Charles Leclerc lauded the "perfect race" at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after holding off Sergio Perez to secure second in Formula One's drivers' championship.

Red Bull star Max Verstappen was a distant memory for the rest of the grid on Sunday, easing to a third-straight Abu Dhabi win and 15th victory of 2022 after already securing the world title.

Team-mate Perez did not have as much reason to celebrate, though, after being unable to overtake Leclerc, who finished three points ahead of the Mexican in the drivers' standings.

Ferrari opted to go with a one-stop pit strategy with Leclerc at the Yas Marina Circuit and the Monegasque driver hailed a faultless performance in the final event of the season.

He told Sky Sports: "I was 110 per cent from the first lap to the last. We had the perfect race.

"I knew the only way for us to beat Checo [Perez] was with a different strategy and playing with time management, which we did really well. We made the one-stop work so I am really happy."

Leclerc's performance was enough to secure Ferrari second in the constructors' championship, again behind Red Bull, as the Italian team finished 39 points ahead of third-placed Mercedes.

The 25-year-old hopes his team can correct their mistakes and strategy decisions from 2022 to compete for the title after making progress this campaign.

"I really hope next year we can make a step forward and fight for the championship but considering where we were, it is a step forward," Leclerc added.

"We still need to work on race pace as we tend to struggle on Sunday but we will push during the winter break."

Perez may be left to rue Verstappen's refusal to allow his Red Bull team-mate to overtake in Sao Paolo last weekend, seemingly handing the advantage to Leclerc in the drivers' championship.

The Mexican refused to dwell on the negatives after the race in Abu Dhabi, though, instead pinpointing the positives as Red Bull look to improve on an incredible season next year.

"It is how it is. Sometimes everything can be really close. At the end of the day, I've got to be happy," Perez said.

"I gave it all, as a team we gave it all through the season, and I'm sure we will come back stronger next year.

"We had great moments, great battling. I think I struggled a bit this year in terms of managing the tyres in the race, that can be something that we will improve for next year, and generally just be a bit stronger." 

Max Verstappen claimed a record third straight victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc edged Sergio Perez for second at Formula One's season-ending event.

The Red Bull pair dominated the headlines in Sao Paulo last Sunday after Verstappen refused to allow Perez to overtake to aid his battle with Leclerc in the drivers' championship.

Verstappen became the first driver to win three consecutive races at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday, but the Brazil decision came back to haunt Red Bull as Leclerc held off Perez to claim second.

That saw the Ferrari driver beat Perez to second in the drivers' championship, while Lewis Hamilton ended the 2022 season without victory for the first time in his career after late Mercedes car failure and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel signed off with a point.

Sao Paulo winner George Russell suffered a five-second penalty after an unsafe release in the pits, before Fernando Alonso retired on lap 28 due to problems with his Alpine car.

Red Bull decided to pit Perez on lap 34, handing second to Leclerc, before the Mexican eventually battled past Hamilton to move into third with 11 laps remaining.

Mechanical issues for Hamilton saw the Mercedes star forced to withdraw on lap 56, while Ferrari opted to keep Leclerc on the same hard tyres with a one-stop strategy throughout.

That decision proved rewarding as Leclerc held off Perez to finish behind 15-race winner Verstappen as Ferrari secured second in both the drivers' and constructors' championship behind Red Bull.

Hamilton claims unwanted record

Hamilton experienced a season to forget as he and Mercedes battled with car issues – no more so than on Sunday – and underwhelming performances against the dominant Red Bull.

The seven-time world champion boasts the most wins in history at Abu Dhabi (five) but was unable to draw on that experience as he finished without a win or pole position this season amid a frustrating campaign.

Vettel bows out

Four-time F1 champion Vettel announced in July he would retire at the end of the 2022 season, with the last event in Abu Dhabi acting as his final swansong.

The German, who was heard questioning his team's strategy on radio, could only manage 10th in his final outing but ended with the most points in history for Aston Martin (80) after his 299th career race.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.771 seconds
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +10.093s
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +24.892s
5. George Russell (Mercedes) +35.888s
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +56.234s
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +57.2402
8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1:16.931s
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1:23.268s
10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1:23.898s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 454
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 308
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 305
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 275
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 246

Constructors

1. Red Bull 759
2. Ferrari 554
3. Mercedes 515
4. Alpine 173
5. McLaren 159

Max Verstappen was thrilled to join team-mate Sergio Perez in locking out the front row at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Red Bull, following a week of controversy.

