Verstappen victorious at Sepang

Max Verstappen scored his second career victory in Formula 1 with a dominant drive in the final Malaysian Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel recovered from starting last on the grid to take fourth position.

Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen passed pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 on lap four at Sepang and from there controlled the race to take the win.

Hamilton finished 12.7 seconds adrift in second, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium in third.

Ferrari’s Vettel, running a new spec power unit, hunted Ricciardo down in the closing laps, but had his challenge cooled when his team told him to back off because of concern over engine temperatures.

In a bizarre incident on the slow down lap, Vettel collided with Lance Stroll’s Williams, causing significant damage to the left rear of the Ferrari.

Vettel, who hitched a lift back to pits on the side of Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber and took his steering wheel with him, now trails championship leader Hamilton by 34 points with five races to go.

There was drama for Ferrari before the start as Kimi Raikkonen, who was due to start second, suffered a turbo problem, and though the team tried to fix it, it was unable to do so before the race began, forcing The Iceman into retirement.

Hamilton got away cleanly from pole, with Verstappen holding off a fast-starting Valtteri Bottas to take second, and Ricciardo slotting into fourth.

Verstappen then set about closing the gap to Hamilton and once he was in DRS range, the Red Bull driver was able to launch a move down the inside at Turn 1.

His team-mate Ricciardo hustled Bottas, getting alongside around the outside of Turn 1 and though the Mercedes driver held on around the outside of Turn 2 to get the place back, Ricciardo had the momentum to pass into Turn 4.

Further back, Vettel was making strong progress, climbing up to P12 by lap two and eighth position by the end of lap 11.

Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit for the first and only time at the end of lap 26, the Mercedes driver swapping super-softs for a fresh set of soft tyres.

Race leader Verstappen reacted the next lap, taking the softs, too, and rejoining ahead of Hamilton.

Ricciardo inherited the lead, but handed it back to Verstappen, who led Hamilton by around nine seconds, when he pitted two laps later.

As Verstappen controlled the race out front, Ricciardo set about trying to catch Hamilton, but in the end the Mercedes was out of reach and Ricciardo had to focus on the threat from Vettel.

Vettel got close enough to launch one attack into Turn 1, but Ricciardo slammed the door shut in front of him, and after that Vettel was forced to back off.

Bottas finished a lonely fifth place with Force India’s Sergio Perez having a clean race to take sixth.

Stoffel Vandoorne made a strong start, rising up to fifth from seventh, but he did not have the speed to match Vettel and Perez and ended up seventh for the second successive race.

Stroll was eighth, ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa, who came out on top in a feisty battle for ninth with Esteban Ocon.

It was a scrappy race for Ocon, who was sandwiched between Massa and team-mate Perez at the start, leading to him picking up a puncture.

He also collided with Carlos Sainz Jr at Turn 1, pitching him into a spin, and then found himself on the grass when battling Massa later in the race.

Nico Hulkenberg finished just outside the points in P11 with Renault team-mate Jolyon Palmer having a scrappy race, including two spins in close succession, the second of which was the result of contact with Kevin Magnussen, and ended up P16.

Sainz was running in the points when he was forced to retire with an engine problem, while rookie Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly finished P14 in his first Grand Prix.

So many congratulations to Max Verstappen. After so much bad luck this season with seven non-finishes in the first 14 races, the popular Red Bull driver finally wins his second  race in Formula 1. The best birthday present with this Malaysian Grand Prix result.

As for Sebastian Vettel. This was a solid performance after a disappointing qualifying. Starting last and yet finished in fourth position. Brilliant fight back. Hopefully Vettel can continue this battle for the title.

Malaysian Grand Prix race result after 56 laps:
1    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    56    1h30m01.290s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    56    12.770s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    56    22.519s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    56    37.362s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    56    56.021s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    56    1m18.630s
7    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
8    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
13    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
14    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    55    1 Lap
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    55    1 Lap
16    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    55    1 Lap
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
18    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    54    2 Laps
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    29    Power Unit
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0    Not started

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    281
2    Sebastian Vettel    247
3    Valtteri Bottas    222
4    Daniel Ricciardo    177
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    93
7    Sergio Perez    76
8    Esteban Ocon    57
9    Carlos Sainz    48
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    33
12    Lance Stroll    32
13    Romain Grosjean    26
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    13
15    Kevin Magnussen    11
16    Fernando Alonso    10
17    Jolyon Palmer    8
18    Pascal Wehrlein    5
19    Daniil Kvyat    4
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0
22    Pierre Gasly    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    503
2    Ferrari    385
3    Red Bull-Renault    270
4    Force India-Mercedes    133
5    Williams-Mercedes    65
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    52
7    Renault    42
8    Haas-Ferrari    37
9    McLaren-Honda    23
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Hamilton grabs 70th career pole while Vettel forced to withdraw

Lewis Hamilton scored his 70th career pole position with an important qualifying session at Sepang, as his championship rival Sebastian Vettel was forced to withdraw with Ferrari power issue.

It was a solid qualifying result from Hamilton as Mercedes was struggling to get its upgraded Formula 1 car working properly throughout the free practice sessions, but turned things around just in time for Hamilton to get the job done in qualifying.

