Sergio Perez secured a fourth Formula One triumph and second of the season as he dominated at the Singapore Grand Prix, ending Max Verstappen's five-race winning streak.

Verstappen headed into Sunday's race with a 116-point lead at the top of the championship, aiming for a sixth straight win and 12th victory of 2022 as he edges towards the title.

Yet it was Red Bull team-mate Perez who added to his Monaco Grand Prix crown earlier in the year by winning at a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit, where safety cars were a regular feature.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished in second and third respectively, with Verstappen's championship lead over the Monegasque driver dropping to 104 points after the Dutchman came in seventh.

After an hour-long delay, Perez raced out the blocks to take the lead from Leclerc, while Lewis Hamilton recovered after being forced off the track in a battle with Sainz.

A plethora of safety cars followed as Zhou Guanyu, Nicholas Latifi, Fernando Alonso, Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon all retired inside the first 28 laps.

Perez continued to clock the fastest laps at the front before Hamilton – frustrated by Sainz in third – slammed into the barriers, with Lando Norris overtaking his fellow Briton.

Yuki Tsunoda's crash saw another safety car deployed before Verstappen swerved off the track to drop down to 12th, though he recovered to overtake Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas.

Perez's domination under the lights continued despite the push of Leclerc as the Red Bull driver claimed victory at the first F1 race in Singapore in three years.

'I TOLD YOU' – HAMILTON BEMOANS MERCEDES TYRE DECISION

Hamilton started the race in third but fell down a place after a first-corner battle with Sainz saw the seven-time world champion edged off the track.

"I told you about these tyres, in future you need to listen to me. No grip," Hamilton declared on the team radio soon after, lamenting Mercedes' late decision to operate on intermediate tyres.

It was not the first time Hamilton – who ended in ninth – has exchanged such words with his team, adding to a frustrating season that could end without a single victory for the first time in his career.

ALONSO DENIED HISTORY

Alpine's Alonso was aiming to surpass Kimi Raikkonen for the most Grand Prix finishes in history as the Spaniard looked to complete his 351st race.

But after stating "engine, engine" on the team radio, Alonso was forced to withdraw before the halfway point in Singapore, leaving him waiting to overtake Raikkonen.

Max Verstappen took advantage of another Ferrari tactical blunder to score a maiden Italian Grand Prix victory and extend his championship lead to 116 points.

The reigning Formula One champion edged closer to securing his second consecutive world drivers' crown in glorious sunshine at Monza, after brushing aside a pre-race five-place grid penalty.

But the Dutchman's success came once again with the helping hand of a failed gamble from Ferrari, who lost their home race after opting to throw Charles Leclerc onto long-distance medium tyres early on.

Leclerc, foiled in his bid for a taut title race with Verstappen this year, was pitted with a dozen laps on the board during a virtual safety car brought on by a mechanical failure for Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin.

Having blasted through the pack from seventh at lights out to emerge near the front again, the decision pushed Verstappen to the front and from there he seldom looked troubled by his rival.

Leclerc went onto softs to try and trim a near-twenty second gap, but it was to be in vain, leaving Ferrari to ruminate on another weekend where they lost the advantage.

Carlos Sainz at the very least impressed after a sweeping slate of grid penalties saw him cut through from the back to challenge for a podium, ultimately coming home in fourth behind the Mercedes of George Russell.

The latter's team-mate Lewis Hamilton likewise impressed with a fine drive from the rear of the grid to finish sixth, in another affirmation of the seven-time world champion's talents amid a tough season.

A late breakdown for Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren meant any chance for late drama was neutered under a safety car, and with three weeks to Singapore, Verstappen might start clearing his trophy cabinet for the big one again.

Charles Leclerc clinched pole position for Ferrari's home Grand Prix at Monza, topping the timesheet for the eighth time this season ahead of rival Max Verstappen.

Ferrari head into the Italian Grand Prix under immense pressure following a number of disappointments this season, derailing their hopes of a title, but Leclerc was able to perform in front of the Tifosi.

