Valtteri Bottas says he was "was not at all to blame" for the crash that caused a red flag during the early stages of the Tuscan Grand Prix.

The incident-packed race was halted on lap nine following a multi-car collision that forced Carlos Sainz Jr, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi to retire.

With the safety car already out following a chaotic first lap, Mercedes driver Bottas bunched up the field and was seen to weave slowly down the pit straight.

A number of drivers accelerated and slowed in an attempt to second-guess Bottas, leading to the crash, with Romain Grosjean hitting out at the "f****** stupid" decision making.

However, the 31-year-old insisted he stuck to the rules and instead questioned the safety of the current restart laws.

"We're all allowed to race from the control line, which has been there for a while I think," Bottas said.

"It's just the decision this year has been that [on] the safety car they are putting the lights off quite late so you can only build the gap pretty late on.

Lewis Hamilton was drained and delighted after holding off Valtteri Bottas to record an epic win at Mugello in the Tuscan Grand Prix, labelling the track "phenomenal".

The race was stopped twice for red flags, while an early safety car period was also required shortly after pole-sitter Hamilton lost the lead to his Mercedes team-mate.

That came as part of a dramatic start which also saw a crash further down the field and a retirement for title rival Max Verstappen.

But Hamilton was able to reclaim first place by overtaking Bottas during the first standing restart and ultimately recorded his 90th Formula One win, moving to within one of Michael Schumacher's all-time record.

"It was all a bit of a daze," said Hamilton, who leads Bottas atop the drivers' championship by 55 points after his sixth win of the 2020 season.

"It was like three races in one day! It was just incredibly tough, obviously with a difficult start.

"This track is phenomenal. Obviously the heat and keeping Valtteri behind, who has been quick all weekend, was not easy and I was behind in the beginning. 

"All those restarts, the total focus that's needed during that time, it was really, really hard."

He added: "It was those restarts [that were tricky] - the first stint I was fine managing my tyres and I didn't need to stop but they were worried because Valtteri had a problem. 

"Then the last stint I started on the softs, a used tyre, not knowing how long they would go and Valtteri appeared out of nowhere when before Danny [Ricciardo] was the man behind. 

"And Valtteri was on it. I was looking after the tyres and he would close up, so trying to keep that gap above one second – I didn't want him to have the DRS with such a long 1,000m straight – my heart was definitely racing.

"It's crazy to be here and have 90 Grands Prix [wins]."

Hamilton ended his interview by saying "justice for Breonna Taylor", referring to the Black emergency services technician fatally shot by police in Louisville earlier this year.

It was a statement he accompanied with a t-shirt he was wearing during his post-race media availability and on the podium. 

Lewis Hamilton triumphed in a tumultuous Tuscan Grand Prix, beating Valtteri Bottas as Max Verstappen retired to increase his championship lead to 55 points.

After a dramatic win by Pierre Gasly in Monza last week at a race that included a red flag, there were two this time around – the first time that has happened in Formula One since Brazil in 2016.

Amid the chaos caused by multiple crashes - the safety car came out three times - Bottas was in prime position to win after overtaking Hamilton at the start.

But the Briton, who also claimed the fastest lap, fought back to win for the sixth time this season, with Verstappen's retirement on lap one ensuring he holds a dominant position in the drivers' standings.

There was some consolation for Red Bull as Alex Albon claimed his first career podium in third, with Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Lando Norris rounding out the top six.

Lewis Hamilton heads into the Tuscan Grand Prix in pole position as the defending Formula One world champion aims to secure his sixth win of the season.

It is already looking to be a tough ask for the chasing pack to catch Hamilton, who holds a 47-point lead over Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate will start second on the grid at Mugello, while Red Bull are primed to attack with both Max Verstappen and Alex Albon having placed in the top four in qualifying.

Ferrari, meanwhile, head into their 1,000th grand prix with Charles Leclerc fifth on the grid as the Italian outfit continue to struggle.

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING

Hamilton took pole on Saturday, though his team-mate Bottas was left lamenting his bad luck after Esteban Ocon's mistake cost him vital time.

Bottas looked in a strong position to take top billing off Hamilton in his final qualification lap, yet Ocon span off the track and a yellow flag was raised.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel endured another difficult session as he failed to reach Q3.

