Max Verstappen was thrilled to join team-mate Sergio Perez in locking out the front row at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Red Bull, following a week of controversy.

Championship winner Verstappen attracted criticism in Sao Paulo last week after refusing a team order to let Perez pass on the final lap.

Lack of teamwork was not an issue in Saturday's Abu Dhabi qualifying, however, with Verstappen helping Perez to second place, while securing for himself a third consecutive Yas Marina circuit pole position.

"It was a bit up and down qualifying, started off quite well, Q2 was a little bit more messy, I don't know why. I couldn't quite get the grip together," Verstappen said.

"In Q3 it all felt a bit more normal, though we had a bit of a scare as the car turned off before the first run, so we had to reboot everything.

"We're very pleased and very happy that both cars are on the front row. Of course, we want to win the race, but we also want to finish second with Perez in the championship, so that's a great start for tomorrow.

"It always sounds great, today was amazing, I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow but at least we have two cars there, so we can do what we want."

Perez specifically mentioned the teamwork conducted with Verstappen, who finished 0.228 seconds in front of the Mexican.

"I didn't make the final step in Q3, especially in the first run, so we were a bit behind, but it's good to lock out the front row tomorrow. Max did a great job for me, we worked as a team really strongly in that final run," Perez said.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third quickest, clocking in just 0.04 seconds behind Perez, and team-mate Carlos Sainz took fourth on the grid.

"It's the place we deserve, Red Bull were stronger," said Leclerc. "We are still in quite a good position, it's going to be close to Perez for sure.

"I'm sure we can work with Carlos, I have no doubt in that, we'll try to maximise the team result. Red Bull is a bit stronger on a Sunday, so it's going to be tricky, but hopefully we can do it and get second place in the championships."

Max Verstappen has described media coverage of his disagreement with Sergio Perez at the Brazilian Grand Prix as "ridiculous", saying he and his family received "disgusting" abuse after the incident. 

Last week, Verstappen infuriated Perez by defying orders to give up sixth position to aid his Red Bull team-mate in his battle to finish second in the drivers' championship.

Having said Verstappen's move showed "who he really is" over team radio, Perez went further in his criticism of the world champion after the race, declaring: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me".

On Thursday, Red Bull released a statement acknowledging the team's mistakes in Sao Paulo, claiming Verstappen had been placed "in a compromising situation with little time to react".

The team also condemned "shocking and saddening" online abuse directed towards both drivers and their families, saying: "At the end of the day this is a sport, we are here to race. Death threats, hate mail and vitriol towards extended family members is deplorable."

Speaking at a press conference to preview the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Thursday, Verstappen defended his actions in Brazil and hit out at those who blamed him for the incident. 

"We had a bit of a miscommunication on Saturday and Sunday, nothing had been said to me about a potential swap," Verstappen said.

"It was only coming into that last lap that it was said on the radio, and they should have known my response already from what I said the week before. 

"After that race we had some good discussion, we put everything on the table, and everything has been solved.

"In hindsight, we should have had that conversation earlier because I have never been a bad team-mate to anyone. I've always been very helpful, and the team knows that.

"After that race, I looked very bad in the media but they also didn't have the clear picture, but to immediately put me down is pretty ridiculous to be honest. 

"Because they don't know how I work within the team and what the team appreciates about me, so all the things I have read are pretty disgusting.

"And even more than that, they started attacking my family, threatening my sister, my mum, my girlfriend and my dad. That goes way too far while you don't have the facts of what's going on. For me, that has to stop.

"If you have a problem with me, that's fine but don't go after my family because that is just unacceptable. We move on. Honestly, I have a great relationship with Checo. But I just don't understand when people don't have the full picture, to immediately start attacking me like that.

"I'm just a bit fed up with all this bull**** going around all the time. At the end of the day, I haven't done anything wrong, people just misunderstood what was going on."

Perez, meanwhile, told Sky Sports he wished to move on from the incident after discussing it with Verstappen.

"We have discussed everything internally," he said. "There's been a lot of speculation on social media, a lot of hate, that is not nice to see.

"We're just ready to move on as a team. What happened there, we discussed it, and we're ready to move on as a team."

