Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called Max Verstappen’s drive into the Formula One record books at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix “completely irrelevant”.

Verstappen went behind enemy lines in Ferrari’s backyard to fight his way past Carlos Sainz’s scarlet car and become the first driver in the sport’s 73-year history to win 10 consecutive races.

The Dutchman, now a victor at 12 of the 14 rounds so far, bettered the record he had shared with Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen has not lost a race since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30, 126 days ago.

Sergio Perez finished runner-up as Red Bull – who remain unbeaten this season – claimed a one-two finish, with pole-sitter Sainz third ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and sixth for Mercedes.

Hamilton’s Mercedes machinery carried him to six world championships in seven seasons, but the British driver was never able to win more than five successive races. The best Michael Schumacher, so dominant in his Ferrari at the turn of the century, could manage was seven.

Yet, despite Verstappen’s historic streak, Wolff found it difficult to express praise for Red Bull’s star man.

“For me, these kinds of records are completely irrelevant,” he said. “They were irrelevant in our good days in Mercedes.

“I don’t know how many races we won in a row. I didn’t even know that there was a count of how many wins in a row, so if you are asking me to comment on the achievement it is difficult, because it never played a role in my own life until I heard about it yesterday.

“The result itself shows a great driver in a great car, who are competing on an extremely high level.”

Wolff’s lacklustre appraisal came after Hamilton devalued the strength of Verstappen’s team-mates in an interview on Italian television on Thursday. Verstappen responded in the Dutch media by suggesting Hamilton was “jealous” of his current success.

Hamilton was then asked about Verstappen’s record-breaking run after Sunday’s 51-lap race.

“I had strong team-mates,” he replied. “Valtteri (Bottas) was quick a lot of times. I don’t care about statistics in general. Good for him.”

Since he claimed his maiden title at the controversial season-ending Abu Dhabi race in 2021 – denying Hamilton a record eighth championship – Verstappen has won 27 of the 36 races staged. In his last 25 appearances, Verstappen has failed to win just four times.

“What Max is doing is breaking records and driving at an unbelievable level,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“I don’t think there is anybody in the world at the moment that can beat Max Verstappen in this car, that’s for sure.

“You have to recognise and applaud what Max is doing. It is very special to achieve what he has achieved and we shouldn’t detract from that in any way.

“In sport it is very rare that something like this happens and it is a golden moment for him and certainly a golden moment for the team.”

Verstappen was made to wait 14 laps and a handful of corners before he assumed the lead of Sunday’s race at the Variante della Roggia. From there, he never looked back to seal another crushing win and move 145 points clear in the standings.

There remains an outside chance he could be crowned champion of the world for a third time as early as the Japanese Grand Prix in three weeks with half-a-dozen rounds still remaining.

“I never would have believed that it was possible,” said Verstappen after his record triumph. “But we had to work for it today and that definitely made it a lot more fun.”

Max Verstappen drove his way into the Formula One history books by taking his 10th-consecutive victory at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Verstappen sat behind Carlos Sainz for 14 of the 51 laps at Monza’s Temple of Speed before fighting his way past the Ferrari pole-sitter at the second chicane.

From there, the commanding Dutchman never looked back to better the mark he shared with Sebastian Vettel and become the first driver in Formula One to reach double figures for straight victories.

Sergio Perez finished second in the other Red Bull, while Sainz held off team-mate Charles Leclerc in a tantalising late battle between the Ferrari drivers to take the final spot on the podium.

George Russell finished fifth with Lewis Hamilton, who served a five-second penalty for colliding with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, sixth.

“That is history,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to his superstar driver. “Unbelievable.”

Verstappen’s 12th win from the 14 rounds so far moves him 145 points clear in the championship.

Unbeaten since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30, there remains an outside chance the 25-year-old could be crowned champion of the world for a third time as early as the Japanese Grand Prix in three weeks with half-a-dozen rounds still remaining.

Sainz lit up Ferrari’s home track by taking pole position and kept the dream alive of a victory in front of the Italian team’s 80,000-strong crowd by holding off Verstappen on the 500-metre drag to the opening Variante del Rettifilo.

Verstappen was the filling in a Ferrari sandwich with Leclerc maintaining third spot ahead of Mercedes’ Russell and Perez. Hamilton started eighth but dropped one position on the first lap.

Such has been the superiority of Verstappen’s Red Bull machine this year, Sainz was expected to be easy prey for the all-conquering Dutchman.

But to Verstappen’s surprise, Sainz was not prepared to make life easy for the double world champion.

