Verstappen extends championship lead with Hungary victory

Following a disappointing qualifying session, Max Verstappen came through from P10 on the grid to score a remarkable victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Finishing ahead of both Mercedes as Ferrari threw away a win with further questionable strategy decisions.

The defending world champion overcame his qualifying power loss and a spin thanks to expert tyre management to complete his rise from P10 to victory to extend his points lead.

Lewis Hamilton headed a Mercedes 2-3 over maiden polesitter George Russell, who had led for 30 laps, as front-row starter Carlos Sainz slid to fifth position over Red Bull’s recovering Sergio Perez.

Meanwhile, early leader Charles Leclerc was the only frontrunner to make three stops to be passed on track twice by Verstappen and ultimately fall to sixth position.

Russell was put on a set of used softs to launch on a dry track, the spots of rain that had been landing in the build-up to the race failing to develop into a full-blown shower initially.

Thanks to the grippier rubber, the Mercedes launched strongly to pull across and eventually cover off the medium-Pirelli shod Ferrari threat into Turn 1 and duly consolidated first position.

Sainz had tried to bully it around the outside of the right-hander before the W13 cut back at the apex, with the Scuderia then keeping in formation with Leclerc slotting into third place.

Hamilton, meanwhile, nailed his getaway to pounce past both Alpines for fifth behind soft-shod Lando Norris, as Verstappen propelled his RB18 around the outside of Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo to rapidly hit eighth place after his qualifying power loss late in Q3.

Russell crossed the line at the end of the opening lap with 1.6 seconds in hand over Sainz.

After a quick virtual safety car for Sebastian Vettel being nipped with Alex Albon, Russell added another second over the chasing F1-75 next time around, with Leclerc 1.5 seconds adrift.

It took until lap 14 for the red-walled C4 Pirellis to show the first signs of degrading for the W13 as Sainz tore a 0.6 seconds chunk out of Russell, the lead Ferrari having to shown enough pace to prevent the pitwall from swapping the order under pressure to intervene by Leclerc.

With the red cars nose-to-tail, it looked as though they would be split when Sainz was told to box at the end of lap 16 but he stayed out as Russell then came in for his first stop.

The polesitter was slowly swapped onto a set of mediums after a front-right delay to emerge side by side with Fernando Alonso, cutting back through Turns 2 and 3 to seal sixth.

One tour later Ferrari responded. Sainz was called in to release Leclerc, but the Spaniard too was delayed in a 3.7 seconds medium change to crucially come out behind Alonso’s Alpine machine.

That left Leclerc to lead by 11 seconds over Hamilton before the Mercedes was called in on lap 20.

Russell was therefore released into second position but with a 19 seconds gap to the leading Leclerc.

As the lap counter hit the high teens, Leclerc’s pace was declining. He was subsequently stopped at the end of lap 21 for a set of mediums in 2.9 seconds to promote Russell into the lead.

The maiden polesitter had 2.6 seconds in hand over to chaser as Sainz sat a further 1s in arrears while champion Verstappen occupied fourth place another 3.5 seconds further adrift.

With the Ferrari well suited to the tight Hungaroring all weekend, Leclerc soon gained the DRS overtaking aid to bring the gap down and weld himself to the Mercedes gearbox.

Russell was forced to defend, squeezing the F1-75 to the outside line wherever possible to maximise the distance Leclerc had to travel at the difficult-to-pass Budapest venue.

Then on lap 31, Leclerc made it stick. Russell moved to the inside line into Turn 1 early to cover off the Ferrari but with DRS it tightly squeezed by into the braking zone for first.

Leclerc immediately pulled seven tenths on the Mercedes and doubled that gap over the rest of the lap, the advantage climbing to 2.8 seconds with Russel in third and Verstappen fourth.

Verstappen made a crucial stop on lap 39 for mediums and despite sparks flying from the right-rear corner, he was serviced in a rapid 2.4 seconds – encouraged with the radio message that “there’s still a long way to go”.

Verstappen came out in sixth as Russel made a second stop for mediums next time around, Leclerc then visiting the garage for an ill-fated set of the hardest-available C2 Pirelli tyre.

The Red Bulls having jumped Russell, the Ferrari returned in third behind Hamilton and Sainz on the slowest compound and struggled to generate temperature to leave him vulnerable.

Verstappen had DRS on Leclerc into Turn 1 to depose the Ferrari, the Dutch ace shrewdly opening his steering a fraction at the apex to force Leclerc to compromise his line further.

Getting back on the power, the Ferrari stepped out of line to let Verstappen romp away.

But Leclerc was given a second chance, despite blasting the state of the tyres. Verstappen tried to pick the power out of the penultimate Turn 13 but span the rears and rotated.

He caught the Red Bull in 360 degrees but not before the Ferrari had streaked back past, even if Perez limited the damage by blocking Russell and staying behind his teammate.

But come lap 43, Verstappen was back within a second of chief championship rival Leclerc and he cut his RB18 back through Turns 2 to retake the position down the hill into Turn 3.

Ferrari called Sainz in three laps later to relinquish the lead and a fumbled rear-left change onto softs meant he was held for a slow 4.6 seconds to give Hamilton a 6.4 seconds margin to Verstappen.

Hamilton finally made his second stop on the end of lap 51 for a switch to softs and came out in fifth, ten seconds down on Sainz as Russell usurped Leclerc – still struggling on the hard tyres.

The Ferrari broke loose through the final corner to give Russell an easy run for second over the line as Ferrari eventually aborted its strategy and was forced into an additional stop.

The soft tyres were bolted on but having led, he returned over 30s behind Verstappen.

With Verstappen managing the mediums to the flag, including a late VSC for Bottas stopping with power loss aboard his Alfa Romeo at turn 12, he streaked to an unlikely victory by 7.8 seconds.

The Mercedes were the next fastest cars in the final phase of the race, with soft-shod Hamilton able to depose Sainz on older tyres and then teammate Russell for second place.

Despite complaining his tyres had dropped off, Russell too had the legs on Sainz to nail consecutive 2-3 finishes for Mercedes as Perez inflicted more pain on Ferrari in fifth place.

Leclerc’s extra pitstop consigned him to sixth ahead of Norris, who switched to hard tyres to keep ahead of the one-stopping Alpines of Alonso and Ocon.

Vettel recovered from the early contact with Albon to score the final point in the updated Aston Martin ahead of teammate Lance Stroll, the Aston Martin having been turned around after contact with Ricciardo – the McLaren driver got a 5 seconds time penalty.

Pierre Gasly crossed the line in P12 from a pitlane start after exceeding the engine allocation limit with a Saturday night power unit change.

Zhou Guanyu led Mick Schumacher and the reprimanded Ricciardo, while Kevin Magnussen was left on a hiding to nothing in the sole upgraded Haas after an early switch to hards before stopping twice more.