Hamilton’s first flying lap in Q3 proved just enough in the end, as Kimi Raikkonen – who was fastest of all in Q2 – fell short by just 0.045 seconds after locking up at the final corner.

The other Silver Arrows of Valtteri Bottas was not so comfortable as Hamilton in qualifying, experiencing trouble in particularly through the second sector. Bottas ended up only fifth fastest, behind both Red Bulls.

Max Verstappen split Raikkonen and Hamilton in Q2, but fell back in Q3, ending up third fastest, almost half a second away from pole. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was only half a tenth further back in fourth.

Vettel should have been among the fight for pole, having set the pace in Friday’s practice session, but his Ferrari suffered an engine problem in final practice, so the team worked through the break between sessions to change his engine.

Vettel made it out for the start of Q1, but reported a loss of drive, which he described as feeling “like I have no turbo”, that he couldn’t fix with the switch changes suggested by his team.

Vettel was forced back to the pits without setting a time and couldn’t return to the track, leaving him last in the classification.

Esteban Ocon took advantage of Vettel’s absence to post the sixth fastest time for Force India, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren-Honda, Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, Force India team-mate Sergio Perez, and the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso.

Felipe Massa and Jolyon Palmer were both knocked out of the top ten in the final moments of Q2, as Perez, Vandoorne and Alonso all leaped ahead with quicker lap times.

Massa ended up an agonising 0.024 seconds away from making the cut in P11, ahead of Palmer, Williams team-mate Lance Stroll – who complained of a bad out-lap compromising his second run – and the Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly.

Neither Toro Rosso driver found time on their second Q2 runs, and Gasly ended up qualifying just 0.156 seconds behind Sainz for his Formula 1 debut, though by lapping slower than he managed in Q1.

Haas team-mates Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen failed to make it through to Q2, by more than three tenths of a second, as faster rivals made late improvements and knocked them into the drop zone.

Pascal Wehrlein got his Sauber to within half a tenth of a second of beating Magnussen to 17th place on the grid.

Marcus Ericsson was almost half a second slower for Sauber and slowest of those to set a time.

Such a contrast between the championship contenders. Lewis Hamilton achieved a new lap record at Sepang and scoring his 70th pole position in Formula 1. While Sebastian Vettel was unable to compete due to engine issues. Hopefully the Ferrari driver can fight back in the sake of the title.

Qualifying standings for the Malaysian Grand Prix:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m30.076s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m30.121s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m30.541s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m30.595s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m30.758s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.478s
7    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m31.582s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m31.607s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.658s
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m31.704s
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.034s
12    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m32.100s
13    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.307s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m32.402s
15    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m32.558s
16    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m33.308s
17    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m33.434s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.483s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.970s
20    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    No time

Hamilton wins a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix as Vettel crashes out

Lewis Hamilton scored an important victory in a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix as title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out at the start.

Hamilton took the chequered flag 4.5 seconds ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Valtteri Bottas completing the podium.

Hamilton extended his championship lead to 28 points over Vettel, with Bottas 23 points further back in third.

Rain was falling ahead of the start, with the top six drivers – Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Bottas – starting on the intermediates while others, including Nico Hulkenberg and the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne opted for the full wets.

Kimi Raikkonen made a strong getaway from fourth to go three abreast with pole sitter Vettel and Verstappen on the approach to Turn 1.

Vettel moved across to cover the inside line, squeezing Verstappen who then made contact with Raikkonen, spearing The Iceman across the track into Vettel.

Raikkonen’s out of control car then collected Verstappen and Alonso at Turn 1, putting Raikkonen and Verstappen out of the race immediately.

Vettel continued in the lead with his damaged car, but then lost control out of Turn 3 and after he’d hit the barriers hard, his Ferrari team instructed him to retire.

Alonso managed to continue but his McLaren team lost telemetry and though it came back, it ultimately called him in to retire as well.

Hamilton inherited the lead, but the race was neutralised when the safety car was sent out so the debris could be cleared.

At the restart, Hamilton bolted away at the front, pulling out a lead of 3.5 seconds over Ricciardo after just one lap with Hulkenberg running third.

The rain stopped on lap six with conditions rapidly favouring those running intermediates.

The safety car was called out again when Daniil Kvyat crashed after locking up at the end of the back straight and understeering into the wall.

Several drivers, including Ricciardo, took the opportunity to pit for fresh intermediates but Mercedes kept Hamilton and Bottas out.

By the time the safety car came back in at the end of lap 14, everyone was on intermediates apart from Felipe Massa and Pascal Wehrlein.

As the track began to dry, Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to switch to slicks, taking the ultra-softs, while Massa followed suit.

It quickly became clear that was the tyre to be on, sparking a flurry of pitstops, with Ricciardo pitting on lap 29 in a bid to undercut Hamilton.

Mercedes responded the next lap and Hamilton rejoined in the lead.

He set about pulling away from the Red Bull, building an 18.7 seconds lead over Ricciardo before the safety car came out for third time when Marcus Ericsson crashed on the Anderson Bridge.

