How does Formula One go about following up the epic 2021 season?

Well, until that stunning campaign stole the show, this year was long seen as the one to look forward to with the introduction of new regulations to encourage competitive racing right down the grid.

Lewis Hamilton might have expected a genuine challenge in 2022; instead, in the form of Max Verstappen, it arrived 12 months early.

Excitement for the coming campaign is therefore at an all-time high, with pre-season testing adding to the theory fans should expect the unexpected.

Forecasting the year ahead is tricky, but Stats Perform seeks to identify the key narratives to follow this season ahead of Sunday's 2022 opener in Bahrain.

Max vs Lewis again

For now at least, Verstappen and Hamilton will expect to be the title frontrunners, which should mean another classic campaign.

Verstappen had never even led the standings until winning last year's Monaco Grand Prix, the first of five consecutive Red Bull wins – including four for the Dutchman.

That sequence ended at Silverstone, where contact with Hamilton sent Verstappen into the wall and set the tone for the rest of a frantic season, in which the pair repeatedly went at one another, crashing at Monza.

A titanic back-and-forth deserved a better ending than to be decided by a contentious call from race director Michael Masi in Abu Dhabi.

Now, defending champion Verstappen can attempt to prove he is better than Hamilton regardless of that decision, while the Mercedes man seeks to show his class once again as he pursues a record eighth title.

The midfield challenge

The game-changing 2022 regulations sought to enforce "closer racing", meaning both Verstappen and Hamilton could come under threat rather than simply blowing away the competition.

Early signs are encouraging on that front, with the two title rivals name-checking Ferrari's superb pre-season showing in the past week.

A resurgent Scuderia represent an obvious danger to those two, but so too do McLaren, Ferrari's midfield neighbours in recent seasons.

Lando Norris had four podiums last season before tailing off to finish sixth in the drivers' championship – still two places ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who endured a tough first year with the team despite a famous win at Monza.

Having been aided by changes to the car for 2022, it is up to Ferrari and McLaren to close the gap considerably to Red Bull and Mercedes.

George a genuine threat?

Of course, Verstappen and Hamilton might typically expect their biggest challenges to come from those in the same cars.

However, Sergio Perez played the role of supporting Red Bull team-mate brilliantly in some key moments last year, while Valtteri Bottas continued to do his own thing without worrying Hamilton.

How a change in the Mercedes garage alters things remains to be seen. Bottas has been replaced by George Russell, who will hope to quickly make his mark.

Russell deputised for Hamilton for a single race the year before last and impressed, so it will be interesting to see if he now intends to push his legendary colleague all the way or will initially settle instead for helping his title bid.

Impact of refereeing reform

It is not only the cars that have had a makeover this year, with the officiating structure reorganised in the aftermath of the criticism aimed at Masi.

He is out as race director, with two men, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, taking his place, while other changes include the introduction of a "virtual race control room" to "assist the race director in the decision-making process".

Whether these changes suitably appease the team principals, who grew increasingly furious with each controversy last year, remains to be seen.

All parties would agree they would rather see the championship decided on the track – but it is not always as straightforward as that.

Following an eventful, dramatic and – dare we say it – the best Formula One season to date, the 2022 campaign has plenty to live up to.

Lewis Hamilton is going in search of a record eighth world title at the second time of asking after missing out to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the final race in 2021.

Reigning champion Verstappen is himself seeking some personal history this coming campaign, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

Ahead of what will hopefully be an equally as gripping season this time around, Stats Perform picks out some of the key numbers.

 

Hamilton narrowly missed out on surpassing Michael Schumacher as F1's most successful driver, though he has not missed out on top spot in successive years since joining Mercedes in 2013.

Should he match his achievement from last year, Red Bull's Verstappen (25 years, two months) would surpass Fernandes Alonso (25y, 2m, 23 days) as the second-youngest multiple world champion, behind only Sebastian Vettel (24y, 3m).

Mercedes may have suffered disappointment last time out, but they still finished top of the constructors' standings for a record-extending eighth time in a row. They are one short of equalling Williams as the second-most successful team, though Ferrari (16) are still well out in front.

