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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferrari's frustrating calls

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

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

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

Russell's run ends

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

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

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

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +7.834

3. George Russell (Mercedes) +12.337

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +14.579

5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +15.688

6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +16.047

7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +78.300

8. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) + One lap

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) + One lap

10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) + One lap

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 258

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 178

3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 173

4. George Russell (Mercedes) 158

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 156

Constructors

1. Red Bull 431

2. Ferrari 334

3. Mercedes 304

4. Alpine 99

5. McLaren 95

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

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

Max Verstappen's path to a second Formula One drivers' championship appears clear following Ferrari's mishaps in France, with the Red Bull ace looking to extend his lead in Hungary.

Heading into the final race before F1's summer break, Verstappen holds a mammoth 63-point advantage over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the standings – while Red Bull lead their rivals by 82 points in the constructors' championship.

Ferrari's latest setback, which saw Leclerc retire from the lead for the third time this season, brought an end to what had been a positive stint for the Italian manufacturers – who had won back-to-back races before heading to the Circuit Paul Ricard.

While Leclerc has been the leading man for Ferrari this season, his crash in France was the latest mistake from the young driver – and it may now be Carlos Sainz that has the biggest part to play in chasing down Red Bull.

After a difficult start to the season, the Spaniard has found his rhythm with the car and weaved his way through the field in France to secure fifth place, having started 19th on the grid and impressed in qualifying.

Sainz boasts two fastest laps in 2022, both of which have come in the last four races (in Canada and France) – one more than he recorded in his previous 148 outings, and he's now eyeing consecutive fastest laps for the first time in his F1 career.

Ferrari's record in Hungary is also encouraging, with only McLaren (11) winning more races at the venue than Ferrari (7) – who last won at the Hungaroring in 2017. Red Bull, meanwhile, have won twice, in 2010 and 2014.

Red Bull's main strength this season has been straight-line speed, which may not fit with the Hungaroring's lack of straights – the track is comparable to Monaco, with several corners to string together.

It's on those sorts of corners where Ferrari have been the better outfit but, even with a win, they would require some serious reliability issues or incidents from Red Bull to rejuvenate their flagging title hopes.

Hamilton's charge reviving Mercedes

Mercedes' woes this season have been well documented and are not yet over, with the team extremely disappointed by their upgrade package failing to have the desired effect for the French Grand Prix last time out.

However, Lewis Hamilton is at least back at his best after registering four consecutive podium finishes heading into Hungary, while George Russell's appearance alongside his team-mate on the podium was the first time Mercedes have had both drivers in the top three this season.

The Hungaroring is a track Hamilton knows well, having secured eight victories at the venue – including all five of Mercedes' wins.

Now 12 races without a win, Mercedes are in the longest winless stretch of their F1 history, and Hamilton is still awaiting the triumph which would see him break Michael Schumacher's record of consecutive seasons with at least one victory – with both drivers currently on 15.

Ricciardo's moment of truth

Daniel Ricciardo's spell at McLaren has been disappointing for both driver and team but both are committed to each other for the long haul, with the Australian's contract running through 2023.

Speculation of an early termination appears to have cooled, with Ricciardo taking to social media to quash such rumours before issuing a strong message ahead of France – telling Sky Sports he'll deliver a win if McLaren can deliver a car.

That's something the Silverstone-based team are yet to do, however. Ricciardo's experience in France was another disappointing one, having come in ninth and, yet again, finished behind team-mate Lando Norris.

The young Brit is clearly the more comfortable driver, having registered 70 of McLaren's 89 points this season, and Ricciardo needs to start changing the game.

A positive race in Hungary would provide a significant boost ahead of what is a crucial sequence for the Australian after the summer break.

Carlos Sainz has defended Ferrari's strategy after a late pit stop cost the Spaniard a potential podium finish at the French Grand Prix. 

Ferrari endured a frustrating outing at Le Castellet as Red Bull stretched their lead at the top of Formula One's constructors' standings to 82 points.

With Charles Leclerc crashing out of the race for his third retirement of the season when in a leading position, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was followed onto the podium by Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Sainz had just overtaken Sergio Perez to assume third place when Ferrari took the decision to call the 27-year-old in for a late pit stop, after which he finished in fifth, his worst performance of the campaign, excluding retirements. 

Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto defended the decision after the race, insisting Sainz would have struggled to maintain his pace without new tyres, and the Spaniard has offered his support for the team's overall strategy.