Championship winner Verstappen attracted criticism in Sao Paulo last week after refusing a team order to let Perez pass on the final lap.

Lack of teamwork was not an issue in Saturday's Abu Dhabi qualifying, however, with Verstappen helping Perez to second place, while securing for himself a third consecutive Yas Marina circuit pole position.

"It was a bit up and down qualifying, started off quite well, Q2 was a little bit more messy, I don't know why. I couldn't quite get the grip together," Verstappen said.

"In Q3 it all felt a bit more normal, though we had a bit of a scare as the car turned off before the first run, so we had to reboot everything.

"We're very pleased and very happy that both cars are on the front row. Of course, we want to win the race, but we also want to finish second with Perez in the championship, so that's a great start for tomorrow.

"It always sounds great, today was amazing, I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow but at least we have two cars there, so we can do what we want."

Perez specifically mentioned the teamwork conducted with Verstappen, who finished 0.228 seconds in front of the Mexican.

"I didn't make the final step in Q3, especially in the first run, so we were a bit behind, but it's good to lock out the front row tomorrow. Max did a great job for me, we worked as a team really strongly in that final run," Perez said.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third quickest, clocking in just 0.04 seconds behind Perez, and team-mate Carlos Sainz took fourth on the grid.

"It's the place we deserve, Red Bull were stronger," said Leclerc. "We are still in quite a good position, it's going to be close to Perez for sure.

"I'm sure we can work with Carlos, I have no doubt in that, we'll try to maximise the team result. Red Bull is a bit stronger on a Sunday, so it's going to be tricky, but hopefully we can do it and get second place in the championships."

George Russell led from the start in a dramatic, stuttering Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday to clinch his first Formula One win, holding off Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Having won the sprint race at the Interlagos Circuit on Saturday, Russell kept his composure while those around him clashed and collided in a race full of incident.

The race was halted by a red flag on the first lap, with Daniel Ricciardo crashing into Kevin Magnussen, and Hamilton was perhaps fortunate to come away unscathed and unpunished after a collision with Max Verstappen following the restart – which saw the world champion handed a five-second time penalty.

A second safety car was brought out after Lando Norris lost power on the track with 19 laps remaining, but another fine restart from Russell saw him see off Hamilton and claim a deserved maiden victory.

Sunday's race was dramatic from the start as Ricciardo and Magnussen crashed out as early as Turn 8 – and the restart brought another collision, this time between old rivals Hamilton and Verstappen.

Hardly strangers to battles and bruises down the years, Hamilton and Verstappen tussled on Turn 2.

Verstappen got around the seven-time world champion on Turn 1, but despite appearing to have the racing line on the inside on the next corner, it was the Dutchman who was punished after a significant collision – though both cars were able to stay in the race.

Charles Leclerc was also sent spinning into the barrier after an incident involving Norris, but the Ferrari was able to continue.

Hamilton recovered swiftly, with the Mercedes driver clawing his way ahead of Norris, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez.

A three-second loss in the pits cost Verstappen further time, though the Red Bull's speed was on show as he quickly cruised back into the points.

However, Norris' vehicle failed him on lap 52, resulting in a second full safety car. Having seen his 11-second lead cut by that stoppage, Russell might have lost his nerve, but a wonderful restart propelled him out of Hamilton's DRS range.

Sainz came in third, leaving Leclerc dismayed, though the day belonged to Mercedes, who are aiming to cap a frustrating season with a flourish.

Team-mates tussle

There are few friends in F1, it would seem. While Hamilton was happy to congratulate his team-mate Russell on a maiden F1 success, there was frustration within the ranks of Ferrari and Red Bull.

Leclerc was begging Ferrari to instruct his team-mate Sainz to give way, and concede a podium place, in order to boost his chances of finishing second in the world championship.

Verstappen, meanwhile, ignored Red Bull's instructions to hand sixth place back to Perez if he was unable to pass Fernando Alonso. "I have given you my reasons," Verstappen said on the team radio. 

Magnussen's weekend ends in sorrow 

Haas driver Magnussen took a shock pole in qualifying on Friday, though he went down to eighth in the sprint race. However, by Turn 8 on the first lap, the 30-year-old had crashed out.

