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."

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 hopes this is the "special weekend" Ferrari put their season of mishaps behind them at their home race at Monza.

Scuderia superstar Leclerc will start from pole at the Italian Grand Prix after qualifying fastest from a frantic Saturday session that saw penalties handed out to nine rival drivers.

Max Verstappen was among them, forcing him to start from seventh rather than second, but Ferrari have repeatedly squandered strong positions previously this season.

Indeed, this is a remarkable eighth pole of 2022 for Leclerc, but he has only three wins, retiring on three occasions after starting from the front of the grid.

The Monegasque is 109 points behind Verstappen in the title race, while Ferrari are 135 back on Red Bull in the constructors' championship.

The home fans will want to see those gaps cut on Sunday, with Ferrari chairman John Elkann and Italian president Sergio Mattarella set to be in the crowd.

"I think overall, after each mistake, we learned from them and we try to be better as a team," Leclerc said.

"It's not because we are here in Monza that it's more important than other races to not do any mistakes. We need to become a team that does no mistakes wherever we go.

"Yeah, it is a special weekend for us, but the target for us doesn't change. We just need to have a clean race and a good race. We'll be targeting that, and let's see."

Verstappen has never won the Italian GP, whereas Leclerc was triumphant in 2019, celebrating his second career win immediately after his first.

Leclerc is not relying on that memory to help him, though, believing he is an entirely different driver now than he was three years ago.

"I think the experience that I gained from 2019 to now will be more helpful than the experience in 2019," he explained.

"I was a very, very different driver, struggling a lot in races at the time, and now I'm in a much better place.

"In 2019, I was not so confident going into the race. This year, it's better, and honestly the feeling was really good on the high fuel.

"It's not going to be easy, because for sure Max will be extremely quick and will be coming back, but I'm sure that we can make this work."

Ferrari chairman John Elkann knows the team have committed "far too many mistakes" in Formula One this year, stating they "must improve".

The Scuderia have become the main rivals to fellow constructor Red Bull after Mercedes' struggles this season.

Charles Leclerc looked set to push Max Verstappen hard, but a series of major errors and poor judgement calls from the team cost Ferrari a realistic shot at the reigning world champion.

Ahead of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at home circuit Monza, where Leclerc is on pole, Elkann explained his faith in team principal Mattia Binotto and his crew, but suggested there is only so far his patience will stretch.

"We have great faith in Mattia Binotto, and we fully appreciate everything he and all our engineers have done," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But there's no doubt that the work at Maranello, in the box on the wall, and behind the wheel must improve. We must continue to progress

"That applies to the mechanics, the engineers, the drivers, the entire management team, including the team boss. We have seen far too many mistakes, from reliability issues to driving errors and strategic blunders.

"We have trusted in Binotto and his team. That was the right decision. It has paid off and we can thank them that Ferrari is competitive and winning again. But I'm not satisfied. I think we can always improve."

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

The triple-header to follow the resumption of the 2022 Formula One season concludes in Italy this weekend, with Max Verstappen aiming to inflict another stinging result on Ferrari.

Back-to-back wins in Belgium and the Netherlands have seen the Red Bull ace strengthen his grip on the title, with Verstappen remarkably securing 102 out of the last 104 available – only missing out on the fastest lap in France and Hungary.

Perhaps surprisingly, Verstappen's plethora of victories in F1 have not yet included triumph on Ferrari's home soil in Italy – which has seen four different winners in each of the last four races (Lewis Hamilton in 2018, Charles Leclerc in 2019, Pierre Gasly in 2020 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2021).

While the title race looks done and dusted, Ferrari will be determined to secure bragging rights at Monza to provide a boost to a team that has sustained persistent problems this season – most recently with Carlos Sainz's woeful pit stop last weekend.

Ferrari have taken 21 pole positions in the Italian Grand Prix, more than any other team, and have won on 19 occasions – most recently with Leclerc three years ago.

The Monaco-born driver will have fond memories of that triumph and will hope it presents a platform to propel better results in the remainder of the season to at least apply some pressure to Verstappen.

Mercedes mess

Mercedes looked on course for a first victory of the season in the Netherlands last weekend, Lewis Hamilton leading the way with George Russell tucked in behind and Verstappen sitting third before a questionable call.

Russell requested a pit stop and a change for soft tyres, something that was approved and resulted in Verstappen, having also taken softs, finding himself in striking distance of Hamilton and having no problems leapfrogging his former title rival.

Hamilton was understandably furious after the race, with Mercedes fumbling what may well be their best chance of a win in 2022.

Alonso record

In his farewell stint with Alpine ahead of his move to Aston Martin for next season, Fernando Alonso is set to equal Kimi Raikkonen's record of 350 races in Formula One – with nobody else having raced in more.

That record is destined to fall Alonso's way in the future, and he could snatch another off the Finn, as his next race finish would be his 279th in Formula One – putting him ahead of Raikkonen.

Max Verstappen expressed his pride after a far from straightforward victory at the Dutch Grand Prix, where the Red Bull driver overcame the pursuit of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton seemed set to push for his first victory of 2022 at Zandvoort on Sunday but was stifled by pitting decisions and safety car deployments.

