Nico Rosberg believes Lewis Hamilton is "driving at his best" this season despite Mercedes' woes as the team continues to battle with the development of the W13 car.

Mercedes' campaign has been plagued with bouncing issues following the introduction of new restrictions for the 2022 season, with the German team among many on the grid to suffer with 'porpoising'.

A new FIA directive was issued ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, allowing the use of a second floor, following complaints from a number of drivers – although the actions have led to backlash from Red Bull chief Christian Horner.

Mercedes did show significant signs of progress in Montreal and had a consistent race, whereas Ferrari had Charles Leclerc starting from the back for an engine penalty and Red Bull lost Sergio Perez with a technical problem.

Hamilton came third for his second podium finish of the season and it marked the first time since the opening race in Bahrain where he has finished above team-mate George Russell, who came fourth.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton has faced scrutiny this season amid the team's struggles but his former team-mate and title rival Rosberg insists that he has been at the top of his game over the past few months.

"Lewis is driving at his best. He has just had an unbelievably unlucky season with all these different things going against him," he told Sky Sports.

"This was a normal weekend and he delivered in the usual awesome way.

"That driver pairing is so strong, incredible, but, make no mistake, Lewis hates passionately to ever come second to a team-mate, so he will be ultra-motivated and pushing hard internally."

Mercedes' car showed signs of promise in Canada but Rosberg has warned them not to get ahead of themselves, as they remain off the pace of their rivals heading into the British Grand Prix on July 3.

"The car in the race was really decent. I thought it was so awesome how George right after the start made headway, passing one car after another down into the hairpin," he added.

"I think they are making progress but there is still some way to go to Ferrari and Red Bull. They can't win at Silverstone, they are still too far away."

The FIA allowing Formula One constructors to utilise a second floor stay to combat porpoising is "overtly biased" to one team, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who appeared to reference Mercedes.

Mercedes have struggled throughout the season with porpoising – otherwise known as bouncing unevenly – and are third in the constructors' standings, 116 points behind leaders Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion and Mercedes star, suffered serious discomfort and back injuries with the W13 car at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Briton was subsequently fit to compete at the Canadian Grand Prix, where he and team-mate George Russell took third and fourth respectively in an improved Mercedes performance.

Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff both suggested after the race in Montreal that improvements were slowly being made to the car.

However, Horner was enraged by the FIA's short-term technical directive to allow the implementation of the second stay in cars to help stiffen their floor, with Mercedes the only team to attempt to do so.

"What was particularly disappointing was the second stay because that has to be discussed in a technical forum," Horner said.

"And that is overtly biased to sorting one team’s problems out, which were the only team that turned up here with it even in advance of the technical directive, so work that one out."

Russell has been one of the more vocal in calling for changes to counteract porpoising, while Hamilton's well-documented injury issues in Baku furthered his reason for concern with the W13 model.

But Horner assures Red Bull have had no similar problems, and thus it is an issue that Mercedes must fix themselves, without the FIA offering short-term technical directives.

"The issue with Mercedes is more severe than any other car," Horner added. "That surely is down to the team, that's within their control to deal with that.

"It's not affecting others. I know they've said that other drivers have been complaining, our drivers have never complained ever about porpoising. Certainly, we haven't had an issue with bouncing."

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer declared on Saturday that any team who ran the stay in qualifying and the race could be protested against, with the rules not matching the technical directive.

Horner agreed with Szafnauer as he lamented the FIA for their technical directive change.

"You can't just suddenly change technical regulations halfway through a season," the Red Bull chief continued. "If a car is dangerous, a team shouldn't field it. It has that choice.

"Or the FIA if they feel an individual car is dangerous they always have a black flag at their disposal."

Fernando Alonso lamented another engine problem that "hurts a lot" after struggling at the Canadian Grand Prix, where he was demoted to ninth following a time penalty.

The Alpine driver produced an incredible drive on Saturday to secure second on the grid behind Max Verstappen.

