Charles Leclerc accepted all the blame for an "unacceptable" crash at the French Grand Prix as Ferrari suffered the misery of seeing the race leader blow a chance of victory.

The 24-year-old from Monaco sent his car into a wall of tyres of Turn 11 at Circuit Paul Ricard on lap 18, having started on pole position.

He had been chasing a fourth win of the season and was set to narrow the gap to championship leader Max Verstappen.

Yet Verstappen took advantage of Leclerc's blunder to win the race and tighten his grip on first place in the drivers' standings.

A regretful Leclerc said: "I think I'm performing at the highest level of my career, but if I keep doing those mistakes then it's pointless to perform at a very high level.

"I'm losing too many points: seven in Imola, 25 here, because honestly we were probably the strongest car on track today.

"If we lost the championship by 32 points at the end of the season I will know where they are coming from, and it's unacceptable."

He said he would go away and look again at what went wrong, but Leclerc had little doubt it was all on him.

"I'll try to understand if there's nothing I don't know yet, but to me, it's a mistake," he said.

"It's just trying to push too much, and then I lost the rear. It's been a very difficult weekend for me, I struggled a lot with the balance of the car.

"When it's warm like this, it's very difficult to be consistent, and I've been [finding it] very difficult to put laps together, and I did a mistake at the wrong moment."

Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull and Ferrari "are in a league of their own" as Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen prepare to battle it out once again at the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc came out on top at the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago and will start Sunday's race at Circuit Paul Ricard in pole position for the seventh time this season.

The Ferrari driver has momentum on his side, but he still trails Red Bull rival Verstappen by 38 points heading into the 12th race of 2022.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez finished third in qualifying after recovering from some flat practice showings, while Mercedes driver Hamilton was a distant fourth.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton is still seeking his first win of the campaign, but that seems unlikely to arrive in his 300th grand prix on the basis of Saturday's qualifying.

"It's not that it is disheartening, but you do a lap and you are told it is 1.7 seconds off and you are like 'what?'" Hamilton said.

"And then you do a really good lap and you are 1.1 seconds off and you are like 'wow'. There is nothing I can do in my power to change that.

"Everyone is working as hard as they can. Each weekend we come with little bits to try and improve, but sometimes that doesn't make a difference and that is difficult.

"The top two teams are in their own league. I came here this weekend hoping we would be within three tenths of them, and we are a second back. 

"If it is anything like this it is going to be a while before we win, but it's not impossible."

 

The driver starting on pole has won the past three French GPs – Hamilton in 2018 and 2019 and Verstappen last year – though not since 1960 has it happened four times in a row.

Leclerc's 16th career pole was achieved in large thanks to a tow from team-mate Carlos Sainz, who will start at the back of the grid after a fourth engine change of the season.

Sainz provided a tow down the straights to help Leclerc edge Verstappen, but the latter does not believe the same tactic would have worked for Red Bull.

"No, because Ferrari gained only two to two-and-a-half tenths with the slipstream, Charles told me," Verstappen said. "It was also very logical that they did it.

"Obviously both me and Sergio Perez want to be in the best position possible. That's why I don't think we're doing that sort of thing. Neither of us had a grid penalty, either.

"It also seems logical to me. We are both still fighting for the title, so it is difficult to explain. It is up to Ferrari if they want to do that, but within our team we haven't talked about it."

Should Verstappen and Perez earn at least 12 points on Sunday, Red Bull will join Ferrari (9,015) and Mercedes (6,535.50) as the third team ever to reach the 6,000 points mark.

Perez has placed in the top two in six of the past seven finished races, two times more than his previous 186, and the Mexican is delighted with his starting position.

"It's been a good recovery. I've been nowhere the whole weekend. To be honest, I've been struggling a lot," he said.

"I think it's probably been my worst weekend up to qualifying, really, and finally we managed to recover well. Now we will try to beat those red cars. They were very strong today."

Charles Leclerc was full of praise for Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz after he provided a tow down the straights to help Leclerc edge Max Verstappen for pole position in the French Grand Prix.

