Honda has extended its tie-up with Formula One pace-setters Red Bull through to the end of the 2025 season, providing long-term stability as the team and star driver Max Verstappen close in on more success.

The Japanese auto giant formally withdrew from F1 at the end of last season but has continued to support the Red Bull Powertrains power unit division with vital technical assistance.

Red Bull's deal with Honda, which supplies the Austrian team's power units, had been due to expire after the 2023 campaign but will now run for a further two years.

Team principal Christian Horner said: "Red Bull's partnership with Honda has been an incredibly successful one and we are pleased that this will continue until the end of the current era of the FIA's power unit regulations in 2025."

Red Bull lead the constructors' championship after 13 of this season's 22 races, with Ferrari a distant second, while reigning drivers' champion Verstappen is well on his way to a second title, with his haul of 258 points putting him 80 clear of second-placed Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen, contracted until 2028, won the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, after Red Bull's support crew overcame a power unit issue that affected his qualifying performance.

F1 is now on its mid-season break ahead of a resumption on the final weekend of August in Belgium.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first domino in the Formula One driver market has fallen with Aston Martin's confirmation that Fernando Alonso will be driving for the team in 2023.

Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix was always going to lead to movement on the grid but Alonso's move from Alpine is a significant statement of intent from the Silverstone-based team.

Alpine are currently vying for the best of the rest tag in 2022, alongside McLaren, while it has been a year to forget so far for Aston Martin – but they still boast one of the most recognisable brands on the grid and Alonso is a stellar acquisition.

There will be further movement, with a number of teams yet to confirm their full driver line-up for the 2023 season – with Alpine, Haas, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri having one spot open, while Williams have not confirmed either driver.

That leaves six seats up for grabs as it stands, with some of the outcomes easier to analyse than others – Alonso's departure from Alpine solves their headache as it leaves a slot open for reserve driver Oscar Piastri.

The Australian was already heavily tipped to take a seat on the grid for 2023 but, with Esteban Ocon and Alonso at Alpine, just where that spot would open was up for debate, with a Williams move touted, but it should now be a fairly easy decision.

For Williams, it could result in the continuation of their partnership with Mercedes. With Alex Albon expected to retain his seat, a replacement for Nicolas Latifi is on the agenda and the leading option may now be Nyck de Vries.

Toto Wolff had already conceded that De Vries, who is on their young driver programme, could be let go in order for him to open avenues in F1, but a seat becoming available at Williams would be perfect for all parties – potentially lining-up De Vries as Lewis Hamilton's long-term successor.

Another option for Williams is Jamie Chadwick, who has dominated the W series and has her eyes set on a seat in F1, though she has expressed doubt as to whether women can cope with the physical demands of the series.

Seats at Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri are harder to assess but Mick Schumacher could play a pivotal role for the trio. Yet to be confirmed by Haas for 2023, the young Ferrari driver could make a sidewards move to continue his F1 career.

Given AlphaTauri's relationship with Red Bull, Alfa Romeo seems the more likely option for Schumacher if he was to depart Haas and an opportunity to drive alongside Valtteri Bottas could aid his development – though Alfa Romeo have a young talent of their own waiting in the wings in the form of Theo Pourchaire.

Felipe Drugovich, the runaway leader in F2 this season, and American Logan Sargeant are alternative options within the young driver ranks, while both have additional appeal due to their respective nationalities, Brazil and the United States, both of which are areas of growth for F1.

The break period in the F1 season is usually the time where teams line everything up for the next year, so the next few weeks before the season resumes in Belgium are likely to be extremely busy – and there could be some surprises in store.

Fernando Alonso has agreed a multi-year deal to replace Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin from the 2023 Formula One season.

Four-time F1 world champion Vettel announced last week he is retiring at the end of the current campaign.

Aston Martin have moved quickly to bring in a replacement, with Alpine driver Alonso – himself a two-time world champion – set to join next year.

"This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula One today," Alonso said.

"I have known Lawrence and Lance [Stroll] for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One.

"I have watched as the team has systematically attracted great people with winning pedigrees, and I have become aware of the huge commitment to new facilities and resources.

"No one in Formula One today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me."

Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021 after a two-year sabbatical and finished 10th last season, which is also the position he finds himself in midway through 2022.

The Spaniard made his F1 debut in 2001 and won his two world titles in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006.

Now at the age of 41, Alonso is still as motivated as ever as he prepares to embark on another new chapter with Aston Martin.

"I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to learn, develop and succeed," he said.

"We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front, and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.

"The passion and desire to perform that I have witnessed convince me to maintain my enjoyment and commitment to the sport.

"I intend to win again in this sport and therefore I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me."