Several drivers pitted for fresh tyres, including Hulkenberg who also needed an air line plugged into his car which delayed the stop and dropped him from fourth to tenth  before he retired in the closing stages.

Hamilton pulled clear at the restart with the Mercedes driver quickly building a lead of four seconds.

Mercedes told him to hold that gap to keep the field compressed and avoid giving anyone else a free stop but after a discussion, it told Hamilton he could dictate the pace and ultimately secure his seventh win of the season.

Carlos Sainz Jr finished a career-best fourth for Toro Rosso, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, with Jolyon Palmer scoring his first points of the season in sixth.

Stoffel Vandoorne was seventh with Lance Stroll eighth as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

The race became time-limited due to the safety car interruptions meaning only 58 of the 61 laps could be completed within the two-hour limit.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in winning. This was an important result for the championship. As for Ferrari, this self-destruction was unacceptable but that’s racing. Hopefully the Scuderia can fight back, for the sake of the championship.

Singapore Grand Prix race results:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    58    2h03m23.543s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    58    4.507s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    58    8.800s
4    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    58    22.822s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    58    25.359s
6    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    58    27.259s
7    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    58    30.388s
8    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    58    41.696s
9    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    58    43.282s
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    58    44.795s
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    58    46.536s
12    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    56    2 Laps
–    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    50    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    48    Retirement
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    35    Spun off
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    10    Spun off
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    8    Collision
–    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    0    Collision
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0    Collision
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    0    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    263
2    Sebastian Vettel    235
3    Valtteri Bottas    212
4    Daniel Ricciardo    162
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    68
7    Sergio Perez    68
8    Esteban Ocon    56
9    Carlos Sainz    48
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    31
12    Lance Stroll    28
13    Romain Grosjean    26
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Jolyon Palmer    8
17    Stoffel Vandoorne    7
18    Pascal Wehrlein    5
19    Daniil Kvyat    4
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    475
2    Ferrari    373
3    Red Bull-Renault    230
4    Force India-Mercedes    124
5    Williams-Mercedes    59
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    52
7    Renault    42
8    Haas-Ferrari    37
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Vettel takes Singapore Grand Prix pole

Sebastian Vettel claimed his 49th career pole position in Formula 1, with a electrifying lap around the tight, twisty Singapore Grand Prix street circuit.

Championship leader and rival Lewis Hamilton could only qualify in fifth position, behind a pair of Ferraris and Red Bulls.

Vettel set a time quick enough for pole position on his first run in Q3, during which all drivers used ultrasoft Pirelli compound, with a one minute, 39.669 seconds.

He then survived a light brush of the wall on his second run to improve to a one minute, 39.491 seconds to take pole from Red Bull driver Max Verstappen by 0.323 seconds.

Verstappen had set the pace in Q2, but after recording the second quickest time on his first run in Q3 he was unable to improve on his second run.

Daniel Ricciardo was third in the other Red Bull, but could only improve by 0.022 seconds on his second run.

That left Kimi Raikkonen in fourth position, with The Iceman unable to carry his impressive first-sector pace into the second and third sectors of his final lap.

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both qualified on the fifth row, with the gap between the Mercedes team-mates almost seven tenths of a second.

Nico Hulkenberg was best-of-the rest in seventh for Renault, just ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Stoffel Vandoorne was ninth, well ahead of tenth-placed Carlos Sainz.

Renault driver Jolyon Palmer missed out on Q3 after being relegated to P11 by Alonso on the second runs in the second segment of qualifying.

He failed to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2 thanks to a moment in the final corner, which the team suggested over the radio cost him tenth place.

Sergio Perez complained about having “no grip at all” on his second Q2 run and ended up P12 after being unable to improve on his first-run time.

Daniil Kvyat did improve on his second run for Toro Rosso, but only by enough to take P13 ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Romain Grosjean, who paid two visits to the Turn 7 escape road in Q1, didn’t post a time on his first run in Q2 and was unable to do better than P15 when he made his second attempt.

Kevin Magnussen was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 after being relegated to P16 by Hulkenberg’s leap up the order.

Williams driver Felipe Massa was also knocked out in P17 after a difficult session, not posting a serious lap time on his first run after clipping the wall at the exit of Turn 21 and suffering a right-rear puncture

Massa then had a big moment in the fast left-hander final corner on his final flying lap, which ensured any faint hope he had of making Q2 was lost.

Lance Stroll was P18 ahead of Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who also had a minor brush with the wall at Turn 21 on his final run.

Marcus Ericsson was last in the second Sauber, and will be given a five-place grid penalty thanks to a gearbox change triggered by damage suffered when he hit the wall during free practice 3.

So an important qualifying session for Sebastian Vettel in terms of the Formula 1 world championship. That was Ferrari’s 212 pole in the sport and with title rival Lewis Hamilton down in fifth, this was the best outcome. Bring on the Singapore Grand Prix!

