Sergio Perez won an extraordinary Monaco Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc endured more misery in his home race on Sunday.

Perez claimed his first victory on the streets of Monte Carlo ahead of Carlos Sainz after a late start due to heavy rain and the loss of further time following a big crash for Mick Schumacher, who was fortunate to walk away unharmed.

Leclerc had started on pole but could only finish fourth after paying the price for poor Ferrari pit-stop strategies and so Max Verstappen extended his lead over the Monegasque to nine points in the battle for the title after taking third.

Verstappen’s Red Bull-mate Perez took the chequered flag in the sun on lap 64, as there was not enough time to complete the full 77 in the Principality as a result of the poor weather earlier in the day.

There was eventually a rolling start behind the safety car an hour and 10 minutes after the race was due to begin, with the red flag having earlier been waved during a deluge.

Leclerc maintained his lead ahead of team-mate Sainz on a drying track ahead of a Red Bull duo of Perez and Verstappen.

Perez pitted from fourth place for a set of intermediate tyres before both Leclerc and Verstappen came in for intermediates.

Leclerc was not happy when he was called in again at the same time as Sainz for hard tyres only three laps later, with Red Bull also opting for a double stack soon after and it was Perez who was leading after a string of pit stops.

The second-placed Sainz produced a great save to avoid crashing into the barriers on a wet part of the track, but the virtual safety car was deployed and subsequently another red flag following a big smash for Schumacher on lap 26.

Leclerc found himself in fourth behind Verstappen following some puzzling decision-making from the Scuderia and there were only 40 minutes of racing to go when the race restarted again on a significantly drier track.

Mexican Perez fended off Sainz to celebrate his first victory of the season. George Russell was fifth, with his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton only eighth behind Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso.

Charles Leclerc was "incredibly happy" to claim pole position in Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, leading a Ferrari one-two – although Carlos Sainz felt he could have pipped his team-mate if not for a dramatic crash.

Monegasque driver Leclerc qualified fastest at his home race after the final session was cut short due to a red flag.

Sergio Perez hit the barrier, prompting a yellow flag that Sainz saw only in time to brake as he careered into the Red Bull.

That brought a premature end to proceedings but ensured a fine result for Ferrari and, in particular, Leclerc, who secured a precious pole; while he has converted only four of his 13 previous poles into wins, some 15 of the past 17 winners in Monaco have started from the front row, including 12 from first place.

For Leclerc to add his name to the list of winners, he will have to overcome an awful record which has seen him never manage to finish the Monaco race. Despite taking pole last year, his car also crashed heavily in qualifying, and it meant Leclerc could not take an active part on race day.

This time it could be a different story.

"It is very special. I'm so incredibly happy," Leclerc said. "It's been a very smooth weekend until now – I knew the pace was in the car; I just had to do the job, and it went perfectly.

"That last lap, before the red flag, was really, really good, but it didn't change anything for us."

That may be true for Leclerc, but Sainz felt he was on course to top the timesheets prior to the collision with Perez.

"It's a shame – another year that a red flag cost us the end of a session, and we could not go for pole position," he said, "but it's typical Monaco."

Sainz added: "I think we are in a great position to score a great result for the team. The car has been amazing all weekend, so we'll go for it."

Perez still qualified in third, ahead of an out-of-sorts Max Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton's practice woes shifted only enough for him to make eighth before his final flying lap was halted.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:11.376
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.225s
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.253s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.290s
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.473s
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.736s
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.871s
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.184s
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.356s
10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +1.671s

Lewis Hamilton suggested the problems with his Mercedes W13 were being exacerbated in Monaco on "the bumpiest track I've ever driven".

Seven-time Formula One champion Hamilton has endured a difficult season, complaining right from the outset about his "bouncing" 2022 car.

There had been some signs of progress in recent weeks, however, with Hamilton finishing fifth in Barcelona despite a first-lap puncture.

But things have taken another turn for the worse for the Silver Arrows in Monaco, where Hamilton finished in P10 in Friday's first practice session and P12 in the second.

The circuit itself has contributed, the Briton says, as he said: "Firstly, it's the bumpiest the track [has] ever been. It's probably the bumpiest track I've ever driven.

"So, one, that makes it difficult, and two, just generally our car bounces a lot.

"It's different bouncing to what we've experienced in the past; it's in the low speed also, but it's not aero[-related]. I think the bumps on the track just make it worse.

