Lewis Hamilton has declared he "feels for the fans" after Max Verstappen's dominance of the F1 championship battle this season.

The Red Bull ace tops the standings by a whopping 116 points heading into Sunday's race at Singapore, where he can clinch the crown if a series of permutations are met.

It is unlikely that Singapore will be the race where Verstappen wins the title, with a more likely scenario seeing him crowned champion the following week in Japan.

Either way, a second title in a row for Verstappen is inevitable and Hamilton has declared it is "never great" when the battle is concluded prematurely.

"I definitely feel for the fans because for everyone and even for us, last year, going right down to the wire, that was intense for everybody. So, it's never great when the season finishes early," he said at a news conference on Thursday.

"Even when I've experienced having it finish early in places like Mexico. For you as the one individual, it's great but for the actual sport it's not spectacular.

"I'm really grateful to have had 2008 right down to the last 17 seconds, and obviously last year, pretty much the same thing. Let's hope for the future, it's a bit better."

Lewis Hamilton is adamant it will not be the "end of the world" if Mercedes fail to a win a race during the 2022 Formula One season.

A sequence of eight-consecutive constructors' championship titles looks set to come to an end this year, with Mercedes sitting 139 points behind Red Bull.

Hamilton is also on course for an unprecedented experience in F1, having never gone a season without a race victory during his time on the grid.

Mercedes' fall from grace has been one of the major stories in the 2022 season, but Hamilton has played down the significance of not topping the podium in the campaign.

"I do not look at it as a dry spell. I feel this year has been a year of growth," he said ahead of Sunday's race in Singapore.

"It has been a good experience for all. There are six races [left] so there's six opportunities and we will try to get a win, but if we do not do well, I do not think it is the end of the world."

Mercedes' focus for the remainder of the season is to assure their second-place finish in the constructors' championship ahead of Ferrari, with six races left before the end of the season.

"We just need to understand the car," Hamilton added. "Our goal is a second placing. Hopefully, in the next six races, we will do well."

Max Verstappen's coronation as Formula One world champion is imminent and could be marked as early as Singapore.

On the back of five victories in a row, Verstappen has opened a whopping 116-point gap at the top of the standings with six races remaining in 2022.

Verstappen will be crowned as champion if he wins under the lights in Singapore alongside clinching the fastest lap but would need Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to finish eighth or lower and team-mate Sergio Perez to finish fourth or lower.

Given the sequence of requirements for Verstappen to win on Sunday, the following week's race in Japan stands as the most likely to see the Red Bull ace secure his title, but individual records are also up for grabs.

A victory would also mark Verstappen's 12th of the season, putting him behind only Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel (both 13) for the most wins in a single season.

Qualifying will likely be vital to any hopes of another Verstappen win, with 66.7 per cent of race winners in Singapore starting from pole - Vettel being the last to win in 2019 when not starting from the front.

Mathematically, three drivers are still able to usurp Verstappen from his throne, George Russell also within distance alongside Leclerc and Perez, but the dominance of Red Bull this season makes any late turnover nigh-on impossible.

Hamilton's history

With six races remaining in 2022, Lewis Hamilton is without a victory this season and it could see the British driver fail to win a race in a campaign for the first time.

Mercedes have strong history in Singapore, however, securing more wins at the circuit than any other team (four), though Red Bull and Ferrari (both three) could equal that tally this weekend.

Spare seats

Alfa Romeo's new deal for Zhou Guanyu leaves three remaining seats on the grid for 2023, with Williams, Haas and Alpine yet to fill their quota for next year.

Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo are the two on the grid that could be on the move, with Ricciardo set to leave McLaren and Gasly heavily linked with Alpine, which would result in a seat up for grabs at AlphaTauri.

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a "fun" Italian Grand Prix after securing an impressive points finish, while Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff made a pointed jab over the race's safety car finale.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton started at the back of the grid after taking new parts but drove a fine race to secure a fifth-placed finish, as Max Verstappen secured a maiden Monza win.

The podium always looked a long shot for Hamilton, but he still recovered points and actually found a less trying race weekend something to relish.

"It was a good race," Hamilton stated. "The guys were saying that anything between sixth and fourth was possible, and that felt a stretch for me. But I had fun.