In terms of other team milestones, Bahrain will be the 250th GP Mercedes have competed in, while they are six fastest laps away from setting 100. McLaren, meanwhile, are seven podiums from reaching 500 in F1.

Joining Hamilton at Mercedes this season is compatriot George Russell, who along with McLaren's Lando Norris is aiming to become the first Briton other than Hamilton to win a race since Jenson Button in 2012.

Bottas is now at Alfa Romeo and is joined by Guanyu Zhou, who will be China's first ever representative on the grid, making them the 39th country to appear in F1. Indeed, it is the first time three Asian countries will be represented, with Alex Albon (Thailand) and Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) also featuring.

 

Now 14 years on from their most recent constructors' title, Ferrari will equal their worst-such streak – 15 years between 1984 and 1998 – if they again miss out this term.

Carlos Sainz is Ferrari's big hope and he has either matched or bettered his performance from the previous season – both in terms of points and position – over the past six years when racing for just one team.

While his title chances are slim at best, Fernando Alonso has the opportunity to become the driver with the biggest margin between F1 titles of all time, 16 years on from his most recent success. 

Twenty-two events are currently locked in the F1 calendar for this year, with Miami set to become the 77th different circuit used when it hosts its maiden GP in May. It will be the 11th different track used in the United States, which is the most of any country.

Sebastian Vettel will miss the opening race of the 2022 Formula One World Championship after the Aston Martin driver was ruled out of the Bahrain Grand Prix following a positive test for COVID-19.

The four-time world champion will be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg for the first event of the season, marking his first F1 race since 2020 and coincidentally taking place at the same venue where he made his debut with Williams in 2010.

Vettel, who headed up Aston Martin's return to F1 last year, secured a second-place podium finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in his maiden season with the team.

But the former Red Bull driver, who dominated the drivers' championship across a four-year stretch between 2010 and 2013, struggled to maintain that form across the rest of the campaign.

Hulkenberg will race alongside Lance Stroll this weekend and will take control of the car from FP1 on Friday.

Elsewhere, McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo will be fit to feature after missing the last week of testing through coronavirus.

The Australian, however, has since returned a negative test and will feature for the team this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo has tested positive for COVID-19, in a blow to his preparations for the first grand prix of the Formula One season.

The team expect the 32-year-old Australian to be out of isolation in time to compete at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the race scheduled for Sunday, March 20.

The news still comes at an unfortunate time for McLaren, who are looking to build upon their fourth-place finish in last year's constructors' championship.

Ricciardo's positive test was confirmed on Friday's second day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit.

"McLaren Racing can confirm that after feeling unwell from Wednesday onwards in Bahrain, Daniel Ricciardo has now returned a positive PCR test for COVID-19," a team statement read.

"Daniel is therefore continuing to isolate in accordance with local regulations.

"Under these regulations Daniel will be released in time for next weekend's Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Daniel is already beginning to feel better, and we wish him well for a quick recovery.

"Following this, we can confirm that Lando Norris will remain in the MCL36 for the final day of the official pre-season test in Bahrain tomorrow."

Ricciardo said on Twitter that he was already "starting to feel better".

Lando Norris has agreed to extend his stay with McLaren through to 2025, the team announced on Wednesday.

It was confirmed by the British constructor back at the Monaco Grand Prix that an option to prolong Norris' stay for multiple years had been exercised.

An agreement has now been reached for the Briton to stay with McLaren for the next four seasons, starting in 2022.

"Teams are about people, and I love the people and feel at home at McLaren. I have grown up in this team and I'm part of this journey we're all on," Norris said via a McLaren statement.

"Last season was another great step, both in my career and the team's performance, and I see and feel all the work, investment, and commitment for the team to be in a position to challenge for wins and titles in the future. 

"This all gives me huge confidence looking forward, so it was a natural decision to extend our relationship for the next few years."

Norris has a relationship with McLaren dating back to 2017 and was reserve driver for two years before gaining a full seat in 2019.

There has been steady progression of the past three seasons, with Norris finishing 11th in his debut campaign, ninth in 2020 (which also yielded a first podium), and sixth in 2021 where he had four podium finishes and a first pole position.

Team principal Andreas Seidl added: "The opportunity to extend our relationship with Lando reflects not only our commitment but our belief and confidence in his talent. 