Albon landed P17 ahead of FP3 pacesetter and Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi.

Yuki Tsunoda completed the finishers after spinning from P17 to the back through the turn 6-7 chicane, as Bottas was the sole driver to retire in the final race ahead of the summer break.

So yet again Ferrari were unable to take advantage despite a higher grid positions. The strategy call made by the Scuderia was awful especially running the hard compound for Charles Leclerc. Red Bull took this opportunity to come through from P10 and win thanks to superior race pace and Max Verstappen. The season now takes a summer break but will be back at the beautiful Spa-Francorchamps track next month.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:39:35.912
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 +78.300s
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1 lap
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1 lap
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1 lap
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
14 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
15 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
17 Alexander Albon Williams +1 lap
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams +1 lap
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +2 laps
20 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo DNF

Russell’s takes a surprising pole position

George Russell achieved his first pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix by beating both Ferraris while championship leader Max Verstappen was taken out of contention by a power issue.

The Mercedes driver was an unlikely contender to top qualifying after the struggles in the W13 all season, not least during both dry and wet running at the Hungaroring so far this weekend.

But despite not taking a fastest sector on his critical lap, his combined runs sailed George to the top over Carlos Sainz, who had the advantage on his teammate Charles Leclerc.

But it was a session to forget for Red Bull, with Verstappen only poised to line up P10 as Sergio Perez was eliminated in Q2.

The day-long downpour that was widely predicted held off to allow qualifying to take place as scheduled on Saturday afternoon in Budapest.

It was Sainz who ended the first part of the 12-minute Q3 run on top, his first flying lap placing him half a second clear of Russell after Leclerc had messed up straight away with a snap in his F1-75 at Turn 1 as he struggled with the tyres.

With Verstappen combatting understeer to run off track at Turn 2, he ended the first run-out only seventh fastest.

The ten fastest cars then emerged with three minutes, 40 seconds to run, but Verstappen was soon complaining of no power aboard his RB18 – cycling through sensor modes not enough to remedy the problem.

With the defending champion, who leads Leclerc in the standings by 63 points, out of the picture, Sainz cycled to the top with the fastest first sector of anyone (pipping Nicholas Latifi).

That gave the British Grand Prix polesitter the bragging rights initially as Leclerc slotted in 0.15 seconds adrift, but then three personal best sectors at the death for Russell gave him an unlikely pole.

His one minute, 17.377 seconds effort pipping Sainz’s one minute, 17.421 seconds best, while Leclerc managed to keep ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris – the MCL36 impressing in dry qualifying and race simulations during FP2 on Friday.

Esteban Ocon managed to reverse the recent run of form to pip Fernando Alonso in the intra-team Alpine scrap, while Lewis Hamilton’s DRS failed to activate on his final lap to knock him to seventh.

Valtteri Bottas claimed eighth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, as Verstappen had to make do with a one minute, 18.823 seconds that left him 10ths and 1.5s adrift of the Mercedes benchmark.

Perez was the major casualty from Q2 in a strange session for the driver, his Red Bull being knocked out by a slender 0.05 seconds courtesy of the late improvements from Ocon and Bottas.

Checo complained that Kevin Magnussen’s line through the Turn 3 left-hander had ultimately cost him a place inside the top ten.

Perez had his first lap in Q2 scrubbed off for exceeding track limits at Turn 5, but it seemed a marginal call as replays showed not all four wheels crossed fully over the white lines.

Seven minutes after the fact, the lap was therefore reinstated to put him eighth. The reports of spots of rain plus a dip in track temperatures might have kept him safe enough.

But as the showers held off, the late climbs from the Alfa Romeo and Alpine dropped Perez to 11th ahead of Zhou Guanyu and Magnussen.

K-Mag aborted his final lap after missing his personal bests in sectors ones and two.

Lance Stroll, meanwhile, will start P14 ahead of the second Haas of Mick Schumacher.

Perez had already been at risk in P14 in Q1 as the chequered flag came out, but he was given respite when Pierre Gasly had his improved lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 5.

That dropped the AlphaTauri to P19, with his teammate Yuki Tsunoda also eliminated in the first part of qualifying – the Japanese driver similarly crossing the white lines earlier in the session at the same protracted right-hand bend to have to start all over again.

With Tsunoda’s final, compliant effort not enough to progress as he landed 16th, Stroll had secured his slot in Q2 by 0.35 seconds. Meanwhile, Alex Albon ran for P17 ahead of the hastily repaired Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel.

In the two-hour break between sessions, Seb had helped his crew repair the AMR22 machine following his shunt into the barriers late in FP3 that resulted in a brief red flag.

The retiring four-time champion, who appeared to struggle for balance through the final corner, ultimately landed only P18.

Latifi, the unlikely pacesetter in a slippery final practice, might have progressed into the Q2 fight when yet again he mastered the first sector to set a purple run late on.

He combined this with a personal best sector two only to suffer a spike of oversteer in the final right-hander to cost him 0.7 seconds and leave him last in qualifying – much to his frustration over team radio.

So congratulations to George Russell in scoring his first Formula 1 pole position. Carlos Sainz’s lap was great and yet Mr Saturday’s performance was just epic. What a result for Mercedes after struggling all season. This pole is much needed to boost morale.

Hungarian Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 George Russell Mercedes 1:17.377
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:17.421
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.567
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:17.769
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:18.018
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:18.078
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.142
8 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:18.157
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:18.379
10 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:18.823
11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:18.516
12 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:18.573
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:18.825
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:19.137
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:19.202
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTaur 1:19.240
17 Alex Albon Williams 1:19.256
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:19.273
19 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:19.527
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:19.570

Verstappen takes French Grand Prix victory as Leclerc crashes out

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen extended his championship lead with race victory at the French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard, as Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari while leading the race.

At the start, Leclerc easily lead away from pole ahead of Verstappen, who initially looked like he would have to defend against Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 as the Mercedes driver had launched straight past Sergio Perez up ahead and starting third.

But Verstappen hit the brakes latest of the top three and ran to Leclerc’s outside, but the Ferrari was under no real pressure on the racing line.

The top ten immediately pulled clear of Hamilton – exchanging fastest laps as they did so.

As soon as DRS was activated on lap three, Verstappen – who was already able to catch Leclerc on every straight with his lower drag, skinnier rear wing – really began to pressure his rival, who appeared to be struggling for rear tyre grip.

Verstappen closed the gap to a minimum of 0.5 seconds at the start of lap eight of 53 as he twice got so close running into Le Beausset he looked to attack on Leclerc’s outside.

But the Ferrari’s higher downforce, larger rear wing meant Leclerc was able to pull away through the technical sections at the start and end of the laps and a tense stalemate developed with Verstappen falling back towards one-second adrift over the next few laps.

