Alpine expected Fernando Alonso to agree a new contract with the team right up until the moment his move to Aston Martin was announced, Otmar Szafnauer has revealed.

And Alpine team principal Szafnauer's attempts to subsequently get in touch with Alonso have proved unsuccessful.

Alonso has driven for Alpine since their rebrand ahead of the 2021 season, returning to Formula One after two seasons away.

The Spaniard had won world championships with Renault – the team under their previous name – back in 2005 and 2006.

Now a midfield runner, Alonso has secured only a single podium in his second stint with the French team, but his switch to Aston Martin on Monday came as somewhat of a surprise – not least to Alpine.

Alonso will replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel in 2023, with his move the first of the mid-season break after Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

As of the end of that race, in which Alonso finished eighth, Szafnauer thought his superstar driver was returning next year.

"[The Aston Martin statement] was the first confirmation I had," the Alpine chief told Motorsport.com.

"Obviously, when we're in the paddock, there's all sorts of rumours, and I had heard rumours that Aston were interested.

"Once you hear that they're interested, there's probably discussions that took place, and there's some other indications that discussions took place, like walking out of the same motorhome at the same time, all that kind of stuff, which I saw.

"But I was confident that, even with the discussions, and there's nothing wrong with exploring, we were very close.

"So, yes, the first confirmation I had was the press release. I did ask the question [to Alonso]. And I was told: 'No, no, I haven't signed anything.' So, I was a bit surprised."

Asked if he had since spoken to Alonso, Szafnauer replied: "I haven't talked to him, since he's on a boat, I think, in the Greek Isles somewhere.

"I took this morning to address the staff. And the second thing I'm doing is talking to you. And yesterday, I fielded a bunch of calls from other potential drivers."

One obvious option is Oscar Piastri, the Alpine reserve driver who had appeared set for a year at Williams when Alonso was in line for a new contract.

However, Szafnauer faces issues on that front, too, amid claims Piastri has agreed to race instead for McLaren – something Alpine have not agreed to.

"I'm not privy to whatever pre-arrangements he has with McLaren, if any at all," Szafnauer said, stating Alpine have "a legal contract" with Piastri for 2023.

He added: "Oscar and his camp are considering their options, whatever that means."

Charles Leclerc has questioned Ferrari's strategy for the Hungarian Grand Prix after dubbing his sixth-place finish as a "disaster".

A decision to put on the hard-compound tyre brought an abrupt end to Leclerc's hopes of winning the race, conceding position to Red Bull's Max Verstappen – who now sits 80-points clear in the championship standings after another victory.

Performances from others on the grid had already shown that the hard compound tyre was not competitive in Sunday's race but Ferrari, having used the medium compound twice, elected to take the hard rather than push out a longer stint before taking the softs.

That decision proved to be the undoing of Ferrari's hopes in what was an afternoon to forget, with neither driver finishing in the podium spots despite starting second and third on the grid.

Leclerc, who took full responsibility for his crash in the French Grand Prix a week ago, was asked whether he could explain the team strategy and says questions will be asked during a debrief.

"We need to speak with the team and understand the thought behind putting on the hard because I felt very strong on the medium, everything was under control," he told Sky Sports.

"For some reason, I don’t know what, we needed to go on the hards. I said on the radio that I was very comfortable on the medium and I wanted to go for as long as possible on those tyres because the feeling was good.

"I don't know why we took we took a different decision. Honestly, the pace on my side I was pretty happy with.

"The only thing is that obviously everyone will remember the last part of the race which was a disaster for me, especially the hard, that's why I lost the race.

"I lost 20 seconds with the pit, another maybe six seconds on five laps on the hard because I was all over the place with this tyre and yeah, that's where we lost our race."

Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz was equally disappointed and says he simply did not have a car capable of mounting a challenge.

"We clearly struggled as a team. Today, we're a bit puzzled because we expected to have good race pace coming from Friday, but it's clear that these lower temperatures, the track condition changes, there was something going on with the car and the tyres," he told Sky Sports.

"We were not fast. It's something to analyse, to look back, regroup, see what we did wrong for these kinds of conditions and come back after the summer break with a better package."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff defended Ferrari's tyre strategy and believes it was the only call they could have made.

"I think they had no option. They had only hard and soft left, for the soft it was too early, so it was only the hard," he said to Sky Sports.