Qualifying positions, Singapore Grand Prix:

1 Sebastian Vettel      Ferrari     1:39.491
2 Max Verstappen      Red Bull     1:39.814
3 Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull      1:39.840
4 Kimi Raikkonen      Ferrari     1:40.069
5 Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes     1:40.126
6 Valtteri Bottas      Mercedes     1:40.810
7 Nico Hulkenberg      Renault     1:41.013
8 Fernando Alonso      McLaren-Honda     1:41.179
9 Stoffel Vandoorne      McLaren-Honda     1:41.398
10 Carlos Sainz      Toro Rosso-Renault     1:42.056
11 Jolyon Palmer      Renault-Renault     1:42.107
12 Sergio Perez      Force India-Mercedes     1:42.246
13 Daniil Kvyat      Toro Rosso-Renault     1:42.338
14 Esteban Ocon      Force India-Mercedes     1:42.760
15 Romain Grosjean      Haas-Ferrari     1:43.883
16 Kevin Magnussen      Haas-Ferrari     1:43.756
17 Felipe Massa      Williams-Mercedes     1:44.014
18 Lance Stroll      Williams-Mercedes     1:44.728
19 Pascal Wehrlein      Sauber-Ferrari     1:45.059
20 Marcus Ericsson      Sauber-Ferrari     1:45.570

McLaren splits from Honda and joins Toro Rosso while Sainz gets Renault promotion

The McLaren nightmare with Honda power has come to an end with the news that this technical partnership will cease once the 2017 season is over.

McLaren and engine partners Honda have announced they are to end their current technical agreement at the end of the 2017 campaign. The team have been using the Japanese company’s power units for the past three seasons, with very limited success.

“Honda is a great company which, like McLaren, is in Formula 1 to win,” commented Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, McLaren Group Executive Chairman and Executive Committee principal.

“Although our partnership has not produced the desired success, that does not diminish the great history our two companies have enjoyed together, nor our continued efforts to achieve success in Formula 1. At this point in time, it is in the best interests of both companies that we pursue our racing ambitions separately.”

“It is unfortunate that we must part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions, however, we made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future,” added Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to fans who have been very supportive of the team as well as the drivers, team members and everyone involved who shared with us in the joys and disappointments since we began preparing for our return to F1 in 2015. Honda will continue the fight together with McLaren all the way to the end of the 2017 season, and then continue its F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond.”

Zak Brown, McLaren’s Executive Director, added that despite mixed results, Honda’s “commitment and energy to the mission of success in Formula 1″ could not be doubted.

“They are proven winners and innovators,” he said. “For a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished. It is certainly not for the want of effort on the part of either Honda or McLaren, but the time has come to move ahead in different directions. As fellow racers, we hope to see the great name of Honda get back to the top – our sport is better for their involvement. I know this view is shared by everyone in the sport.”

Since joining forces in 2015, McLaren and Honda had been hoping to rekindle the success that took them to multiple world titles as partners in the late Eighties and early Nineties. However, the team finished just ninth in the standings that first year and sixth last season. In the 2017 table they again lie ninth, with only 11 points.

And so ends the three challenging and difficult seasons with Honda. McLaren will take on Renault power units from 2018 onwards, thanks to a swap deal with Toro Rosso.

Next season will see McLaren running power units from Renault, following their split from Honda announced earlier today. Honda will instead supply Toro Rosso, who are currently using Renault engines.

McLaren have agreed an engine supply partnership with Renault for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. Despite a combined Formula 1 presence that stretches back to 1977, it will mark the first time that the two brands have ever collaborated.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso have struck a multi-year agreement to put Honda’s power units in the back of their cars from 2018, having used Renault engines this year as well in 2014 and 2015. In that period they scored 137 points together, with two fourth places their best results.

McLaren say their Renault partnership will be one that will challenge for victory, following three disappointing seasons with Honda power.

“Today’s announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical programme for 2018 without any further hesitation,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director.

“As an organisation, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers. We’re convinced that we can bring real value to Renault Sport Racing as we work alongside it to develop this current power unit into a regular race winner.”

The deal means that in addition to their own works squad, Renault will have two other championship-winning teams – McLaren and Red Bull – providing feedback on engine development next year.

“This is a strategic decision,” said Jerome Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing. “This alliance is not only technical and sporting, but also comes with marketing and communication benefits. We know that McLaren will push us hard on track and this competition will be to the benefit of all.”

Best of luck Toro Rosso with Honda power. Hopefully better fortunes for the junior Red Bull team.

As for Carlos Sainz, Renault have announced that he will join them from Toro Rosso for 2018, though Carlos will only be ‘on loan’ from Red Bull.

The 23-year-old Spaniard will partner Nico Hulkenberg in a revised line-up, bringing Jolyon Palmer’s two-season spell with the team to a close.

“Carlos Sainz is a very promising driver who has been on our radar for some time, especially after his successes in Renault junior formulae,” said Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing.

“It is positive news for us to be able to confirm Carlos for 2018. This choice is well aligned with our mid-term strategic plans. We feel that Nico and Carlos will complement each other on and off track and the combination should help us push forwards on the grid.

“I would like to thank [Red Bull motorsport consultant ] Helmut Marko for loaning Carlos to us for this period. We must thank Jolyon for his ongoing hard work with the team and his efforts over the past two seasons. He is a dedicated driver and we wish him the best in the next steps of his career.”

