Monaco GP: Charles Leclerc defends Ferrari, Frederic Vasseur apologises for Qualifying error

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Rain causes chaos in Monaco with Max Verstappen nudging the wall, Lance Stroll hitting the barriers and Carlos Sainz spinning around!

Rain causes chaos in Monaco with Max Verstappen nudging the wall, Lance Stroll hitting the barriers and Carlos Sainz spinning around!

Charles Leclerc has defended Ferrari’s strategy decisions at the Monaco Grand Prix as rain caused havoc in the middle of the race.

Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz were among the final drivers to make the switch from dry to intermediate tyres, when rain hit the streets of Monte Carlo with 25 laps to go.

Both drivers lost any chance of the podium as a consequence as they finished in sixth end eighth.

“We have done mistakes on strategy in the past. I don’t think this was a mistake,” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1. “In those conditions, you have more probability of having a safety car, with so many cars on slicks in the rain.

“So we were waiting for a safety car by someone making a mistake. That didn’t happen and that’s it. With the benefit of hindsight, stopping before was the right decision.”

Charles Leclerc running ahead of Pierre Gasly at the Monaco GP after a race-long battle with the Alpine driver Charles Leclerc running ahead of Pierre Gasly at the Monaco GP after a race-long battle with the Alpine driver

Charles Leclerc running ahead of Pierre Gasly at the Monaco GP after a race-long battle with the Alpine driver

Sainz surprised by timing of first pit stop

Sainz was left frustrated on the team radio following his first pit stop because he didn’t understand why Ferrari pitted him so early.

The Spaniard started on the hard tyres and reacted to the pit stop of Esteban Ocon, who he was battling with, by stopping on Lap 33 for the mediums.

Carlos Sainz says he was caught by surprise at his team's decision on his first pit stop after a frustrating Monaco GP for Ferrari

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Carlos Sainz says he was caught by surprise at his team’s decision on his first pit stop after a frustrating Monaco GP for Ferrari

Carlos Sainz says he was caught by surprise at his team’s decision on his first pit stop after a frustrating Monaco GP for Ferrari

He came out behind the Alpine driver and was forced to double stack behind Leclerc later in the race when switching to the intermediates.

“The first pit stop surprised me because I was on a very quick in lap on the hard tyre, thinking I was going to extend and overcut Esteban,” said Sainz. “We boxed and were one second behind which I didn’t get.

“With the pit stop and rain coming, I thought we were going to use the hard for a bit longer. The second stop was one lap too late but that was probably my fault, trying to compensate the frustration from the first stop by trying something differently and I got it wrong.”

Highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix at the sixth race of the season

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Highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix at the sixth race of the season

Highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix at the sixth race of the season

Ferrari told Sainz to pit to stay ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but the 28-year-old said he “didn’t care” about the Mercedes driver on the team radio. Team principal Frederic Vasseur defended Ferrari’s decision to pit Sainz when they did.

“I think it was a good strategy because when we asked him to pit, it was to cover Hamilton. It was to avoid losing the position against Hamilton,” said Vasseur.

“It was the good goal because position is key on track. We would have been better off to extend if we were not at risk from Hamilton. But in this situation, I think it was the good call.

“Then we can discuss about when the rain came, it was a bet [gamble] from both sides but I have no regrets on this because we didn’t lose positions at this stage.”

Vasseur apologises for Leclerc grid penalty

Lando Norris explains what he thought happened when Charles Leclerc appeared to block him in the tunnel in qualifying

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Lando Norris explains what he thought happened when Charles Leclerc appeared to block him in the tunnel in qualifying

Lando Norris explains what he thought happened when Charles Leclerc appeared to block him in the tunnel in qualifying

Leclerc qualified third, but started sixth due to a three-grid place penalty for impeding Lando Norris in Q3 on Saturday.

Norris was on a flying lap and came across Leclerc in the tunnel, so had to abort his lap. The stewards deemed Leclerc at fault and Vasseur says Ferrari will learn from the mistake.

“Under the tunnel, Charles was not able to see in the mirror where was Norris, and if you tell him after the tunnel he can see where is Norris, and avoid to be on the line. Also, the line under the tunnel is not very clear,” explained Vasseur.

“But we made a mistake yesterday clearly and this cost us a lot because I think starting from P3 it could have been another race, but we have to learn from it.”

Charles Leclerc post-qualifying Monaco Charles Leclerc post-qualifying Monaco

Charles Leclerc post-qualifying Monaco

The Ferrari boss added: “He’s been a bit frustrated in Monaco for a couple of years now and for sure Saturday was tough.

“It was tough first to lose the pole position for one tenth or something like this, to lose the first row for two hundredths, and then the call.

“What can I do else than apologise on behalf of the team and to understand how we can do a better job, and to improve the communication between the pit wall and Charles in this condition, but on both sides.

“I think it’s also due to the circumstances where it’s happened, into the tunnel and so on. But, we have to avoid to try to find excuses because it’s the worst way if you want to improve, we just have to correct.”

Ferrari are fourth in the constructors' championship ahead of the Spanish GP Ferrari are fourth in the constructors' championship ahead of the Spanish GP

Ferrari are fourth in the constructors’ championship ahead of the Spanish GP

Do Ferrari have a fundamental strategy problem?

Twelve months ago, Ferrari were in a title fight with Red Bull but their championship challenge slowly faded away when a run of reliability issues and strategy mistakes cost them key points.

Over the winter, their head of race strategy, Inaki Rueda, was moved to a factory role and in came Ravin Jain.

Prior to the Monaco GP weekend, Leclerc told Sky Sports F1‘s Martin Brundle that Ferrari are in a better position, strategically, compared to last year.

Asked about the 2022 Monaco strategy mistake, which cost Leclerc the win, the Monegasque answered: “Of course, you learn from mistakes and as a team, we have changed quite a lot of things in terms of taking decisions.

“We are in a much better place and I’m confident this won’t happen again.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Spanish GP schedule

Thursday June 1
2pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday June 2
8.50am: F3 Practice
10.00am: F2 Practice
12pm: Spanish GP Practice One (session starts 12.30pm)
1.55pm: F3 Qualifying
2.50pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: Spanish GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5.15pm: The F1 Show: Spain

Saturday June 3
9.25am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Spanish GP Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.15pm: Spanish GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Spanish GP Qualifying
6.15pm: IndyCar – Detroit GP Qualifying

Sunday June 4
8.50am: F3 Feature Race
10.20am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Spanish GP build-up
2pm: THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag Spanish GP reaction
5.45pm: Indy NXT – Detroit GP
8pm: IndyCar – Detroit GP

Will Red Bull’s winning run in F1 2023 continue at the Spanish GP? Watch all the action live on Sky Sports F1 from June 2-4 Get Sky Sports

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Spanish Grand Prix: When to watch practice, qualifying and the race on Sky Sports as F1 season continues

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Watch the Spanish GP live on Sky Sports F1 as the 2023 Formula 1 season continues; can anyone stop Red Bull and Max Verstappen at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and will Fernando Alonso stand on the podium at his home event, 10 years after his last victory in F1

Last Updated: 29/05/23 11:04am

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Following his brilliant start to the season at Aston Martin, look back at Fernando Alonso’s last race win at the Spanish Grand Prix back in 2013

Following his brilliant start to the season at Aston Martin, look back at Fernando Alonso’s last race win at the Spanish Grand Prix back in 2013

Fernando Alonso will be racing on home soil this week as the Spanish Grand Prix makes its annual appearance on the Formula 1 calendar – you can watch all the live on Sky Sports F1.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is renowned for testing every aspect of a racing car, so has been relied on as a testing venue for F1 over the years.