"The mistake I think happened on Friday or Saturday, not to carry over a new medium."

Max Verstappen celebrated a "crazy" success at the Hungarian Grand Prix, after coming from 10th to take a surprise win.

Reigning world champion Verstappen looked unlikely to challenge for victory on Sunday following a frustrating qualifying session.

The Dutchman had looked ominously fast but a power unit issue on his out lap ahead of a second flying effort ended hopes of pole.

Yet Verstappen will head into Formula One's break with an 80-point lead in the championship standings after powering to a hugely impressive win that sees him equal Nigel Mansell's record of the most F1 triumphs for a single team.

Rain threatened to cause late drama but Verstappen held firm to seal a famous victory for Red Bull, despite at one point spinning on the track.

"It was a crazy race, very happy that we won it," said Verstappen, who finished over seven seconds ahead of second-placed Lewis Hamilton and more than 12 seconds quicker than third-placed George Russell.

"I was of course hoping I could get close to a podium. Very tricky conditions out there but we had a really great strategy, really reactive, always pitching at the right time and then even at the end, with the 360 [spin], we won the race."

Explaining how he had lost control of the car during his 360-degree spin, Verstappen said: "I was struggling a bit with the shifts and the clutch and we had to change a few things around that to not basically burn the clutch.

"That cost me a bit of performance and it caught me out on that corner. Luckily, to do a 360, so I only lost one spot.

"It was very good. I was battling a lot of guys so it was a lot of fun out there."

Lewis Hamilton is confident Mercedes are "closing the gap" on their rivals following another impressive drive from the Briton at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, starting seventh, benefited from a strong strategy by his team to work his way through the order, overtaking Ferrari's Carlos Sainz for third and then leapfrogging his team-mate George Russell.

The result secured back-to-back podium finishes for Hamilton who, surprisingly, has achieved more top-three finishes this season than title hopeful Charles Leclerc, who has seen his bid to take Max Verstappen's crown crumble.

Ferrari's main challenge in the final nine races of the season after the upcoming break may now come from Mercedes, who sit just 30 points behind in the constructors' championship, and Hamilton believes there is a solid platform to build on.

"I was definitely struggling at the beginning of the race and wasn't sure if I was going to be able to catch the guys up but bit by bit, I was more comfortable with the balance and had a really good start as well," he said on the grid.

"I really want to acknowledge my team who have pushed and never given up in this tough year so far.

"To be on the podium, for both cars to be on the podium twice, it is pretty special for us and really unlucky for George today.

"The other guys still have a bit of an edge but we are clearly closing the gap and this is just an amazing way to go into the break knowing that we have this performance. 

"Hopefully we can bring some more into the second part of the season and start fighting with the guys up front."

Russell started the race in pole position after his surprising Q3 session on Saturday but was unable to stay ahead and admitted he thought the race was there to win in the early stages.

"When it started spitting and we were on the soft tyres at the start I thought we were on," he said. 

"Towards the end on the mediums with the slightly heavier rain I really struggled."

Having secured back-to-back third-place finishes, Russell also praised the improvements shown by his team after what was a poor start to the 2022 season.

"Amazing job by the team. Pole position yesterday and a double podium - we're definitely making progress, so really proud of the work we've done," he added.

Carlos Sainz is relishing the prospect of battling against front-row rival George Russell in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Russell stunned Ferrari's drivers with a stellar lap in the closing stages of qualifying to snatch the first pole position of his career, with Sainz lining up second on the grid and team-mate Charles Leclerc in third.

It sets up an interesting race in Hungary, the last before F1's summer break, with McLaren's Lando Norris in fourth while the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez begin in 10th and 11th respectively.

While Mercedes have an advantage at the start, their car continues to be a largely unknown quantity and Ferrari will fancy their chances of securing a win – with Sainz confirming the team will be pushing for that goal.

"I'm not very happy with the final result as I feel I could have done a better lap on the final attempt," he said after qualifying.

"However, I prefer to focus on the positives: we are in a good position for tomorrow, I've been comfortable in the car all weekend, and we keep making steps in the right direction.

"I'm confident we can carry the good pace of Friday into the race, so we'll definitely go for it.

"Congrats to George on his first pole. He did a very good lap today and I look forward to the battle tomorrow."