Sainz, who starts at the back of the grid following a fourth engine change of the season, looked to be the quickest throughout qualifying before switching his approach in Q3 to help Leclerc finish ahead of his title rival.

It secures Leclerc's seventh pole of the season and the 16th of his career as he looks to rejuvenate his title bid following difficulties in recent races, and he was clear it would have been a harder task without Sainz.

"I struggled all weekend to put a lap together, but I managed to do it. I have to say, I also had the help of Carlos and that was amazing teamwork," he said on the grid.

"Without Carlos it would have been much more close so a huge thank you to Carlos and I hope that he can join us in the fight for the win tomorrow. 

"The car feels good but it's difficult to understand what the Red Bull guys have done yesterday, as there was loads of difference in terms of lap times, so let's see how it goes tomorrow."

Verstappen looked to be in fine form with the Red Bull ace showing great pace throughout the free practice sessions, but he couldn't quite put it together in qualifying and sits behind Leclerc at the start – the sixth time in 2022 the pair have been on the front row together.

 

"Overall, I think we were lacking a bit in qualifying, just with general grip. It was a bit more tricky than I would have hoped but we still have a decent race car," Verstappen said.

"Hopefully, tomorrow will come to our favour. We're quick on the straights, so hopefully we can use that tomorrow. It's going to be a bit warmer. Clearly, Ferrari have been very quick again."

Sergio Perez will start third, bouncing back after struggling to find pace in the practice sessions, and admitted it had been a difficult few days.

"It's been a good recovery over the whole weekend, I have been struggling a lot, I think it has been my worst weekend up to qualifying really but we managed to recover well," he said.

Perez sits ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who will start fourth, which means Mercedes' wait for a top-three start on the grid continues, with it already being their longest stint into a F1 season without one.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:30:872
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.304
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.463
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.893
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.160
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.259
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.680
8. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) +1.908
9. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) No Time
10. Kevin Magnusson (Haas) No Time

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has been penalised for excessive engine usage, meaning he will start the French Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

Sainz sits in fourth place in the drivers' championship, and finished the final practice in second place. 

However, he will now start Sunday's race from the back after Ferrari took their fourth new engine of the season, one more than is permitted.

This penalty has been added on to the 10-place sanction that he had been given for the new electronics control unit that Ferrari opted for on Friday.

He will be joined at the back of the grid by Kevin Magnussen of Haas, who was penalised for changing power unit components.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fastest in the final practice, with the reigning champion clear of Sainz's Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who finished third quickest.

Carlos Sainz will take a 10-place grid penalty for the French Grand Prix after changing an engine component at Le Castellet.

Sainz saw his hopes of a second-place finish at the Austrian Grand Prix last time out literally go up in flames as an engine failure denied him a seventh podium of the campaign.

And regardless of where he qualifies at Circuit Paul Ricard, Sainz will have a difficult challenge to get on the rostrum this weekend.

Ferrari gave Sainz's car a new control electronics element, incurring a penalty that ensures he will definitely start outside the top 10.

Sainz could yet receive further penalties if Ferrari decide to change further parts of the Spaniard's engine.

He ended Friday's first practice session in third place behind team-mate Charles Leclerc and championship leader Max Verstappen, FP1 hinting at another tight battle between Red Bull and Ferrari as under half a second separated the top three.

Michael Schumacher still enjoys following Formula One races and watches the sport at home alongside Jean Todt, the former Ferrari boss has revealed.

Seven-time world champion Schumacher suffered a skiing accident in December 2013 that left him with a serious brain injury.

The 53-year-old was placed into a medically induced coma after the incident in Meribel, France, before he was moved to the family home in Geneva the following year to be cared for by medical staff and his wife.

Schumacher has not been seen publicly since, though Todt still meets with his former Ferrari colleague, having teamed up with the German as he won five world titles between 2000 and 2004.

The pair continue to enjoy F1 together, with Schumacher watching on as his son Mick competes in his second season for Haas.

"I don't miss Michael, I see him," Todt told German broadcaster RTL after collecting the State Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia for Schumacher, alongside the former driver's wife Corinna and daughter Gina.

"Yes, it's true, I watch Grands Prix with Michael. But sure, I guess what I miss is what we used to do together.

