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F1 LIVE: George Russell goes fastest in practice at Mexico GP – The Independent

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Follow all the build-up to qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City
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Max Verstappen is looking to overtake the joint-record held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel for the most wins in a single season as the two-time world champion returns to the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend.
The Dutchman has already wrapped up his second world title and after winning at the Circuit of the Americas last Sunday, needs just one more victory to go past the German duo’s record of 13 wins in a single year.
Verstappen also won in Mexico City last year, beating Lewis Hamilton to the chequered flag with hometown hero Sergio Perez finishing on the podium, triggering memorable scenes. Perez will look to claim victory on a weekend which started with Red Bull being fined £6m for breaching the 2021 cost cap.
While Hamilton may well fancy his chances at a circuit he has won at twice, Perez will be eyeing a famous triumph with Red Bull having already wrapped up the Constructors’ Championship. He trails Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by two points in the battle for second place going into the weekend.
Red Bull have been fined $7m by the FIA and been given a 10% reduction in car development time for breaching the 2021 Formula 1 budget cap – meaning Max Verstappen will not be stripped of his first world title.
The team have now come to terms with an ‘Accepted Breach Agreement’ (ABA) with the FIA, with the penalty announced on Friday afternoon. The overspend from Red Bull was revealed to be £1.864m, with the FIA acknowledging that the breach would have been £432,652 if a tax credit had been correctly applied.
Negotiations between Red Bull boss Christian Horner and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem took place last week in Austin but the verdict was delayed after the passing of Red Bull’s founder and co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Red Bull could have challenged the FIA’s decision, with their case heard by independent judges in the Cost Cap Adjudication Panel, but that ran the risk of a harsher punishment and a potential loss of Championship points.
The ABA emphasises: “There is no accusation or evidence that RBR [Red Bull Racing] has sought at any time to act in bad faith, dishonestly or in a fraudulent manner, nor has it wilfully concealed any information from the Cost Cap Administration.”
Red Bull exceeded last year’s £114million budget cap in a year when Verstappen controversially beat Lewis Hamilton to the world title on the final lap in Abu Dhabi. Horner said in Austin he was “shocked and appalled” that McLaren boss Zak Brown accused his team of cheating and said the insinuation has led to children of Red Bull staff being bullied at school.
The FIA have revealed the penalty handed out to Red Bull after their minor financial breach of the 2021 F1 cost cap
Well, not often we’ve said this in 2022 – a Mercedes one-two in a session!
George Russell the quickest man out there, with Lewis Hamilton – a two-time winner in Mexico City – a tenth down in second. Max Verstappen, in his rapid Red Bull, was four-tenths off Russell in third.
4-10: Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Norris, Bottas, Tsunoda, Albon
A reminder that Hamilton is yet to claim pole this year, with Russell obtaining Merc’s solo pole in Hungary in July….
You won’t want to miss qualifying for this one – 9pm is the time!
Promising signs for Mercedes fans… George Russell is back on top here, with Lewis Hamilton a tenth down in second place. Silver Arrows are quick round here!
Max Verstappen is in third, four-tenths down on Russell, with Lando Norris now in fourth and Valtteri Bottas in fifth – all within a second.
Sergio Perez, disappointingly so far in front of his home fans, down in sixth. 7-10: Sainz, Albon, Leclerc, Zhou
Final few laps of the session now…
Just rapid! Max Verstappen has recorded the least laps of anyone on the grid – with seven – but the world champion is top of the leaderboard, two-tenths quicker than George Russell in second and seven-tenths quicker than his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez!
The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc complete the top-five, with Lewis Hamilton in sixth.
Best of the rest, 7-10: Albon, Schumacher, Alonso, Tsunoda
Final quali push laps now for the whole field….
George Russell out on top so far, setting a time of 1:19:405, with home hero Sergio Perez four-tenths down and Carlos Sainz in third.
4-10: Leclerc, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Schumacher, Ocon, Zhou
Max Verstappen has only just taken to the track, opting not to run in the first 20 minutes of the session.
Sainz not happy with Valtteri Bottas for holding him up on track. Especially around the huge stadium section in sector three, expect traffic to be a problem in Q1 later on!
Incidentally, there is a 40% chance of rain this afternoon in Mexico City. Interesting…
Criticial session this ahead of qualifying, especially given five drivers didn’t take part in first practice yesterday while FP2 was a 2023 Pirelli tyre test.
Valtteri Bottas, in his Alfa Romeo, the first man out on track. Who can gain some momentum heading into quali in a few hours time?!
Updates to follow…
Lewis Hamilton is set to extend his Formula One career beyond his 40th birthday after he revealed he will thrash out a new deal with Mercedes in the coming months.