Alonso finished eighth at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday to secure his eighth consecutive points finish.

He brings a wealth of experience to Aston Martin, where he will link up with Lance Stroll, the son of executive chairman Lawrence.

"I have known and admired Fernando for many years and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me," Lawrence Stroll said.

"I have set out to bring together the best people and develop the right resources and organisation to succeed in this highly competitive sport.

"Those plans are now taking shape at Silverstone. It seemed natural therefore to invite Fernando to be part of the development of a winning team. 

"We very quickly established in our recent conversations that we have the same ambitions and values, and it was logical and easy to confirm our desire to work together."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max Verstappen extended his championship lead even further with a stellar drive in Hungary to claim victory having started 10th on the grid.

The Red Bull capitalised on more woes for Ferrari to leave Verstappen heading into the break with an 80-point lead, while Mercedes enjoyed a second race in a row with both drivers finishing on the podium.

Ferrari, having started second and third on the grid, had a race to forget with both drivers finishing outside of the podium spots - with Carlos Sainz in fourth and Charles Leclerc coming home sixth.

At the start, pole-sitter George Russell was immediately put under pressure by the Ferraris behind him but maintained his advantage following the first corner, then opening a two-second window following an early virtual safety car after contact between Alex Albon and Lance Stroll.

With soft tyres losing speed, Russell pitted from the lead at the end of lap 16 and Sainz, on the medium, made an overcut attempt one lap later but remained behind the Mercedes.

Verstappen benefited during the first round of pit stops to continue his charge up the grid, taking fourth on lap 21, while Leclerc came out ahead of team-mate Sainz after his stop.

Still in the lead at the start of lap 28, Russell's performance meant Mercedes had led more laps in the race than they had in the entirety of the season prior to this weekend and Russell, though defending aggressively, was overtaken at turn one by Leclerc on lap 31.

Verstappen blinked first in the second round of pit stops and completed an undercut on Russell, then overtaking Leclerc twice, either side of a spin, with Ferrari unable to find the pace on the hard compound as another strategy decision cost the Monegasque, who inevitably had to take a third stop to swap to the softs.

Hamilton's strategy worked much better and saw him stand as the biggest threat to Verstappen's lead heading into the latter stages, overtaking Sainz at the start of lap 63 and then taking team-mate Russell on lap 65.

Late rain threatened to cause drama on the final lap but Verstappen was able to cruise home for a 28th career win - equalling Nigel Mansell's record of the most F1 wins for a single team.

Ferrari, meanwhile, will now be looking over their shoulder after the break with their advantage over Mercedes in the constructors' championship now standing at just 30 points.

Ferrari's frustrating calls

Plenty of scrutiny has been directed towards Ferrari for questionable calls made during the 2022 Formula One season and the Hungarian Grand Prix added further fuel to that particular fire.

Having seen Alpine's own woes on the hard compound, which saw both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso tumble down the field, Ferrari bemusingly still opted to put Leclerc on that tyre.

The poor performance of the compound was shown when Verstappen, who had overtaken Leclerc, spun to lose the position but was still able to chase down his title rival and reclaim the position without too much of a challenge.

Russell's run ends

Heading into the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes duo Russell and Hamilton were the only two drivers on the grid to have improved or maintained their starting position in every race this season.

Hamilton, starting seventh and finishing second, was able to maintain that sequence but Russell, on pole position, secured a third-place finish and saw his run of improvement come to an end.

However, that finish sealed back-to-back podium finishes for Russell at Mercedes, while it also marked the second race in a row with both Silver Arrows drivers on the rostrum.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +7.834

3. George Russell (Mercedes) +12.337

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +14.579

5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +15.688

6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +16.047

7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +78.300

8. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) + One lap

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) + One lap

10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) + One lap

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 258

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 178

3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 173

4. George Russell (Mercedes) 158

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 156

Constructors

1. Red Bull 431

2. Ferrari 334

3. Mercedes 304

4. Alpine 99

5. McLaren 95

Former Formula One race director Michael Masi has revealed he received death threats following the conclusion of last season, declaring he was "the most hated man in the world".

The Australian came under intense scrutiny for his handling of the controversial final race of the 2021 F1 season in Abu Dhabi, which subsequently saw Red Bull's Max Verstappen beat Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to the world title.

Masi did not follow the F1's procedure behind the safety car for the late restart, only allowing the lapped cars between Verstappen and Hamilton to pass rather than them all, which left Hamilton defenceless as Verstappen swiftly overtook him to clinch his first world title.

An investigation found Masi had failed to follow the rules and he was removed from his role in February, before leaving the FIA entirely earlier this month.

Criticisms directed towards Masi were not just professional, however, who has spoken about the abuse he sustained in the aftermath of last season's finale.