However, Alonso fell away on Sunday as Verstappen held off the push of Carlos Sainz to claim his sixth win of the season and mark Red Bull's best start to a Formula One season.

Alonso initially finished in seventh in Montreal, but was handed a five-second time penalty after he was deemed to have made more than one change of direction while protecting against Valtteri Bottas.

The Spanish veteran believes he could have fought for a place on the podium if it was not for an engine problem with his A522 car.

"It was a pretty good race in terms of pace, I think we could have fought for the podium, seeing that [Lewis] Hamilton finished there and we were ahead of him in a more or less controlled way, but from lap 20 we had a problem in the engine," Alonso said.

"It was an energy issue that cut the KERS in the middle of the straights, more or less I lost eight-tenths of a second per lap.

"To be on the DRS train with [Esteban] Ocon and [Charles] Leclerc, the truth is that in the bends I had to go to the top and well, keeping the seventh position was a miracle at the end.

"Having this reliability problem today, another engine problem in my car, the truth is that it hurts a lot.

"We didn't have any luck with the safety cars either. I was just passing through the finish line and the safety car came out and just when I was going back to enter the pits, it was over.

"Luck was not on our side today, as usual."

Carlos Sainz is optimistic his first Ferrari win could be just around the corner after pushing Max Verstappen close to the limit in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Defending Formula One drivers' champion Verstappen defended expertly to keep Sainz at bay over the closing laps in Montreal, sealing a sixth win of his season and extending his championship lead to 46 points.

Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who abandoned Sunday's race in its early stages, sits second, while Sainz is fifth but producing strong results every time he finishes.

The Spaniard has had three DNFs, twice crashing out, but he has had five podiums and a fourth place in the other six races to date.

For the 27-year-old, however, the wait for a first Formula One race victory goes on.

Formerly of Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren, he has been a staple of the top 10 in recent seasons, without yet scaling the top step.

He said of Sunday's race: "I was pushing flat out. I wasn't leaving any inch to the walls. I was pushing everything with the battery.

"I tried everything to pass Max, but today we just didn't have enough pace to get close enough in the hairpin to then get him a bit out of line into the chicane.

"But the positive thing is we were quicker, we were faster all race, we just [needed] that little bit more to overtake around here.

"I'm particularly happy with the race pace, with the way we managed to put pressure on Max during the whole race, and the timing of the pit stops I think was right."

Team-mate Charles Leclerc, third in the championship, has won twice already this season. He surged from a back-row start to earn fifth place in Canada.

Silverstone and the British Grand Prix is next on the calendar, with Sainz seeing grounds for Ferrari optimism.

He said: "Honestly, we tried everything, and we were very, very close to winning today, so I take the positives and keep trying in the next one."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hailed Max Verstappen for being in the "form of his life" after he extended his lead at the top of the drivers' championship.

Verstappen started on pole at the Canadian Grand Prix and ultimately held off Carlos Sainz to claim his sixth win of the season and mark Red Bull's best start to a Formula One season.

Sainz remained within DRS range for the final 10 laps of the race but was unable to make the move stick, with Verstappen holding firm.

Red Bull have now won seven of the nine races so far this season to put themselves 76 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructor's championship.

In the drivers' standings, the win gives Verstappen a 46-point lead over team-mate Sergio Perez, whose race ended prematurely, and Horner believes the reigning world champion is showing the best level of performance so far in his career.

"It wasn't very comfortable at all in those last 10 laps or so because Max just couldn't break the DRS and the Ferrari was very quick in the straight line today," Horner told Sky Sports.

"They could attack the kerbs and stay close but there wasn't a single mistake. We lost communication with the car, it was only one-way traffic where he could hear us but we couldn't hear him.

"All credit to Carlos today, he pushed him really hard. The strategy wasn't clear because we went for that early stop, we felt that was the best route to the end of the race, and then Sainz got a free stop too which set it up nicely for the end of the race. It was super tight.

"We've just got to take each race at time. We've put a great run together and it's great to be heading to Silverstone leading both championships. Max is in the form of his life and doing a great job."

