Formula One world champion Max Verstappen expects Lewis Hamilton to challenge him for the title next year "if he has the car to do it".

Hamilton, a seven-time drivers' championship winner, was blighted by car issues with Mercedes last season as he failed to win a race for the first time in his career.

Red Bull star Verstappen tallied a record-breaking 15 wins to finish 146 points ahead of closest rival Charles Leclerc in a dominant title-winning 2022 campaign.

But the Dutchman does not envisage a third straight F1 crown coming with such relative ease in 2023.

"He's been one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport, so for sure if he has the car to do it, he can fight for the title again," Verstappen told Sky Sports of Hamilton.

He added: "But that's the same for George [Russell], it's the same for Charles, it's the same for Lando [Norris] – if you give them the car that's capable of winning the championship, they can.

"But it's also about when you have the car then the pressure comes you cannot afford big mistakes.

"That's a bit of a different pressure you have but I'm confident once these guys get onto a roll like that it is all possible, they all have talent to do so."

Red Bull cruised to the constructors' championship last year, winning the title for the first time since 2013.

However, the team have been hit with wind tunnel testing restrictions and CFD limitations after they were judged to have breached financial regulations.

The full impact of those punishments is unclear but a reduction in time allowed in the wind tunnel could lead Red Bull to fall behind their rivals in aerodynamic developments.

"You always try to go for it, but I don't know if we're going to be good enough," Verstappen added.

"Of course as a team we believe we are, we are very motivated, we come off the back of a very strong year and we are working flat out to try and achieve that."

Ford will return to F1 this year for the first time since 2004 and partner with Red Bull from 2026.

Verstappen cannot wait for the partnership after seeing success in a collaboration with Honda, having also witnessed first-hand the struggles with the Renault combination.

"I signed twice without actually fully knowing what was coming in terms of engines, and people said maybe that's a crazy thing to do," he continued.

"I believed in the project and I believed that everyone involved would make the right decisions for the team.

"The first one they made going with Honda, I think that worked out really well and now for the future this is the next step – Ford in 2026 – and I believe in it.

"If we all believe in it, I'm sure we can create something really cool."

Ford will return to Formula One for the first time since 2004 and partner with Red Bull from 2026.

Red Bull revealed their RB19 car for the 2023 season at a launch event in New York City on Friday, with reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen, team-mate Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner in attendance.

Ford, meanwhile, will return to F1 after a 22-year absence, working with Red Bull to build a power unit for F1's next engine regulations.

"We are mavericks, we are pushing the boundaries. We are looking forward to this busy season in 2023," said Horner, whose team took the constructors' title off Mercedes last year, as well as seeing Verstappen win for a second straight year.

"It is going to be an incredible season; our rivals for sure haven't stood still. Ferrari are going to be competitive, Mercedes are going to be there; there are some other teams that could make some big progress as well.

"In Bahrain, in a couple of weeks' time, we will get to see everyone's car and see if we have missed something, have we not.

"There is going to be highs and lows along the way, but I think we are in a good place. We are going to have to be at the top of our game this season."

Of Red Bull's partnership with Ford, Horner added: "To welcome the Ford brand back into Formula One, to have the Red Bull Ford powertrain is going to be very exciting.

"There was a natural synergy between the two companies, it was an easy deal – 2026 seems like a long way away, but in the engine world, it is tomorrow.

"We have recruited some incredible talent and have some great people in the team.  We are really excited about what we can achieve."

Ford's involvement in F1 began in the 1960s with a long-standing partnership with British firm Cosworth.

They are the third-most successful engine manufacturer in the history of F1, having played a part in winning 10 constructors' championships and 13 drivers' championships.

Ford chief executive Jim Farley said: "We don't want to make generic cars, faceless vehicles; we want vehicles with an attitude – this team represents that."

Horner said: "It's a huge era for the team. As Formula One moves to pretty much a 50-50 split between hybridisation and combustion power, we wanted to have a like-minded partner.

"It's great to see the Ford brand coming back into Formula One."

Max Verstappen is confident Red Bull will use the punishments issued for budget cap breaches as "extra motivation" to succeed in 2023.

The team, who won the Constructor's Championship for the first time since 2013 last season, have been hit with wind tunnel testing restrictions and CFD limitations after they were judged to have breached financial regulations.

The full impact of those punishments is unclear but a reduction in time allowed in the wind tunnel could lead Red Bull to fall behind their rivals in aerodynamic developments, causing them to lose time on the fastest sections of Formula One tracks.

Rivals Ferrari are reported to have made significant gains ahead of the 2023 campaign, with their car said to be a second faster than their 2022 vehicle, while Mercedes made clear improvements at the back end of last season.

However, Verstappen, bidding to win a third consecutive championship, expects Red Bull to be in the running and feels the punishments issued can provide additional encouragement for the team.

"Well, I mean, it will affect us, but how much? I don't know yet," he told the F1's official website.

"I'm confident that the team, and the people we have, can use that as extra motivation to try and do even better. I know, of course, they always give their best.

"But we have a very competitive car, we have a lot of great ideas, I think, already for next year as well with the car, and hopefully it’s going to be enough."

F1 teams head to Bahrain in February for pre-season testing, before the new campaign begins in Sakhir on March 5.

Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey is expecting a "tough year" in the 2023 Formula One season due to punishments issued for the team's budget cap breach.

The constructors' championship winners were handed a $7million fine by the FIA and a reduction of aerodynamic testing time in the wind tunnel, which Newey says will cost the team.

Another dominant year for Red Bull is therefore unexpected, with the punishment opening the door to Ferrari and Mercedes to dethrone two-time drivers' champion Max Verstappen.

Newey has conceded that the team are set for a difficult period in the 2023 season, particularly with regulation changes that will result in "significant aerodynamic change".