It’s the track where Max Verstappen won his maiden F1 race after the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg dramatically collided on the opening lap.

Verstappen’s victory at the Monaco GP puts him 39 points ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who failed to score points, having crashed in qualifying. Alonso is a further 12 points behind and has last victory in F1 came 10 years ago the Spanish GP.

Hamilton and George Russell will have the chance to see how their upgrades fare on a more conventional circuit as Mercedes look to move up the pecking order, while Ferrari are hoping to bounce back from a difficult weekend in Monaco.

Earlier this year, Spanish GP organisers confirmed F1 will revert to the old configuration of two fast, sweeping right-handers to conclude the lap, which has been called for by several drivers in recent years in a bid to improve the racing in Barcelona.

Catch all the action at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sky Sports F1, with light out 2pm on Sunday June 4.

Drivers’ championship top 10 after six rounds

Driver Team Points
1) Max Verstappen Red Bull 144
2) Sergio Perez Red Bull 105
3) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 93
4) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 69
5) George Russell Mercedes 50
6) Carlos Sainz Ferrari 48
7) Charles Leclerc Ferrari 42
8) Lance Stroll Aston Martin 27
9) Esteban Ocon Alpine 21
10) Pierre Gasly Alpine 14

Constructors’ championship top five after six rounds

Team Points
1) Red Bull 249
2) Aston Martin 120
3) Mercedes 119
4) Ferrari 90
5) McLaren 35

Watch how much of a difference the removal of the final chicane on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track will have on drivers this season as we compare Fernando Alonso's 2006 and Charles Leclerc's 2022 pole lap

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Watch how much of a difference the removal of the final chicane on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track will have on drivers this season as we compare Fernando Alonso’s 2006 and Charles Leclerc’s 2022 pole lap

Watch how much of a difference the removal of the final chicane on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track will have on drivers this season as we compare Fernando Alonso’s 2006 and Charles Leclerc’s 2022 pole lap

Sky Sports F1’s live Spanish GP schedule

Thursday June 1
2pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday June 2
8.50am: F3 Practice
10.00am: F2 Practice
12pm: Spanish GP Practice One (session starts 12.30pm)
1.55pm: F3 Qualifying
2.50pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: Spanish GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5.15pm: The F1 Show: Spain

Saturday June 3
9.25am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Spanish GP Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.15pm: Spanish GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Spanish GP Qualifying
6.15pm: IndyCar – Detroit GP Qualifying

Sunday June 4
8.50am: F3 Feature Race
10.20am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Spanish GP build-up
2pm: THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag Spanish GP reaction
5.45pm: Indy NXT – Detroit GP
8pm: IndyCar – Detroit GP

Will Red Bull’s winning run in F1 2023 continue at the Spanish GP? Watch all the action live on Sky Sports F1 from June 2-4 Get Sky Sports

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Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin did not expect so much rain at Monaco GP when making pit stop

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Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin tried to be aggressive on strategy but Max Verstappen was just too fast to challenge

Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin tried to be aggressive on strategy but Max Verstappen was just too fast to challenge

Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin did not expect so much rain to arrive at the Monaco GP when they pitted for new dry tyres just before a downpour.

Alonso was running in second behind Max Verstappen when rain caused chaos and pitted for the medium tyres on Lap 55, just as the weather became worse.

He was forced to pit again on the next lap for intermediates, while Verstappen was able to make just one pit stop, enabling the Dutchman to go on and win the race by nearly 28 seconds.

Had Aston Martin opted to go straight on to intermediate tyres, Alonso would have been better placed to end Red Bull’s winning run in 2023, but the Spaniard explained why the dry tyres were selected again.

“When I stopped, it was just raining in Turns Five and Seven. The rest of the track was completely dry,” Alonso told Sky Sports F1.

“If you are in P2 and put intermediates on for only two corners, maybe Jenson (Button) could guess that good!

“The forecast we had was just a small shower and a few drops of rain. We didn’t expect that amount of rain.”

He added: “For me, it was very clear that the track on that lap we stopped was completely dry apart from Turns Seven and Eight. So how I will put on the inters? It was completely dry 99 per cent of the track.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes they would have been under more pressure for the win from Alonso if Aston Martin had got their pit stop right

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes they would have been under more pressure for the win from Alonso if Aston Martin had got their pit stop right

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes they would have been under more pressure for the win from Alonso if Aston Martin had got their pit stop right

“So I stopped for dry tyres, the weather forecast was a small shower and a small quantity of rain as well what we had as a team, and we had a lot of margin behind us you know to put the dry tyres and if necessary, the inter tyres. So, you know, maybe it was extra safe, I don’t know.

“That minute and a half that it took to go through Turns Five, Six, Seven and Eight again it changed completely so the out lap on the dry tyres it was very wet when I got to those corners but the lap that we stopped, it was completely dry.”

Horner: Alonso making right call would have put Red Bull under pressure

Verstappen was 12 seconds ahead of Alonso when the rain intensity increased and appeared to be in control.

However, Christian Horner feels Red Bull would have faced more pressure had Aston Martin put intermediates on Alonso when he first stopped.

“It felt as though we’d gone a lap too long before going on to the inter and had Fernando picked the inter it would have been much tighter and put more pressure on our pit stop,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

Alonso in action in Monaco Alonso in action in Monaco

Alonso in action in Monaco

“Thankfully he took the slick tyre just as the rain was growing and at that point it was important Max didn’t take any risks and got it to the pits.

“When you’re the lead car you can only lose, you have nothing to gain. You’ve just got to try and work with the conditions – we have spotters out there, you’re trying to look at the radar, looking at the crowd – and just trying to piece it together. The driver has the best knowledge of what’s going on on the circuit.”

