Francesco Bagnaia dethroned Fabio Quartararo as MotoGP champion by holding his nerve at the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix, where Alex Rins won on Sunday.

Bagnaia needed only two points – a 14th-placed finish – to become the first Ducati champion in 15 years; even had he fallen short of that modest target, Quartararo would have needed to win the race.

The 2021 victor vowed to be "aggressive but intelligent" after qualifying in fourth, and was good to his word.

But Bagnaia, starting from eighth, did enough early on to ensure a race win was out of Quartararo's reach, then settling in for a careful ride that sought to ensure there would be no late crash to alter the outcome.

Rins dashed away to victory ahead of Brad Binder as Suzuki bowed out of the series in style, but the focus was further back in the field at the end of the longest ever MotoGP season.

Bagnaia passed Quartararo into Turn 1, only for the Frenchman to quickly recover and then attack Jack Miller, moving back into fourth.

Despite five retirements in 2022, the season leader was not going away quietly, and he battled back before contact between the two title rivals robbed him of his right wing.

Quartararo came out on top in that tussle, but the distraction allowed the race leaders to build a significant gap back to the contenders – one that became increasingly difficult to bridge as Bagnaia did not relent.

Finally, with those in front out of sight, Bagnaia backed off, riding home in ninth as Quartararo's fourth-placed finish left him 17 points short of back-to-back championships.

Stoffel Vandoorne will join Aston Martin as a test and reserve driver for the 2023 Formula One season.

The Formula E champion will share duties along with F2 champion Felipe Drugovich, raising doubts over the future of Nico Hulkenberg.

German Hulkenberg, Aston Martin's current reserve driver, has been linked with a move to Haas.

Vandoorne, who made 41 Grand Prix starts or McLaren from 2016 to 2018, will continue driving for the DS Penske Formula E team for the 2022/23 season.

"It is incredibly exciting to be stepping into a reserve-driver role in Formula One – and I'm delighted to be doing it with Aston Martin,” said 30-year-old Belgian Vandoorne.

"I've watched with great interest how the team has developed and expanded operationally, and I know how incredibly determined it is to make progress in every area.

"Joining Fernando [Alonso], who I already know from my Formula One racing career, and Lance [Stroll], to help them develop and improve next year's car will be a terrific job.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge – and reward – of working together with the whole organisation at Silverstone."

Daniel Ricciardo believes spending time away from Formula One could act as a "blessing in disguise" after seeing his chances of staying on the grid next year diminish.

Since McLaren announced an early termination of Ricciardo's contract in August, the Australian has seen several vacant seats filled ahead of next season. 

Only Haas now have an empty seat on the grid for 2023, but Ricciardo is not interested in joining the team.

Ricciardo offered a reminder of his quality when he overcame a 10-second penalty to finish seventh at Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix, and believes the opportunity to reflect on his achievements may allow him to return stronger in 2024.

Looking ahead to the 2023 campaign when speaking to Sky Sports, Ricciardo acknowledged: "I can confidently say I won't be on the grid, behind a wheel. 

"But I still want to be in the sport, I want to be working with a team, still with the ambition to be back on the grid in 2024.

"I feel like a bit of time away from a race seat will actually do me good, and then [I'll] try to rebuild something for 2024.

"The way the seasons are, it's pretty relentless, you don't really get a chance to rebuild.

"Everyone's different, but I truly believe that will be, in a way, a blessing in disguise for me. By doing less, I'll achieve more."

Ricciardo has been linked with a reserve role at Mercedes since conceding a seat was unlikely for next year, but the Silver Arrows' team principal Toto Wolff was giving nothing away when asked about a potential move.

"We very much like him; he's a great character," Wolff said. "But we are not in a position yet to decide who is going to do reserve and be third driver."

Max Verstappen vowed to "go for more" after clinching a record 14th win of the Formula One season – as Red Bull's tactics earned plaudits from Lewis Hamilton.

Victory at the Mexican Grand Prix took Verstappen into the outright lead for the most single-season victories in F1 history, going past a mark previously jointly held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen pitted to swap soft for medium tyres in the Red Bull on lap 26 and Hamilton came in soon after for Mercedes and went out on the hard compound after beginning on medium.