"I think the team is doing a very good job on strategy this year," Sainz told Sky Sports.

"At Ferrari we get super criticised for things that other teams might be going through also in their pit stop windows.

"Every time there is a tricky moment on strategy, we are discussing things, but we are not a disaster like people seem to say we are."

While Sainz added he would have liked the opportunity to stay out and challenge the leaders after surging from the back row of the grid, he insisted he trusts his team's ability to weigh up the data and make decisive calls.

"We like to discuss things, we are open about them," Sainz added. "Yes, I was in the middle of an overtake, but the team believed that was the right lap to stop and come back through the field.

"I believed at the time that maybe it was better to risk it and stay out and see what happens with the tyres, even if it was the medium tyre on the limit of its life, but I had just made it to P3 and I saw a podium position. 

"I thought, 'if I make these tyres last, maybe I can finish on the podium', but we will never know.

"The team has a lot more data on the computer, they have a lot more numbers to go through, and if they took that decision, I'm 100 per cent convinced that they did it with the best of intentions and the best spirit. 

"We need to keep progressing, and we need to analyse everything and see how we can be better, but I'm convinced the team is doing a good job."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has clarified Charles Leclerc's concerns about the throttle following his crash from the lead at the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc was ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen when he lost the rear tyre and collided with the wall, suffering a third retirement of the season while in a leading position.

The Monegasque driver took responsibility for the incident with his post-race comments but had raised queries on the reason for the crash with remarks over the team radio, where he complained about the throttle.

Ferrari have suffered with throttle problems already this season and Leclerc's comments raised concerns they had emerged again in Sunday's race, but Binotto explained the reason for the comments from his driver.

"It was a mistake, it happens, as we have made reliability issues. I said to Charles, we make life a bit more difficult, but he's feeling better and we will enjoy more in the future," he told Sky Sports.

"It was a genuine driver error. The throttle, it was when he was in the barrier and tried to put it into reverse. 

"Without going into details, he felt that the torque of the engine was not responding to the throttle, but it was nothing to do with the mistake.

"There is always something to improve. Step by step, I think we are progressing and becoming better. Today, we've proved that we have a fast car and a very competitive one.

"We're looking now to Hungary. We can do a one-two there, why not? So we simply focus on the next result."

Ferrari also faced scrutiny behind the decision to call Carlos Sainz in for a second pit stop, with the initial radio call coming as he overtook Sergio Perez for third place, but Binotto remained adamant it was the correct call.

"We don't feel it was the right choice, we're pretty sure it was the right choice. At the time, he was short on life with wear on the tyres so it would have been really risky to go to the end," he explained.

"We don't think he would have had the pace to fight second because he had the five-second penalty. By stopping, he did the fastest lap which was certainly a point, so I think it was the safest and the right decision to take.

"I don't think it cost us a pace. If he had stayed out, I don't think he would have opened the gap to the guy behind, so we don't think he would have had sufficient time."

Charles Leclerc was full of praise for Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz after he provided a tow down the straights to help Leclerc edge Max Verstappen for pole position in the French Grand Prix.

Sainz, who starts at the back of the grid following a fourth engine change of the season, looked to be the quickest throughout qualifying before switching his approach in Q3 to help Leclerc finish ahead of his title rival.

It secures Leclerc's seventh pole of the season and the 16th of his career as he looks to rejuvenate his title bid following difficulties in recent races, and he was clear it would have been a harder task without Sainz.

"I struggled all weekend to put a lap together, but I managed to do it. I have to say, I also had the help of Carlos and that was amazing teamwork," he said on the grid.

"Without Carlos it would have been much more close so a huge thank you to Carlos and I hope that he can join us in the fight for the win tomorrow. 

"The car feels good but it's difficult to understand what the Red Bull guys have done yesterday, as there was loads of difference in terms of lap times, so let's see how it goes tomorrow."

Verstappen looked to be in fine form with the Red Bull ace showing great pace throughout the free practice sessions, but he couldn't quite put it together in qualifying and sits behind Leclerc at the start – the sixth time in 2022 the pair have been on the front row together.

 

"Overall, I think we were lacking a bit in qualifying, just with general grip. It was a bit more tricky than I would have hoped but we still have a decent race car," Verstappen said.

"Hopefully, tomorrow will come to our favour. We're quick on the straights, so hopefully we can use that tomorrow. It's going to be a bit warmer. Clearly, Ferrari have been very quick again."