Anthony Davidson is at the SkyPad to analyse how a downpour helped create chaos during the Monaco Grand Prix

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Anthony Davidson is at the SkyPad to analyse how a downpour helped create chaos during the Monaco Grand Prix

Anthony Davidson is at the SkyPad to analyse how a downpour helped create chaos during the Monaco Grand Prix

Alonso: Verstappen’s amazing pace negated Aston Martin’s strategy

Aston Martin had made a strategy gamble at the start of the race by starting Alonso on the front row with the hard tyre, while Verstappen and Esteban Ocon behind started on the grippier medium tyre.

That decision meant Alonso could not really contest for the lead off the line and the two-time world champion said Verstappen’s ability to then run his medium tyres for so long negated Aston Martin’s aggressive strategy.

Asked if he could have won had the race stayed dry, Alonso said: “I think we didn’t have a chance to be honest. I think we were brave and the strategy is not normal that you start on the first row of the grid and you choose the hard tyre. I tried to do the opposite of the leaders.

“And that shows you know the commitment from the team and how aggressive everyone was in Aston Martin to try to get the win.

“We knew that it was some downside that the strategy we could end up maybe P5 or P6 something like that out of the podium. But this morning we discussed and we said you know we had couple of podiums this year, so we go for all or nothing. We start on the hard tyre and we didn’t have the pace. That was the only problem we had in the race.

“I think the strategy was good. The medium tyre was behaving surprisingly good. In our opinion we were hoping for more graining or bigger degradation. Max was able to drive 50 laps in an amazing place and that was the reason why he won the race, not because the strategy, he was just faster than us.”

Alonso not giving up on title hopes

Alonso is 51 points behind Verstappen ahead of his home event, the Spanish Grand Prix, and 12 points adrift of Sergio Perez, who failed to score in Monaco.

The Spaniard thinks in previous seasons he would be leading the championship after six rounds, having finished on the podium five times, and fourth in the other race.

“I think in any of the seasons that I remember, back in the 2000s I would be leading in the championship with the results that I got this year,” he said.

Rain causes chaos in Monaco with Verstappen nudging the wall, Lance Stroll hitting the barriers and Carlos Sainz spinning around!

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Rain causes chaos in Monaco with Verstappen nudging the wall, Lance Stroll hitting the barriers and Carlos Sainz spinning around!

Rain causes chaos in Monaco with Verstappen nudging the wall, Lance Stroll hitting the barriers and Carlos Sainz spinning around!

“But now, there’s Red Bull and Max dominating in every race, and even with great results you’re just stepping behind them. We didn’t have the best car in 2010, [but] we arrived leading the championship in Abu Dhabi.

“We didn’t have the best car in 2012, and we still fight for the championship until the last lap in Brazil. So the championship is long. We will not give up.

“We will need weekends where Red Bull has some issues, like Sergio had here with zero points. If Max has one or two of those, we will be a little bit closer in the championship. This is motorsport, anything can happen, but on pure pace I think we don’t have the chance yet. But we will not give up.”

Will Red Bull’s winning run in F1 2023 continue at the Spanish GP? Watch all the action live on Sky Sports F1 from June 2-4 Get Sky Sports

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Max Verstappen feels Red Bull need more pace at Monaco GP to stay ahead of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

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Max Verstappen fastest in Practice Two at Monaco GP from Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz; but it was not a plain-sailing Friday for F1 championship leader as he initially struggled with balance of his RB19; watch P3 from 11:30am on Sky Sports F1, with Qualifying at 3pm

Last Updated: 26/05/23 7:06pm

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Ride onboard with Max Verstappen as he navigates the Monaco streets during FP2

Ride onboard with Max Verstappen as he navigates the Monaco streets during FP2

Max Verstappen believes Red Bull need to find “a little bit more” pace in order to stay ahead of Ferrari at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Verstappen, who struggled with the balance of his RB19 in Practice One, was fastest in Practice Two on Friday, but only by 0.065s from Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc is looking to make it a hat-trick of pole positions on home soil on Saturday.

“FP1 was quite tricky. I was not really happy with the ride of the car on the kerbs. FP2 was already a lot better, the car was a lot more competitive,” said Verstappen.

“Compared to Ferrari, we are still lacking on the general ride of the car – so how it handles the kerbs, the bumps, the drops in camber. So it’s still something we need to work on.

“They are very, very close and knowing once we all go to the limit in Qualifying, we need a bit more to stay ahead of them.”

Verstappen topped the second practice session at the Monaco GP Verstappen topped the second practice session at the Monaco GP

Verstappen topped the second practice session at the Monaco GP

He added: “I think there’s still a little bit of scope to go in the same direction even more, so hopefully that will be even better.

“The car was drivable and that makes you able to put that lap [together], push a bit more, get closer to the guard rails around here. Overall, a difficult start but a good end.

“[Aston Martin] are close as well, so we definitely need to build a little bit more of a buffer if we want to be ahead of them.”

Verstappen says his Red Bull car initially struggled to handle the Monaco track during Friday practice

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Verstappen says his Red Bull car initially struggled to handle the Monaco track during Friday practice

Verstappen says his Red Bull car initially struggled to handle the Monaco track during Friday practice

Last year’s Monaco GP winner Sergio Perez had a difficult day as he was seventh and over half a second behind team-mate Verstappen.

The Mexican, who is 14 points behind Verstappen in the standings, admitted it “wasn’t a great day” from his side.

“I just need to sit down with the boys and go through it and try to put the best bits out there, every millisecond here is going to make a difference,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a real challenge heading into Qualifying, so it’s going to be an interesting session.

“Getting on top of the tyres and making sure we put the tyres in the right window at the right time.”

Sainz: Crash won’t affect me

Carlos Sainz was fastest in Practice One and looked strong in the second session, before crashing at the Swimming Pool Chicane.

As many drivers have done over the years, Sainz nudged the inside barrier at Turn 16, which broke his suspension and he went straight on, into the outside wall.

“It was a very small crash, I just clipped the wall on the inside of Turn 16. Typical Monaco miscalculation, so a shame because I gave the mechanics extra time today,” said Sainz.

Carlos Sainz whacks the inside barrier at the Swimming Pool Chicane to crash and cause a red flag in FP2

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Carlos Sainz whacks the inside barrier at the Swimming Pool Chicane to crash and cause a red flag in FP2

Carlos Sainz whacks the inside barrier at the Swimming Pool Chicane to crash and cause a red flag in FP2

“But in terms of confidence and lap time, I’ve been on it the whole day and one miscalculation is not going to affect me.

“I think we are on the right track to at least challenge for it [pole]. I think Red Bull is still quick, they are still leading after today.

“But we have been closer than any other weekend, and we hope we can at least give them a run for their money, but I think it will still be tricky.”

Carlos Sainz narrowly avoids colliding with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc in Practice two at the Monaco GP

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Carlos Sainz narrowly avoids colliding with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc in Practice two at the Monaco GP

Carlos Sainz narrowly avoids colliding with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc in Practice two at the Monaco GP

Leclerc: Anything is possible

There was little to separate the Ferrari pair for most of the day and Leclerc alluded that pole position is possible.