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez's disagreement at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix has left former world champion Jenson Button "amazed" over potential discord in the Red Bull garage.

The pair were involved in late drama during Sunday's race, when the Dutchman defied team orders and refused to cede a place to his team-mate in the closing stages at Interlagos.

Vertsappen, who has wrapped up a second consecutive drivers' championship already, denied Perez the chance to move second in the standings ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with his move.

The incident prompted cryptic but heated comments from both men, and now Button - who won the 2009 title with Brawn - has mused on the reasons behind their spat.

"I'm more amazed by [Perez's] comment, I love it, 'Shows who he really is'," Button said on the Sky Sports programme Any Driven Monday.

"It's a tricky one because we just hear one side of it, we don't hear what his reasons are.

"It doesn't come across well, and when you hear his comments saying 'No I'm not letting him past, I've got my reasons', if we don't hear the reasons we think Max is being selfish, he's not thinking about the team or his team-mate.

"I did see something in the media, I don't know if it's factual, but I think he was very upset about the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying where [Perez] ended up in the wall.

"Maybe that's his reason for not wanting to give the place up, because it hurt his qualifying in Monaco and maybe he thought [Perez] found the wall easier than he should have."

A qualifying crash for Perez prevented a potential pole position for Verstappen in Monaco, where the Mexican ultimately went on to win.

It has been suggested the Dutchman's actions have been in response to that, though Perez has since respected team orders on multiple occasions to give his fellow Red Bull man a race advantage this season.

Lewis Hamilton is "not concerned" about racing against Max Verstappen in future despite the two clashing in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

After a red flag on the opening lap in Sao Paulo, the restart saw the two familiar foes make contact heading into the second corner, forcing both off the track.

The incident dropped Hamilton from second to eighth, while Verstappen required a new front wing.

The world champion was handed a five-second time penalty for his part in the crash, which was reminiscent of a number of battles between the pair in their thrilling title battle last season.

Verstappen blamed his rival after the race, which Hamilton's team-mate George Russell went on to win while the seven-time world champion followed up in second to earn a Mercedes one-two.

"It cost him the race win and it gave me five seconds," Verstappen told Sky Sports. "It wouldn't have mattered anything for my race.

"I thought we could race quite well together but clearly the intention was not there to race."

Hamilton responded in the post-race press conference, saying: "I am not concerned.

"I think it's natural when you have the success and the numbers on your chest that you become a bit of a target.

"But it's okay, it's nothing that I've not dealt with before."

The clash with Hamilton was not Verstappen's sole controversy from the race, after he refused to hand sixth place to Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who called Verstappen's decision "disappointing" with the Mexican battling Charles Leclerc for second place in the drivers' championship.

George Russell was lauded by team-mate Lewis Hamilton after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the first-time Formula One race winner left "speechless" by his success.

Having won Saturday's sprint race, Russell led from the start in an eventful race on Sunday, coming out on top after two restarts following safety cars at the Interlagos Circuit. 

Russell had to fend off Hamilton – who had earlier clashed with Max Verstappen but come away largely unscathed and unpunished – after the second safety car, but there was no bad blood between the Mercedes duo at the end.

"What an amazing feeling," said Russell after sealing Mercedes' first win of the season. "Just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible. 

"It has been an emotional rollercoaster this season. This was a tough race, I felt in control.

"Lewis was super-fast and when I saw the Safety Car, I thought this is going to be a really difficult end, he put me under so much pressure.

"I am speechless. On the in lap, all of these memories start flooding back, starting with my mum and dad at go-karting and going through to all of the support I have had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager.

"The list is endless. I can't thank them all enough, I am super proud."

Hamilton said: "A huge congratulations to George. What an amazing drive he did today.

"He did an amazing qualifying yesterday, so he truly deserves it. To my team, so proud of everyone back at the factory and here. This is an incredible result. 

"We’ve worked so hard through this year to get a 1-2 and to get a win, and so this is hugely deserved by everybody so a huge thank you."

On his collision with old rival Verstappen, who received a five-second time penalty, Hamilton added: "What can I say, you know how it is with Max."

The harmony in the Mercedes camp was not replicated in the other teams. 