Leclerc was favourite to start at the front of the grid due to a wealth of penalties being issued for Sunday's race but did not require such an elevation, securing pole position on his own merit ahead of Max Verstappen.

The championship leader is among nine drivers taking penalties at Monza, along with team-mate Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher, four of whom progressed to Q3.

That meant the qualifying standings would be significantly different to the starting grid on Sunday, bringing back memories of the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Leclerc took victory at Monza in 2019 and is hopeful of emulating that display in 2022, which would bring an end to Verstappen's run of four back-to-back victories.

"It is amazing. It wasn't an easy qualifying session but I knew we had the potential in the car," Verstappen said.

"In this last lap in Q3 I had to put everything together and I managed to do it. Very happy with the lap and very happy with the performance. I hope we can do just like 2019 tomorrow."

Verstappen explained why he may have seemed slower than some anticipated for the qualifying session, with changes to the car aimed to boost a potential rise through the pack on Sunday.

"It was close but of course we chose to go for a little bit more downforce around here and on one lap it is maybe not the best," said Verstappen. 

"I think for tomorrow it can be quite strong and also knowing we have to start a bit back. All in all, it was a good lap and I enjoyed it. I think it will be an interesting day tomorrow."

Sainz, who put in the third-fastest lap in qualifying but faces a stern test from further back on the grid, admitted that it "hurts" to have to tumble down the starting order for Ferrari's home race.

"It hurts to be starting from the back with how competitive we feel in the car this weekend. I wish I could be at the front with Charles to try and do a 1-2 for the team tomorrow," he said.

QUALIFYING TIMES

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:20:161

2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.145

3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.268

4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +1.045

5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.363

6. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.381

7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.423

8. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.764

9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +2.487

10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) No Time

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz are among five drivers set to receive grid penalties for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, joining Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes confirmed on Thursday that Hamilton would be subject to penalties after taking a fourth power unit of the season, the seven-time world champion to start from the back of the grid having taken a new engine component everywhere barring control electronics and energy store.

Red Bull duo Verstappen and Perez will face penalties for exceeding their allocations of internal combustion engines, Verstappen now on his fifth, landing a five-place penalty, and Perez on his fourth, resulting in a 10-place penalty.

Ferrari's Sainz will receive an 20-place penalty after taking new gearbox components and an energy store, while AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda will add to his penalties with an array of new power unit components, having already been given a 10-place penalty for accumulating five reprimands over the course of the season.

Finally, Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas will join former team-mate Hamilton and Tsunoda at the back of the grid after taking new engine components.

Ahead of Friday's practice session, a minute's silence was held following the passing of the Queen on Thursday and all 10 teams posted messages on their social media channels after the news was announced.

Max Verstappen held off a spirited push from Lewis Hamilton to secure a second consecutive Dutch Grand Prix victory and extend his championship lead to 109 points.

The reigning Formula One champion edged out Charles Leclerc in qualifying to put himself in pole position ahead of Sunday's eventful race, where George Russell finished second and Charles Leclerc took third. Hamilton eventually faded to fourth.

AlphiTauri's Yuki Tsunoda and Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas both stopped midway through the race, with Verstappen's pit stop after the second safety car allowing Hamilton to take the lead.

Yet Verstappen recovered and regained the lead by going past Hamilton down the main straight on lap 61 to claim a fourth consecutive victory and 10th of the season, his joint-best return in a single year after also hitting double figures last year.

 

The top five retained their positions during an eventful start where Hamilton and Carlos Sainz touched cars through turn one, while Haas' Kevin Magnussen slipped off the track and hit the barrier.

Verstappen continued to keep Leclerc at bay through the opening 10 laps, responding to the Ferrari driver's early signs of pace by pressing forward to move out of DRS range.

A problematic pit stop for Sainz in which no rear-left tyre appeared available saw the Ferrari drop from third to 11th on lap 15, with Hamilton displacing the Spaniard as Verstappen stretched his lead over Leclerc.