Leclerc is equally confident Ferrari can respond after a frustrating qualifying session, as he too looks to challenge team-mate Sainz and Russell for the win – which would provide a boost after last weekend's crash in France.

"The pace is there and we know we have some work to do," Leclerc said. "I'm confident we can come back stronger tomorrow."

Sebastian Vettel's hopes of a successful first race since announcing his Formula One retirement suffered a setback as he crashed in third practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion this week confirmed he will end his F1 career at the end of the season.

His move to Aston Martin in 2021 has not delivered the desired results, with Vettel claiming just one podium since his switch from Ferrari.

But Vettel was impressing amid heavy rain at the Hungaroring, only to lose control of his rear tyres and spin into barriers at turn 10.

That saw the session briefly red-flagged before it was brought to a conclusion by the Williams of Nicholas Latifi surprisingly posting the fastest time on intermediate tyres on a drying track.

It is the first time Latifi has been quickest in an F1 practice session.

His team-mate Alexander Albon was third, sandwiching the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, with the changeable conditions setting the stage for a fascinating qualifying session.

The session was largely defined by Mercedes' struggles for grip. George Russell did find enough to go fifth fastest, but Lewis Hamilton could only manage 11th.

Max Verstappen thinks it will be impossible for Red Bull to challenge Ferrari in dry conditions at the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

Reigning Formula One champion Verstappen could only manage fourth in the second free practice session on Friday, with Charles Leclerc almost three tenths of a second quicker. 

Rain is forecast for qualifying on Saturday and the Dutchman believes it will be essential for him to have any chance of pushing the Scuderia all the way. 

"A bit tricky as expected around here. Just trying to find a balance from high to low speed," said Verstappen. 

"Sometimes it worked a bit better, sometimes a bit more tricky but a bit of work to do. 

"I think [Ferrari] are a bit ahead of us. I think it will be hard for us to beat that. But I think overnight we will try to close the gap as much as we can and see what the weather will give us as well. 

"I think in the dry we can't compete, so maybe in the rain we can, who knows?" 

After the disappointment of crashing out from the French Grand Prix last weekend, Leclerc felt Ferrari were on "the right road" with their race simulations. 

"It's been a very productive day, changed quite a lot of things on the car on my side," said Leclerc. "FP1 was quite tricky, FP2 we took the right road so confident that we did the right work for Sunday. 

"It looks like it's going to rain [on Saturday] so we have to be on top of this and obviously put the tyres in the right window, which is always a difficult thing whenever it's raining. 

"This will be our main priority, but hopefully if we manage to put them in the right window, we will still have this advantage." 

Max Verstappen's path to a second Formula One drivers' championship appears clear following Ferrari's mishaps in France, with the Red Bull ace looking to extend his lead in Hungary.

Heading into the final race before F1's summer break, Verstappen holds a mammoth 63-point advantage over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the standings – while Red Bull lead their rivals by 82 points in the constructors' championship.

Ferrari's latest setback, which saw Leclerc retire from the lead for the third time this season, brought an end to what had been a positive stint for the Italian manufacturers – who had won back-to-back races before heading to the Circuit Paul Ricard.

While Leclerc has been the leading man for Ferrari this season, his crash in France was the latest mistake from the young driver – and it may now be Carlos Sainz that has the biggest part to play in chasing down Red Bull.

After a difficult start to the season, the Spaniard has found his rhythm with the car and weaved his way through the field in France to secure fifth place, having started 19th on the grid and impressed in qualifying.

Sainz boasts two fastest laps in 2022, both of which have come in the last four races (in Canada and France) – one more than he recorded in his previous 148 outings, and he's now eyeing consecutive fastest laps for the first time in his F1 career.

Ferrari's record in Hungary is also encouraging, with only McLaren (11) winning more races at the venue than Ferrari (7) – who last won at the Hungaroring in 2017. Red Bull, meanwhile, have won twice, in 2010 and 2014.

Red Bull's main strength this season has been straight-line speed, which may not fit with the Hungaroring's lack of straights – the track is comparable to Monaco, with several corners to string together.

It's on those sorts of corners where Ferrari have been the better outfit but, even with a win, they would require some serious reliability issues or incidents from Red Bull to rejuvenate their flagging title hopes.

Hamilton's charge reviving Mercedes

Mercedes' woes this season have been well documented and are not yet over, with the team extremely disappointed by their upgrade package failing to have the desired effect for the French Grand Prix last time out.