While Red Bull's Sergio Perez was left infuriated by Verstappen, who refused to hand sixth place back to the Mexican after failing to overtake Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc also wanted Ferrari to concede Carlos Sainz's place on the podium to boost his chances of finishing second in the world championship.

Leclerc will now head into the final race in Abu Dhabi on level points with Perez.

"I think we can be happy with that," said Sainz. "It is a shame that Mercedes are so quick but congratulations to George."

Sergio Perez hit out at Max Verstappen after his Red Bull team-mate refused to hand him sixth place at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, saying: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me".

Verstappen overtook Perez following a late safety car at the Interlagos Circuit to take sixth, having been encouraged by his team to challenge Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in third and fourth, as long as he could first overtake Fernando Alonso.

With Verstappen unable to take points off the Ferraris, he was told to hand his position back to Perez, who is battling Leclerc for second place in the drivers' championship standings.

However, the two-time world champion failed to do so before telling race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase: "You guys don't ask that again to me, okay? Are we clear about that? I have given my reasons."

Perez was infuriated by Verstappen's failure to give way, exclaiming over team radio: "It shows who he really is."

Speaking to Sky Sports after finishing seventh – a result which leaves him level with Leclerc in the standings, Perez said: "I was told to let him by and that I was going to get the position back.

"I don't know what the complications were on his side. I have no idea, maybe you should ask him about it.

"I have nothing to say, really. After all I have done for him, it is a bit disappointing, to be honest. I am really surprised."

Perez went further when asked about the incident in Spanish by ESPN, declaring: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me."

However, Verstappen told Sky Sports he remained willing to support Perez in next week's final race of the season, while refusing to explain his decision not to hand the place back. 

"I have my reasons for that, we just discussed that [in the debrief]," he said. "I think it was good that we finally just sat together and talked about it, and we'll just move forward from here.

"If we go to Abu Dhabi [next Sunday] and he needs support, it is not the end of the world. It is all about who finishes ahead, anyway. 

"If he needs the help, I am there, but it is good that we first talked about it now and cleared everything that was there and why I didn't do it."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, meanwhile, insists the team will prioritise Perez's battle for second next time out.

"We will go to Abu Dhabi to get Checo the second place and Max will support that," Horner told Sky Sports. "We won't talk about what happens internally, but the drivers shook hands on it.

"We work as a team, we race as a team and our priority is to help Checo get second in the championship. We will do the best we can to achieve that and if Max can help in any way, he will do."

George Russell led from the start in a dramatic, stuttering Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday to clinch his first Formula One win, holding off Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Having won the sprint race at the Interlagos Circuit on Saturday, Russell kept his composure while those around him clashed and collided in a race full of incident.

The race was halted by a red flag on the first lap, with Daniel Ricciardo crashing into Kevin Magnussen, and Hamilton was perhaps fortunate to come away unscathed and unpunished after a collision with Max Verstappen following the restart – which saw the world champion handed a five-second time penalty.

A second safety car was brought out after Lando Norris lost power on the track with 19 laps remaining, but another fine restart from Russell saw him see off Hamilton and claim a deserved maiden victory.

Sunday's race was dramatic from the start as Ricciardo and Magnussen crashed out as early as Turn 8 – and the restart brought another collision, this time between old rivals Hamilton and Verstappen.

Hardly strangers to battles and bruises down the years, Hamilton and Verstappen tussled on Turn 2.

Verstappen got around the seven-time world champion on Turn 1, but despite appearing to have the racing line on the inside on the next corner, it was the Dutchman who was punished after a significant collision – though both cars were able to stay in the race.

Charles Leclerc was also sent spinning into the barrier after an incident involving Norris, but the Ferrari was able to continue.

Hamilton recovered swiftly, with the Mercedes driver clawing his way ahead of Norris, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez.

A three-second loss in the pits cost Verstappen further time, though the Red Bull's speed was on show as he quickly cruised back into the points.

However, Norris' vehicle failed him on lap 52, resulting in a second full safety car. Having seen his 11-second lead cut by that stoppage, Russell might have lost his nerve, but a wonderful restart propelled him out of Hamilton's DRS range.

Sainz came in third, leaving Leclerc dismayed, though the day belonged to Mercedes, who are aiming to cap a frustrating season with a flourish.