"There's no testing, it's very difficult to put an answer to say that [the punishment] will cost us so many tenths of a second per lap," he said.

"But the reduction of internal testing means we can therefore evaluate less, less different components, less different ideas.

"If we're really smart and always puts on the right things on the model, then it doesn't make much difference. But that's not how it works; there are always some parts that you hope will work and don't and vice versa.

"So, it's difficult and it's a restriction for sure that will affect us.

"I think then there's a regulation, a small regulation change over the winter, which is lifting of the floor edge by 50 millimetres, which of course, sounds tiny, but in reality, it's quite a significant aerodynamic change.

"So, like all teams were working to reduce the deficit from that in addition to the normal development that goes on from year to year, I think we've obviously had a good year, particularly in the second half of the season. We do have the best car.

"But Ferrari won't be resting, and they will be kind of sorting out where the weak areas that they had a couple of reliability problems with, and they made a couple of pit wall mistakes. So, they'll be right back.

"And then, of course, Mercedes. They were quite a long way off the pace and evolving. But then they won the last race but one, so we know they will be right there. It's going to be a tough year for sure."

The 2023 Formula One season begins in Bahrain in March, with a record-breaking 24 races scheduled across the year.

Max Verstappen believes it is unlikely he will be as dominant in the 2023 Formula One season, with regulations allowing his rivals to be more competitive.

The Red Bull ace bounced back from a slow start to the season to dominate the 2022 campaign, securing a record-breaking 15 wins to finish 146 points ahead of his closest rival, Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen expects a much tougher fight from the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes next year, however, with the recent regulation changes allowing everyone to be "closer together".

"The others are not stupid. And certainly with these rules, which are a bit more restrictive than the previous set of rules, everyone is getting closer together," he told RacingNews365.

"All teams now have an idea of ​​which course to take so yes, I expect smaller differences next year, but that's only good. Of course, I hope that we are still ahead, but that is not at all as obvious as this year."

Red Bull's defence of their two titles will be further impacted by sanctions dished out after being found guilty of breaching Formula One's budget cap, with Verstappen questioning the punishment.

The 25-year-old added: "Probably everyone is more motivated because of this. I personally think it is a heavy punishment for what we have done, but yes, what can we do about it?

"It happened and we will see next year what effect it really has had on us."

The new season begins in Bahrain on March 5, with a record-high 24 races scheduled across the course of the year.

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.

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."

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.

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

Daniel Ricciardo has explained his decision not to pursue a race seat in Formula One for 2023, as he closes in on a non-racing role with Red Bull.

The Australian is poised to rejoin the team he left in 2018 in a position that may include reserve, promotional and simulator duties, with Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being his last with McLaren.

Although not confirmed, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has stated that Ricciardo will be joining the team, with Christian Horner welcoming the potential return of the driver on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

A non-racing role with Red Bull does not necessarily mean Ricciardo's time on the F1 grid is over, though he feels it was the right move in order to take a break from competition.

"I knew that I wanted some time off next year from a race seat and just from competition," he told Motorsport.com.

"It's obviously been pretty tiring the last couple of years with the struggles, so it was pretty clear to me shortly after the summer break that that was what I wanted, and what was going to be best for me.

"So then it was: 'Okay. What's the next best thing?' And the more I thought about it, to obviously be involved to some degree with a top team, that was obviously the preference.

"But it's not done. So that's why I haven't come out and confirmed it, because that's still the truth: it's not done. But I can obviously look you in the eye now and say it's the most likely option at this stage."

Ricciardo also feels this is the right move to assess where he wants to go long-term, giving him the ability to decide without affecting his week-to-week performances on the grid.

"Honestly, I think that's also in a way the beauty with this," he said. "It'll either fuel the fire and make me hungry and more motivated than ever, or it will actually be like 'oh, this is the right thing for you', and in that case then I must be really happy.

"Because as much as you go through highs and lows of racing, I'm still very happy with life, and am privileged to live a good one. So if next year I'm not interested in coming back, then I must be doing some really cool s***."

Max Verstappen was thrilled to join team-mate Sergio Perez in locking out the front row at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Red Bull, following a week of controversy.

Championship winner Verstappen attracted criticism in Sao Paulo last week after refusing a team order to let Perez pass on the final lap.

Lack of teamwork was not an issue in Saturday's Abu Dhabi qualifying, however, with Verstappen helping Perez to second place, while securing for himself a third consecutive Yas Marina circuit pole position.

"It was a bit up and down qualifying, started off quite well, Q2 was a little bit more messy, I don't know why. I couldn't quite get the grip together," Verstappen said.

"In Q3 it all felt a bit more normal, though we had a bit of a scare as the car turned off before the first run, so we had to reboot everything.

"We're very pleased and very happy that both cars are on the front row. Of course, we want to win the race, but we also want to finish second with Perez in the championship, so that's a great start for tomorrow.

"It always sounds great, today was amazing, I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow but at least we have two cars there, so we can do what we want."

Perez specifically mentioned the teamwork conducted with Verstappen, who finished 0.228 seconds in front of the Mexican.

"I didn't make the final step in Q3, especially in the first run, so we were a bit behind, but it's good to lock out the front row tomorrow. Max did a great job for me, we worked as a team really strongly in that final run," Perez said.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third quickest, clocking in just 0.04 seconds behind Perez, and team-mate Carlos Sainz took fourth on the grid.

"It's the place we deserve, Red Bull were stronger," said Leclerc. "We are still in quite a good position, it's going to be close to Perez for sure.

"I'm sure we can work with Carlos, I have no doubt in that, we'll try to maximise the team result. Red Bull is a bit stronger on a Sunday, so it's going to be tricky, but hopefully we can do it and get second place in the championships."

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