Sainz recovered into sixth as Verstappen pitted for the first time on lap 19, with Hamilton – still winless in 2022 – taking the lead as Mercedes ran a one-two with Russell in second.

Verstappen roared back before a pit stop for Hamilton, who then got the better of Sergio Perez as the Mexican aimed to protect his Red Bull team-mate's lead.

A virtual safety car deployed after issues for Tsunoda offered a glorious chance to pit on lap 48 for Verstappen, who led Hamilton by almost 16 seconds with 23 laps to go after the Mercedes driver pitted.

Verstappen squandered his advantage by pitting after another safety car deployment, but he recovered to surge back into the lead with 11 laps to go to race to victory.

Russell and Hamilton almost collided as the former looked to overtake into second, with the seven-time world champion slipping down to fourth after Leclerc eased past him.

Charles Leclerc is struggling to see how he and Ferrari can get back into title contention after a tough weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix.

A dominant race for Red Bull on Sunday saw the Austrian team take first and second place, with drivers' championship leader Max Verstappen topping the podium from Sergio Perez.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was third, while Leclerc's dwindling title hopes took another knock when he crossed the line fifth before a penalty for speeding in the pit lane nudged him down a spot.

Leclerc now sits third in the standings with 186 points, a daunting 98 points behind Verstappen. Perez sits five points ahead of Leclerc now, too, and although there are eight races remaining, defending champion Verstappen practically has another title in the bag.

In the constructors' standings, Red Bull have 475 points, well ahead of Ferrari whose haul of 357 puts them second.

Leclerc took responsibility for his excessive pit-lane pace, saying it was "my fault... it's a mistake and that's it".

Reflecting on the bigger picture and looking at what improvements Ferrari might make, with time running out, Leclerc said: "It starts to look very difficult.

"Especially with the pace they've shown this weekend, it's going to be very, very difficult. But I'll keep my head down, try to focus race by race and try to do my best."

Speaking on Sky Sports, Leclerc was asked whether he was still in championship contention.

Again, he answered: "It starts to look very difficult."

Team-mate Sainz agreed Ferrari were left in a sticky position after an arduous weekend.

"Unfortunately it was harder than expected," said the Spaniard. "We had a lot of over-heating on the tyres, we were sliding around a lot, and for some reason our package wasn't quite there this weekend, but in the end we finished on a podium and we will take it.

"The first two laps were strong, but then we went into high degradation and I realised we were degrading more than what we should. Unfortunately we couldn't put up a stronger fight and we had to survive. We will have to learn why at this track we were not so competitive."

Sainz believes there could be stronger results ahead for Ferrari at the Dutch Grand Prix, which comes next, but he does not expect Red Bull to drop off and predicted they will be strong in Italy in two weeks' time.

"Zandvoort should be a better track for us," Sainz said. "Monza should be advantage for Red Bull there, but we will try and win it in Zandvoort."

Max Verstappen produced a scintillating drive to surge from 14th on the grid to win the Belgian Grand Prix and further extend his huge championship lead.

The reigning Formula One champion was fastest in Saturday's qualifying session but was one of several drivers to take a grid penalty for a power unit change, leading to him starting on the seventh row.

Yet, just as in the Hungarian Grand Prix before the mid-season break, when he started in 10th, Verstappen expertly worked his way through the field to prevail and claim a second successive win at Spa-Francorchamps.

The raw pace of the Red Bull allowed Verstappen to easily make his way to the front after a chaotic start and a second lap safety car, and he was never threatened after overtaking Carlos Sainz for the lead on lap 18. His team-mate Sergio Perez made it a Red Bull one-two, with the Ferraris of Sainz and Charles Leclerc sandwiched by Mercedes driver George Russell on a day that saw Verstappen's lead stretched to 96 points.