THE STARTING GRID

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 4. Alex Albon (Red Bull)
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 6. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
7. Lance Stroll (Racing Point), 8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
9. Carlos Sainz (McLaren), 10. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
11. Landon Norris (McLaren), 12. Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)
13. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 14. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
15. Romain Grosjean (Haas), 16. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 18. George Russel (Williams)
19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 20. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

TUSCAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS

It is a landmark race for Ferrari, yet the team's poor season does not look set to improve drastically any time soon, with Leclerc having a lot to do from fifth if he is to achieve a podium finish, while Vettel – who will move to Racing Point at the end of the season – can hardly be considered a contender down in 14th on the grid.

Vettel's impending move means Sergio Perez has had his contract with Racing Point, who are soon to be Aston Martin, cut short, and the Mexican was handed a a one-place penalty for causing a collision with Kimi Raikkonen in practice on Friday.

Bottas, meanwhile, struggled to hide his frustration after he was denied the chance to pip Hamilton to pole, though that will perhaps give Mercedes' second-seat driver extra motivation to outshine the world champion.

Red Bull enjoyed a fine qualifying session and Verstappen seems well placed to challenge for his second victory of the season.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID

Lewis Hamilton (pole): "This track is phenomenal… it's crazy! You go through Turns 6, 7, 8, 9 at like 170, 180 miles per hour, and the G-force we're pulling through there, it's insane, and it just gets more and more as you go through 8 and then 9. [Turns] 10 and 1 and 2 were the areas where I needed to improve and I managed to pick it up once I got into qualifying, so Valtteri did a great job in pushing me. But I'm really, really happy to be up there."

Valtteri Bottas (2nd): "I still had more time in there. Run one was okay, but not perfect. I was looking forward to the last lap but I didn't get the opportunity. It's disappointing because the speed has been good all weekend. For sure it [Ocon spinning off] had an effect. I knew there was more in it and I was confident that this weekend it belongs to me. But there's two types of luck, unlucky or lucky. And I got unlucky again."

Max Verstappen (3rd): "From my side, I always expected to be third. Of course, coming from Monza, this was a lot better. I always expected it to be better than Monza of course – I think Monza was just the worst track for us. Everything [at Monza] is just not good: low downforce, long straights, it's not what we like. But I'm pleased to be third."

Charles Leclerc (5th): "I'm very happy with the lap overall. I put everything together and P5 was definitely above any of our expectations so very, very happy. We are lacking overall performance to be able to fight with the guys in front, but the balance was good today, it gave me confidence. I could give my best on that quali lap. There's a good opportunity [in the race]. But on the other hand if we look at the race pace of the other teams on Friday, there are quite a lot of cars that are stronger from us."

Daniel Ricciardo (8th): "I think with Charles in fifth, I'm not sure he's got a fifth-placed race car, so that in itself might create a bit of a battle for that top five. Him qualifying there will hopefully make it a bit exciting."

Sebastian Vettel (14th): "It's a bit of a fight, but it's been a fight all year. So we try nevertheless to do everything we can to try and understand the car a bit more. I try to do anything I can with driving to adapt, but I think there's still more to look at."

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 

Drivers 

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 164
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 117
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 110
4. Charles Stroll (Racing Point) - 57
5. Lando Norris (Renault) – 57

Constructors  

1. Mercedes – 281
2. Red Bull – 158
3. McLaren – 98
4. Racing Point – 82 (after 15-point deduction)
5. Renault – 71

Valtteri Bottas lamented his bad luck after Esteban Ocon's spin cost him a shot at pole position in qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton clinched first spot on the grid for Sunday's race, a maiden Formula One pole at Mugello, with a time of one minute and 15.144 seconds.

However, Mercedes team-mate Bottas seemed to be the pre-qualifying favourite after he finished top of the timesheets across all three practice sessions.

Yet, with a yellow flag raised as a result of Ocon spinning off the track in his Renault, Bottas could not complete his last run and ultimately placed second.

"I still had more time in there," a frustrated Bottas told Sky Sports. "Run one was okay, but not perfect. I was looking forward to the last lap but I didn't get the opportunity.

"It's disappointing because the speed has been good all weekend.

"For sure it [Ocon spinning off] had an effect. I knew there was more in it and I was confident that this weekend it belongs to me.

"But there's two types of luck, unlucky or lucky. And I got unlucky again."

For his part, Ocon offered apologies for the incident, with the laps of Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo having also been affected by the spin.

"You try and push the limit through the session and I felt comfortable in the car," Ocon told Sky Sports. "I felt great.

"I felt there was a lot of time that could be gained. Unfortunately it was a bit over the limit and I am sorry for the guys that couldn't complete their laps. Everyone pushes hard on this track and it bites you when you go over [the limit]."