On lap six, Verstappen was handed his first opportunity, drawing alongside Sainz on the 220mph run to the first chicane, only for the Spaniard to slam the door in his face.

“That was naughty,” said Verstappen. Three laps later, Verstappen was back on the intercom. “They have a lot of top speed, for f*** sake,” he said.

Further back and Russell’s mirrors were occupied by the other Red Bull of Perez. Asked to manage his rubber, the Englishman replied: “I don’t know if you can see, but I have got a car right up my a***.”

Up front and Verstappen sensed another chance to take the lead on lap 15.

A defensive Sainz locked up at the Variante del Rettifilo, handing Verstappen the exit speed on the 200mph charge to the Variante della Roggia.

The Red Bull and Ferrari machines were separated by mere centimetres as they went toe-to-toe into the second chicane before Verstappen, benefiting from the inside line, emerged in the lead.

Remarkably, Sainz’s 14 laps in the lead was the highest in any event this season by a non-Red Bull driver. The team from Milton Keynes could yet become the first team to go an entire campaign unbeaten with eight races to run.

On lap 16, Perez moved up to fourth with Russell – struggling for top-line speed in his Mercedes – unable to keep the Red Bull behind.

With Verstappen cruising imperiously to victory, Perez moved up third after seeing off Leclerc.

The Mexican set about passing Sainz, and, after a number of failed attempts, he finally blasted past the Ferrari with five laps remaining to ensure a one-two for Red Bull.

After emerging from his tyre stop in 10th, Hamilton moved ahead of Fernando Alonso before banging wheels with Piastri in the battle for eighth.

Hamilton was hit with a penalty for the incident at the Variante della Roggia as Piastri pitted for a new front wing.

“He just turned across me under braking,” bemoaned the Australian rookie.

Undeterred by his sanction, Hamilton then raced ahead of Lando Norris before moving past Alex Albon’s Williams to take sixth, finishing 7.4 seconds clear to ensure his penalty had no impact on his result.

Albon finished seventh ahead of Norris, with Alonso ninth.

Carlos Sainz said he had goosebumps after sending Monza wild by putting his Ferrari on pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Spanish driver saw off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just 0.013 seconds to huge roars at the sun-cooked Temple of Speed, with Charles Leclerc third in the other scarlet car.

George Russell took fourth for Mercedes with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who this week signed a two-year contract extension, only eighth.

Verstappen has swept all before him this year – winning 11 of the 13 rounds so far – and, despite being pipped to top spot in qualifying, he will still be the favourite to land a record 10th straight win in Sunday’s 53-lap race.

But Saturday belonged to Sainz and the tifosi celebrated their man’s pole like a victory. Ferrari flags were hoisted into the air as Sainz, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, hoisted his right arm from the cockpit.

“It is difficult to put into words to describe how I feel,” said Sainz after taking just the fourth pole of his life and his first in Monza.

“I have had goosebumps since I crossed the finish line. Watching the crowd and getting out of the car and seeing this is incredible.

“Everywhere we go, it is just noise, support and encouragement, and it is the best feeling you can have as an athlete.

“I have been feeling comfortable with the car, I cannot fault it, and I honestly put in one my best laps in Q3 to take pole. And tomorrow I am going to give it everything for that first place and see if we can battle Max.”

Verstappen has been an unstoppable force this season and he will make history if he goes behind enemy lines and betters the record he shares with Sebastian Vettel by reaching double figures for consecutive triumphs.

But the Dutchman, who took the chequered flag here last year, might be wary of a curious streak in Monza. Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo, who won here in 2019, 2020 and 2021, did not finish on their next visits.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team are also bidding to become the first team to go through a season unbeaten. McLaren came the closest to achieving a perfect campaign. The British outfit failed to win on just one occasion in 1988. The venue was Monza and the winner that afternoon was Gerhard Berger – in a Ferrari.

“Honestly, I don’t believe in statistics too much and this kind of curse,” added Sainz.

“On Sunday, the winner is the one who deserves it the most and is quicker and I am just going to try to be that one.”

Over at Mercedes, Hamilton snuck into Q3 after bemoaning a lack of grip and suggesting he had been impeded by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

He ultimately qualified eighth, half-a-second behind Sainz and two tenths adrift of team-mate Russell.

When, erroneously, he was told he had qualified one place lower, the 38-year-old replied: “I thought I was P8? It is s*** either way.

