Lando Norris opened the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend by declaring that McLaren wouldn’t be very competitive.

As has often been the case this year, the exact opposite of his pessimistic forecast appears to be coming true.

To be fair to Norris, on paper this track shouldn’t suit the MCL60. It’s mostly slow, fiddly corners of the kind the car hates, even after its massive round of mid-year upgrades. The low-grip conditions are also generally not McLaren territory, nor are the long straights.

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McLaren boss Andrea Stella is buoyed by McLaren’s second consecutive podium finish but isn’t willing to call his team a permanent front-running fixture without a bigger sample size of circuits.

The team is enjoying a powerful resurgence from the midfield into the leading pack thanks to a major three-part upgrade package, the first phase of which was brought to the car at the Austrian Grand Prix at the start of the month.

Lando Norris qualified and finished fourth at the Red Bull Ring before leading teammate Oscar Piastri to a 2-3 qualification and 2-4 finish at the British Grand Prix on the following weekend.

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There’s a cruel irony to the fact that Oscar Piastri has sacrificed and grafted for nine years to earn a Formula 1 debut that lasted just 13 laps.

It’s safe to say it wasn’t the maiden outing as a Formula 1 driver the 21-year-old was hoping for.

The tone of a career is rarely set by the first race, certainly not for drivers of Piastri’s calibre, but the character of season sometimes is, and for the second year running McLaren, one of the greatest teams in Formula 1 history, embarrassed itself at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Aussie rising star Oscar Piastri will get just six months to prove that he belongs in Formula 1 before he risks being turfed out, according to Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle.

Piastri has enjoyed an illustrious junior career on his way to the premier class, with three successive championships, including rookie titles in Formula 3 and Formula 2.

Despite spending a year on the sidelines as an Alpine reserve driver, he remains one of the most highly anticipated rookies in recent years thanks to his sparkling CV.

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It’s been a long 12 months in the life of Oscar Piastri.

From the highs of winning his junior titles to the purgatory of a year on the sidelines and the low of being painted as a Formula 1 villain, the 21-year-old Melburnian has borne much weight on his shoulders on the way to finally signing up with the historic McLaren team for his long-awaited F1 debut.

It means he arrives in the top tier of the sport already well seasoned by its cruel and unpredictable twists and turns — and with the reputational baggage that comes with that too.

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Oscar Piastri says he’s under more pressure from his glittering junior career than his messy 2022 split with Alpine as he prepares to make his long-awaited Formula 1 debut next month.

Piastri’s crumbling relationship with Alpine was one of last year’s major storylines despite the Aussie rising star spending the season on the sidelines as a reserve driver.

The Melburnian and his manager, nine-time grand prix winner Mark Webber, had grown frustrated with the French team’s lack of urgency in drawing up a new contract securing him a place on the 2023 grid.

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Australian young gun Oscar Piastri says he doesn’t expect to fall into the same trap as Daniel Ricciardo as he prepares for his Formula 1 debut with McLaren.

Piastri has replaced Ricciardo in Woking’s line-up this season after his compatriot struggled for two years to adapt to a line of difficult-to-drive cars.

Ricciardo was trounced by younger teammate Lando Norris over two gruelling campaigns as he tried in vain to change his driving style to suit his machinery.

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he’s been unfairly accused of mistreating Daniel Ricciardo in his team’s early split with the Australian.

Ricciardo joined McLaren on a three-year deal in 2021 as one of Formula 1’s most highly rated drivers but was sacked in August this year after 18 months of underperformance.

He will be replaced by compatriot Oscar Piastri from next season.

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If you thought this year’s driver market was wild, little did you know what was coming during the off-season for the team managers.

Formula 1 has never known team principal chaos like this. In an unprecedented two weeks, four team principals left their posts with varying degrees of autonomy. And in a hectic couple of hours this week, three positions were filled in a merry-go-round highly orchestrated between the teams.

Ferrari and McLaren, the sport’s oldest and grandest teams, have new principals. Audi has positioned itself for its 2026 debut with a new CEO. Williams, for so long last among the teams, finds itself still in the hunt for new management.