Sergio Perez will start third, bouncing back after struggling to find pace in the practice sessions, and admitted it had been a difficult few days.

"It's been a good recovery over the whole weekend, I have been struggling a lot, I think it has been my worst weekend up to qualifying really but we managed to recover well," he said.

Perez sits ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who will start fourth, which means Mercedes' wait for a top-three start on the grid continues, with it already being their longest stint into a F1 season without one.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:30:872
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.304
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.463
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.893
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.160
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.259
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.680
8. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) +1.908
9. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) No Time
10. Kevin Magnusson (Haas) No Time

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has been penalised for excessive engine usage, meaning he will start the French Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

Sainz sits in fourth place in the drivers' championship, and finished the final practice in second place. 

However, he will now start Sunday's race from the back after Ferrari took their fourth new engine of the season, one more than is permitted.

This penalty has been added on to the 10-place sanction that he had been given for the new electronics control unit that Ferrari opted for on Friday.

He will be joined at the back of the grid by Kevin Magnussen of Haas, who was penalised for changing power unit components.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fastest in the final practice, with the reigning champion clear of Sainz's Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who finished third quickest.

Carlos Sainz will take a 10-place grid penalty for the French Grand Prix after changing an engine component at Le Castellet.

Sainz saw his hopes of a second-place finish at the Austrian Grand Prix last time out literally go up in flames as an engine failure denied him a seventh podium of the campaign.

And regardless of where he qualifies at Circuit Paul Ricard, Sainz will have a difficult challenge to get on the rostrum this weekend.

Ferrari gave Sainz's car a new control electronics element, incurring a penalty that ensures he will definitely start outside the top 10.

Sainz could yet receive further penalties if Ferrari decide to change further parts of the Spaniard's engine.

He ended Friday's first practice session in third place behind team-mate Charles Leclerc and championship leader Max Verstappen, FP1 hinting at another tight battle between Red Bull and Ferrari as under half a second separated the top three.

Charles Leclerc's Austrian Grand Prix victory was a case of hard work paying off for the Ferrari driver on a day that saw his team face up to more reliability issues. 

After he finished top of the pile in qualifying and Saturday's sprint, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was the clear favourite to claim triumph once again at the Red Bull Ring.

Although Verstappen led coming out of the first corner, it quickly became apparent Ferrari had superior pace, and Sergio Perez's retirement following a collision with George Russell left the Red Bull drivers' championship leader at the mercy of a Scuderia team that nailed their strategy.

Leclerc got past Verstappen for good on lap 53 but was left facing a nervous few final laps after team-mate Carlos Sainz's engine failed five laps later as he attempted an overtake of Verstappen, and the Monegasque soon began experiencing problems of his own with his throttle.

However, Leclerc was able to manage those issues to end a seven-race winless run that stretched back to the Australian GP and reignite his championship hopes, with Verstappen's lead still 38 points.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Leclerc explained the difference between the race and a sprint where Ferrari seemed well off the pace of Verstappen.

"I did some work on my driving yesterday night," he said. "I knew where to improve, especially on that medium stint.

"On the hard [tyre] we were quick, but there was no deg. I'm very happy that the hard work of yesterday paid off today."

On the throttle problem, Leclerc added: "It was really bad, especially turn three and four was a disaster because the car was pushing a lot with the throttle being extremely inconsistent. In the end, I got to the finish line in first position, so I'm really happy."

Leclerc saw wins taken away from him by engine failures in Barcelona and Baku and conceded it is a worry to see the same problem rear its head again with Sainz's car.

"As a team, it is a concern the reliability, and today it shows even more that it is a concern," said Leclerc. "We really need to look into that to make sure that it doesn't happen again during the season."

Sainz, who was prevented from claiming a fourth podium in five races and from trimming Verstappen's advantage by denying him second, made no effort to hide his disappointment.

"There was no feedback coming from the engine that this was about to happen. Very sudden," Sainz said of his fiery retirement.

"I am a bit lost for words because this is obviously a big loss of points and result for the team today, because I think it could have been an easy one-two.

"It is more difficult to take because we were about to cut the points to the leaders of the championship, both Max and Red Bull, to do a very big result for the team and one of the cars DNF.

"It is heartbreaking, but we will need to keep pushing, turn the page, and it is still a long season ahead."

