Red Bull chief Christian Horner has described claims of the team breaking Formula One's $145million (£114m) budget cap as "speculation", though Ferrari and Mercedes state the situation is an "open secret".

Two teams have reportedly breached F1's spending regulations, one of which is by a "significant amount", and Red Bull have swiftly been attributed with guilt – although there is no proof.

Horner told BBC Sport that it was "purely speculation" and added to Sky Sports he was "not aware" of any breach.

"We are certainly not aware of any [breaches]. The accounts were all submitted way back in March, so it's been a long process with the FIA going through, and we are in that process as we speak," he said.

The FIA will issue certificates of compliance on October 5, or announce any breaches, but both Mercedes and Ferrari suggested there was an understanding on the grid that two teams are at risk of punishment.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff claimed one such party was "fundamentally massively over". 

"There's a team in minor breach, which is more procedural, and another team that is fundamentally massively over and that is still being looked at," he said. "That's an open secret in the paddock."

And there was a similar view from Ferrari, with racing director Laurent Mekies saying: "It's now no secret that two teams broke the 2021 budget cap regulations, one by a significant amount, the other less so."

The situation creates a significant headache for the FIA, with the 2021 season already shrouded in controversy after Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton to the title in the final race in Abu Dhabi, with race director Michael Masi failing to implement the rules correctly after a late safety car.

Emergence of further controversy will not be welcomed, and questions will be asked as to why the results are so delayed, with F1 now in the back end of the 2022 season and Verstappen waltzing to a second title in a row.

Punishments for budget cap breaches can be severe, with potential points deductions for minor violations, while the heaviest punishment for a larger breach includes banning a team or driver.

A breach last year would also have a knock-on effect into the current campaign as the cap includes development of the car for the following season.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has urged Alpine to sign Daniel Ricciardo to fill their vacant seat for the 2023 Formula One season.

The Australian driver will leave McLaren at the end of the current campaign, with Alpine looking for a partner for Esteban Ocon following Fernando Alonso's decision to move to Aston Martin.

Alpine had intended to promote Oscar Piastri but lost the 21-year-old to McLaren, with F1's Contract Recognition Board ruling in favour of the latter after arguments about Piastri's contracts with both teams emerged.

Ricciardo, who raced for Alpine while they were under the guise of Renault, has been touted for a return and Horner believes he is the perfect fit for the French team.

"They know him from a couple of seasons ago and they were great together," he told the Beyond The Grid podcast.

"During his last season, they were scoring podiums, and I think he's the type of guy that I think you could rebuild him.

"It's obviously been not a great experience for him, for whatever reason, and you've just got to think back to some of the drives that he did for us.

"Some of the wins that he had, the podium, some of the stunning overtakes that he was capable of. That's still in there, I'm sure. He just needs a bit of a reset."

Ricciardo has stated he is ready to accept not being on the grid in 2023 if the right opportunity does not arrive, as he is not willing to take a seat "for the sake of it".

"I've certainly accepted if I'm not to be on the grid next year, I'm OK with that," Ricciardo said.

"I've accepted that I'm not going to do everything, or my team's not going to do everything, just to put me on the grid if it's not right or it doesn't make sense.

"This has been challenging, and if I am on the grid I want to know that it's a place that I can enjoy it and feel like I can thrive, like an environment I feel like I can thrive in. Like I said, I don't want to just jump in a car for the sake of it."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was frustrated by the decision to end the Italian Grand Prix under a safety car.

A late breakdown for Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren meant any chance for late drama was dashed at Monza, as Red Bull's Verstappen sealed his fifth successive victory.

Verstappen is now 116 points ahead of Charles Leclerc in the driver standings, and seems all set to wrap up a second straight world title when Formula One returns in October.

Yet Horner was not satisfied with how the race ended, believing it could have been finished properly.

"We don't want to win a race under a safety car," Horner told Sky Sports F1. "It's something we've talked about for many, many years, that they should finish racing. 

"There was enough time to get that race going. We had the faster car, we would have liked to win the race on the track, not behind the safety car. We share the disappointment of all the fans, because it took away a grandstand finish.

"It goes against the principles of what we've discussed previously. The biggest losers were the fans. We need to look quickly to address that.