“I was just struggling. Our car is hard to optimise. There is nothing easy about this car.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz saw off Max Verstappen by just 0.013 seconds to take pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard outgunned Red Bull’s Verstappen to the delight of the Ferrari faithful with Charles Leclerc third in the other scarlet car.

George Russell finished fourth with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton only eighth on an underwhelming afternoon for the seven-time world champion.

Verstappen, who is bidding to become the first driver in history to win 10 consecutive races, trailed the Ferrari duo heading into the final runs at Monza’s sun-cooked Temple of Speed.

But the double world champion appeared to have delivered the goods when he usurped both men with his last lap after he had made a rare mistake in his first run by kicking up gravel on the exit of Variante Della Roggia.

However, Sainz, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday and has been speedy all weekend here, sent the tifosi wild by pipping Verstappen in the closing seconds. Leclerc finished third, just 0.067 sec back in a nip-and-tuck qualifying session.

Both Ferrari men faced an investigation by the stewards after they were alleged to have driven too slowly on their warm-up laps in Q1.

The rule was updated on Saturday morning to avoid congestion and the possibility of accidents owing to the traffic.

But the stewards confirmed in the moments after Sainz’s pole that neither the Spaniard nor Leclerc would face further action.

Hamilton endured a difficult day, 48 hours after signing a new deal to extend his stay on the grid for another two years.

The seven-time world champion is on a run of 35 races without a victory and he does not appear any closer to ending his barren streak.

The Briton managed to haul his Mercedes into Q3 after he complained he was lacking grip, before suggesting he had been impeded by Red Bull’s Perez.

But he failed to make an impression at the very sharp end of the grid in Q3 after he qualified half-a-second behind Sainz and two tenths adrift of team-mate Russell.

Sergio Perez took fifth, while London-born Alex Albon, one of the standout performers of the season so far, impressed again.

While rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant was knocked out of Q2 in 15th, Albon not only progressed to the final phase but also saw off both McLarens, Hamilton and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso as he outperformed his modest Williams machinery to qualify sixth.

Oscar Piastri qualified seventh, two spots ahead of team-mate Lando Norris with Alonso 10th.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz beat Max Verstappen to top spot in final practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

Sainz’s lap in the closing moments of the one-hour running in Monza drew a huge roar from the tifosi, providing the Ferrari faithful with hope a scarlet car might secure pole position at the team’s home event.

Sainz, who was also quickest in Friday’s second running, saw off Verstappen by 0.086 seconds. Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc made a mistake on his speediest lap and had to settle for fourth, half-a-second slower than team-mate Sainz.

Verstappen is bidding to become the first driver to win 10 consecutive races, but Ferrari appear to have a car capable of denying the Dutchman pole.

For Hamilton, the seven-time world champion will be pleased to be back at the sharp end of the pack after he finished 17th in practice on Friday.

However, the British driver was still 0.541 seconds back from Sainz, with team-mate George Russell sixth. Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Aston Martin, with Sergio Perez 10th and McLaren’s Lando Norris 17th.

Qualifying for the 14th round of the season takes place at 4pm (3pm BST).

Lewis Hamilton finished only 17th in practice for the Italian Grand Prix as Sergio Perez crashed out.

Carlos Sainz provided Ferrari’s home fans with reason for cheer by posting the fastest time at the Italian team’s home track in Monza.

The Spaniard, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, edged out McLaren’s Lando Norris by 0.019 seconds with championship leader Max Verstappen in fifth place, two tenths back.

But seven-time world champion Hamilton, who signed a new £50million-a-year contract with Mercedes earlier this week, ended up only 17th of the 19 drivers who set a time after bemoaning the lack of straight-line speed.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell finished ninth, 0.821sec slower than Sainz.

While Verstappen has romped to 11 wins from 13 this season – and could become the first driver in history to seal 10 consecutive victories on Sunday – his team-mate Perez has endured a turbulent campaign.

And the Mexican faced more misery here after he lost control of his Red Bull machine through the high-speed Parabolica.

Perez ran on to the gravel on the exit of the corner leading into the main straight and skidded across the sandtrap before nudging the wall.

Perez was able to limp back to the pits but team principal Christian Horner was left grimacing on the Red Bull pit wall.

Before his spin, Perez had displayed encouraging pace – finishing third, 0.185 behind Sainz – and unusually ahead of Verstappen.

Verstappen, 138 points clear in the world standings on his unstoppable march towards a hat-trick of titles, ended the opening running at the top of the time charts. But his best effort in the day’s concluding running was scuppered by traffic.

The 25-year-old wanted to go for another timed lap, only for his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to tell him “it isn’t qualifying”.