"I'm not really having to learn the track differently, just fighting the car. To put a lap together is... wow, holy c**p! I don't remember experiencing it like that before."

Team-mate George Russell was only a little better in P8 and P6, beaten in both sessions by McLaren's Lando Norris (P5 twice).

"I'm a little bit surprised to say we're ahead of Mercedes," Norris said. "I expected them to maybe be ahead of us at the minute.

"But the plan is to be ahead of them, and if we can be, I'll be very happy with that."

Yet McLaren colleague Daniel Ricciardo has work to do after hitting the barrier in FP2.

"We pushed a little too far probably in a couple areas with the set-up," Ricciardo said. "We had a good morning, and obviously you try a few things for FP2 to try to maximise a bit more performance, but let's say we overstepped it – you don't know until you try it.

"It was my first lap, so I couldn't really get much of a read on it; it happened straight away.

"I tried my best to save it, but I couldn't. We missed all of the session, but I'm okay. We'll be ready to go tomorrow."

Lewis Hamilton says his fifth-placed finish at the Spanish Grand Prix felt "better than a win" after he recovered from a first-lap puncture that left him in 19th position.

Starting from P6, Hamilton suffered the puncture following contact from Haas driver Kevin Magnussen on the first lap in Barcelona and suggested to his Mercedes team he should retire from the race to preserve the car's engine after rejoining at the back of the field.

But the seven-time champion produced an excellent drive after his enforced pit-stop and looked on course to finish fourth before a coolant leak allowed Ferrari's Carlos Sainz to edge him out late on.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton considered the circumstances he was forced to overcome en route to a strong points finish.

"To have that problem and come back, it felt like some of the older races I've done," Hamilton said. "It feels amazing.

"I was thinking it was impossible to get back into points, but the team said 'no, you're on for eighth'. I thought they were being super-optimistic.

"I'm glad we didn't [retire] and it just shows you never stop and never give up, and that's what I did.

"A race like that is like a win, and it actually feels better than a win when you have come from so far back."

Since losing out on a record eighth world title in the closing seconds of the final race of the 2021 campaign, when Max Verstappen clinched his first championship in controversial circumstances, Hamilton has endured a frustrating time.

The 37-year-old, who has only secured one podium this campaign, has been critical of Mercedes' W13 car on numerous occasions this year, calling it "undriveable" after finishing 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last month. 

But Hamilton believes the team's work on the car has improved it greatly, and he suggested he could have joined team-mate George Russell – in third – in challenging the two Red Bull drivers, who secured their second one-two in three races, if not for his early problems.

"We have made a lot of improvements with the car and the race pace is much better, the car is much nicer in the race," he added. "We have some improvements to make in qualifying.

"If I hadn't had that [issue], I would have been fighting with the Red Bulls."

Max Verstappen recovered from an early spin to win a dramatic Spanish Grand Prix and take the championship lead after Charles Leclerc retired.

Leclerc looked set to increase his advantage over Verstappen in searing heat at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but the Ferrari driver's race was over when he lost power while leading comfortably on lap 23.

Verstappen had been in the gravel on lap nine and also suffered DRS issues, but the Dutchman led a Red Bull one-two for his third consecutive win to move above Leclerc in the driver standings after Sergio Perez let him through under team orders on lap 49 of 66.

George Russell finished third, with his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton worked his way back through the field to take fifth place behind Carlos Sainz despite suffering a puncture on the first lap.

Leclerc got a good start to retain his lead, but Hamilton's miserable start to the season was summed up when his he made contact with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen - who went into the gravel - at Turn 4 on the opening lap.

Hamilton limped to the pits with a front-left puncture and was told to continue after suggesting over the team radio that he retires from the race, having returned to the track in 19th place.

Sainz was back in 11th after spinning off at Turn 4 on lap seven and Verstappen was in the gravel at the same section of the circuit two laps later, dropping back from second to fourth.

Russell pitted from second place and Verstappen was also called in on lap 14, with Leclerc leading by over nine seconds.

Verstappen was furious as he was hampered by DRS issues attempting to pass Russell, who fended the Dutchman off to keep second place as they went wheel-to-wheel.

It was all going so well for Leclerc until he lost power with a win there for the taking and Perez soon passed Russell on fresher tyres to take the lead after Verstappen pitted for a new set of softs.

Verstappen was out in front on lap 38 after team-mate Perez and Russell pitted for mediums, then a quick stop for the defending champion put him back on track in third place behind his team-mate.