Fernando Alonso got a lightning start to put his Alpine ahead of Perez into the first corner, with the Red Bull man also overtaken by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

Yet the good work of the two former McLaren team-mates was soon undone when they collided going into the Les Combes chicane, sending Hamilton airbone as he suffered damage that ended his race.

The next lap then saw the Williams of Nicholas Latifi spin into Valtteri Bottas' Alfa Romeo, prompting a safety car as the latter ended up beached in the gravel.

Sainz locked up at the bus stop chicane at the restart but was still able to stay ahead of Perez and retain the lead.

Yet he soon began losing time to the Red Bulls and had both in his mirrors by the time he pitted on lap 12, Verstappen's spectacular charge through the field rewarded with the lead as he passed Perez while Sainz was in the pit lane.

Sainz was back ahead when Verstappen pitted for medium tyres four laps later, but Ferrari's lack of pace was encapsulated as Leclerc was unable to get past Perez on warmer tyres following the Mexican's pit stop and Verstappen succeeded in breezing past Sainz for the lead.

That set the stage for a serene second half of the race for Verstappen, whose title battle with Leclerc is turning into a procession for the Dutchman.

Carlos Sainz profited from Max Verstappen's grid penalty to secure pole for the Belgian Grand Prix but admitted to being concerned by the gap between Ferrari and Red Bull.

Verstappen topped the timesheet in Saturday's delayed qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the first race following the mid-season break.

But the reigning champion – who holds an 80-point lead over Charles Leclerc at the top of the standings – will start in 15th after being penalised for using too many engine parts.

The Dutchman is one of seven drivers taking grid penalties, along with Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu, Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas.

That effectively meant the rest of field were facing off for the top 13 positions on the grid, and it was Ferrari driver Sainz who will will start Sunday's race at the head of the pack.

Whereas Verstappen looked comfortable throughout and delivered a time of 1:43.665 seconds with his first Q3 flying lap, Sainz's Q3 lap was rather scrappy.

Despite claiming pole, the Spaniard – who is fifth in the standings – was not entirely pleased with how things played out.

"I'm happy to be starting on pole, but I'm obviously not so happy to see the gap to Max this weekend and the gap Red Bull have on us," he told Sky Sports.

"We need to keep digging to see why Red Bull are so fast around this track. But to start from pole is good and we will try to win tomorrow.

"I think our race pace is better than our qualifying pace, but there is still something to find."

The past seven winners of the Belgian Grand Prix have started from the front row of the grid, six of them from pole.

But after finishing 0.632s clear of the field in qualifying, Verstappen – last year's winner on this track – is hopeful of climbing from towards the back of the pack into the top three.

"It was an amazing qualifying but the whole weekend we have been really on it," he said. "With a car like this it would be a shame to not be on the podium.

"The car has been working really well and we have basically been trying to fine tune it and it all came together in Qualifying.

"Of course, I had to be careful with the amount of tyres I was using, but I was very happy with my lap. It is an amazing track with amazing fans and I hope they had a good day."

Verstappen is set to start one place ahead of title rival Leclerc, while team-mate Sergio Perez is second after finishing 0.165s behind Sainz.

Fernando Alonso, who is on his best run since 2018 after collecting points in each of his past eight races, is third ahead of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Red Bull are seeking a fifth win in Belgium – only in Mexico (six) would they have more – with Perez looking to overhaul Sainz.

"P2 is not the worst place to be around here and I think if I am able to get a good run at Carlos, it will be different and I will be on the other side of the row," Perez said.

"I am looking forward to tomorrow and I think there will be a great race ahead of us. It'll be very important to get a good start and do our own race and I think that will be the key."

Charles Leclerc has questioned Ferrari's strategy for the Hungarian Grand Prix after dubbing his sixth-place finish as a "disaster".

A decision to put on the hard-compound tyre brought an abrupt end to Leclerc's hopes of winning the race, conceding position to Red Bull's Max Verstappen – who now sits 80-points clear in the championship standings after another victory.