The Dutch driver was also fined 500 euros (£428) for breaking the 50mph pit-lane speed limit by 3mph.

However, given his crushing dominance this year, he will head into the remainder of the weekend as the favourite to land another win and better the record he shares with Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren have bounced back from a poor start to the year following an upgrade at June’s Austrian Grand Prix. Behind Norris in second place, Oscar Piastri finished fourth.

Elsewhere, Charles Leclerc, who won here to the delight of the Tifosi in 2019, was sixth, one place ahead of the ever-impressive Alex Albon in his Williams, with Fernando Alonso eighth for Aston Martin.

Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll failed to set a lap after he broke down with a fuel system failure in the opening moments.

Max Verstappen put down an early marker in his bid to win 10 consecutive races by setting the fastest time in practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

The double world champion edged out Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by 0.046 seconds in Monza with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari at the Italian team’s home event, one place ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, while Lewis Hamilton ended the opening running of the weekend in eighth.

Verstappen has dominated Formula One this season – winning 11 of the 13 rounds so far – and will make history on Sunday if he racks up another victory.

The Red Bull driver – already 138 points clear in his pursuit of a third world championship – is level with Sebastian Vettel on nine wins and, on the evidence of practice, is poised to land yet another win and set a new record.

Hamilton ended his long-running contract saga in the build-up to this weekend’s race by putting pen to paper on a new £50million-a-year deal.

But the seven-time world champion ended first practice six tenths back from Verstappen and a tenth adrift of team-mate Russell.

Ferrari have endured a poor season, but showed early promise in front of their fanatical supporters at the Temple of Speed with Sainz and Leclerc second and fourth respectively.

Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso, who finished runner-up to Verstappen at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, took sixth for Aston Martin, one place ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Second practice gets under way at 5pm local time (4pm BST).

Max Verstappen has hit back at criticism of his dominance and set the target of remaining unbeaten for the final nine races of the season.

The all-conquering Dutchman will become the first driver in history to win 10 consecutive races if he takes the chequered flag at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Verstappen has been in imperious form this year, winning 11 of the 13 rounds staged as he closes in on a hat-trick of World Championships.

With a lead of 183 points heading into this weekend’s race in Monza there is a chance he could even close out the title with six rounds still remaining at the Japanese Grand Prix on September 24.

However, Verstappen’s emphatic streak has led to suggestions that the sport has become boring.

But responding to the accusations in an interview with the PA news agency, Verstappen, 25, said: “They cannot appreciate dominance or just people executing their jobs.

“It is nothing really new in Formula One, and I cannot do much with those kind of comments. Does it bother me? No. It would probably be worse if they were talking about other stuff. I am enjoying what I am doing and I hope I can do it for a while.

“I don’t want it to stop. We have another good opportunity this weekend. I believe I can win every single race.”

Verstappen’s victory on his home track in Zandvoort – which drew him level with Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine straight wins – was among the very best of the 46 of his career so far.

At one stage, he was lapping four seconds faster than Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull, and two seconds quicker than anybody else.

His virtuoso display in the inclement conditions prompted double world champion Fernando Alonso to say Verstappen’s achievements are being underestimated.

“It is not about getting the recognition because I know how hard it is to do,” said Verstappen.

“If it was very easy, more drivers would have won nine in a row, and more teams would have done it, and that is not the case.

“It hasn’t been straightforward either. In Zandvoort especially, a lot of things could have gone wrong, and in the end we still handled that really well.

“I never thought I would get to nine. I remember watching Seb do it, and I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, that is extremely difficult’, and now I am here and it is amazing.”

Verstappen will share the grid with long-time rival Lewis Hamilton for at least another two seasons after the British driver signed a new £50million-a-year deal to remain with Mercedes.

The contract extension will take Hamilton beyond his 40th birthday, and provides the possibility of a championship rematch with Verstappen if Mercedes can somehow close the gap to Red Bull.

Hamilton, who was denied an eighth world title after race director Michael Masi failed to follow the correct rules in Abu Dhabi in 2021, alluded to “unfinished business” after signing his latest deal.

Twenty months on from F1’s most contentious race, does Verstappen – who, on new tyres, had to pass Hamilton on the final lap to take the title – feel his maiden championship triumph was tainted?

“It was not like it was given to me,” he said. “I still had to do it.

“People always have short memories and they can forget a lot of stuff very quickly.

“It was a great year, and we had a lot of great battles with two teams going at it and that was amazing for Formula One.

