Sebastian Vettel is open to a return to Red Bull after only holding preliminary talks with Renault before they signed Fernando Alonso.

Four-time Formula One champion Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of the season and is without a seat for 2021.

The German won all of those titles during an illustrious six-year spell with Red Bull and would be interested in returning and teaming up with Max Verstappen next year, with Alex Albon's place in the team yet to be confirmed.

"I think it's a winning car," Vettel said when asked on Thursday ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix if he would be interested in going back to Red Bull.

"I'm here to compete and I'm here to win, so probably the answer would be yes."

He added: "I know why they were strong back then and they are still, I think, a contender and obviously it's a car that you can win races in. So for sure that would be interesting."

With his future up in the air, Vettel acknowledged that carrying on, having a break or retiring are all on the table.

He had discussed a potential switch to Renault, who had a 2021 spot vacant due to Daniel Ricciardo agreeing to join McLaren, with Carlos Sainz heading to the Scuderia.

However, Alonso will return to the French team, with whom he won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006, after a two-year break from F1.

Asked if he spoke to Renault, Vettel said: "Yes I did, but obviously at no point concrete enough or fundamental talks or real talks.

"As you've seen as well, they've gone a different direction. It doesn't change much for me. It really depends on my decision, which I'm not pressured to take in the next couple of days. I want to take the time that I need to decide.

"I'm generally of the conviction that, if you want to win, you have to be happy to take on anyone. I'll take the time that I need to take a decision for myself first.

"Everything is an option at the moment: carry on, have a break, or retire. It depends on what sort of options are around."

Esteban Ocon believes it is time for Renault to "build something new" in Formula One with Fernando Alonso's return to the team.

Daniel Ricciardo will depart after the 2020 season and two-time world champion Alonso will return to the team and join Ocon for 2021.

And Ocon is relishing the chance to make Renault a major force in F1 once more.

"It's great," said Ocon.

"Of course, Fernando is very linked to the brand and if you look at the success he had with the team, it's for sure fantastic, but we need to build something new with him coming now.

"He has great experience and I'm pretty sure he can bring that to the team and make the car evolve, and he's very, very motivated.

"I've had him on text yesterday, or before yesterday and he's very keen to come back.

"We just chatted about the opportunity that there is in these next years and how the field is close at this moment, so I think there is a good chance of doing well if we work well."

Ricciardo is delighted to have Alonso back in F1, with the Spaniard having initially bowed out in 2018.

"It's going to be great for the sport," Ricciardo added of Alonso's return.

"He's such a name in the sport and has been for so many years, so to return with the team and the brand that got him his titles, I think it's a good fit.

"And I'm excited to race against him again. Personally, [we had] some good battles along the way, but always I felt a very good level of respect as a racer with him, so it's cool."

Sebastian Vettel endured a dismal start to the 2020 Formula One season, but Kimi Raikkonen does not believe the German's relationship with Ferrari is as bad as has been suggested.

Ferrari opted not to extend four-time champion Vettel's contract beyond the end of this year, hiring Carlos Sainz to be Charles Leclerc's team-mate for the 2021 campaign.

Vettel was unable to get out of Q2 at the Austrian Grand Prix and finished 10th in the race after making contact with Sainz, when the McLaren driver was trying to get past Leclerc, and spinning out.

F1's motorsports director Ross Brawn claimed it was clear Vettel had been negatively affected by being phased out by Ferrari, but Raikkonen does not believe that is the case.

"Honestly, I spoke to him last weekend, quickly when we saw each other, I think it was before the start, and that's all that I know," said Raikkonen ahead of this weekend's Styrian Grand Prix, which will also take place at the Red Bull Ring.

"I don't know what is going on there, it's none of my business. I think it's unfair to comment if someone is treated badly or not, because I don't know what is going on.

"I doubt that they have as bad relationship as people are making out.

"Obviously sometimes it goes this way, that you leave the team, or choose to leave, whichever way it is. We'll see what happens in his future. You need to ask from him.

"I wouldn't put too much saying how difficult it is right now after one race. It wasn't the most easy for [Alfa Romeo] either. I'm sure they can be much stronger than they were last weekend."

Ferrari announced former champion Raikkonen would make way for Leclerc with seven races left in the 2018 season.

Asked if his relationship with the team changed after that point, Raikkonen said: "No, absolutely not."