"If it was emotional for you, you can imagine how emotional it was for me [collecting the award]. Emotional, but at the same time a great pride to be able to talk about Michael.

"You have people around you who are just special. And in a way, Michael is also very special. Corinna, Mick and Gina have also become special to me. They have all become family to me, to my wife and to my son."

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."

Charles Leclerc's Austrian Grand Prix victory was a case of hard work paying off for the Ferrari driver on a day that saw his team face up to more reliability issues. 

After he finished top of the pile in qualifying and Saturday's sprint, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was the clear favourite to claim triumph once again at the Red Bull Ring.

Although Verstappen led coming out of the first corner, it quickly became apparent Ferrari had superior pace, and Sergio Perez's retirement following a collision with George Russell left the Red Bull drivers' championship leader at the mercy of a Scuderia team that nailed their strategy.

Leclerc got past Verstappen for good on lap 53 but was left facing a nervous few final laps after team-mate Carlos Sainz's engine failed five laps later as he attempted an overtake of Verstappen, and the Monegasque soon began experiencing problems of his own with his throttle.

However, Leclerc was able to manage those issues to end a seven-race winless run that stretched back to the Australian GP and reignite his championship hopes, with Verstappen's lead still 38 points.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Leclerc explained the difference between the race and a sprint where Ferrari seemed well off the pace of Verstappen.

"I did some work on my driving yesterday night," he said. "I knew where to improve, especially on that medium stint.

"On the hard [tyre] we were quick, but there was no deg. I'm very happy that the hard work of yesterday paid off today."

On the throttle problem, Leclerc added: "It was really bad, especially turn three and four was a disaster because the car was pushing a lot with the throttle being extremely inconsistent. In the end, I got to the finish line in first position, so I'm really happy."

Leclerc saw wins taken away from him by engine failures in Barcelona and Baku and conceded it is a worry to see the same problem rear its head again with Sainz's car.

"As a team, it is a concern the reliability, and today it shows even more that it is a concern," said Leclerc. "We really need to look into that to make sure that it doesn't happen again during the season."

Sainz, who was prevented from claiming a fourth podium in five races and from trimming Verstappen's advantage by denying him second, made no effort to hide his disappointment.

"There was no feedback coming from the engine that this was about to happen. Very sudden," Sainz said of his fiery retirement.

"I am a bit lost for words because this is obviously a big loss of points and result for the team today, because I think it could have been an easy one-two.

"It is more difficult to take because we were about to cut the points to the leaders of the championship, both Max and Red Bull, to do a very big result for the team and one of the cars DNF.

"It is heartbreaking, but we will need to keep pushing, turn the page, and it is still a long season ahead."

Charles Leclerc reignited his Formula One world championship ambitions with victory in the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Throughout qualifying and Saturday's sprint, all signs pointed to defending world champion Max Verstappen continuing his run of dominance in Spielberg and extending his lead in the drivers' standings.

However, in cooler conditions on Sunday, the Ferraris of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had a clear edge over the Red Bull of Verstappen, who had a clean getaway to stay in the lead into the first corner.

The Scuderia also made the perfect strategy calls to get themselves in position for a one-two, only for Sainz to be denied by an engine failure on lap 58.

Despite a worried Leclerc experiencing problems with his throttle, he held on to clinch a third victory of the season, although Verstappen's advantage in the standings remains 38 points.

Sainz had to go off the track at turn one to protect against a fast-starting George Russell, who was soon given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision after he made contact with Sergio Perez at turn four, with the Mexican sent into the gravel and eventually forced to retire because of the damage.

Leclerc got past Verstappen with a brilliant overtake down the inside of turn four on lap 12, and Perez's exit from the equation put Ferrari in full control of the race and in the rare position of seeing their strategy working to a tee.

Following his second stop, Leclerc got ahead of Verstappen for good on lap 53 at turn three, and Sainz appeared set to repeat the feat five laps later on turn four, only for smoke to begin billowing from the back of his car.

Sainz's fiery exit, which led to a virtual safety car under which Leclerc and Verstappen both pitted, understandably caused nerves for his team-mate.

