For a driver with 22 starts, no points and a highest finish of 14th to his name, Nikita Mazepin has attracted an extraordinary amount of attention in his single year in Formula 1.

And a single year is almost certainly all he’s likely to get after he was summarily sacked by Haas on Saturday.

Sanctions levied against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine forced the issue, and a growing number of national motorsport bodies, including Motorsport Australia, have moved to ban Russian licence-holders.

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MotoGP was at its unpredictable best in its first weekend back for 2022, with Enea Bastianini opening the season with an emotional maiden victory with the independent Gresini team.

The sophomore rider was a rare bright spot for Ducati on an unexpectedly difficult weekend for the Italian manufacturer — indeed expectations throughout the field bore little resemblance to the outcome of the race in Doha, with the form guide blown wide open.

Perhaps the sole exception was Fabio Quartararo, who would be taking no pleasure in discovering his dire pre-season predictions for Yamaha’s stinking form have proved true.

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The 2022 Supercars championship got off to a chaotic start in Sydney, where debilitating humidity and intermittent rain challenged drivers on their first weekend back in the cockpit.

So tricky were conditions that even reigning champion Shane van Gisbergen wasn’t immune, with a pair of high-profile Sunday offs derailing a hitherto imposing weekend.

These are the key talking points from a sometimes wet and almost always wild weekend in Sydney.

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Max Verstappen enjoyed a well-deserved break as the new world champion during the off-season, but there’s clearly been no such rest for his lawyers.

Before a wheel had been turned in anger in 2022, Red Bull Racing and its new world champion announced they’re extending terms until 2028.

Reports from the Netherlands place the value of the deal at around $A75 million per year — Lewis Hamilton-tier cash for a driver almost 13 years the Briton’s junior.

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Lewis Hamilton and new world champion Max Verstappen will resume hostilities in a new season of Formula 1 later this month, but the blows from their brutal 2021 showdown are still reverberating.

Last December motorsport fans were treated to the closest finish in Formula 1 history: Hamilton and Verstappen, tied on points, in a final-lap duel to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the world championship.

A late-braking lunge on fresh tyres catapulted Verstappen down Hamilton’s inside at turn five. Shod with older rubber courtesy of a late-race safety car, the Briton was powerless to fight back, and the Dutchman became the first driver to beat Hamilton to the crown in five years.

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