"I think they had more than enough time to get going. We need to go through details, but for me there was enough time, we had a car that wasn't in a barrier, it was just by the side of the track."

Leclerc had been attempting to close the gap on Verstappen, having been cost by another questionable decision by Ferrari on their home track.

Starting in pole, Leclerc found himself behind the Dutchman when Ferrari elected to switch him onto long-distance medium tyres early on.

It allowed Verstappen, who started with a five-place grid penalty on Sunday, to cruise to an 11th win of the season, albeit his maiden success at Monza.

"We had a great race," Verstappen said. "On every compound we were good. Unfortunately we didn't get a restart at the end but overall we had a really good day.

"It was really enjoyable to drive today. A great day for us. It took a bit of time to be on a great podium like this."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is hopeful there will be no further issues for Max Verstappen after a gearbox failure in the first free practice session at Zandvoort.

The championship leader is seeking to win back-to-back races at his home Dutch Grand Prix this week but his preparations suffered a significant hit when he stopped in a plume of smoke on Friday.

Verstappen stated over team radio that it was a gearbox issue, leading to concerns ahead of Sunday's race, but Horner is hoping the reigning world champion would be able to participate in the second practice session.

"We lost drive once he took a shift from four to fifth, we need to get the car back, understand that and hopefully get it turned around quickly for the next session," he explained.

With Verstappen leading the championship battle by 93 points ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez, with Charles Leclerc a further five behind, the title race is widely considered to be wrapped up, but Horner warned there is still time for things to change.

"Still eight races to go including a sprint race. Anything can happen. We've just got to keep our heads down, keep doing what we've been doing and the championship tables will take care of themselves," he added.

"Spa was probably the most dominant win we've ever had, it's difficult to understand what was it, did they take a step back, did we take a step forward? Max was in a league of his own."

Christian Horner expects a "lengthy process" before Porsche completes a deal to buy a 50 per cent stake in Red Bull's Formula One team.

Said to have been looking for a return to the sport since 2017, Porsche is set to purchase half of Red Bull Technology, according to a document published by Morocco's Conseil de la Concurrence.

That would allow Porsche and Red Bull to work in unison on a powertrain in time for the change in regulations in 2026.

However, the deal - once thought to be announced at this month's Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull's home race - may be drawn out by the FIA delaying confirmation of the exact specification of those regulations, according to Horner.

"There's some major caveats that we need to get past first before things can get anywhere near progression," Horner said.

"That primarily focuses on what are the final technical, sporting and financial regulations for the power unit going to be.

"Are they going to be fair and equitable for the newcomers versus the current incumbents?

"That is the first piece of the jigsaw that needs to be completed."

Removing the MGU-H component of the hybrid engine and more significant use of sustainable fuels are thought to be among the factors on which Porsche's involvement rests.

"It's something that I know the FIA are working hard on. Hopefully in coming weeks we'll get to see that," added Horner.

"At that point then, we're able then to try and have a further discussion with the guys at Porsche.

"It's going to be a reasonably lengthy process, I would assume.

"The most fundamental thing is, what are those regulations for 2026, and are they attractive enough for an entity like a Porsche or an Audi to come into Formula 1?

"We're really only at a discussion stage and there's so many caveats based on regulations.

"Red Bull has demonstrated its commitment to Formula One, its longevity in the sport.

"Anything that we look at is very much with the long-term in mind. We're not looking at a short-term solution.

"Strategically, it would have to fit obviously within the long-term plans that Red Bull have for its commitment in Formula One."

Porsche was involved in F1 as a team between 1959 and 1964, claiming one race win and five podiums. As an engine supplier, it helped McLaren to three successive drivers' championships between 1984 and 1986 as well as two constructors' titles. It supplied engines to Footwork for the first six rounds of the 1991 season but has been out of the sport since.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has criticised the FIA for planned proposals to make further technical regulation changes for the 2023 Formula One season.

Porpoising has been a major talking point in the 2022 season so far, with a number of teams, including Mercedes, struggling with bouncing down the straights at high speed.

Several drivers have complained about the situation and the FIA looks set to take action, with it understood flexible parts and porpoising will be targeted in a new technical directive from the Belgian Grand Prix.

