Alex Palou, the 2021 IndyCar champion, has been named as one of McLaren's reserve drivers for the 2023 Formula One season.

The 25-year-old, who ran in testing with the outfit across the 2022 season, is set to balance his time in the cockpit with his schedule in IndyCar.

Earlier this year, Palou was involved in a dispute over his future, with McLaren and then-current team Ganassi both suggesting he was under contract for next year with them.

After the latter initially filed a lawsuit against the racer, it was settled for him to test, though now the Spaniard makes the step up inside McLaren's team structure.

"I'm excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023," Palou said in a statement. 

"I can't wait for the involvement with next year's car.

"I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the trust McLaren have in me with this new role next year."

McLaren were involved in a dispute over new driver Oscar Piastri too, after the latter left Alpine amid a bitter fallout over his future.

The Australian will succeed Daniel Ricciardo for the team on a contract through 2024, and will partner Lando Norris, with McLaren yet to confirm the remainder of their reserve driver pool.

Daniel Ricciardo has explained his decision not to pursue a race seat in Formula One for 2023, as he closes in on a non-racing role with Red Bull.

The Australian is poised to rejoin the team he left in 2018 in a position that may include reserve, promotional and simulator duties, with Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being his last with McLaren.

Although not confirmed, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has stated that Ricciardo will be joining the team, with Christian Horner welcoming the potential return of the driver on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

A non-racing role with Red Bull does not necessarily mean Ricciardo's time on the F1 grid is over, though he feels it was the right move in order to take a break from competition.

"I knew that I wanted some time off next year from a race seat and just from competition," he told Motorsport.com.

"It's obviously been pretty tiring the last couple of years with the struggles, so it was pretty clear to me shortly after the summer break that that was what I wanted, and what was going to be best for me.

"So then it was: 'Okay. What's the next best thing?' And the more I thought about it, to obviously be involved to some degree with a top team, that was obviously the preference.

"But it's not done. So that's why I haven't come out and confirmed it, because that's still the truth: it's not done. But I can obviously look you in the eye now and say it's the most likely option at this stage."

Ricciardo also feels this is the right move to assess where he wants to go long-term, giving him the ability to decide without affecting his week-to-week performances on the grid.

"Honestly, I think that's also in a way the beauty with this," he said. "It'll either fuel the fire and make me hungry and more motivated than ever, or it will actually be like 'oh, this is the right thing for you', and in that case then I must be really happy.

"Because as much as you go through highs and lows of racing, I'm still very happy with life, and am privileged to live a good one. So if next year I'm not interested in coming back, then I must be doing some really cool s***."

Helmut Marko says Daniel Ricciardo will be Red Bull's third driver in the 2023 Formula One season.

Ricciardo is without a seat on the grid next year after his McLaren contract was terminated 12 months before it was due to end.

The Australian paid the price for a disappointing season in which he has finished in the top 10 just six times, sitting 12th in the driver standings.

Ricciardo had stated that spending time away from F1 could be a "blessing in disguise", but Red Bull advisor Marko revealed he will have a part to play after all.

Marko told Sky Germany ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: "Ricciardo will be our third driver.

"We have so many sponsors, we have to do show runs and the like, so of course he's one of the most high profile and best suited."

Ricciardo spent five seasons with Red Bull before joining Renault for the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

World champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will remain Red Bull team-mates for the 2023 season.

Daniel Ricciardo believes spending time away from Formula One could act as a "blessing in disguise" after seeing his chances of staying on the grid next year diminish.

Since McLaren announced an early termination of Ricciardo's contract in August, the Australian has seen several vacant seats filled ahead of next season. 

Only Haas now have an empty seat on the grid for 2023, but Ricciardo is not interested in joining the team.

Ricciardo offered a reminder of his quality when he overcame a 10-second penalty to finish seventh at Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix, and believes the opportunity to reflect on his achievements may allow him to return stronger in 2024.

Looking ahead to the 2023 campaign when speaking to Sky Sports, Ricciardo acknowledged: "I can confidently say I won't be on the grid, behind a wheel. 

"But I still want to be in the sport, I want to be working with a team, still with the ambition to be back on the grid in 2024.

"I feel like a bit of time away from a race seat will actually do me good, and then [I'll] try to rebuild something for 2024.

"The way the seasons are, it's pretty relentless, you don't really get a chance to rebuild.

"Everyone's different, but I truly believe that will be, in a way, a blessing in disguise for me. By doing less, I'll achieve more."