“We are okay, but Aston Martin and Red Bull seem to be very quick as well,” he said. “We still need to do a step forward, the feeling with the car wasn’t too bad, in FP1 a bit difficult, in FP2 a bit better but there were some things that weren’t as expected on my car, so we’ll work during the night to try and get the car exactly how I want.

“I will give it my all, qualifying is everything here. There is lots of talk about my last race, but, at the end of the day qualifying has always been one of my strengths, so I’m not too worried and I will go for it and let’s see what happens.

“I don’t think we have the best car, Red Bull is faster, Aston Martin is there about, but if we do a great job and I if put everything into my lap, then anything is possible.”

The Formula 1 season continues with the Monaco GP this weekend. Watch qualifying at 3pm on Saturday with lights out at 2pm on Sunday. Get Sky Sports

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Lewis Hamilton future 360: Amid links with Ferrari, what’s going on with his Mercedes contract extension?

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Lewis Hamilton is being linked with a move to Ferrari with a Mercedes contract extension still yet to be agreed

Lewis Hamilton is being linked with a move to Ferrari with a Mercedes contract extension still yet to be agreed

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes future remains unclear with his contract expiring at the end of the season and an extension yet to be agreed.

While the 38-year-old and team boss Toto Wolff suggested during the off-season that a new contract would be somewhat of a formality, the seven-time world champion currently remains set to be a free agent for 2024.

And Ferrari are now reportedly preparing a sensational offer to try and lure Hamilton from Mercedes to their famous red car.

So what does the future hold for Hamilton?

‘Ferrari prepping £40m contract offer’

Ferrari are readying a £40m offer for Hamilton, according to the Daily Mail, to try and persuade him to continue his pursuit of a record eighth world title with the Italian team.

The report says conversations are “advancing at the highest level” within Ferrari and also claims company president John Elkann is already in talks with Hamilton himself.

Hamilton has been frequently linked with a move to Ferrari throughout his F1 career. Back in 2019 when approaching the final year of his previous multi-year Mercedes deal, the Briton refused to confirm or deny reports that he had met with Elkann and Ferrari’s CEO Louis Camilleri later confirmed a ‘social’ conversation had taken place between Hamilton and Elkann.

Charles Leclerc has been linked with replacing Hamilton at Mercedes Charles Leclerc has been linked with replacing Hamilton at Mercedes

Charles Leclerc has been linked with replacing Hamilton at Mercedes

The Scuderia have both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz under contract for 2024. The Daily Mail suggests Ferrari would like Hamilton to partner Leclerc next season with Sainz moving on but are also considering something of a swap deal whereby Leclerc would leave to partner George Russell at Mercedes.

In April Leclerc was heavily linked in the Italian media with a move to Mercedes as Hamilton’s replacement, although the Ferrari driver insisted no talks over a move had taken place “yet”.

Both Ferrari and Mercedes did not wish to comment when approached by Sky Sports News about the Daily Mail’s report.

Meanwhile, sources in Italy believe Ferrari’s immediate focus is on improving the inconsistency of their car as they seek to return to championship contention again rather than changing their driver line-up.

Hamilton: Mercedes my home

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill discusses Lewis Hamilton's contract situation at Mercedes and whether the British driver will sign a new deal

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Former F1 world champion Damon Hill discusses Lewis Hamilton’s contract situation at Mercedes and whether the British driver will sign a new deal

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill discusses Lewis Hamilton’s contract situation at Mercedes and whether the British driver will sign a new deal

At least publicly, Hamilton has remained keen to play down suggestions he could bring his long-standing association with the Silver Arrows to an end.

Hamilton has been affiliated to Mercedes since he was 13, they were his engine providers during his six seasons at McLaren and he is now in his 11th season racing for the works team.

At the Saudi Arabian GP Hamilton said he had “no plan” to leave and ahead of claiming his first podium of the season at the Australian GP, the Briton said he wanted to stay with the team for “as long as he can contribute”.

While Hamilton has admitted the thought of finishing his career at Ferrari has crossed his mind, he regards Mercedes as his “home”.

“I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought about ending my career anywhere else,” Hamilton told ESPN earlier in May. “I started at McLaren, I’d like to think I’ll always be a part of the McLaren family, I started there when I was 13 years old, so I thought about what it would look like if I was at McLaren one day.

“I thought about and watched the Ferrari drivers on the screens at the track and of course you wonder what it would be like to be in red… But then I go to my team, to Mercedes, and this is my home. I’m happy where I am. I haven’t signed a contract yet, but we are working on one.”

Indeed, the 38-year-old has said he wants to remain linked with Mercedes for the rest of his life.

“I continue to feel very much at home. It’s family. I see myself being with Mercedes till my last days, to be honest,” he said.

“If you look at the legends, Sir Stirling Moss was with Mercedes till the end of days.

“So, that’s been the dream for me to one day have that… well I have that, so I mean just continue on with that and continue to build with the brand.”

Wolff: No Plan B on Hamilton

Hamilton's contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the season Hamilton's contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the season

Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the season

Mercedes boss Wolff also remains confident Hamilton will still be with the team for at least 2024.

The Austrian conceded in the wake of Mercedes’ poor opening race in Bahrain that Hamilton might have to look at joining another team “in a year or two” if they could not reverse their fortunes and produce a car the Briton could fight for an eighth world championship with.

Wolff is not yet considering alternative drivers to replace Hamilton and does not expect him to make a late decision on his F1 future.

“I don’t want to engage in discussions with other drivers, because I’m happy with the ones that are in the team, that’s for sure. At the moment, there is no Plan B. It’s Lewis,” he told Motorsport.com.

“I think that he would tell us early enough. I don’t think that Lewis would say: ‘I can’t do this any more. I’m out of here tomorrow’.

“He would always feel the responsibility for the team. He wouldn’t leave the team alone. Drivers can always take decisions [like that], but he wouldn’t let us down.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is optimistic Lewis Hamilton will remain with the team beyond this season

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is optimistic Lewis Hamilton will remain with the team beyond this season

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is optimistic Lewis Hamilton will remain with the team beyond this season

When has Hamilton signed previous extensions?

Hamilton’s current Mercedes contract is his fifth with the team since joining in 2013 and previous extension talks have dragged on until midway through the season – and even at one point left him out of contract.

During the 2020 season, Hamilton failed to agree a new deal before his contract expired that year, though he went on to sign a one-year deal in February 2021. That evolved into his present contract in July 2021 when Hamilton signed a two-year deal.

With the exception of his February 2021 deal, all of Hamilton’s previous contract extensions with Mercedes have been announced at Grand Prix weekends – in Monaco, Hockenheim and Austria.