Horner has been critical of any proposed changes throughout the saga, though, and has once again hit out, with his belief that teams have the control to remove the issues by raising ride height but are reluctant to do so due to a loss of speed.

"Changing rules because a couple of teams haven't managed to hit targets is never the right thing to do," he told Eurosport.

"If you want to have convergence in F1, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Then all the teams will converge.

"What you would see next year, if the rules were left completely alone, I'd be surprised if you saw any bouncing because we've got some of the brightest engineers in the technical world solving these problems.

"These regulations are the biggest change we've had in 40 years. You can already see in recent races there's not been any sign of some of the bouncing from earlier in the year."

Red Bull's stance against further technical regulations has the backing of Ferrari, but Mercedes are continuing to push for changes on the grounds of safety, which has created a stir in the paddock.

The FIA has made it clear they will not back down on the upcoming regulation changes, set to be in effect for the Belgian Grand Prix on August 26-28th – the first race back following the mid-season break that will follow Sunday's race in Hungary.

Max Verstappen is still "evolving", according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, as the Dutchman continues his march towards successive Formula One world championships.

After winning the French Grand Prix for a second year in a row, Verstappen holds a 63-point lead over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the top of the drivers' standings.

Another title for the reigning champion looks inevitable after he posted six victories in his last nine races, and Verstappen's 2021 rival Lewis Hamilton recently claimed it will be "smooth sailing" for the 24-year-old this year.

Speaking to Eurosport, Red Bull boss Horner hailed Verstappen's development as he suggested the Dutchman ranked among the best drivers to ever feature for the team.

"I think he's very much a mature package now," Horner said. "He's got experience behind him but he's still very, very young.

"He's hugely talented and is using his experience, using his head and his drive, his determination is undiminished. 

"So he's just evolving still as a person and as a driver.

"It's very difficult to compare drivers. We've had some amazing drivers but he is certainly right up [there]."

While Verstappen looks likely to cruise to the drivers' title, Red Bull also hold a commanding 82-point advantage over Ferrari in the battle for the constructors' championship.

Although Red Bull are clear favourites to end Mercedes' eight-year stranglehold on the team prize, Horner says he is simply taking it one race at a time.

"The target is to keep building on what we've achieved. There are no finite targets," he added. "It's just about race-by-race, season-by-season and giving him [Verstappen] a car that his talent warrants.

"I still get the same buzz driving into the track on race morning that I did, even when I was driving myself many years ago. It's the competition, going up against the best teams in the world. You need to be at the top of your game.

"It's a team sport, the biggest team sport in the world. If you're lucky enough to win a grand prix, it means every single person within that organisation is doing and fulfilling their part and role."

Verstappen and Red Bull will bid to extend their fine run of form at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the team are not taking any comfort from Ferrari's reliability issues, as he insisted the title race remains wide open despite Max Verstappen's lead.

Ferrari are 56 points behind Red Bull in the constructors' standings despite Charles Leclerc claiming his first victory in eight races at the Austrian Grand Prix last time out, while Verstappen continues to lead the Monegasque star in the drivers' championship.

With Carlos Sainz triumphing at Silverstone, Ferrari have posted back-to-back wins for the first time this season but have been hampered in their bid to compete with Red Bull by issues with their car.

Sainz looked set to make it a Ferrari one-two in Austria before a dramatic engine failure left his car immersed in flames.

Meanwhile, Leclerc struggled with throttle problems as he held off Verstappen for the win in Spielberg, admitting it was cause for "concern" after the race.

But Horner says Red Bull cannot rely on Ferrari's problems in their bid for a first constructors' title since 2013. 

"We are not too focused on them [Ferrari]," he said, looking ahead to Sunday's French Grand Prix.

"We can't control or contribute to that in any way. I think that we've got to focus on ourselves and just getting the best out of our own package.

"They had a very strong car [in Austria], and they could have finished first and second."

Meanwhile, despite Verstappen having a 38-point lead over Leclerc in the drivers' standings, Horner thinks the title race remains wide open, as he praised the team's "damage limitation" efforts last time out.