Perez allowed Verstappen to pass him under team orders and there were no further twists in a pulsating race, with a surging Hamilton passing Sainz to finish fourth until a late technical issue caused him to concede the place back.

Lewis Hamilton was "a little bit gutted" by qualifying sixth for the Spanish Grand Prix but is confident Mercedes can challenge Ferrari on race day. 

Mercedes have endured a dismal start to the season and struggled to match the pace of the Red Bulls and Ferraris, with Hamilton's only podium coming when he finished third in Bahrain. 

There have been significant signs of improvement at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – where Charles Leclerc pipped Max Verstappen to pole – but the seven-time champion was still outqualified by team-mate George Russell, who will start from fourth. 

However, Hamilton hopes to be able to mix it with the Ferraris ahead of him on Sunday. 

"The team have done a great job so a big, big thank you to everyone for keeping pushing back at the factory because we don't have bouncing in a straight line, which is a huge improvement for us. And the car has generally been nicer this weekend," Hamilton told Sky Sports. 

"I am a little bit gutted [being sixth] because I want to be further up ahead, and you've obviously seen George is able to put it up further ahead than me, but I will keep pushing. 

"[Friday practice] was our best race pace that we've had so if we could start racing with the Ferraris, for example, that would be amazing. 

"I think the Red Bulls look like they might be quickest but we look like we could maybe compete with the Ferraris tomorrow and that is a big step for us." 

Team principal Toto Wolff thinks the bouncing issues that have plagued Mercedes being solved has primed them to make further strides as the season continues. 

"I think we have taken a solid step into Barcelona. You try to keep your expectations at a realistic point and I think where we slotted in is somehow the best we could have expected," said Wolff. 

"My belief is we have a race car more than a qualifying car, but we're going to see tomorrow how it went for the others. I think with Red Bull, they always have the tendency of being much stronger in the race than the Ferraris. 

"We know how to unlock more performance, but we're not yet there. It's step by step. The other teams have continued to develop their cars when we've been in a sort of pause moment to find out about the bouncing. 

"So we can pick up the regular development as soon as we understand the tyres now the bouncing is gone." 

Charles Leclerc recovered from a Q3 spin to take pole as Max Verstappen was left to rue a DRS failure in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. 

Ferrari driver Leclerc span out at turn 14 on his first flying lap but produced an immense time with his next and only completed attempt, to ensure he will start from the front of the grid. 

All four of the Monegasque driver's Formula One victories have come after starting on pole. Some 28 of the past 31 winners at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya qualified on the front row.

Verstappen aborted his final lap after reporting a loss of power, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner confirming to Sky Sports that was due to a DRS issue. 

The Dutchman will consequently start from second, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in third.

"I feel good. It was a difficult session, especially in Q3 because I made a mistake in the first run and then only had one lap," said Leclerc.

"But it went extremely well, I had a few moments but made it stick and very happy with pole position. It was a very good lap and the car was amazing too, so very happy.

"We've been struggling with tyres in the last few races compared to Red Bull, so Max is just behind. If we don't manage those tyres we will lose that advantage, so we need to get on top of it.

"I hope we can do a one-two. It will be great for the team and we will give it our all."

Verstappen acknowledged he may not have been able to beat Leclerc's time but still felt second was a good return for the team.

"It's always difficult to tell, I couldn't do my final run. Either the DRS didn't open or I just lost power," he said.

"It's a bit of a shame, but overall to be on the front row here looking at the whole weekend here, it's a good achievement, but I'd have liked to go for that final run.

"Hopefully, our car will be a bit kinder on the tyres again, but it's difficult to tell at the moment."

Sainz added: "I think everything is possible tomorrow. We are definitely going to try our best to get ahead at the start and lead from there, but it wasn't the ideal qualifying because I couldn't set a good lap on the used tyre."

George Russell was fourth and Lewis Hamilton qualified sixth as Mercedes' record run of nine straight poles in Barcelona came to an end.

Mick Schumacher will start 10th after making it through to Q3 for the first time in his career, while home favourite Fernando Alonso was eliminated in Q1 alongside the two controversially remodelled Aston Martins.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:18.750
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.323s
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.416s
4. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.643s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.670s
6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.762s
7. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.858s
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +0.932s
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.547s
10. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +1.618s

Lewis Hamilton was "super happy" after a promising practice session for Mercedes ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton and his team-mate George Russell recorded two of the best three times in FP2, behind Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was fastest across both practice sessions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Mercedes were also quicker than Red Bull down the straights, which has not been the case so far in a frustrating season for the team.