Hamilton’s previous Mercedes extensions

Date Length Location
May 20 2015 Three years Monaco GP
July 19 2018 Two years German GP
February 8 2021 One year
July 3 2021 Two years Austrian GP

Does Hamilton have other options elsewhere?

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner rules out a move to his team for Lewis Hamilton, saying he can't see how they would accommodate the seven-time world champion

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner rules out a move to his team for Lewis Hamilton, saying he can’t see how they would accommodate the seven-time world champion

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner rules out a move to his team for Lewis Hamilton, saying he can’t see how they would accommodate the seven-time world champion

In short, not really – and certainly not at a team that could offer him a car in 2024 to deliver the eighth world championship he craves.

Red Bull are once again proving to be the team to beat in F1’s new regulations, but Verstappen is contracted until at least 2028 while Sergio Perez signed a contract last year through to the end of next season.

Team principal Christian Horner told Sky News in March he “can’t see where we would be able to accommodate Lewis” when asked about the proposition of Hamilton making a shock move to the reigning constructors’ champions.

While Aston Martin have joined the battle at the front and are also an engine customer of Mercedes, Fernando Alonso is signed until the end of next year and the possibility of Lance Stroll being dropped to make way for Hamilton is surely non-existent.

“Lewis has got one more roll of the dice to join a team and make them world champions and get all the accolades that he wants, so I think that’s where he’s at, at the moment,” Martin Brundle said on the Sky Sports F1 Podcast in March.

“‘If in doubt, stay put’, I would have thought would be what he’s thinking. ‘If I can make this work, that’s my best solution, if not I may have to look elsewhere.'”

As it stands, the only openings on the grid for 2024 are at AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, Williams and Haas.

Mercedes’ focus on improving W14?

Lewis Hamilton said in Baku he was counting down the days until Mercedes' upgrades arrive

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Lewis Hamilton said in Baku he was counting down the days until Mercedes’ upgrades arrive

Lewis Hamilton said in Baku he was counting down the days until Mercedes’ upgrades arrive

While Hamilton’s new deal may have appeared a formality during the winter when Mercedes were full of optimism for what 2023 held, their poor start to the season has forced their focus onto radically improving their car.

After their disastrous season-opener which Wolff described as one of his worst days in racing, the Austrian said it was “too early” to discuss Mercedes’ 2024 driver line-up while everyone at the team looked for solutions to close the gap to Red Bull.

Hamilton’s criticism this season, suggesting Mercedes “hadn’t listened” to him over the design of the W14 and most revealing his struggles with the car’s seating position, has added to the uncertainty over his future.

Significant changes have already taken place at the top of Mercedes’ technical team, with James Allison returning to the role of technical director in a job swap with Mike Elliott, who has taken up the position of chief technical officer.

Ted Kravitz looks at Mercedes' changes at technical director, where James Allison returns to the role replacing Mike Elliott.

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Ted Kravitz looks at Mercedes’ changes at technical director, where James Allison returns to the role replacing Mike Elliott.

Ted Kravitz looks at Mercedes’ changes at technical director, where James Allison returns to the role replacing Mike Elliott.

Major upgrades – new bodywork, a new floor and new front suspension – will be on the W14 from this weekend’s Monaco GP.

Should those updated provide the new solid baseline Wolff hopes the team can build from as they seek to close the gap to Red Bull again, then Mercedes may be able to give more attention to Hamilton’s future again.

Russell evolving into Mercedes’ leader?

Karun Chandhok takes a look at the comments between George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, as the pair shared contrasting views following the Saudi Arabia GP

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Karun Chandhok takes a look at the comments between George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, as the pair shared contrasting views following the Saudi Arabia GP

Karun Chandhok takes a look at the comments between George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, as the pair shared contrasting views following the Saudi Arabia GP

The subplot to Hamilton’s next deal with Mercedes is that, should he re-sign, his next contract will likely coincide with the growth of George Russell into the team’s leader.

In his debut campaign with Mercedes last year, Russell became only the third team-mate to beat Hamilton over the course of a season after Jenson Button in 2011 and Nico Rosberg in 2016. Russell also claimed Mercedes’ only win and pole positions of the season as Hamilton endured a winless season for the first time in his F1 career.

Hamilton, and Wolff, repeatedly suggested throughout 2022 his willingness to experiment with alternate setups on their troublesome W13 car was the reason he lost ground to Russell.

Russell leads Hamilton 4-1 in qualifying head-to-head so far in 2023, prompting 1996 world champion Damon Hill to ponder if Hamilton is beginning to lose his raw speed with age. Hamilton holds a 3-2 advantage in race results.

“George is super quick and is revelling in the early part of his career,” Hill told the F1 Nation Podcast.

“I don’t know if Lewis has acknowledged that he can’t match that. I’m sure he will do, eventually. It’s possible that that instinctive, unconscious speed is starting to leave him.”

There have also been the first murmurings of disagreement between the pair, with Russell rejecting Hamilton’s assertions that the 25-year-old’s performance in Saudi Arabia was down to luck.

That relationship will be fascinating to watch over the remainder of the season, and could possibly play a part in Hamilton’s final decision.

Formula 1 now heads to the streets of Monaco for the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 season – watch all the action on Sky Sports F1 from May 26-28. Get Sky Sports

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Balaton Park: Inside Europe’s first new purpose built motorsport track for a decade

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Hungary’s Balaton Park has a fair claim to be the first new top level purpose-built motorsport track in Europe for 15 years. Sky Sports News reporter Craig Slater explains why it has little prospect of hosting Formula 1 any time soon.

By Craig Slater – Reporter, Sky Sports News

Last Updated: 20/05/23 6:55pm

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Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater gives his insight to Hungary’s brand new racetrack and how it can help to push Formula One forward.

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater gives his insight to Hungary’s brand new racetrack and how it can help to push Formula One forward.

Over the last few years I’ve reported on a number of circuits racing to be ready in time with a Grand Prix only weeks away. It was rather “man bites dog” in news terms to see a big, fully complete, spanking new circuit open without any prospect of hosting a Formula 1 race.

That’s Balaton Park in Hungary which has a fair claim to be the first new top level purpose-built track in Europe for 15 years.

It cost €200m, is designed to accommodate 130,000 spectators and even had a former Grand Prix winner, Giancarlo Fisichella, on hand to drive its first laps.

But let’s be clear, F1 is not in Balaton Park’s sights, nor does F1 plan to go there.

Hungary’s F1 slot at the Hungaroring is secure for years to come – as I understand it – for at least the next decade. It has a long-term deal and there’s an appetite on both sides to extend it significantly further.

Balaton Park cost €200m to build Balaton Park cost €200m to build

Balaton Park cost €200m to build

Big renovations are planned for the slightly ageing facilities. Most importantly relations between its promoter and F1 are excellent and its proximity to Budapest is seen as a major plus.