Sainz, who has raced in 53 Grands Prix to date, scoring 100 points with a best finish of sixth place, expressed his delight with the move.

“I’m very happy to be joining Renault Sport Formula One Team,” he said. “To be a Formula 1 driver for a manufacturer team is an honour and I hope to reward Renault’s faith in me with my very best performances on track.

“The trajectory of Renault Sport Formula One Team is exciting and I’m proud to join at such an important time in their history. I am looking forward to working with everyone at Enstone and Viry, and driving alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

“I have worked closely with Renault in Formula 1 and previously in motorsport, so I know their motivation and capabilities. This is the start of a very exciting new chapter in my career.

“I would like to say thank you to Red Bull for all their confidence and support and for allowing me to take this opportunity. Last but not least, I specially want to thank all the people that work in Toro Rosso. They are a fantastic team of professionals and I wish them the best for the future.”

Red Bull’s Marko said he wished Sainz the best of luck in his new role, and, with reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings, hinted that the Spaniard’s move would open the door for another young driver at Toro Rosso.

“He is a tremendous talent and he will benefit from working with a manufacturer team alongside a highly experienced driver,” said Marko of Sainz. “This will give Carlos a different challenge and we will be keenly watching his progress there as he remains part of the Red Bull family.

“This is very good development for both Carlos and Renault Sport Formula One Team and will also allow us to bring a new talent into Formula One.”

So a crazy swap shop deals in the world of Formula 1. McLaren are now Renault. Toro Rosso will use Honda and Carlos Sainz gets a promotion to a top works team.

Hamilton victorious at Monza

Lewis Hamilton was just in a class of his own at Monza following a dominant drive to win the Italian Grand Prix and seize the championship lead outright for the first time this season.

The Mercedes driver led away from pole and controlled the race from the front, taking the flag by 4.4 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel third, 36.3 seconds behind the leader.

It was Hamilton’s sixth victory of the season and moves him three points clear of Vettel in the drivers’ standings with Bottas a further 41 adrift.

Hamilton made a good start from pole, moving right across the track to defend from Lance Stroll and leading into Turn 1.

Esteban Ocon, starting third, took advantage of Stroll getting baulked to sweep around the outside and settle into second.

Further back, Bottas banged wheels with Kimi Raikkonen as they came through the first chicane, eventually making a pass stick to take fourth place.

Raikkonen snatched the position back at the second chicane, but Bottas then swept around the outside of Parabolica to reclaim the position.

Bottas then took third on lap three from Stroll before breezing past Ocon the following lap to move into second before setting off in pursuit of Hamilton.

Valtteri closed the gap but couldn’t get within two seconds off Lewis and ultimately finished second to secure Mercedes’s third one-two of the year.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo produced an impressive recovery drive from P16, running a very long stint on the softs to move up the order.

Ricciardo emerged on fresh super-softs after his only stop and put a great move on Raikkonen for fourth, then set about chasing Vettel, taking big amount of time out of the Ferrari driver but ultimately running out of laps.

Earlier in the race Raikkonen, who complained of a problem with the rear end of his car, had pitted early in a bid to leapfrog Ocon and Stroll.

The Iceman partially succeeded, getting ahead of Stroll who was delayed in his stop with a sticky left-rear tyre.

But he had to pass Ocon on track, launching an attack on the approach to the first chicane to take the place and going on to finish fifth, ahead of Ocon.

Stroll challenged Ocon in the closing stages but couldn’t make a move stick, and in the end he held off a spirited attack from Williams team-mate Felipe Massa to take seventh with Sergio Perez failing to take advantage of the squabble to end up ninth.

Massa survived contact with Perez and Max Verstappen early in the race to take eighth.

Verstappen was furious with Massa when they collided at Turn 1, the contact giving the Red Bull a front right puncture and dropping him back to the field.

But he recovered to take tenth but only after brief contact with Kevin Magnussen on the approach to the second chicane after he’d passed the Haas at the start of the lap.

It was a miserable race for McLaren, with Stoffel Vandoorne retiring after reporting “no power” and team-mate Fernando Alonso following suit on the penultimate lap at the request of the team.

Jolyon Palmer was on the fringes of the top ten, but was asked to retire his Renault by the team after it had discovered a problem.

So a perfect Sunday afternoon drive for Lewis Hamilton. No challenge from his rivals and he now becomes the new championship leader. Ferrari had no answer to the sheer speed from the Silver Arrows but the fight for the title is still on. Bring on the next race.

Italian Grand Prix, race results:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    53    1h15m32.310s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    53    4.471s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    53    36.317s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    53    40.335s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    53    1m00.082s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    53    1m11.528s
7    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m14.156s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m14.834s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    53    1m15.276s
10    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    52    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso/Renault    52    1 Lap
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    52    1 Lap
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    52    1 Lap
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    51    2 Laps
17    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    50    3 Laps
18    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    49    4 Laps
–    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    33    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    29    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    238
2    Sebastian Vettel    235
3    Valtteri Bottas    197
4    Daniel Ricciardo    144
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    68
7    Sergio Perez    58
8    Esteban Ocon    55
9    Carlos Sainz    36
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    31
12    Lance Stroll    24
13    Romain Grosjean    24
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    435
2    Ferrari    373
3    Red Bull-Renault    212
4    Force India-Mercedes    113
5    Williams-Mercedes    55
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    40
7    Haas-Ferrari    35
8    Renault    34
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Hamilton beats Michael Schumacher’s pole record in rain-delayed Monza qualifying

Lewis Hamilton claimed a record 69th Formula 1 pole position in a rain-delayed Italian Grand Prix qualifying session, beating Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen as Ferrari struggled.