Russell is fourth in the drivers' standings, two places ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton, who has not held back in his criticism of Mercedes so far this season.

But on Friday, he was in a much better mood.

"Positive," he told reporters. "Super happy with the progress, so a big, big, big thank you to everyone back at the factory for not giving up and for continuing to push.

"We're not the quickest yet, but we're on our way. This is the first time that we've driven down the straight without bouncing.

"We still have some bouncing, but it's way better and [we're] starting to eke out a bit of the potential in that car.

"It's still tough out there with the car but it's much nicer than it's been before. So yeah, really grateful for those upgrades – we now need to just fine-tune them into the next session.

"Lots of data to go over to try and position the car, I think we can get it into a better place for tomorrow so that we can tackle the heels of the guys up ahead."

Toto Wolff added: "We've had a second solid Friday like we had in Miami, just we have to see when the grip keeps coming tomorrow, whether we're able to keep that kind of performance and at least be in the mix or solid in the top three.

"So, progress, but not exuberance and ecstasy."

Fernando Alonso claims seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton now knows how the other drivers feel, as Mercedes struggle to keep up with the pace-setters this season.

Hamilton, 37, won six of the seven titles leading into the 2021 season, but he appears incapable of getting back to the mountain top just now, with Mercedes so much slower than Ferrari and Red Bull.

Alonso, 40, won back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, and after a strong run with Ferrari in the early 2010s, he struggled mightily after his move to McLaren, finishing 17th, 10th, 15th and 11th from 2015 to 2018.

After trying his hand at other racing disciplines in 2019 and 2020, Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021, where he is now partnered with Esteban Ocon as the two battle it out in the midfield with a car that cannot compete for wins.

Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Alonso highlighted how often the success of a driver can be out of their hands, and expressed only limited sympathy for Hamilton's struggles this season.

"This is the nature of the sport," Alonso said. "Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress.

"This year we see that the driver is very important in F1, but not crucial. Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and 100-and-something pole positions.

"Now he is doing a mega lap – as he said in Australia or somewhere like that – and he is one second behind. So, yeah – welcome."

Alonso compared his championship years to Hamilton's, saying often the true stars of the team are behind the scenes, while the drivers get to soak in all the glory.

"To have more than 100 pole positions in F1 is something unthinkable. You need to have the best car and package for many, many years," Alonso said.

"He deserves everything he's achieved in the past, but this year is a good reminder that in all those records and numbers, there is a big part on what you have in your hands as a package in the car."

In a show of respect for this generation's most successful driver, Alonso predicted Hamilton will rebound from a slow start and finish ahead of team-mate George Russell this season.

"George has been very fast in the last few years and I think everyone was expecting him to be a tough competitor for Lewis," Alonso said. "But I still believe Lewis will eventually finish the championship in front.

"This is just a five-race championship [so far], but eventually when things are more tricky or [there are] difficult situations, Lewis will still have more experience and maybe more talent."

Formula One's governing body the FIA could have taken a "different approach" to enforce the jewellery ban on drivers, even if it is right to impose the ruling.

That is the message from Alex Wurz, who is regularly involved in education on driver safety in his role as Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) chairman.

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, reminded drivers at the Australian Grand Prix in early April that the FIA's code prohibits drivers wearing jewellery in the car.

Wittich reiterated the same message before the Miami Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton was embroiled in a stand-off with the FIA over piercings that he has raced with for years and says he cannot remove.

The FIA prohibits wearing body piercings or neck chains in competition, but offered Hamilton a two-race grace period to remove all of his jewellery before the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who agreed to remove his earrings in the car for the Miami race, insisted Formula One risks taking "a step backwards" with "bigger fish to fry" in the sport.

Wurz believes the ruling, which has been in place since 2004, should be enforced, but suggested the FIA could have handled the matter in a different fashion.

"It is a rule for the right reasons," said ex-driver Wurz. "I would have probably liked a slightly different approach of how to deliver the message.

"I don't want to end up in football where there are more hands in the air and verbal abuse...you have to work together. It's a style I would have preferred in this case."

Wurz also said he could not forget a talk he attended in his younger days by Danish former driver Kris Nissen, who had a serious crash involving a fire accident at the Fuji circuit in Japan in 1988.

"He showed his body and said 'look at this'," Wurz added.