"It is also a strong sign of trust and commitment from Lando in us as a team and our journey to world championship contention. 

"Lando has shown impressive growth as a Formula One driver over the past four years and has been an instrumental part of the team's momentum and performance trajectory. 

"We are still on our journey to fight at the front and Lando is a key element of our plan, so to lock him into place, alongside Daniel and our senior leadership, gives us stability and continuity as we build towards our ultimate shared goal of world championships."

The new F1 season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix next month.

Lando Norris believes he can benefit from the heartbreak of dramatically missing out on victory at the Russian Grand Prix.

Norris was three laps away from claiming his maiden Formula One victory but was denied by rain in Sochi last Sunday.

He spun off the track after the decision was made that he would stay out on slicks, eventually finishing seventh as Lewis Hamilton claimed a 100th F1 win.

The McLaren driver was left devastated having come so close to his first win but says he will learn from the painful experience.

"It's not just something people say, it definitely is true [that tough experiences make you stronger],” Norris told F1.com.

"You do learn probably more from the hard moments. You always learn things. Even if you win a race, you can learn things.

"Definitely when you have to make these split-second decisions, when it's not an easy decision, and you need so many different factors involved, there is a lot of things you can learn.

"I feel like I have a long career in F1, it's nice in a way to get it out early, so that when these things arise in the future, or in my future years in F1, I’ll be able to react better."

The 21-year-old expressed his gratitude for the support he has received since the race in Russia.

"I got quite a few messages and not necessarily from drivers. Obviously everyone within McLaren and a lot of people even from different sports," he added.

"It was more of a time when people see it as an emotion-attached sport, rather than cars driving round in circles, as lot of people like to say.

"So I guess they saw the feelings we have as drivers, the passion we have for the sport, the desire to win. You want to do the best job you can for the team.

"I got a lot of messages from a lot of people which in some ways help. There were a lot of 'Your time will come!' But no matter what, they definitely helped."

Lewis Hamilton collected his 100th Formula One victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday after pipping Lando Norris to top spot.

Norris, who secured pole position and was eyeing a maiden victory, spun off the track with three laps to go as rain started to cause chaos in Sochi.

That allowed Hamilton to capitalise and sneak into a late lead to secure his century of race victories, the first F1 driver to achieve such a haul.

McLaren, who collected their first win since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix last time out, were left heartbroken as Norris limped to a seventh-placed finish, with Max Verstappen making important ground to finish second.

Verstappen, who led the championship going into the race, had started from the back of the grid after Red Bull had a new engine installed, but he magnificently recovered to make the podium and ensure Hamilton moves into just a two-point lead.

Carlos Sainz took the lead on the first corner, with Norris, George Russell and Lance Stroll in close company.

Daniel Ricciardo, who would eventually settle for fourth, was back in fifth as Hamilton and Fernando Alonso looked to make ground on the McLaren man who was the shock Monza winner.

Verstappen, meanwhile, was climbing slowly up the grid as he overtook Valtteri Bottas and then Charles Leclerc, moving ominously through the field.

Norris' pole position looked to be paying off when Alonso and Perez had to pit, giving the 21-year-old the lead with 16 laps to go.

He had Hamilton in close company four laps later, and it appeared to be a two-car battle as the Englishmen jostled for first place.

Hamilton took the lead 11 laps later and went on to win as Norris spun out, with Verstappen coasting to his podium placing after making the smart decision to put the intermediate tyres on early.


Mercedes magic

Mercedes made the early decision to put on the inters as their rain radar suggested the wet weather was going to come before the finale.

With others choosing to stick out there and get through it, Hamilton surged into a late lead as Norris' tyres failed him, while Bottas climbed up from 17th on the grid to finish fifth to prove the Mercedes team's decision was an excellent one.

McLaren mistake

A visibly upset Norris addressed the television cameras after the race in Sochi but stood by the decision to stay out there.

The Briton battled to pole position in the adverse conditions the previous day but, for as long as Norris remains without a race win, this will resemble a missed opportunity for him and for McLaren to collect back-to-back wins after their success in Monza.