Qualifying was delayed for more than two and a half hours, after a heavy crash for Romain Grosjean’s Haas on the pit straight caused the session to be halted and then suspended as heavy rain deluged the Monza circuit.

The intensity of the rain varied throughout qualifying when it finally resumed, and a break in the rain in the closing minutes of Q3 allowed Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to briefly lock out the front row before Hamilton’s late show – which helped him surpass Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 Formula 1 poles that he equaled last time out in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Though exciting, the battle was rendered meaningless by grid penalties for both Red Bulls for making illegal engine component changes ahead of practice.

Verstappen is set to receive a 20-place grid penalty and Ricciardo a 25-place penalty, which will promote Williams rookie Lance Stroll to a sensational front row start for the race.

Stroll lapped inside the top five in Q2 and was fourth fastest in Q3, only three tenths slower than Verstappen.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon was fifth quickest, while Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who set the pace in Q1, abandoned his final flying lap so ended up only sixth on the final timesheet.

That was one position better than the Ferrari drivers managed, with Kimi Raikkonen seventh and championship leader Sebastian Vettel eighth as they struggled for grip on the Pirelli wet tyres.

Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top ten.

Sergio Perez looked to have joined Force India team-mate Ocon in making Q3 after a late improvement in Q2, but his lap was 0.002 seconds slower than Ocon’s and failed to get the job done after a last-gasp effort from Vandoorne.

Perez should start inside the top ten anyway, owing to those grid penalties for the Red Bull drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg sat inside the top ten after the initial Q2 runs, but his Renault struggled for grip on intermediates on his second run and slipped to P12. He will drop further back thanks to a 10-place grid penalty for changing his MGU-H before final practice.

Fernando Alonso, who faces a 35-place grid penalty of his own, made only one run in Q2, but it was good enough to put his McLaren-Honda P13, ahead of Toro Rosso pairing Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr, who also faces a 10-place grid penalty.

Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, Jolyon Palmer’s Renault and the Saubers were eliminated in Q1, along with Grosjean.

Magnussen made a late improvement on intermediate tyres after the initial runs on full wets, but this was not enough for him to escape the drop zone.

The Haas driver finished up 0.701 seconds adrift of Sainz’s Toro Rosso, while Palmer’s Renault was bumped to P17.

Palmer is set to take a 15-place grid penalty for engine component swaps ahead of final practice, so will drop behind Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Grosjean in the final reckoning.

Ericsson trailed Sauber team-mate Wehrlein by almost a second after the wet-tyre running, but beat him to P18 by 0.143 seconds with a late improvement on intermediates.

Grosjean didn’t take part in the restarted session after his earlier crash.

So a lengthy rain delay, the wait was worth it. Lewis Hamilton set a new record in Formula 1 as the most successful driver with pole position. Lance Stroll earning his best ever grid position after an impressive qualifying run. Will start the Italian Grand Prix alongside the triple champion.

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m35.554s
2    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.032s
3    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.719s
4    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m37.833s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m37.987s
6    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m38.064s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m38.251s
8    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m39.157s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.582s
10    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.245s
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m40.489s
12    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m41.732s
13    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m41.875s
14    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.702s
15    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m38.059s
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.526s
17    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.841s
18    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m40.646s
19    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m38.202s
20    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m43.355s

Hamilton resists Vettel challenge to win Belgian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton beat his Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vetel in the Belgian Grand Prix to reduce the gap in the championship to seven points.

The Mercedes driver managed a late safety car and a tyre disadvantage to fend off the Ferrari with relative ease, as Daniel Ricciardo claimed a surprise third for Red Bull Racing.

Hamilton made a good start from pole position and built a 1.7-seconds lead before stopping for new soft tyres on lap 12 of 44.

Vettel ran two laps longer in the opening stint and rejoined two seconds behind Hamilton, who cleared Kimi Raikkonen the lap before Vettel pitted.

A great first full flying lap for Vettel took 1.2 seconds out of Hamilton’s lead and thrust the Ferrari into DRS range, but Hamilton responded immediately.

He built his advantage up to two seconds, before a safety car changed the complexion of the race entirely.

Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez had clashed on the run to Eau Rouge on the opening lap, then came together in more dramatic fashion on lap 29.

Fighting over seventh position, Ocon cut back on his team-mate exiting La Source, only for Perez to edge across and break Ocon’s front wing with his right-rear tyre.

That caused Perez’s tyre to deflate entering Eau Rouge and the pair littered the track with debris.

The field swapped tyres under the safety car period, with Hamilton taking softs to Vettel’s ultra-softs and then complaining over the radio as the safety car remained on track for three laps.