However, Lewis Hamilton is at least back at his best after registering four consecutive podium finishes heading into Hungary, while George Russell's appearance alongside his team-mate on the podium was the first time Mercedes have had both drivers in the top three this season.

The Hungaroring is a track Hamilton knows well, having secured eight victories at the venue – including all five of Mercedes' wins.

Now 12 races without a win, Mercedes are in the longest winless stretch of their F1 history, and Hamilton is still awaiting the triumph which would see him break Michael Schumacher's record of consecutive seasons with at least one victory – with both drivers currently on 15.

Ricciardo's moment of truth

Daniel Ricciardo's spell at McLaren has been disappointing for both driver and team but both are committed to each other for the long haul, with the Australian's contract running through 2023.

Speculation of an early termination appears to have cooled, with Ricciardo taking to social media to quash such rumours before issuing a strong message ahead of France – telling Sky Sports he'll deliver a win if McLaren can deliver a car.

That's something the Silverstone-based team are yet to do, however. Ricciardo's experience in France was another disappointing one, having come in ninth and, yet again, finished behind team-mate Lando Norris.

The young Brit is clearly the more comfortable driver, having registered 70 of McLaren's 89 points this season, and Ricciardo needs to start changing the game.

A positive race in Hungary would provide a significant boost ahead of what is a crucial sequence for the Australian after the summer break.

George Russell will get behind the wheel of a Mercedes this week as speculation around a Formula One promotion persists.

Russell is widely considered to be vying with current Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas for a seat next season.

And the Williams man will get the opportunity to join the team in Hungary on Tuesday to test the 18-inch tyres that will be used in 2022.

Russell was part of Mercedes' junior driver programme before getting his F1 opportunity with Williams and has tested for the Silver Arrows previously.

The 23-year-old even stood in for Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when the world champion had tested positive for coronavirus.

A pit-stop mix-up cost Russell the victory on that occasion, but a ninth-placed finish secured his first points.

The Bottas rivalry will draw extra attention to Russell's performance this week, though, coming straight after his best ever result at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Russell finished eighth, earning points with Williams for the first time.

Bottas had started from second after a record-equalling 80th qualifying one-two for Mercedes, but he crashed on lap one in a chaotic start.

Lewis Hamilton explained that he is still feeling the after-effects of coronavirus after producing an incredible fightback at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who started on pole as he chased a 100th Formula One race win in his stellar career, had to charge up the field after a mistake following a restart – a red flag having come out after Valtteri Bottas caused an early crash.

Five drivers were forced to retire early, with Bottas handed a five-place grid penalty for the next grand prix in Belgium at the end of August, but by the time the remaining competitors had finished a formation lap, the rain which had been around at the start had cleared and the track was dry.

Hamilton, however, elected not to change his tyres, so started on his own from the grid while the others pitted. By the time he had rectified his mistake he was last, but a mighty effort saw him clinch third place behind Sebastian Vettel and unlikely winner Esteban Ocon.

The seven-time world champion now leads Max Verstappen, who finished 10th after suffering damage in the earlier crash, in the standings, though Hamilton was handed a further boost late on Sunday when Vettel was retrospectively disqualified for not having enough fuel left in his car at the end of the race. Aston Martin announced they plan to appeal that decision.

However, during the podium presentation, Hamilton looked visibly exhausted and even struggled to hold up the bottle of champagne handed to him. He then saw Mercedes' team doctor and missed some of his post-race media duties.

"I'm ok, had real big dizziness and everything got a bit blurry on the podium," Hamilton, who contracted COVID-19 in December last year, told a news conference.

"I've been fighting all year really with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year and it's still a battle.

"I haven't spoken to anyone about it, but I think [the effects of covid are] lingering. I remember the effects of when I had it and training has been different since then. The level of fatigue you get is different and it's a real challenge.

"I continue to train and prepare the best way I can. Today, who knows what it is? Maybe it's hydration, I don't know, but I've definitely not had this experience. Had something similar at Silverstone but this is way worse."

When asked why he did not to pit at the end of the formation lap, Hamilton said: "Through the formation lap I was just giving the team information. I mean, it was dry through all the corners and I kept telling them 'it's dry, dry, dry, dry' but they said just to stay out.