IN THE POINTS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +53.271
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +1:02.475
4. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1:05.607
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1:07.533
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1:21.321
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1:27.224
8. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +1:28.955
9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +1:30.076
10. George Russell (Williams) 1:40.551

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 246.5
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 244.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 151
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 139
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 120

Constructors

1. Mercedes 397.5
2. Red Bull 364.5
3. McLaren 234
4. Ferrari 216.5
5. Alpine 103

WHAT'S NEXT?

There is another two-week gap until the next race, which is the rearranged Turkish Grand Prix.

Lando Norris will endeavour to make the most of his "amazing" maiden pole position at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 21-year-old British driver finished quickest in his McLaren in Sochi on Saturday, edging out Carlos Sainz, while compatriot George Russell was third.

Lewis Hamilton will start from fourth on the grid, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, while Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll make up the rest of the front eight.

Championship leader Max Verstappen will start from the back of the grid after his Red Bull had a new engine installed.

Norris, who made his Formula One debut in 2019, hopes to capitalise on a shock opportunity after a thrilling rain-affected qualifying session.

"It’s my first in X number of races, and it could be my only pole for a while. It feels amazing, especially in these conditions," Norris told a media conference.

"Another race win for McLaren would be lovely. But I don’t expect so, I think Mercedes are a long way up the road from us and Red Bull probably similar.

"I think with either conditions I can look forward to it. We can score some good points, we can have a good race, because we are in the best position possible."

Norris joked the circuit in Sochi was not ideal for his first-ever pole but is hopeful he can make a good start to the race.

He added: "Probably the only place I wouldn’t want to be pole is here, especially with the straight down to turn one, but I’m still very happy.

"We saw that the cars are in a good position, in the wet now and also in the dry. It's a long run down to turn one or turn two, so I have to look forward to that and make sure I prepare for that well."

Ferrari driver Sainz acknowledged the front two can expect to be tested by their rivals, but the nature of the track may give them some assistance.

"It’s a strange circuit, this one, because obviously race pace is important and we need to see how easy it is to overtake," said the Spaniard.

"Normally in the past it has been quite tricky. Obviously, we have the two Mercs and the Red Bull that are going to be pushing us a lot.

"They are clearly, around here, half a second to a second quicker than us, so at some point they will put pressure on us and we will need to see if we can keep ourselves ahead.

"Obviously, the target is to finish ahead of them, try to get Lando at the start – although I am starting on the dirty side, he is at least starting on the clean side – and see from there if we can race hard and have some fun at the front."

Lando Norris claimed a famous maiden pole position for McLaren at the Russian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton paid the price for a crash in the pits.

Norris went quickest in rain-soaked Sochi, edging out Carlos Sainz by six hundredths of a second, while Williams' George Russell was third.

With championship leader Max Verstappen ordered to start from the back of the grid after his Red Bull had a new engine installed, there was a chance for Hamilton to put pressure on his main rival.

However, the seven-time champion collided with the pit-lane wall and was forced to change his front wing before spinning on his final lap.

Hamilton will start from fourth on the grid, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, while Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll make up the rest of the front eight.

"Oh, boy. I don't know what to say," said a breathless Norris. "You never think you're going to get a pole until you get it, and now I've managed to do it.

"It was tricky. The lap before, I was, like, two seconds down and I wasn't confident we were going to improve on the previous lap, but I kept the tyres warm and risked quite a bit, I will admit, but it paid off. I'm a happy boy.

"I'm not really looking forward to [the race]! I'm not looking forward to being the first down to turn one. But you never know – it's going to set us up well. I'm just really happy."

After third practice was cancelled due to the torrential rain, Hamilton had set the fastest time heading into Q3, ahead of team-mate Bottas and Alonso.

Hamilton looked heavy favourite after clocking a new fastest time until his mishap as he came into the pits to change to soft tyres.

With time enough only for one more lap, the Briton spun and nudged the wall, leaving him unable to deny Norris a famous day in Russia as McLaren celebrated a first pole since 2012.

"Twice in the wall... that's very rare for me," said Hamilton. "I'm really sorry to all the team because that's not what you expect from a champion."