Leclerc, who saw victories in Barcelona and Baku taken away from him by an engine failure, was soon reporting issues with the throttle, and Verstappen began to loom in his mirrors.

But his car held together to allow him to weave across the finish line in delight, with Lewis Hamilton profiting from Sainz's misfortune to take third behind Verstappen and ahead of Mercedes team-mate Russell. Esteban Ocon was fifth for Alpine.

Charles Leclerc does not want a repeat of the tussle he experienced with team-mate Carlos Sainz in the sprint race as he targets victory in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Ferrari drivers saw Max Verstappen race away from them in the sprint, the championship leader benefiting from the duel between Leclerc and Sainz to take the maximum eight points.

Verstappen eventually claimed triumph by 1.6 seconds from Leclerc, who insisted the Scuderia drivers must not risk losing time and wearing down their tyres by fighting with each other again at the Red Bull Ring.

He said: "I think tomorrow is going to be a long race and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today, so probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today.

"We lost a little bit of time, but again when Max had the gap he also managed his pace, so we'll never know… but I felt like we were strong towards the end – probably stronger than at the beginning. Whether it [would have been] enough I really don't know."

Verstappen now leads the drivers' championship by 38 points, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who climbed from 13th to fifth in the sprint, his closest challenger. Leclerc is a further six points back.

The Dutchman has won five of the last seven races and has an outstanding record at his team's home circuit.

He has won three of the last four Austrian Grands Prix and also prevailed at the Red Bull Ring in last season's Styrian Grand Prix.

However, Verstappen labelled his tyres "tricky" and is not anticipating a routine success across the 71-lap feature race.

"We had good pace at the beginning and after that we were very closely matched, it was as a sprint should go, it was quite flat out," said Verstappen.

"I do expect tomorrow is going to be a very interesting battle again."

George Russell will start fourth in a Mercedes that appears to lack the straight-line speed to mount a serious challenge for victory in Spielberg.

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start eighth having claimed the final points place in the sprint.

The seven-time world champion has experienced an eventful weekend, crashing in qualifying on Friday and being involved in a first-lap collision with Pierre Gasly before fighting back from 11th to eventually get past Mick Schuamcher's Haas for eighth spot.

"I'm grateful I managed to survive out there today," Hamilton said. "The team did such a great job to get the car back together last night and this morning. A big thank you to them, and I'm glad I brought it back mostly in one piece.

"We are slower on the straights, so I had to wait until I was out of the DRS train to overtake the cars in front. That's why it took a few laps to get ahead of Mick. Hopefully we can race stronger tomorrow – fingers crossed!"

There are six world titles split between the two drivers starting 18th and 19th. Sebastian Vettel, who was handed a suspended €25,000 fine for walking out of Friday's drivers' briefing, finished 19th in the sprint following a collision with Alex Albon that sent Vettel's Aston Martin into the gravel.

Fernando Alonso's Alpine failed to start the sprint due to an electrical issue. Valtteri Bottas, a two-time winner of this race, is the only man behind Alonso on the grid after the Alfa Romeo driver incurred a penalty because of his latest engine change.

Lewis Hamilton is "incredibly disappointed" in himself after both he and Mercedes team-mate George Russell crashed out of qualifying ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

The precursor for Saturday's sprint race in Spielberg proved a dramatic one, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen taking pole ahead of Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton has yet to win a race this season after 10 rounds but looked good value to compete for pole until losing control into Turn 7, causing him to skid into the barriers.

That crash in Q3 ruined his chance of starting high up the grid on Saturday, with the seven-time world champion instead down in 10th.

Russell did not fare much better as he caused another red flag after spinning into the barriers at the final corner on a day to forget for Mercedes.

Team boss Toto Wolff told the duo they "should not beat themselves up", adding: "I'd rather have a fast car and a qualifying like this than not having the pace to be in the top four."

But Hamilton, who had been fastest at the start of Q2, was upset that he could not see out the job at Red Bull Ring.

"It was a big hit but I'm okay," he told Sky Sports. "I'm incredibly disappointed in myself ultimately and so sorry to the team who worked so hard to put this car together.