The British driver was not happy with that choice and openly questioned the strategy during the race, with Mercedes seemingly hopeful Red Bull were on a two-stop plan.

However, Verstappen made it to the finish, with the championship winner adding another garland in a staggering season, while Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez finished third.

A strong start from pole by Verstappen allowed him to have command of the race throughout.

"Of course that helped me out a lot for the rest of the race, to stay in the lead after turn one," Verstappen said.

"We were also on a different strategy to the cars around us, but it's an incredible result. The pace of the car was again really nice. We had to look after our tyres because it was a very long stint on the medium, but we made it work."

When the 14th win was pointed out to him, Verstappen said: "It's been an incredible year so far. We are definitely enjoying it and we'll try to go for more."

Two races remain in 2022, in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, and Hamilton may struggle to prevent Verstappen further stretching his wins record.

Hamilton was booed by the Mexican crowd, despite describing them as "amazing". The negative reaction to Hamilton appeared to stem from fans favouring Red Bull, given home driver Perez races for the Austrian team.

"It has definitely been a bit awkward this time around with boos all day, but nonetheless I have so much love for Mexico and the people here. What a great race and event this weekend," said the seven-time champion.

"I was so close in the first stint, but the Red Bulls were clearly too fast today and also maybe they had the better tyre strategy."

He reiterated the point he made to his team that Mercedes may have gone this one wrong.

"I'm not sure it was the right tyre at the end," Hamilton said. "I thought we should have started on the soft, but obviously we had the opposite tyre. It was OK in the first stint, but the hard tyre was just the offset. So, congratulations to Max, and it's great to be up here and separate the two [Red Bull drivers]."

Perez, the darling of the Mexico City crowd, said: "I gave my best. Today at the start I really pushed hard."

He pointed to overtaking being "so difficult", and that was shown in a race where there was precious little drama.

"Unfortunately it didn't work out today but still it's a good podium in front of this crowd," Perez said. "I really wanted more today but fair play, this still is a good day."

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate George Russell, resigned to missing out on a podium finish and complaining of worn tyres, pitted in the closing stages and produced the fastest lap of the race, a small consolation for the British driver.

Max Verstappen powered to a record 14th win of his championship-winning season as the Red Bull driver roared to victory at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Dutchman matched Formula One's single-season wins record shared by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel when he snatched a 13th success last week in Austin at the United States Grand Prix, and in Mexico City he went one better.

Many in the crowd were willing on Verstappen's Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez, but he had to settle for third place and another podium, a repeat of his result last year at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Perez separated the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton, who finished second, and George Russell, who took fourth, with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in fifth and sixth.

It was a race that was bereft of drama, and the tone was set from the start. It was clean as pole-sitter Verstappen held off the Mercedes pair, with Hamilton nudging ahead of Russell in the early stages and Perez getting between the Silver Arrows as he climbed to third place.

That was how it finished, of course, and there was little to report of any import between the start and finish.

Hamilton had cast doubt on Mercedes' ability to get a first win of the season, and despite taking second and fourth, they never really looked like rivalling Verstappen for the win.

Three-quarters of the way through the race, Hamilton asked his team whether he was running on the wrong tyres and was told by the Mercedes garage they were confident in their strategy. At the finish, he again cast doubt on team tactics.

He had also pointed to power drop-offs. At that stage, Verstappen led Hamilton by just over 10 seconds, and Mercedes were counting on the Red Bulls needing second pit stops, but that prospect went away.

Russell complained over the team radio that his tyres were "gone" on the 67th lap but was told "his tyres will be more gone than yours" as he looked to close in on third-placed Perez. Little changed as the drivers remained in the same order through to the finish.

A joyful Verstappen said on team radio, after being congratulated for his record drive: "Double podium as well, that's amazing here in Mexico, well done guys."

 

The Max and Lewis show rolls on

Verstappen and Hamilton were first and second, but the gap was 15 seconds by the end of the race and it was barely competitive. What the result means, though, is they have now finished first and second in a race on 33 occasions, extending the record they established in Austin.