Despite the late surge from Sainz putting Verstappen under pressure, the Dutchman felt it was a "fun" finale.

"It was really exciting at the end – I was giving it everything I had and, of course, Carlos was doing the same," he said.

"I could see he was pushing and charging, but when you're on the DRS it's a lot easier to charge. The last few laps were a lot of fun.

"Luckily, this year, we seem really quick on the straights so that helps a lot."

Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix and sees potential in his car as Mercedes battle issues with their W13 model.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton had not finished on the podium since the season-opener in Bahrain, but secured third place in Montreal behind Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

The Briton's struggles have largely been down to his Mercedes W13 car porpoising – otherwise known as bouncing unevenly.

Hamilton faced such difficulties at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, struggling with back problems after a painful ride in Baku that led to doubts over him featuring in the next race.

However, the 37-year-old subsequently confirmed he would compete and spoke gleefully after securing his second podium in nine attempts.

"It's quite overwhelming to get this third place – it's been such a battle this year with the car, but we continue to stay vigilant, focused and never giving up, and that's something I'm proud of," Hamilton said.

"We're getting closer, so we've got to keep pushing and keep pushing, and hopefully we'll eventually be in the fight with these guys."

Hamilton, speaking to Sky Sports after the race, thanked the team working on the car as he reflected on an emotional season.

"I want to say a big shout to the team back home, they are working so hard at the factory week in week out. It’s difficult working and not seeing any progress," he added to Sky Sports.

"It's been a difficult year for me personally and in the car. Qualifying was emotional for me and back in the garage we were like 'wow, this is beautiful for us', we have been working so hard.

"Then to have a strong race just gives me so much hope and confidence that we can move forwards.

"There is potential in this car, it's not currently where we want it to be, it's just got a really small working window and if you don't get it perfect it's all over the place.

"That's a really hard thing to navigate through, but the team did a great job this weekend."

Hamilton's fellow Mercedes team-mate George Russell maintained his run of finishing in the top five in every race this season, settling for fourth.

That saw Mercedes move to 188 points in the constructor standings, 116 behind leaders Red Bull, and Toto Wolff acknowledged his team still have much to work on.

"They were both very good and they were on different set-ups and different rear wing settings. We showed some pace today," Wolff said.

"Before the safety car came out at the end we were actually quicker than Sainz. You're picking out a few laps and saying, 'yeah we are back' but I don't think that's the case yet, we just need to keep on working.

"The way forward, we just need to develop the car in a different window than we had. We were having it really low on the ground and clearly that doesn't function. 

"I think before we start looking to fix the problems, you need to understand where the issues are.

"I think we have development direction. We haven't got it right in many areas but we own the problem and we will fix it." 

While Russell secured yet another top-five finish, he warned that the issues with cars porpoising is far from over.

"I had total confidence we were able to carve our way past the Haas and Alpines," he said. 

"We were certainly concerned [Charles] Leclerc and Checo [Sergio Perez] would be able to come through and be fortunate to keep them behind us.

"Ultimately, our race pace was closer to Ferrari and Red Bull than we've seen all season, but the inherent performance isn't there yet.

"It was a shame I couldn't get the tyres going at the end, probably would have liked to pit before the first safety car, and then have been in the fight at the end.

"Nevertheless, P4, it's good points for the team and great to be back on the podium for the team.

"It was definitely bumpy out there, down the straight the car was just hitting the ground. It'll be a good sleep again tonight for sure.

"I think there are so many different factors [with the porpoising], this global issue with the 2022 cars is far from over."

Max Verstappen showed dogged resistance to secure victory in the Canadian Grand Prix after holding off Carlos Sainz, as Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium.

After the ninth leg of the 22-race season, Verstappen's lead in the Formula One drivers' championship stands at 46 points, and that is because his Red Bull team-mate and closest rival in the championship Sergio Perez was an early casualty in Montreal.