Ricciardo, who could now face a grid penalty in his last race for McLaren, was to blame for clipping the back of Magnussen's car, with the Australian compounding the issue when he failed to avoid the spinning Haas, sending both vehicles into the wall and out of the race.

IN THE POINTS

1. George Russell (Mercedes)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.529 seconds
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +4.051s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.441s
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +9.561s
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +10.056s
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +14.080s
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +18.690s
9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +22.552s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +23.552s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 429
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 290
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 290
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 265
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 240

Constructors

1. Red Bull 719
2. Ferrari 524
3. Mercedes 505
4. Alpine 167
5. McLaren 148

Max Verstappen powered to a record 14th win of his championship-winning season as the Red Bull driver roared to victory at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Dutchman matched Formula One's single-season wins record shared by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel when he snatched a 13th success last week in Austin at the United States Grand Prix, and in Mexico City he went one better.

Many in the crowd were willing on Verstappen's Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez, but he had to settle for third place and another podium, a repeat of his result last year at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Perez separated the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton, who finished second, and George Russell, who took fourth, with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in fifth and sixth.

It was a race that was bereft of drama, and the tone was set from the start. It was clean as pole-sitter Verstappen held off the Mercedes pair, with Hamilton nudging ahead of Russell in the early stages and Perez getting between the Silver Arrows as he climbed to third place.

That was how it finished, of course, and there was little to report of any import between the start and finish.

Hamilton had cast doubt on Mercedes' ability to get a first win of the season, and despite taking second and fourth, they never really looked like rivalling Verstappen for the win.

Three-quarters of the way through the race, Hamilton asked his team whether he was running on the wrong tyres and was told by the Mercedes garage they were confident in their strategy. At the finish, he again cast doubt on team tactics.

He had also pointed to power drop-offs. At that stage, Verstappen led Hamilton by just over 10 seconds, and Mercedes were counting on the Red Bulls needing second pit stops, but that prospect went away.

Russell complained over the team radio that his tyres were "gone" on the 67th lap but was told "his tyres will be more gone than yours" as he looked to close in on third-placed Perez. Little changed as the drivers remained in the same order through to the finish.

A joyful Verstappen said on team radio, after being congratulated for his record drive: "Double podium as well, that's amazing here in Mexico, well done guys."

 

The Max and Lewis show rolls on

Verstappen and Hamilton were first and second, but the gap was 15 seconds by the end of the race and it was barely competitive. What the result means, though, is they have now finished first and second in a race on 33 occasions, extending the record they established in Austin.

Red Bull, meanwhile, have stretched their winning streak to nine races, matching a team-best set in the 2013 season when Sebastian Vettel won the closing nine races of that campaign.


F1? It's a team game

With Verstappen and Red Bull already having the championships wrapped up, others are jostling for places in the drivers' and constructors' standings.

Mercedes entered this race 53 points behind second-placed Ferrari, with only races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi to come, and they had a strong day, raising hopes the Silver Arrows could yet finish as runners-up. The gap is now down to 40 points.

Ferrari's Leclerc saw his run of five consecutive podium finishes come to an end in a race where he was rarely a factor up front.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz enjoyed his "adventure" in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, though he feels Red Bull are still favourites for Sunday's race.

The Spaniard secured the second pole of his Formula One season after a blistering final lap in Q3 in Austin, climbing over teammate Charles Leclerc, who will serve a 10-place grid penalty and will therefore start 12th in Sunday's race.

Sainz has the advantage on the front row, where eight of the last nine winners have started, but feels Max Verstappen, who will start alongside him, is favourite for the race.

"It was fun, a lot of fun. It was very tricky with the wind, it's so gusty, it's a bit of an adventure with these cars, you don't know how much wind to expect but I managed to put together a good lap without mistakes," he said on the grid after the session.

"It was a long time coming after a few qualifying sessions in the dry but not quite getting there.

"I think Red Bull are still favourites, they have the better race pace. They normally get us in the race, Max does a great job, Red Bull has a very good car, but we're going to do everything we can to stay ahead tomorrow and win the race, which would be an amazing way to start these next four races."

Sainz's teammate Leclerc had hoped to secure a 10th pole of the season, though he would not have started from the front due to the engine penalty, but was pleased for his colleague.

"It is difficult with the wind obviously from lap to lap but overall I did my best," he said.

"The last lap wasn't the best and Carlos did a better job today and deserves to be on pole.

