Christian Horner was not surprised to hear of Mattia Binotto's departure from Ferrari and rubbished speculation he would leave Red Bull to fill the vacancy.

Ferrari announced last week that Binotto had handed in his resignation as team principal after a frustrating season, where the team fell short of their objectives despite a fine start to the campaign.

An error-strewn year saw Charles Leclerc lose a 46-point advantage over Max Verstappen and Red Bull, eventually finishing a distant second-place to the two-time world champion.

Ferrari's hunt for a successor to Binotto has seen Horner linked with a move across the paddock but he affirmed his commitment to Red Bull.

Asked whether he was surprised by Binotto's exit, Horner told Sky Sports: "Not really. It is obviously Ferrari's choice.

"I think it will be the sixth team principal I have sat opposite since I've been at Red Bull. Obviously, it's very difficult for him. They had a great car this year, they were very competitive.

"My commitment is very much with the Red Bull team. I've been there since the beginning and have a really close attachment."

Verstappen will be looking to hand Red Bull a third consecutive drivers' championship in 2023, as well as retaining the constructors' championship, but Horner expects a tougher fight when the season begins in March – predicting Mercedes to be back near the top.

"Both those guys [Lewis Hamilton and George Russell] had great seasons. George finishing ahead of Lewis in his first year with the team was an impressive performance but Lewis is obviously still right there," Horner added.

"You've got to assume they're going to come back fighting hard next year, Ferrari as well will be looking to make progress, so it's set to be a really tough season."

Red Bull will also have to cope with the penalty issued for breaching Formula One's budget cap, resulting in a reduction of time allowance in the wind tunnel.

However, with development of the 2023 car already well underway before the punishment was issued, it is expected that the biggest impact from the penalty will be felt in 2024.

Formula One's 2023 season will not feature the Chinese Grand Prix after the race was scrapped due to "ongoing difficulties" surrounding the country's COVID-19 situation.

F1 was due to return to the Shanghai International Circuit in 2023, having last raced there in 2019.

The 2020 race, like most originally scheduled for that season, was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2021 race fell the same way. F1 could not honour its contract to race in China last season because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

There will now be no race in the country for the fourth successive campaign after F1 confirmed the 2023 grand prix scheduled for April had been cancelled.

"Formula 1 can confirm, following dialogue with the promoter and relevant authorities, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation," a short statement read.

"Formula 1 is assessing alternative options to replace the slot on the 2023 calendar and will provide an update on this in due course."

China continues to operate a 'zero-COVID' policy, with strict local lockdowns enforced if even one person tests positive for the virus.

Those who test positive are taken to a designated COVID hospital for centralised care and remain there until they have tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times, a process that can take numerous weeks.

Reports prior to F1 confirming the cancellation indicated it was not prepared to ask teams to travel to the country amid the risk its drivers and staff could be quarantined for weeks if they caught the virus.

F1 staff would reportedly not be given exemptions if they contracted COVID-19.

If it does not replace the grand prix with an alternative in another country, F1 will stage a 23-race calendar in 2023 that would feature a four-week gap between the Australian Grand Prix on April 2 and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30 because of the cancellation.

The new season is due to start on March 5 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alex Palou, the 2021 IndyCar champion, has been named as one of McLaren's reserve drivers for the 2023 Formula One season.

The 25-year-old, who ran in testing with the outfit across the 2022 season, is set to balance his time in the cockpit with his schedule in IndyCar.

Earlier this year, Palou was involved in a dispute over his future, with McLaren and then-current team Ganassi both suggesting he was under contract for next year with them.

After the latter initially filed a lawsuit against the racer, it was settled for him to test, though now the Spaniard makes the step up inside McLaren's team structure.

"I'm excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023," Palou said in a statement. 

"I can't wait for the involvement with next year's car.

"I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the trust McLaren have in me with this new role next year."

McLaren were involved in a dispute over new driver Oscar Piastri too, after the latter left Alpine amid a bitter fallout over his future.

The Australian will succeed Daniel Ricciardo for the team on a contract through 2024, and will partner Lando Norris, with McLaren yet to confirm the remainder of their reserve driver pool.

Ferrari have confirmed the departure of team principal Mattia Binotto, ending a professional relationship that extends all the way back to 1995.

The 53-year-old, who originally joined almost three decades ago as a member of their engine department, succeeded Maurizio Arrivabene in 2019 in charge of the Scuderia.

But his departure has been widely expected following a Formula One season that saw Ferrari rival Red Bull in the early stages before dropping away amid a series of technical errors and operational failures.