The defending world champion was now the one seemingly struggling for grip as at one stage he slipped off the road at Turn 6, so picking up his first track limits violation, and by lap 14 he had had fallen out of DRS range as Leclerc began to increase his pace back towards where he had been lapping in the early stages.

Leclerc’s lead was heading up towards 1.5 seconds when Red Bull called Verstappen in at the end of lap 16 to switch to the hard tyres.

Ferrari, which had told Leclerc it was considering a “Plan B” strategy and that the harder tyres team-mate Carlos Sainz was running down the order after his engine-change grid penalty were still suffering from thermal degradation, did not move to immediately cover Verstappen’s stop.

But just after it had warned Leclerc to look after his mediums, the race was turned on its head when Leclerc crashed out at Le Beausset – losing the rear of his F1-75 in a mistake while running close to the edge of the track deep into the high-speed hairpin on his stressed tyre.

He rapidly spun around and went straight on into the barriers, where he fumed “I cannot go on throttle” before screaming “Nooooo!” in realisation that he was out of the race.

The incident was covered by a safety car, where Hamilton, who had seen off Perez’s early attentions to run well clear of the second Red Bull before Leclerc’s crash, led a mass visit to the pits.

He rejoined behind Verstappen and still ahead of Perez, with George Russell, Fernando Alonso and the two McLarens following in the queue ahead of Sainz.

He had risen up the order from his back row start in the early stages, but picked up a five-second penalty after his slow safety car stop ended when was released into the path of Alex Albon’s approaching Williams.

At the restart on lap 21, Verstappen easily raced clear of Hamilton and was soon in complete command up from, while the Mercedes again pulled away from Perez.

The main action in the pack was Sainz’s continued recovery drive, as he jumped by Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 1 at the restart and got Lando Norris into the Mistral straight chicane further around the lap.

On the next lap he got ahead of compatriot Alonso and then set off after Russell, who then frustrated the remaining Ferrari’s progress for several laps before the Briton’s defence at the Turns 8/9 chicane meant Sainz got a better run up the hill to Signes, where he thrilling got ahead with an around-the-outside pass.

Up front, Verstappen continued to pull clear of Hamilton and his lead had reached four-seconds by lap 32, before it soon shot up to nearly seven – mainly thanks to his pursuer subsequently having to catch an oversteer snap through the second corner and ran off the track.

From there, Verstappen was untroubled to the finish and came home with a 10.5 seconds margin of victory ahead of Hamilton, who was likewise unthreatened in second – this was despite a brief moment of worry for the leaders when Zhou Guanyu stopped in the Turn 6 runoff and triggered a brief virtual safety car.

Their advantage up front was because after his Signes pass on Russell, Sainz had closed in on Perez and pressured the Mexican driver hard for several laps as Ferrari dithered over whether to bring him in for a second time – knowing If it did he would his penalty applied tyres could be changed.

Both team and driver changed their minds on whether to come in our not, but Sainz was still out by lap 41 and he was running right behind Perez – attacking at Signes and then staying close enough to dive ahead at the final corner.

Ferrari had called him in mid-way through their scrap, but Sainz dismissed the call and shot clear – having pulled Russell along in his wake so the Mercedes was then in position to attack the grip-less Perez.

On lap 42, Russell made a late move to the inside of the Turn 8 part of the Mistral chicane and when Perez turned in the pair came close to crashing before the Red Bull scampered across Turn 9 and stayed ahead – to Russell’s frustration but with the stewards’ quickly deciding the incident did not merit investigation.

But straight after this, Ferrari then ultimately did bring Sainz in for a second stop and he re-joined ninth and with a near 30 seconds gap to try and recover – as well as repass the Norris and Alonso.

He did so quickly and showed searing pace on his way to setting the race’s fastest lap, but came home a frustrated fifth.

That was behind Perez, who lost out to Russell after the Mercedes driver jumped ahead of the Red Bull when the VSC ended as they approached the final corner and then soaked up pressure over the final three laps to seal third.

Sainz ended up 11.5 seconds behind Perez, but well clear of Alonso and Norris, with Esteban Ocon eighth after hitting Yuki Tsunoda at the Mistral straight chicane on lap one and getting a five-second penalty he served at his safety car stop for spinning the AlphaTauri around.

Ricciardo took ninth and Lance Stroll got the final point, despite Sebastian Vettel getting very close to nipping ahead on the last lap – with the chasing Aston Martin appearing to nearly hit the other when it was slow getting off the final corner’s apex.

The other non-finishers were Nicholas Latifi and Kevin Magnussen who retired in the pits shortly after they clashed at Turn 2 in the closing stages, just after the Williams had attacked the Haas at the preceding Turn 1 in an incident that will be investigated now the race has finished.

Tsunoda stopped on the same lap as Leclerc’s crash as a result of the floor damage he had picked up in the lap one clash with Ocon that had dropped him to the rear of the pack.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the French Grand Prix. This result increases his championship points lead. Feel sorry for Charles Leclerc as he was leading the race and was looking good for a race victory. But a big mistake occurred and the Ferrari ended in the wall. As for the Scuderia’s strategy with Carlos Sainz, what is going on? Not looking at the bigger picture and even with time penalty, lost some crucial points.

French Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:30:02.112
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +10.587
3 George Russell Mercedes +16.495
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull +17.310
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +28.872
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine +42.879
7 Lando Norris McLaren +52.026
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine +56.959
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +60.372
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +62.549
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +64.494
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +65.448
13 Alex Albon Williams +68.565
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +76.666
15 Mick Schumacher Haas +80.394s
– Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo DNF
– Nicholas Latifi Williams +6 laps
– Kevin Magnussen Haas DNF
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNF
– Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri DNF

Leclerc takes French Grand Prix pole thanks to his Ferrari teammate

Charles Leclerc beat championship rival Max Verstappen to take pole position for the French Grand Prix as Ferrari used slipstream tactics with Carlos Sainz to help capture P1.

Sergio Perez completed the top three for Red Bull as Sainz’s running on used tyres meant he qualifying ninth but will drop to the back of the grid thanks to Ferrari fitting a fresh power unit for this event after his Austria DNF.

Leclerc led after the first runs in Q3, but only by 0.008 seconds over Verstappen as the Ferraris ran line astern to try and negate Red Bull’s top speed advantage with its potent Honda engine and lower-drag rear wing.

On the second runs, Sainz again ran ahead of Leclerc in the pack, the latter dropping back ahead of the final corners on their out-laps to avoid dirty air from his teammate disrupting his progress through the opening turns.

But, as he had done on the first Q3 fliers, Sainz slowed exiting the chicane midway down the Mistral straight and then towed his teammate down the rest of the straight, through the rapid Signes right before pulling over just before Le Beausset.

