Max Verstappen conceded Red Bull have their work cut out even to qualify third at the Russian Grand Prix after Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes set the pace in Friday practice.

Bottas topped FP1 and FP2, beating Lewis Hamilton by 0.267 seconds in the second session when going head to head with the reigning world champion, who did not set a representative time in the opener.

Daniel Ricciardo - who has impressed for Renault with three consecutive top-six finishes – shone again by coming second and third, with Verstappen third in the first session before dropping to seventh in the next after a spin in one of his attempts at a flying lap.

Verstappen's team-mate Alex Albon was eighth and 12th across the two practices, so Red Bull are prepared for a tricky Saturday in Sochi, where the team have never recorded a podium finish.

"It will be tough in qualifying to be in P3," said Verstappen. "Clearly Renault are looking very competitive.

"I think in general we know that this track is not the best for us. We were trying out some downforce levels to see what is the best option. 

"In FP2 I think we could have done better but we are testing a few things out - some worked, some didn't, so it gives us a few ideas for Saturday.

"It will be tough in qualifying but in the race it looks a bit more competitive so I am happy about that.

"First of all we have to look at ourselves and make the right trade-off with downforce levels as well, make sure the car is stable. Then I'd be quite confident that qualifying will be tight."

Albon added: "It feels tricky. We knew it was going to be hard, the midfield have obviously made a big step since last year, so it is a bit more tight.

"It doesn't feel bad, it's just everyone is very fast, so we need to do some homework and find out where we can gain those little bits."

The gap between Bottas and Ricciardo was over one second in FP2, with Mercedes looking primed for a seventh straight victory at the circuit – their dominant advantage coming despite both drivers making slight mistakes in their qualifying simulation laps.

A focused Bottas, who has not won since the first race of 2020, said: "There is still definitely more to come. There were quite tricky conditions and that's why we saw many people making mistakes."

Carlos Sainz – who recovered from an FP1 spin - and Lando Norris were fourth and fifth in FP2 for McLaren, with Sergio Perez sixth and both Ferraris making the top 10 to hint at an improved weekend for the Scuderia.

Daniel Ricciardo admits to feeling envious of Lewis Hamilton as the Mercedes driver closes in on another Formula One milestone. 

Should he triumph at the Russian Grand Prix this weekend, Hamilton will move level with the legendary Michael Schumacher on 91 wins in F1. 

The 35-year-old Briton has topped the podium in six of the nine races in 2020 and has a strong record in Sochi, where he has been victorious four times in his career. 

Asked about the impending landmark for Hamilton ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Renault DP World F1 Team driver Ricciardo told Stats Perform News: "Yeah, it's huge. 

"My generation, growing up as a kid, it's Schumacher. Everyone knew that surname… whether you knew Formula One or you didn't. It was always Schumacher. 

"And for Lewis to now be on the verge of eclipsing that, it's huge. It's a lot of wins… what can I say, it's a massive achievement. I envy it, but also I take my hat off to him." 

Hamilton also looks set to match another Schumacher record by winning a seventh F1 title this season. 

He holds a 55-point advantage over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who Ricciardo thinks is best placed to stop Hamilton but is still unlikely to do so. 

"Nothing is obviously guaranteed, there's still a lot that can happen in the sport, but the truth is, he's racing against one other guy this year," said Ricciardo. 

"And that's not being critical, but the Mercedes is so dominant. But it's really Valtteri, he’s the only guy that can stop him. And it's not the first year that Lewis has shown he's able to come out on top with Valtteri. 

"I think Valtteri has shown speed, he does have raw speed, but there's winning a world title. Being a world champion is something else and for me, [Bottas is] still yet to really show that and to show the same level that Lewis shows. 

"Unless we see a rapid change with Valtteri, I think Lewis has this one under control." 

Hamilton has also been looking to make an impact away from the track in 2020, speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and establishing a task force aimed at increasing diversity in motorsport. 

"I think he's obviously been very outspoken, so it's obviously good to see. It's him and it's other athletes around the world, the opportunity we have, if we stand for something, we've got such a platform to deliver it and be heard," said Ricciardo. 

"He's obviously gone above and beyond with Black Lives Matter and I know he's supporting quite a lot else. For us, it's good to see that, it's important for us to be included in it, and not only himself but if any driver has an idea or a thought that they want to go ahead with, it's nice to all show support together if we feel the same as the other individual. 