Team-mates tussle

There are few friends in F1, it would seem. While Hamilton was happy to congratulate his team-mate Russell on a maiden F1 success, there was frustration within the ranks of Ferrari and Red Bull.

Leclerc was begging Ferrari to instruct his team-mate Sainz to give way, and concede a podium place, in order to boost his chances of finishing second in the world championship.

Verstappen, meanwhile, ignored Red Bull's instructions to hand sixth place back to Perez if he was unable to pass Fernando Alonso. "I have given you my reasons," Verstappen said on the team radio. 

Magnussen's weekend ends in sorrow 

Haas driver Magnussen took a shock pole in qualifying on Friday, though he went down to eighth in the sprint race. However, by Turn 8 on the first lap, the 30-year-old had crashed out.

Ricciardo, who could now face a grid penalty in his last race for McLaren, was to blame for clipping the back of Magnussen's car, with the Australian compounding the issue when he failed to avoid the spinning Haas, sending both vehicles into the wall and out of the race.

IN THE POINTS

1. George Russell (Mercedes)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.529 seconds
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +4.051s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.441s
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +9.561s
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +10.056s
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +14.080s
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +18.690s
9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +22.552s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +23.552s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 429
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 290
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 290
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 265
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 240

Constructors

1. Red Bull 719
2. Ferrari 524
3. Mercedes 505
4. Alpine 167
5. McLaren 148

Mercedes enjoyed a strong Saturday ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix as George Russell won the sprint race at Interlagos.

Kevin Magnussen was the surprise pole holder after his brilliant qualifying session on Friday, though the Haas driver, who had promised to go "maximum attack" slipped well down the grid.

Russell qualified third and delivered a brilliant drive to claim his first race win and get himself on pole for Sunday's grand prix.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari clinched second, though a five-place penalty should see Lewis Hamilton join his team-mate at the front of the grid, although the result will be subject to a stewards' enquiry.

Hamilton will be investigated, along with Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu, for his position in his grid box at the start of the sprint.

Should he retain his place in second, Hamilton – who is aiming to equal Michael Schumacher as the driver with the most wins at Interlagos (four) – will take his place on the front row for the first time in 2022.

Max Verstappen went out on mediums instead of soft tyres, and that decision backfired as he dropped from second to fourth, though the world champion will move up thanks to Sainz's penalty, which came as a result of the Spaniard clipping the Dutchman's Red Bull.

Sergio Perez, Verstappen's team-mate, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris will start ahead of Sainz, while Magnussen will have to settle for eighth.

For Mercedes, the omens are good, with 15 of the last 17 winners at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix having come from the front row, with eight of the winners having started on pole.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. George Russell (Mercedes)
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +3.995
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +4.492
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +10.494
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +11.855
6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +13.133
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +25.624
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +28.768
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +30.218
10. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) +34.170

Surprise pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen pledged "maximum attack" as he aimed to "have some fun" in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix sprint race.

Haas driver Magnussen, who claimed a podium finish in his first Formula One race back in 2014, had never previously topped qualifying.

Yet he claimed a shock pole position on Friday, ahead of world champion Max Verstappen and Mercedes' George Russell, to ensure he will start Saturday's sprint race at the front of the grid.

Magnussen recorded a fastest lap of 1:11.674 before a combination of a rain shower and a red flag due to Russell spinning off ended the session.

"You're kidding, you're kidding, you're f****** kidding me! I've never, ever felt like this in my life," the Dane said on the team radio after being informed he was P1.

Magnussen, the first driver from Denmark to claim a pole in F1, had hardly composed himself by the time he was interviewed following the race.

"I don't know what to say," said the 30-year-old, who signed for Haas earlier this year after Nikita Mazepin had his contract terminated.

"The team put me out on the track at the exact right moment. We were the first out in the pit lane and did a pretty decent lap and we are on pole. It is incredible. 

"Thank you to Gene Haas and [team manager] Guenther Steiner and the whole team for this opportunity. 

"It has just been an amazing journey. It is incredible, thank you."

Asked about his plan for Saturday, Magnussen quipped: "Maximum attack, let's go for something funny."