Leclerc then rocketed to the fastest time in the third sector, having already beaten his previous session-leading time in sector one, to put in a one minute, 30.872 seconds.

That ended up being 0.304 seconds clear of Verstappen after the world champion could not reproduce his best times in the opening two sectors.

Behind Perez came Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, with George Russell sixth for Mercedes.

Then came Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda, with Sainz finishing ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who did not run in Q3 as he too will drop to the back of the grid having likewise taken a new engine this weekend.

In Q2, topped by Sainz with a one minute, 31.081 seconds, Daniel Ricciardo’s personal best at the last was not enough to get into the top ten, with all of the eliminated drivers doing likewise having run ahead of the Australian, who was the last to cross the line.

Esteban Ocon had led the pack around for the final laps and did leap up the order having been in the drop zone after the first Q2 runs, but he was shuffled back to P12 ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.

Alex Albon finished P15 for Williams – having got through to Q2 after Mick Schumacher lost his final Q1 lap to a track limits violation.

Albon had been unable to set a final Q1 time after he lost the rear of his car exiting the Turn 8 part of the chicane that breaks up the Mistral straight and spun.

In Q1, which Leclerc topped with the fastest lap of the weekend at that stage on his first flier, Pierre Gasly was knocked out in P16 ahead of Lance Stroll, who set an identical lap time right at the end of the segment but lost out because he did it second, the Aston Martin driver ruing catching traffic in the final turns.

Zhou Guanyu ended up P18 having led the pack to the chequered flag, but failed to set a personal best on his final lap after catching a wild oversteer snap through the long, fast Turn 6 right that feeds in the Turn 7 kink on the Mistral straight.

Zhou said he “nearly spun” catching the moment, with his previous personal best good enough for P18 ahead of Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi, who both set their quickest times at the end of Q1.

Schumacher’s one minute, 33.114 seconds jumped him the order and put Albon temporarily into 16th, but running too far over the white line on the inside of Turn 3 meant his effort was deleted and he had to exit the session despite Haas’s protestations about the marginal call with the FIA.

Ricciardo and Tsunoda also had their final Q1 laps deleted for track limits infractions at Turns 6 and 3 respectively, but their previous best times were enough to see them through.

So excellent team play with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in using the tow effort and helping Leclerc to take pole position. Sainz has grid penalties due to power unit changes but did a perfect job in scoring a result for Scuderia Ferrari in qualifying.

French Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.872
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:31.176
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:31.335
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.765
5 Lando Norris McLaren 1:32.032
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:32.131
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:32.552
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:32.780
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:32.922
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:33.048
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:33.052
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:33.276
13 Alex Albon Williams 1:33.307
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:33.439
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:33.439
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:33.674
17 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:33.701
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:33.794
19 Carlos Sainz Ferrari No time*
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas No time*
*Grid penalty for changing power unit

Leclerc survives throttle issues to win Austrian Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc held off local crowd favourite Max Verstappen despite throttle issues to win the Austrian Grand Prix, although the Scuderia was denied a 1-2 finish following a scary fire for Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc, who had not been on the podium since Miami, passed Verstappen three times on track as the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers were placed on different strategies.

A late throttle pedal worry did threaten to derail Leclerc, but he held on for his third victory of the 2022 Formula 1 season.

However, he was not joined on the podium with his teammate Sainz, who showed similar speed and was set to follow Leclerc over the finishing line but was eliminated by a late engine fire to hand Lewis Hamilton third position.

Verstappen led a fast formation lap in a bid to generate tyre temperature and on the medium tyres, enjoyed a tidy launch to hold the middle line and consolidate the lead into Turn 1.

Leclerc maintained position in second as third-starting Sainz was squeezed on the outside to rejoin side-by-side with George Russell, before he fought back past on the inside into Turn 3.

Sergio Perez, from fifth, could then have a sniff at the Mercedes with a drag race out of the right-hander, which left him on the outside for the Turn 4 left.

But Russell made contact with the right-rear of Perez’s Red Bull with his front-left to send the RB18 spinning into the gravel, albeit he rejoined by finding the asphalt run off by the barrier.

Ahead, Verstappen found a 0.985 seconds over Leclerc at the end of lap one of 71, with Sainz a further one second back while Perez eventually recovered to the pits for hards although would retire on lap 17.

Unlike the sprint race Verstappen won, the defending champion was not able to break away in the early laps as Leclerc within the one second window to keep hold of DRS.

On the sprint out of Turn 1 to Turn 3, the gap fell to as little as 0.5 seconds and with Perez heading for an early exit, Ferrari had the potential to splits its strategy to jump Verstappen.

Leclerc had his first tentative look up the inside of Verstappen into Turn 3 on lap 8 but thought better of it for the next three laps.

Then on lap 11, Leclerc made his move – diving down the inside into Turn 3. Verstappen, slower in the opening phase, gave his title rival room and barely put up a fight.

Verstappen tried to offer an attack on the outside of Turn 4 but locked up to fall behind.

Despite a big moment of oversteer and then a couple of lock ups for Leclerc, setting the fastest lap of the race at that stage allowed Charles to break free of DRS.

That prompted Verstappen to put for a set of hard tyres at the end of lap 13 but he was delayed with a 3.2 seconds stop courtesy of a slow front-left change to emerge in traffic.

That left Leclerc to lead over Sainz by 2.5 seconds as Verstappen had to carve his way past Mick Schumacher for fifth around the outside of the Turn 2 kink before demoting 2021 arch-rival Hamilton with relative ease by cutting back to get a good exit from Turn 3.

The Ferraris kept pounding round without stopping, Leclerc holding a 4 seconds advantage over Sainz before the race leader hit the pits at the end of lap 26 for a slick 2.6 seconds switch to hards.

Sainz immediately pitted the lap after for hards, the Scuderia duo returning to the track behind Verstappen but with the upper hand on race pace – Leclerc setting a new fastest lap.

On lap 33, Leclerc closed within DRS range of Verstappen before another cleanly decided move for first position at Turn 3. An early pass allowed Verstappen to fall back and gain DRS for the run to Turn 4 but he opted against a proper retaliation to confirm second place.

With Verstappen complaining of unpredictable grip levels, Red Bull pitted him again on lap 37 for another set of hards, which afforded Ferrari room for another stop 12 tours later.

Leclerc and Sainz both enjoyed quick changes to another set of hards but again faced the prospect of demoting Verstappen, the Dutch racer 2.5 seconds ahead with 20 laps left to play.

Again, Leclerc was quickly into a rhythm on the white-wall rubber to only two laps later gain DRS on Verstappen, the Ferrari moving to the outside for the run to Turn 3.

Leclerc smartly left Verstappen have the apex but turned sharper to jump on the throttle sooner and nail the exit to power back into the lead for the final time.