Hamilton’s £40million-a-year contract with the team expires at the end of next season. But the seven-time world champion, who turns 38 in January, wants to continue his record-breaking journey in the sport, with a multiple-year extension set to carry him into his forties.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “We are going to do another deal. We are going to sit down and discuss it in these next couple of months.”
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013 after bursting on to the Formula One scene with McLaren in 2007. The Stevenage-born driver, who has the most victories and pole positions in F1 history – and shares the record of seven world championships with Michael Schumacher – has been supported by the Silver Arrows since his childhood.
Hamilton has endured a turbulent campaign in his uncompetitive Mercedes machinery this season, while there were question marks over whether he would even return to F1 following his contentious championship defeat against Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi last year.
The seven-time world champion’s £40m-a-year deal with the team expires at the end of next season
Valtteri Bottas has urged people to make “simple choices” to combat climate change as he prepares to launch a new gravel cycling race.
The Alfa Romeo driver will help hold the FNLD GRVL race in the Finnish city of Lahti next year. Bottas’ partner is professional cyclist Tiffany Cromwell and the 33-year-old has always enjoyed time on the bike himself, pedalling to school as a child.
Concious of the impact his chosen profession has on the environment, he hopes that his gravel race can help encourage others to think about the “simple things” they can do to make a difference.
“For me it’s a bit of a stress release,” Bottas told the BBC of his love of cycling. “I can go to places that are quite remote, I can go to explore and almost leave any stress or F1-related things behind me when I get on my bike.
“For me it’s mentally really important. I love nature and I love clean air, pure water, nice scenery – the less people you can see the better when I disconnect.
“I’ve definitely seen climate change in Finland – already the summer and winter is turning more in extremes. Already from my childhood to now I can see a difference. Some places in Finland have become really windy, and it was not like that 20 years ago.”
The 33-year-old driver will launch the FNLD GRVL race next year
Today, the FIA proved to the world once again that they do not have what it takes to adjudicate over their own sport.
Red Bull Racing, found to be guilty by an FIA investigation of a “minor breach” of the budget cap last season, have been punished under the terms of an ‘Accepted Breach Agreement’ (ABA) with a $7m fine and a minor development penalty on next season’s car.
Red Bull fans have been quick to point out what they believe to be the key word – “minor”, meaning that the team overspent by 5 per cent or under of the total budget cap. Whilst this is easily written off for some, others (including myself) are not so easily distracted from the fact that this is blatant cheating.
A reminder: the budget cap for the 2021 season was a massive $145m, with this “minor” breach seeing Red Bull having used an extra $2.2m denied to other teams. It begs the obvious question – why have a cost cap if you can break it and face such minor penalties?
Now, within the wider context of the cash-soaked sport, it is a fairly menial sum of money by which Red Bull have overspent, but F1 is defined by the tightest of tight margins and milliseconds. Few will need reminding that Max Verstappen won the 2021 championship on the final lap of the final race by a little over two seconds. I can scarcely believe I’m having to spell it out, but in my book (and evidently and rather dumbfoundingly, not in the FIA’s), cheating is cheating.
Who knows how many hundredths of a second those extra millions shaved off that car’s times last season? Any competitive advantage gained by any extra spending should be scrutinised by the penny and punished under one clear and coherent set of guidelines.
Why have a cost cap at all, if you can break it and face such minor penalties? If every team knew they could get off this lightly, you’d bet the house that they would all take that chance
Lewis Hamilton has said his sole focus is on delivering a record eighth world championship after he declared: “I am not in a relationship, I don’t have kids, my car is my baby”.
Ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, Hamilton confirmed for the first time that he will race in Formula One beyond his 40th birthday by signing a new multi-year contract at the conclusion of the season.
Hamilton, who turns 38 in January, still has one campaign to run on his £40million-a-season deal, but the British driver has firmly put to bed any suggestion he is edging towards retirement.
Hamilton has only three shots left at retaining his remarkable record of winning at least one race each year he has been on the grid, starting in the breathless Mexico City air on Sunday.
But the seven-time world champion seems revitalised, rather than deflated, by a season which leaves him sixth in the championship entering the 20th round of 22. He has not finished lower than fifth in his previous 15 campaigns.
“There has been this lingering narrative of winding down towards the end,” said Hamilton. “But I am just in a happy place in my life. I am a lot more grounded. I have my home in the UK when I come to see the team, for example, and my family come down so I just have a better setup all round and I feel like I could take this team to more championships.”
The 37-year-old has confirmed that he will be signing a new multi-year contract at the end of the season
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