Charles Leclerc reignited his Formula One world championship ambitions with victory in the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Throughout qualifying and Saturday's sprint, all signs pointed to defending world champion Max Verstappen continuing his run of dominance in Spielberg and extending his lead in the drivers' standings.

However, in cooler conditions on Sunday, the Ferraris of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had a clear edge over the Red Bull of Verstappen, who had a clean getaway to stay in the lead into the first corner.

The Scuderia also made the perfect strategy calls to get themselves in position for a one-two, only for Sainz to be denied by an engine failure on lap 58.

Despite a worried Leclerc experiencing problems with his throttle, he held on to clinch a third victory of the season, although Verstappen's advantage in the standings remains 38 points.

Sainz had to go off the track at turn one to protect against a fast-starting George Russell, who was soon given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision after he made contact with Sergio Perez at turn four, with the Mexican sent into the gravel and eventually forced to retire because of the damage.

Leclerc got past Verstappen with a brilliant overtake down the inside of turn four on lap 12, and Perez's exit from the equation put Ferrari in full control of the race and in the rare position of seeing their strategy working to a tee.

Following his second stop, Leclerc got ahead of Verstappen for good on lap 53 at turn three, and Sainz appeared set to repeat the feat five laps later on turn four, only for smoke to begin billowing from the back of his car.

Sainz's fiery exit, which led to a virtual safety car under which Leclerc and Verstappen both pitted, understandably caused nerves for his team-mate.

Leclerc, who saw victories in Barcelona and Baku taken away from him by an engine failure, was soon reporting issues with the throttle, and Verstappen began to loom in his mirrors.

But his car held together to allow him to weave across the finish line in delight, with Lewis Hamilton profiting from Sainz's misfortune to take third behind Verstappen and ahead of Mercedes team-mate Russell. Esteban Ocon was fifth for Alpine.

Charles Leclerc does not want a repeat of the tussle he experienced with team-mate Carlos Sainz in the sprint race as he targets victory in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Ferrari drivers saw Max Verstappen race away from them in the sprint, the championship leader benefiting from the duel between Leclerc and Sainz to take the maximum eight points.

Verstappen eventually claimed triumph by 1.6 seconds from Leclerc, who insisted the Scuderia drivers must not risk losing time and wearing down their tyres by fighting with each other again at the Red Bull Ring.

He said: "I think tomorrow is going to be a long race and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today, so probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today.

"We lost a little bit of time, but again when Max had the gap he also managed his pace, so we'll never know… but I felt like we were strong towards the end – probably stronger than at the beginning. Whether it [would have been] enough I really don't know."

Verstappen now leads the drivers' championship by 38 points, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who climbed from 13th to fifth in the sprint, his closest challenger. Leclerc is a further six points back.

The Dutchman has won five of the last seven races and has an outstanding record at his team's home circuit.

He has won three of the last four Austrian Grands Prix and also prevailed at the Red Bull Ring in last season's Styrian Grand Prix.

However, Verstappen labelled his tyres "tricky" and is not anticipating a routine success across the 71-lap feature race.

"We had good pace at the beginning and after that we were very closely matched, it was as a sprint should go, it was quite flat out," said Verstappen.

"I do expect tomorrow is going to be a very interesting battle again."

George Russell will start fourth in a Mercedes that appears to lack the straight-line speed to mount a serious challenge for victory in Spielberg.

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start eighth having claimed the final points place in the sprint.

The seven-time world champion has experienced an eventful weekend, crashing in qualifying on Friday and being involved in a first-lap collision with Pierre Gasly before fighting back from 11th to eventually get past Mick Schuamcher's Haas for eighth spot.

"I'm grateful I managed to survive out there today," Hamilton said. "The team did such a great job to get the car back together last night and this morning. A big thank you to them, and I'm glad I brought it back mostly in one piece.

"We are slower on the straights, so I had to wait until I was out of the DRS train to overtake the cars in front. That's why it took a few laps to get ahead of Mick. Hopefully we can race stronger tomorrow – fingers crossed!"

There are six world titles split between the two drivers starting 18th and 19th. Sebastian Vettel, who was handed a suspended €25,000 fine for walking out of Friday's drivers' briefing, finished 19th in the sprint following a collision with Alex Albon that sent Vettel's Aston Martin into the gravel.

Fernando Alonso's Alpine failed to start the sprint due to an electrical issue. Valtteri Bottas, a two-time winner of this race, is the only man behind Alonso on the grid after the Alfa Romeo driver incurred a penalty because of his latest engine change.