"For him the absolute most painful thing after fire, and it wasn't a long fire, was the rubber [elastic] in his normal pants being burnt into the skin. He said [it was] for years agony and pain. And it educated me.

"At this moment I said I don't want to live these consequences, only for [not] taking my pants off and putting fireproof underpants on. The same with jewellery."

Formula One next heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff has refused to rule out the team reverting to an older car concept as they continue to trail Red Bull and Ferrari after enduring a poor start to the season.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and sixth respectively at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday as the team's difficult start to the 2022 campaign continued, leading Wolff to declare Mercedes were "in no man's land" as the third-fastest outfit on the grid.

Both drivers have criticised the feel of the team's W13 car after managing just one podium finish apiece this term, with seven-time drivers' champion Hamilton asserting the team were yet to take a "step forward" after a troubled start to the season.

Mercedes' eight-year run of constructors' championships now looks destined to come to an end, with Ferrari possessing a slender lead over Red Bull in the team standings after five races.

Speaking after reigning world champion Max Verstappen claimed victory in Florida, Wolff said a return to the car concept used during pre-season testing at Barcelona could not be ruled out, despite it being "clearly much slower on paper".

However, Wolff said the team's focus had to be on making the current iteration of the car work.

"We need to find out how we can make the current car work predictably for the drivers," he said.

"I wouldn't discount anything. But we need to give all of our people that have produced great race cars in the past the benefit of the doubt and we believe this is the route to go.

"We are faithful to the current concept. We're not looking at the lady next door [to see] if we like it more or not, because it's still good. 

"We need to understand, before we make a decision on another concept – where did this one go wrong? And what is the goodness of the concept and what is the badness of the concept?"

Lewis Hamilton was frustrated to be asked to make the call on whether to pit under a virtual safety car during the Miami Grand Prix. 

It seemed like Hamilton would take advantage of the opportunity to switch onto fresh tyres after Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly collided, as team-mate George Russell did. 

However, Mercedes appeared to dither on whether to pit the seven-time champion, who eventually opted to stay out on the hard compound. 

Hamilton ended up being overtaken by Russell in the closing stages and finished directly behind him in sixth, with the two Ferraris coming between race winner Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. 

The Mercedes driver did not understand why he was left to make the call on whether to pit or not. 

"In that scenario [the virtual safety car], I have no clue where everyone is, so when the team say it's your choice, I don't have the information to make the decision," Hamilton told Sky Sports. 

"That's what your job is, make the decision for me; you've got all the details, I don't. So, that's what you rely on the guys for, but today they gave it to me and I didn't understand it. 

"But anyway, it's just been a bit unfortunate with the safety car, but at least we got points today. We're finishing, reliability is good. I'm excited to at some stage to take a step forward, which we haven't yet." 

Team principal Toto Wolff revealed Mercedes are struggling for morale as the usually dominant team continue to find themselves quite a distance behind Red Bull and Ferrari this season.

"George stayed out a long time, and we were betting on a safety car for him and that materialised from nowhere, but it went against Lewis, who lost a position," said Wolff. 

"At the end of the day, there's no happy or not happy moment at the moment. It's just a bit down. We're third quickest on the road, which is no man's land. This is where we are. 

"We're not as quick in qualifying sometimes, and you have the outliers, and we go back to where we are, which is behind the Red Bulls and Ferrari." 

Russell, who failed to get out of Q2 on Saturday and started 12th, believes Mercedes do have a good car this year but are yet to find a way to get it working well for them.

"It was mixed feelings. Based on [Saturday] it was a good result. We have a fast race car in there, we don't have the key to unlock it. There's more to do," he said. 

"It's frustrating, but I'm sure we'll get there at some point. 

"It's good, when you battle with your team-mate, you show more respect, give more space. I enjoyed it. I think there's good respect between us. I was pushing as hard as I could." 

Max Verstappen sealed his second straight Formula One win by getting the better of Charles Leclerc at the maiden Miami Grand Prix. 

Reigning champion Verstappen – who started in third – got past Carlos Sainz and pole-sitter Leclerc in the early stages and never looked back. 

It was not entirely plain sailing for the Red Bull driver, with a safety car deployed after Lando Norris collided with Pierre Gasly seeing his seven-second advantage evaporate. 

Leclerc was on Verstappen's tail thereafter, but the Dutchman got out of DRS range by setting the fastest lap and cut the Monegasque's championship lead to 19 points. 

