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."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has praised the FIA for their "robust" decision to punish Red Ball for breaching the Formula One cost cap.

The constructor have been fined $7million and handed a 10 per cent reduction in permitted aerodynamic allowance for the next year after they were found guilty of breaching the sport's budget cap.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner called the punishments "Draconian", but acknowledged the team would accept them, having protested their innocence over the past few months.

Wolff was satisfied to see the sport's governing body come down on their rival for their offence, though he suggested sanctions could perhaps have been even tougher.

"I think the most important thing for me is there is a robust governance," Wolff told Sky Sports.

"They didn't bat an eyelid, they just followed the process.

"I know how rigorous they were with us, all throughout the year - that was a difficult process. It is good to see that there is a penalty, whether we deem it too low or too high."

Wolff shut down any suggestion that a lenient penalty could tempt Mercedes to commit their own breaches though, stating the whole affair had tarnished Red Bull's brand.

"I think what you see beyond the sporting penalty and financial fine, there is also a reputational damage," he added.

"In a world of transparency and good governance, that is just not on any more.

"Compliance-wise, whatever team you are, you are responsible for representing your brand, your employees, your partners. That's why, for us, it wouldn't be a business case."

Lewis Hamilton has revealed he will sign a new contract to remain with his "family" Mercedes.

Hamilton ended speculation that he could quit Formula One last year by agreeing a new deal until the end of the 2023 season.

The Brit, who turns 38 in January, is set to continue driving for the Silver Arrows in his 40s.

He said ahead of the Mexico City Grand Prix this weekend: "We are going to do another deal. We are going to sit down and discuss it in these next couple of months."

The seven-time F1 world champion added: "I want to keep racing. I love what I do. I've been doing it for 30 years, and I don't feel that I should have to stop. I think I am currently still earning my keep. I still want to do better.

"I could stop now and I have lots of other things in the pipeline that I will be super-focused and super-busy with. I'm here for the sheer love of working in the organisation that I'm in.

"So you are stuck with me for quite a bit longer."

Hamilton suffered the agony of missing out on a record eighth world title when Max Verstappen dramatically overtook him on the last lap of the final race of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi.

Following the controversy of the climax to last season, Hamilton could finish the current campaign without winning a race for the first time in his illustrious F1 career. 

Despite a difficult year, he has not lost his hunger and wants to repay the faith Mercedes have shown in him.

"My goal is to continue to be with Mercedes. I've been with Mercedes since I was 13. It really is my family.

"Mercedes-Benz have stuck with me through thick and thin. They stuck with me through being expelled at school. They stuck with me through everything that was going on through 2020.

"They've stuck with me through my mistakes and through the ups and downs."

Max Verstappen led tributes to late Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz following his death at the age of 78 on the eve of the United States Grand Prix this weekend.

The Austrian, who co-founded the energy drink company and helped form its Formula One team in the mid-2000s, was confirmed to have passed away shortly before qualifying in Austin on Saturday.

Mateschitz, a sports fanatic whose company also purchased football clubs around the globe, helped establish their motorsport division as one of the leaders within F1.

Verstappen, who claimed a second successive drivers' championship this season and Red Bull's sixth in all, qualified second behind Ferrari's Carlos Sainz following the news, and paid his respects to Mateschitz.

"It has been hard news, I think, for everyone," he said. "What he meant [to] Red Bull, but also [for] the sport, and especially what he has done for me in terms of my career so far and my life, it is really tough.

"It has been a very tough day. Unfortunately, we missed out by a little [in qualifying] but there is still a race ahead and hopefully, we will make him proud."

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff - who began his own racing career with Red Bull - also paid tribute to Mateschitz.

"I was in a car that was sponsored by Red Bull, but I was proud to wear those colours as a junior driver or a GT driver back in the day," he added

"Being a Red Bull driver was something prestigious, and I was proud wearing the overalls and the team kit.

"What he has done in Austria for football, for ice-hockey, the racing programme - it's incredible. It's probably the biggest contribution in F1 of any single individual."

Lewis Hamilton feels he can continue in Formula One for another five years, according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who is certain the 37-year-old will renew his contract with the team.

Hamilton has won six of his joint-record seven F1 world championships while representing Mercedes, also helping the Silver Arrows to eight consecutive constructors' titles since joining in 2013.

That run is set to end this season, with Mercedes in third and Hamilton winless and struggling in sixth in the drivers' standings.

But Wolff insists his superstar's appetite for the sport remains undiminished.