Vettel was tucked up underneath the Mercedes’ rear wing through Eau Rouge and Raidillon at the restart and pulled alongside as Hamilton defended on the run to Les Combes.

Somehow Hamilton hung on, and found enough speed on the slower tyre to bump Vettel out of DRS range and gradually extend his lead until the end to win by 2.3 seconds.

Ricciardo started the race sixth but made his way to the podium, at a track not suited to the Renault-powered Red Bull, with a blend of fortune and opportunism.

Max Verstappen suffered a mechanical problem early on and stopped at the side of the track exiting Eau Rouge, which handed Ricciardo fifth – and ultimately fourth as well.

Kimi Raikkonen failed to slow sufficiently under the yellow flags that were thrown while Verstappen’s car was recovered and had to serve a ten-second stop-go penalty.

That meant Ricciardo ran fourth under the late safety car, and used a slipstream and ultra-soft tyres at the restart to nail Valtteri Bottas’s soft-shod Mercedes into Les Combes.

Raikkonen dived inside Bottas at the same time to recover to fourth, as Bottas finished a muted fifth having run comfortably in third before the caution.

Nico Hulkenberg finished best of the rest for Renault with a quiet but excellent drive, while Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa took advantage of the messy race to claim seventh and eighth.

Ocon, who labelled Perez a “f***ing idiot” over the radio, recovered to ninth as Perez eventually retired, while Carlos Sainz Jr took the final point.

Fernando Alonso ran as high as seventh but gradually fell back down the order and eventually retired with an engine problem in his McLaren-Honda.

Belgian Grand Prix race result:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    44    1h24m42.820s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    44    2.358s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    44    10.791s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    44    14.471s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    44    16.456s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    44    28.087s
7    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
11    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    44    23h35m17.s
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    44    23h35m17.s
15    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
17    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    42    Not running
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    25    Retirement
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    7    Retirement
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    2    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    220
2    Lewis Hamilton    213
3    Valtteri Bottas    179
4    Daniel Ricciardo    132
5    Kimi Raikkonen    128
6    Max Verstappen    67
7    Sergio Perez    56
8    Esteban Ocon    47
9    Carlos Sainz    36
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    27
12    Romain Grosjean    24
13    Lance Stroll    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    392
2    Ferrari    348
3    Red Bull-Renault    199
4    Force India-Mercedes    103
5    Williams-Mercedes    45
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    40
7    Haas-Ferrari    35
8    Renault    34
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Hamilton equals Schumacher’s pole position record at Spa

Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record tally of 68 career poles with a commanding performance in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Mercedes driver impressively broke through the one minute, 43 seconds barrier for the first time in Q2, and repeated the feat on his first run in Q3, leading Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than three tenths of a second.

Hamilton found even more speed on his second Q3 run, taking pole with a brilliant one minute, 42.553 seconds effort.

Vettel’s Ferrari languished in fourth after the first runs in Q3, but the world championship leader pulled things together on his second run, taking a tow from team-mate Raikkonen in the final sector to beat Bottas to the front row.

Vettel’s one minute, 42.795 seconds lap made him the only driver other than Hamilton to lap below one minute, 43 seconds.

Bottas improved to a one minute, 43.094 seconds best on his own final run, but struggled in the middle sector compared to his team-mate and ended up relegated to the second row.

Raikkonen held a provisional front row spot after the first runs in Q3, despite suffering unexplained vibrations from the rear of his Ferrari throughout qualifying, but “f***** it up” on his final Q3 run so aborted the lap and dropped to fourth.

Max Verstappen was best of the Red Bulls in fifth, almost half a second clear of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, while Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault comfortably beat the Force Indias of Sergio Perez – who complained of a loss of grip in Q3 – and Esteban Ocon to seventh.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer looked set to qualify best of the rest behind the top three teams after setting the seventh quickest time in Q2, but he broke down at the exit of Stavelot on his out-lap in Q3, after losing gearbox oil pressure, so wound up P10.

Fernando Alonso missed out on the final Q3 spot by 0.084 seconds, despite the efforts of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne to give Alonso a tow along the Kemmel Straight on Alonso’s final flying lap.

Alonso then aborted the attempt, complaining of “no power” from his Honda engine at the exit of Pouhon over team radio.

Romain Grosjean found more than three tenths on his second Q2 run, but that was only good enough for P12, ahead of Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen – who went slower on his second attempt – and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr.

Grosjean felt he lost downforce behind Vandoorne’s pitting McLaren in the final sector, without which he felt he might have made the top ten.

Vandoorne was P15, but didn’t set a time in Q2 and will drop to the back of the grid with a 65-place penalty for two illegal engine changes earlier in the weekend.

This was a disastrous Spa weekend for Williams with both cars dropping out in Q1. Felipe Massa fell less than a tenth short of making the cut after a late improvement, knocked out by a better one from Sainz’s Toro Rosso.

Massa ended up P16, but will drop back thanks to a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags in final practice.

Daniil Kvyat was P17 for Toro Rosso, almost seven tenths adrift of Sainz, complaining he had “no reference” after breaking down with an engine problem in the morning session. Kvyat will take a 20-place grid penalty for requiring an engine, turbo and MGU-H change before qualifying.