Red Bull, meanwhile, have stretched their winning streak to nine races, matching a team-best set in the 2013 season when Sebastian Vettel won the closing nine races of that campaign.


F1? It's a team game

With Verstappen and Red Bull already having the championships wrapped up, others are jostling for places in the drivers' and constructors' standings.

Mercedes entered this race 53 points behind second-placed Ferrari, with only races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi to come, and they had a strong day, raising hopes the Silver Arrows could yet finish as runners-up. The gap is now down to 40 points.

Ferrari's Leclerc saw his run of five consecutive podium finishes come to an end in a race where he was rarely a factor up front.

Max Verstappen knows pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix does not guarantee first place, as the Formula One world champion aims to claim a 14th win of the season.

Of Verstappen's 13 race wins in 2022, nine have come without the Dutchman starting on pole, which has seen him surpass Lewis Hamilton's calendar-year record (eight in 2019).

Verstappen will, though, start from the front in Mexico City on Sunday.

Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton qualified in second and third respectively, though Verstappen does not expect pole position to dictate who wins the race.

"I've started, I guess, everywhere except pole here, and we won the races, so it is always important to have a good start around here," Verstappen told reporters.

"I think our top speed is not too bad to defend, at least, when people are in the draft. We just need to focus on that and honestly, I think if we have a good race pace, then it will be a good fight. 

"We don't know [about the race pace] because we've been driving on these development tyres, so it's a bit difficult to tell. But I think the car we had [on Saturday], I'm expecting it to be alright."

Red Bull will match their longest winning streak in F1 should they clinch a ninth straight victory – only in 2013 have they achieved such a run.

Russell, who has enjoyed a strong debut season with Mercedes in a difficult campaign for the team, is hopeful of denting Verstappen's lead at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

"I think we were looking competitive. Similar to what Max said: we don't really know. But we think we've got a reasonable shot," Russell said.

"I think having Lewis and I there at the front gives us an opportunity to maybe do something different with the strategy.

"I don't think anybody really knows if it's going to be a one or two-stop. So, let's see what we can do."

Verstappen and Hamilton finished first and second respectively at the United States Grand Prix last week, becoming the pair with the most one-two finishes (32) in F1 history. 

Hamilton, however, understands the difficulties of challenging Verstappen, given Red Bull's superiority throughout the year – though an early attack at the first turn could be crucial.

"Naturally, it's always a tough race around here, with the track temperatures and tyres," Hamilton said. "These guys have been rapid all year long.

"Even at our best this weekend, still losing out to them through straight-line speed. It'll definitely be difficult to get by them, but we'll give it our best shot. And Turn 1 is an opportunity. So, we'll go for it."

George Russell bemoaned what he described as a "terrible lap" after he qualified second for the Mexico City Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was fastest in Saturday's third practice but could not replicate that in qualifying as Max Verstappen claimed pole position.

World champion Verstappen set a time of one minute and 17.775 seconds, 0.304 seconds ahead of Russell.

Russell's team-mate Lewis Hamilton was third, 0.309 seconds off the pace, though he was more upbeat than a frustrated Russell.

"The team deserved more today," Russell said. "They've produced a really great car this weekend and it's testament for them for the work they've been doing for so long. 

"I feel like it was our pole to have but it was just a terrible lap from my side. But it's great to be back on the front row.

"I'll be going for it at the start tomorrow for sure. Let's see what's possible."

Hamilton, seemingly looking at the bigger picture, said of his performance: "The first one [lap], which I think was quick enough for second maybe I don't know, but it wasn't quite good enough.

"The Red Bulls are naturally so fast. I think this is such an amazing showing and I'm really proud of my team.

"This is the best qualifying we've had all year, so it just shows that having perseverance and never giving up is the way forward. A big thanks to everyone here and back in the factory. 

"I'm pretty happy with my position [on the grid] to be honest, it's a long way down to turn one." 

Red Bull's Verstappen will have support from his team-mate in a prospective battle with Mercedes, Sergio Perez having qualified fourth.