Performances from others on the grid had already shown that the hard compound tyre was not competitive in Sunday's race but Ferrari, having used the medium compound twice, elected to take the hard rather than push out a longer stint before taking the softs.

That decision proved to be the undoing of Ferrari's hopes in what was an afternoon to forget, with neither driver finishing in the podium spots despite starting second and third on the grid.

Leclerc, who took full responsibility for his crash in the French Grand Prix a week ago, was asked whether he could explain the team strategy and says questions will be asked during a debrief.

"We need to speak with the team and understand the thought behind putting on the hard because I felt very strong on the medium, everything was under control," he told Sky Sports.

"For some reason, I don’t know what, we needed to go on the hards. I said on the radio that I was very comfortable on the medium and I wanted to go for as long as possible on those tyres because the feeling was good.

"I don't know why we took we took a different decision. Honestly, the pace on my side I was pretty happy with.

"The only thing is that obviously everyone will remember the last part of the race which was a disaster for me, especially the hard, that's why I lost the race.

"I lost 20 seconds with the pit, another maybe six seconds on five laps on the hard because I was all over the place with this tyre and yeah, that's where we lost our race."

Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz was equally disappointed and says he simply did not have a car capable of mounting a challenge.

"We clearly struggled as a team. Today, we're a bit puzzled because we expected to have good race pace coming from Friday, but it's clear that these lower temperatures, the track condition changes, there was something going on with the car and the tyres," he told Sky Sports.

"We were not fast. It's something to analyse, to look back, regroup, see what we did wrong for these kinds of conditions and come back after the summer break with a better package."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff defended Ferrari's tyre strategy and believes it was the only call they could have made.

"I think they had no option. They had only hard and soft left, for the soft it was too early, so it was only the hard," he said to Sky Sports.

"The mistake I think happened on Friday or Saturday, not to carry over a new medium."

Max Verstappen extended his championship lead even further with a stellar drive in Hungary to claim victory having started 10th on the grid.

The Red Bull capitalised on more woes for Ferrari to leave Verstappen heading into the break with an 80-point lead, while Mercedes enjoyed a second race in a row with both drivers finishing on the podium.

Ferrari, having started second and third on the grid, had a race to forget with both drivers finishing outside of the podium spots - with Carlos Sainz in fourth and Charles Leclerc coming home sixth.

At the start, pole-sitter George Russell was immediately put under pressure by the Ferraris behind him but maintained his advantage following the first corner, then opening a two-second window following an early virtual safety car after contact between Alex Albon and Lance Stroll.

With soft tyres losing speed, Russell pitted from the lead at the end of lap 16 and Sainz, on the medium, made an overcut attempt one lap later but remained behind the Mercedes.

Verstappen benefited during the first round of pit stops to continue his charge up the grid, taking fourth on lap 21, while Leclerc came out ahead of team-mate Sainz after his stop.

Still in the lead at the start of lap 28, Russell's performance meant Mercedes had led more laps in the race than they had in the entirety of the season prior to this weekend and Russell, though defending aggressively, was overtaken at turn one by Leclerc on lap 31.

Verstappen blinked first in the second round of pit stops and completed an undercut on Russell, then overtaking Leclerc twice, either side of a spin, with Ferrari unable to find the pace on the hard compound as another strategy decision cost the Monegasque, who inevitably had to take a third stop to swap to the softs.

Hamilton's strategy worked much better and saw him stand as the biggest threat to Verstappen's lead heading into the latter stages, overtaking Sainz at the start of lap 63 and then taking team-mate Russell on lap 65.

Late rain threatened to cause drama on the final lap but Verstappen was able to cruise home for a 28th career win - equalling Nigel Mansell's record of the most F1 wins for a single team.

Ferrari, meanwhile, will now be looking over their shoulder after the break with their advantage over Mercedes in the constructors' championship now standing at just 30 points.

Ferrari's frustrating calls

Plenty of scrutiny has been directed towards Ferrari for questionable calls made during the 2022 Formula One season and the Hungarian Grand Prix added further fuel to that particular fire.