"I struggled at the beginning, but I'm really, really grateful that I made my way through and got those points. I think at the end, the two cars behind had fresher tyres, so I'm kind of glad it finished like it did."

The late mechanical failure of Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren meant the race finished behind the safety car.

Hamilton was not in contention this time, but he lost last season's title decider in similar circumstances when then race director Michael Masi ended the safety car early on that occasion and saw Verstappen pass his title rival at the last.

Apparently referring to that incident, Wolff said: "The race directors are always going to be under criticism, but I think this time they followed the rules – maybe they could have done it a lap sooner – and they accepted the race ends under the safety car. This is how it should be."

With a 35-point deficit to Ferrari now for second in the constructors' championship, Wolff has a clear target in his sights ahead of the end of a difficult campaign.

"It's all to play against Ferrari; we just need to do the best every single weekend," he added. "It would [soften the blow] of this year's car a bit."

Max Verstappen took advantage of another Ferrari tactical blunder to score a maiden Italian Grand Prix victory and extend his championship lead to 116 points.

The reigning Formula One champion edged closer to securing his second consecutive world drivers' crown in glorious sunshine at Monza, after brushing aside a pre-race five-place grid penalty.

But the Dutchman's success came once again with the helping hand of a failed gamble from Ferrari, who lost their home race after opting to throw Charles Leclerc onto long-distance medium tyres early on.

Leclerc, foiled in his bid for a taut title race with Verstappen this year, was pitted with a dozen laps on the board during a virtual safety car brought on by a mechanical failure for Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin.

Having blasted through the pack from seventh at lights out to emerge near the front again, the decision pushed Verstappen to the front and from there he seldom looked troubled by his rival.

Leclerc went onto softs to try and trim a near-twenty second gap, but it was to be in vain, leaving Ferrari to ruminate on another weekend where they lost the advantage.

Carlos Sainz at the very least impressed after a sweeping slate of grid penalties saw him cut through from the back to challenge for a podium, ultimately coming home in fourth behind the Mercedes of George Russell.

The latter's team-mate Lewis Hamilton likewise impressed with a fine drive from the rear of the grid to finish sixth, in another affirmation of the seven-time world champion's talents amid a tough season.

A late breakdown for Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren meant any chance for late drama was neutered under a safety car, and with three weeks to Singapore, Verstappen might start clearing his trophy cabinet for the big one again.

Lewis Hamilton joked he is considering taking his iPad into the cockpit with him at the Italian Grand Prix as he expects to spend much of the race stuck behind other cars.

The Mercedes driver qualified fifth on Saturday, 1.3 seconds behind pole-winner Charles Leclerc, but will start at the back of the grid due to his penalty for a power unit change.

Hamilton is a five-time winner at Monza, but he is without a victory this season in what is his longest ever run without finishing top of the podium.

And the Briton believes he will have to find other means of entertainment on Sunday as he anticipates a bunched grid due to drivers using their Drag Reduction Systems (DRS).

"I'm imagining tomorrow everyone's going to be in a DRS train and it's just going to be sitting there and just waiting for strategy and tyre degradation and those sorts," he said.

"It's a one-stop easy tomorrow, generally, and so strategy won't do too much. But I hope that there's safety cars and all those sorts of things.

"I was thinking of just taking my iPad with me in the race and when I'm in the DRS line just watch the new Game of Thrones."

Leclerc secured pole for Ferrari at their home grand prix, but the starting grid was otherwise complicated by a raft of penalties issued to nine drivers.

Mercedes' George Russell will start in second, while McLaren pair Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are third and fourth respectively, followed by Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz are among five drivers set to receive grid penalties for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, joining Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes confirmed on Thursday that Hamilton would be subject to penalties after taking a fourth power unit of the season, the seven-time world champion to start from the back of the grid having taken a new engine component everywhere barring control electronics and energy store.

Red Bull duo Verstappen and Perez will face penalties for exceeding their allocations of internal combustion engines, Verstappen now on his fifth, landing a five-place penalty, and Perez on his fourth, resulting in a 10-place penalty.