Balaton Park, situated next to the nation’s biggest lake, has a different kind of vibe. That part of Hungary is not so well known in Britain but for central Europeans it’s a major summer destination. Lake Balaton has a 200km shoreline and average summer water temperatures of 25 degrees. There are elegant late Habsburg era resort towns which – getting back to motorsport – seemed to have charmed the individual ultimately responsible for a building a racing circuit there.

Step forward Chanoch Nissany, a remarkable person by any standards. A property developer working in Hungary at the turn of the millennium he visited the Hungaroring’s F1 race in 2001 and at the age of 38 decided he would become an F1 driver.

Chanoch Nissany featured in an F1 practice session for Minardi in 2005 Chanoch Nissany featured in an F1 practice session for Minardi in 2005

Chanoch Nissany featured in an F1 practice session for Minardi in 2005

That he drove the Minardi in an official free practice session at the very same circuit four years later is a testament to his own driven nature. That episode is a story in itself.

NIssany heads up this fully privately funded venture. His son Roy, an F2 driver, still on the Williams development roster, is also heavily involved. Nissany senior has overseen major hotel and resort developments in the area. Balaton Park then appears something that can be built gradually as part of the leisure infrastructure without the short-term need to host major one off events.

A host of Budapest bigwigs tried out in Porsches on launch day. The circuit’s first major event will be Porsche’s ‘Festival of Dreams’ next month. Might MotoGP be an option?

Balaton Park's first major event will be Porsche's 'Festival of Dreams' Balaton Park's first major event will be Porsche's 'Festival of Dreams'

Balaton Park’s first major event will be Porsche’s ‘Festival of Dreams’

The series looked at a Hungarian leg two years ago. There was the proposal to build a track for it in the Balaton region in 2010.

As for F1… “We are not looking to challenge the Hungaroring. F1 in Hungary is there,” Balaton director Gianpaolo Matteucci (and Fisichella’s long-time manager) told me.

That’s right, but might Nissany’s long-time desire to be part of F1, be instructive in that regard?

Sky Sports F1’s live Monaco GP schedule

Thursday May 25
11.25am: F3 Practice
12.55pm: F2 Practice
2pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday May 26
10.05am: F3 Qualifying
12pm: Monaco GP Practice One (session starts 12.30pm)
2.05pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5.30pm: The F1 Show: Monaco

Saturday May 27
9.55am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Monaco GP Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)
1.30pm: F2 Sprint
2:30pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Monaco GP Qualifying
4.45pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday May 28
7.15am: F3 Feature Race
8.45am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Monaco GP build-up
2pm: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
5.30pm: The 107th Indy 500

Formula 1 now heads to the streets of Monaco for the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 season – watch all the action on Sky Sports F1 from May 26-28. Get Sky Sports

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Lando Norris says ‘very fast’ Oscar Piastri is pushing him more than Daniel Ricciardo did at McLaren

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Lando Norris feels Oscar Piastri is pushing him “a little bit more” than Daniel Ricciardo managed as McLaren team-mates; McLaren boss Zak Brown believes Piastri is a world champion in waiting; Norris reflects on now being the veteran driver for McLaren

Last Updated: 19/05/23 12:23pm

Lando Norris says rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri is 'very fast' and pushing him 'a little bit more' than Daniel Ricciardo did

Lando Norris says rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri is ‘very fast’ and pushing him ‘a little bit more’ than Daniel Ricciardo did

Lando Norris says “very fast” rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri is pushing him more at McLaren than Daniel Ricciardo did.

Ricciardo had a difficult two years at McLaren – his 2021 race win at Monza being the only time he finished on the podium – as Norris comfortably out-performed the Australian finishing 45 points and 85 points ahead respectively in the 2021 and 2022 drivers’ championship.

McLaren released Ricciardo from his contract a year early at the end of the 2022 season with former Alpine reserve driver and 2021 Formula 2 champion Piastri replacing him.

So far this season Piastri has been able to keep close to Norris on race days with the two McLarens being two places apart in each grand prix since the Australian’s season-opening retirement.

Lando Norris comfortably outperformed Daniel Ricciardo in the two years they were team-mates at McLaren Lando Norris comfortably outperformed Daniel Ricciardo in the two years they were team-mates at McLaren

Lando Norris comfortably outperformed Daniel Ricciardo in the two years they were team-mates at McLaren

And while Norris has out-qualified his new team-mate 4-1 in the opening five rounds, the average margin between the pair is just 0.067s.

Speaking in Miami, Norris said of his new team-mate: “He’s a lovely guy, down to earth, a normal guy, a hard worker. So it’s good fun. Different, I guess, to Daniel, I feel like a bit of a contrast of Australian, but still good fun.

“He’s very fast at the same time, so he’s probably been pushing me a little bit more than in the past couple years.”

Lando Norris takes Fast & Furious star Michelle Rodriguez on a hot lap in Miami, as well as meeting Vin Diesel. Fast X is in UK cinemas from May 19

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Lando Norris takes Fast & Furious star Michelle Rodriguez on a hot lap in Miami, as well as meeting Vin Diesel. Fast X is in UK cinemas from May 19

Lando Norris takes Fast & Furious star Michelle Rodriguez on a hot lap in Miami, as well as meeting Vin Diesel. Fast X is in UK cinemas from May 19

Brown: Piastri a future world champion

McLaren boss Zak Brown has also been impressed by Piastri’s start with the team, especially with his performance in Azerbaijan while battling illness.

And the American believes the 22-year-old is an F1 world champion in waiting.

“Oscar has been impressive since we’ve had him in the car. He’s very mature. He’s very focused and he’s very technical. So the combination of Lando and Oscar, I couldn’t think of a better combination of drivers,” Brown said.

“Oscar has done a fantastic job and he’s trading lap times with Lando now and that’s what you want.

“He’s not really made certainly not any big mistakes. Typical exploring the limits so the odd lock of a wheel here and there but yeah, he’s not been to all these races so early indications are we’ve got a future world champion on our hands.

“We just have to work to give him a faster car now.”

Highlights of the Miami Grand Prix at the fifth race of the season

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Highlights of the Miami Grand Prix at the fifth race of the season

Highlights of the Miami Grand Prix at the fifth race of the season

Aged 23, Norris is now the senior driver at McLaren for the first time in his F1 career but the Briton does not feel a change of dynamic with the team nor team-mate Piastri.

“How I worked last year and how I worked with Daniel, it’s not too different, it’s not like too many things change,” he said.

“They lean on me maybe a bit more for the knowledge of how we were in previous years to look at the development from last year to this year and things like that.

“Apart from that, you both give your sides of the feelings and the story of what’s going on with the car and what you want from the car, which aligns very well.