A virtual safety car was deployed after AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was forced to stop following tyre concerns, offering Verstappen a fortuitous pit stop when embroiled in a battle at the front with Hamilton.

Another safety car followed after Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas stopped citing engine concerns, with Verstappen again pitting – arguably a surprising decision that seemed to hand Hamilton the initiative.

But Verstappen roared back in typically aggressive fashion to overtake the seven-time world champion on the main straight of lap 61, before easing to victory ahead of George Russell in second.

That marked a 10th victory of the season for Verstappen, his joint-best return in a single year, while he became the first driver since James Hunt in 1975 and 1976 to win back-to-back F1 races at Zandvoort.

After delivering in front of a largely partisan crowd in the Netherlands, Verstappen credited Red Bull's decisions that ensured he held off Hamilton through the latter stages of the race.

 

"It was not a straightforward race but we had to push, of course with safety car, virtual safety car, making the right calls," he said on Sky Sports during his post-race interview.

"Always a bit of question mark but it worked out really well. Once we got back to the soft tyres we had great pace again."

Asked whether he harboured any doubts over decisions as Hamilton pressed on, Verstappen added: "We timed it really well out of that last corner into the banking.

"You could see the draft was quite strong and we got ahead. It's incredible to win again.

"It's always special to win your home GP. This year I had to work for it even more. An incredible weekend and I'm really happy we got the Dutch GP."

Charles Leclerc started second on the grid after being edged out by Verstappen in Saturday's qualifying session, though the Ferrari driver had to settle for third on race day despite promising early signs of pace.

The Monegasque racer may have finished on the podium but sits 109 points behind championship leader Verstappen, and Leclerc conceded the Red Bull driver was a class above at the Dutch Grand Prix.

"To be honest, it was difficult to do much better," Leclerc said. "We were a little unlucky with the [virtual safety car]. I don't know if this would have changed anything – Max was too quick today.

"Then there was Mercedes, which were flying on the hard tyres. We struggled to find the feeling on the hard tyres, so we'll analyse that."

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.

Max Verstappen snatched an "unbelievable" pole position for his home Dutch Grand Prix as the Formula One championship leader put on another crowd-pleasing show.

On the eve of the Zandvoort race, Verstappen banished Friday's gearbox failure and put himself in a strong position to push for a repeat of last year's win at the track, edging out Charles Leclerc by 0.021 seconds.

Ferrari's Leclerc joins him on the front row, and the Scuderia's Carlos Sainz took third, ahead of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez and the Silver Arrow of George Russell on row three.

Verstappen beat Leclerc's time late in the session, and when Red Bull team-mate Perez crashed on his final lap, that brought out the yellow flags, crushing the hopes of improvement for those on a flying lap.

Asked what it felt like to be on pole, just like he was last year, Verstappen said: "Unbelievable! Especially after yesterday, we had a difficult day but worked really well overnight with the whole team to turn it around.

"A qualifying lap around here is insane. We changed a lot. Yesterday was a bit rushed in FP2 to get the car together, but today the car was enjoyable to drive."

Leclerc had been the fastest in practice on Saturday, and he put himself in the mix to take pole before Verstappen saved his best for late on.

Already 98 points behind title front-runner Verstappen, Leclerc is reasonably doubting his chances of bridging that gap in the remaining races.

He felt Ferrari would have the pace to contend for top spot on the podium this week though, and nothing he experienced on Saturday changed that viewpoint.

Leclerc said: "It was very, very close. Max did a great lap in the end, and our car was getting better and better through qualifying.

"In the beginning I was scared because Max was much quicker than us on used tyres. But in Q3 the car came more together and I did the lap which was enough for P2. Tomorrow is the race and we'll give it our all.

"We are much stronger here compared to last weekend, and that's good to see. Our race pace looks quite strong. It's going to be close with the Red Bulls. We just need to do a great start and then we'll see."

Sainz described his own performance as being "on the limit".

"It wasn't an easy qualification but in the end we did a decent job. It is very tough out there," Sainz said. "The track is especially demanding on the tyres. We have a lot of overheating during the lap, even in the long runs, a lot of degradation.

"Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day. There's going to be a lot going on, even if it's a difficult track to overtake, and there's going to be many options with strategies."

The McLaren of Lando Norris and Haas of Mick Schumacher start from the fourth row, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri and Lance Stroll's Aston Martin.

After making it through to Q3, Stroll was unable to put in a lap time due to a technical problem.

QUALIFYING TIMES

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 1:10.342
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.021s
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.092s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.306s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.735s
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.805s
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.832
8. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +1.100s
9. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +2.214
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

The resumption of the Formula One season last weekend resulted in a rather strange race in Belgium, with many out-of-position drivers due to various penalties.

Not that it mattered to Max Verstappen though, who worked his way through the pack to secure victory having started 14th on the grid – extending his lead in the title race to 93 points.

With such a strong grip on the title, a far-cry from the events last year in his fierce battle with Lewis Hamilton, attention for many has already started to shift towards the 2023 season.