"It's a very long run to Turn One, so we do need a good start. But I think we have a quick car and that's what is most important," said Verstappen.

"It's incredible the passion of all the fans here. Also, in the stadium, it's amazing to drive here. Checo will be there tomorrow - we have a great race car. 

"I hope it will be quite a fun race with a lot of action. I think it will be close in the race. Normally [Mercedes] have very good race pace as well."

The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were a disappointing fifth and seventh respectively, sandwiched by Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has praised the FIA for their "robust" decision to punish Red Ball for breaching the Formula One cost cap.

The constructor have been fined $7million and handed a 10 per cent reduction in permitted aerodynamic allowance for the next year after they were found guilty of breaching the sport's budget cap.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner called the punishments "Draconian", but acknowledged the team would accept them, having protested their innocence over the past few months.

Wolff was satisfied to see the sport's governing body come down on their rival for their offence, though he suggested sanctions could perhaps have been even tougher.

"I think the most important thing for me is there is a robust governance," Wolff told Sky Sports.

"They didn't bat an eyelid, they just followed the process.

"I know how rigorous they were with us, all throughout the year - that was a difficult process. It is good to see that there is a penalty, whether we deem it too low or too high."

Wolff shut down any suggestion that a lenient penalty could tempt Mercedes to commit their own breaches though, stating the whole affair had tarnished Red Bull's brand.

"I think what you see beyond the sporting penalty and financial fine, there is also a reputational damage," he added.

"In a world of transparency and good governance, that is just not on any more.

"Compliance-wise, whatever team you are, you are responsible for representing your brand, your employees, your partners. That's why, for us, it wouldn't be a business case."

Christian Horner says Red Bull "begrudgingly accept" their "Draconian" punishments for breaking budget cap regulations but feels some rival Formula One teams owe them an apology.

Red Bull were on Friday fined $7million (£6.1m) and hit with a 10 per cent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research for overspending last year after coming to an 'accepted breach agreement' (ABA) with the FIA.

Motorsport's world governing body the FIA revealed that Red Bull were guilty of spending €2.2m (£1.9m) more than they were permitted to last season, which ended dramatically when Max Verstappen won his first world title.

Along with being slapped with a significant fine, the constructors' champions have also had the amount of time they can spend using their wind tunnel or computational fluid dynamics cut by 10 per cent for a one-year period.

"We could have been looking at a 12-month period to have this situation closed [if they had not accepted the ABA]," Horner said during a press conference at the Mexican Grand Prix.

"The amount of speculation, commenting and sniping that has been going on in the paddock, we felt that it was in everybody's interest – our interest, the FIA's interest, in F1's interest – to say, 'we close the book', and we close the book here and today.

"We accept the penalties, begrudgingly, but we accept them."

Horner says Red Bull will be significantly impacted by the punishment imposed next season.

"The more Draconian part is the sporting penalty, which is a 10 per cent reduction in our ability to utilise our wind tunnel and aerodynamic tools," he added.

"I've heard people reporting today that it's an insignificant amount. Let me tell you now, that is an enormous amount. That represents anywhere between a quarter and half a second of a lap.

"That 10 per cent will have an impact on our ability to perform on track."

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown last week stated that breaches of the budget cap amounted to "cheating", a claim which Red Bull principal Horner labelled "fictitious".

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who was denied a record-breaking eighth world title when Verstappen claimed a dramatic and controversial win at the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, warned a "slap on the wrist" for Red Bull would simply encourage further breaches.

Horner does not believe it is Red Bull that should be apologising.

"I think that we're probably due an apology from some of our rivals for some of the claims that they've made," he said.

"We make no apology for the way that we've performed, the way that we've acted. We do take on the chin that there are lessons to be learned, and potentially mistakes have been made in our submission, which with the benefit of hindsight and 20-20 vision, everybody can be a specialist.

"But there was no intent, there was nothing dishonest, and there was certainly no cheating involved, which has been alleged in certain corners. So I don't feel that we need to apologise.