"At the end of the day, I think everyone wants – when I say everyone, obviously not everyone, but most people in the world with let's say, a heart, wants progress and wants the world to be a better place. I like when people want to do good with their platform and Lewis is trying that." 

He added: "I've certainly been inspired this year by certain individuals and it's encouraged me to speak up. 

"Even if it's not on social media, if it's with my friends, trying to educate them, especially because we travel, my friends say, that live in Perth, they don't see everything I see, so trying to share some of my international wisdom, it feels nice."

Lewis Hamilton has the chance to make Formula One history this week at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver, who is dominating the 2020 drivers' championship as he holds a 55-point lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas, is on 90 career wins.

If he can make it 91, Hamilton would equal the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher, an accomplishment few thought was possible when the German – who has held the record since passing Alain Prost in 2001 - retired eight years ago.

The race begins 14:10 local time (12:10 BST) on Sunday, with the rest of the grid attempting to at least delay Hamilton writing his latest chapter in the history of motorsport.

LAST TIME OUT

Hamilton triumphed in a tumultuous Tuscan Grand Prix, beating Bottas as Max Verstappen retired on lap one to increase his championship lead.

There were two red flags - the first time that has happened in Formula One since Brazil in 2016 – and three safety cars amid chaos caused by multiple crashes.

Bottas was in prime position to win after overtaking pole-sitter Hamilton at the start, but the Briton, who also claimed the fastest lap, fought back to win for the sixth time this season.

While there was woe for Verstappen, some consolation for Red Bull saw Alex Albon claim his first career podium in third, a welcome result at a time Pierre Gasly – the surprise winner in Monza – was being connected with his seat.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN RUSSIA

All eyes will be on Hamilton's record pursuit and his past form in Russia bodes well. He has reached the podium in five out of six appearances, with four wins, a second place and a fourth place to his name. His Mercedes team have won all six previous editions.

Bottas has been despondent after challenging Hamilton at multiple races but being unable to put together a full race weekend to defeat his relentless team-mate. Unless there is a huge turn of events at the scene of his first career win this weekend, the title appears to be slipping away for the Finn.

Verstappen has dropped out of contention too after two straight retirements and will be desperate to get back on the podium. 

And while his team-mate Albon had an enjoyable race at Mugello last time out, he still has plenty to prove having been out-qualified by Verstappen at all nine races in 2020. He does have fond memories of this circuit, though, after rallying to finish fifth last year from a pit-lane start.

Three straight top-six finishes for Daniel Ricciardo have underlined Renault's improvement, but a podium remains elusive for the Australian, who will be replaced by Fernando Alonso next year when he moves to McLaren.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Hope for the rest? – This season Mercedes have locked out the front row on seven occasions in qualifying, but only converted that to a one-two finish on three occasions.

Qualifying key – Only once at this race has a driver won from outside of the front row (Bottas from third on the grid in 2017).

Red Bull lacking wings in Russia – The Austrian team have never recorded a podium finish in six attempts at this grand prix.

Ferrari flailing – Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel have failed to reach the podium for five straight races. If that happens again in Russia, it will be their worst run since also going six in a row without a top-three placing in 2016.

Russian Rubens – Kimi Raikkonen is looking to equal Rubens Barrichello as the driver to have raced the most grands prix in F1 ever (323). Vettel is also set to reach a milestone – he is poised to make his 250th career start.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 190
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 135
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 65
5. Alex Albon (Red Bull) - 63

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 325
2. Red Bull – 173
3. McLaren – 106
4. Racing Point – 92 (after 15-point deduction)
5. Renault – 83

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."

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."

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

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has founded a team to compete in the new Extreme E off-road racing series.

The championship aims to put environmental issues in the spotlight and is scheduled to begin in January next year.

Hamilton's X44 team will race at five remote courses using electric SUVs, though the Briton's involvement will be hands-off owing to his F1 commitments with Mercedes.

"Extreme E is an exciting new sustainability initiative, and this is a great opportunity to be involved from the outset as a team founder," said the six-time F1 championship winner.

"Of course, my ambitions and commitments with Mercedes in Formula 1 mean that I won't be operationally involved in X44, but I'm excited to play a different role in this new series, one that brings my vision for a more sustainable and equal world to life.