Binotto will officially depart at the end of the year, on December 31, with the team adding a search for his successor is already underway.

"With the regret that this entails, I have decided to conclude my collaboration with Ferrari," he confirmed in a statement.

"I am leaving a company that I love with the serenity that comes from the conviction that I have made every effort to achieve the objectives set.

"I leave a united and growing team. I think it is right to take this step at this time, as hard as this decision has been for me."

Ferrari chief executive officer Benedetto Vigna paid tribute to Binotto, and added he leaves the team in a prime place to continue to compete at the top of the sport.

"I would like to thank Mattia for his many great contributions over 28 years with Ferrari and particularly for leading the team back to a position of competitiveness during this past year," he stated.

"As a result, we are in a strong position to renew our challenge, above all for our amazing fans around the world, to win the ultimate prize in motorsport.

"Everyone here at the Scuderia and in the wider Ferrari community wishes Mattia well for the future."

Max Verstappen suggests any drivers in Formula One not prepared for a record-breaking race calendar next season should consider quitting.

The Red Bull man, who claimed a second world drivers' championship crown this term, capped his imperious year with victory at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix earlier this month.

But the Dutchman will face a longer fight to defend his title once more next term, with F1 poised for a possible 24-race campaign, two more than in 2022.

That has raised concerns over the fatigue drivers may face across a mammoth season, but Verstappen suggests those who do not feel they are cut out for the long haul should step back.

"If you're not prepared, then it's better to stop already, right?" he told The Guardian. "I think we're all racers, and we love racing.

"I think we are all prepared for longer seasons. I hope it will be tight. It's always nice to have a fight until the end. But yeah, I'm prepared for more races and for a longer fight hopefully."

Having seen the battle for his maiden title in 2021 go down to the wire in controversial circumstances, Verstappen ultimately secured his second crown with four races to go, at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Acknowledging it was nice to have a change of pace, the Dutchman also affirmed his hopes for a closer contest next term.

"You can't have that drama every single year, for sure," he reflected on 2021. "It's not good for me, it's not healthy for anyone in the team, both teams.

"Of course it's nice to have a season like I had last year, but it's also nice to have a season like I have this year.

"It just would be very tough if you have that every single year. But that also doesn't really happen in F1, so it should be okay."

Red Bull have announced the return of Daniel Ricciardo, who will be their third driver for the 2023 season.

The Australian left the grid following his exit from McLaren, where he completed his final race in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, and it was widely expected that he would be returning to Red Bull, who he left in 2018.

Ricciardo had a stint with Renault before moving to McLaren, with spells at both teams being disappointing ones, and it was announced earlier this year he would be leaving the latter – Oscar Piastri being his replacement on the grid.

The 33-year-old did not turn his back on Formula One, however, and could return to the grid with a full-time seat in the future, though previously stated he felt the best approach could be as a reserve driver.

That move has now come with Red Bull, where he will be an understudy to Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in 2023 – filling in should either of the pair be unable to race, as well as competing in practice sessions.

"The smile says it all, I'm truly excited to be coming back home to Oracle Red Bull Racing as their Third Driver in 2023," Ricciardo said.

"I already have so many fond memories of my time here, but the welcome from Christian [Horner], Dr [Helmut] Marko and the entire team is something I'm sincerely appreciative of.

"For me personally, the ability to contribute to and be surrounded by the best team in F1 is hugely appealing, whilst also giving me some time to recharge and refocus.

"I can't wait to be with the team and support with simulator work, testing sessions and commercial activities. Let’s go!"

The 2023 Formula One season will begin on March 5 in Bahrain, the start of a record-breaking 24 races across the course of the campaign.

Max Verstappen already ranks among Formula One's all-time greatest drivers, believes former world champion Nico Rosberg, after the Dutchman's latest triumph.

The Red Bull man signed off on a second successive world drivers' championship crown in emphatic style with victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.

With 15 race wins this season, Verstappen has set a new record for most victories in a single campaign, and has moved to sixth on the all-time list, overhauling Fernando Alonso.

Now former Mercedes driver Rosberg, who won the title in 2016, thinks he deserves to be high in the conversation when it comes to determining who the sport's finest stars are.

"He is an incredible driver," he told Sky Sports podcast Any Driven Monday. "I think it's easy to say even now that's he's going to be one of the best of all time, if you look at the statistics he actually even is now.

"He's a double world champion [and] with all of the race wins that he has, more than Alonso, he's already one of the best of all time. I think he's only getting started.

"He's going to confirm that in the next decade, certainly. His level of driving is phenomenal, and it's great to witness that."