"There were some dark days. And absolutely, I felt like I was the most hated man in the world," he told Australia's News Corp.

"I got death threats. People saying, they were going to come after me and my family.

"They were shocking. Racist, abusive, vile, they called me every name under the sun.

 

"And they kept on coming. Not just on my Facebook but also on my LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a professional platform for business. It was the same type of abuse.

"I didn't want to talk to anyone. Not even family and friends. I only talked to my close family but very briefly.

"It did have a physical impact, but it was more mental. I just wanted to be in a bubble. I had no desire to talk to them. I just wanted to be alone, which was very challenging. The whole experience has made me a much stronger person."

Ahead of the 2022 season, F1 made several changes to race procedures, with two race directors now sharing responsibility over the course of the season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max Verstappen felt he had the pace to at least qualify in the top three for the Hungarian Grand Prix and said an engine problem with his Red Bull was not serious.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez failed to make it out of Q2, qualifying 11th, and the championship leader will start 10th after a power unit issue on his out lap ahead of a second flying effort ended hopes of pole.

The Dutchman had looked ominously fast in Q2, having been behind the Ferraris in both of Friday's practice sessions.

However, he now has a recovery mission if he is to avoid nearest challenger Charles Leclerc eating heavily into his 63-point lead at the top of the drivers' championship at a Hungaroring circuit where it is notoriously difficult to overtake.

Leclerc will start third behind team-mate Carlos Sainz, who had appeared destined for pole until Mercedes' George Russell snatched it with a remarkable lap.

But Verstappen, having turned the air blue as he lost power, was composed when asked about his car's issues and the task ahead of him on Sunday.

He told Sky Sports: "I don't think it's a big issue but something we couldn't solve on track. It's very unfortunate.

"The turnaround from yesterday was amazing. There was a lot of analysing going to understand what was not really working that well yesterday.

"In a way, that's positive about today, we understood what went wrong and the car was so much better today in terms of handling on a track that doesn't really suit us.

"So that's a big positive for the rest of the year anyway that we can, even on a track where we're not that strong, be competitive, but of course I would have liked to start in the top three, and I definitely think we had the pace for it because even in Q2 we looked very strong.

"So yeah, good turnaround but unfortunately the little glitch we had makes us start 10th."

Asked about his prospects for the race and the choice between a one or two-stop strategy, Verstappen added: "It can be a tough one if you're stuck, I hope of course not too long. We have to just stay calm and wait for our moments to go forward.

"It [the strategy] depends also a bit on what is happening in front of you, behind you as well, so we just need to be on it and be flexible."

Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix has been the biggest talking point on the grid, with the German's departure set to leave a significant void for Aston Martin to fill.

The four-time world champion played an integral part in Red Bull's rise to become an F1 powerhouse, winning back-to-back championships between 2010 and 2013.

Vettel's championships make him an F1 great, with only Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton (both seven) and Juan Manuel Fangio (five) winning more world titles.

In terms of race wins, Vettel is again near the summit with 53 victories, only behind Hamilton (103) and Schumacher (91), while he is one of only five drivers to secure at least 100 podium finishes – alongside Hamilton, Schumacher, Alain Prost and Kimi Raikkonen.

Those regular appearances in the front three have also given him an honour that only Hamilton can equal, with the pair being the only drivers in F1 history to have secured over 3,000 career points – with Vettel having 3,076 ahead of Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Singapore has been Vettel's favoured venue, with five victories and 195 points, and the Far East has been where Vettel has excelled in qualifying – securing pole position on eight occasions in both Singapore and Japan.

Throughout the course of his career, Vettel has raced for five different teams – starting with Sauber, where he scored points in his only outing for the team and then signed for Toro Rosso – securing his first pole and victory in August 2007 in Italy.

After 25 races with the Italian team, Vettel moved to Red Bull, for whom he appeared in 113 races, with only Mark Webber (129) and Max Verstappen (130 so far) featuring more for the Austrian outfit.

Vettel also boasts the most wins (38), the most pole positions (44) and the most fastest laps (24) for Red Bull.

In 2011, Vettel was on pole position for 15 of 19 races, an F1 record, and he won 13 races in 2013 – a joint-record alongside Schumacher.

Vettel's era of dominance came to an end at the start of F1's hybrid era, finishing fifth in the standings in 2014 with just four podiums from 19 races, and he subsequently joined Ferrari for the 2015 season.

The German continued to struggle, with just three wins and one pole position in his first year with the Italian side – although those wins were the most registered in a single season for Ferrari since Fernando Alonso in 2012 (also three).

Overall, Vettel raced 118 times for Ferrari and amassed 14 race wins, 55 podiums, 12 pole positions and 1,400 points.