Hamilton was thrilled to claim a seventh pole of the season, and his first one at a track he described as "phenomenal".

Mugello, which is owned by Ferrari, is staging a Formula One grand prix for the first time.

"It's been a really tough weekend if I'm being honest," Hamilton told Sky Sports after earning his 95th career F1 pole.

"This track is phenomenal. It's a really, really challenging circuit, and Valtteri was quicker than me all through yesterday, this morning, and even in Q1.

"I've been working so hard in the background to try and improve. The team did such a great job and I finally got the lap that I needed. I couldn't go quicker at the end, but it was job done.

"Valtteri did a great job pushing me, but I'm really, really happy [to be on pole]."

Ferrari, celebrating their 1,000th grand prix, had Charles Leclerc in fifth, though team-mate Sebastian Vettel failed to make it into Q3.

Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, both of Red Bull, will start in third and fourth respectively.

Lewis Hamilton outpaced team-mate Valtteri Bottas and received help from a yellow flag to claim the maiden Formula One pole position at Mugello.

Mercedes driver Bottas was considered the favourite to lead the way in qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix on Saturday after topping the timesheets in all three practice sessions.

However, reigning champion Hamilton clocked a time of one minute, 15.144 seconds to ensure he will start from the front of the grid for the fourth straight race and seventh time this season.

Although Hamilton did not improve on his final lap amid high winds, Bottas had to lift off in the first sector of his last run due to Esteban Ocon spinning off and placed second in a front-row lockout for Mercedes.

Ferrari are celebrating their 1,000th grand prix this weekend and will see Charles Leclerc get away from fifth, behind the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon.

However, Leclerc's team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who this week agreed to drive for Aston Martin next season, was unable to make into Q3 for the fifth straight race.

Vettel scraped into Q2 at the expense of Pierre Gasly, bringing the AlphaTauri driver back down to earth with a bump after his incredible maiden triumph at Monza last weekend.

Sergio Perez, who will make way for Vettel next year, was sixth but will start behind team-mate Lance Stroll in seventh after being handed a one-place grid penalty for making contact with Kimi Raikkonen in FP2 on Friday.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:15.144 
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.059s 
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.365s
4. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +0.810s 
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1.126s 
6. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1.167s 
7. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) +1.212s 
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1.399s 
9. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +2.726s 
10. Esteban Ocon (Renault) DNF

A bad week for Sergio Perez continued when he was handed a one-place grid penalty for the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, with Lewis Hamilton saying there is "no time for play" at the intense new Formula One track.

Having previously expressed surprise at losing his seat at the renamed Aston Martin team for next season to new signing Sebastian Vettel, Mexican Perez was penalised on Friday.

After exiting the pits in FP2, the Racing Point driver collided with Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen, causing the Finn to spin and bringing out the red flag.

"There was a blue flag waved at him prior to turn one and it was apparent that he saw car seven [Raikkonen] in his mirrors," read the verdict of race stewards after their investigation.

"The driver argued that the pit exit is extremely long and he had reached a high speed by the time he was passed by car seven and that he was unable to take a different approach to the turn.

"We consider there is some merit in mitigating [a] penalty and therefore reduce the normal penalty for an offence of this type from three grid positions to one, noting that a grid penalty is appropriate.

"Car 11 was exiting the pits, whereas car seven was on a fast lap and therefore the driver of car 11 was wholly to blame."

Lando Norris suffered a significant crash and multiple other drivers had spins as they got to grips with the new venue, with Hamilton acknowledging the stakes are high at a high-speed circuit.

"There's no time for play here, it's a very, very serious track," Hamilton said to Sky Sports after finishing second and fourth, with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas topping both sessions.

"It's all medium and high [speed] - you don't go lower than third or fourth gear. It is so quick and there's not a lot of run-off area.

"I like it. It's definitely a real challenge. I'm not that great at it just yet, but I'm working at it. I was just trying to get a clean gap in front of me to focus on improving my driving.

"There's no amount of changes I need to do to the car at the moment because when you're experienced as a racing driver there are times when there's no point changing the car because you're not driving it well enough.

"So you've got to get to the point where you're at the limit and then you can tweak it. I'll hopefully improve for [Saturday].

"On the long run it is one of the most physically demanding circuits that we've been at for a while.

"Particularly the double right-hander, most of the time we're flat out through those sections, so it's just holding your neck [up] the whole time. I love that.