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lando Norris (McLaren) 1:41:993
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.517
3. George Russell (Williams) +0.990
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +2.057
5. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +2.163
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +2.211
7. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +2.717
8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +2.963
9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +3.344
10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +3.872

Lewis Hamilton will start the Italian Grand Prix in fourth after being made to pay for a slow start to Saturday's sprint race at Monza, which saw Valtteri Bottas come out on top.

Mercedes driver Hamilton started in second but dropped to fifth early on and only managed to recover one place in the half-hour 18-lap race.

Bottas took control of the sprint – just the second ever after the inaugural event at Silverstone in July – and finished in front of Max Verstappen to take three points.

However, the Finn will start from the back of the grid on Sunday after taking a penalty for a power unit change, meaning that Verstappen moves into pole position.

With his second-placed finish, Verstappen also extends his World Championship lead over Hamilton by two points, while Daniel Ricciardo completed the top three.

"I feel good. It feels like it has been a while to finish first in a race," Bottas told Sky Sports.

"Unfortunately I'm starting from the back tomorrow but the speed is there, so I'll be fighting and coming as high as I can. Today, I enjoy and it was a clean race. We had a good pace. All good.

"Tomorrow is not going to be easy, that's for sure. The train of cars with DRS, it's not easy but obviously strategy-wise, still a free choice of tyres for the start, so let's see if we can do something."

The race got off to a frantic start as Pierre Gasly, who triumphed on this circuit last year, crashed out on Turn 1 after clipping Ricciardo  and losing control of his AlphaTauri.

The safety car was deployed for the next three laps and McLaren pair Ricciardo and Lando Norris were able to successfully stay in front of Hamilton.

Hamilton did not have a chance to attack Norris, though he did at least stay clear of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, the Ferrari duo finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

Lando Norris has been cleared to race in the Belgian Grand Prix after crashing during a wet qualifying session on Saturday.

Norris spun into the barriers at Raidillon in Q3 and was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary X-ray of his elbow.

McLaren later revealed the 21-year-old has been given the green light to get back behind the wheel at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday.

The team posted on Twitter: "Following precautionary checks after an accident during qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix, Lando Norris has been cleared to compete in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix by the trackside doctor and FIA medical delegate."

Norris had been quickest in each of the first two segments of qualifying before spinning off at high speed in challenging conditions.

Max Verstappen nipped in with a magnificent lap to take pole ahead of George Russell, who took a shock place on the front row with a stunning drive.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start the first race following the mid-summer break in third place.

Red Bull have said they are "disgusted and saddened" to see their on-track Formula One rival Lewis Hamilton targeted by online racist abuse.

Formula 1, the FIA and Mercedes released a joint statement on Monday condemning the "unacceptable" abuse aimed at Hamilton following his collision with Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton claimed a dramatic victory in Sunday's home race at Silverstone after overtaking Charles Leclerc towards the end.

Red Bull were unhappy with Hamilton over an incident which contributed to them scoring zero points, but they were unequivocal in their stance on the racist abuse he has received as a result.

"While we may be fierce rivals on-track, we are all united against racism," Red Bull wrote.

"We condemn racist abuse of any time towards our team, our competitors and our fans.

"As a team we are disgusted and saddened to witness the racist abuse Lewis received yesterday [Sunday] on social media after the collision with Max.

"There is never any excuse for it, there is certainly no place for it in our sport and those responsible should be held accountable."

McLaren also issued a message of support for their former driver Hamilton, urging all teams to unite and eliminate racism.

The team said: "McLaren stands with Formula 1, the FIA, and our fellow teams and drivers in condemning the deplorable racist abuse towards Lewis Hamilton.

"Racism must be driven out of our sport, and it’s our shared responsibility to unite and eliminate it."

McLaren CEO Zak Brown added in a Twitter post: "Totally unacceptable racist abuse of Lewis Hamilton. These people do not represent F1 fans or our sport. We must come together to get rid of this disgraceful abuse and racism."

The race was a memorable one, with Hamilton recovering from a 10-second time penalty handed to him for the first-lap Verstappen crash as he cut his title rival's championship lead to only eight points.

Hamilton was accused of "dirty driving" by Red Bull boss Christian Horner after clipping Verstappen on Copse Corner, while the Belgian-born Dutch driver labelled his opponent "disrespectful and unsportsmanlike".