Sainz, in the Ferrari, clung tight behind Verstappen over the closing laps after a lengthy safety car delay but could not quite forge an overtaking opportunity.

That meant Verstappen's 150th grand prix was a triumphant one, as Sainz was kept waiting for his first F1 victory.

Hamilton had not finished on the podium since the season-opening race in Bahrain, a wait of seven races, so the Briton was delighted to get third, ahead of Mercedes team-mate George Russell. Hamilton said it was "quite overwhelming".

Perez, who crashed out in Q2 on Saturday, pulled over to the side of the track and abandoned the race on lap nine, seeming to lose power and complaining of being stuck in gear.

It was clear that Fernando Alonso, in the Alpine, would not be able to convert second place on the grid into a top-three finish as the two-time champion gradually drifted down the field.

Alonso did not pit until lap 29 and came back out on hard tyres in seventh place, behind team-mate Esteban Ocon and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc first went to the pits on the 42nd lap, but it was a painfully sluggish stop and left the man from Monte Carlo down in 12th place. It was a credit to him and his team that he was able to surge through the field and close in to just three points behind Perez in the championship.

Yuki Tsunoda crashed out on lap 49 and that forced the drivers to proceed behind the safety car for five laps, drawing the field tightly together.

Leclerc, who started on the back row of the grid after his car was fitted with an all-new power unit, jumped ahead of the Alpines of Alonso and Ocon to go fifth, while at the front, Verstappen fittingly showed the defence of a champion to fend off Sainz.

Fabio Quartararo declared he is "riding better than ever" after a tyre choice gamble paid off at the German Grand Prix on Sunday.

Track temperatures exceeded 50 degrees at the Sachsenring, where Francesco Bagnaia started on pole, with reigning MotoGP world champion Quartararo one of just two riders to opt for the medium rear tyre.

The Frenchman's decision was rewarded as he overtook Bagnaia on Turn 1, with Quartararo leading for all 30 laps and winning the race by almost five seconds to extend his lead in the championship to 34 points.

Bagnaia crashed out on lap four, losing the rear end of his GP22 for his fourth abandonment of the season, and last year's runner-up now sits 91 points behind Quartararo.

While Bagnaia was left to rue his mistake, Quartararo admitted he was nervous about his tyre decision.

"I feel tired. I was sick all weekend and during the race I was coughing a bit," Quartararo told reporters.

"I have no words. We took a choice on the rear tyre, the medium, that was really risky and in the race we were lucky because it dropped much more than expected.

"But I'm super happy. A really, really special victory, it was a little bit like Barcelona.

"On Friday I was not so great, yesterday was much better and this morning, with the medium tyre I felt it was the correct choice.

"In the race the conditions were totally different and from the beginning I was scared because I was using the tyre a little bit more than expected to ride fast.

"The last five, six laps were a total disaster from the rear. But the feeling on the front was super good."

Yamaha's Quartararo picked up his third win of 2022, adding to victories at the Portuguese Grand Prix and Catalan Grand Prix, and the 23-year-old feels he is in the form of his life.

"Of course, I'm feeling better than ever every time I race," the defending world champion added.

"I'm learning and I feel like every time I find something. The focus here was to make 30 laps in front and being consistent was something difficult.

"Barcelona helped me a lot because I had a similar situation, but of course I'm feeling confident and I feel I'm riding better than ever."

Fabio Quartararo extended his MotoGP championship lead with victory at the German Grand Prix, where Francesco Bagnaia suffered yet more disappointment by crashing out.

Bagnaia had won twice in his past four races and set a scorching pace to claim pole at Sachsenring, but he was overtaken by Quartararo on Turn 1 and lasted three more laps.

In an attempt to reclaim first place from reigning world champion Quartararo, Bagnaia lost the rear end of his GP22 when coming through Turn 1 on lap four and left the track.

Bagnaia was unhurt physically, but his furious reaction said it all, with last year's runner-up now 91 points behind Quartararo and surely out of title contention for another year.

It was the fourth abandonment of the season for the Ducati rider, which is two more failures than he suffered throughout last year's 18-race campaign.