And Raikkonen, now driving for Alfa Romeo, feels the same will apply in the current Ferrari set-up, adding: "I'm certain that they get exactly the same treatment, both of them. It's in their benefit to try to get the best result on both cars, so I don't see why they would do anything else."

Fernando Alonso insists the stopwatch is the only thing that matters and has no concerns over his age as he prepares to return to Formula One with Renault. 

The two-time world champion's signing was confirmed by the team on Wednesday, with reports suggesting he has joined on an initial two-year deal. 

That means Alonso, who turns 39 this month, will be 41 during the 2022 season, the first year F1 brings in new regulations the Spaniard hopes will produce a more level playing field. 

Alonso is in his second year away from the grid and his last championship came in 2006, but he feels as fit and ready as he ever has before. 

"The stopwatch is the only thing that matters, not the age," he told reporters.  

"I never had a classification on the race based on the passport, my date of birth. It's always on the stopwatch. 

"I feel ready and I feel I'm at 100 per cent in terms of driving. I did a couple of fitness tests 15 days ago and I had the best results in my career. 

"I am extremely motivated, happy and stronger than ever."

F1's new regulations were initially scheduled to come in for 2021 but have been pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Probably my first intention was to go out in 2018 and see how life was outside the bubble and have a think for the 2021 rules," Alonso said. 

"This has been postponed one year because of covid but still it's worth being in the sport in 2021 as a preparation for me after two years not driving these cars, to build up with the team and have a good season. 

"I know only one team will be winning in 2020 - and in 2021 probably - but I think the 2022 rules will hopefully bring some fairness to the sport. 

"[Hopefully] some close action with teams more level and less scope to invent something that has a large performance advantage. 

"There is time to build on those projects. I am relaxed, I am aware of what 2021 will be and I'm hopeful for 2022." 

Alonso is ready to be a team player to help Renault, who were fifth in the constructors' championship last season, return to the top of the sport. 

He added: "I will try to do my best and try and help the team be a world champion team. 

"If that's with me driving then fantastic but if that's with a future younger driver then I will feel proud anyway. The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I.  

"Whatever the 2022 rules bring, I can hopefully help them with my experience. I'm aware of my mission, which is not only focused on the car but also outside the car.  

"It's an extremely happy day for me coming back to F1 first but also to the team with which I had the best experience in the category." 

The return of Formula One exceeded expectations with a dramatic season-opener at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas made an early statement in his pursuit of a first world title, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton receiving penalties in qualifying and the race, ultimately having to settle for fourth.

The disruption to the 2020 season caused by the coronavirus pandemic means there is a second consecutive race being held at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

The second round this weekend has been named the Styrian Grand Prix after the area where the circuit is staged.

If the race, which starts at 15:10 local time (14:10 BST), produces as much excitement as the last, there will be few complaints from fans.
 

LAST TIME OUT 

Nine drivers retired as Bottas took victory from Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris, who earned a superb podium as well as setting the fastest lap.

After a mechanical issue for Max Verstappen, Red Bull's victory hopes were revived late on when a correct strategy call after a safety car looked to have Alex Albon poised for a first win.

But he was hit by Hamilton as he overtook the Mercedes driver and ultimately retired, with the Briton receiving a five-second time penalty, having also been landed with a three-place grid punishment for his speed under yellow flags in qualifying. 


WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR 

Hamilton was disappointed with his qualifying result even before his grid penalty and a scrappy conclusion to the race will mean he comes into the second grand prix eager to stop his rivals building up any momentum in a shortened season.

Second place for Leclerc in a tumultuous race masked serious pace issues for Ferrari, who saw Sebastian Vettel have to settle for 10th a day after failing to reach Q3 as he started his final season with the team.

The Scuderia estimate they are 0.8 seconds off the pace in straight-line speed and while that issue remains, they hope their aerodynamic package will be improved this week after fast-tracking some major upgrades that were initially due for Hungary.

Verstappen saw what looked like a certain podium taken away from him and will be desperate to bounce back at a circuit where he won last year, while any battles between Albon and Hamilton will be closely watched, as they also made contact in Brazil at the end of last season.
 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

History is made - The Red Bull Ring, where Hamilton has not won since 2016, will become the first circuit in F1 history to host back-to-back grands prix.