Seats for next year are still yet to be fully decided and there are plenty of big names in the mix, including Daniel Ricciardo after his exit from McLaren was announced prior to the last race.

For Verstappen though, there's still plenty to achieve. A victory on home soil in the Netherlands this weekend would see the Red Bull ace become the first driver to win back-to-back races at Zandvoort since James Hunt in 1975 and 1976.

Another win would also be his 10th of the season, equalling the tally he achieved last year in his maiden title win. With nine wins from 14 races, Verstappen's win percentage of 64.3 is the highest in F1 history.

 

Ferrari's race regrets

Ferrari have achieved eight pole positions in F1 this season, the most since the nine secured in 2019. Prior to that, the highest they achieved was 12 in 2004. For Charles Leclerc, his seven poles equal his best-ever return, which he set in 2019.

While the qualifying has yielded success, the races have not and Leclerc's title push has suffered as a result – with just one podium finish in the last nine rounds, having started the season with four podiums in five races.

Now third in the standings and 98 points behind Verstappen, Leclerc and Ferrari may well be wondering what might have been.

Alpine and McLaren fight

After a week in front of the FIA hearing on the tussle surrounding Oscar Piastri, Alpine and McLaren's fight will return to the track as they compete for the 'best of the rest' tag in F1 beneath Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Alpine have a 20-point advantage in the constructor's standings, capitalising in Belgium with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon finishing fifth and sixth respectively, while both McLarens finished outside the points.

That marked the fourth race in a row that Alpine saw both drivers finish inside the top 10, with McLaren at a disadvantage given Ricciardo's struggles in 2022.

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 and Charles Leclerc will each start from the back of the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix after receiving penalties following power unit changes.

Verstappen leads Ferrari rival Leclerc by 80 points in the Formula One drivers' championship, having won eight of the 13 races so far this season.

However, the Red Bull man, who came from 10th on the grid to win the Hungarian Grand Prix prior to the mid-season break, will have to fight his way through the field to triumph at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.

Verstappen won in Belgium last year in a race reduced to two laps behind the safety car because of a deluge that made racing unsafe.

The Dutchman, who was born in Belgium under two hours away from the circuit, has had all the components of his power unit replaced.

Leclerc, meanwhile, has taken on a fifth power unit of the season as well as a new gearbox.

Joining the title rivals at the back will be McLaren's Lando Norris, Alpine's Esteban Ocon, Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo.

Norris, Ocon and Bottas have seen their teams opt to change their engines, while Schumacher is taking on a new control electronics unit.

The grid shake-up could put Mercedes in position to claim their first win of a difficult season, while Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez and Leclerc's fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz will each fancy their chances of winning for the second time in 2022.

Charles Leclerc acknowledged it is more difficult to get over his own mistakes than those of his Ferrari team, and still wants to make the most of the remainder of the Formula One campaign.   Two early season victories gave Leclerc a 46-point lead over Red Bull's Max Verstappen after the first three races of the campaign, but just one win for him since has seen his Dutch rival open up an 80-point gap at the top of the drivers' championship.   On several occasions, Leclerc has been unable to see out a victory, with his engine failing twice and questionable strategies from Ferrari also appearing to cost him, while he also crashed out when leading the French Grand Prix last month.   Speaking to BBC Sport, Leclerc said he was happy that Ferrari were finally back fighting at the front, after seeing Red Bull and Mercedes dominate in recent years, but conceded further improvement is needed.   "First of all, it was amazing to see that we finally got back to fighting for wins," he said.   "On the other hand, we haven't managed to maximise all the potential we had. And this is not great. We still have the second part of the season to catch up, I hope, and I will push at the maximum. But the last few races have been a bit difficult."   Leclerc finished sixth in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, with Verstappen winning again heading into the mid-season break, with the next race in Belgium in late August.   "We want to do absolutely everything to get better in every single thing we do, and obviously looking at the first part of this season, there have been some strategy problems, there have been some reliability problems and there have been driving mistakes," Leclerc added.   "On reliability and strategy, we are working extremely hard to get better. And after a mistake, we always go through exactly the same process, which is to try and analyse from where the mistakes come, why did we take the wrong decision at a certain point of the race, in order to go forwards. As soon as we understand a mistake, then we can move on."

Leclerc outlined his process when he costs himself in a race.

"I'm extremely tough with myself," he added. "So it is much more difficult to deal with my own errors than whenever it is the team, even though we are obviously one team and we lose and we win together.

"I'm always harsher whenever it's me who does the mistake, and obviously France was one of those which hurt quite a bit.

"But whenever I go through this tough time, I go through the same process as I was saying before, trying to analyse what was wrong. And it's mostly mentally.

"To speak about it seems quite easy, but it is not always easy to pinpoint exactly what was going on in your head at that moment. But I think this is a strength of mine and helps me to improve as a driver every time I make a mistake."

When asked about his aims for the rest of the season, Leclerc said: "To try and grow from the mistakes of the first half, but try and perform as well as the first half because the performance I've given, I'm extremely happy about. And this I want to keep.

"So there won't be any significant change. We just need to try and work as a team to put a weekend together for the nine remaining races and see where we end up."

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."

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