"We are just at the halfway point of the championship and things swing around quite a lot," he added.

"There is still an awfully long way to go. I would say Austria was sort of damage limitation, as we managed to get the pole, get the sprint victory and see the second place [in the race]. 

"I think Max has only lost five points to the Charles in the drivers' championship and obviously damage has been relatively contained in the constructors."

Lewis Hamilton has condemned reports of racist abuse towards attendees at the Austrian Grand Prix, leading a host of other leading Formula One figures in affirming such behaviour has no place.

A packed crowd was in attendance at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with over 300,000 fans on site over the three days, which culminated in Charles Leclerc's season-reviving victory ahead of world champion Max Verstappen.

Hamilton drove to a surprise third to round out the podium after Ferrari's Carlos Sainz suffered an engine fire, further underscoring Mercedes' improvements after a strong finish at the British Grand Prix a week prior.

But the Briton, who has been the target of frequent racist remarks and attacks throughout his career, has called out allegations that some attendees were verbally abused as a product of "ignorance".

The 37-year-old had described reports of racist and homophobic abuse as "disgusting" earlier in the race weekend and doubled down in his subsequent statements.

"It just highlights that it's still an issue all over," the seven-time world champion said.

"It comes down to education and, of course, ignorance. People should come, should feel safe, should feel included and should be able to follow whoever it is you want to follow.

"[It] shouldn't matter [about] your gender, your sexuality, the colour of your skin. It should just be everyone here to have a good time."

Verstappen – whose partner's father, former Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet, was involved in a racism storm concerning remarks about Hamilton last month – also condemned the claimed abuse.

"I read a few things, a few shocking things, so that's clearly not okay," the Dutchman added.

Meanwhile, Leclerc called for bans to be issued to those responsible, adding: "If we manage to find these people, we need to take hard action. They shouldn't be allowed to be anywhere close to our sport."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner further added: "This is completely unacceptable, and we hope that security and the authorities deal with this swiftly as there is no place for it in racing or society."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has warned the FIA set a dangerous precedent with regulations, after a progress update on their bouncing technical directive was issued ahead of the British Grand Prix.

The technical directive was controversially added at the Canadian GP to tackle the "safety issue" of aggressive bouncing drivers experienced at recent street circuits in Baku and Miami, as a result of aerodynamic changes to this season's cars.

Formula One's governing body analysed data captured in Montreal in order to devise a metric that measures vertical acceleration loads to ultimately limit oscillations, something Horner has been outspoken against.

While safety is the FIA's primary concern in limiting the porpoising experienced so far this season, the Red Bull principal believes it is wrong for the FIA to overtly dictate how the cars are set up.

"It is too late in the day to be introducing changes for next year," Horner said. "We haven't governed for that and the cost involved, sometimes the unintended consequences for changing philosophies, it will affect what you carry over and it will affect the design and development.

"The most important thing and biggest way to achieve stable costs is stability. The cars will converge. You can see that already, the cars are certainly looking more familiar and that will continue over the next six-to-nine months.

"The most important thing is don't d*** with it, leave it alone and the teams will sort it out."

Mercedes have experienced significant 'porpoising' issues which have in turn affected their performance, with Horner previously suggesting they are trying to make as much of an issue out of it as possible.

It is understood, however, all 10 teams performed within the metric's parameters in Canada.

Meanwhile, Red Bull lead both the driver's and constructor's standings coming in Sunday's race at Silverstone.

"I understand on the grounds of safety that this is being introduced because the porpoising on a limited amount of cars is obviously at an extreme level," Horner added.

"They [the FIA] are keen to have a mechanism to control that but hopefully it is only something that will be there for this year as it is something that hopefully all the teams will be on top of and cars will converge next year.

"It is certainly not a precedent that we want to set otherwise setups will be dictated by FIA directives."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner fears that the Formula One title fight in 2022 could be "decided in law courts" due to global inflation and the season's budget cap. 

The 10 teams on the grid have an annual maximum spend of £119million for the 2022 season, but amid rising costs across the globe, some have pushed for an increase to be announced – including Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Others, such as Aston Martin, disagree, resulting in a difficult situation for F1 officials on what approach to take, but Horner has continued his push for a budget increase, warning the title battle could be decided in the courts.