Ferrari's Sainz will receive an 20-place penalty after taking new gearbox components and an energy store, while AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda will add to his penalties with an array of new power unit components, having already been given a 10-place penalty for accumulating five reprimands over the course of the season.

Finally, Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas will join former team-mate Hamilton and Tsunoda at the back of the grid after taking new engine components.

Ahead of Friday's practice session, a minute's silence was held following the passing of the Queen on Thursday and all 10 teams posted messages on their social media channels after the news was announced.

Lewis Hamilton has issued a message of support to the Queen following news of her health status on Thursday.

Buckingham Palace issued a statement on Her Majesty's health and said doctors were "concerned", with members of the Royal Family travelling to Balmoral to be by her side.

An outpouring of support has come from across the globe, with world leaders and political figures among those to comment on the matter, and seven-time Formula One world champion Hamilton also spoke on the matter.

"It's definitely concerning. I think she's been such a strong leader for a such a long time, so resilient," he said in a press conference ahead of Sunday's race at Monza.

"I know she's always been a real fighter, so my thoughts are with her. I don't have any more information, I don't know any more about the situation.

"My thoughts are with the family, my thoughts are with her, my prayers are with them and I'm hoping for better news soon."

Hamilton was knighted by the Queen last year, days after he narrowly missed out on what would have been a record-breaking world title.

Lewis Hamilton is set to start the Italian Grand Prix at the back of the grid as Mercedes will use a fourth power unit of the season.

The seven-time world champion sustained damage to the power unit in the recent Belgian Grand Prix, where a collision with Fernando Alonso launched Hamilton's car into the air and led to his retirement shortly after.

Formula One regulations permit the use of three different power units over the course of a season and a grid penalty is issued to those who require the use of additional units – which takes the car to the back of the grid.

A Mercedes spokesperson told GPFans: "We will be fitting PU number [four] for this weekend for Lewis.

"This is because although we are still working on the recovery plan for PU number three that was damaged in Spa, that unit cannot be run this weekend.

"This will come with associated grid penalties as it's in excess of the allocation for the season."

Hamilton is not expected to be the only man on the grid to encounter a penalty for this weekend, with it reported former team-mate Valtteri Bottas will also take a fourth power unit in his Alfa Romeo.

The recent race in Belgium saw a number of engine penalties issued, including those to championship leader Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

The triple-header to follow the resumption of the 2022 Formula One season concludes in Italy this weekend, with Max Verstappen aiming to inflict another stinging result on Ferrari.

Back-to-back wins in Belgium and the Netherlands have seen the Red Bull ace strengthen his grip on the title, with Verstappen remarkably securing 102 out of the last 104 available – only missing out on the fastest lap in France and Hungary.

Perhaps surprisingly, Verstappen's plethora of victories in F1 have not yet included triumph on Ferrari's home soil in Italy – which has seen four different winners in each of the last four races (Lewis Hamilton in 2018, Charles Leclerc in 2019, Pierre Gasly in 2020 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2021).

While the title race looks done and dusted, Ferrari will be determined to secure bragging rights at Monza to provide a boost to a team that has sustained persistent problems this season – most recently with Carlos Sainz's woeful pit stop last weekend.

Ferrari have taken 21 pole positions in the Italian Grand Prix, more than any other team, and have won on 19 occasions – most recently with Leclerc three years ago.

The Monaco-born driver will have fond memories of that triumph and will hope it presents a platform to propel better results in the remainder of the season to at least apply some pressure to Verstappen.

Mercedes mess

Mercedes looked on course for a first victory of the season in the Netherlands last weekend, Lewis Hamilton leading the way with George Russell tucked in behind and Verstappen sitting third before a questionable call.

Russell requested a pit stop and a change for soft tyres, something that was approved and resulted in Verstappen, having also taken softs, finding himself in striking distance of Hamilton and having no problems leapfrogging his former title rival.

Hamilton was understandably furious after the race, with Mercedes fumbling what may well be their best chance of a win in 2022.

Alonso record

In his farewell stint with Alpine ahead of his move to Aston Martin for next season, Fernando Alonso is set to equal Kimi Raikkonen's record of 350 races in Formula One – with nobody else having raced in more.

