We should have been watching the Chinese Grand Prix but the country's late reopening of the borders meant the planning to get the F1 roadshow couldn’t take place and, as a result, we are in the middle of an unscheduled spring break. Despite the lack of action, the news cycle has continued to roll and there’s been a whole host of stories that have caught our eye. Here’s five of the best.
George Russell talks scheduling with Novak Djokovic
Mercedes driver George Russell had a quick chat with tennis superstar Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters with the ten-time Wimbledon champion taking a keen interest in the punishing F1 schedule.
“Melbourne's a killer,” Russell told the Serbian. “I mean, it's probably taken a week to come back. We were meant to go to China next week so we've actually got a couple of weeks off. Then Azerbaijan and then the season really kicks off. Then Miami.”
Djokovic was left slightly bemused at the organisers not grouping the races together and keeping the spot on one continent at a time. It’s a point that Red Bull’s Christian Horner agreed with last year, hoping something could be done to reduce the carbon impact the sport was having.
'I think if you look at the calendar, it makes sense to group some of the races together,” the Red Bull chief said. “Whether it's some of the American races, some of the Asian races, Europe, obviously. Some of the calendar this year when you look at the geographics of it, Azerbaijan to Montreal, going to Australia for a weekend, it's about as expensive as you could make it.”
Horner confirms key Red Bull member is staying
The man credited with designing the rocket-ships that have taken Max Verstappen to world championship glory - Adrian Newey - is not going anywhere, according to Horner. The chief technical officer is considered one of the top minds in the sport and after speculation over his future, Horner has told Sky Sports News there is nothing to worry about.
"His heart is still very much in Formula 1 and his commitment to the team is, it's not something.
"We don't talk about contracts or longevity of contracts, but he'll be here for many years to come.”
Ricciardo eyes up grid return
One of the favourite drivers not on the grid this season, Red Bull’s third driver Daniel Ricciardo, is eyeing up a spot in a car in 2024. After a tricky stint at McLaren he has found his groove back at Red Bull and is now targeting a spot at a top team for the next campaign.
"The signs are pointing towards getting back on the grid," Ricciardo said in Australia. "I feel like that's where I'm tracking in my head and a few of the habits that I'm having or doing is pointing towards that.
"It's only been a few months (out of F1) but I think some itches have been scratched, so to speak. I've actually weirdly found that the days that I've had no schedule are the days when I've actually done training, and I've done things like I would before.
"I still am at a point where it's not at any cost, it's not just to be back on the grid," Ricciardo said.
"A lot of the reason for taking this year off was that I didn't want to just jump back into a car, any car just to be one of the F1 drivers. And I still don't see myself starting from scratch and rebuilding a career and going at it for another decade.”
$67k for a Miami cabana
After Azerbaijan at the end of April, F1 will head to Miami, following its inaugural race there last season. Although, this time, there will be real water in the marina after the blue paint used last year was widely mocked by fans and pundits alike. However, if you want to dip your toes in that water, one of the poolside cabanas will set you back a whopping $67k! That’s the only way to get into that exclusive part of the race track with the multi-million pound yachts, but that will be a once in a lifetime experience for those lucky people on the corner of turns six and seven.
Zhao ready for eventual Chinese return
As mentioned at the top of this piece, we should have been in China this weekend. However, the rules around Covid-19 prevented that from happening and as a result, we are down to 23 races for the 2023 season.
One driver who is more disappointed than all the others is China’s hero Zhao Guanyu. The Alfa Romeo driver was desperate to drive at his home Grand Prix but that won’t happen this year.
"I'm disappointed but I kind of saw this coming because of the restrictions, we didn't open the border early enough," Zhou told Sky Sports. "So when we had the race scheduled for April, I knew everything was too tight.
"I saw it coming but I don't feel too bad because I feel like the home race will come, it's just a matter of time."
"I have no doubts all the tickets will be sold out really quickly, and that it will be packed with people around the whole circuit. I've felt the popularity improve growing up in recent years, especially the last few years since I became an F1 driver.”