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Daniel Ricciardo, isolation, return home, mum’s hug, Oscar Piastri, world championship

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Aussie F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has revealed the thing he has missed the most over the past two seasons which have been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, is a hug from his mum.

Ricciardo was in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix in 2020 when the plug was pulled on the eve of the race.

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He spent the uncertain early days of Covid on his Perth farm but once F1 came back, the Aussie was on the road.

And he hasn’t been back to Australia since, spending the last two seasons overseas as he moved from Renault (now Alpine) to McLaren and tried to avoid having to comply with Australia’s strict quarantine regulations as well as get an early start with his new team.

There have been difficult times and Ricciardo revealed he was homesick having been away from his family for so long.

Ricciardo was schooled by his much younger McLaren teammate Lando Norris in 2021, beaten 14-8 in qualifying and a race advantage of 15-7.

Although Ricciardo did claim his first race win — and eighth overall — since Monaco in 2018, the 32-year-old is under no illusions he still has a lot improving to do.

Ricciardo said he was keen to see his friends and family and reiterated comments from earlier in the year that the number one thing on his list was a hug from his mum.

He said at the time: “Whether we admit it or not, I’m a mama’s boy and sometimes you just need a cuddle from Mum. That stuff has been hard this year.”

Daniel Ricciardo deserves a great break after a brutal 18 months. Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
Daniel Ricciardo deserves a great break after a brutal 18 months. Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFPSource: AFP

Speaking to Speedcafe, Ricciardo admitted it was his biggest year for personal growth because of his time on the road.

“One was the challenges I faced with the car, and trying to obviously gel with that, and then I think the other one was obviously being away from home,” he said.

“Just not having some of those home comforts or family surroundings that you kind of just used to.

“I think sometimes, if you live at home, you don’t really notice it because it’s always in front of you.

“But obviously when I left Australia and moved away from family, you certainly notice it more. But now, not seeing them for that long, that’s a bigger thing.

“It’s made me definitely appreciate other things in life, not just racing, and I think that’s given me a lot of growth.”

Ricciardo struggled late in the season, finishing with points just once in his last five races and scoring only three times in the eight races after his Monza triumph.

But his debut stint with McLaren was without a doubt better than his first season at Renault in 2019, where he tallied just 54 points and finished ninth in the drivers’ championship.

The platform is there for Ricciardo. Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFPSource: AFP

However, it hasn’t stopped Ricciardo’s coach Michael Italiano from claiming the Aussie could be in shape to win his maiden title.

Speaking to Express Sport, Italiano revealed Ricciardo doesn’t believe his title window has passed him by particularly with the new regulations set to come in for 2022.

“A world title one day is 100 per cent the goal – it’s always been the goal from day one,” Italiano said.

“I have full belief that he’s good enough for a world championship, and he’s got full belief that he’s the best. If the car is good enough, he’ll make it happen.

“The new regulations will bring an element of the unknown into next year. Who’s going to be the top team? Will it stay in the same order? We just don’t know. Heading into testing and race one in Bahrain will be super exciting.”

But even if Ricciardo can’t fulfil his championship dream, the Aussie has praised the next generation already entering the sport.

F2 champion Oscar Piastri’s rapid rise to dominate the second tier series — he won by 60.5 points in his first year in the championship — blew Ricciardo away but he’s not the only one who caught the Aussie’s eye.

“He didn’t just win, he dominated,” Ricciardo said of Piastri, who has signed on as Alpine’s reserve driver for next season. “I don’t think anyone really expected him to. Fighting for a title is one thing but winning comfortably was huge.

“I think people knew obviously he was talented. I knew he was talented, but I don’t think anyone expected him to dominate the championship like he did.”

Australia’s F1 future is not completely on these shoulders. Photo by Peter Fox/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Ricciardo also praised Jack Doohan, son of MotoGP legend Mick Doohan, who had a front row start alongside Piastri in Abu Dhabi.

“There’s an Aussie front row lockout with (Piastri) and Jack so yeah, it’s looking good for young up and coming Aussies. Very, very happy to see that,” Ricciardo said.

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McLaren boss Zak Brown ‘wouldn’t be shocked’ if Lewis Hamilton quits before 2022 season

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Lewis Hamilton chose to quit Formula One before the start of the 2022 season.

The seven-time world champion has kept his cards close to his chest since he missed out on last year’s title to Max Verstappen, who overtook him on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in controversial circumstances.

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Speculation has been rife about Hamilton’s future after he was beaten to the world championship for the first time since 2016.

The 36-year-old and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff snubbed the end-of-season F1 gala, even though they were required to attend.

Hamilton, who is contracted with Mercedes to the end of 2023, is yet to publicly confirm whether he will race on this year, but Wolff is hopeful his charge will return to the grid.

Brown, who is the boss of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton called it quits and walked away from F1.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” he said.

“My personal opinion is he’s going to (continue racing), but I don’t think we should discount or not recognise his frustration and his anger.

Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future is up in the air. (Photo by Kamran Jebreili – Pool/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Maybe he hasn’t made a decision and maybe what he’s doing is taking time to make that decision to make sure, because once that decision is made, that decision is made.

“So, I don’t think we should rule it out or make light of it. I just personally think he still has a burning desire to race and that will ultimately drive his decision.”

Ultimately Brown believes Hamilton will continue to race in F1, driven by the desire to win a record-breaking eighth world championship.

“I think he’ll be back,” he said.

“He’s a racing driver. I think he’s at the top of his game.

“I’m sure he’s very angry, but I think race car drivers want to race and I think he’s a fighter, and he’ll want to come back and try to win an eighth championship.

“I don’t think he’s ready to retire; this is my own personal opinion, I’ve not talked to him, because once you hang it up, you hang it up.

“I guess you could come back as some have done, but I don’t think he’s ready to hang it up and I don’t think he’s going to let an incident put him into retirement.”

Hamilton lost the 2021 world championship to Max Verstappen in controversial circumstances. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP

Brown’s comments come after former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone predicted Hamilton will retire before the 2022 season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

The Brit reportedly also reportedly ignored messages from newly-elected FIA president Mahamaaed Ben Sulayem as time ticks on towards the start of the 2022 season.

Hamilton is expected to attend the virtual launch of Mercedes’ 2022 car on February 18.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi has continued.

The FIA, F1’s governing body, will reveal the results of their investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on March 18, just two days before the season gets underway in Bahrain.

There have been calls for the FIA to sack Australian race director Michael Masi, after he came under fire for his use of the safety car in the dying stages of the race.

Many F1 fans criticised Masi for his decision to move only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to set up a final lap shootout between the two rivals.

Verstappen, on fresh tyres, overtook Hamilton to win the world title.

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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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