"We've taken our pounding in public, we've taken a very public pounding through the accusations that have been made by other teams. We've had our drivers booed at circuits, and the reputational damage that's been made by allegations has been significant. The time is now for that to stop and move on."

Aston Martin have been fined €450,000 (£388,830) after being found in breach of Formula One financial regulations for the 2021 season.

Motorsport's world governing body the FIA announced earlier this month that an audit determined Aston Martin and Red Bull – who were hit with a €7million (£6.1m) fine on Friday – broke the rules during the 2021 reporting period.

Aston Martin's financial documentation claimed their costs were under the budget cap, but the team was found to have misrepresented their outgoings.

In a statement, the FIA revealed Aston Martin "incorrectly excluded and/or adjusted costs" relating to the construction of their "new headquarters, new F1 simulator, wind tunnel fees, R&D tax credit, a signing bonus cost, use of transferable components, used inventories, service desk costs, cost of catering services at their headquarters, costs of desks and chairs, sponsor services and outsourced personnel services".

Aston Martin subsequently entered into an Accepted Breach Agreement (ABA) with the FIA, meaning they must pay a fine within 30 days and reimburse costs incurred by the administrators who conducted the financial review.

Announcing the ABA, the FIA said: "The Cost Cap Administration recognised that AMR [Aston Martin] has acted cooperatively and in good faith throughout the review process and has sought to provide additional information and evidence when requested in a timely manner, that this is the first year of the full application of the Financial Regulations and that there is no accusation or evidence that AMR has sought or obtained any undue advantage as a result of the breach."

With Aston Martin entering an ABA, there is no possibility for the team to appeal their fine and the matter is now closed.

 

 Jamaica’s Fraser McConnell is set to go up against some of the best drivers in the world when the fourth leg of 2022/2023 Nitro Rallycross Championship gets underway in Los Angeles, California this weekend, October 29 and 30.

SportsMax will carry the action live.

On October 2, the 24-year-old McConnell crashed and rolled during third-leg of Group E qualifying in Minneapolis but recovered to finish third.

Standing in his way for top honours this weekend will be Robin Larsson and Andreas Bakkerud, who have 160 and 141 points, respectively, to occupy first and second place. McConnell is third in the standings with 114 points.

Hel looks forward to the challenge at the iconic Glen Helen Raceway, where cars fly and the track thrills.

“Glen Helen is a track I enjoyed last year. It’s super-fast and almost 100 per cent dirt with eight or nine jumps, so you have to ensure you’re timing the speed right so that when you land, you get as much downhill of the speed as you can,” he said.

“My job is to ensure the car is making the gaps. I can’t wait to get out there.”

 The 2022-23 NITRO Rallycross Championship will see action over 10 legs across the USA, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. The series runs from June 2022 to March 2023.

Red Bull have been fined $7million and have been hit with a 10 per cent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research for breaking Formula One budget cap regulations.

Motorsport's world governing body the FIA revealed that Red Bull were guilty of spending £1.86m more than they were permitted to last season, which ended dramatically when Max Verstappen won his first world title.

The FIA on Friday confirmed the sanctions imposed on the constructors’ champions after the Red Bull Racing accepted breaking the rules.

It was taken into account by the FIA that Red Bull Racing had "acted cooperatively throughout" what was the first review process under F1 financial regulations.

Alpine have won their appeal against a penalty imposed on Fernando Alonso following the United States Grand Prix, meaning his points for a seventh-place finish have been restored.

A dramatic race for the Spaniard involved his car sustaining significant damage after a collision with Lance Stroll  saw the Alpine rear up and hit roadside barriers, forcing him to pit for repairs.

The Haas team launched a protest after Alonso lost his right-hand mirror late in the race, and a 30-second punishment saw him fall to 15th place in the race standings.

The post-race complaint from Haas came, according to Alpine, some 24 minutes after the deadline for making such claims.

Now Alpine have succeeded in getting the penalty overturned by governing body the FIA, with two-time champion Alonso recovering the six points he achieved in Austin.

Ahead of this weekend's Mexico City Grand Prix, Alpine said in a statement: "BWT Alpine F1 Team thanks the FIA stewards for convening and reaching a positive conclusion on the matter involving car #14 from last weekend's United States Grand Prix.