Adding to his victory at the Catalan Grand Prix last time out, Quartararo had no trouble in retaining his lead in Germany to move 34 points in front of Aleix Espargaro in the championship.

Monster Energy Yamaha's Quartararo is the first MotoGP rider other than Marc Marquez to win on this track since 2012, with the Spaniard missing this race due to injury.

Pramac Racing's Johann Zarco stayed safe in second place, 5.3 seconds behind the race winner, while Jack Miller did brilliantly to pip Espargaro to a place on the podium.

Luca Marini and Zarco's team-mate Jorge Martin completed the top six, with the latter returning to action after a period out following hand surgery.

Elsewhere, Maverick Vinales was forced to retire with 13 laps to go due to his rear ride-height device jamming. Joan Mir and Pol Espargaro were also among those not to finish.


TOP 10

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +4.939s
3. Jack Miller (Ducati) +8.372s
4. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +9.113s
5. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46) +11.679s
6. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +13.164s
7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +15.405s
8. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini) +15.851s
9. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +19.740s
10. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) +21.611s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders
1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 172
2. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 138
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 111
4. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 100
5. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) 82

Teams
1. Monster Energy Yamaha 197
2. Aprilia Racing 184
3. Pramac Racing 172
4. Ducati 162
5. Red Bull KTM 146

Red Bull's Sergio Perez conceded it was driver error that forced his crash in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, which will see him start from a lowly 13th on Sunday's race in Montreal.

Perez, who sits second in the driver's standings behind team-mate Max Verstappen, put his Red Bull into the wall at turn three during Q2 on Saturday, forcing out the red flag and ending his hopes of a front-row finish.

Verstappen handled the wet conditions best, meanwhile, finishing almost seven tenths of a second quicker than Fernando Alonso, who qualified second in his Alpine.

After a disappointing qualifying finish, Perez claimed Sunday's race will be about damage limitation from his standpoint.

"I did a mistake from my side, so I'm very sorry for my team," Perez told Sky Sports F1 post-qualifying. "I let them down unfortunately, but I'm going to already be thinking on tomorrow, and hopefully I'm able to recover and get into strong points.

"I wasn't struggling with the brakes, I think they were on the cold side. I had a lock-up into turn 10 the lap before. I flat-spotted them, and it probably meant that I was a bit out of shape and going into turn three I just became a passenger. As soon as I touched the brake, it was a bit too much.

"It can be tricky and difficult, but it was just a mistake from my side. Tomorrow I will just try to minimise the damage and just attack from lap one onwards, and see where we end up."

On the other hand, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer cited driver quality as the reason Alonso was able to qualify in second amid tricky conditions.

Both Alpine cars progressed to Q3, with Esteban Ocon also finishing in seventh but he was out-qualified by nearly two seconds by Alonso, who was without fear in the wet.

"We've had good pace here all weekend," Szafnauer told Sky Sports F1. "We had decent pace in Baku too, so we keep working on the car, but Fernando's experience and skill shone through today, and put it on the front row.

"He's always been really, really good at adapting very quickly, so he's always on the pace very quickly. When you have changeable conditions, that ability to adapt quickly shines through."

Lewis Hamilton felt "amazing" to have clinched P4 in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, though he warned there is still work to do for Mercedes.

Hamilton has endured a frustrating season in 2022, with the seven-time world champion struggling to adjust to his new car.

On Friday, after a poor practice session, Hamilton said "it's like the car's getting worse".

However, Hamilton will now look to build on Saturday's impressive qualifying display after securing fourth on the grid in Montreal for Sunday's race - his best qualification result of the season.

After finishing behind Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: "I feel amazing, so happy – P4 has never felt so good to be honest.

"Maybe in my first year of racing, in 2007, when I got my first P4 it probably felt great then, I think this probably feels like that. Particularly because it’s been a really difficult year, to go through what we were faced with today, it was difficult for everyone out there.