He believes Hamilton – who he described as "the greatest personality" in F1 history – is sure to extend his Mercedes stay beyond the expiration of his contract in 2023.

"The advantage is we speak a lot together," Wolff told Channel 4. "Just last week we sat down, and he says 'look, I have another five years in me, how do you see that?'

"He's the shining star on and off track. I think we would lose the greatest personality that Formula One ever had.

"Over time we have just grown together. We are totally transparent with each other. 

"Lewis will be the first one to say 'I can't do this anymore, because I feel I haven't got the reactions anymore' or 'I've just lost fun doing it, and there is another generation growing up that is just very strong'.

"I have no doubt that whatever we agree on a contract extension – which is going to happen – that we both are always going to discuss, very openly, what the future holds."

Hamilton indicated earlier this year he has "plenty of fuel left in the tank", and Wolff believes he can replicate the longevity of rival Fernando Alonso and NFL legend Tom Brady by competing after his 40th birthday.

"I don't know if 40 is that age where you say that is not adequate anymore for a racing driver," Wolff said.

"If you look at where Fernando is with 41 years, he's still very much there. Now, is he the same Fernando that he was at 25? I don't know, but he's very competitive still.

"You look at Tom Brady, who is somebody I really admire for having the discipline in how he manages his life and his sport, he's 45 – and he's on the pitch.

"So Lewis, with the way he leads his life, with the full, ultra-narrow focus on his Formula One racing – all the other things are just hobbies – I think he can take it quite far."

Hamilton was joined by George Russell at Mercedes ahead of this season, and the former Williams driver sits fourth in the drivers' standings after recording seven podium finishes in 2022 – one more than Hamilton.

Wolff believes Russell will have the opportunity to compete for titles in the future, adding: "George has been great joining the team.

"He's a good personality, he acts with integrity, he's very transparent working with Lewis – these two really have added to the team's development slope this year.

"He was obviously hoping to be in a Mercedes and winning races and championships, which he got that timing wrong, but at least he has progressed to the midfield now.

"That time is going to come – he will win races, he will race for championships, and I think he absolutely has it in him. I feel very good to have him in the team over the long term."

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a "fun" Italian Grand Prix after securing an impressive points finish, while Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff made a pointed jab over the race's safety car finale.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton started at the back of the grid after taking new parts but drove a fine race to secure a fifth-placed finish, as Max Verstappen secured a maiden Monza win.

The podium always looked a long shot for Hamilton, but he still recovered points and actually found a less trying race weekend something to relish.

"It was a good race," Hamilton stated. "The guys were saying that anything between sixth and fourth was possible, and that felt a stretch for me. But I had fun.

"I struggled at the beginning, but I'm really, really grateful that I made my way through and got those points. I think at the end, the two cars behind had fresher tyres, so I'm kind of glad it finished like it did."

The late mechanical failure of Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren meant the race finished behind the safety car.

Hamilton was not in contention this time, but he lost last season's title decider in similar circumstances when then race director Michael Masi ended the safety car early on that occasion and saw Verstappen pass his title rival at the last.

Apparently referring to that incident, Wolff said: "The race directors are always going to be under criticism, but I think this time they followed the rules – maybe they could have done it a lap sooner – and they accepted the race ends under the safety car. This is how it should be."

With a 35-point deficit to Ferrari now for second in the constructors' championship, Wolff has a clear target in his sights ahead of the end of a difficult campaign.

"It's all to play against Ferrari; we just need to do the best every single weekend," he added. "It would [soften the blow] of this year's car a bit."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Yuki Tsunoda's mid-race stoppage at the Dutch Grand Prix may have cost Lewis Hamilton a shot at victory over Max Verstappen.

The Briton looked on course for a first win of a difficult season, having seldom been near the pace of his Red Bull rival following last year's enthralling title battle.

But a virtual safety car stoppage for Alpha Tauri's Tsunoda two-thirds into the race handed Verstappen a free pit stop, before a physical safety car later on allowed the world champion to make another change and overtake Hamilton.

Tsunoda stopped his car after reporting issues with his tyres, removing his safety belts before being ordered to drive back to the pits. His belts were checked and he drove for four more corners, before being told to stop again by his team.

Hamilton was ultimately forced to settle for fourth, behind Verstappen, team-mate George Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner suggested the stoppage of Tsunoda had no effect on the outcome of the race, but Wolff felt the decision to send the Alpha Tauri – Red Bull's sibling team – back out likely cost Hamilton.

"If we were to fight for a championship, that would be something I would closely look at," he stated when asked if the FIA should review the incident.