Massa’s Williams team-mate Lance Stroll was P18, but didn’t venture out for a second run in Q1 due to a rear wing problem.

Marcus Ericsson won the private battle of the Saubers to avoid being slowest of all in qualifying, beating team-mate Pascal Wehrlein to P19 by 0.465 seconds. Both will take grid penalties for gearbox changes.

So an excellent qualifying performance by Lewis Hamilton. Pole position was important for the Formula 1 title challenger and to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 is remarkable.

Belgian Grand Prix, qualifying results:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m42.553s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m42.795s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m43.094s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m43.270s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.380s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.863s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m44.982s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m45.244s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m45.369s
10    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    –
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m45.090s
12    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.133s
13    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.400s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m45.439s
15    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    –
16    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m45.823s
17    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m46.028s
18    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m46.915s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.214s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.679s

Vettel resisted big pressure to win Hungarian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel held off his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to score a tense Hungarian Grand Prix victory, as Lewis Hamilton handed Valtteri Bottas third and the Red Bulls collided.

Vettel, who drove most of the race with steering issues, crossed the finishing line 0.9 seconds ahead of Raikkonen to secure Ferrari’s second one-two of the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Hamilton gave up third position to Bottas on the final lap as agreed after his Mercedes team-mate had let him through under team orders earlier in the race to try to attack the Ferraris.

Vettel’s fourth win of the season, and first since Monaco in May, extends his championship lead to 14 points over Hamilton heading into the summer break.

Vettel and Raikkonen stayed one-two after the start, with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen swarming the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton.

Verstappen got around the outside of Hamilton with a bold move into Turn 1, but ran wide on the exit and then came under pressure from Ricciardo.

Verstappen locked up into Turn 2 and ran into Ricciardo, causing damage to the left-hand side of his team-mate’s Red Bull but escaping unharmed himself.

Ricciardo, who was furious with Verstappen on the radio, dropped down the field and then spun at Turn 3, with fluid leaking from his car, forcing Jolyon Palmer off track to avoid contact.

He then pulled over to the side of the track and retired, bringing out the safety car.

The stewards deemed Verstappen to be at fault, imposing a ten-second time penalty.

Vettel led comfortably from Raikkonen in the first stint but then started reporting steering concerns.

As the Mercedes started closing on the Ferraris, Raikkonen called on his team to ask Vettel, who was struggling to turn in, to cede position but the request was not accepted.

Mercedes agreed to Hamilton’s similar request with Bottas, that the positions will get swapped back if Hamilton could not pass Raikkonen.

Once through, Hamilton was soon on Raikkonen’s gearbox and was told he had five laps of full power to make an overtake.

That deadline was extended but Hamilton could not get through and gave up the chase in the closing laps.

Verstappen had run long before his pitstop and led for a spell before the penalty dropped him back.

He rapidly closed on the lead top four in the final stages and began to attack Bottas, raising doubts over whether Mercedes would be able to swap its cars back.

But Hamilton lifted off on the final lap, allowing Bottas through then slotting back in just ahead of Verstappen, as Raikkonen shadowed Vettel to the flag in front.

Fernando Alonso scored McLaren-Honda’s best finish of the season with sixth, setting fastest lap right at the end, while Stoffel Vandoorne gave it two cars in the points with tenth.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr was seventh after a controversial early wheel-banging battle with Alonso, just ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Grosjean, who made contact with Nico Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericsson at the start, was forced to pull over and retire his Haas when a wheelnut was cross-threaded at his pitstop.

The unwell Felipe Massa’s stand-in Paul di Resta spent his first Formula 1 race since 2013 battling with the Saubers before Williams told him to retire late on due to an oil leak.

After dropping back in his first-corner clash with Grosjean, Hulkenberg looked set to regain ground by running long only for a problem in his pitstop to drop him back.

He was then forced off the road while trying to pass Kevin Magnussen, who was given a 5s penalty for the move, for P11 and retired just as he had caught back up to Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat.

So a brilliant result for Scuderia Ferrari at the Hungaroring. Sebastian Vettel’s 50th race in red was victory number seven this season and he now extends his lead in the championship to 14 points as the sport take a summer break.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results after 70 laps:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1h39m46.713s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0.908s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    12.462s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    12.885s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    13.276s
6    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m11.223s
7    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1 Lap
14    Lance Stroll    Williams/Mercedes    1 Lap
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber/Ferrari    2 Laps
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber/Ferrari    2 Laps
17    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    3 Laps
–    Paul Di Resta    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    Collision
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Withdrawn

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    202
2    Lewis Hamilton    188
3    Valtteri Bottas    169
4    Daniel Ricciardo    117
5    Kimi Raikkonen    116
6    Max Verstappen    67
7    Sergio Perez    56
8    Esteban Ocon    45
9    Carlos Sainz    35
10    Nico Hulkenberg    26
11    Felipe Massa    23
12    Lance Stroll    18
13    Romain Grosjean    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    357
2    Ferrari    318
3    Red Bull-Renault    184
4    Force India-Mercedes    101
5    Williams-Mercedes    41
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    39
7    Haas-Ferrari    29
8    Renault    26
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5