"I'm so happy to put us in a position, because everyone's working so hard, constantly facing these challenges with this car.

"We did a lot of work yesterday to try and get the information. The car didn't feel that great, so tomorrow should be a much better position. Hopefully I can try and hold position at least."

Saturday has not altered Hamilton's disappointment with his car, however, but he has full faith in the Mercedes engineers to get things clicking.

"With this car you need everything and more to come together," added the 37-year-old, who is sixth in the drivers' standings.

"I like to think that I have rhythm, and on this track in particular you have to have rhythm. I feel this car works on a completely different beat.

"It doesn't work on the normal beat so that's been difficult to get used to. The rain makes it much different, if it was dry I don't know if we'd have been in this position but the rain opens up opportunities and I love this track.

"It's been a struggle so far, there's still a lot of work to do, but I hope all the team are feeling positive. Please continue to push, I need you, we need you, we're all working as hard as we can and I believe in them so much, I hope at some stage we can stop this bouncing and move forwards."

Hamilton's team-mate George Russell endured a frustrating Q3, however.

Russell went out on slick tyres, but that decision backfired when he lost control and ultimately had to settle for P8.

He told Sky Sports F1: "It was high risk, high reward. It was literally just turn one, I think had that been as dry as the other corners we could have been in a really good place.

"Surprised my lap was only half a second off P4, so it shows the strong pace today, but as I said on the radio I'm not here to settle for P4, P5 – we need to try things.

"At the end of the day the points are tomorrow, I’m glad we tried something different."

Max Verstappen clinched pole position for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix and Fernando Alonso secured an unlikely spot on the front row in Montreal.

Alonso, who set the pace in the final practice session, claimed second place in tricky, wet conditions in Saturday's qualifying session.

That hands the 40-year-old Spaniard his first front-row start in Formula One since he won from pole position at the German Grand Prix just under 10 years ago.

The two-time world champion, racing for Alpine, was the recipient of a huge ovation from the crowd as he celebrated his supreme qualifying performance, clocking up a time of 1:21.944 behind championship leader Verstappen's 1:21.299.

"It feels great. It was an unbelievable weekend for us so far, we’ve been competitive in free practice – which we normally are on Friday but on Saturday we seem to lose a little bit of pace – but in wet conditions today the car was mega, I was so comfortable driving this car and I think the fans gave me a push," a jubilant Alonso said.

When asked what his approach will be on Sunday, Alonso quipped: "Let's see, I think I will attack Max on the first corner."

Verstappen's pole ended the day on a high note for Red Bull, with team-mate and fellow title contender Sergio Perez set to start in 13th place after crashing out in Q2.

In difficult conditions, the reigning world champion – who will be further buoyed by title rival Charles Leclerc having to start at the back on Sunday due to Ferrari changing his entire power unit – was delighted with the composure shown by his team.

"Of course I still expect it not to be a straightforward race, today with tricky conditions, we stayed calm and we made the right calls in Q3 so of course, super happy with that to get pole position here and to be back in Montreal and great to see all the fans," he said.

"You really get that go-karting sensation back on this track with proper curves. We always enjoy driving here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz looked poised to push Verstappen, but a mistake on the final corner cost the Ferrari driver, who will start third on the grid. An incident involving the Spaniard and Esteban Ocon was investigated, but the stewards decided no further action was required.

Sainz said: "I was feeling quite okay with the car, especially in the full wet. In that lap I knew I had lost a bit too much, I tried to do a very quick last corner but it didn't pay off and it cost me half a second. I ended up with three for that mistake. I think it's going to be a good fight with Max up front and Fernando has been fast all weekend."

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton – who did not hide his frustration with his car after struggling in practice on Friday – was lifted by claiming fourth.

Mercedes team-mate George Russell had to settle for eighth, however, after a decision to go on slicks in Q3 failed to pay off.

Charles Leclerc's Formula One world championship hopes have been dealt a blow after it was confirmed he will start at the back of the grid in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.