Three in their sights - Bottas (2017 and 2020) and Verstappen (2018 and 2019) are both looking to become the first driver to win three races at the Red Bull Ring. Both have won twice there, level with Mika Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

Big moment for Bottas – The Finn could win the opening two grands prix in a season for the first time in his F1 career. Eleven of the last 12 drivers to manage this went on to become world champion that season; Vettel was the only driver in that run not to (2018 season).

Ferrari woe - This is the circuit where Ferrari are enduring their longest winless run among the six tracks in the current F1 calendar. Schumacher was the last winner here for the Scudería in 2003.

McLaren pushing on - After Norris' third-place finish, McLaren are looking to record back-to-back podium finishes for the first time since the last two grands prix of 2012 when Hamilton won in USA and Jenson Button won in Brazil. 
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers 

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 25
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 18
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 16
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 12
5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) – 10

Constructors 

1. Mercedes – 37
2. McLaren – 26
3. Ferrari – 19
4. Racing Point – 8
5. Alpha Tauri - 6

Fernando Alonso is returning to Formula One in 2021, having agreed to re-join Renault for a third spell.

The two-time world champion will have been away from the grid for two seasons when he returns to the highest level of motorsport.

He will also be 15 years removed from winning his second straight drivers' title with Renault in 2006.

Alonso, who turns 39 next month, has also represented McLaren in two stints, as well as driving for Ferrari and Minardi during his F1 career.

After his return with Renault was confirmed on Wednesday, we have looked at some of the best statistics from his career to date.

Sixth all-time in race wins - Alonso has won 32 races in his professional career: ranking sixth in that category after Michael Schumacher (91), Lewis Hamilton (84), Sebastian Vettel (53), Alain Prost (51) and Ayrton Senna (41).

Record in his sights - Alonso ranks third for races in F1, with his 312 putting him behind only Rubens Barrichello (323) and Kimi Raikkonen (314).

Fast start - Alonso was the youngest driver to win a race (22 years 26 days in Hungary 2003) and to conquer the F1 world championship (24 years 1 month 27 days in Brazil 2005). Those records were later beaten by Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel respectively.

Podium regular - Alonso ranks third for the driver to record the most second-place finishes (37 along with Raikkonen) after Schumacher (43) and Hamilton (39). He has 97 podiums in total - 44 of which were achieved in five years with Ferrari - a number which is good for sixth all time.

Renault return - The Spanish driver has won two races more for Renault (17) than for the rest of his other teams combined (15).

Favourite circuits - Alonso has won three times in Malaysia, Bahrain and Germany, as well as at the European Grand Prix, making those four events the most successful of his F1 career.

Brazil and Belgium not on list - Brazil is the F1 circuit where the Spaniard has been the most times without winning (17 races), closely followed by Belgium (15).

History made – Alonso was the fifth F1 world champion to win 24 Hours of Le Mans and the first since Graham Hill did so back in 1972.

McLaren woe – Of his 67 career retirements, 31 of those have come with McLaren, whose Honda engine struggles marred his four-year second spell with the team, which ended in 2018.

Racking up the points – His career points total of 1,899 puts him third all time, with Hamilton holding the record on 3,443.

Qualifying not as strong- Hamilton also holds the record for pole positions with 88, Alonso by comparison has just 22 to sit 13th in the overall rankings.

Fernando Alonso will be back in Formula One next season after agreeing to return with Renault.

Alonso quit F1 in 2018, but has agreed to replace Daniel Ricciardo in 2021, with the Australian driver on his way to McLaren.

Two-time F1 world champion Alonso, who turns 39 this month, will join Esteban Ocon for his third spell with Renault.

The Spaniard won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 during his first stint with Renault.

Since Alonso last raced in F1, he has taken on challenges including the Indianapolis 500 and World Endurance Championship but will be back on the grid next year.

"Fernando is a great driver returning to F1 enriched by other experiences and willing to build with his much-loved team," Renault said in a statement as his signing was confirmed on Wednesday.

"The tenets of work, surpassing oneself and ingenuity as well as Fernando's DNA defined by tenacity and pure talent make this union an obvious one.

"He will be an asset in the many efforts to win back the title and will give meaning to Renault's commitment to the highest level of motorsport.

"The desire is to build a team around two complementary drivers, combining experience and youth, and pooling their values and talent in the service of the project.

"Fernando's fighting spirit should benefit the whole team and allow everyone to achieve their goals."

Alonso started his career with Minardi and spent a year as a test driver with Renault before representing them for four seasons, culminating in his two championships.