Though the latter half of his campaign was dogged by Red Bull's salary cap infringements, Verstappen's achievements nevertheless came impressively this year,

An early title battle with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc ultimately petered out after a multitude of strategy errors from his rivals, but even before then, the Dutchman looked to have the edge.

"We need to remember also, it's not like from the get-go this year his car was miles quicker than everyone else's," Rosberg added.

"The Ferrari was the quickest car in the beginning of the season and still, he got this incredible 15 wins and really destroyed the opposition in that way.

"If you look at the points, he scored 146 more than anybody else, it's unreal. It's one of the greatest driving seasons we've ever seen, certainly."

Logan Sargeant insists he does not feel any extra pressure despite becoming the first full-time American Formula One driver in 16 years.

A fourth-placed finish in the Formula 2 championship, confirmed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, saw the 21-year-old move above the threshold for the required points to earn a super licence, securing him a seat at Williams.

Sargeant will partner Alex Albon in 2023, with Nicolas Latifi losing his spot, and will be the first American driver since Scott Speed in 2007.

A move to F1 always comes with pressure - though that could be significantly more given the support from his homeland - but Sargeant does not believe that is the case.

"I have prepared the best I can to be the best driver I can possibly be," he said. "Hopefully, I can represent them well and make them proud, but I don't feel it's any extra pressure."

American drivers do not have an established recent history in Formula One, with the last driver prior to Speed being Michael Andretti, who was dropped three races before the conclusion of the 1993 season.

F1 is keen to continue to grow stateside, with Las Vegas joining Miami and Austin on the calendar next season, but Sargeant does not feel his nationality was a factor in gaining a seat on the grid.

"I like to think it is a happy coincidence," he added. "I put in the hard work over the past however many years, made the commitment to move to Europe when I was young to make this dream a reality.

"I feel like I've had a very good junior formula career. And [I am] just looking forward to closing that chapter and move on to what's next."

Max Verstappen has hinted he could retire from Formula One when his contract with Red Bull expires in 2028, saying: "I want to do other stuff".

Verstappen retained the drivers' championship in dominant fashion this campaign, posting 15 victories in 22 races – a new single-season record.

However, speaking before he claimed a record third straight victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, Verstappen highlighted F1's impact on his family life and cast doubt upon his long-term future in the sport.

Asked whether he would continue in F1 when his current deal expires in six years, he told Sky Sports: "I don't know after that, but it also probably depends how competitive we are in '28.

"I've still got time. I don't want to make drastic decisions now.

"I want to do other stuff. F1 is amazing and I've achieved a lot, and I'm very happy and proud about it, but it's a lot of travelling and it's a lot of races.

"At one point, what is more important? Is family more important, or is F1 more important? That's when you need to make your mind up."

Verstappen finished the season 146 points clear of second-placed Charles Leclerc in the drivers' championship standings, having wrapped up his second world title with four races to spare.

Lewis Hamilton described the 2022 season as a "team-building exercise" for Mercedes, having failed to finish the final race of the season.

The seven-time world champion a difficult campaign this year, having struggled to compete for race victories and Mercedes finding themselves way off the pace of the likes of Red Bull, who waltzed to victory in both championships.

In Abu Dhabi, an initially strong start from Hamilton saw him leapfrog Ferrari's Carlos Sainz to fourth but he encountered issues after bouncing over a curb off track.

Hamilton was eventually forced to retire with power failure in an end that summed up the difficulties he encountered throughout the year, though he hopes the team can take lessons from their woes into 2023.

"Ultimately, we started with a car that we didn't want and we finished with a car that we didn't want," he told Sky Sports.

"We were stuck with it, we kept working away to improve it but the fundamental issues have been there all the way to the end, as you saw this weekend.

"It's been more of a team-building exercise this year and I'm very proud of the team. I'm very grateful for everybody who has continued to push.

"We have these next couple of weeks where we will be back at the factory, we'll get to see everybody. While we won't be celebrating a championship, we'll be celebrating them still for their hard work and efforts.

"I hope that the struggles this year really provide us with the tools and the strength to fight for many more championships moving forward."

A DNF in Abu Dhabi ensured Hamilton would finish a Formula One season without a race win for the first time in his career.

Sebastian Vettel made it clear there are "far more important things than racing" as he said farewell to Formula One following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Vettel's last race came under the lights in the 2022 finale, where he secured a 10th-placed finish to claim a final point of his illustrious career in his 299th grand prix.