The title-chasing driver was already handed a 10-place grid penalty on Friday for changing his electronics control unit, following two power unit failures in the last two races that have dealt a significant blow in his push for the championship.

Leclerc's task in Montreal will now be one of damage limitation and Ferrari have elected to give him an entirely new power unit – a new internal combustion engine, turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K.

Drivers are only allowed to use three of each component over the course of a season but Leclerc will now use his fourth in Canada, while the ECU change leads to his third unit of the campaign when only two are allowed.

Leclerc's bad luck has led to an 80-point swing in the drivers' standings in favour of Red Bull's defending champion Max Verstappen, with his team-mate Sergio Perez also climbing above the Ferrari driver last weekend.

Two engine failures in back-to-back races have both come when Leclerc was leading the race, while he also lost the lead in Monaco after a team error in the pit lane saw him slip to fourth.

Leclerc had won two of the opening three races of the season to hold a 46-point lead over Verstappen, who had to retire in both of the events where the Monaco driver was victorious.

Francesco Bagnaia set a scorching pace to earn pole position for the German Grand Prix, but championship leader Fabio Quartararo served notice he is "ready to fight" for the win.

After setting Sachsenring lap records earlier in the day, a time of one minute and 19.931 seconds by Ducati's Bagnaia clinched first place on the grid for Sunday's race.

Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) was next quickest, with Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) completing the front row.

Bagnaia has won twice in his last four races but failed to finish on the other two occasions. The Italian rider has chalked up an unfortunate three abandonments this season in nine MotoGP outings, one more failure to finish than he suffered in last year's 18-race campaign.

"Today the qualifying wasn't easy. It was very hot and the wind was disturbing us a bit," Bagnaia said. "I'm very happy about this pole position."

Frenchman Quartararo has finished on the podium in four of his last five races, with the 23-year-old taking the win last time out at the Catalan Grand Prix and going 22 points clear of nearest rival Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) in the process.

Espargaro blundered in that race by celebrating a podium a lap too early, having miscounted, and dropped from second place to fifth as a consequence.

This time Espargaro will start fourth on the grid, no doubt counting the laps more carefully.

Quartararo senses threats from his rivals but is up for the challenge.

"They look so competitive. Aprilia and Ducati are looking fast, but I feel ready to fight with them," Quartararo said. "I think we are able to make great pace, not only in one lap, so I'm super happy to qualify in the front row today."

Quartararo experienced the rare mishap of seeing his visor break during free practice early on Saturday, and he swallowed up the responsibility.

"I'm always the first rider to do something strange," he said. "I think I didn't close it well, and when I turned around the visor came up, and then with the speed it came off, but I think it was my mistake."

Alex Rins pulled out of the race early on Saturday after feeling discomfort from the fractured left wrist injury he suffered in Barcelona, while Marc Marquez remains absent.

Six-time MotoGP champion Marquez has won the last eight editions of the German Grand Prix.

PROVISIONAL GRID

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) – 1:19.931
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) + 0.076
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.099
4. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) + 0.189
5. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini) + 0.197
6. Jack Miller (Ducati) + 0.219
7. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46) + 0.237
8. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.288
9. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia) + 0.537
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) + 0.631

Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari have made "the best decision" by accepting a 10-place grid penalty for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Leclerc will start towards the back of the grid in Montreal after taking a new control electronic – his third used this season.

The Monegasque had little choice given the state of his power unit after the Azerbaijan GP, although it could have been the source of some frustration after he finished just 0.081 seconds behind Max Verstappen in FP2.

"Well, obviously I'm starting a little bit more in the back," Leclerc said. "But I think it was the best decision to make, so let's see how it goes.

"The overtaking was a little bit more difficult than I expected today, but the pace is there, so hopefully we can come back to where we want to be."

Indeed, despite championship leader Verstappen topping the charts in both Friday practice sessions, Leclerc added: "It is pretty close.

"The race pace we need to work on – I mean it's a bit difficult to have a clear picture, because I was on a different compound all the time – but overall, it didn't look too bad, so that's good."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.