He joined McLaren for an uncomfortable season alongside Lewis Hamilton before returning to Renault for two years.

Alonso then spent five years with Ferrari, finishing second in the drivers' championship on three occasions, agonisingly unable to add to his tally of titles.

Alonso's second spell with McLaren ended with huge frustration as the team were uncompetitive over four seasons due to issues with their Honda engine.

The 32-time race winner will now look to help Renault, who were fifth in last year's constructors' championship, back to the top ahead of the new F1 regulations, which will now come into force in 2022.

"The signing of Fernando Alonso is part of Groupe Renault's plan to continue its commitment to F1 and to return to the top of the field," said managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

"His presence in our team is a formidable asset on the sporting level but also for the brand to which he is very attached. The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice.

"In addition to past successes, it is a bold mutual choice as well as a project for the future. His experience and determination will enable us to get the best out of each other to take the team towards the excellence that modern Formula 1 demands.

"He will also bring to our team, which has grown very fast, a culture of racing and winning to overcome hurdles together.

"Alongside Esteban, his mission will be to help Renault DP World F1 Team prepare for the 2022 season in the best possible conditions."

Fernando Alonso will be back in Formula One next season after agreeing to return with Renault.

Alonso quit F1 in 2018, but has agreed to replace Daniel Ricciardo in 2021, with the Australian driver on his way to McLaren.

Two-time F1 world champion Alonso, who turns 39 this month, will join Esteban Ocon for his third spell with Renault.

The Spaniard won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 during his first stint with Renault before joining McLaren.

Ferrari will fast-track some of their car upgrades for this week's Styrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring.

The Scuderia were scheduled to introduce aerodynamic upgrades at the Hungarian Grand Prix in round three of the Formula One campaign, having identified major shortcomings in pre-season testing.

But they will now bring in new parts for the second of two consecutive races in Spielberg after their performance issues were even worse than initially expected in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

It will not be the complete new package, nor will it solve their issues with straight-line speed – where Ferrari estimate they are losing 0.8 seconds per lap – but the team expect it will move Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel further up the grid.

The drivers struggled in qualifying on Saturday, coming seventh and 11th respectively, with Vettel failing to reach Q3.

A dramatic race which featured nine retirements and a time penalty for Lewis Hamilton then saw Leclerc claim a surprise second-place finish, with Vettel taking a solitary point in 10th.

"The SF1000 didn't measure up, even compared to [the lowered] expectations ahead of the event," read a statement from Ferrari.

"Because of this, development has already been going on at full pace for some time.

"This is in the hope of bringing forward to next weekend the introduction of the aerodynamic package scheduled for the Hungarian Grand Prix - or, at least, some of its components."

Of the expected impact of the changes, Ferrari added: "It's not that these new parts are expected to completely bridge the gap compared to the front of the grid. 

"But the progress in terms of lap time could allow the team to move up the order and put the drivers in a better condition to be able to display their talent.

"Moreover, it's about checking that the chosen direction of development is the right one, precisely because it will be possible to do a true back-to-back on every upgrade."

The move came as Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri expressed his backing for team principal Mattia Binotto.

"We know there is lots of work to do," he said. "This is certainly not the grid position that a team like Ferrari should have and we have to respond immediately. 

"It is clear that we have to improve on all fronts. The only solution is to react and I'm pleased by the immediate reaction and the work that Mattia and all his team are putting in at every level."

United States president Donald Trump posted a tweet on Monday calling for an apology from NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.

Trump, who also criticised the sport for banning the Confederate flag from its races and events, implied that NASCAR's only full-time black driver was party to a "hoax" after an incident where a rope that was tied like a noose was discovered by one of his crew members in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway on June 21.

The following day in a demonstration of solidarity, all NASCAR drivers and crew members walked behind Wallace's number 43 car to the front of the field prior to the makeup race, and then one by one comforted an emotional Wallace and hugged him. 

Trump's Tweet read: ''Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?''

"That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!'' 

Contrary to Trump's claims of a low television audiences, Fox reported ratings for last month's Cup Series race at Martinsville were up 104 per cent on the same spot in the calendar from last year.

Chevrolet driver Tyler Reddick responded to Trump in support of Wallace.

"We don't need an apology," he tweeted. "We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support."

A few days after the rope was discovered, the FBI said it had been positioned in the stall at Talladega since as early as last year and was a garage-door pull rope that had been fashioned like a noose. The FBI also determined earlier in the week that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.  