Magnussen might still have his work cut out to hold off the Red Bull of Verstappen, who said: "We are still at the front. We just stayed calm from Q1 to Q2, then Q3 was where it was a bit more of a lottery but we are still on the front row."

Russell had to settle for P3 following his spin, though the Briton believes the sprint race provides Mercedes with a prime chance to beat Verstappen.

"Firstly, I'm happy to be P3 and congrats to Kevin," he said. "What an awesome job he did and Haas – they truly deserve it for all the efforts they have been putting in.

"P3 is not necessarily where we wanted to be but it's a very good place to be starting for tomorrow's sprint race. 

"I think it is our best shot at finishing ahead of Max and Red Bull if there are some mixed conditions. I think we are ready for a good couple of races."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 1:11.674
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.203
3. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.385
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.589
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.683
6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +0.751
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.830
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.937
9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +3.927
10. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen's "perfect" 2022 campaign is the most dominant he has seen during his time in Formula One.

Verstappen retained his world title with four races to spare by emerging victorious at last month's Japanese Grand Prix, and he has since posted wins in the United States and Mexico.

The Dutchman broke F1's single-season wins record – previously shared with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel – at the Mexican Grand Prix, securing his 14th race victory of 2022.

The numbers therefore back up Horner's claims this has been a season like no other for Verstappen.

Asked whether his driver had produced the best campaign in recent memory, Horner said: "There's been years of domination with Mercedes, but I think, as an individual driver, probably yes. 

"He's won the most grands prix in a year now, within 22 races. On top of that, he's won two sprint races, and he's not won all of them from pole position. He's had to fight and race for a lot of those victories.

"I think when we look back at the end of the year, it is an absolutely outstanding year that Max has driven. He hasn't put a wheel wrong. 

"He's been perfect throughout the season. It's incredible, the level of consistency that he's been able to achieve."

Last year, Verstappen became the first Red Bull driver to win the world championship since Vettel clinched the last of his four successive titles in 2013, and Horner believes he does not get the recognition he deserves. 

"They are two very different drivers, two phenomenally successful drivers," Horner said of Verstappen and Vettel.

"I think that what Sebastian has achieved in his career puts him among the greats and most successful drivers in the sport, but I think Max, what we're seeing today and this year, we're actually witnessing something very special. 

"I actually think his achievements sometimes don't receive the plaudits that they should, because I think what we've witnessed this year is an absolutely outstanding performance from a driver that is very much at the top of his game."

Max Verstappen vowed to "go for more" after clinching a record 14th win of the Formula One season – as Red Bull's tactics earned plaudits from Lewis Hamilton.

Victory at the Mexican Grand Prix took Verstappen into the outright lead for the most single-season victories in F1 history, going past a mark previously jointly held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen pitted to swap soft for medium tyres in the Red Bull on lap 26 and Hamilton came in soon after for Mercedes and went out on the hard compound after beginning on medium.

The British driver was not happy with that choice and openly questioned the strategy during the race, with Mercedes seemingly hopeful Red Bull were on a two-stop plan.

However, Verstappen made it to the finish, with the championship winner adding another garland in a staggering season, while Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez finished third.

A strong start from pole by Verstappen allowed him to have command of the race throughout.

"Of course that helped me out a lot for the rest of the race, to stay in the lead after turn one," Verstappen said.

"We were also on a different strategy to the cars around us, but it's an incredible result. The pace of the car was again really nice. We had to look after our tyres because it was a very long stint on the medium, but we made it work."

When the 14th win was pointed out to him, Verstappen said: "It's been an incredible year so far. We are definitely enjoying it and we'll try to go for more."

Two races remain in 2022, in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, and Hamilton may struggle to prevent Verstappen further stretching his wins record.

Hamilton was booed by the Mexican crowd, despite describing them as "amazing". The negative reaction to Hamilton appeared to stem from fans favouring Red Bull, given home driver Perez races for the Austrian team.

"It has definitely been a bit awkward this time around with boos all day, but nonetheless I have so much love for Mexico and the people here. What a great race and event this weekend," said the seven-time champion.

"I was so close in the first stint, but the Red Bulls were clearly too fast today and also maybe they had the better tyre strategy."

He reiterated the point he made to his team that Mercedes may have gone this one wrong.