Should all go to plan, Vettel's final fling in his F1 career will come in Abu Dhabi, the season finale and his 300th career race.

So far for Aston Martin, he has a single podium, in Azerbaijan in 2021, and has earned 58 points from 32 races.

George Russell was left with an "incredible feeling" after he upset the odds to claim his first pole position for Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix as Red Bull endured a dismal day.

Carlos Sainz, seeming more comfortable in the Ferrari with every race, appeared destined for pole from his flying lap at the Hungaroring.

However, Russell, having complained of a lack of grip throughout the practice sessions, came almost from nowhere to put together a remarkable final lap and take top spot with a time of one minute and 17.377 seconds.

He prevented a Ferrari one-two after the Red Bulls had been removed completely from the equation. Sergio Perez failed to make it out of Q2, alleging he was blocked by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, and Max Verstappen then complained of a loss of power in the top-10 shoot-out. Championship leader Verstappen will start 10th, ahead of Perez in 11th.

Ferrari are still in a tremendous position to take advantage of Red Bull's woes, with Sainz set to start second ahead of Charles Leclerc in third.

"I'm over the moon. Absolutely buzzing," said Russell, whose team-mate Lewis Hamilton could only manage seventh amid an issue with his DRS. 

"The lap time kept on coming. I came across the line and saw we went P1 and that was an incredible feeling."

Asked if it means Mercedes are back, Russell replied: "I don't know to be honest, we need to look and understand where that came from, there's a few ideas we had.

"There's no points for qualifying. Generally we had good race pace, but the Ferraris looked very fast on Friday, but we are going to be absolutely going for it [tomorrow], but either way that was a pretty special day no doubt."

Leclerc and Sainz appeared relaxed despite missing out on locking out the front row.

Leclerc will have the McLaren of Lando Norris for company on the second row, with the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso behind them in fifth and sixth.

"Mostly we are focusing on ourselves," Ferrari's Leclerc said when asked about Red Bull's problems. "I've been struggling massively with the tyres. I struggled to put a lap together.

"I'm pretty sure we've got the pace in the car to come back at the front. I'm pretty sure we can come back tomorrow."

Sainz looked much more assured than his team-mate but echoed Leclerc's sentiments after losing critical time in the final part of his final flying lap.

"Definitely feeling better and better every race and every qualifying session," Sainz said. "I felt like I had the pace to do the pole position, it went away from us.

"We have the [race] pace; the start and the tyre management will play a key role. The Mercedes pace is a bit of an unknown."


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. George Russell (Mercedes) 1:17.377
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.044
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.190
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.392
5. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +0.641
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.701
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.765
8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.780
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.002
10. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.446

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian Horner expects a "lengthy process" before Porsche completes a deal to buy a 50 per cent stake in Red Bull's Formula One team.

Said to have been looking for a return to the sport since 2017, Porsche is set to purchase half of Red Bull Technology, according to a document published by Morocco's Conseil de la Concurrence.

That would allow Porsche and Red Bull to work in unison on a powertrain in time for the change in regulations in 2026.

However, the deal - once thought to be announced at this month's Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull's home race - may be drawn out by the FIA delaying confirmation of the exact specification of those regulations, according to Horner.

"There's some major caveats that we need to get past first before things can get anywhere near progression," Horner said.

"That primarily focuses on what are the final technical, sporting and financial regulations for the power unit going to be.

"Are they going to be fair and equitable for the newcomers versus the current incumbents?

"That is the first piece of the jigsaw that needs to be completed."

Removing the MGU-H component of the hybrid engine and more significant use of sustainable fuels are thought to be among the factors on which Porsche's involvement rests.

"It's something that I know the FIA are working hard on. Hopefully in coming weeks we'll get to see that," added Horner.

"At that point then, we're able then to try and have a further discussion with the guys at Porsche.

"It's going to be a reasonably lengthy process, I would assume.

"The most fundamental thing is, what are those regulations for 2026, and are they attractive enough for an entity like a Porsche or an Audi to come into Formula 1?

"We're really only at a discussion stage and there's so many caveats based on regulations.

"Red Bull has demonstrated its commitment to Formula One, its longevity in the sport.

"Anything that we look at is very much with the long-term in mind. We're not looking at a short-term solution.

"Strategically, it would have to fit obviously within the long-term plans that Red Bull have for its commitment in Formula One."

Porsche was involved in F1 as a team between 1959 and 1964, claiming one race win and five podiums. As an engine supplier, it helped McLaren to three successive drivers' championships between 1984 and 1986 as well as two constructors' titles. It supplied engines to Footwork for the first six rounds of the 1991 season but has been out of the sport since.

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