Having seen Alpine's own woes on the hard compound, which saw both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso tumble down the field, Ferrari bemusingly still opted to put Leclerc on that tyre.

The poor performance of the compound was shown when Verstappen, who had overtaken Leclerc, spun to lose the position but was still able to chase down his title rival and reclaim the position without too much of a challenge.

Russell's run ends

Heading into the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes duo Russell and Hamilton were the only two drivers on the grid to have improved or maintained their starting position in every race this season.

Hamilton, starting seventh and finishing second, was able to maintain that sequence but Russell, on pole position, secured a third-place finish and saw his run of improvement come to an end.

However, that finish sealed back-to-back podium finishes for Russell at Mercedes, while it also marked the second race in a row with both Silver Arrows drivers on the rostrum.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +7.834

3. George Russell (Mercedes) +12.337

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +14.579

5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +15.688

6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +16.047

7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +78.300

8. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) + One lap

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) + One lap

10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) + One lap

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 258

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 178

3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 173

4. George Russell (Mercedes) 158

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 156

Constructors

1. Red Bull 431

2. Ferrari 334

3. Mercedes 304

4. Alpine 99

5. McLaren 95

Carlos Sainz is relishing the prospect of battling against front-row rival George Russell in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Russell stunned Ferrari's drivers with a stellar lap in the closing stages of qualifying to snatch the first pole position of his career, with Sainz lining up second on the grid and team-mate Charles Leclerc in third.

It sets up an interesting race in Hungary, the last before F1's summer break, with McLaren's Lando Norris in fourth while the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez begin in 10th and 11th respectively.

While Mercedes have an advantage at the start, their car continues to be a largely unknown quantity and Ferrari will fancy their chances of securing a win – with Sainz confirming the team will be pushing for that goal.

"I'm not very happy with the final result as I feel I could have done a better lap on the final attempt," he said after qualifying.

"However, I prefer to focus on the positives: we are in a good position for tomorrow, I've been comfortable in the car all weekend, and we keep making steps in the right direction.

"I'm confident we can carry the good pace of Friday into the race, so we'll definitely go for it.

"Congrats to George on his first pole. He did a very good lap today and I look forward to the battle tomorrow."

Leclerc is equally confident Ferrari can respond after a frustrating qualifying session, as he too looks to challenge team-mate Sainz and Russell for the win – which would provide a boost after last weekend's crash in France.

"The pace is there and we know we have some work to do," Leclerc said. "I'm confident we can come back stronger tomorrow."

George Russell was left with an "incredible feeling" after he upset the odds to claim his first pole position for Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix as Red Bull endured a dismal day.

Carlos Sainz, seeming more comfortable in the Ferrari with every race, appeared destined for pole from his flying lap at the Hungaroring.

However, Russell, having complained of a lack of grip throughout the practice sessions, came almost from nowhere to put together a remarkable final lap and take top spot with a time of one minute and 17.377 seconds.

He prevented a Ferrari one-two after the Red Bulls had been removed completely from the equation. Sergio Perez failed to make it out of Q2, alleging he was blocked by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, and Max Verstappen then complained of a loss of power in the top-10 shoot-out. Championship leader Verstappen will start 10th, ahead of Perez in 11th.

Ferrari are still in a tremendous position to take advantage of Red Bull's woes, with Sainz set to start second ahead of Charles Leclerc in third.

"I'm over the moon. Absolutely buzzing," said Russell, whose team-mate Lewis Hamilton could only manage seventh amid an issue with his DRS. 

"The lap time kept on coming. I came across the line and saw we went P1 and that was an incredible feeling."

Asked if it means Mercedes are back, Russell replied: "I don't know to be honest, we need to look and understand where that came from, there's a few ideas we had.

"There's no points for qualifying. Generally we had good race pace, but the Ferraris looked very fast on Friday, but we are going to be absolutely going for it [tomorrow], but either way that was a pretty special day no doubt."