"I lost the back end into Turn 7 and that was that. I'm encouraged. I'm encouraged of course to see our performance. We weren't expecting for it to be as close as that today.

"That is a huge positive from the team but I am really quite far back [for the sprint] so I don't know what is possible from there. Hopefully I can make up for some lost time."

 

Following Hamilton and Russell's crashes, there was time for one final lap for the remaining eight drivers.

Leclerc and Sainz looked set to claim a Ferrari one-two, only for Verstappen – who has now taken the last three pole positions on this track – to post a time of 1:04.984

That was 29 thousandths of a second quicker than Leclerc and leaves Verstappen well positioned to surpass Alain Prost for the most victories at the Austrian GP (three apiece).

"It was a very long wait of course between the two runs," the Dutchman said. "That is never great as once you are in the rhythm you want to keep going.

"Also the track temperature dropping, the wind changing a little bit, but in the end it was a very tight qualifying and it is a really challenging track to get everything right.

"There aren't many corners but the ones you have are quite tricky and easy to make a mistake. I'm quite happy with pole but also tomorrow and Sunday you can get the points. 

"It's incredible to see the crowd here and see so much orange. It puts a smile on my face and hopefully we can make it a great weekend."

Verstappen leads team-mate Sergio Perez by 34 points heading into the weekend's action, while Leclerc is 43 points behind after failing to build on a bright start to the season.

After pushing Verstappen all the way in qualifying for the 24-lap sprint, which establishes the grid for the main grand prix, Leclerc is hoping to do likewise over the next two days.

"I just want to have a clean race," he said. "It's been five races where I've had a bit of a disaster on my side. 

"I just hope that everything will go clean in the weekend and we can finally score the points that we deserve."


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:04.984
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.029
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.082
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.420
5. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.447
6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +0.742
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +0.895
8. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +1.027
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.119
10. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +8.167

Charles Leclerc has dismissed suggestions of tensions within the Ferrari camp after enduring a frustrating outing as team-mate Carlos Sainz won the British Grand Prix last week.

But the 24-year-old maintains his team could have made better decisions after he fell out of contention to finish fourth at Silverstone.

Leclerc sits third in the drivers' championship standings going into Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, trailing Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez after several underwhelming results.

The Ferrari driver has struggled since winning two of the first three races of the 2022 campaign, failing to secure a podium finish in any of his last five outings after doing so in four of his first five this season.

Leclerc had led at Silverstone before Ferrari chose not to pit him for fresh tyres during a late safety car period, allowing Sainz to clinch the first victory of his Formula One career.

Italian press reports claimed some of Leclerc's engineers subsequently refused to take part in a group photo to celebrate Sainz's win, but the Monegasque driver has told Sky Sports F1 there are no divisions within the team.

"It is a shame to see all of this type of things," Leclerc said in Austria.

"It is definitely not what is happening inside the team. We are a very united team, we've always been, and it's not these difficult races that will make it change.

"Were we disappointed after last weekend? I think we were because we were one-two, and we finished one-four, so part of the team were disappointed. But this was definitely not the reason whatsoever for not everybody being on the picture.

"Everyone was very happy for Carlos, and this is the feeling that there is inside the team.

"One of the strong points we have as team-mates and as drivers [is] a team spirit that we have in Ferrari and these things are always under control."

But Leclerc was still not entirely happy with the team's strategy last time out, adding: "There are things we could have done better.

"But we know where we did the mistakes and I hope we can grow from that.

"Me personally, there's nothing I could have done differently in a way. As a team, we have changed a few things already, just in the way of communication throughout the race, to be ready in that particular moment.

"Once a safety car is out, you need to take a decision there, and if you are not ready for that, it's tricky."

Ferrari have slipped to a distant second in the constructors' standings after Red Bull recorded three one-twos in the last seven races, Verstappen claiming six victories in that time.

After recent issues with reliability putting a dent in their championship hopes, Ferrari were able to marginally recover at the British Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz's maiden Formula One race win.

It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Scuderia at Silverstone, however, with tactics scuppering a potential one-two finish with Charles Leclerc, who fell away to finish fourth on older hard tyres following a late safety car.