"Extreme E really appealed to me because of its environmental focus. Every single one of us has the power to make a difference, and it means so much to me that I can use my love of racing, together with my love for our planet, to have a positive impact."

In offering a little more detail on the series, Hamilton revealed how he hopes to help create a "positive legacy".

"Not only will we visit remote locations facing the front line of the climate crisis, we will also work closely with these locations and leading climate experts to share our knowledge and leave behind a positive legacy in each location which goes far beyond the racetrack," he said.

"As founder of X44, I am looking forward to building my team around important values, such as sustainability and equality.

"None of us are perfect and we all have improvements to make, but I am excited to use our platform to highlight the most serious issues facing our planet and the solutions we can all be part of."

Hamilton leads the 2020 drivers' standings by 47 points from team-mate Valtteri Bottas after five wins from eight grands prix.

A seventh world title would put him level with the legendary Michael Schumacher.

Lewis Hamilton held his hands up and accepted responsibility for his costly stop-and-go penalty at an Italian Grand Prix that was won by Pierre Gasly.

Another straightforward afternoon looked in store for pole-sitter Hamilton in Monza when he built up a sizeable advantage in the race's early stages, but his decision to pit while the yellow flags were out prior to the race's halfway point ultimately proved his undoing.

The pitlane had been closed as Kevin Magnussen had abandoned his car nearby, yet Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi did not clock the warning light and came in for fresh tyres, which resulted in 10-second penalties for the duo.

Yet Hamilton only discovered that punishment was forthcoming after Charles Leclerc's huge crash resulted in the race being stopped shortly afterwards, meaning the Formula One drivers' championship leader had to pit after the restart and then resumed at the back of the pack.

While he guided his Mercedes back up to seventh, it was AlphaTauri's Gasly who took the first checkered flag of his F1 career ahead of McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Racing Point's Lance Stroll.

"Firstly, huge congratulations to Pierre, it's a huge result for him," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"Being dropped by the top team [Red Bull] to beating the top team, I'm genuinely really happy for him.

"It wasn't meant to be for me today, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I enjoyed the battle, onto the next one."

Hamilton's mood might have been worse had his championship rivals managed to take advantage of his error, but neither team-mate Valtteri Bottas nor Red Bull's Max Verstappen enjoyed great outings either.

Bottas slipped from second to sixth after a shocking start to the race, though he finished fifth, while Verstappen - who was down in 11th when the race was halted after Leclerc's crash - was later forced to retire.

Hamilton started the day with a 47-point lead over Verstappen - an advantage which remains the same, albeit with Bottas now second in the drivers' standings.

"I take responsibility for not seeing the boards," Hamilton admitted.

"But finishing seventh and a fastest lap, I'll definitely take it.

"Max Verstappen didn't score any points, so not a huge loss today."

Lewis Hamilton's Italian Grand Prix was undone by a pivotal stop-and-go penalty on a dramatic day at Monza as Pierre Gasly won the first Formula One race of his career.

The F1 championship leader had looked on course for another serene afternoon having built up a sizeable lead when he pitted prior to the race's halfway point, only to discover he had erred due to the pitlane being closed following Kevin Magnussen's retirement.

It proved even more costly shortly after, though, as Charles Leclerc's big crash resulted in the race being suspended and the field being bunched up again, meaning Hamilton was last once he had served his penalty upon the resumption. 

He could only get back up to finish seventh, and it was AlphaTauri's Gasly who held off McLaren's Carlos Sainz to take an incredible victory, with Racing Point's Lance Stroll third.

A dramatic Italian Grand Prix was suspended on the 27th lap after Ferrari's Charles Leclerc crashed at Monza, with Lewis Hamilton still needing to serve a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.

The race was halted when Leclerc's Ferrari smashed into the tyre barrier after the 22-year-old lost control at the Parabolica, completing a miserable outing for the Scuderia following Sebastian Vettel's retirement earlier in the day.

That was not the end of the drama, though, as Hamilton discovered he had been sanctioned for getting fresh tyres while the pitlane was closed earlier in the race.

Kevin Magnussen broke down just before the pitlane, which was subsequently closed, but both Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi stopped, acts which later earned them 10-second stop-and-go penalties.

Hamilton did not see the light informing him of the closure near turn 11, though he argued there was not one on the pitlane.

The Formula One championship leader was ahead of the pack when the race was stopped but still needed to serve the penalty.

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