Wallace has spoken out about racial injustice and racism, and helped push NASCAR to ban the Confederate flags from its races, events and properties on June 10. 

"I was relieved just like many others to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me,” Wallace, who neither found nor reported the noose, told NBC’s Today in the aftermath of the incident and the FBI's investigation.

"But it’s still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you and that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around now, from people saying I’m a fake … or that I reported it when it was information that was brought to me.”

Following George Floyd's death while in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25, protesters have pushed for the removal of statues and monuments of known racists, as well as the Confederate flag. 

Trump, however, criticised these protesters during his speech at Mount Rushmore over Independence Day weekend, saying: "Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children."

Ferrari's decision to part ways with Sebastian Vettel understandably had a negative effect on him at the Austrian Grand Prix, says Formula One managing director Ross Brawn.

Vettel failed to get out of Q2 on Saturday and ended up finishing the first race of the season on Sunday in 10th, eight places behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.

The four-time champion fell to the back of the field after making contact with Carlos Sainz, who will replace him at Ferrari next year and was trying to overtake Leclerc.

Vettel was disappointed with his performance and Brawn, a former Ferrari technical director, found it unsurprising.

"It was a difficult start to Sebastian's final season with the team," Brawn wrote in his column on F1's official website.

"Everything must be swirling round in his head, after he found out Ferrari did not want to renew his services for next season.

"Sometimes, the things that put off a driver are quite subtle. Sebastian has appeared surprised and shocked by what has happened and it must be a distraction, understandably so."

Team principal Mattia Binotto said Ferrari will bring updates to the Hungarian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place after the second race at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.

Brawn said: "It was clear Ferrari were in a difficult position after qualifying, their performance by their own admission was disappointing.

"On Sunday, Charles showed what a talented driver he is, managing his chances wisely to take an opportunistic second place. It is in these difficult races where the determination and talent of very special drivers come through.

"But Ferrari have got to quickly improve the situation otherwise it they face a very difficult season. They have plans to improve the car for Hungary, which is encouraging, but the start of the year is tougher than they anticipated."

A five-second time penalty for Lewis Hamilton enabled Lando Norris to sneak a place on the podium for the first time in his F1 career.

"After a long break, it was great to return with a thriller of a grand prix, with drama throughout," said Brawn.

"And one of the key protagonists was Lando Norris, who couldn't quite break out of Carlos Sainz's shadow in his first year with the team last season, but he came of age in Austria on Sunday.

"His last few laps, when he needed to close the gap to Lewis to ensure he could take advantage of the Briton's five-second time penalty and snatch a maiden podium, were exceptional and simply stunning to see.

"In McLaren, you've got a team in transition, who are getting stronger every race and which have a bright future with a Mercedes engine.

"Carlos is leaving and you can't help the subconscious effect that will have on him and the team. I've felt it before during my time working in a Formula One team.

"No matter how professional you are, when someone is leaving, the way you are with a driver who is leaving, versus a driver who is staying, is different. You can't help it, but it happens."

Christian Horner believes Lewis Hamilton should apologise to Alex Albon for a collision that shattered the Red Bull driver's hopes of winning the Austrian Grand Prix.

Albon looked to be about to pass Hamilton at turn four with 11 laps remaining of the season-opening race on Sunday until he spun out after they touched wheels.

The Thai driver would have moved up to second behind Valtteri Bottas on soft tyres, giving him a great chance to claim a maiden victory with the Mercedes duo under orders to avoid the kerbs due to gearbox sensor issues.

Hamilton was demoted to fourth place after being given a five-second penalty for that incident, with Bottas taking victory and Red Bull without a point as Max Verstappen retired.

Albon was denied a first podium finish due to a collision with Hamilton in Brazil last year and, although he said both drivers were at fault on that occasion, he pointed the finger at the Brit at the Red Bull Ring.

Red Bull team principal Horner also laid the blame firmly at the door of the six-time Formula One world champion, who felt it was a "racing incident".

Horner told Sky Sports: "It's been one of those days. Alex drove a great race, he didn't deserve that. Five seconds doesn't do anything for him.

"He could've won that race. We strategically made the right call, going onto the soft tyres. He was in a strong position. We'll be back in a week's time and trying to rectify it."

He added: "You'd start to think he's got something in for him. There's a very similar incident the other way round, [where] Alex squeezed him but gave him enough room at the start of the race."