That record is destined to fall Alonso's way in the future, and he could snatch another off the Finn, as his next race finish would be his 279th in Formula One – putting him ahead of Raikkonen.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Yuki Tsunoda's mid-race stoppage at the Dutch Grand Prix may have cost Lewis Hamilton a shot at victory over Max Verstappen.

The Briton looked on course for a first win of a difficult season, having seldom been near the pace of his Red Bull rival following last year's enthralling title battle.

But a virtual safety car stoppage for Alpha Tauri's Tsunoda two-thirds into the race handed Verstappen a free pit stop, before a physical safety car later on allowed the world champion to make another change and overtake Hamilton.

Tsunoda stopped his car after reporting issues with his tyres, removing his safety belts before being ordered to drive back to the pits. His belts were checked and he drove for four more corners, before being told to stop again by his team.

Hamilton was ultimately forced to settle for fourth, behind Verstappen, team-mate George Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner suggested the stoppage of Tsunoda had no effect on the outcome of the race, but Wolff felt the decision to send the Alpha Tauri – Red Bull's sibling team – back out likely cost Hamilton.

"If we were to fight for a championship, that would be something I would closely look at," he stated when asked if the FIA should review the incident.

"Now, I think what needs to be investigated for the safety of drivers and everybody out there.

"The driver stopped, unbuckled, did a full lap, came in, the problem wasn't solved, they put the seatbelts back on and he drove out and stopped the car again.

"That probably has changed the outcome of the race that we maybe could have won.

"I think we would have had a fair shot at the win. The race planner said the win was on. It was very close, but it was on."

 

 

Max Verstappen has paid credit to his Red Bull team while suggesting his victories should also be attributed to him being an "exceptional driver" after Lewis Hamilton's recent comments.

The Red Bull man claimed another home triumph at the Dutch Grand Prix to move closer to a second successive world drivers' championship after last year's victory over the Briton.

The Dutchman has been the dominant driver in F1 this season with a superb car, and Mercedes racer Hamilton previously paid tribute to the technical staff, led by Adrian Newey, at the rival team.

The latter's praise notably omitted credit for Verstappen, who edged him for the title in controversial circumstances last year, and whose partner's father, former driver Nelson Piquet, was involved in a racism storm over the seven-time world champion earlier this year.

Asked on Hamilton's comments after victory at Circuit Zandvoort, Verstappen acknowledged the efforts of his team to aid his quest, but also reinforced that he plays just as much of a crucial part in his own success.

"A lot of that is down to the team, of course, as it's also how Lewis won his championships," he stated. "That's how it goes in Formula 1.

"Your car is super important, but I think when you're an exceptional driver like Lewis is as well, you make a difference over your team-mate at the time, in very crucial races as well.

"You end up winning a race like that and that is, at the end of the day, what good drivers do. They do make the difference compared to other fast drivers.

"The car is very dominant in Formula 1 but of course between team-mates, only one can win, and that's where you have to make the difference."

Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes had "a car to win" the Dutch Grand Prix and apologised to his team for an outburst after he missed out on a podium finish.

The seven-time world champion looked to be in with a shout of claiming his first win of a difficult season, one which has seen him off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.

But after a late safety car that saw the team decide to keep him on existing old tyres, the Briton was swiftly deposed from the lead of the race by eventual winner and incumbent world champion Max Verstappen.

Team-mate George Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc passed Hamilton in the closing stages to lock out the podium with fresh rubber, and the 37-year-old subsequently turned his fire on the team with his radio messages.

Hamilton said: "I can't believe you guys screwed me like that, I can't tell you how p****d I am right now."

Speaking afterwards, however, a more composed Hamilton offered apologies to his pit crew and team, and vowed to take the positives from an improved race performance, if not ultimately the final result, as he took fourth place.

"I think we had a car to win," he said. "Given the circumstance, we were challenged with lots of things, the safety car, the virtual safety car.

"The strategy and car have been so good today, the pit stops were the best. I was really hopeful we'd get a one-two together as a team, but the safety car really didn't help.

"I was on the edge of breaking point with emotions, so my apologies to the team. I just lost it for a second, but I think they know there's just so much passion.

"I want to look at it as a glass half full. Without the safety car, I think we'd have been challenging at the end for the win. If this can be the same in the future races, we can breathe down their necks and get a win.