Ricciardo has been linked with a reserve role at Mercedes since conceding a seat was unlikely for next year, but the Silver Arrows' team principal Toto Wolff was giving nothing away when asked about a potential move.

"We very much like him; he's a great character," Wolff said. "But we are not in a position yet to decide who is going to do reserve and be third driver."

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 secured a fourth Formula One triumph and second of the season as he dominated at the Singapore Grand Prix, ending Max Verstappen's five-race winning streak.

Verstappen headed into Sunday's race with a 116-point lead at the top of the championship, aiming for a sixth straight win and 12th victory of 2022 as he edges towards the title.

Yet it was Red Bull team-mate Perez who added to his Monaco Grand Prix crown earlier in the year by winning at a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit, where safety cars were a regular feature.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished in second and third respectively, with Verstappen's championship lead over the Monegasque driver dropping to 104 points after the Dutchman came in seventh.

After an hour-long delay, Perez raced out the blocks to take the lead from Leclerc, while Lewis Hamilton recovered after being forced off the track in a battle with Sainz.

A plethora of safety cars followed as Zhou Guanyu, Nicholas Latifi, Fernando Alonso, Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon all retired inside the first 28 laps.

Perez continued to clock the fastest laps at the front before Hamilton – frustrated by Sainz in third – slammed into the barriers, with Lando Norris overtaking his fellow Briton.

Yuki Tsunoda's crash saw another safety car deployed before Verstappen swerved off the track to drop down to 12th, though he recovered to overtake Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas.

Perez's domination under the lights continued despite the push of Leclerc as the Red Bull driver claimed victory at the first F1 race in Singapore in three years.

'I TOLD YOU' – HAMILTON BEMOANS MERCEDES TYRE DECISION

Hamilton started the race in third but fell down a place after a first-corner battle with Sainz saw the seven-time world champion edged off the track.

"I told you about these tyres, in future you need to listen to me. No grip," Hamilton declared on the team radio soon after, lamenting Mercedes' late decision to operate on intermediate tyres.

It was not the first time Hamilton – who ended in ninth – has exchanged such words with his team, adding to a frustrating season that could end without a single victory for the first time in his career.

ALONSO DENIED HISTORY

Alpine's Alonso was aiming to surpass Kimi Raikkonen for the most Grand Prix finishes in history as the Spaniard looked to complete his 351st race.

But after stating "engine, engine" on the team radio, Alonso was forced to withdraw before the halfway point in Singapore, leaving him waiting to overtake Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo has described the prospect of taking a Formula One reserve role in 2023 as "realistic" ahead of his McLaren exit.

Ricciardo has been linked with vacant seats at several teams since McLaren announced an early termination of his contract in August, with spots at Alpine, Williams and Haas up for grabs.

The Australian has struggled for consistency this year, and sits 14th in the drivers' championship standings after finishing just four of his 16 races in the top 10.

Ricciardo has also been linked with reserve roles at F1 heavyweights Red Bull and Mercedes, and recently said his desire to "get back to winning" will be a key consideration when he makes a decision on his future.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, Ricciardo said his preference remained a permanent spot on the grid, but refused to rule out taking a back-up role.  

"Let's say my head space is in the same space," he said on Thursday. "I'm still keen to be part of F1 and of course, plan A would be to be on the grid.

"So nothing's changed but I don't want to just jump at the first kind of seat available. 

"I know the landscape probably changes as well at the end of next year, with contracts and whatever, so I don't want to say I'm remaining patient, but remaining open."

Asked about the prospect of taking a reserve role, Ricciardo added: "It's certainly something that's realistic, yeah.

"That's the two realistic options. It's not to be anywhere else. I love other disciplines of motorsport but I don't see myself there. 

"I feel as well if I jump into something like that, it closes the door on F1. It kind of feels like I've checked out, and I haven't. So I'm solely focused on F1.

"My team is talking with, I want to say, pretty much everyone, or they're having conversations, so we're just trying to put it all together and figure out what makes the most sense.

"So it's not that they're not calling or they're not interested, I'm not coming from a place of overconfidence, but we're just doing our due diligence and figuring out what's best.

"I'm trying to see beyond next year. Of course, I want to be racing but I also don't want to just look at the next 12 months and not look at the next 24.

"I guess I don't want to just race to race, I want to race with a true belief or understanding that I could be back on the podium, ultimately."

Oscar Piastri described Alpine's attempts to announce him in their 2023 driver line-up as "very upsetting" after motorsport's governing body ruled he could sign for McLaren.

Alpine and McLaren were locked in a battle for the services of the 21-year-old, who was a member of Alpine's junior programme and held reserve status with the team this season.