"It almost feels like Turkey [Istanbul Park]. It's incredibly fast through [turns] six-seven and eight-nine.

"It's intense, I have to say. It's amazing to experience it and it's going to be difficult to look after the tyres through those sections, but everyone is in the same boat."

Sebastian Vettel needs "a little bit of love" and Aston Martin are ready with a warm embrace, says team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

It was confirmed this week that the four-time Formula One world champion will replace Sergio Perez when Racing Point are rebranded as Aston Martin for the 2021 season, after Vettel departs Ferrari.

The German is enduring an unhappy season having scored just 16 points compared to Charles Leclerc's 45 for the struggling giants.

But Szafnauer is confident his team are signing a driver in the "prime of his career" who will take Aston Martin to the next level.

"I don't think he's forgotten how to drive," said Szafnauer. "We all need a little bit of love sometimes, and to drive on your very edge all the time, it is a mental exercise and if your mind isn't quite in it, then things like that happen.

"It will be our job to put our arms around him and show him what this team is about and I think he will flourish with us.

"He's 33 years old, he's still in the prime of his career, he's got a vast amount of experience, he's still highly motivated to do well, he works really hard and we believe with our team and the level that we want to get to, Seb's a perfect fit for that, and I'm confident that he'll race well."

Vettel had another difficult day on Friday as the Tuscan Grand Prix weekend at Mugello began with a pair of practice sessions.

After posting only the 13th fastest time in FP1, a session in which Leclerc was third, Vettel was 12th in FP2 – albeit during the earlier run the two Ferrari drivers were running vastly different programmes.

Perhaps more worryingly for Vettel was the fact his power unit cut out late in FP2, a session in which he and Leclerc – who was 10th fastest – both suffered spins at the Correntaio corner.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was in flying form, posting the quickest time in each session, with team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton fourth and second.

Max Verstappen was second quickest in FP1, while the second session was briefly red-flagged when McLaren's Lando Norris crashed at Turn 3, wiping off his front wing just as drivers were beginning their qualifying simulations.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is backing Sebastian Vettel to recover from his Ferrari "rough patch" after agreeing a move to Aston Martin for next season.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Racing Point, which will morph into Aston Martin from the 2021 season, had replaced Sergio Perez with Vettel for at least next season.

Vettel, a four-time champion, finished fifth in the F1 championship last season but looks set to get nowhere near that this time around, with Ferrari enduring a miserable campaign.

Ferrari announced earlier this year that the German's contract was not being renewed, sparking speculation as to his next move.

He revealed in Thursday's drivers' news conference ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix that he had even considered retirement, but Hamilton – whom Vettel was once a close rival of – is happy to see his old adversary get a move.

"I thought it was going to happen, so I'm glad to hear it is over," Hamilton said of Vettel's move. "He's going through a rough patch at Ferrari, but I think at Racing Point [Aston Martin] he's in the right place. Direction can help.

"It's a shame for Sergio [Perez], but I think he has other options.

"Honestly, I thought that was the ideal direction that [Vettel] was going to go. I thought that it would happen. Maybe I'm biased, but I believe that experience counts for a huge amount.

"He's obviously had a difficult time at Ferrari, but he's a four-time champion that can steer that team even further in a better direction in terms of car development.

"I think you should never take that for granted. It's a great move for the team."

The weekend's meeting at Mugello will be Ferrari's 1,000th grand prix and be treated as something of a celebration of the iconic team, with the safety cars donning red livery.

While few are expecting them to offer any kind of challenge at the top end, Hamilton paid a brief tribute to Ferrari ahead of the race.

"F1 wouldn't be the same without Ferrari," he said. "Hopefully they will re-join the fray soon."

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas added: "One thousand races is an impressive number. They are having a tough time at the moment, but they will certainly fight back."

Sebastian Vettel revealed he came close to quitting Formula One before receiving an offer to drive for Aston Martin in 2021.

Racing Point will morph into the Aston Martin works team next season and they confirmed on Thursday that Vettel will be at the wheel "for 2021 and beyond".

The German had been on the lookout for a new team after it emerged his contract with Ferrari was not going to be extended beyond this season, with Carlos Sainz to take his place.

As a consequence of Vettel's move, Sergio Perez has been left without a seat for next year for the time being.

But while Vettel spoke of his "love for Formula One" upon his future being confirmed, the 33-year-old said ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix that he had seriously contemplated quitting after an up-and-down spell with Ferrari, whom he first joined for the 2015 season.