"Now, I think what needs to be investigated for the safety of drivers and everybody out there.

"The driver stopped, unbuckled, did a full lap, came in, the problem wasn't solved, they put the seatbelts back on and he drove out and stopped the car again.

"That probably has changed the outcome of the race that we maybe could have won.

"I think we would have had a fair shot at the win. The race planner said the win was on. It was very close, but it was on."

 

 

Toto Wolff declared "it was worth taking the risk" for both Mercedes drivers to pit with Lewis Hamilton leading the Dutch Grand Prix, despite the Briton fuming on the team radio after the race.

Hamilton was pushing towards a first race victory of the season on Sunday at Zandvoort, where he was embroiled in a gripping battle with reigning world champion Max Verstappen.

Seven-time champion Hamilton seemed to seize the initiative after Verstappen pitted following a second safety car deployment due to apparent engine issues for Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas.

While Hamilton surged into the lead, Mercedes decided the 37-year-old should pit and also called in team-mate George Russell, losing the buffer advantage over Verstappen.

That was to allow both Hamilton and Russell to compete for the win in the closing stages, but that plan came unstuck as Verstappen surged into the lead on lap 61 before easing to victory.

As Verstappen embarked on his victory lap in front of a boisterous home crowd, Hamilton furiously questioned the call over the team radio – a decision that Mercedes team principal Wolff later defended.

"First of all, Lewis is ahead. So, we're always having a problem with the call," Wolff told Sky Sports when asked about the decision.

"You can do two things. You can either pit Lewis, lose track position against Verstappen, and leave George out – screwed. You can pit both – screwed. So, it was worth taking the risk."

While Wolff defended the decision in his post-race interview, he admitted on the team radio to Hamilton that the gamble did not pay dividends, adding: "Yeah Lewis, sorry it didn't work out.

"We did what we discussed in the morning, we took a risk. It didn't work. Let's discuss it between us in the office."

Having squandered the lead to Verstappen, Hamilton slipped down to fourth after being overtaken by second-placed Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes the Silver Arrows' struggles at Spa will spur them on at the Dutch Grand Prix next time out. 

Wolff's team endured a torrid time at last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton crashing out of the race after being sent airborne by a collision with Fernando Alonso approaching the Les Combes chicane.

Team-mate George Russell, meanwhile, was beaten to third spot by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who followed Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez home.

Spa represents the first time both Mercedes drivers have missed out on the podium since May's Monaco Grand Prix, but Wolff says the disappointment will drive them on in Zandvoort.

"Belgium was a challenging weekend for us as a team, but those weekends are the ones that really fire you up and make you dig deeper," he said.

"There were such big extremes across the weekend; from the pace differences on Saturday and Sunday, to the difficult first lap for Lewis and George's late charge for a podium.

"We've been working hard to understand our Spa struggles and thankfully we don't have long to wait until we can utilise and maximise those learnings. 

"What will make the difference for the rest of this season is how quickly and effectively we can continue learning, to deliver our best performance this year and next.

"The Dutch Grand Prix is next, and it was a real party atmosphere last year. It's an interesting, old-school track with sweeping bends, banked corners and a lot of character.

"So, we're excited to be back there and to take on the circuit's challenges with this year's car."

Mercedes are 159 points adrift of Red Bull at the top of the constructors' standings with eight races of the 2022 campaign remaining, while Russell and Hamilton sit fifth and sixth, respectively, in the drivers' championship.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says they are in a "dungeon" following a dismal Belgian Grand Prix that saw Lewis Hamilton crash out on the first lap.

The Silver Arrows, last year's constructors' champions, have suffered a disappointing 2022 campaign compared to rivals Red Bull and Ferrari.

Seven-time world drivers' champion Hamilton, pipped in controversial circumstances by Max Verstappen last season, has been off the pace in 2022, while the Dutchman's win at Spa edged him closer to another title.

Wolff admitted it has been a frustrating season for the Briton and team-mate George Russell, acknowledging it has been hard to be on the outside looking in at glory this year.

"They say you never lose [but] you learn," he was quoted by the Guardian. "I can tell you it is ******* difficult.

"All these nice Instagram posts and everything we have talked about over the eight years, about how we are going to take this when you arrive in the dungeon.

"To stick to your principles and your values, to keep the spirit up and continue to relentlessly seek to get better? Phew. There is more to write a book about this year than there is about the last eight years."

Hamilton saw his race come to a premature end after a collision with Fernando Alonso, but the major issues plaguing Mercedes have been race-to-race inconsistency rather than one-off errors.