Both teams were in need of a new driver ahead of the 2023 campaign after Fernando Alonso announced he would be leaving Alpine for Aston Martin, while McLaren agreed an early termination of Daniel Ricciardo's deal.

In August, Alpine announced Piastri as a new driver for next year, only for the Australian to deny he had agreed to take a seat with the team.

Friday's ruling by the FIA's contract recognition board (CRB) left Piastri free to partner Lando Norris for McLaren next year, and he has hit out at Alpine's decision to make what he feels was a "false" announcement regarding his future.

"My decision was made well in advance [of Alonso's departure], which made Alpine's announcement probably even more confusing and upsetting because we had told the team that I wasn't going to continue," Piastri told Formula One's website.

"It was quite upsetting as the announcement was false and it also denied me the opportunity to properly say goodbye to everyone.

"I had been with the team for a bit over two and a half years now, and for the rest of the team to find out I was leaving in that manner was very upsetting.

"I still haven't had the opportunity to say goodbye and it's something I want to do, to show my gratitude to all the men and women at Enstone."

Piastri moved to defend his social media intervention following Alpine's announcement, claiming his decision to speak out was a necessary measure. 

"It [the announcement] was done publicly in front of some members of the team who were oblivious to the situation and I didn't want to cause a scene in front of them. It was the biggest moment of my career and probably my life up to now," he said.

"To have that falsely announced was something my management and I felt we had to correct and there was also potential legal implications if we didn't deny the announcement.

"It was not intended to be pointed or in any way anything more than factual. The last line was quite a strong one, but with the CRB ruling, it shows it was purely a fact."

Regarding his decision to seek an exit from Alpine, Piastri pointed to what he described as a "breakdown in trust" between himself and the team's hierarchy.

"To be completely honest, there was a lack of clarity around my future at the team at Alpine," he said. "They publicly stated they wished to continue with Fernando for at least one or two more years. I respect that.

"But after spending the year out, my hopes were firmly set on an Alpine seat and the lack of clarity and, similarly to Fernando, a bit of a strange feeling in negotiations… it didn't feel like it was the right decision for me [to stay].

"The lack of clarity around my future, and ultimately a breakdown in trust, I felt the very attractive offer of McLaren, and the positive dealings with them thus far were all reasons why I felt McLaren was where I was best off for the future."

The FIA's Contract Recognition Board has ruled in favour of McLaren on Oscar Piastri, allowing the Australian to take a seat with the team on the grid from 2023.

Alpine and McLaren were locked in a battle over the services of the 21-year-old, who was a member of Alpine's junior programme and held reserve status with the team this season.

Fernando Alonso's announcement that he would be leaving Alpine for Aston Martin sparked a domino effect in the market, with Alpine then announcing Piastri would take a seat next year.

However, Piastri then took to social media to deny he had agreed to race for the team, with it widely understood he had instead reached an agreement with McLaren - who confirmed Daniel Ricciardo would leave at the end of the season.

Both teams believed they had a valid contract for Piastri, with the case then being heard by the CRB this week - who have now ruled in favour of McLaren.

"The only Contract to be recognised by is the Contract between McLaren Racing Limited and Mr Piastri dated 4 July 2022. Mr Piastri is entitled to drive for McLaren Racing for the 2023 and 2024 seasons," the CRB said.

McLaren swiftly announced Piastri as their 2023 driver alongside Lando Norris and Piastri spoke of his delight at joining the team.

"I'm extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I'm very grateful for the opportunity that’s been offered to me," he said.

"The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I'm looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid. I'm focused on preparing for my F1 debut in 2023 and starting my F1 career in papaya."

Alpine will now be on the hunt for a driver to sit alongside Esteban Ocon next season, with widespread reports Pierre Gasly will join from AlphaTauri, ending his long association with Red Bull, and the team said an announcement on their line-up would be made in due course.

"BWT Alpine F1 Team thanks the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) for convening on Monday and we acknowledge the decision they have made," they stated on Twitter.

"We consider the matter closed on our side and will announce our full 2023 driver line-up in due course. Our immediate focus is the Dutch Grand Prix and securing points in our fight for fourth in the Constructors' Championship."

Alpine is fourth in the Constructors' Championship on 115 points, 20 points ahead of McLaren.

The resumption of the Formula One season last weekend resulted in a rather strange race in Belgium, with many out-of-position drivers due to various penalties.

Not that it mattered to Max Verstappen though, who worked his way through the pack to secure victory having started 14th on the grid – extending his lead in the title race to 93 points.