"I don't really understand but I'm sure it's definitely a mistake from us all but we win and lose as a team and we bear the burden of the mistake together and we just keep fighting, so the team did an amazing job with the strategy, with pitstops, and I just had to make it work out there."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the team – who now lead the constructors' championship – made the right call, however.

"To be honest, I think we did absolutely the right thing," said Wolff. "As a leading car it's always difficult to take the decision.

"These things can happen – I stand absolutely behind the decision to stay out – and that's why I'm fine."

Sebastian Vettel has lost his second-place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix off the four-time world champion, who was also reprimanded for wearing an LGBTQ+ T-shirt during the national anthem.

Esteban Ocon was the shock winner of a thrilling race on Sunday, with Vettel coming in second ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who fought back from last place to take third and leapfrog Max Verstappen at the top of the championship standings.

A dramatic grand prix started with a crash on Turn One, caused in wet conditions by Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who, along with Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Lando Norris (McLaren) was forced to retire from the race.

Hamilton, initially on pole, then dropped back to 14th after he chose not to change his tyres after the formation lap, with the track having dried off while the race had been suspended.

Though Hamilton hit back, overcoming Fernando Alonso in an epic 10-lap tussle before nipping ahead of Carlos Sainz, the seven-time world champion could not get close enough to Vettel.

However, the Briton now takes second place after all, with Vettel, who parked his car on the cool-down lap before heading back to the podium, retrospectively disqualified.

F1's technical regulations state that competitors must ensure a 1.0 litre sample of fuel can be taken from the car at any time.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer had to refer Vettel to the stewards after technicians only managed to retrieve a 0.3l sample.

"After the race it was checked on car number 05 whether a 1.0 litre sample of fuel could be taken from the car," read Bauer's statement. "It was possible to take only a 0.3 litre sample following the procedures laid out in Article 6.6.4 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations.

"Therefore I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration, as this is not in compliance with Article 6.6.2 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations."

Vettel's disqualification also means Sainz takes third place, while Hamilton gains a further two points in the championship standings, with Verstappen rising one place to ninth.

Before the race, Vettel wore a rainbow T-shirt bearing the slogan "same love" during the Hungarian national anthem.

Vettel showed support for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the weekend. The Hungarian government recently introduced fiercely criticised legislation, which has included banning gay people or items seen as promoting homosexuality from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s. Last year, the country's government passed laws that prevent same-sex couples from adopting children and ended legal recognition for gender changes.

Vettel, along with Sainz, Bottas and Stroll, who were wearing "We Race As One" T-shirts, were all reprimanded for keeping the clothing on during the Hungarian national anthem.

FIA guidelines say drivers must "remove their T-shirts and move to their name card position for the national anthem, wearing their race suits".

All four drivers faced the stewards, with a statement confirming: "[Each] driver explained that he forgot to take off the WRAO t-shirt in time during the national anthem because of the onset of rain."

"I'm happy if they disqualify me. They can do whatever they want to me, I don't care," Vettel told Sky Sports prior to the FIA statement.

Mercedes will learn from a costly mistake at the Hungarian Grand Prix according to Lewis Hamilton, who will have to wait a while longer to win his 100th Formula One race.

In a thrilling race on Sunday, Hamilton – who is on 99 career victories – had to charge up through the field just to claim a podium finish at a track where he has won on eight previous occasions.

Hamilton started in pole position, yet a crash at Turn One caused by his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who has been handed a five-place grid penalty for the next event in the season, resulted in the need for the red flag.

Max Verstappen, Hamilton's championship rival, was involved, though the Red Bull driver managed to continue – albeit in a heavily patched up car.

Five other drivers, including Bottas, were not so fortunate, but upon the restart, Mercedes made an error when they advised Hamilton more rain was scheduled to arrive at the Hungaroring. 

However, the skies had cleared and the track had already dried up. With every other remaining driver electing to switch to dry tyres, Hamilton was left as the only car on the starting grid.

Mercedes realised the situation quickly but, by the time Hamilton had pitted, he was stuck last in 14th place, forcing him to battle his way back to secure a quite remarkable third place, behind maiden F1 race winner Esteban Ocon and veteran campaigner Sebastian Vettel.

"Today was definitely tough, we always make it difficult for ourselves," said Hamilton, who looked visibly exhausted on the podium.