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Frédéric Vasseur will replace Mattia Binotto as Ferrari team principal in 2023, the Italian team has confirmed today.

Vasseur will leave his position at the helm of Alfa Romeo at the end of the month to take up the most famous job in world motorsport.

He will reportedly be replaced by current McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl. The Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber team will become the Audi works entry in 2026.

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From the moment Daniel Ricciardo revealed that he intended to take a year off racing in 2023, his story has been dominated by one question: what are the odds that he gets back onto the grid in 2024?

Giving up a seat on the grid willingly is rare because of how difficult it is to return to the fast-moving driver market. It’s why reception to Ricciardo’s decision to take a break has been met with such lukewarm reviews among former drivers in particular — everyone wants to see him racing again, but the odds would appear to be stacked against his return.

But while Ricciardo’s aim is to return to Formula 1, he’s also made clear that it isn’t his priority, something he came to understand after being sacked by McLaren in August.

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Daniel Ricciardo says the prospect of being contracted to four different teams in six seasons was part of the reason he was turned off a possible Mercedes move for 2023.

Ricciardo confirmed last week that he will return to Red Bull Racing as a third driver next year, reuniting with the team for which he won seven of his eight victories.

He split with Milton Keynes at the end of 2018 for Renault, but in his second year with the French team he uprooted himself a second time to move to McLaren, where his career stalled off the back of two difficult seasons.

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Daniel Ricciardo’s two years at McLaren will go down as one modern Formula 1’s great anomalies.

Ricciardo arrived at the storied Woking team as one of the sport’s most highly rated competitors. His reputation as a formidable racer was established with some cracking victory drives for Red Bull Racing, and though his move to Renault had its critics, his 2020 season for the French team was arguably the best of his career.

Moving to grandee McLaren seemed like a dream match. The team expected to rejoin the frontrunners under the new regulations, and Ricciardo was the obvious candidate to spearhead the push.

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Daniel Ricciardo has hit back at critics of Oscar Piastri and Mark Webber, saying there is no bad blood between Australians in Formula 1 despite him losing his seat to his younger compatriot.

Piastri was announced as Ricciardo’s 2023 McLaren replacement after the British team sacked the eight-time race winner in the middle of the year.

It was later revealed that McLaren had signed a deal for the Aussie Formula 3 and Formula 2 champion in June, two months before it entered negotiations to end Ricciardo’s contract a year early.

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Daniel Ricciardo hopes a return to Red Bull Racing as a third driver will prove he can still be one of Formula 1’s top performers after two years of disappointment.

Ricciardo signed up to the non-racing role with his former team this week, confirming he’ll spend at least one season on the sidelines after more than a decade in the sport.

Ricciardo had forged a reputation as an intimidating late braker during his Red Bull-backed career and as relentless midfield hustler while at Renault, but his stocks plummeted after his switch to McLaren in 2021.

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Daniel Ricciardo is going home to Red Bull Racing.

Ricciardo’s return could barely even be called an open secret. Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko blabbed to German TV last weekend that the Australian would sign on as a third driver in 2023, and though team principal Christian Horner and Daniel himself denied the deal was done, both were forced to admit that they were very close to putting pen to paper.

This week the reunion was finally made official.

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Oscar Piastri has turned his first laps as a full-time driver in Formula 1 in the post-season test for McLaren.

The Melburnian’s official debut as a driver in motorsport’s premier class has been a long time coming since winning the Formula 2 championship last year.

He was benched this season by his former Alpine team ahead of a mooted 2023 debut before sensationally announcing his defection to McLaren in the middle of the year, roiling the driver market.

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The 2022 Formula 1 season is over. The 2023 season is about to begin.

In the shadow of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, all 10 teams will take to the Yas Marina track again for a single-day test that they all hope will give them a run-up to 2023.

And while there’ll be three rookies on track aiming to maximise their seat time, none will have as much of a spotlight on them as Aussie Oscar Piastri.

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