"Last race, we were miles away and we couldn't even understand how we could be so far away. Yesterday, I was pole up until the last corner.

"There's a huge positive to take from that and our race pace seems to be better or as good as everyone else, so let's not give up."

Toto Wolff declared "it was worth taking the risk" for both Mercedes drivers to pit with Lewis Hamilton leading the Dutch Grand Prix, despite the Briton fuming on the team radio after the race.

Hamilton was pushing towards a first race victory of the season on Sunday at Zandvoort, where he was embroiled in a gripping battle with reigning world champion Max Verstappen.

Seven-time champion Hamilton seemed to seize the initiative after Verstappen pitted following a second safety car deployment due to apparent engine issues for Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas.

While Hamilton surged into the lead, Mercedes decided the 37-year-old should pit and also called in team-mate George Russell, losing the buffer advantage over Verstappen.

That was to allow both Hamilton and Russell to compete for the win in the closing stages, but that plan came unstuck as Verstappen surged into the lead on lap 61 before easing to victory.

As Verstappen embarked on his victory lap in front of a boisterous home crowd, Hamilton furiously questioned the call over the team radio – a decision that Mercedes team principal Wolff later defended.

"First of all, Lewis is ahead. So, we're always having a problem with the call," Wolff told Sky Sports when asked about the decision.

"You can do two things. You can either pit Lewis, lose track position against Verstappen, and leave George out – screwed. You can pit both – screwed. So, it was worth taking the risk."

While Wolff defended the decision in his post-race interview, he admitted on the team radio to Hamilton that the gamble did not pay dividends, adding: "Yeah Lewis, sorry it didn't work out.

"We did what we discussed in the morning, we took a risk. It didn't work. Let's discuss it between us in the office."

Having squandered the lead to Verstappen, Hamilton slipped down to fourth after being overtaken by second-placed Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Max Verstappen expressed his pride after a far from straightforward victory at the Dutch Grand Prix, where the Red Bull driver overcame the pursuit of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton seemed set to push for his first victory of 2022 at Zandvoort on Sunday but was stifled by pitting decisions and safety car deployments.

A virtual safety car was deployed after AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was forced to stop following tyre concerns, offering Verstappen a fortuitous pit stop when embroiled in a battle at the front with Hamilton.

Another safety car followed after Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas stopped citing engine concerns, with Verstappen again pitting – arguably a surprising decision that seemed to hand Hamilton the initiative.

But Verstappen roared back in typically aggressive fashion to overtake the seven-time world champion on the main straight of lap 61, before easing to victory ahead of George Russell in second.

That marked a 10th victory of the season for Verstappen, his joint-best return in a single year, while he became the first driver since James Hunt in 1975 and 1976 to win back-to-back F1 races at Zandvoort.

After delivering in front of a largely partisan crowd in the Netherlands, Verstappen credited Red Bull's decisions that ensured he held off Hamilton through the latter stages of the race.

 

"It was not a straightforward race but we had to push, of course with safety car, virtual safety car, making the right calls," he said on Sky Sports during his post-race interview.

"Always a bit of question mark but it worked out really well. Once we got back to the soft tyres we had great pace again."

Asked whether he harboured any doubts over decisions as Hamilton pressed on, Verstappen added: "We timed it really well out of that last corner into the banking.

"You could see the draft was quite strong and we got ahead. It's incredible to win again.

"It's always special to win your home GP. This year I had to work for it even more. An incredible weekend and I'm really happy we got the Dutch GP."

Charles Leclerc started second on the grid after being edged out by Verstappen in Saturday's qualifying session, though the Ferrari driver had to settle for third on race day despite promising early signs of pace.

The Monegasque racer may have finished on the podium but sits 109 points behind championship leader Verstappen, and Leclerc conceded the Red Bull driver was a class above at the Dutch Grand Prix.

"To be honest, it was difficult to do much better," Leclerc said. "We were a little unlucky with the [virtual safety car]. I don't know if this would have changed anything – Max was too quick today.

"Then there was Mercedes, which were flying on the hard tyres. We struggled to find the feeling on the hard tyres, so we'll analyse that."

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