"I will be starting a bit further back because for the penalty but the plan is to come back to the front as quickly as possible."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 1:34.356
2. Charles Leclerc* (Ferrari) +0.065
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.092
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.289
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.591
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.632
7. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1.242
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.334
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.520
10. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +1.963

* Received a 10-place grid penalty for exceeding quota of power unit elements and will start from 12th

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has described Charles Leclerc's five-second penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix – which handed Max Verstappen his second Formula One world title – as "ridiculous and unacceptable".

Verstappen sealed consecutive championships by winning a rain-shortened race at Suzuka on Sunday – though it initially appeared he would have to wait after Leclerc crossed the line in second. 

However, Leclerc's late move to stay ahead of Sergio Perez landed him a five-second penalty, putting the Ferrari man third and unable to catch Verstappen in the drivers' standings.

Speaking to Sky Sports following the bizarre conclusion, a furious Binotto contrasted Sunday's immediate decision to penalise Leclerc with the long delay required to hand Perez a similar sanction in Singapore last week. 

"The decision of the five-second penalty to Leclerc is ridiculous and unacceptable, it is something that does not make sense," he said.

"Leclerc did not gain position or time, when we saw the note, we were calm. This time it was decided without even listening to the drivers, unlike Singapore.

"Incredible decision, which is not clear: two identical infractions and two different penalties seven days apart."

Race organisers have also come under fire after Pierre Gasly narrowly avoided a high-speed collision with a tractor, which was recovering Carlos Sainz's crashed Ferrari after a series of early collisions.

Binotto also made reference to that incident as he warned poor management of the sport could harm its reputation.

"Then the start in those conditions, the crane on the track… this shows that the moment is difficult [for F1]," Binotto continued. "The risk is to lose the credibility of the sport.

"We have to understand how to improve the situation, because this management is not going well."

Max Verstappen learned he had sealed another Formula One world title only after winning a rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

It had appeared Verstappen would be made to wait until Austin to confirm a second consecutive championship, as his hopes of getting the job done at Suzuka were rocked by heavy rain.

Even when Verstappen crossed the line in first place with just over half the race completed, title rival Charles Leclerc looked to have clung on to second to delay his title celebrations.

But Leclerc's late move to stay ahead of Sergio Perez landed him a five-second penalty, putting the Ferrari man in third and no longer within reach of Verstappen.

The victory for Verstappen moved him clear of Red Bull team-mate Perez, too, and the Dutchman was informed of his triumph only after his initial parc ferme interview.

It made for a bizarre conclusion to a long and controversial day, with initial attempts to start the race lasting mere minutes.

The safety car was out by the end of a first lap that had seen Leclerc briefly get ahead of pole-sitter Verstappen, only to trail again by Turn 1.

A series of incidents behind them in the awful conditions led to a yellow flag, and proceedings were red-flagged by the third lap.

The delay that followed lasted more than two hours, with Verstappen eventually resuming behind the safety car with only 45 minutes available in the race's three-hour window.

A sprint to the finish was without any drama at the front, though, and the title was instead decided by the battle for second as Leclerc left the track and then forced Perez wide.

Victory and the fastest lap for Max Verstappen in Japan on Sunday will seal the Formula One title for the Red Bull ace and continue a record in the land of the rising sun.

The Japanese Grand Prix has been the venue where championship winners have been crowned the most, happening on 12 occasions – the last of which was Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull in 2011.

Verstappen, who will also win the title if Charles Leclerc finishes third or lower and team-mate Sergio Perez finishes second or lower without the fastest lap, can clinch the title with four races to spare – only Michael Schumacher in 2002 (6) and Nigel Mansell in 1995 (5) have been crowned champion sooner in the season.

A further honour also awaits Verstappen in Japan, where a win would be the 23rd different venue where he has topped the podium, surpassing Schumacher (22) and behind only Lewis Hamilton (31).

Regardless of Verstappen's exploits in Japan, the title is a near certainty to be heading his way and it would require a remarkable sequence of events for the situation to change.

The budget cap situation is the biggest threat, with the FIA set to announce results for the 2021 season on Wednesday, although any outcome is unlikely to be final and arguments are expected to rumble on within the paddock.

Leclerc's pole problem

Charles Leclerc has taken pole position and failed to win the race on seven occasions in 2022, the most recent coming in Singapore last weekend where Sergio Perez won ahead of the Ferrari driver.