Sainz was then about to demote Verstappen for a Ferrari 1-2 but on the run to Turn 4, running in the Red Bull’s wake, a wisp of smoke started to waft out of his engine cover.

The Ferrari’s engine then failed spectacularly, with Sainz trying to pull up on the exit as flames burst but the slope of escape rolled meant he struggled to stop the car and jump out.

As flames crept towards the cockpit, Sainz was eventually able to hop out as the virtual safety car was triggered, Leclerc then holding 5.4 seconds over Verstappen.

At the end of lap 58, Leclerc used the slower conditions to stop for mediums and was followed by Verstappen for the run to the line.

Leclerc then complained about as throttle issue, the pedal not retracting fully to make the run through Turn 3 particularly challenging as the margin at the front came down.

A 4.1 seconds lead when the VSC ended began to fall, but Leclerc would hold on to seal the victory – his first since the Australian Grand Prix – by 1.5 seconds over Verstappen to chip away six points.

Hamilton was a distant third, crossing the line 40 seconds behind the top two. But he was placed on a two-stop strategy rather than three and delivered a remarkable surge up the order from ninth. The Mercedes driver’s race was notable for an entertaining battle with both Haas cars and then a DRS pass on Esteban Ocon.

Russell landed fourth ahead of Ocon, while Schumacher completed back-to-back points finishes in sixth after surging past McLaren’s Lando Norris and teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Daniel Ricciardo ran to ninth while Fernando Alonso completed the top ten, having survived a squeeze onto the grass by Yuki Tsunoda that prompted the two-time champion to wag his finger out the cockpit as he continued to fight for position.

Valtteri Bottas landed P11 for Alfa Romeo over Alex Albon, Lance Stroll and Zhou Guanyu.

A difficult weekend for Pierre Gasly ended with P15, the AlphaTauri again in the wars – this time gaining a 5 seconds penalty for catch Sebastian Vettel at Turn 4 and spinning the Aston Martin into the gravel. Vettel too was reprimanded by 5 seconds due to exceeding track limits.

Seb finished in P17, behind Tsunoda, to only head retirees Sainz, Nicholas Latifi and Perez.

So another Ferrari victory in the space of two weeks. The Scuderia beat rival Red Bull at their home track and it was a brilliant drive by Charles Leclerc despite throttle issues. Three overtakes on Max Verstappen reveal the extreme pace and strategy which sealed this win. Roll on the next Formula 1 racing event.

Austrian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:24:24.312
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.532
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 41.217
4 George Russell Mercedes 58.972
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 68.436
6 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
7 Lando Norris McLaren +1 lap
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1 lap
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1 lap
12 Alex Albon Williams +1 lap
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1 lap
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 lap
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1 lap
– Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF
– Nicholas Latifi Williams DNF
– Sergio Perez Red Bull DNF

Verstappen wins Austrian Grand Prix sprint race

Local crowd favourite Max Verstappen claimed victory in the sprint race ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc eventually holding off his Ferrari teammate for second position.

The Red Bull Racing driver needed to defend into Turn 1 and 3 against an initially strong Scuderia threat, but as Leclerc and Carlos Sainz went wheel-to-wheel, the defending champion was able to march away to a relatively smooth triumph.

The start was delayed and an extra formation lap called when Zhou Guanyu momentarily lost drive out of the final corner on his way to the grid when his engine briefly switched off.

The Alfa Romeo was able to find drive and pull away, but not before one lap had been struck off the 24.

This came after Fernando Alonso – due to line up in eighth position – required a pitlane start when his Alpine would not fire on the grid for a technical issue that the team is still to identify.

The regulations permitting that the car cannot be touched with three minutes to go meant Alonso was left on the trolley and with the tyre blankets on. Despite the possibility of a pitlane start, the two-time champion would not take part at all in the sprint race.

After the disruption, it was Leclerc who enjoyed the marginally better launch to force Verstappen to pull to the inside line and squeeze the Ferrari closer to the pit wall.

The Red Bull’s defensive work duly paid off as Verstappen swept into the Turn 1 right-hander in the lead, but a compromised line allowed third-starting Sainz to threaten.

With Leclerc battling Verstappen, Sainz was given room to dive ahead into the first corner and a strong exit enabled the Silverstone winner to move his Ferrari to the outside and attempt a pass.

He put his nose in front of Verstappen in the braking zone of Turn 3 but on the outside and off the racing line, he ran wide and then the subsequent oversteer on the less grippy asphalt allowed Leclerc to accelerate away faster and reclaim second position with a run into Turn 4.

The Ferrari battle allowed Verstappen to initially break away to the tune of half a second, an advantage the reigning champion then doubled at the end of the opening lap.

The Ferraris continued to fight, with Sainz seemingly carrying an early pace advantage to try and leapfrog Leclerc on the outside of Turn 3 into 4, with the red car appears to rub.

With the Ferrari pair allowed to battle for track position, that left Sainz, who had locked up, to virtually stop as he was squeezed towards the gravel trap, in turn gifting Verstappen breathing space of 2 seconds.

Verstappen was able to stretch the legs of his RB18 to take the gap up towards 3 seconds but in the final few laps, Leclerc could lap a tenth or two faster to gradually chip away at the margin.

Verstappen would complain about his struggles on the medium tyres, but the pace swing was not enough to offer a threat as the defending title winner eventually crossed the line 1.6 seconds clear to extend his championship lead to 44 points – Leclerc having taken the bonus point for fastest lap.

Sainz completed the podium another 3.9 seconds adrift of his Ferrari teammate while George Russell converted fourth on the grid in a lonely afternoon, his Mercedes W13 having received extensive repairs following his final-corner shunt late in Q3.

Sergio Perez, who had started P13 after his Q3 times were deleted for a late Q2 track limits violation that initially went undetected, recovered to fifth position.

His impressive climb was aided by a first-corner collision that involved Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri being lifted into the air and spun around.

The AlphaTauri racer, starting P10, had moved gradually to the left as he lined up the first right-hander, but in doing so left Lewis Hamilton pinched with the Williams of Alex Albon.

The lack of room left Hamilton’s front-right to make contact with Gasly’s rear left, prompting his car to hop into the air and spin down to an eventual P15.

Perez had also made rapid moves on the two Haas cars before demoting Esteban Ocon, the sole remaining Alpine securing sixth ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen narrowly had the measure of stablemate Mick Schumacher, which left Mick to ask his team for K-Mag to check his pace and offer DRS assistance.

This came as Hamilton welded himself to the rear of Schumacher’s car and stuck his nose alongside at Turn 3 repeatedly, at one stage appearing to touch the Haas’ right-rear wheel, as he fought to claim eighth position.

The Mercedes was still unable to pass with DRS assistance owing to the Haas’ straight line credentials, but Hamilton eventually passed with good drive out of Turn 3.

Schumacher just left enough room to the grass for the W13 to take the position into Turn 3.