Speaking on the track as he made his goodbye speech, Vettel used the opportunity to highlight the privileged position the drivers find themselves in and implored the rest of the grid to use their roles for good.

"I don't have much more to say, I feel a bit empty to be honest, it's been a big week. I can only repeat, the last two years have been very disappointing from a sporting point of view, but very useful and important for me and my life," he said.

"There's a lot of things I've realised. I think it's a huge privilege to be in the position we are in and with that comes some responsibility, so I hope to pass on to some of the other drivers to carry on some of the good work.

"It's great to see that we have the power to inspire with what we do and what we say. There are far more important things than racing in circles, but that is what we love.

"Through that, if we can transfer some of the really important values, that is big. For that, the last three years have been great for me, so thank you for the support, the messages, the letters, the love in general. It's been an absolute joy throughout my career, so thank you."

While others have returned to Formula One after retiring from the grid, former F1 ace Martin Brundle believes there was a "finality" to Vettel's goodbye and does not expect him to return.

"It has been a wonderful send-off for him. It has a finality to it. There is nothing that suggests this is a temporary farewell, but I'm sure others felt like that as well – Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, who came back," he said on Sky Sports.

"This feels like he is moving on and I think he said in an interview that if he is stilling pining for F1 a couple of years from now he will have failed with the other things he wants to achieve in life."

Max Verstappen acknowledged it will be tough to replicate his "unbelievable" season next year after landing his 15th win of the Formula One campaign at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull star secured a record third straight victory in races at the Yas Marina Circuit, leading from the start of Sunday's grand prix to its conclusion.

Dutchman Verstappen had secured his second consecutive world title long before the season-ending event in the Middle East, and it would be remarkable if he is similarly dominant in 2023.

"It's been really enjoyable this year, working with the whole team to be able to achieve something like this year," Verstappen told Sky Sports.

"I know it's going to be hard to replicate something like this, but it's also very good motivation to try and do well next year."

Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, who held off Sergio Perez to finish second in the drivers' championship, opted for a one-stop pit strategy with their respective Red Bull and Ferrari teams.

Two-time world champion Verstappen cited the importance of tyre management after an efficient performance, as constructors' championship winners Red Bull finished 205 points clear of Ferrari.

"I think we looked after the mediums quite well," he said. "And then on the hard tyres, I was looking after them from lap one until the end, but incredible to win here again."

After becoming the first driver to win three straight races in Abu Dhabi – and also the first to do so from pole in all three – Verstappen appeared somewhat lost for words, labelling the win as "unbelievable".

Charles Leclerc lauded the "perfect race" at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after holding off Sergio Perez to secure second in Formula One's drivers' championship.

Red Bull star Max Verstappen was a distant memory for the rest of the grid on Sunday, easing to a third-straight Abu Dhabi win and 15th victory of 2022 after already securing the world title.

Team-mate Perez did not have as much reason to celebrate, though, after being unable to overtake Leclerc, who finished three points ahead of the Mexican in the drivers' standings.

Ferrari opted to go with a one-stop pit strategy with Leclerc at the Yas Marina Circuit and the Monegasque driver hailed a faultless performance in the final event of the season.

He told Sky Sports: "I was 110 per cent from the first lap to the last. We had the perfect race.

"I knew the only way for us to beat Checo [Perez] was with a different strategy and playing with time management, which we did really well. We made the one-stop work so I am really happy."

Leclerc's performance was enough to secure Ferrari second in the constructors' championship, again behind Red Bull, as the Italian team finished 39 points ahead of third-placed Mercedes.

The 25-year-old hopes his team can correct their mistakes and strategy decisions from 2022 to compete for the title after making progress this campaign.

"I really hope next year we can make a step forward and fight for the championship but considering where we were, it is a step forward," Leclerc added.

"We still need to work on race pace as we tend to struggle on Sunday but we will push during the winter break."

Perez may be left to rue Verstappen's refusal to allow his Red Bull team-mate to overtake in Sao Paolo last weekend, seemingly handing the advantage to Leclerc in the drivers' championship.

The Mexican refused to dwell on the negatives after the race in Abu Dhabi, though, instead pinpointing the positives as Red Bull look to improve on an incredible season next year.

"It is how it is. Sometimes everything can be really close. At the end of the day, I've got to be happy," Perez said.

"I gave it all, as a team we gave it all through the season, and I'm sure we will come back stronger next year.

"We had great moments, great battling. I think I struggled a bit this year in terms of managing the tyres in the race, that can be something that we will improve for next year, and generally just be a bit stronger." 

Max Verstappen claimed a record third straight victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc edged Sergio Perez for second at Formula One's season-ending event.