Another pole without a win in 2022 would equal the highest tally in a single season, set by Mika Hakkinen in 1999 and Nico Rosberg in 2014.

Alonso waits for record

Fernando Alonso set the record for most Grand Prix stats in F1 last weekend (350) but is still waiting to take the record for the most F1 finishes – missing the opportunity to set the record in the last two races.

Alonso is tied with Kimi Raikkonen for the most races finished (378) and has suffered back-to-back DNF's in Italy and Singapore, with Lewis Hamilton (276 finishes) now threatening to leapfrog him if that trend continues.

Sergio Perez's Singapore Grand Prix victory was confirmed after an FIA investigation into an infringement involving safety cars only resulted in a five-second time penalty for the Mexican.

Perez overtook Charles Leclerc on the first corner of Sunday's race at the wet Marina Bay Street Circuit, protecting his lead throughout to claim a second win of the season and fourth of his career.

Numerous safety cars were deployed throughout the eventful race in slippery conditions, with an investigation opened by the stewards into a misdemeanour by Perez when racing under a yellow flag.

Ferrari called for two five-second time penalties on Perez, who finished seven seconds ahead of Leclerc, for not keeping within 10 car lengths of the safety car.

Both the Red Bull driver and Leclerc were called to the stewards' office for their version of events after the race, with Perez also investigated for pulling alongside the safety car to encourage it to speed up.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, reprimanded Perez for the first incident and gave him a five-second penalty for the second infringement, leaving the Red Bull racer two seconds ahead of Leclerc.

"Although the track was wet in parts, we do not accept that the conditions were such as to make it impossible or dangerous for Perez to have maintained the required less than 10 car length gap," the stewards said. 

"Nevertheless, we took into account the wet conditions and the difficulties highlighted by Perez as mitigatory circumstances for this incident and, accordingly, determine that a reprimand ought to be imposed.

"As this was the second breach of Article 55.10 by Perez during the race and followed an express warning from the race director, we determined to impose a five-second time penalty on Perez."

That leaves Perez trailing championship leader Max Verstappen by 106 points, with Leclerc in second as he sits 104 points behind the Dutchman.

Sergio Perez labelled the Singapore Grand Prix victory as his "best performance" after holding off Charles Leclerc on a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Ferrari driver Leclerc started on pole on Sunday ahead of Perez, who breezed into the lead at the first corner as Formula One racing returned to Singapore for the first time in three years.

The wet conditions that caused the race to be delayed by an hour were a problem throughout, with numerous safety cars deployed as five drivers failed to finish.

Perez held his nerve despite late pressure from Leclerc to claim his second victory of the season and fourth of his career to end Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen's five-race winning streak.

"It was certainly my best performance," Perez told Sky Sports after the conclusion. "I controlled the race.

"The last three laps were so intense – when I got out of the car, I felt it. I gave everything."

While Perez celebrated on the podium, stewards investigated a possible infringement behind the safety car – a misdemeanour that Ferrari deemed worthy of a 10-second time penalty.

"I have no idea what's going on, they just told me I was under investigation and to increase the gap," Perez added after finishing seven seconds ahead of Ferrari's Leclerc.

Leclerc's colleague Carlos Sainz settled for third after battling with Lewis Hamilton on the opening corner, with the Briton finishing in ninth after another frustrating outing.

"It was very tough out there," Sainz said. "I never really got into a rhythm in the wet and then couldn't challenge the top two guys.

"I had to settle for P3, but the good thing is I didn't do any mistakes and could bring the car home and be quick towards the end of the race. 

"It's a good result for the team in the Constructors' Championship."

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.

Charles Leclerc clinched a ninth pole position of the season in Singapore, with Max Verstappen struggling in the wet conditions.

Intermediate tyres were used across the grid in the first two rounds of qualifying, with the deck only being shuffled in Q3 as eight of the 10 runners made the jump to slicks – though there were initial difficulties to find pace.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were the first to hit their stride while others tiptoed around the wet sections of the track, with each claiming provisional pole twice before a resurgence from others on the grid.

Leclerc, who held pole the last time F1 visited Singapore in 2019, punched home a blistering lap to initially open a lead of a second and a half before others responded, Sergio Perez joining him on the front row as Hamilton lines up third – just five hundredths of a second away from his first pole of the 2022 season.