"It's very difficult to cope with these swings," Wolff added. "We had a totally sub-par performance in qualifying, [and] then in the race, sometimes we go three seconds a lap faster.

"There are big question marks about what is going on. It's not where we should be with the structure and knowledge to understand a racing car but we don't with this one.

"Whatever we decide for next year, it needs to be carefully evaluated because clearly our data does not give us the results, doesn't correlate it with the reality. We have massive swings in performance we can't really get on top of.

"In this moment to take a decision for next year, changing a concept dramatically, how can you be sure that is the better direction to go because clearly you would be starting a way back?"

Toto Wolff says it has been like "Groundhog Day" for Mercedes during a difficult 2022 Formula One season.

The Silver Arrows' run of eight consecutive constructors' titles appears to be coming to an end as they are third in the standings behind Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes have not won a race this year, with George Russell fourth in the driver standings and Lewis Hamilton back in sixth.

Having dominated the sport so long, the Brackley-based team have struggled to adapt following the introduction of new technical regulations.

Mercedes team principal Wolff says it has been a rough ride this season.

"The truth is, it's just so painful and it's so difficult to live by your values and your doubt," Wolff told Autosport.

"You oscillate from depression to exuberance, and then the next day the other way around. And in a way that when you kind of think nothing that you do works, [it is] a bit of Groundhog Day. 

"Then you make steps forward by looking at things and finding out they don't function at all, and then you know what doesn't go, and you go the other way and it functions. 

"All the things I've preached, all the things that you read in books that it's so hard, that it is so important to lose in order to thrive. It's just lived in real life so far."

The F1 season resumes with the Belgian Grand Prix next week following a break.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has bemoaned the disappointing upgrade package introduced for the French Grand Prix, with a clear verdict that it is "not good enough".

A frustrating weekend so far for Mercedes has seen them struggle to find their best approach, despite optimism about an upgrade package that has been introduced for the 12th round of the 2022 season.

Both Hamilton and Russell looked to be in danger of elimination in Q2 but pushed through on their final laps, following the introduction of fresh tyres, though neither showed enough to be much of a threat to the front row and Wolff was disappointed by the showing.

"We knew that once we got the new tyres on and were driving in anger a little bit that we were going to be a third force, like we have been all season, but it's just not good enough," he told Sky Sports.

"You can see when you're a little bit on the back foot, your expectations are on a certain level for the race weekend and then it doesn't come together, the freestyling starts.

Lewis Hamilton was angered to see sections of the Silverstone crowd booing Max Verstappen during qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

Reigning Formula One world champion Verstappen was greeted by a chorus of jeers before conducting a post-qualifying interview on Saturday, having had to settle for second on the grid after being pipped by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who claimed the first pole position of his career.

Verstappen, who recorded a time less than a hundredth of a second slower than Sainz in treacherous conditions, spent the 2021 season locked in a dramatic and at times ill-tempted title tussle with Hamilton.

The duo were involved in a collision on the same course last year, before Verstappen clinched his first title at Hamilton's expense in contentious circumstances in December.

Verstappen also courted controversy earlier this week when he suggested Nelson Piquet's alleged use of a racist slur to describe Hamilton had been "blown out of proportion."  

Speaking after qualifying in fifth, Hamilton suggested last year's battle with Verstappen may have antagonised the Silverstone crowd as he refused to condone the reception afforded to the Red Bull driver.

"I think we are better than that and I definitely don't agree with the booing," Hamilton said.

"We should be here pushing everybody and it doesn't make any difference.

"But I do really appreciate the support I have. Maybe some of them are feeling the pain from last year. Either way, I appreciate it."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton's sentiments, asserting: "That is unsportsmanlike. If you’re not into the other guy, just remain silent. 

"I don't think any of the drivers deserves booing, whatever happened last year. Being booed is abusive and there is a certain limit which we shouldn’t overstep."

Meanwhile, Verstappen, who is targeting a third successive race victory on Sunday, insisted the hostile atmosphere did not faze him.

"It was a bit disappointing because I couldn't really understand [interviewer] Billy [Monger]," he joked.

"If they want to boo, they [can] do it. I'm always happy to be here, it's a great track and a great atmosphere in general.

"Maybe some of them don't like me, they're all entitled to their own opinions. I don't care."

Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix and sees potential in his car as Mercedes battle issues with their W13 model.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton had not finished on the podium since the season-opener in Bahrain, but secured third place in Montreal behind Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

The Briton's struggles have largely been down to his Mercedes W13 car porpoising – otherwise known as bouncing unevenly.