"It's crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid at the start, but these things happen and we learn from them. I gave it everything, and I had nothing left at the end.

"I was telling the team how the track was through the formation lap, but they said rain was coming when I got back in the car, so I thought they had other information. I then saw everyone diving in [to the pits].

"We came in this weekend and didn't know how it was going to go and considering the circumstances today, I'll take it."

Hamilton and Mercedes at least had a better race than Red Bull. Sergio Perez was one of the drivers to crash out, along with Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll and Lando Norris, while Verstappen just scraped into the points in 10th.

It means Hamilton now holds a six-point lead over Verstappen at the top of the drivers' standings, while Mercedes also top the constructors' championship heading into an extended mid-season break, with the next race – in Belgium – scheduled for August 29.

"Again, taken out by a Mercedes, it's not what you want. From then on, I was missing the whole side of my car, the floor was damaged as well, it was almost impossible to drive to be honest. I still tried my best and I scored one point, it is at least something, but of course not what you want," Verstappen told Sky Sports.

"No, it's not [a reset]. These moments, they're just disappointing but I know that when we go again after the break I will be there again. I hope my car is going to be competitive, we'll find out.

"It's a lot of freak moments at the moment that have cost us a lot of points. We will never give up, we have to focus on ourselves, we'll keep pushing and see where we end up."

Ocon, meanwhile, was overjoyed to seal his first ever F1 race triumph. The 24-year-old Frenchman secured Alpine's maiden victory under its new name, and its first as a team since Kimi Raikkonen won the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.

"What a moment," Ocon said. "We've had some difficult moments this season, but we are back where we belong.

"Sebastian put me under big pressure but we managed to keep him off, so it's a great moment."

Lewis Hamilton was denied a 100th Formula One race win but charged up from last to finish on the podium in a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix, leapfrogging championship leader Max Verstappen in the process.

There was chaos from the off at the Hungaroring, where Esteban Ocon triumphed to hand Alpine an unlikely victory.

Like two weeks ago at Silverstone, the race was suspended after a collision at Turn One. Unlike on that occasion, Hamilton – who started in pole has he hunted a record ninth win in Hungary – was not involved, but Verstappen was.

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was at fault, with five drivers forced out in total. 

Verstappen survived, albeit with a damaged car, and an apparent mistake from Mercedes after the restart sent Hamilton down from first to last.

Yet the seven-time world champion battled back, leaving Verstappen – who just scraped into the points – well in his wake as he took top spot in the championship standings while Ocon celebrated a maiden F1 success.

After the furore at Silverstone, the pre-race build-up was dominated by talk of possible danger at Turn One, and so it came as little surprise when, in wet and greasy conditions, Bottas failed to judge the timing of when to brake.

Bottas, who was given a five-place grid penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc were all out by the time the red flag was raised, with Lando Norris, on a 15-race streak of finishing in the points, also unable to continue.

There was more drama to come. After the restart formation lap, only Hamilton started from the grid, with all other 14 drivers choosing to switch tyres as the rain eased off and the track dried.

By the time he had pitted, Hamilton had fallen to last.

The 36-year-old recovered, getting the better of Antonio Giovinazzi before, on the 21st lap, undercutting Verstappen, who was held up by Daniel Ricciardo's sluggish exit from the pit lane.

Hamilton continued his charge up the field, and at one stage it seemed like an incredible victory could be on the cards.

However, his push was held up by Fernando Alonso, who expertly held his own in a thrilling 10-lap tussle.

A frustrated Hamilton finally got beyond his former McLaren team-mate on lap 65, with Carlos Sainz's efforts to hold onto third proving fruitless.

Hamilton's remarkable run stopped there and, though a milestone success on the track where he won his first Mercedes triumph in 2013 alluded him, he has the championship lead.

Alonso's defence ultimately ensured victory for Alpine team-mate Ocon, with Sebastian Vettel holding off Hamilton to seal a second podium finish of the season.

IN THE POINTS

1. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.918 seconds
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +2.540s
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +15.018s
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +15.651s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1:03.614s
7. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1:15.803s
8. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +1:17.910s
9. George Russell (Williams) +1:19.094s
10. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1:20.244s 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 192
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 186
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 113
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 108
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 300
2. Red Bull – 290
3. McLaren – 163
4. Ferrari – 160
5. Alpine – 75

Lewis Hamilton was shocked by Mercedes' superiority in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix as he continued to apply pressure to world championship leader Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

Hamilton closed the gap in the standings to eight points after his controversial win at Silverstone last time out, where a collision between the seven-time world champion and Verstappen on the opening lap led to the latter retiring.