It was an entirely different story for a furious Verstappen, who will start eighth on the grid after being forced to abandon his final lap, unleashing his anger over the team radio.

Verstappen could seal the championship under the lights in Singapore if results go his way, though it now seems even more unlikely given his lowly start.

Leclerc admitted the conditions made for a tricky challenge for the drivers, with his call to move away from the intermediate compound coming just before the start of the final session

"It's been a very tricky qualifying, Q1 and Q2 with the intermediates, then in Q3 we didn't really know what to do," he said. "We went for the soft at the very last minute, and it paid off.

"It was really tricky, I made a mistake in my last lap, so I thought we wouldn't get through, but it was just enough, so I'm really happy."

Perez, starting second, will have a big role to play in Verstappen's charge up the grid and intends to immediately put Leclerc under pressure.

"It's an opportunity tomorrow to attack Charles from the start and go for the win," he said.

"It's disappointing to miss out on pole by two hundredths, but at the end of the day, it's a great result."

Hamilton was also disappointed to narrowly miss out on pole, saying: "I was pushing so hard, it was so close. These guys are always so quick, but I just thought that maybe with a perfect lap we could be pushing for first place.

"We just didn't have the grip in the last lap, but I'm grateful to be on the second row. I'm grateful for the team to keep pushing, and we'll keep our head down. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:49:412
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.022
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.054
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.171
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.554
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.172
7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.799
8. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.983
9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +2.161
10. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +2.571

Formula One world champion Max Verstappen shrugged off the jeers and boos he received after triumphing at the Italian Grand Prix.

Verstappen won behind a safety car on Sunday, having capitalised on Ferrari's questionable tactics, which left Charles Leclerc having to settle for second place on the team's home race.

The victory moves Verstappen – who had never won at Monza – 116 points clear of Leclerc in the driver standings, with Red Bull also safely at the summit of the constructor table.

Yet after celebrating an 11th win of the season, Verstappen had to contend with jeers from the stands during his post-race interview.

"It happens, everyone speaks to me about it with the booing and stuff but at the end of the day I am here to try and win the race which we've done," Verstappen subsequently told reporters.

"Some people of course they cannot appreciate that because they are very passionate fans for a different team. It is what it is.

"It is not going to spoil my day, I am just enjoying the moment."

Leclerc, however, was disappointed, telling reporters: "Nobody likes booing and I think it shouldn't happen. That's it."

Verstappen, who had to overcome a grid penalty to seal his maiden Monza success, has won the last five races and the Dutchman could wrap up his second world title when F1 returns in Singapore in October.

Charles Leclerc expressed his frustration at finishing under the safety car as Ferrari's hopes of a home success at the Italian Grand Prix were shattered by Max Verstappen.

Leclerc began on pole for the eighth time this season after a strong qualifying performance on Saturday, but was subjected to a familiar sinking feeling at Monza as Verstappen brushed aside his pre-race five-place grid penalty.

The defending world champion – who could now seal successive titles at Singapore next time out – took advantage of another Scuderia gamble to power home, as Ferrari subjected Leclerc to an early change of tyres.

A late safety car brought on by Daniel Ricciardo's retirement then left Leclerc to sit behind Verstappen as the chequered flag approached, much to the frustrations of a partisan crowd in Italy.

The Monegasque driver made his frustrations clear over team radio as he awaited a restart which never came, shouting: "Come on! It's clear," and was still agitated after the race.

"The end was frustrating. I wish we could have ended up racing. It's a shame," he told Sky Sports.

"I gave my all, but we got P2 today. I wish I could've won in front of the amazing Tifosi we have here, I just couldn't today."

Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner also believed the race should have been allowed to restart, telling Sky Sports: "We don't want to win a race under a safety car.

"That's something that we've talked about for many, many years, that they should finish racing. There was enough time to get that race going."

Verstappen now boasts a 116-point lead over Leclerc in the drivers' championship standings, while Ferrari trail Red Bull by 139 points in the team rankings, with a series of high-profile mistakes from the Scuderia costing them dearly this campaign.

But Leclerc refused to hit out at the team's strategy when discussing his early pit stop, adding: "We didn't know what they [Red Bull] were going to do behind so we took that choice. 

"Obviously we finished P2, so I'm not happy with the race. We will work on that.

"I don't know, the pace was strong. We will have to look into it, but I think we were quite strong. It just wasn't enough."

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