Leclerc and Sainz appeared relaxed despite missing out on locking out the front row.

Leclerc will have the McLaren of Lando Norris for company on the second row, with the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso behind them in fifth and sixth.

"Mostly we are focusing on ourselves," Ferrari's Leclerc said when asked about Red Bull's problems. "I've been struggling massively with the tyres. I struggled to put a lap together.

"I'm pretty sure we've got the pace in the car to come back at the front. I'm pretty sure we can come back tomorrow."

Sainz looked much more assured than his team-mate but echoed Leclerc's sentiments after losing critical time in the final part of his final flying lap.

"Definitely feeling better and better every race and every qualifying session," Sainz said. "I felt like I had the pace to do the pole position, it went away from us.

"We have the [race] pace; the start and the tyre management will play a key role. The Mercedes pace is a bit of an unknown."


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. George Russell (Mercedes) 1:17.377
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.044
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.190
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.392
5. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +0.641
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.701
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.765
8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.780
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.002
10. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.446

Max Verstappen's path to a second Formula One drivers' championship appears clear following Ferrari's mishaps in France, with the Red Bull ace looking to extend his lead in Hungary.

Heading into the final race before F1's summer break, Verstappen holds a mammoth 63-point advantage over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the standings – while Red Bull lead their rivals by 82 points in the constructors' championship.

Ferrari's latest setback, which saw Leclerc retire from the lead for the third time this season, brought an end to what had been a positive stint for the Italian manufacturers – who had won back-to-back races before heading to the Circuit Paul Ricard.

While Leclerc has been the leading man for Ferrari this season, his crash in France was the latest mistake from the young driver – and it may now be Carlos Sainz that has the biggest part to play in chasing down Red Bull.

After a difficult start to the season, the Spaniard has found his rhythm with the car and weaved his way through the field in France to secure fifth place, having started 19th on the grid and impressed in qualifying.

Sainz boasts two fastest laps in 2022, both of which have come in the last four races (in Canada and France) – one more than he recorded in his previous 148 outings, and he's now eyeing consecutive fastest laps for the first time in his F1 career.

Ferrari's record in Hungary is also encouraging, with only McLaren (11) winning more races at the venue than Ferrari (7) – who last won at the Hungaroring in 2017. Red Bull, meanwhile, have won twice, in 2010 and 2014.

Red Bull's main strength this season has been straight-line speed, which may not fit with the Hungaroring's lack of straights – the track is comparable to Monaco, with several corners to string together.

It's on those sorts of corners where Ferrari have been the better outfit but, even with a win, they would require some serious reliability issues or incidents from Red Bull to rejuvenate their flagging title hopes.

Hamilton's charge reviving Mercedes

Mercedes' woes this season have been well documented and are not yet over, with the team extremely disappointed by their upgrade package failing to have the desired effect for the French Grand Prix last time out.

However, Lewis Hamilton is at least back at his best after registering four consecutive podium finishes heading into Hungary, while George Russell's appearance alongside his team-mate on the podium was the first time Mercedes have had both drivers in the top three this season.

The Hungaroring is a track Hamilton knows well, having secured eight victories at the venue – including all five of Mercedes' wins.

Now 12 races without a win, Mercedes are in the longest winless stretch of their F1 history, and Hamilton is still awaiting the triumph which would see him break Michael Schumacher's record of consecutive seasons with at least one victory – with both drivers currently on 15.

Ricciardo's moment of truth

Daniel Ricciardo's spell at McLaren has been disappointing for both driver and team but both are committed to each other for the long haul, with the Australian's contract running through 2023.

Speculation of an early termination appears to have cooled, with Ricciardo taking to social media to quash such rumours before issuing a strong message ahead of France – telling Sky Sports he'll deliver a win if McLaren can deliver a car.

That's something the Silverstone-based team are yet to do, however. Ricciardo's experience in France was another disappointing one, having come in ninth and, yet again, finished behind team-mate Lando Norris.