“But you will always have a winner, and you will always have a loser. That is how this sport works, and I was also ready to lose.
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“It was a 50-50 chance and it fell my way. But in the future I could be in a situation where it doesn’t fall my way and that is how life goes.

“I don’t really care a lot about other people’s opinions. I only care about people that are very close to me so whatever people say or write, I am like ‘whatever’.

“I grew up my whole life wanting to be a Formula One driver and I will do everything it takes to try and be successful at it.

“I make my choices and my decisions and that is why I am very relaxed about these things. I go home, I switch off from Formula One, and I am happy with my career. And when I come back to the race weekends I do my thing, and that is it.”

Lewis Hamilton said he has “unfinished business” after signing a new £100million contract to extend his Formula One career beyond his 40th birthday.

After months of negotiations, the seven-time world champion finally concluded a new two-year deal – understood to be worth £50m-a-season, a salary hike of £10m – at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.

The announcement ends speculation surrounding the seven-time world champion’s future with his current deal up for renewal at the end of the season.

Hamilton’s extension – which draws him level with Max Verstappen as the grid’s highest earner – will take him to a month shy of his 41st birthday. It will also allow him to continue his pursuit of a record eighth crown.

Hamilton will still be partnered by George Russell after Mercedes also confirmed they 25-year-old’s stay for at least another two years.

“I have had such an incredible journey with Mercedes, and we still have unfinished business,” said Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

“We want to get back to the top, and back to fighting for world championships. We are in this together.

“We have a lot of work to do, but there is nowhere else I would rather be. You are all stuck with me for a little bit longer.”

Hamilton has won a record 103 races, and was carried to six of his seven championships by Mercedes, but he has not tasted victory since the controversial Abu Dhabi decider of 2021 – a losing run of 36 races.

Hamilton is fourth in the championship, an eye-watering 183 points behind Verstappen, with Mercedes unable to challenge the Dutchman’s all-conquering team.

Verstappen has won 11 of the 13 rounds so far – with Red Bull unbeaten this season.

But Hamilton added: “It is not about revenge or redemption. Abu Dhabi is in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“In life, you have ups and downs, and last year everyone was questioning whether they wanted to continue. But that thought quickly went away, and you put your mind and energy into being the best you can be.

“I truly believe we can win more world championships and more races together and that’s where all my energy is going.

“I’m not thinking that it’s going to take another four years to get to where we need to be. I’m aware that it does take time.

“But I’m so hopeful the decisions we are taking will put us in that target zone. In my heart I truly believe if it’s not next year it will be the year after that we can challenge.”

Hamilton, who made his F1 debut in 2007 aged 22, once scoffed at the idea of racing into his forties.

But after signing up for his 18th and 19th seasons, he revealed the careers of NFL star Tom Brady, who retired at the age of 45, and Fernando Alonso, who turned 42 last month, is proof he can continue to compete at the highest level.

“I definitely didn’t think I would get to the age that I am and feel the way I do, physically and mentally, and still love what I’m doing as much as I do,” he added. “That’s something I’m incredibly grateful for.

“I look at people like Tom Brady, who has been such an incredible athlete, and has shown what can be done today. He’s a role model in that respect.

“I’ve been fortunate in being able to speak to him and to understand what he has done and what he does consistently to keep himself in shape.

“It is also great seeing Fernando. He was here way before I was and is still doing an amazing job.

“It just shows that your talent never really leaves you so long as you have that passion and commitment to continue.”

Russell joined Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022, out-scoring his team-mate in their first season together.

He also claimed his maiden victory – Mercedes’ sole triumph of last year – at the penultimate round in Brazil.

“Lewis wouldn’t have stayed if he didn’t think the team was capable of winning again,” added Russell. “That reinforces the confidence that I have in the team.”

Lewis Hamilton will extend his record-breaking career in Formula One beyond his 40th birthday after signing a new contract with Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows confirmed ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix that Hamilton, 38, will continue to drive with them for 2024 and 2025.

It is anticipated that the new deal will earn Hamilton in the region of £50million-a-year.

The announcement ends speculation surrounding the seven-time world champion’s future on the grid with his current deal up for renewal at the end of the year.

Mercedes will stick with their all-British line-up until at least the end of 2025 with George Russell, 25, continuing to partner Hamilton.

“We dream every day of being the best and we have dedicated the past decade together to achieving that goal,” said Hamilton, who started his career back in 2007.

“Being at the top does not happen overnight or over a short period of time, it takes commitment, hard work and dedication and it’s been an honour to earn our way into the history books with this incredible team.