Valtteri Bottas used the dice to close but was not truly in the fight and settled in P10 spot.

Despite Daniel Ricciardo asking to be let past, Lando Norris headed a McLaren P11 and P12.

Lance Stroll (top soft tyre runner), Zhou and Gasly completed the top 15 ahead of Alex Albon, who was demoted to P16 with a five-second penalty for squeezing Lando Norris out of room on the exit of Turn 3.

Behind Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi, Sebastian Vettel joined Alonso as a retiree.

The Aston Martin was called into the pits on the last lap with damage, Vettel having spun when he collided as he battled around the outside of Turn 7.

So a straightforward sprint victory for Max Verstappen. Who was running up that hill to escape from the Ferraris. Sunday’s race could be much closer especially in terms of race pace and strategy. But the orange army are expecting another Super Max performance. Roll on the main race.

Austrian Grand Prix, sprint race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 26:30.059
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.675
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 5.644
4 George Russell Mercedes 13.429
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull 18.302
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine 31.032
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 34.539
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 35.447
9 Mick Schumacher Haas 37.163
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 37.557
11 Lando Norris McLaren 38.580
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 39.738
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 48.241
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 50.753
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 52.125
16 Alex Albon Williams 52.412
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 54.556
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 68.694
19 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin DNF
– Fernando Alonso Alpine DNS

Verstappen beats Ferraris to start on pole at Red Bull Ring

Max Verstappen scored an important pole position from Formula 1 rival Charles Leclerc by snatching pole position in the final few moments of qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.

The defending champion and local favourite looked to have been beaten by a last-second Ferrari threat that peaked after two red flags in Q3 that were caused by Lewis Hamilton then George Russell crashing.

With the Red Bull driver dropping time during the first half of the lap on his final dash, Leclerc might have seized top position when he ran over the line to move into first place.

But Verstappen pulled it out of the bag by recovering the lost ground through the final sector to score what might have been an unlikely pole. He was the only driver to dip into the 64 seconds mark.

Effectively, qualifying had boiled down to the final two minutes, 30 seconds following the Mercedes crashes.

Verstappen’s Q3 banker had him provisionally fastest as he left the Red Bull Ring pits behind both Ferraris.

Leclerc was first across the line to begin his final thrust for pole, only to drop a tenth in the first sector to Verstappen.

But he recovered that with a fastest overall final sector, while Verstappen was seemingly off the pace.

Leclerc therefore leapt to the top of the leaderboard on a one minute, 05.013 seconds effort.

Sainz was a little adrift with a one minute, 05.066 seconds, completed with three personal best sectors, that appeared to have confirmed pole for Leclerc.

But then Verstappen pulled out a personal best final sector that was enough to offset the damage earlier in the lap and he recorded an impressive one minute, 04.984 seconds which means he will start at the front of the pack in the sprint race.

Sainz will be joined on the second row of the grid by Sergio Perez as Russell’s pre-crash effort was suffice for fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon.

But Perez will be moved back several positions after race control found that the Red Bull driver took track limits.

Kevin Magnussen had the advantage on his Haas teammate Mick Schumacher to end a close-run intra-team fight in seventh, while Fernando Alonso was ninth.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was shuffled down to P10 as a legacy of his incident that occurred inside the first half of the final ten minutes part of qualifying.

In the first of the Mercedes shunts, Hamilton had brought out the red flags in Q3 with five minutes, 29 seconds to go after shunting into the barrier at Turn 7.

The seven-time world champion, who had just oversteered out of Turn 6, was marginally wide of the apex, which caused the rear of his Mercedes W13 to snap out of control.

Hamilton was quick to correct it but as the car gripped, the steering lock applied projected him off the road and across the gravel.

He slammed sideways into the wall and breaking parts of his car.

The shunt was met by cheers from the Dutch-heavy crowd, Hamilton having been a credible front-row threat after leading the times for much of Q2 as he whittled his time down to a one minute, 05.475 seconds before being shuffled to third behind Leclerc and Verstappen.

After the 11-minute interruption, Russell followed Alonso out of the pits to enjoy the clean air as he sought to improve on his fifth-fastest effort.

But despite the unhindered run, he ran slower than his personal best in the first sector to sit 0.42 seconds adrift of Verstappen’s benchmark before flashing a green second sector.

Then not unlike his teammate, Russell lost the rear through final corner as it too snapped violently to flick Russell towards the outside tyre wall, eventually damaging his rear wing.

Russell remains under investigation for entering the track without permission at Turn 10 as he walked across the track under the red flag to return to the Mercedes garage.

He then progressed into the final part of qualifying at his last attempt, finishing Q2 in sixth, only to then be noted for running over the white lines at the left-right transition through the Turn 7-8 open chicane after the session had ended and positions 11-15 decided.

Norris had been the major casualty of Q2, having ended the first part of qualifying in eighth, despite running off road at Turn 3, to massively put teammate Ricciardo in the shade.

But the driver who caused the first of two red flags in FP1 after reporting smoke under his seat then ended up last in Q2, the Briton off the boil having been “scared to hit the brakes”.

The McLaren driver started the 15-minute dice by oversteering at Turn 3 before enduring masses of understeer at Turn 4 to clip the gravel and have his lap time deleted.

At his next attempt, he ran well deep at Turn 1 and had to abort the corner.

That left him last and without a time as he then messed up three of the seven defined corners, albeit the FIA recognises 10 turns.

He locked up at Turn 3 and Turn 4 before again tagging the kitty litter on the exit of Turn 6.

Norris had one final attempt possible but pitted to end the session 15th.

Further ahead thanks to setting a one minute, 06.160 seconds, Pierre Gasly had been the first driver to miss out on Q3.

He toured round 0.11 seconds slower than Schumacher to set the P11 ahead of the rapid upgraded Williams FW44 of Alex Albon and the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas.

Yuki Tsunoda ran P14, having ruined his final attempt by sliding off at Turn 1 – which was greeted by anger over team radio by the AlphaTauri racer.

Ricciardo’s difficult season and uninspiring form from Silverstone lingered on as he became the first person to miss out on Q2, the honey badger missing the cut off by 0.024 seconds.

As teammate Norris ended the first 18-minute part of qualifying in eighth, despite running off road at Turn 3, Ricciardo managed only P16 to lose out to the AlphaTauri of Gasly.

Meanwhile, Lance Stroll had appeared on the cusp of progressing into the second part of qualifying, running inside the top 15 for much of the opening gambit, only to slip to P17.

Stroll was a multiple track limits offender, running wide at Turn 10 – the final corner – to have his current and next lap scrubbed off before he then pushed his luck at Turn 1.

He still kept ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu, while Nicholas Latifi took the old-spec Williams to P19 ahead of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

The Aston Martin driver had initially lapped quicker than his teammate only to be sent to the bottom of the times when he exceeded track limits at Turn 10 to have his time deleted.

