. It was very tricky with the wind, it's so gusty, it's a bit of an adventure with these cars, you don't know how much wind to expect but I managed to put together a good lap without mistakes," he said on the grid after the session.

"It was a long time coming after a few qualifying sessions in the dry but not quite getting there.

"I think Red Bull are still favourites, they have the better race pace. They normally get us in the race, Max does a great job, Red Bull has a very good car, but we're going to do everything we can to stay ahead tomorrow and win the race, which would be an amazing way to start these next four races."

Sainz's teammate Leclerc had hoped to secure a 10th pole of the season, though he would not have started from the front due to the engine penalty, but was pleased for his colleague.

"It is difficult with the wind obviously from lap to lap but overall I did my best," he said.

"The last lap wasn't the best and Carlos did a better job today and deserves to be on pole.

"I will be starting a bit further back because for the penalty but the plan is to come back to the front as quickly as possible."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 1:34.356
2. Charles Leclerc* (Ferrari) +0.065
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.092
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.289
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.591
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.632
7. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1.242
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.334
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.520
10. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +1.963

* Received a 10-place grid penalty for exceeding quota of power unit elements and will start from 12th

Daniel Ricciardo's likely exit from Formula One demonstrates the ruthless nature of the sport and is a fate which could befall any driver, according to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

Ricciardo will leave McLaren at the end of an underwhelming 2022 campaign, to be replaced by Oscar Piastri. 

With only Williams and Haas possessing vacant seats for 2023 following Alpine's move for Pierre Gasly, Ricciardo recently acknowledged he was unlikely to remain on the grid next year.

The Australian, who has also been linked with a reserve position at Mercedes, said: "I think the reality is now I won't be on the grid in 2023, I think it's now just trying to set up for 2024."

Asked about Ricciardo's situation by Motorsport.com, Sainz expressed sympathy for his rival and said all F1 drivers were only as good as their last race.

"I feel for Daniel because I know how good he is. I always rated him super highly," Sainz said. "He found himself in a car and at a team that maybe he didn't find himself comfortable at, and that's enough for your career to start going through a different path.

"He might take a year off, he might not. But if he comes back in two years and he wins a race, no one remembers the two years with McLaren. 

"This is why in F1 you always need to focus on the next race, because in the next race you can change everyone's impression.

"Every driver knows this, because it happens to all of us at a lower scale at every race. You're always as good as your last race, unfortunately, in this sport. 

"If that gets amplified to a season, then you're only as good as your last season, and that's why Daniel is in such a difficult situation.

"No one remembers your good days, it only counts if you are half a second off in the last qualifying or the last season, and there's nothing we can do about it.

"It's how the sport rates us, it is how the sport treats us. That is why the highs are so high. When you win, you're a hero: your best weekend and you're the best driver in the world. No one is better than you. 

"But then, when you are going through a bad moment, it's a sport that is very tough."

Sergio Perez's Singapore Grand Prix victory was confirmed after an FIA investigation into an infringement involving safety cars only resulted in a five-second time penalty for the Mexican.

Perez overtook Charles Leclerc on the first corner of Sunday's race at the wet Marina Bay Street Circuit, protecting his lead throughout to claim a second win of the season and fourth of his career.

Numerous safety cars were deployed throughout the eventful race in slippery conditions, with an investigation opened by the stewards into a misdemeanour by Perez when racing under a yellow flag.

Ferrari called for two five-second time penalties on Perez, who finished seven seconds ahead of Leclerc, for not keeping within 10 car lengths of the safety car.

Both the Red Bull driver and Leclerc were called to the stewards' office for their version of events after the race, with Perez also investigated for pulling alongside the safety car to encourage it to speed up.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, reprimanded Perez for the first incident and gave him a five-second penalty for the second infringement, leaving the Red Bull racer two seconds ahead of Leclerc.

"Although the track was wet in parts, we do not accept that the conditions were such as to make it impossible or dangerous for Perez to have maintained the required less than 10 car length gap," the stewards said. 

"Nevertheless, we took into account the wet conditions and the difficulties highlighted by Perez as mitigatory circumstances for this incident and, accordingly, determine that a reprimand ought to be imposed.

"As this was the second breach of Article 55.10 by Perez during the race and followed an express warning from the race director, we determined to impose a five-second time penalty on Perez."

That leaves Perez trailing championship leader Max Verstappen by 106 points, with Leclerc in second as he sits 104 points behind the Dutchman.

Sergio Perez labelled the Singapore Grand Prix victory as his "best performance" after holding off Charles Leclerc on a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Ferrari driver Leclerc started on pole on Sunday ahead of Perez, who breezed into the lead at the first corner as Formula One racing returned to Singapore for the first time in three years.

The wet conditions that caused the race to be delayed by an hour were a problem throughout, with numerous safety cars deployed as five drivers failed to finish.

Perez held his nerve despite late pressure from Leclerc to claim his second victory of the season and fourth of his career to end Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen's five-race winning streak.

"It was certainly my best performance," Perez told Sky Sports after the conclusion. "I controlled the race.

"The last three laps were so intense – when I got out of the car, I felt it. I gave everything."

While Perez celebrated on the podium, stewards investigated a possible infringement behind the safety car – a misdemeanour that Ferrari deemed worthy of a 10-second time penalty.

"I have no idea what's going on, they just told me I was under investigation and to increase the gap," Perez added after finishing seven seconds ahead of Ferrari's Leclerc.

Leclerc's colleague Carlos Sainz settled for third after battling with Lewis Hamilton on the opening corner, with the Briton finishing in ninth after another frustrating outing.

"It was very tough out there," Sainz said. "I never really got into a rhythm in the wet and then couldn't challenge the top two guys.

"I had to settle for P3, but the good thing is I didn't do any mistakes and could bring the car home and be quick towards the end of the race. 

"It's a good result for the team in the Constructors' Championship."

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