“We have never been hungrier to win. We have learnt from every success but also every setback. We continue to chase our dreams, we continue to fight no matter the challenge and we will win again.

“I’m grateful to the team who have supported me both on and off the track. Our story isn’t finished, we are determined to achieve more together and we won’t stop until we do.”

Fernando Alonso believes Max Verstappen’s record-equalling Formula One reign has been underestimated.

Verstappen matched Sebastian Vettel’s all-time streak of nine consecutive wins with a brilliant display in Sunday’s wet-dry-wet Dutch Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver is 138 points clear at the summit of the world championship and could close out his third title as early as next month.

Earlier this season, Lewis Hamilton described Verstappen’s Red Bull machine as the fastest car he has ever seen.

But during Verstappen’s run of nine in a row, team-mate Sergio Perez – the only other driver to win a race in 2023 – has finished off the podium five times.

And double world champion Alonso, runner-up to Verstappen in Zandvoort, said: “It is underestimated what Max is achieving. To win in such a dominant way in any professional sport is so complicated.

“Today I felt connected with the car and that I was able to give 100 per cent of my abilities but perhaps at other races in Belgium or Austria, for example, I wasn’t able to do that.

“But Max is achieving 100 per cent more often than the rest of us at the moment, and that is why he is dominating.”

Since he claimed his maiden title at the controversial season-ending Abu Dhabi race in 2021, Verstappen has won 26 of the 35 races staged. In his last 24 appearances, Verstappen has failed to win just four times. He has triumphed at 11 of the 13 rounds so far this year.

On Sunday night, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner lauded his star driver as “simply untouchable”.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team secured eight consecutive constructors’ championships before Red Bull returned to the top.

Hamilton won six titles in seven seasons, but he was never able to win more than five races in a row. Michael Schumacher managed seven straight victories for Ferrari during his stranglehold of the sport at the turn of the century.

And Verstappen, 25, said: “There have been more dominant cars in the past than we have at the moment, and they haven’t been able to win nine in a row.

“It is hard and, especially in the rain, it’s easy to make a wrong call or spin into the gravel. So, it’s never that straightforward.”

Verstappen will bid to secure his 10th consecutive win at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

Lewis Hamilton said he “paid the price” for Mercedes’ strategy blunder at the start of Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix.

Following a first-lap downpour in Zandvoort, Mercedes were too slow to put both Hamilton and team-mate George Russell on the intermediate tyres.

The poorly-timed stops left Hamilton and Russell – who was third on the grid – 13th and 17th when the order shuffled out.

“We should have pitted, but we didn’t, and we paid the price for that,” said Hamilton who eventually crossed the line sixth as Max Verstappen claimed his ninth win in succession.

“Today I had the pace, and I was on pace with Max, but we were just out of position.

“I was pretty happy with my drive to back into the points. I got sixth. But it could have been higher, for sure.”

Sergio Perez started seventh but assumed the lead of the race after he was called in by his quick-thinking Red Bull team on the first lap.

With the rain still falling, Verstappen, quite rightly, stopped the next time round but Russell stayed out on the slick rubber despite the worsening conditions.

Hamilton, who started 13th, was also sent round for another lap despite the seven-time world champion’s obvious concerns.

“We should have come in, man,” said Hamilton over the radio. “It is very wet.”

“Copy, Lewis,” said his race engineer Peter Bonnington. “We’re going to stay out. We’re going to have to brave this.”

But at the end of the third lap, Hamilton was in for wet tyres. He rejoined the track in last place.

Russell was still sliding around on slicks before he was changed on to the wet rubber at the end of lap four.

“I was forecast a podium,” said Russell on the radio. “F***, how did we mess this up?”

Russell was classified 17th after he collided with Norris in the closing stages and sustained a left-rear puncture.

“The race was over before it really got started,” said the 25-year-old Englishman. “The information we got about the weather was totally wrong.

“We thought the rain would last a couple of minutes but it clearly lasted for longer. It was a real shame. A podium was missed.

“As a team we need to review because we are getting the information coming into us and it was misjudging the weather. It is not anything to do with racing or engineering. It was just a weather misinterpretation and that ruined our afternoon.

“So we need to look into that, to see why the others decided to pit and what information they had that we didn’t, and make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “That was a difficult day for us. In the opening 15 laps, we got pretty much everything wrong that we could have done – and that cost us any chance of fighting for the podium. We will review thoroughly.”

Christian Horner has hailed “untouchable” Max Verstappen as the best driver in the world after the Red Bull star overcame a chaotic rain-hit Dutch Grand Prix to equal Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine wins in a row.