The fallout from that flashpoint has dominated the build-up to this race and Hamilton was booed by spectators after securing pole position for Sunday's race at the Hungaroring.

Valtteri Bottas closed out a Mercedes front row, with that dominance surprising Hamilton given his team have spent much of the season to date grappling with the problem of Red Bull's superior speed.

"Definitely, definitely not," Hamilton said when asked whether he had expected to be faster than Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who qualified fourth.

"This is a track that they’ve been very strong at for a long time. And given the improvements they made earlier on this year, we thought that we obviously closed the gap a little bit in the last race but we thought they would still have a little bit of an edge.

"We saw today that they changed from their big wing to their smaller wing today. Whether or not that’s hampered them, I don’t know but yeah, it was definitely a real surprise to see us have that sort of pace on them. Of course we’re happy with that."

Mercedes are just four points shy of Red Bull in the constructors' standings and Hamilton is glad to have Bottas for company on the front row as he plots the path to what would be the 100th victory of his F1 career.

"Valtteri did an astonishing job, really boosting the team into the front row, which is honestly… I don’t remember the last time we had a front row together," he added.

"So super positive and it's all down to the amazing work back at the factory and the men and women here are doing a phenomenal job and with everything going on around us, in the outside world and everything.

"People are just staying focused and staying centred and I’m really proud of everyone."

Max Verstappen has angrily hit out at the continued questioning he and Lewis Hamilton are receiving after their Silverstone clash.

Hamilton, who is on pole for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, received a controversial 10-second time penalty having collided with title rival Verstappen on the opening lap at the British Grand Prix last time out.

But while Verstappen was forced to retire from the race and sent to hospital for checks, Hamilton recovered from his punishment and went on to record a famous win that reignited his labouring championship bid.
 
A fierce war of words followed as Red Bull criticised Hamilton and race stewards for what had transpired.

But two weeks on in Hungary, Verstappen has been unimpressed at repeated questions on the matter.

He then hit out when he was asked after qualifying how he and Hamilton would approach the start of this race if they end up wheel-to-wheel once more.

Standings leader Verstappen, who starts third behind Valtteri Bottas and ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, cut off the question at a news conference for the top three drivers.

"Can we just already stop about this because we've had so many f*****g questions about this," he said

"It's just ridiculous, honestly. The whole Thursday we've been answering this stupid s**t all the time. 

"So can we just stop about it please? We are racers. We will race. And, of course, we are going to race hard but fair. We'll just be pushing each other."

As the fallout from the British GP incident continues, Hamilton was booed by the Hungary crowd during qualifying and after recording the fastest time on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver told fans at the circuit they had "fuelled" his success as he seeks a 100th career Formula One win.

Asked about the booing, Verstappen said: "What do you want me to say? It is not correct, of course, but at the end of the day I think we are drivers. 

"We shouldn't get disturbed by these kind of things. You should anyway just focus on what you have to do and that's deliver in the car. 

"Luckily we wear helmets actually when driving. When it matters you don't hear anything. That's maybe a bit different to other sports, probably we are quite lucky with that.

"Of course, it's not nice but it shouldn't influence any of us. I think we are all very professional."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was in a jovial mood after his team's qualifying success and he was shown Verstappen's comments as part of an interview with Sky Sports.

Asked what he thought would happen at the first corner, he joked fifth-placed Pierre Gasly could be primed to benefit from another Mercedes-Red Bull clash.

"Let’s see what happens, I think it's going to be an exciting start," Wolff said.

"Maybe Gasly leads after turn one and all four cars are out! 

"I'm just joking, I hope not. But it will be an exciting turn one and for sure from the strategy, we will see some interesting manoeuvres.

"But if I start teaching my drivers about how to approach turn one, it has actually completely gone off the rails.

"It [the rivalry] is exciting. You guys and everybody needs headlines and that keeps the sport interesting. It keeps stitching us up! But none of them has lost respect for each other, so let's see what happens."

Verstappen's lead in the standings has been cut to eight points, while Red Bull are just four clear in the constructors' championship.

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