"I'm not sure it was the right tyre at the end," Hamilton said. "I thought we should have started on the soft, but obviously we had the opposite tyre. It was OK in the first stint, but the hard tyre was just the offset. So, congratulations to Max, and it's great to be up here and separate the two [Red Bull drivers]."

Perez, the darling of the Mexico City crowd, said: "I gave my best. Today at the start I really pushed hard."

He pointed to overtaking being "so difficult", and that was shown in a race where there was precious little drama.

"Unfortunately it didn't work out today but still it's a good podium in front of this crowd," Perez said. "I really wanted more today but fair play, this still is a good day."

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate George Russell, resigned to missing out on a podium finish and complaining of worn tyres, pitted in the closing stages and produced the fastest lap of the race, a small consolation for the British driver.

Max Verstappen powered to a record 14th win of his championship-winning season as the Red Bull driver roared to victory at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Dutchman matched Formula One's single-season wins record shared by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel when he snatched a 13th success last week in Austin at the United States Grand Prix, and in Mexico City he went one better.

Many in the crowd were willing on Verstappen's Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez, but he had to settle for third place and another podium, a repeat of his result last year at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Perez separated the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton, who finished second, and George Russell, who took fourth, with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in fifth and sixth.

It was a race that was bereft of drama, and the tone was set from the start. It was clean as pole-sitter Verstappen held off the Mercedes pair, with Hamilton nudging ahead of Russell in the early stages and Perez getting between the Silver Arrows as he climbed to third place.

That was how it finished, of course, and there was little to report of any import between the start and finish.

Hamilton had cast doubt on Mercedes' ability to get a first win of the season, and despite taking second and fourth, they never really looked like rivalling Verstappen for the win.

Three-quarters of the way through the race, Hamilton asked his team whether he was running on the wrong tyres and was told by the Mercedes garage they were confident in their strategy. At the finish, he again cast doubt on team tactics.

He had also pointed to power drop-offs. At that stage, Verstappen led Hamilton by just over 10 seconds, and Mercedes were counting on the Red Bulls needing second pit stops, but that prospect went away.

Russell complained over the team radio that his tyres were "gone" on the 67th lap but was told "his tyres will be more gone than yours" as he looked to close in on third-placed Perez. Little changed as the drivers remained in the same order through to the finish.

A joyful Verstappen said on team radio, after being congratulated for his record drive: "Double podium as well, that's amazing here in Mexico, well done guys."

 

The Max and Lewis show rolls on

Verstappen and Hamilton were first and second, but the gap was 15 seconds by the end of the race and it was barely competitive. What the result means, though, is they have now finished first and second in a race on 33 occasions, extending the record they established in Austin.

Red Bull, meanwhile, have stretched their winning streak to nine races, matching a team-best set in the 2013 season when Sebastian Vettel won the closing nine races of that campaign.


F1? It's a team game

With Verstappen and Red Bull already having the championships wrapped up, others are jostling for places in the drivers' and constructors' standings.

Mercedes entered this race 53 points behind second-placed Ferrari, with only races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi to come, and they had a strong day, raising hopes the Silver Arrows could yet finish as runners-up. The gap is now down to 40 points.

Ferrari's Leclerc saw his run of five consecutive podium finishes come to an end in a race where he was rarely a factor up front.

Max Verstappen knows pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix does not guarantee first place, as the Formula One world champion aims to claim a 14th win of the season.

Of Verstappen's 13 race wins in 2022, nine have come without the Dutchman starting on pole, which has seen him surpass Lewis Hamilton's calendar-year record (eight in 2019).

Verstappen will, though, start from the front in Mexico City on Sunday.

Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton qualified in second and third respectively, though Verstappen does not expect pole position to dictate who wins the race.

"I've started, I guess, everywhere except pole here, and we won the races, so it is always important to have a good start around here," Verstappen told reporters.

"I think our top speed is not too bad to defend, at least, when people are in the draft. We just need to focus on that and honestly, I think if we have a good race pace, then it will be a good fight. 

"We don't know [about the race pace] because we've been driving on these development tyres, so it's a bit difficult to tell. But I think the car we had [on Saturday], I'm expecting it to be alright."