Hamilton faced such difficulties at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, struggling with back problems after a painful ride in Baku that led to doubts over him featuring in the next race.

However, the 37-year-old subsequently confirmed he would compete and spoke gleefully after securing his second podium in nine attempts.

"It's quite overwhelming to get this third place – it's been such a battle this year with the car, but we continue to stay vigilant, focused and never giving up, and that's something I'm proud of," Hamilton said.

"We're getting closer, so we've got to keep pushing and keep pushing, and hopefully we'll eventually be in the fight with these guys."

Hamilton, speaking to Sky Sports after the race, thanked the team working on the car as he reflected on an emotional season.

"I want to say a big shout to the team back home, they are working so hard at the factory week in week out. It’s difficult working and not seeing any progress," he added to Sky Sports.

"It's been a difficult year for me personally and in the car. Qualifying was emotional for me and back in the garage we were like 'wow, this is beautiful for us', we have been working so hard.

"Then to have a strong race just gives me so much hope and confidence that we can move forwards.

"There is potential in this car, it's not currently where we want it to be, it's just got a really small working window and if you don't get it perfect it's all over the place.

"That's a really hard thing to navigate through, but the team did a great job this weekend."

Hamilton's fellow Mercedes team-mate George Russell maintained his run of finishing in the top five in every race this season, settling for fourth.

That saw Mercedes move to 188 points in the constructor standings, 116 behind leaders Red Bull, and Toto Wolff acknowledged his team still have much to work on.

"They were both very good and they were on different set-ups and different rear wing settings. We showed some pace today," Wolff said.

"Before the safety car came out at the end we were actually quicker than Sainz. You're picking out a few laps and saying, 'yeah we are back' but I don't think that's the case yet, we just need to keep on working.

"The way forward, we just need to develop the car in a different window than we had. We were having it really low on the ground and clearly that doesn't function. 

"I think before we start looking to fix the problems, you need to understand where the issues are.

"I think we have development direction. We haven't got it right in many areas but we own the problem and we will fix it." 

While Russell secured yet another top-five finish, he warned that the issues with cars porpoising is far from over.

"I had total confidence we were able to carve our way past the Haas and Alpines," he said. 

"We were certainly concerned [Charles] Leclerc and Checo [Sergio Perez] would be able to come through and be fortunate to keep them behind us.

"Ultimately, our race pace was closer to Ferrari and Red Bull than we've seen all season, but the inherent performance isn't there yet.

"It was a shame I couldn't get the tyres going at the end, probably would have liked to pit before the first safety car, and then have been in the fight at the end.

"Nevertheless, P4, it's good points for the team and great to be back on the podium for the team.

"It was definitely bumpy out there, down the straight the car was just hitting the ground. It'll be a good sleep again tonight for sure.

"I think there are so many different factors [with the porpoising], this global issue with the 2022 cars is far from over."

Toto Wolff has dismissed a suggestion Lewis Hamilton is in decline and says the seven-time Formula One champion has proved he is a "genius" this season.

Hamilton dramatically missed out on a record eighth F1 title last year when he was dethroned by Max Verstappen in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton is languishing in sixth place in the driver standings eight races into the 2022 season, with his team-mate George Russell fourth.

Mercedes sit third in the constructor standings, 108 points adrift of leaders Red Bull, and Hamilton suffered back pain due to his rattling car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend.

Wolff, Mercedes' team principal, does not believe Hamilton's high standards have slipped this year.

"No, I don't think it’s like that, he is the best that has ever been," he said when asked if Hamilton is in decline.

"Between Abu Dhabi in 2021, dominating the last third of the season, to four months later, you are not losing your ability."

He added: "How they appear to me, both of them [Russell and Hamilton], it’s very professional.

"They have been given a car that is a bit sub-par, each of them tries to develop the car further, they have both gone [in] a different set-up direction, Lewis [during qualifying in Azerbaijan] again very experimental, but can be available in the long term.

"I think as long as the car is not good enough to really be racing at the front, the differences are small and I don't think you can have a pattern saying 'George is continuously outperforming Lewis' or the other way around."

Wolff pinpointed Hamilton's recovery from making contact with Kevin Magnussen on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix to finish fifth as an example of Hamilton's brilliance.

"He went as far as to say that in Barcelona, where Hamilton recovered from early contact with Kevin Magnussen to finish P5, the genius," he said.

"We have seen Lewis in Barcelona, he was the genius that we know, so I think what I enjoy is them working together and trying to bring the car back to the front."

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