Ferrari capitalised to some extent, but were not able to take full advantage of Max Verstappen's damaged floor putting him out of contention for the race win.

Now heading into Red Bull's home race at the Austrian Grand Prix, the championship challengers simply must recover more ground if they are to mount a real threat in the standings.

Reigning world champion Verstappen has won the last two races and claimed the last two pole positions at Spielberg, however, making a repeat of Sunday's run to the chequered flag for Ferrari unlikely.

Red Bull have won three of the past four Austrian GPs, with Verstappen taking all three for the team.

The Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for the 24-year-old, reaching the podium six times, with two fastest laps as well as his four wins and two pole positions, with all being the most out of any circuit in his career.

A Ferrari win would prove an important historical moment for the team, though, as well as what it means in context of this season.

The Scuderia need only 23 points to be the first team in F1 to reach 9,000 points, while both they and Mercedes are one win away from equalling McLaren's record six wins in Austria.

Meanwhile, they are one clearout of the front row away from surpassing Mercedes for the most one-two qualifying finishes in F1, with both on 82.

Can Sainz push on after breaking through?

Carlos Sainz finally broke through at Silverstone, even declining team orders to collect the race win upon the resumption after the safety car.

Despite a tricky start to the season, Sainz has slowly developed confidence in the car, with six podiums this season

One more would see him surpass his total over the previous seven seasons in F1, and could be the first Spaniard since Fernando Alonso in 2010 to record back-to-back wins.

Austria does not follow 'El Plan'

Alonso's longevity and focus has been nothing short of extraordinary since returning to F1, but Austria has not been the most forthcoming of places for him.

Despite encouraging recent form, including a second place in qualifying in Canada and a fifth-place finish at Silverstone, the 40-year-old will be looking to change that.

The two-time world champion has appeared nine times at Spielberg, the circuit with his lowest aggregate of race wins, pole positions, fastest laps and podiums in his career.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 147
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 127
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 111

Constructors

1. Red Bull 328
2. Ferrari 265
3. Mercedes 204
4. McLaren 73
5. Alpine 67

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto insists there is nothing to fix internally with Charles Leclerc, after he dropped from first to fourth while team-mate Carlos Sainz won Sunday's British Grand Prix.

At the race's conclusion, Binotto briefly addressed a visibly disappointed Leclerc in parc ferme, whose pace dropped off on degrading hard tyres following a safety car with 14 laps remaining.

Leading the race at that point, Leclerc noted over the radio that it would be "hard" to keep the chasing pack on soft tyres behind him, but Ferrari opted to keep him out while bringing Sainz in for a set of soft tyres.

Asked about the exchange, Binotto sought to clarify the exchange was more to congratulate Leclerc on his drive and overall pace given the circumstances.

"There is nothing to sort out internally," he told Sky Sports. "I think it was simply to tell him 'I understand your disappointment but you did a fantastic race today.' Fighting at the start, fighting later on when he was on the hards and the others were on softs.

"I think the way he was driving there to take positions was amazing, so being happy is difficult, but staying calm and being positive is important.

"For us it was clear not stopping Charles, keeping track position and stopping Carlos because he was the only one who could have stopped. We were hoping for more tyre degradation on the softs, and that didn't happen."

Despite Leclerc besting him for pace in the earlier stages of the race as Red Bull's Max Verstappen surrendered the lead, Sainz capitalised with his soft tyres after the restart for his maiden race win in Formula One.

After taking pole position in similarly volatile circumstances on Saturday at Silverstone, Binotto complimented the 27-year-old for his consistency and ability to be in position to take advantage.

"I think that's the strength of Carlos, no?" he said. "Always trying to be there and get the opportunity. Yesterday, in qualifying maybe the other two made small mistakes but he did a consistent lap and made the pole.

"That's his strength, to be consistent to the end, to the chequered flag and get the opportunity when the opportunity is coming. For him, I'm really very happy because it's his first victory.

"I think, one, that was important for him and with Ferrari it's even more important. So, I'm very pleased and I think he deserved it."

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