The young Brit is clearly the more comfortable driver, having registered 70 of McLaren's 89 points this season, and Ricciardo needs to start changing the game.

A positive race in Hungary would provide a significant boost ahead of what is a crucial sequence for the Australian after the summer break.

Carlos Sainz has defended Ferrari's strategy after a late pit stop cost the Spaniard a potential podium finish at the French Grand Prix. 

Ferrari endured a frustrating outing at Le Castellet as Red Bull stretched their lead at the top of Formula One's constructors' standings to 82 points.

With Charles Leclerc crashing out of the race for his third retirement of the season when in a leading position, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was followed onto the podium by Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Sainz had just overtaken Sergio Perez to assume third place when Ferrari took the decision to call the 27-year-old in for a late pit stop, after which he finished in fifth, his worst performance of the campaign, excluding retirements. 

Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto defended the decision after the race, insisting Sainz would have struggled to maintain his pace without new tyres, and the Spaniard has offered his support for the team's overall strategy.

"I think the team is doing a very good job on strategy this year," Sainz told Sky Sports.

"At Ferrari we get super criticised for things that other teams might be going through also in their pit stop windows.

"Every time there is a tricky moment on strategy, we are discussing things, but we are not a disaster like people seem to say we are."

While Sainz added he would have liked the opportunity to stay out and challenge the leaders after surging from the back row of the grid, he insisted he trusts his team's ability to weigh up the data and make decisive calls.

"We like to discuss things, we are open about them," Sainz added. "Yes, I was in the middle of an overtake, but the team believed that was the right lap to stop and come back through the field.

"I believed at the time that maybe it was better to risk it and stay out and see what happens with the tyres, even if it was the medium tyre on the limit of its life, but I had just made it to P3 and I saw a podium position. 

"I thought, 'if I make these tyres last, maybe I can finish on the podium', but we will never know.

"The team has a lot more data on the computer, they have a lot more numbers to go through, and if they took that decision, I'm 100 per cent convinced that they did it with the best of intentions and the best spirit. 

"We need to keep progressing, and we need to analyse everything and see how we can be better, but I'm convinced the team is doing a good job."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has clarified Charles Leclerc's concerns about the throttle following his crash from the lead at the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc was ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen when he lost the rear tyre and collided with the wall, suffering a third retirement of the season while in a leading position.

The Monegasque driver took responsibility for the incident with his post-race comments but had raised queries on the reason for the crash with remarks over the team radio, where he complained about the throttle.

Ferrari have suffered with throttle problems already this season and Leclerc's comments raised concerns they had emerged again in Sunday's race, but Binotto explained the reason for the comments from his driver.

"It was a mistake, it happens, as we have made reliability issues. I said to Charles, we make life a bit more difficult, but he's feeling better and we will enjoy more in the future," he told Sky Sports.

"It was a genuine driver error. The throttle, it was when he was in the barrier and tried to put it into reverse. 

"Without going into details, he felt that the torque of the engine was not responding to the throttle, but it was nothing to do with the mistake.

"There is always something to improve. Step by step, I think we are progressing and becoming better. Today, we've proved that we have a fast car and a very competitive one.

"We're looking now to Hungary. We can do a one-two there, why not? So we simply focus on the next result."

Ferrari also faced scrutiny behind the decision to call Carlos Sainz in for a second pit stop, with the initial radio call coming as he overtook Sergio Perez for third place, but Binotto remained adamant it was the correct call.

"We don't feel it was the right choice, we're pretty sure it was the right choice. At the time, he was short on life with wear on the tyres so it would have been really risky to go to the end," he explained.

"We don't think he would have had the pace to fight second because he had the five-second penalty. By stopping, he did the fastest lap which was certainly a point, so I think it was the safest and the right decision to take.

"I don't think it cost us a pace. If he had stayed out, I don't think he would have opened the gap to the guy behind, so we don't think he would have had sufficient time."

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