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F1 news 2021, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, wins Italian Grand Prix, interview, next race, driver standings, latest

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Daniel Ricciardo has insisted he “never lost faith” that he would end his three-year win drought despite going through “the most challenging year” he has had in a long time.

Since leaving Red Bull, where he picked up seven of his now eight race wins, he has had to fight in the midfield at Renault and McLaren, leaving many to question whether he would ever climb to the top step of the podium again.

But in his second year at Renault, he found a new gear and was putting in some of the best performances of his career on the way to ending the team’s podium drought with two of his own.

He then struggled massively in the first half of this season, being overshadowed by his younger teammate Lando Norris and growing increasingly frustrated with how he was unable to adapt to the car and unsure of the reasons behind it.

However, his race victory on Monday morning (AEST) – the first proper race after the mid-season break following the abandonment of Spa – saw him end his three-year wait and McLaren’s nine-year wait for another win.

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

“It’s been the most challenging year I’ve had in a long time,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1.

“But it’s also made me understand more about myself as a person, and as a competitor. How much it still means to me, how much I want it.

“The weekend was a bit of a product of that. Already on Friday night I had a chip on my shoulder. But this is crazy, to be the guy that gets the first win for the team in nine years is pretty special.

“There have been lows this year but deep down I never lost faith or the belief. You can easily get lost. You know, deep down I would have moments of frustration or moments of dropping my head, but I kind of made a point never to let that last. I also made a point to try and gain something from it and learn from it.

“For a moment you fall out of love with the sport but actually the clarity you get afterwards it kind of makes you realise how much you do love it and how much you want it. I would back myself to the hilt.”

Ricciardo also revealed the “reset” he had during the mid-season break which allowed him to relax and refocus for the second half of the year.

“First half of the year I was trying to play catch-up and learn about the car, so I was always in, in, in,” he said. “The August break kind of forced me to get away from it. I spent it in the States and I just got away. I spent time in nature, at a friend’s ranch, and it was just the time I needed to just reset.

“I truly think that helped this weekend get to this position.”

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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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