So a very close qualifying battle between the Ferraris and yet the local hero Max Verstappen rise to the challenge and scored an important pole position. The sprint race is going to be interesting and it is going to be a long race at the Red Bull Ring. Bring it on!

Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:04.984
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:05.013
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:05.066
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:05.404*
5 George Russell Mercedes 1:05.431
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:05.726
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:05.879
8 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:06.011
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:06.103
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.151
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:06.160
12 Alex Albon Williams 1:06.230
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:06.851
14 Lando Norris McLaren 1:25.847
15 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:06.613
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:06.847
17 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:06.901
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:07.003
19 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:07.083
20 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:06.319

*Lap time deleted due to track limited. Perez will start the sprint race in P13.

Sainz takes maiden victory in thrilling Silverstone race

Carlos Sainz has finally won a Formula 1 race in a thrilling British Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. The race was disrupted by a horrifying first corner crash, protestors and a safety car that cost Charles Leclerc.

Home crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton was able to take a podium finish, with Max Verstappen picking up damage that dropped out of the lead fight early in the restarted race, which was stopped after just a few corners due to the Turn 1 incident.

At the start of the race, Verstappen used the grip advantage of soft tyres against the mediums on pole-sitting Sainz’s Ferrari to get alongside off the line and steal ahead into Abbey to immediately wrestle the lead from second on the grid, while Hamilton rocketed past Sergio Perez and Leclerc to take third from fifth.

As Leclerc was making an attempt to get back ahead of the Mercedes through Village and the Loop a couple of corners later, the race was red flagged due to the multi-car pile-up behind the leaders at Abbey.

On the approach to the rapid right first corner, contact between Pierre Gasly and George Russell to immediate the right of Zhou Guanyu speared the Mercedes into the side of the Alfa Romeo, which flipped it over.

Zhou slid at high speed into the gravel upside down and in horrifying scenes bounced over the tyre barrier beyond, with the Chinese driver’s wrecked car coming to rest between the catch fence protecting the grandstand just behind and the back of the barrier.

It took several minutes to get Zhou out, but fortunately he was conscious and taken to the track medical centre.

Williams driver Alex Albon was also transported there as he was the first driver to be caught up in a secondary incident after Zhou and Russell were eliminated (Gasly was able to carry on relatively unscathed).

As the following Valtteri Bottas slowed, his car being showered with debris, Albon braked hard too and was rear-ended by Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin, which spun the Williams into the wall and he then hit the front-front of Alpine driver Esteban Ocon and then as a result of that third impact struck Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri.

All of those drivers bar Albon was able to recover to the pits for repairs, with the race suspended for 53 minutes, during which it was confirmed that several protestors had invaded the track shortly down the Wellington straight at the same time as the original start before quickly being removed.

When it did resume, the order – other the three cars that did not take the restart – was the same as the initial grid.

This was because the pack had not passed the second safety car line at the end of lengthy pit lane exit by the time the race was stopped and in such circumstances the FIA must take the order from last point it can determine the order, which is back to what it was before the lights had gone out.

This time, with Verstappen now matching the Ferrari cars on the medium tyres, the Red Bull again made a better getaway and was quickly alongside Sainz, who squeezed the Dutchman close to the pitwall.

But with Verstappen not backing down, Sainz was forced to hang on around the outside of Abbey but did so to thrillingly retain the lead, with Leclerc again making a slow getaway behind the two leaders – this time with Perez getting by off the line.

But Leclerc sent a bold move to Perez’s inside at Turn 4 – the Loop – and was able to force his way back to third, with the Monegasque driver then getting such good drive onto the Wellington straight he was able to attack Verstappen at Brooklands.

There, with Leclerc obliged by Verstappen to take the outside line, the pair clashed lightly and the Ferrari had to take to the runoff before his right-front wing endplate, which was damaged in the earlier contact with Perez, flying off on the run to Copse and hitting the Red Bull’s front wing right-side and causing similar harm.

That would soon mean Perez had to pit for a new wing, which released the battling Hamilton and Lando Norris, while up front Sainz had established a lead over a second by the time the DRS was activated on lap five of 52.

It took Verstappen a few laps before he was able to edge his way back into the critical one-second window, after which he was able to put Sainz under considerable pressure.

On lap 10, Sainz had to catch a massive oversteer snap through Becketts and was snapped off track briefly, which allowed Verstappen to sweep ahead down the Hanger straight.

Verstappen quickly shot to a lead above one second, but his lead only lasted two laps as he was then slow through Maggotts and Becketts with what he suspected was a puncture picked up after running over the kerbs at Copse on lap 12, but which Red Bull later explained was damage to a small winglet at the rear of his car.

Verstappen immediately pitted for another set of mediums, Sainz having already moved back to the lead and Leclerc threatening, with Hamilton not far behind after he had despatched Norris into Brooklands on the lap after Perez stopped early on.

That put Verstappen out of contention, with Sainz soon coming under pressure from Leclerc despite the second Ferrari’s damaged front wing, the gap down to 0.9 seconds by lap 14.

Leclerc was so close Sainz decided to move down the Hanger straight, with the chasing Ferrari soon insisting he was quicker and urging Ferrari to do something about the situation.

With Ferrari opting to leave things alone, Hamilton was soon homing in on the pair and was just under four seconds behind when Sainz was called in to ease Ferrari’s quandary at the end of lap 20 to take the hards.

Leclerc therefore led for the next five laps before he pitted, having been shipping a few tenths each time to the charging Hamilton behind.

Mercedes did not immediately move to bring its remaining car in, opting to build a tyre off-set while Leclerc, having passed the difficult tyre warm-up phase on the white-walled rubber that Sainz had already got through, again closed in on his team-mate.

Ferrari gave Sainz the chance to lift his pace, but decided he could not run fast enough and so on lap 31 ordered Carlos to let his team-mate by.

After this, Leclerc edged clear to lead by just under a second, but was matching Hamilton’s times up front and so on lap 33 Lewis was called in to make his switch to the hards, but a getting his used left-front medium off took slightly longer than normal and so it ended up being a 4.3 seconds stop that meant he came out behind the two red cars.

Leclerc began pulling away from Sainz, who had been warned he need to save fuel, to his frustration, with the gap between the pair reaching 3.5 seconds at the end of lap 38.

But on the next tour, Esteban Ocon – who had just overtaken Verstappen for eighth with the Red Bull having made a second stop to take hards, which he felt made his hobbled car worse – slowed down the national pits straight.

Ocon stopped before Copse and the safety car was therefore called out, with Ferrari leaving Leclerc out on his ageing hards despite appearing to have time to call him in, as it did for Sainz and Mercedes did for Hamilton.