Verstappen got away well at lights out and dived down the outside of Sainz at Turn One, while DRS helped him reel in Leclerc by lap nine. 

Leclerc was unable to retaliate with the Ferrari lacking pace on the straights, and Verstappen gradually established a lead of almost eight seconds. 

The collision between Norris and Gasly, which forced both drivers to retire, initially brought out a virtual safety car on lap 41 of 57, but that was quickly upgraded to a full safety car. 

Neither Verstappen nor Leclerc were able to get into the pits quick enough for fresh tyres, but the Ferrari man was seemingly energised by having the Red Bull back in his sights. 

However, after failing to make a move, Leclerc started to lose time and Verstappen took the chequered flag in relative comfort.

Lewis Hamilton has hit back at Helmut Marko's suggestion he should have retired last year, calling the Red Bull advisor's words "disrespectful" and pledging to use any criticism thrown his way as "fuel".

Hamilton has made a poor start to the 2022 campaign after losing the drivers' championship title to Max Verstappen in a thrilling conclusion to the 2021 season, finishing 13th at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix last time out.

After the seven-time world champion was lapped by Verstappen at Imola, Marko, who made nine Formula One starts in his own racing career in the early 1970s before being made blind in one eye by an accident, suggested Hamilton might be regretting his decision to participate this season.

"I mean, he was lapped by us, so I don't know," Marko told Sky Sports F1 in the aftermath of the race. "Maybe he is thinking he should have stopped last year."

On the eve of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton said such comments will only motivate him to get back to top form.

"People always love you when you're up, and love to kick you when you're down. It's a part of life," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"Naturally, I've seen some people I've grown up admiring as a kid and even in the sport, that have come out with some things, some disrespectful, or not particularly respectful of my name.

"For me, I have to make sure I use that as fuel. I'm putting that into the pot, and I'm going to turn that into a positive and come back stronger. We are going to come back stronger as a team.

"Four bad races, or five, six, seven, 10 bad races… is not going to stop me doing what I love doing. It's not going to stop me in my tracks.

"I've been racing for 29 years and I've had way more difficult times than this and bounced back. It's not how you fall, it's how you get up.

"Nothing you say or do is going to stop me in my tracks."

Hamilton sits seventh in the drivers' championship standings after four races of the new season, having recorded just one podium finish so far this term.

 

Lewis Hamilton warned Formula One risks taking "a step backwards" if governing body FIA continues to impose "unnecessary" jewellery regulations on drivers.

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, reminded drivers at the Australian Grand Prix in early April that the FIA's code prohibits drivers wearing jewellery in the car.

Hamilton still competed in Melbourne with piercings in both ears and a nose stud, and Wittich has reiterated the rulings ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix this weekend.

Wittich explained that wearing jewellery under flameproof clothing can reduce protection and increase the risk of burn damage, but Hamilton remains staunch in his refusal to conform to the FIA's demands.

"I couldn't get any more jewellery on today," the Mercedes star told reporters on Friday.

"But I don't really have a lot more to add than what I already said the last time I was in front of you guys and we spoke about it.

"I feel it's almost like a step backwards. If you think of the steps we're taking as a sport and the more important issues and causes that we need to be focused on and really pushing.

"I think we've made such great strides as a sport. Look, we're here in Miami. This is such a small thing – I've been in the sport for 16 years, I've been wearing jewellery for 16 years.

"In the car I only ever have my earrings on and my nose ring, which I can't even remove. So it seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat."

The jewellery ban has been in place since 2004, but Wittich made a special effort to stress the rule in his pre-race notes in Melbourne before reaffirming his demands in the United States.

Hamilton also revealed he has reached out to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, although he is yet to get through, to try to find a resolution and encourage greater attention on more important matters.

"I am willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them if necessary," the seven-time world champion added. "It is about individuality and being who you are.

"I did try calling Mohammed this morning and I think he was super busy but I sent him a message. I wanted to reassure him and said: 'I want to be an ally. I don't want to fight with you guys over this.'

"It has never been a safety issue in the past. If they stop me, we have a spare driver. There are lots of things to do here."

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly was quick to back Hamilton.

"I do believe there are bigger things to focus on," Gasly said. "I appreciate the FIA are looking after our safety.

"But in my case I am religious and there are things I have with me that I do not feel comfortable not having in the car.

"In the end, we are the ones who go out there and put our lives at risk and I do feel it should be a personal choice. I hope in the end we could find a better solution than this very strict one."

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