With such a strong grip on the title, a far-cry from the events last year in his fierce battle with Lewis Hamilton, attention for many has already started to shift towards the 2023 season.

Seats for next year are still yet to be fully decided and there are plenty of big names in the mix, including Daniel Ricciardo after his exit from McLaren was announced prior to the last race.

For Verstappen though, there's still plenty to achieve. A victory on home soil in the Netherlands this weekend would see the Red Bull ace become the first driver to win back-to-back races at Zandvoort since James Hunt in 1975 and 1976.

Another win would also be his 10th of the season, equalling the tally he achieved last year in his maiden title win. With nine wins from 14 races, Verstappen's win percentage of 64.3 is the highest in F1 history.

 

Ferrari's race regrets

Ferrari have achieved eight pole positions in F1 this season, the most since the nine secured in 2019. Prior to that, the highest they achieved was 12 in 2004. For Charles Leclerc, his seven poles equal his best-ever return, which he set in 2019.

While the qualifying has yielded success, the races have not and Leclerc's title push has suffered as a result – with just one podium finish in the last nine rounds, having started the season with four podiums in five races.

Now third in the standings and 98 points behind Verstappen, Leclerc and Ferrari may well be wondering what might have been.

Alpine and McLaren fight

After a week in front of the FIA hearing on the tussle surrounding Oscar Piastri, Alpine and McLaren's fight will return to the track as they compete for the 'best of the rest' tag in F1 beneath Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Alpine have a 20-point advantage in the constructor's standings, capitalising in Belgium with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon finishing fifth and sixth respectively, while both McLarens finished outside the points.

That marked the fourth race in a row that Alpine saw both drivers finish inside the top 10, with McLaren at a disadvantage given Ricciardo's struggles in 2022.

The FIA hearing regarding the contract dispute between Alpine and McLaren over Oscar Piastri started on Monday.

During the mid-season break, Alpine announced that Piastri, their reserve driver and part of their young driver programme, would be racing for the team in 2023 following Fernando Alonso's move to Aston Martin.

The Australian later took to social media to deny that claim, however, with Piastri and his manager, former F1 driver Mark Webber, believing he has a valid contract to move to McLaren – who want him to replace Daniel Ricciardo next year.

With both teams believing they hold a valid contract for Piastri, the FIA will settle the situation in a hearing this week, and while no set timeframe has been stated, it is expected an outcome will occur before Friday.

The FIA's contract recognition board will hear the case, and was first set up in 1992 to settle a dispute between Jordan and Bennetton over Michael Schumacher.

Although the FIA could side with Alpine, the French team may feel the relationship is too damaged to partner for 2023 and could then sell him to McLaren, or trade the driver elsewhere on the grid – with reported interest in Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri.

Either way, an available seat at Alpine or McLaren will quickly become the hottest property for drivers to secure a spot for 2023 and will be highly competitive.

AlphaTauri, Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas are the other teams remaining on the grid not to have fully announced their driver line-up for next season.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer is "confident" the ruling over Oscar Piastri's contract will fall in their favour with the dispute set to go before the Formula One contract recognition board (CRB).

Following Fernando Alonso's decision to leave Alpine, the team announced that reserve driver Piastri would replace the Spaniard for the 2023 season.

However, the Australian contradicted this claim when he released a statement on his social media platforms, stating that he would not be driving for Alpine the following year.

Piastri is understood to have committed to McLaren, who are not commenting publicly on the matter.

But speaking ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, Szafnauer is adamant Alpine had all bases covered when securing his services.

"We will have the CRB decide which contract Oscar signed takes precedence and after that, we will see where we go," he said.

"There are certain things that need to be in the contract [to secure Piastri], and I am confident they are in there.

"Once we have all the information in front of us, we will start looking at who will fill the open seat."

However, Szafnauer did accept Alpine were hasty with their announcement, having raised eyebrows by doing so without a statement from Piastri.

"I told Oscar before the announcement was made," Szafnauer added. "He happened to be in the simulator, so I went and found him. He smiled and was thankful, so we made the release very quickly.

"Things happen very quickly. We too reacted quickly and didn't want to go back and forth with his management, which is why we put the release out."

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will each start from the back of the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix after receiving penalties following power unit changes.

Verstappen leads Ferrari rival Leclerc by 80 points in the Formula One drivers' championship, having won eight of the 13 races so far this season.

However, the Red Bull man, who came from 10th on the grid to win the Hungarian Grand Prix prior to the mid-season break, will have to fight his way through the field to triumph at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.