Horner did not feel Albon paid the price for not being patient enough.

He said: "You can say that, but he got the job done, the pass was made, it wasn't like it was on the entry. What overtake is safe at the end of the day? I doubt Lewis was ever going to wave him past.

"We had to use that grip advantage and the grip is in the corners. He'd done that. It was just a misjudgement by Lewis at the end of the day. It'd be good if he apologised for it."

Horner said coming away from Spielberg without a point was hard to take.

"Coming out with zero points, having been in a position to challenge for victory with both Max early on, because again we got the tyre call right there and I think he'd have had a really competitive afternoon, then with Alex, in what is going to a shortened season feels pretty brutal."

Mattia Binotto backed Sebastian Vettel to respond next week at the Red Bull Ring after a dismal display in a testing weekend for Ferrari at Formula One’s season opener in Austria.

In the first of two consecutive events in Spielberg as the 2020 campaign belatedly gets underway amid the coronavirus pandemic, Vettel – who will leave the Scuderia at the end of the year – finished 10th.

The German attempted to dive down the inside of Carlos Sainz, his Ferrari replacement, and was left in a spin, with only debutant Nicholas Latifi trailing him across the line.

Team-mate Charles Leclerc came second, profiting from Lewis Hamilton's five-second penalty, but team principal Binotto was still not happy with the overall performance after they qualified in seventh and 11th on Saturday.

"We weren't expecting [Leclerc's podium] at all," Binotto told Sky Sports. "Certainly, we can be happy with the podium but still it's very disappointing for our performance."

Leclerc said his team had been "perfect" on Sunday, but Binotto acknowledged Vettel's issues.

He explained: "It has not been his greatest race today. I think he was uncomfortable with the car, the balance of the car. He sensed that the car was not as driveable as it was on Friday.

"When the driver is in such a condition, he cannot deliver his best. The spin and the contact was certainly not a great action from his side. I think he was cautious a bit.

"It's a shame because today could have been important to score points, especially when maybe our direct competitors are not scoring many points.

"It's really a shame, but now we need to understand why the car was not behaving. We hope that next week he can show how good he is."

Vettel told Ferrari over the team radio his car was "undriveable", meaning he was ultimately just relieved to come through the race relatively unscathed.

"To be honest, I'm happy that I span only once," said Vettel. "It was very difficult.

"It got very tight and Carlos turned in and I was just on the edge because I wanted to be as close as possible and lost the rear. But to be honest, I lost the rear a couple of times today, so I'm happy that it only happened once.

"We don't know [what was wrong] – we need to have a good look – but, for sure, the car was very difficult today.

"I tried my best, and obviously the safety car helped us. It was quite entertaining in the end but obviously not the result I want."

Alex Albon was not impressed with Lewis Hamilton after a collision cost the Red Bull driver what he felt was a chance to win the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Albon looked set to pass Hamilton on the outside at turn four and move into second place with 11 laps remaining but spun into the gravel after the two made contact.

Hamilton went on to cross the line second at the Red Bull Ring behind Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, though a five-second time penalty for the shunt resulted in him being demoted to fourth.

Albon cut a disconsolate figure after the opening race of the Formula One season and felt a sense of deja vu, having missed out on a first podium finish following a collision with Hamilton in Brazil last year.

Albon was in no doubt as to who was at fault this time around in Spielberg, where Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris were second and third respectively.

"I'm a bit fresh right now, so I'd better be careful what I say. But it is what it is, I really felt we could have won that race," Albon told Sky Sports.

"Of course, I think Mercedes had the outright pace today, but the guys did a great job with strategy and honestly when I did the pit stop I felt 'where are we' on track, I didn't really know what was going on.

"As soon as it all played out it looked really strong for us and I knew they were on the hard tyres and the first five laps was when I was going to do the overtakes. I was confident, the car was feeling good at that stage of the race.

"I feel like this one, I wouldn't say it hurts more, but I felt like Brazil was more like 50-50, this one I felt like I did the move already and I was kind of already focused on Bottas in front. It was so late for contact. 

"There is always a risk of overtaking on the outside, but I gave as much space as I really could, I knew as long as I could give as much space as I could give him, it's up to him if he wants to crash or not."

Asked if he would speak to Hamilton about the incident, he replied: "I'll cool off and I'll come back."

Albon ended up retiring on lap 69 of 71, leaving Red Bull without any points after Max Verstappen was forced to stop racing early on.

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