"The team welcomes the decision made by the aforementioned stewards, whereby car #14 reinstates its seventh-place finish and six points from the race. We look forward to continuing our collaborative work alongside the FIA to ensure the racing spectacle is maintained to the highest quality. The team now looks forward to competing this weekend at the Mexico City Grand Prix."

Alonso sits ninth in this year's drivers' standings, one place behind team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Before the FIA appeal result was known, Alonso said on Thursday: "It was a rollercoaster of emotions for me on Sunday: I started at the back, then we were like P6, we had the accident; last again; and then finishing P7, and then in the evening, again out of the points. So it was up and down all day long."

Lewis Hamilton has revealed he will sign a new contract to remain with his "family" Mercedes.

Hamilton ended speculation that he could quit Formula One last year by agreeing a new deal until the end of the 2023 season.

The Brit, who turns 38 in January, is set to continue driving for the Silver Arrows in his 40s.

He said ahead of the Mexico City Grand Prix this weekend: "We are going to do another deal. We are going to sit down and discuss it in these next couple of months."

The seven-time F1 world champion added: "I want to keep racing. I love what I do. I've been doing it for 30 years, and I don't feel that I should have to stop. I think I am currently still earning my keep. I still want to do better.

"I could stop now and I have lots of other things in the pipeline that I will be super-focused and super-busy with. I'm here for the sheer love of working in the organisation that I'm in.

"So you are stuck with me for quite a bit longer."

Hamilton suffered the agony of missing out on a record eighth world title when Max Verstappen dramatically overtook him on the last lap of the final race of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi.

Following the controversy of the climax to last season, Hamilton could finish the current campaign without winning a race for the first time in his illustrious F1 career. 

Despite a difficult year, he has not lost his hunger and wants to repay the faith Mercedes have shown in him.

"My goal is to continue to be with Mercedes. I've been with Mercedes since I was 13. It really is my family.

"Mercedes-Benz have stuck with me through thick and thin. They stuck with me through being expelled at school. They stuck with me through everything that was going on through 2020.

"They've stuck with me through my mistakes and through the ups and downs."

Max Verstappen has seen numerous records fall his way this season and one of the most illustrious is up for grabs this weekend in Mexico, where a victory would take him to 14 for the season.

Such a win would see him become the driver to have won the most races in a single season, having joined Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel on 13 with his success in the United States.

That triumph was his ninth this season without starting in pole, surpassing Lewis Hamilton (eight) for the most such wins in a single campaign, and will be full of confidence given a stellar record in Mexico - where he has prevailed three times (2018, 2019, 2021). Verstappen and Jim Clark share the record for the most Mexican Grand Prix wins.

Red Bull also have a team record in their sight, having now won eight races in a row to stand one shy of the nine victories in a row they secured in 2013, which is the sixth-longest winning streak for a team in F1 history.

While Verstappen and Red Bull are in search of further records, Lewis Hamilton is looking to avoid one as he is still in search of his first victory in 2022 and the Mercedes driver was strong in the United States.

The British driver has never finished a Formula One season in his career without a race win and has just three grands prix to ensure that this is not the year when he stands winless for the first time.

Much of the attention will continue to be off the track, however, with Red Bull's cost-cap breach in 2021 yet to be resolved and dominating the discussions, though a final outcome should be right around the corner.

Pole variety

The Mexican Grand Prix has seen 10 different racers on pole position in the last 10 editions, a record that will almost certainly be extended after qualifying on Saturday as 2021 pole sitter Valtteri Bottas is now at Alfa Romeo.

The last driver to win consecutive pole positions in this race was Ayrton Senna in 1988 and 1989.

Leclerc's late change

Charles Leclerc was Max Verstappen's biggest threat early in the season but a plethora of problems derailed the title ambitions of the Ferrari driver, with mistakes, bad luck and mechanical issues all plaguing his performances.

Some consistency has been found recently, however, with Leclerc finishing on the podium in each of his last five Formula One races – his longest such run in his career.

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