Verstappen won in Belgium last year in a race reduced to two laps behind the safety car because of a deluge that made racing unsafe.

The Dutchman, who was born in Belgium under two hours away from the circuit, has had all the components of his power unit replaced.

Leclerc, meanwhile, has taken on a fifth power unit of the season as well as a new gearbox.

Joining the title rivals at the back will be McLaren's Lando Norris, Alpine's Esteban Ocon, Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo.

Norris, Ocon and Bottas have seen their teams opt to change their engines, while Schumacher is taking on a new control electronics unit.

The grid shake-up could put Mercedes in position to claim their first win of a difficult season, while Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez and Leclerc's fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz will each fancy their chances of winning for the second time in 2022.

Daniel Ricciardo will only remain in Formula One "under the right circumstances" and would only return to the circuit with a team that will help him fight to get back on the podiums.

Ricciardo was contracted to McLaren until the end of the 2023 season, but the agreement was cut short following underwhelming results amid continuous struggles with the car.

Alfa Romeo, Haas, AlphaTauri and Williams have vacant driver spots for the next grid, though, as the Australian's future team and position remains unclear.

The 33-year-old is yet to reveal his intentions, but wants to remain competitive in whichever team he signs for, and is even considering a break if no one can offer the right seat on the grid.

"I want to get back to winning, I want to get back to fighting for podiums and wins," he told Sky Sports F1 ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. 

"That's what gives me the most happiness. One thing that has remained unchanged for me is I've never wanted to be a driver just to be on the grid.

"Of course, I love this sport and I love everything that comes with it. But at this point in my career, it's just about winning.

"Under the right circumstances, the right opportunity, absolutely it's where I want to be, but obviously I might not have every option available."

Ricciardo has history with Alpine – the former Renault team he left in 2020 for rivals McLaren – and speculation persists as to whether he would return to his former team under their new name.

That largely depends on the ongoings between Oscar Piastri and McLaren, who are embroiled in a battle with Alpine to secure the driver's signature.

Asked if he would consider a return to his former side under a new guise, Ricciardo responded: "Yes. I don't know how else to say that. I'd say, if it's right.

"Obviously, it was tough because we made the announcement [joining McLaren] before racing had even started in that year. It was Covid and there was a lot going on.

"For sure, it was a little bit awkward for a bit, but once we were racing and had the year we had, I think everyone saw I was dedicated to make the most of that year.

"We'll see what feels right and is right, but it's purely going to be on where I feel I can be the most competitive."

While talks continues as to who Ricciardo will sign with, he admits he has received numerous offers, but will not be rushed into a decision.

"I don't want to make rash decisions, I want to get racing then see what feels right once I get the helmet back on," he added.

"I haven't signed anything. At this moment, I'm a free man so to speak."

Ricciardo also explained how he was targeting a team who were competitive immediately.

"When you understand a team a little bit more and if what you see is inspiring and motivating, you can quickly change your thought process [on a long-term project]," he continued.

"But I won't lie, I would like results quicker rather than later. But I am very open to what the future may hold, so I'm not going to sit here and shut anything down."

McLaren have announced that Daniel Ricciardo will be leaving the team at the end of the 2022 season, freeing up a spot for Oscar Piastri.

The Australian was contracted with McLaren until the end of the 2023 season but, amid disappointing results, that agreement has been cut short and Ricciardo's final race for the team will be in Abu Dhabi later this year.

Ricciardo's frustrating spell at McLaren will be a disappointment for all parties and comes following an equally frustrating stint at Renault, where he moved after his time with Red Bull.

It remains to be seen whether Ricciardo will continue in Formula One, with the 33-year-old stating he will announce his next move in due course.

"Regardless of what this next chapter brings, I have no regrets and am proud of the effort and work I gave McLaren, especially the win in Monza, last season," he said.

"I've enjoyed working with everyone at McLaren both trackside and back in Woking [at the factory] and will be giving my all on and off track as we enjoy the remainder of the season together.

"I've never been more motivated to compete and be a part of a sport that I love so much and look forward to what comes next."

Ricciardo has been consistently outperformed by team-mate Lando Norris this season and his position was clearly under threat, with McLaren widely reported to have an agreement in place with Piastri.

The battle for Piastri has seen McLaren tussle with Alpine, who announced during the season break that he would drive for the team in 2023, though that was later denied on social media by the driver himself.

While an agreement between the teams will have to be reached, it is expected Piastri will indeed wear the orange of McLaren as he has no desire to race for Alpine, who have also lost Fernando Alonso for next season.

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