"I was close to stopping," Vettel said. "It was close in terms of having a lot of thoughts. I had to look at myself in the first place, and that's what I did with this decision.

"What I've decided, I believe it's the best for me. I'm looking forward to proving that point.

"It felt like the right move. I think this is the best I can do right now. It feels good that the news is out.

"The team's performance is promising. The new regulations also offer opportunities. Hopefully the team can show what it is capable of when everyone has the same budgets."

Although he is not expecting to suddenly be challenging Lewis Hamilton for the championship again next year, Vettel does feel leaving Ferrari for Aston Martin at least brings that possibility a little closer.

"Mercedes is ahead of everyone and that will not change next year," he added. "But it's a great challenge. I want to drive in the front and not in the back – Aston Martin gives me that opportunity.

"The team is growing. Some teams have to shrink. Time will tell [how it goes]. It is a great step and an interesting project.

"I went to Ferrari to win titles - we didn't succeed, but I don't regret my years at Ferrari. I've tried everything. We've had good times and bad."

Last weekend at Monza, Vettel endured a woeful outing as he failed to get out of Q1 in qualifying and was unable to finish the race, a fate that his team-mate Charles Leclerc also suffered.

Sergio Perez will leave Racing Point at the end of the Formula One season and was caught off guard by only receiving confirmation he was being let go on Wednesday.

Racing Point will morph into the Aston Martin works team in 2021 and announced on Thursday that four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel had agreed to join after his Ferrari contract was not extended.

Perez signed a deal with Racing Point until 2022 in August last year and admitted he was surprised to be told his time with the team was coming to an end.

"I got a call from Lawrence [Stroll, team owner], he called me yesterday [and said] that they were going in another direction," said Perez ahead of this weekend's Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello.

"Nobody told me anything [before that], but I already knew and figured out a couple of things and the final confirmation came yesterday.

"It's fine. Seven years with the team, I know everything has a beginning and also an end. We still have nine races to make each other proud."

Perez said prior to the Spanish Grand Prix it was "a matter of time" until rumours linking Vettel with his Racing Point seat went away.

"That was the feedback that I was getting, that the team wanted to keep me and so on," he said.

"There were some discussions in the background about contracts and so on, that I'm not willing to disclose because I think those things should remain between the team and myself.

"There were a couple of things in the contract that we went through. In the end, they officially told me yesterday that I'm not continuing.

"I didn't expect that. It is how it is."

The 30-year-old was frustrated that the lack of clarity had made it difficult for him to plan for the future, but he hopes to find another home in the F1 paddock.

"I think everything is an option right now. My main target is to remain in F1. I feel that I'm still very young and hungry, and want to carry on in Formula One," he said.

"But it has to be the right package. A package that really gives me the maximum motivation to give my 100 per cent every single lap.

"It's also got to be a long-term project, targeting 2022, because there I expect the rule change to have a major effect. That's the main reason that I want to continue for '22, because I feel there are plenty of opportunities.

"I don't expect to make a decision any time soon. I will take the time that I require.

"If I don't find anything attractive in F1, I would think about other series, other things, we'll see."

Sebastian Vettel will remain in Formula One after agreeing to join Aston Martin for the 2021 season, it has been confirmed.

Racing Point will morph into the Aston Martin works team next year and they have confirmed four-time world champion Vettel will be at the wheel "for 2021 and beyond".

The German had been looking for another team after it was announced his Ferrari contract would not be extended beyond 2021. He will be replaced at the Scuderia by Carlos Sainz.

Vettel will take over from Sergio Perez, who confirmed on Wednesday he would be leaving the team at the end of the season, and partner Lance Stroll.

"I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future. I'm extremely proud to say that I will become an Aston Martin driver in 2021," said Vettel in a statement.

‍"It's a new adventure for me with a truly legendary car company. I have been impressed with the results the team has achieved this year and I believe the future looks even brighter.

"The energy and commitment of Lawrence [Stroll, team owner] to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together.

"I still have so much love for Formula One and my only motivation is to race at the front of the grid. To do so with Aston Martin will be a huge privilege."

Vettel has won 53 F1 races and been on the podium a further 67 times, but he has only won one race since the start of last season and scored points in four of the eight races in 2020.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer said: "Everybody at Silverstone is hugely excited by this news. Sebastian is a proven champion and brings a winning mentality that matches our own ambitions for the future as Aston Martin F1 Team.‍

"On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Sebastian is one of the best in the world, and I can't think of a better driver to help take us into this new era. He will play a significant role in taking this team to the next level."