"The way you design your car is within your control. That is something that you, together with your group of designers, you create. You're in control of your own destiny," he told Sky Sports.

"What we're seeing in the world at the moment, we're not in control of the inflationary costs that are affecting households around the world. In the UK, we're seeing predicted inflation at 11 per cent.

"That's a direct effect on staff, on raw materials, on electricity, on commodities, on supplied parts. I think it genuinely is a force majeure situation that the FIA need to deal with.

 

"There's probably about 50 per cent of the teams who are going to breach the cap at the end of the year if it continues the way things are. Probably even more.

"We don't want a championship decided in law courts, or in Paris in front of the FIA. We've got six months of the year to address this, we need to act now."

Horner also warned that failure to address the issue could result in the loss of hundreds of jobs within Formula One, while it may also lead to the budget cap being scrapped further down the line.

"I think the top teams would have to get rid of circa two, three hundred people each, to get anywhere near addressing it. Is that right?" He added.

"The problem is if the cost cap fails badly, it'll be gone forever.

"We need to find a solution to this issue. Nobody could have predicted this. We lowered the cost cap by $35m during the pandemic, and nobody could have predicted the issues that we've got."

Red Bull currently lead both championships, with Max Verstappen ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez by 46 points in the drivers' championship, while Red Bull holds a 76-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

The FIA allowing Formula One constructors to utilise a second floor stay to combat porpoising is "overtly biased" to one team, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who appeared to reference Mercedes.

Mercedes have struggled throughout the season with porpoising – otherwise known as bouncing unevenly – and are third in the constructors' standings, 116 points behind leaders Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion and Mercedes star, suffered serious discomfort and back injuries with the W13 car at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Briton was subsequently fit to compete at the Canadian Grand Prix, where he and team-mate George Russell took third and fourth respectively in an improved Mercedes performance.

Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff both suggested after the race in Montreal that improvements were slowly being made to the car.

However, Horner was enraged by the FIA's short-term technical directive to allow the implementation of the second stay in cars to help stiffen their floor, with Mercedes the only team to attempt to do so.

"What was particularly disappointing was the second stay because that has to be discussed in a technical forum," Horner said.

"And that is overtly biased to sorting one team’s problems out, which were the only team that turned up here with it even in advance of the technical directive, so work that one out."

Russell has been one of the more vocal in calling for changes to counteract porpoising, while Hamilton's well-documented injury issues in Baku furthered his reason for concern with the W13 model.

But Horner assures Red Bull have had no similar problems, and thus it is an issue that Mercedes must fix themselves, without the FIA offering short-term technical directives.

"The issue with Mercedes is more severe than any other car," Horner added. "That surely is down to the team, that's within their control to deal with that.

"It's not affecting others. I know they've said that other drivers have been complaining, our drivers have never complained ever about porpoising. Certainly, we haven't had an issue with bouncing."

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer declared on Saturday that any team who ran the stay in qualifying and the race could be protested against, with the rules not matching the technical directive.

Horner agreed with Szafnauer as he lamented the FIA for their technical directive change.

"You can't just suddenly change technical regulations halfway through a season," the Red Bull chief continued. "If a car is dangerous, a team shouldn't field it. It has that choice.

"Or the FIA if they feel an individual car is dangerous they always have a black flag at their disposal."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hailed Max Verstappen for being in the "form of his life" after he extended his lead at the top of the drivers' championship.

Verstappen started on pole at the Canadian Grand Prix and ultimately held off Carlos Sainz to claim his sixth win of the season and mark Red Bull's best start to a Formula One season.

Sainz remained within DRS range for the final 10 laps of the race but was unable to make the move stick, with Verstappen holding firm.

Red Bull have now won seven of the nine races so far this season to put themselves 76 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructor's championship.

In the drivers' standings, the win gives Verstappen a 46-point lead over team-mate Sergio Perez, whose race ended prematurely, and Horner believes the reigning world champion is showing the best level of performance so far in his career.

"It wasn't very comfortable at all in those last 10 laps or so because Max just couldn't break the DRS and the Ferrari was very quick in the straight line today," Horner told Sky Sports.