“I wouldn’t say we have the same driving style, but our comments and complaints are generally always the same. So I think that’s a good thing.”

‘Miami GP reality check for McLaren’

Sky F1's Ted Kravitz reflects on the Miami Grand Prix

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reflects on the Miami Grand Prix

Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reflects on the Miami Grand Prix

McLaren have made an underwhelming start to the 2023 season with the MCL60 lacking performance after development targets were missed over the winter.

The team introduced a big upgrade package at the Azerbaijan GP and had seen instant progress as both Norris and Piastri made the final segment of qualifying before securing a P9 and P11 finish.

However, McLaren found themselves languishing at the rear end of the field again in Miami as both drivers exited qualifying in Q1.

Attempts to progress on the Sunday were hindered by Norris being shunted from behind by AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries, causing damage the team estimated worth two to three tenths per lap, while Piastri was managing a brake issue.

Norris would come home 17th and Piastri 19th and team principal Andrea Stella conceded the poor result had given McLaren a reality check.

“Our main takeaway from Miami is that we were not quick enough this weekend,” Stella said.

“After scoring points in Baku, this weekend serves as a reality check on how much work we have ahead of us.

“The plan doesn’t change: we have good developments coming, we keep our heads down, regroup and go again.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Monaco GP schedule

Thursday May 25
11.25am: F3 Practice
12.55pm: F2 Practice
2pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday May 26
10.05am: F3 Qualifying
12pm: Monaco GP Practice One (session starts 12.30pm)
2.05pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5.30pm: The F1 Show: Monaco

Saturday May 27
9.55am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Monaco GP Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)
1.30pm: F2 Sprint
2:30pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Monaco GP Qualifying
4.45pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday May 28
7.15am: F3 Feature Race
8.45am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Monaco GP build-up
2pm: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
5.30pm: The 107th Indy 500

Formula 1 now heads to the streets of Monaco for the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 season – watch all the action on Sky Sports F1 from May 26-28. Get Sky Sports

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Emilia Romagna GP: Ferrari donate £870k to flooding fund after Imola race cancellation

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The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was called off on Wednesday due to heavy flooding in the northern Italy; Formula 1 personnel were told to leave the track on Tuesday afternoon before event organisers and F1 announced the scheduled sixth round of the season would not take place this weekend

Last Updated: 18/05/23 4:19pm

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Sky Sports F1’s Rachel Brookes gives her account of the devastating flooding around Imola that lead to the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Sky Sports F1’s Rachel Brookes gives her account of the devastating flooding around Imola that lead to the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Ferrari have donated £870k (€1m) to the Emilia-Romagna region’s fundraising effort after heavy flooding led to the cancellation of the Formula 1 race in Imola.

F1, along with Italian authorities, decided on Wednesday that the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which had been scheduled to take place from Friday through to Sunday, would not go ahead.

At least nine people have been killed by flooding in the region, while thousands have been evacuated from their homes, with rescue efforts taking place on Thursday to reach towns and villages that were cut off from highways, electricity and mobile phone service.

Ferrari, whose Maranello base lies within the region 50 miles north-west of Imola, have donated to the Emilia-Romagna Region’s Agency for Territorial Safety and Civil Protection.

Craig Slater explains why this week's Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled.

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Craig Slater explains why this week’s Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled.

Craig Slater explains why this week’s Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled.

“In times of difficulty, Ferrari has always stood by its community,” said Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna.

“We wanted to provide a concrete and immediate response to the most urgent needs of the population of Emilia Romagna, which has been tried by a serious environmental disaster.

“With the coordination of the local authorities, to whom our heartfelt thanks go for their tireless work, this aid will bring comfort and a tangible sign of the solidarity of the entire Ferrari family.”

Ferrari explained that their donation will be used “with a particular focus on projects for environmental recovery and the management of hydrogeological instability.”

Hamilton: We all understand safety comes first

Lewis Hamilton was among several drivers to endorse F1’s decision to call off the race, and posted a message of support via his Instagram account insisting that “safety comes first”.

“Hoping everyone in Emilia Romagna is able to stay safe and look out for each other right now,” the seven-time world champion wrote.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton send a message of support to flood victims after the Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled.

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Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton send a message of support to flood victims after the Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton send a message of support to flood victims after the Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled.

“Thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy and the amazing emergency services working on the ground.

“I know we all understand that safety comes first. I can’t wait to see you all at the next race.”

AlphaTauri ‘very concerned’

AlphaTauri, whose factory is in Faenza, a city less than 20km from Imola that has been hit by this bout of floods along with ones earlier in the month, expressed concern over the situation.

“Scuderia AlphaTauri is very concerned about events unfolding over the past hours in Faenza and indeed in the whole Emilia-Romagna area, with flooding and heavy rain causing considerable damage,” a team statement said.

“The team’s factory is currently unaffected and everything is being done to ensure the safety of our employees and their families.

“Our sympathies go out to all those affected and we continue to monitor the situation, to see what can be done to help those in need as we await further developments.”

The cancellation of the race in Imola means F1’s original 24-race schedule for 2023 is set to be reduced to 22, with the Chinese GP, which was slated for April, having been unable to take place due to the country’s Covid-19 restrictions.

The Emilia Romagna GP was scheduled to be the first of a triple-header of European races, meaning the season is set to continue in Monaco next weekend, before moving on to Barcelona for the Spanish GP.

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Formula 1: McLaren chief Zak Brown calls for cost cap changes to remove sustainability ‘barriers’

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McLaren published their annual sustainability report on Wednesday; the team have called for significant changes to the sport’s cost cap regulations to enable greater investment in sustainability projects and initiatives

Last Updated: 18/05/23 11:23am

McLaren released their annual sustainability report on Wednesday

McLaren released their annual sustainability report on Wednesday

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown has called for changes to Formula 1’s cost cap rules to enable teams to invest more into sustainability projects and initiatives.

The sport introduced a cost cap for the 2021 season which is designed to bring the field closer together and ultimately create more competitive racing.

While releasing their annual sustainability report on Thursday, McLaren criticised the fact that “costs incurred for sustainability initiatives sit within the cost cap unless they are directly attributable to an existing exclusion.”

The Woking-based team say they have held discussions on the topic with the sport’s organisers, its governing body the FIA, and other teams, but Wednesday’s statement represents a very public push for change when a new set of regulations are implemented in 2026.

“We strongly believe in the cost cap and wouldn’t want to see anything that undermines its integrity,” Brown said. “But current regulations have created some unintended barriers when it comes to investing in sustainability.”

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown says the sport's cost cap has created 'unintended barriers' McLaren chief executive Zak Brown says the sport's cost cap has created 'unintended barriers'

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown says the sport’s cost cap has created ‘unintended barriers’

“It’s been fantastic to see so much support from F1 and other teams on this issue, and we’re delighted that the FIA has established a working group to explore next steps.”

