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Daniel Ricciardo reveals truth behind defiant final act Italian GP in Lando Norris fight

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Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has revealed how a couple of radio messages from McLaren teammate Lando Norris inspired him to push for the fastest lap at the Italian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo had struggled to adapt to the MCL35M throughout the first half of his maiden season at McLaren, and was repeatedly bettered by Norris on race day.

But the 32-year-old silenced his doubters with an impeccable drive at Monza last weekend, helping the British team secure its first F1 victory in nine years. Norris placed second as McLaren pulled off a rare one-two finish.

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Ricciardo sped past Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ahead of Turn 1 on the opening lap to take an early lead and the Aussie patiently controlled the rest of the race from the front.

But following the dramatic crash between Verstappen and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton on Lap 26, Ricciardo realised his teammate was getting a little too close for comfort.

Daniel Ricciardo won his first F1 race since 2018. Photo by Peter Fox/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“There was one lap in particular, not long after the restart when I let (Norris) get too close and I probably gave him the impression I was maybe not that fast. And I think that’s when he probably said, ‘I want to try and attack Daniel’,” Ricciardo said in an interview with the BBC.

“I could see in my mirrors, Turn 2 into Curva Grande and into the next chicane, he was probably even closer than I let Max get at the start of the race.

“I was like, ‘OK, I don’t need to be saving (tyres) this much’, so then I kind of turned it up a little bit. With the restarts and the craziness of the racing these days, I was always trying to save a little bit, just in case there was another restart.

“Could I have won by 20 seconds? I’m not saying I could have, no, but I was just doing what I had to.”

Ricciardo threw caution to the wind on the final lap of Monza, proving he was the quickest driver on the track by claiming fastest lap of the Italian Grand Prix and clinching a valuable extra point for the constructors’ championship.

And there was a defiant reason he wanted to end on a high note with his final trip around the circuit.

“It was to remind people that I haven‘t forgotten (how to do it),” Ricciardo explained.

“I was in control and I just wanted to show it was the last lap and I am not feeling any of the nerves or pressure so I am going to do my fastest lap of the race on the last lap, just to remind people, ‘I got this’.”

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris secure a rare 1-2 finish in Monza. Photo by Peter Fox/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Ricciardo now sits eighth on the drivers’ standings with 83 points, still comfortably behind fourth-placed Norris on 132.

“There are people who have been at this team a long time, long before even I started racing, and the last eight or nine years there has been drought,” Ricciardo told the BBC.

“So to come back and especially for the ones that have stuck through the thick and thin, it‘s awesome. It’s cool.

“I‘ve obviously had some personal struggles with the team this year from the performance point of view, but now to come out of that with this result, it makes me appreciate what I have at this team and playing a part now is quite fulfilling.”

The F1 season resumes on Sunday, September 26 with the Russian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to get underway at 10pm AEST.

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F1 news 2022, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, 2021 title, appeal, decision date, new season calendar, full race schedule

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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton must wait two more months for motorsport chiefs to reveal the results of their inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where the Dutchman clinched the 2021 world title.

Governing body, the FIA, said Thursday that the outcome will not be revealed until March 18, just two days before the 2022 season gets underway in Bahrain.

Hamilton was poised to capture a record-breaking eighth world title at the Abu Dhabi finale in December before a controversial safety car restart allowed Verstappen to pass the British driver on the last lap.

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The incident has led to speculation that a disillusioned 37-year-old Hamilton may be prepared to turn his back on Formula One.

On Thursday, the FIA said that team chiefs as well as representatives of the ruling body will meet on January 19 to discuss the use of the safety car.

Drivers will also be brought into the discussions, it said.

“The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February, and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on 18 March,” added the FIA.

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F1 news 2022, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, retirement, quit, latest, new contract, 2022 calendar, season

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Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future still remains unclear with just 69 days to go until the 2022 season begins as the FIA’s investigation into the how the 2021 season ended now thought to be key in his decision making.

The FIA has pledged to investigate the controversial circumstances around the final lap of the 2021 season which saw Max Verstappen pip Hamilton to the world title in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes withdrew their appeal against the result after the FIA announced they would launch an investigation into the events surrounding the safety car procedures.

Hamilton made a cryptic reference to his future in his post-race interview with former teammate Jenson Button.

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“We gave it everything and never gave up and that’s the most important thing. We’ll see about next year,” he said.

This pledge is now reportedly crucial in whether Hamilton decides to get into a Formula 1 car again, according to Sky Sports, and the delay in its findings are seemingly impacting the delay in the seven-time world champion’s decision.

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater reported: “With 69 days to go until the first Grand Prix in Bahrain, it is still unclear whether Lewis Hamilton will be on the grid.

“In terms of Hamilton coming back to Formula 1, having the appetite to do so and getting over the ‘disillusionment’ that his team boss Toto Wolff said he felt after Abu Dhabi, the onus is on the FIA to deliver on the pledge they made before Christmas to investigate the happenings on that final lap and to come up with some findings.

“It is understood that Mercedes want to see something tangible. It’s been put to me like this: the longer this drags on then the worse the Lewis Hamilton situation is, and that is from a senior source.”

The 23-race 2022 season begins on March 18 with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars beginning on February 23.

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rule changes, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, future, retirement, title, FIA, Michael Masi

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Newly-elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is yet to hear back from Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes gun boycotted the end-of-season trophy gala.

The aftermath of the F1’s controversial Abu Dhabi finale is far from over, with Hamilton still not “100 per cent” according to Ben Sulayem.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference at the Dakar Rally, Ben Sulayem was empathetic of Hamilton’s situation.

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He has previously said there will be “no forgiveness” if Hamilton is found to have breached rules in skipping the gala and maintained that stance on Monday.

“I sent him messages,” Ben Sulayem said.

“I think he’s not ready now to be functioning 100 per cent. You don’t blame him. I understand his position, being a driver – of course he’s on a different level.

“But also the rule is there. For me it’s not particular, a driver or a certain team. It is in general, there are rules that we have to respect, and the integrity of the FIA, we have to respect. And I cannot judge anyone unless I get the correct facts.

“I feel that, of course, not being present at the gala dinner, it’s something that the team and Lewis knew about it. But at the end of the day, you are human also. The stress and the pressure has been there.”

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Hamilton’s silence has also extended to questions about whether he will race on next year, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff saying the Brit will never get over the Abu Dhabi heartbreak.

Ben Sulayem responded to queries about Hamilton’s future with a question of his own.

“I’ll ask your question: did Lewis declare that he’s not going to race?” he said.

“No. Exactly. Being a driver, you declare yourself, you don’t let the rumours [talk].

“I’m confident that Lewis [will be back]. Lewis is a big part of motorsport, and of course of Formula 1, the new era [can add to] Lewis’ wins and achievements, and also Verstappen is there.”

While Hamilton looks set to return, it does not mean the F1 cannot ignore what happened at Abu Dhabi.

The FIA, its governing body, is investigating the decisions made by race director Michael Masi in light of the Nicholas Latifi crash, centred around the deployment of the safety car.

Ben Sulayem said the FIA’s focus is on introducing “proactive” measures instead of always being “reactive’ to such issues.

Huge crash closes gap in title race | 01:06

“I am going to study the case of what happened in Abu Dhabi, and a decision will be taken how to go forward without any pressure from anyone,” Ben Sulayem said.

“The integrity of the FIA, it is my job and duty to protect it, but it doesn’t mean that we do not look into our regulations, and if there is any [need for] improvement, we will [make changes].

“I said in my first press conference, this is not the book of God. This is written by humans. It can be improved and changed by humans. So that’s it.”

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