"They could attack the kerbs and stay close but there wasn't a single mistake. We lost communication with the car, it was only one-way traffic where he could hear us but we couldn't hear him.

"All credit to Carlos today, he pushed him really hard. The strategy wasn't clear because we went for that early stop, we felt that was the best route to the end of the race, and then Sainz got a free stop too which set it up nicely for the end of the race. It was super tight.

"We've just got to take each race at time. We've put a great run together and it's great to be heading to Silverstone leading both championships. Max is in the form of his life and doing a great job."

Despite the late surge from Sainz putting Verstappen under pressure, the Dutchman felt it was a "fun" finale.

"It was really exciting at the end – I was giving it everything I had and, of course, Carlos was doing the same," he said.

"I could see he was pushing and charging, but when you're on the DRS it's a lot easier to charge. The last few laps were a lot of fun.

"Luckily, this year, we seem really quick on the straights so that helps a lot."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner asserted after the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday that Sergio Perez's form is critical to helping the team take points away from Ferrari. 

Max Verstappen won a tightly contested race while Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished within 10 seconds of the reigning world champion. 

Perez came fourth despite being the only driver in the top 10 to pit twice and experiencing a sensor fault that resulted in a loss of power. 

With that, Verstappen has only made an incremental gain in the driver's standings after his wins at Miami and Imola, with the Leclerc now holding a 19-point advantage. 

Horner believes Perez can join the fight and be on the podium but due to the car's reliability concerns was simply not able to do so in Miami. 

"Of course, reliability's going to be an issue," Horner told Sky Sports. "We had a sensor issue on Checo's [Perez's] engine, the guys did well to move them around but he lost about 30 horsepower with that. He was losing half a second a lap and I think without that he might have even been second with the tyre advantage, because we pitted him. 

"We need Checo in there and he's capable of doing that. You saw in Imola how quickly things can turn around and I think we've got some interesting races coming up. 

"The car's running well, we've got some developments hopefully coming later in the summer that will help us, we need to save a little bit of weight, but generally, I think we're on a good trajectory." 

With DNFs in Bahrain and Australia, Verstappen has fought off challenges from Leclerc to win the other three races of the season, showing distinct poise under pressure. 

That was particularly the case in Miami, where the Dutch driver stayed consistent and managed to shake off Leclerc from the DRS window. 

Horner was full of praise for Verstappen and how consistent he stayed despite the challenge from Ferrari. 

"Max is under so much pressure in that position, it's easy to lock the wheel and so on, and he kept it clean," he said. "He didn't make any mistakes and then was gradually able to break the DRS after five-six laps and was able to manage it from there." 

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Ferrari are a challenger for this year's Formula One drivers' and constructors' titles, despite Max Verstappen's victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Following his DNF in the season opener in Bahrain, Verstappen bounced back to claim the 25 points in a tightly contested race.

With Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on the podium in both races, however, Ferrari have opened up an early 40-point lead in the constructors' championship. Leclerc has also added to his respective first and second-placed finishes with two bonus points from fastest laps.

According to Horner, it is a sign of their legitimacy and strength this season.

"Ferrari have got a great car, they've got great drivers," he told Sky Sports. "It was a really tough battle. If that's what we're set for the rest of the season... from what we've seen in the first two races, it's been epic.

"They're all competitive teams. Ferrari are a big team, they've been a sleeping giant for a couple of years. They've got great strength in depth. It was just a great motor race. We enjoyed it, it was good hard racing between the drivers, and let's see what happens in Australia."

In the second consecutive race this season, Verstappen and Leclerc were locked in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle, with the defending champion seeing off the Ferrari challenge in Jeddah this time.

Horner praised the reigning world champion's race management, with Verstappen well placed to hold off Leclerc's late charge, while also saving some words for fourth-placed pole-sitter Sergio Perez.

"It was a very patient race from Max," Horner said. "He looked after the tyres for the end of the race there, and then after the last safety car, he really went for it.

"[Sergio] has driven brilliantly all weekend. He got that pole, his race pace was great, and he's just got unlucky with track position with the safety car. We've seen that happen sometimes."

The F1 season resumes in April with the Australian GP in Melbourne.

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