Verstappen required hospital checks after hitting the safety barriers in an impact measuring 51G, but he was released later on Sunday after being given the all-clear.

In the aftermath of his controversial but famous victory, Hamilton was subjected to vile racist abuse on Instagram in the comments section of a post by Mercedes celebrating the win.

Lando Norris admitted he is "not in perfect condition" ahead of the British Grand Prix, after he had his watch taken from his wrist in an incident after the Euro 2020 final.

Norris, who is fourth in the Formula One drivers' championship, was targeted as he walked back to his car following Italy's penalty shoot-out win over England at Wembley on Sunday.

McLaren announced on Monday their star driver was left "understandably shaken" following an incident which has been reported to the police.

However, the 21-year-old was cleared to race in his home grand prix this weekend.

Norris acknowledged, though, that the preparation has been far from ideal.

"I'm fine... but I've been better, I can say that. I'm not in perfect condition, I'm not going to lie," he told Sky Sports.

"Some work to do, mentally. Of course I talk about that a lot and mental health, and mental strength is very important. I've not been sleeping that great, and so on.

"Not ideal and I'm feeling a bit sore. But I'm not the guy in the worst position after Wembley.

"I'll work on it, I'll make sure I'm in the best shape possible and I feel like can still go out and focus on what I need to do and that's the main thing.

"I guess it's just unlucky. I don't really want to go into too much detail, but I'm thankful that I'm here.

"It's not the nicest experience for anyone to go through and it's not only me that it's happened to, it's happened to other people. It's something I don't wish upon anyone and, of course, if anyone else goes through it, I can sympathise with them and I know what they feel like."

Norris earned his third podium finish of the season last time out in Austria, and has collected points at 14 successive races. It is the best run of his F1 career.

McLaren were dealt a blow ahead of the return to Silverstone, with chief executive Zak Brown forced to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown will miss the British Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, it emerged on Thursday.

Brown was one of three members of the McLaren team to return a positive test ahead of the Silverstone race weekend, but drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo have had the all-clear.

The team said in a statement: "McLaren Racing confirmed today that three team members, including CEO Zak Brown, tested positive for COVID-19 during the team’s rigorous testing programme before the British Grand Prix. Neither of our drivers are close contacts.

"All three cases are unconnected and now isolating in accordance with government guidelines. The team’s operations for the British Grand Prix are unaffected."

Brown added on his Twitter account: "I've notified all my close contacts and isolating in accordance with government guidelines. I'll still be connected to and supporting the team safely from home."

McLaren stand third in the constructors' championship, with Norris their standout performer, earning three third places among eight top-five finishes from nine races.

Ricciardo's best results have been three sixth-placed finishes and he stands eighth in the drivers' standings.

British driver Norris, fourth in the championship, will be eyeing a strong performance in this coming Sunday's race, as well as Saturday's inaugural sprint.

He was said to be "shaken" after having his expensive watch stolen after attending the Euro 2020 final last Sunday.

 

Lando Norris had his watch taken in an "incident" at the Euro 2020 final on Sunday, Formula One team McLaren have confirmed.

Norris was in attendance at Wembley as England lost on penalties to Italy in the European Championship decider.

There were scenes of unrest throughout the day at England's national stadium as individuals without tickets attempted to gain access to the long-awaited final.

Indeed, pictures in London showed supporters clashing inside and outside Wembley.

And McLaren announced on Monday their star driver was left "understandably shaken" following an incident which has been reported to the police.

The team said: "McLaren Racing can confirm that Lando Norris was involved in an incident, after the Euro 2020 final match at Wembley, during which the watch he was wearing was taken.

"Thankfully, Lando was unharmed but he is understandably shaken. The team is supporting Lando and we are sure that racing fans will join us in wishing him all the best for the British Grand Prix this weekend.

"As this is now a police matter we cannot comment further."

Heading into his home British Grand Prix, Norris is an impressive fourth in the F1 drivers' championship having earned a third podium of the season last time out in Austria.

Norris has collected points at 14 consecutive races, the best run of his F1 career and the longest ongoing streak in the series.

Fernando Alonso, in 2007, was the last McLaren driver to enjoy such a stretch.

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