The closed the pack up, with Perez, who had been displaying strong pace after his early first stop, therefore suddenly a factor again in fourth.

Ferrari urged Sainz, who like all the frontrunners bar Leclerc would see out the race on the softs, to drop back at the restart within the allowed 10 car lengths to give the lead “breathing space” – a call he swiftly rejected.

On the restart tour on lap 43, Leclerc lost momentum going wide out of Aintree and onto the Wellington straight, with Sainz blasting back to the lead after seeing off his team-mate’s attentions at Brooklands.

Sainz steamed clear, with Leclerc running ahead of Perez, who had dispatched the seemingly grip-less Hamilton as they ran through Aintree behind the battling Ferraris.

On lap 45, with Sainz clear ahead by 2.3s, Leclerc slid through Luffield and Perez was all over his rear – the Mexican staying close and then making a late, bold dive on the inside line at Stowe.

But Leclerc hung on and they went side-by-side through the first two parts of Club, with Perez appearing to go off track exiting the second apex and Hamilton therefore nipping ahead of both through the final part running onto the Hamilton straight opposite the pits.

Perez then forcefully repassed the Mercedes at Village on the next lap and shot clear to chase Sainz, which ended up fruitless as the Ferrari driver held on to take his first F1 win by 3.7 seconds.

The action was not over however, as on lap 47 Hamilton went around Leclerc’s outside all the way around Luffield to run third by the time they reached Woodcote.

But Leclerc did not give up and somehow took his much older hards to get a run on the outside of Copse, where he repassed Hamilton in a stunning move.

It was all for nothing as Hamilton blasted by with DRS on the subsequent run down the Hanger straight, with the home hero going on to finish 6.2 seconds behind Sainz.

Leclerc was able to defy the closely-following Fernando Alonso and Norris, both of whom had stopped under the safety car as well, to the finish in fourth, fifth and six.

Verstappen came home seventh after likewise getting a safety car stop for softs and he saw off the close attentions of Mick Schumacher.

The Haas driver had a look to the inside of Stowe with a couple of laps remaining and then nearly hit Verstappen with a bold move at the first part of Club on the final tour before backing out of certain contact at the final corner just a few moments later.

That decision meant Schumacher scored his first Formula 1 points in eighth ahead of mentor Vettel and team-mate Kevin Magnussen.

The other retirees were Gasly and Valtteri Bottas, who both stopped in the pits during the middle phase of the race, the former having early been spun around at Village when team-mate Tsunoda lost the rear of his car in a move to the inside, for which the Japanese driver was given a five-second time addition penalty.

Tsunoda finished last behind the other remaining runners Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi and Daniel Ricciardo.

The late passes between Perez and Leclerc and Perez and Hamilton were noted by the stewards by were deemed not worthy of investigating.

What a thrilling Formula 1 race at Silverstone. The highs and lows of emotions with that scary crash for Zhou followed by his maiden victory for Sainz. The racing was also epic with brilliant wheel to wheel battle.

British Grand Prix, race results:
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 2:17:50.311
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 3.779
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 6.225
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 8.546
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine 9.571
6 Lando Norris McLaren 11.943
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 18.777
8 Mick Schumacher Haas 18.995
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 22.356
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 24.590
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 26.147
12 Nicholas Latifi Williams 32.511
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 32.817
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 40.910
– Esteban Ocon Alpine DNF
– Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri DNF
– Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo DNF
– George Russell Mercedes DNF
– Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo DNF
– Alex Albon Williams DNF

Sainz earns his first pole in wet Silverstone qualifying

Carlos Sainz achieved his first pole position in Formula 1 at a wet and tricky qualifying session at Silverstone. The Ferrari driver beat Max Verstappen to take his maiden P1 with his teammate Charles Leclerc taking third.

Verstappen had led the way through Q1 and Q2 and appeared to be on course to complete a clean sweep as he also topped the times ahead of the final runs in the final qualifying segment.

Indeed, Verstappen set the fastest first sector of Q3 on his last effort, but lost time around the rest of the lap and could not improve his personal best.

That meant he could not get back ahead of Sainz, who was shocked to take pole with a one minute, 40.983 seconds that he said “felt terrible”, despite setting the quickest Q3 times in the second and third sectors.

Leclerc wound up third as he spun through Chapel heading onto the Hanger straight on his final Q3 lap, after he had looked to be Verstappen’s closest challenger for pole before Sainz surprised everyone – including himself, as he asked his engineer “how did I do P1?!” after crossing the finishing line – to take pole.

Sergio Perez took fourth, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, both of whom had registered high placings through the early segments of qualifying, which was wet throughout after rain doused the Silverstone track in the 15 minutes ahead of the 3pm local start time.

Then came Fernando Alonso and George Russell, with Zhou Guanyu making it through to Q3 for the second race in a row and ending up ninth for Alfa Romeo.

Nicholas Latifi was delighted to make it through to Q3 for the first time, but he did not set a representative time in the final segment and so finished tenth and last of the shootout runners.

Q2 began with the rain starting to fall harder again after it had stopped by the end of Q1, which put a premium on fast, early banker efforts.

This nearly caught out Sainz as he languished in the drop zone after the initial laps in the middle segment, but the Ferrari driver was able to jump up the order at the halfway point, after which the rain falling ever harder meant no drivers were able to improve and the elimination order was set.

Pierre Gasly was the highest placed driver to be knocked out in P11 for AlphaTauri, followed by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas – and early spinner in Q1 at Club – and Yuki Tsunoda.

Daniel Ricciardo wound up down in P14 in the other McLaren, followed by Alpine driver Esteban Ocon.

In Q1, the opening segment began with rain falling steadily, but the pack nevertheless headed out on the intermediates, which was the compound used throughout qualifying and the drivers were generally fuelled to circulate throughout all three segments.

All five of the drivers knocked out at the end of Q1 set their quickest times right at the end in the best of the conditions of the whole qualifying session, but could not improve enough to escape, with Alex Albon finishing just P16 in the updated Williams and frustrated at being ordered to complete cool down laps between flying efforts.

Then came Kevin Magnussen and Sebastian Vettel, who were followed in unison by their respective Haas and Aston Martin teammates –Mick Schumacher and Lance Stroll, who brought up the rear of the field.

Vettel’s exit in P18 marks the four-time world champion’s first ever Q1 elimination at Silverstone.

So congratulations to Carlos Sainz in scoring his first pole position in Formula 1. It’s been a tricky few races for the Ferrari driver so this front row should boost his confidence.

British Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:40.983
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:41.055
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:41.298
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:41.616
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.995
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:42.084
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:42.116
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:42.161
9 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:42.719
10 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2:03.095
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:43.702
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:44.232
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:44.311
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:44.355
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:45.190
16 Alex Albon Williams 1:42.078
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:42.159
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:42.666
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:42.708
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:43.430