“But to unlock our sport’s potential to drive the development of more sustainable technologies that can spark positive changes on a global scale, we need a genuine step change.

“That requires a level playing field so teams can work towards achieving the same targets and no longer need to choose between investing in car performance and investing in sustainability.”

Along with sustainability projects, McLaren want cost cap exclusions created for diversity, equity and inclusion projects, team wellbeing initiatives, and costs for intern and apprentice programmes to help provide pathways into motorsport and STEM careers

Brown added: “Our sport needs a clear regulatory framework with financial, technical and sporting regulations that better enable us all to innovate and invest in sustainability. We need to find better ways to share expertise and insights across our industry.

“Only true collaboration will help us drive meaningful change. And if we want to achieve a step change with the new set of 2026 regulations, then those decisions need to be made now.”

The report also revealed progress for the team in reaching sustainability targets, with a 22 per cent reduction in GHG emissions compared to their 2019 baseline, along with a nine per cent reduction in air freight emissions over a two-year period as a result of transporting equipment by sea freight.

McLaren also revealed that 33 per cent of new starters in the last year came from under-represented backgrounds, while six per cent of their workforce are now trained as mental health first aiders.

Formula 1's chief technical officer Pat Symonds discusses sustainable fuels and their place in the sport

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Formula 1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds discusses sustainable fuels and their place in the sport

Formula 1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds discusses sustainable fuels and their place in the sport

McLaren director of sustainability Kim Wilson added: “Our mission to ‘set the standard for performance in sport’ applies to sustainability as much as it applies to our on-track performance.

“And as the only racing team to participate in F1, IndyCar, Formula E and Extreme E as well as eSports we have a unique opportunity to foster innovation and cross-learning across our sport to accelerate the changes needed to positively address our economic, environmental and social impacts.

“While as a team, we can point to significant progress in delivering operational improvements across our four sustainability pillars last year, I hope that we are demonstrating through our actions that we are willing to experiment and share our learnings with other teams, our regulators and stakeholders.

“It is now time for accelerated action and industry-wide collaboration that drives meaningful change in the next few years.”

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Emilia Romagna GP: Lewis Hamilton among F1 drivers to back cancellation of Imola race amid heavy flooding

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The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled on Wednesday amid heavy flooding in northern Italy; Formula 1 teams and drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, have backed the decision and offered messages of support to residents of the affected region

Last Updated: 17/05/23 3:02pm

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Craig Slater explains why this weekend’s Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled

Craig Slater explains why this weekend’s Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled

Formula 1 drivers and teams have backed the decision to cancel this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix amid heavy flooding in northern Italy.

A decision was taken on Wednesday by local authorities and organisers to not proceed with the event with Italy’s most severe red weather warnings in place for flooding and landslides, with other parts of the region having already been devastated.

A statement from Formula 1 cited a desire to avoid placing further pressure on local authorities and emergency services, with rescue efforts being carried out across the region.

F1 personnel and teams had begun arriving at the track, but the paddock was evacuated on Tuesday and remained off limits on Wednesday before the announcement.

Severe floods are widespread across Italy's Emilia Romagna region after heavy rains caused the Savio River to swell and flood the city of Cesena, where this video was filmed. Credit: Sky News

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Severe floods are widespread across Italy’s Emilia Romagna region after heavy rains caused the Savio River to swell and flood the city of Cesena, where this video was filmed. Credit: Sky News

Severe floods are widespread across Italy’s Emilia Romagna region after heavy rains caused the Savio River to swell and flood the city of Cesena, where this video was filmed. Credit: Sky News

Italian officials confirmed on Wednesday morning that the flooding had killed at least five people in the wider Emilia Romagna region, while around 5,000 had been evacuated from their homes.

The decision has been met with total support by drivers and teams, who have been offering their support and well wishes to the local community on social media.

Hamilton: We all understand that safety comes first

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton posted a message via his Instagram account insisting that “safety comes first”.

“Hoping everyone in Emilia Romagna is able to stay safe and look out for each other right now,” the seven-time world champion wrote.

Lewis Hamilton sent a message of support to the people of the Emilia Romagna region Lewis Hamilton sent a message of support to the people of the Emilia Romagna region

Lewis Hamilton sent a message of support to the people of the Emilia Romagna region

“Thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy and the amazing emergency services working on the ground.

“I know we all understand that safety comes first. I can’t wait to see you all at the next race.”

Fellow Brit Lando Norris echoed Hamilton’s sentiment.

“I love racing, but the safety of everyone else is more important,” the McLaren driver posted on Twitter. “Sorry to all the fans, we’ll be back Imola, stay safe.”

Norris’ McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri also offered a message of support.

“My thoughts are with those affected by the floods in the Emilia-Romagna region,” the Australian wrote. “Sorry to all the fans that we won’t be able to compete, I look forward to my first race at Imola in the future. Stay safe!”

AlphaTauri ‘very concerned’

AlphaTauri, whose factory is in Faenza, a city less than 20km from Imola that has been hit by this bout of floods along with ones earlier in the month, expressed concern over the situation.

“Scuderia AlphaTauri is very concerned about events unfolding over the past hours in Faenza and indeed in the whole Emilia-Romagna area, with flooding and heavy rain causing considerable damage,” a team statement said.

“The team’s factory is currently unaffected and everything is being done to ensure the safety of our employees and their families.

“Our sympathies go out to all those affected and we continue to monitor the situation, to see what can be done to help those in need as we await further developments.”

Ferrari, F1’s only other Italy-based team, whose Maranello factory is also located in the Emilia Romagna region, offered their own message of support.

A Ferrari statement said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the people of Emilia Romagna and Marche as they deal with the destruction caused by the heavy rain and flooding currently affecting the area.”

Steiner: Safety is paramount

Haas boss Guenther Steiner said his team were “fully supportive” of the decision to cancel the Grand Prix.

“Our entire team’s thoughts are very much with the people affected by the flooding in the Emilia Romagna region,” Steiner said.

“Many of our track personnel having already seen for themselves the impact it’s having on the people and the area.

“We are fully supportive of Formula 1 and the FIA’s decision to not proceed with this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

“We will continue to keep the local community in mind, their on-going safety is paramount, and we express our thanks to the authorities and emergency services in the region for their tireless efforts at this challenging time.”

Teams back decision | ‘Thoughts with victims’

The rest of F1’s 10 teams have also given backing to the cancellation via statements on social media.

The cancellation means that F1’s original 24-race schedule for 2023 could now be reduced to 22, with the Chinese Grand Prix, which was slated for April, having been unable to take place due to the country’s Covid-19 restrictions.

The Emilia Romagna GP was scheduled to be the first of a triple-header of European races, meaning the season is set to continue in Monaco next weekend, before moving on to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix.

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