Despite two separate downpours wreaking havoc at the beginning and conclusion of Sunday’s 72-lap race in Zandvoort, Verstappen delivered in front of 105,000 expectant fans to take the chequered flag ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, with Pierre Gasly completing the podium.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, slapped with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit-lane, finished fourth while Lewis Hamilton – who bemoaned his Mercedes team’s poor strategy in the inclement conditions – came home in sixth place.

Verstappen, who has won 11 of the 13 rounds so far, will head to next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza 138 points clear in the drivers’ championship.

There remains an outside chance he could complete his hat-trick of titles at the Japanese Grand Prix on September 24 with half-a-dozen rounds still to run.

“Max is in a period of his career where he is just simply untouchable,” said Red Bull team principal Horner, who oversaw Vettel’s streak of nine straight wins a decade ago.

“I don’t think there is any driver on the grid that would be able to achieve what he is doing in that car.

“To win nine races in a row is insane, and it is something that none of us would have envisaged, and I never thought we would repeat it after we managed it with Sebastian. What we are witnessing is a driver that is generational.

“Max has been in incredible form for the past three years, and the most impressive thing for me is all the pressure that he is under here.

“With the expectation of 100,000 Dutch fans, a lot would have cracked under that pressure, but he kept his composure and delivered, as he has done so many times.”

Come wind, rain or shine, 25-year-old Verstappen is the man for all occasions. On pole, he found himself down in 13th place after seven drivers – including team-mate Perez – took advantage of a sudden first-lap downpour to move on to wet tyres.

But by lap 13, Verstappen – who at one stage was lapping his home track four seconds faster than Perez and two seconds quicker than anybody else – was back in the lead.

His record-equalling feat was placed in doubt when the rain returned with vengeance with a dozen laps to go, and Zhou Guanyu crashed out, and the race was stopped.

A 43-minute delay and six-lap dash to the chequered flag followed, but Verstappen denied Alonso any hope of taking his first win in a decade with an assured drive. He finished 3.7 sec clear of the Spaniard.

As Verstappen ensured Red Bull’s unbeaten run remained, Hamilton’s afternoon was scuppered by Mercedes’ dithering following the first-lap downpour.

Hamilton was not called in for wet tyres until the end of lap three with team-mate George Russell following in on the next lap. When the dust settled, Hamilton and Russell, who started third, were 16th and 18th respectively.

From there it was a damage-limitation exercise for both men, with Hamilton driving well to take sixth place.

Russell might have finished seventh but for a late duel with countryman Lando Norris leaving him with race-ending harm to his Mercedes. Norris crossed the line in seventh place.

Max Verstappen equalled Formula One’s all-time record of nine consecutive race wins in his home Dutch Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver matched Sebastian Vettel’s achievement and here, the PA news agency looks at how he compares.

Cloud nine

Verstappen has won 11 of this season’s 13 races – with team-mate Sergio Perez taking the other two as the duo surpassed the great McLaren pairing of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s run of 11 straight wins in 1988.

Since Perez’s win in Azerbaijan on April 30, Verstappen has won the Miami, Monaco, Spanish, Canadian, Austrian, British, Hungarian, Belgian and now Dutch Grands Prix.

He won from ninth on the grid in Florida, passing Perez with nine laps to go, and his team judged the rain correctly to hold off Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in Monaco.

Dominant wins in Spain and Canada brought him level with Senna’s career tally of 41 race wins, which he quickly overhauled in Austria.

Victory at Silverstone took him 99 points clear in the drivers’ standings and he shot past pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton on the run to the first corner in Hungary before clinching Red Bull the record for consecutive team wins.

His attention could then turn to the individual landmark and after surging through from sixth on the grid at Spa, he returned from the summer break to beat Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in a six-lap dash to the chequered flag to match Vettel’s streak, set in 2013.

History repeats for Red Bull

Vettel set the record – also driving for Red Bull, for whom Adrian Newey has been in post as chief technical officer on both occasions – when he won the final nine races of 2013 to surge clear of Alonso and win the title.

His run began in Belgium, where he overtook Hamilton early on and was untroubled thereafter, before dominant wins in Italy, Singapore and Korea and a strategic success in Japan.

The German clinched the title in India and added further wins in Abu Dhabi and the United States before a season-ending success in Brazil made it nine in a row and 13 for the season.