Red Bull will match their longest winning streak in F1 should they clinch a ninth straight victory – only in 2013 have they achieved such a run.

Russell, who has enjoyed a strong debut season with Mercedes in a difficult campaign for the team, is hopeful of denting Verstappen's lead at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

"I think we were looking competitive. Similar to what Max said: we don't really know. But we think we've got a reasonable shot," Russell said.

"I think having Lewis and I there at the front gives us an opportunity to maybe do something different with the strategy.

"I don't think anybody really knows if it's going to be a one or two-stop. So, let's see what we can do."

Verstappen and Hamilton finished first and second respectively at the United States Grand Prix last week, becoming the pair with the most one-two finishes (32) in F1 history. 

Hamilton, however, understands the difficulties of challenging Verstappen, given Red Bull's superiority throughout the year – though an early attack at the first turn could be crucial.

"Naturally, it's always a tough race around here, with the track temperatures and tyres," Hamilton said. "These guys have been rapid all year long.

"Even at our best this weekend, still losing out to them through straight-line speed. It'll definitely be difficult to get by them, but we'll give it our best shot. And Turn 1 is an opportunity. So, we'll go for it."

Christian Horner says Red Bull "begrudgingly accept" their "Draconian" punishments for breaking budget cap regulations but feels some rival Formula One teams owe them an apology.

Red Bull were on Friday fined $7million (£6.1m) and hit with a 10 per cent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research for overspending last year after coming to an 'accepted breach agreement' (ABA) with the FIA.

Motorsport's world governing body the FIA revealed that Red Bull were guilty of spending €2.2m (£1.9m) more than they were permitted to last season, which ended dramatically when Max Verstappen won his first world title.

Along with being slapped with a significant fine, the constructors' champions have also had the amount of time they can spend using their wind tunnel or computational fluid dynamics cut by 10 per cent for a one-year period.

"We could have been looking at a 12-month period to have this situation closed [if they had not accepted the ABA]," Horner said during a press conference at the Mexican Grand Prix.

"The amount of speculation, commenting and sniping that has been going on in the paddock, we felt that it was in everybody's interest – our interest, the FIA's interest, in F1's interest – to say, 'we close the book', and we close the book here and today.

"We accept the penalties, begrudgingly, but we accept them."

Horner says Red Bull will be significantly impacted by the punishment imposed next season.

"The more Draconian part is the sporting penalty, which is a 10 per cent reduction in our ability to utilise our wind tunnel and aerodynamic tools," he added.

"I've heard people reporting today that it's an insignificant amount. Let me tell you now, that is an enormous amount. That represents anywhere between a quarter and half a second of a lap.

"That 10 per cent will have an impact on our ability to perform on track."

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown last week stated that breaches of the budget cap amounted to "cheating", a claim which Red Bull principal Horner labelled "fictitious".

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who was denied a record-breaking eighth world title when Verstappen claimed a dramatic and controversial win at the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, warned a "slap on the wrist" for Red Bull would simply encourage further breaches.

Horner does not believe it is Red Bull that should be apologising.

"I think that we're probably due an apology from some of our rivals for some of the claims that they've made," he said.

"We make no apology for the way that we've performed, the way that we've acted. We do take on the chin that there are lessons to be learned, and potentially mistakes have been made in our submission, which with the benefit of hindsight and 20-20 vision, everybody can be a specialist.

"But there was no intent, there was nothing dishonest, and there was certainly no cheating involved, which has been alleged in certain corners. So I don't feel that we need to apologise.

"We've taken our pounding in public, we've taken a very public pounding through the accusations that have been made by other teams. We've had our drivers booed at circuits, and the reputational damage that's been made by allegations has been significant. The time is now for that to stop and move on."

Red Bull have been fined $7million and have been hit with a 10 per cent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research for breaking Formula One budget cap regulations.

Motorsport's world governing body the FIA revealed that Red Bull were guilty of spending £1.86m more than they were permitted to last season, which ended dramatically when Max Verstappen won his first world title.

The FIA on Friday confirmed the sanctions imposed on the constructors’ champions after the Red Bull Racing accepted breaking the rules.

It was taken into account by the FIA that Red Bull Racing had "acted cooperatively throughout" what was the first review process under F1 financial regulations.

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