Sebastian Vettel will remain in Formula One after agreeing to join Aston Martin for the 2021 season, it has been confirmed.

Sergio Perez is to leave Racing Point at the end of the 2020 Formula One season, with Sebastian Vettel reportedly set to replace him.

Four-time champion Vettel is said to have been offered a contract by Racing Point, who will become Aston Martin next year.

Racing Point announced on Wednesday that Perez will be leaving at the end of the season, bringing to an end his seven-year spell with the team.

CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer said: "Checo has been part of the Silverstone family for seven years and in that time has become one of the most complete drivers on the grid.

"Blisteringly quick on Saturday and Sunday, he's established his reputation as a tenacious racer and together we have enjoyed some fantastic moments.

"If there was ever a sniff of a podium, Checo was ready to pounce, and those five podiums represent some of the finest days in the history of this team.

"Outside of the car, Checo is a true character and a good friend, and it's been a pleasure working with him for such a long time.

"Although we will say goodbye at the end of the year, there are still nine races to go and plenty of opportunities for Checo to make some more special memories with this team."

In a statement published on social media, Perez said: "Everything in life always has a beginning and an end, and after seven years together, my time with the team will come to an end after this season.

"It hurts a bit as I bet on the team during very rough times; we managed to overcome obstacles and I am very proud of saving the jobs of several of my team-mates.

"I'll keep the memories of the great moments lived together, the friendships and the satisfaction of giving my all.

"I don't have a plan B. My intention is to continue racing here, but that would depend on finding a project that motivates me to continue giving my 100 per cent in each lap.

"I hope I can give you some good news real soon, but for now, let's enjoy together the next races."

Perez, who helped to keep Racing Point from going out of business in 2018, has managed five podium finishes with the team formerly called Force India.

It is thought Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of this year, will take Perez's place for 2021.

Formula One heads to Mugello for the first time for the Tuscan Grand Prix after a huge upset last time out.

The Italian Grand Prix saw a first-time winner as defending champion Lewis Hamilton and each of his title challengers faltered.

That shock result means there has been little change in the championship picture, but Max Verstappen will hope to cut the gap this weekend.

The race gets started at 15:10 local time (14:10 BST) on Sunday, as Hamilton aims to maintain his strong record at new tracks.
 

LAST TIME OUT

Pierre Gasly won a race in F1 for the very first time as he profited from Hamilton's 10-second stop-and-go penalty, holding off Carlos Sainz to claim maximum points.

Hamilton had led until he entered the pitlane while it was closed amid Kevin Magnussen's retirement, an error that proved costly as Charles Leclerc crashed and the field bunched up.

The Briton's result - seventh - was not as damaging as it might have been, however, as team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished fifth and Red Bull's Verstappen was outside the points.
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN ITALY

A Red Bull response must be anticipated after Gasly's victory. As Hamilton happily pointed out after the race, the Frenchman was "dropped by the top team" but then beat Verstappen and Co. with AlphaTauri.

That would have stung for the senior outfit on a day Verstappen did not earn a single point and instead fell further behind Hamilton.

But then each of the big names - including Hamilton - will surely hope to bounce back. Although Gasly deserves immense credit for seizing his opportunity, the breakthrough win was handed to the 24-year-old on a plate.
 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Mercedes at Mugello? Hamilton has won on two of the most recent three occasions the series has introduced a new circuit (Austin in 2012, Sochi in 2014), while then Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg triumphed at the other event (Baku in 2016).

Celebrate in style? It is a landmark week for Ferrari. They have endured a tough season, but this is their 1000th grand prix, making the Scuderia the first F1 team to reach the milestone.

No home comforts? There will need to be a first in F1 history if Ferrari are to triumph. The Italian team have not won the first race at any of the prior three tracks used in their home country.

Out to end a drought? Both Ferrari and Red Bull are looking for a change in circumstances, with the Scuderia without drivers in Q3 at consecutive grands prix for the first time since the introduction of the format and Austrian outfit hoping to avoid a second straight race without earning a point.

Prost-igious company? Not since Alain Prost won four grands prix in a row in 1993 has a Frenchman enjoyed back-to-back F1 successes. Gasly is aiming to join the four-time champion.
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 164
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 117
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110
4. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) – 57
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 57

Constructors 

1. Mercedes – 281
2. Red Bull – 158
3. McLaren – 98
4. Racing Point – 82 (after 15-point deduction)
5. Renault – 71

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