Alberto Ascari has a claim to a share of the record, having won the last six races of the 1952 season and his first three starts of 1953. The run was interrupted by Ascari not entering the Indianapolis 500, which at the time was part of the drivers’ championship and was won by American Bill Vukovich.

Michael Schumacher won seven in a row in 2004, as did Nico Rosberg at the end of 2015 and the start of his 2016 title-winning season.

Schumacher also had a run of six across the 2000 and 2001 seasons while Hamilton’s longest run is five wins, as was Verstappen’s before his current streak.

Verstappen is on track to be the first driver ever to win over 80 per cent of races in a season – beating Ascari’s 75 per cent in 1952, when there were only eight races in total – while he has won almost 94 per cent of the maximum points available with 339 of a possible 362 so far.

Max Verstappen navigated his way through a chaotic and dramatic rain-hit Dutch Grand Prix to equal Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine victories in a row.

Pole-sitter Verstappen found himself down in 13th place after seven drivers – including Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez – took advantage of a sudden first-lap downpour to move on to wet tyres.

The Dutchman regained the lead on lap 13 of 72 only for the race to be red-flagged with just eight laps to run after Zhou Guanyu crashed out following a second heavy shower.

A 43-minute suspension followed as the tyre barrier at the opening corner was repaired.

But Verstappen beat Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in a six-lap dash to the chequered flag to match Vettel’s streak, set in 2013.

Perez finished third but was demoted a place after he was hit with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, allowing Pierre Gasly to take the final spot on the podium.

Carlos Sainz finished fifth, holding off Lewis Hamilton, with Lando Norris seventh. George Russell was forced to retire his Mercedes following a late duel with Norris.

Verstappen, whose Red Bull team remain unbeaten this season, extended his championship lead from 125 points to 138 ahead of next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

Dark clouds gathered in the minutes ahead of Sunday’s round in Zandvoort, 30 miles outside of Amsterdam, and just a handful of corners into the start, the heavens opened.

While Verstappen and the leading pack tiptoed their way round the 2.65-mile circuit, Perez – who started in seventh – was called in by his quick-thinking Red Bull team for the intermediate tyres.

With the rain still falling, Verstappen sensibly stopped the next time round but McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Mercedes of Russell stayed out on the slick rubber despite the worsening conditions.

Hamilton, who started 13th, was also sent round for another lap despite the seven-time world champion’s obvious concerns.

“We should have come in, man,” he said over the radio. “It is very wet.”

“Copy, Lewis,” said his race engineer Peter Bonnington. “We’re going to stay out. We’re going to have to brave this.”

But at the end of the third lap, Hamilton was in for wet tyres. He rejoined the track in last place. Russell was still sliding around on slicks before he was changed on to the wet rubber at the end of lap four. When the dust settled, Hamilton and Russell occupied 16th and 18th places.

“I was forecast a podium,” said Russell on the radio. “F***, how did we mess this up?”

By now the rain had relented and dry line was already starting to emerge, and, despite his early handicap, the all-conquering Verstappen was, predictably, on the march.

On lap six he raced past Gasly for third before moving up to second a lap later as he blasted ahead of Zhou. Perez was seven seconds up the road.

Verstappen was taking chunks out of Perez – on one lap as many as four seconds – before he reverted to slicks on lap 11. Perez stopped the next time round but emerged three seconds behind the flying Dutchman, who was now back in the lead, and back in control.

On lap 15, Logan Sargeant was back in the wall a day after crashing out in qualifying. The American was unharmed but the safety car was deployed to retrieve his machine.

Mercedes called Russell in for his third stop of the afternoon, putting him on the hardest, durable tyre in the hope it would see him through to the end of the race.

With Sargeant’s wounded Williams out of the way, the race resumed on lap 21. Verstappen controlled the restart to leave team-mate Perez trailing.

Verstappen raced off into the distance with Hamilton and Russell beginning their fightback through the pack. The Mercedes men were back in the top 10 but with only a dozen laps remaining, the rain returned with vengeance.

The drivers were back in the pits for intermediate tyres before Perez spun his Red Bull at the opening corner and lost second to Alonso.

As the downpour intensified, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou aquaplaned at the first corner and thudded into the tyre wall. Hamilton also ran off at the opening bend but managed to keep his Mercedes out of the barriers and rejoined the track. Race director Niels Wittich red-flagged the race.

After a lengthy suspension the event was back under way at 5.14pm local time with two laps behind the safety car and a rolling start.

Alonso sensed his first win in a decade but despite the tricky conditions, Verstappen kept Alonso behind, crossing the line 3.7 seconds clear of the Spaniard.

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