Max Verstappen continued his excellent record in Formula One sprint races as he cruised to victory at the Red Bull Ring to secure pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

The reigning champion began the sprint in first place and rarely looked likely to relinquish his lead as he added to his success at Imola earlier this season in the shortened format.

At their home grand prix, Red Bull will be hoping for a successful weekend and Verstappen's victory provides them with a dream start and eight points, extending his overall lead for the season to 38.

The race itself was delayed twice as Fernando Alonso – who was subsequently unable to start – and Zhou Guanyu – consigned to a pit-lane launch – had car trouble.

When it eventually began, with the length reduced to 23 laps, Verstappen held off the two Ferraris at the start and managed to build up a handsome lead as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz began to tussle with each other.

The top four ultimately ended as they started, with Leclerc beating Sainz to second and George Russell finishing fourth, but undoubtedly the most impressive performance on the grid came courtesy of Sergio Perez.

The Mexican felt his nine-place punishment for exceeding track limits in qualifying was excessively harsh, but he came out with a vengeance in the sprint, taking fifth despite starting way down in 13th.

Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton closed out the top eight as the other drivers who took points.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1.675
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +5.644s
4. George Russell (Mercedes) +13.429s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +18.302s
6. Alexander Ocon (Alpine) +31.032s
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +34.539s
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +35.447s
9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +37.557s
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) +38.580s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 189
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 151
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 145
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 133
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 116

Lewis Hamilton is "incredibly disappointed" in himself after both he and Mercedes team-mate George Russell crashed out of qualifying ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

The precursor for Saturday's sprint race in Spielberg proved a dramatic one, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen taking pole ahead of Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton has yet to win a race this season after 10 rounds but looked good value to compete for pole until losing control into Turn 7, causing him to skid into the barriers.

That crash in Q3 ruined his chance of starting high up the grid on Saturday, with the seven-time world champion instead down in 10th.

Russell did not fare much better as he caused another red flag after spinning into the barriers at the final corner on a day to forget for Mercedes.

Team boss Toto Wolff told the duo they "should not beat themselves up", adding: "I'd rather have a fast car and a qualifying like this than not having the pace to be in the top four."

But Hamilton, who had been fastest at the start of Q2, was upset that he could not see out the job at Red Bull Ring.

"It was a big hit but I'm okay," he told Sky Sports. "I'm incredibly disappointed in myself ultimately and so sorry to the team who worked so hard to put this car together.

"I lost the back end into Turn 7 and that was that. I'm encouraged. I'm encouraged of course to see our performance. We weren't expecting for it to be as close as that today.

"That is a huge positive from the team but I am really quite far back [for the sprint] so I don't know what is possible from there. Hopefully I can make up for some lost time."

 

Following Hamilton and Russell's crashes, there was time for one final lap for the remaining eight drivers.

Leclerc and Sainz looked set to claim a Ferrari one-two, only for Verstappen – who has now taken the last three pole positions on this track – to post a time of 1:04.984

That was 29 thousandths of a second quicker than Leclerc and leaves Verstappen well positioned to surpass Alain Prost for the most victories at the Austrian GP (three apiece).

"It was a very long wait of course between the two runs," the Dutchman said. "That is never great as once you are in the rhythm you want to keep going.

"Also the track temperature dropping, the wind changing a little bit, but in the end it was a very tight qualifying and it is a really challenging track to get everything right.

"There aren't many corners but the ones you have are quite tricky and easy to make a mistake. I'm quite happy with pole but also tomorrow and Sunday you can get the points. 

"It's incredible to see the crowd here and see so much orange. It puts a smile on my face and hopefully we can make it a great weekend."

Verstappen leads team-mate Sergio Perez by 34 points heading into the weekend's action, while Leclerc is 43 points behind after failing to build on a bright start to the season.

After pushing Verstappen all the way in qualifying for the 24-lap sprint, which establishes the grid for the main grand prix, Leclerc is hoping to do likewise over the next two days.

"I just want to have a clean race," he said. "It's been five races where I've had a bit of a disaster on my side. 

"I just hope that everything will go clean in the weekend and we can finally score the points that we deserve."


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:04.984
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.029
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.082
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.420
5. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.447
6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +0.742
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +0.895
8. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +1.027
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.119
10. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +8.167

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