The Red Bull pair dominated the headlines in Sao Paulo last Sunday after Verstappen refused to allow Perez to overtake to aid his battle with Leclerc in the drivers' championship.

Verstappen became the first driver to win three consecutive races at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday, but the Brazil decision came back to haunt Red Bull as Leclerc held off Perez to claim second.

That saw the Ferrari driver beat Perez to second in the drivers' championship, while Lewis Hamilton ended the 2022 season without victory for the first time in his career after late Mercedes car failure and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel signed off with a point.

Sao Paulo winner George Russell suffered a five-second penalty after an unsafe release in the pits, before Fernando Alonso retired on lap 28 due to problems with his Alpine car.

Red Bull decided to pit Perez on lap 34, handing second to Leclerc, before the Mexican eventually battled past Hamilton to move into third with 11 laps remaining.

Mechanical issues for Hamilton saw the Mercedes star forced to withdraw on lap 56, while Ferrari opted to keep Leclerc on the same hard tyres with a one-stop strategy throughout.

That decision proved rewarding as Leclerc held off Perez to finish behind 15-race winner Verstappen as Ferrari secured second in both the drivers' and constructors' championship behind Red Bull.

Hamilton claims unwanted record

Hamilton experienced a season to forget as he and Mercedes battled with car issues – no more so than on Sunday – and underwhelming performances against the dominant Red Bull.

The seven-time world champion boasts the most wins in history at Abu Dhabi (five) but was unable to draw on that experience as he finished without a win or pole position this season amid a frustrating campaign.

Vettel bows out

Four-time F1 champion Vettel announced in July he would retire at the end of the 2022 season, with the last event in Abu Dhabi acting as his final swansong.

The German, who was heard questioning his team's strategy on radio, could only manage 10th in his final outing but ended with the most points in history for Aston Martin (80) after his 299th career race.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.771 seconds
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +10.093s
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +24.892s
5. George Russell (Mercedes) +35.888s
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +56.234s
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +57.2402
8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1:16.931s
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1:23.268s
10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1:23.898s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 454
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 308
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 305
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 275
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 246

Constructors

1. Red Bull 759
2. Ferrari 554
3. Mercedes 515
4. Alpine 173
5. McLaren 159

Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to a final race in the Mercedes W13 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, admitting it is a car he never wants to drive again.

Having fought Max Verstappen all the way for the title last year, only losing in controversial circumstances in the final moments of the season at the Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton has not been a threat in 2022 as the Red Bull star waltzed to a second consecutive championship.

Instead, Hamilton was battling with 'porpoising' issues early in the campaign and, after some respite from the issue following the mid-season break, he saw those problems emerge again in Saturday's qualifying session.

Mercedes' campaign has been a frustrating one for Hamilton, and he is eager to bring his spell at the wheel of this particular car to a close.

"We definitely weren't expecting to see such a big gap, but we are losing 0.6secs on the straight," Hamilton told the BBC.

"Kind of reminiscent of some of the previous races before, like Austin. And bouncing is back, so that's not been easy.

"I am looking forward to the end of Tuesday, which is the last time I have to drive this thing. I don't ever plan to drive this one again. It won't be one of the ones I request to have in my contract.

"We have some downforce. We just need a much more efficient car and everybody in the team knows exactly what are the problems and where we have gone wrong, so I'm pretty confident they are not going to build the next car with any of those characteristics."

A disappointing showing in qualifying leaves Hamilton fifth on the grid for Sunday's race, ahead of team-mate George Russell. It makes the experienced Briton highly likely to finish the 2022 season without a race win – which would be the first time in his career he has gone without.

Team principal Toto Wolff has insisted the lack of a win is not something that has been in the mind of Hamilton.

"He says that the one victory a year isn't really a record that bothers him," Wolff said. "If I'm trying to put myself in his shoes, where I was before Brazil, it didn't particularly bother me whether we would win a race this season, because all our eyes are already on next year.

"But having won one, it felt pretty good. At least nobody could say you didn't win a race."

Russell got that win last week, with Hamilton taking second place.

Looking at setting up seven-time champion Hamilton for a title tilt in 2023, and banishing this season's winless run, Wolff said: "I don't think this particular record is an important one for him, but we need to provide him with a car next year in which he can fight for victories and championships. That's most important and he knows that."

Hamilton heads into next season, his last contracted campaign with Mercedes, level with Michael Schumacher for the most career world titles in Formula One.

Sunday's Abu Dhabi race sees the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the front row, followed by the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with the Mercedes cars occupying row three.

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