Toto Wolff says it has been like "Groundhog Day" for Mercedes during a difficult 2022 Formula One season.

The Silver Arrows' run of eight consecutive constructors' titles appears to be coming to an end as they are third in the standings behind Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes have not won a race this year, with George Russell fourth in the driver standings and Lewis Hamilton back in sixth.

Having dominated the sport so long, the Brackley-based team have struggled to adapt following the introduction of new technical regulations.

Mercedes team principal Wolff says it has been a rough ride this season.

"The truth is, it's just so painful and it's so difficult to live by your values and your doubt," Wolff told Autosport.

"You oscillate from depression to exuberance, and then the next day the other way around. And in a way that when you kind of think nothing that you do works, [it is] a bit of Groundhog Day. 

"Then you make steps forward by looking at things and finding out they don't function at all, and then you know what doesn't go, and you go the other way and it functions. 

"All the things I've preached, all the things that you read in books that it's so hard, that it is so important to lose in order to thrive. It's just lived in real life so far."

The F1 season resumes with the Belgian Grand Prix next week following a break.

The FIA World Motorsport Council has approved power unit regulations set to come into effect from the 2026 season, as part of a number of announcements made on Tuesday.

Key points from the new regulations are an increase in electrical power and the use of 100 per cent sustainable fuels, a key step in F1's plan to become carbon neutral by 2030.

F1 also stated that the regulations will be 'attractive' to new power unit manufacturers, with the Volkswagen Group already having confirmed that Porsche and Audi will be coming to the grid in the coming years.

While Porsche is set to partner with an existing team, widely expected to be Red Bull, Audi will bring the brand to the field and could take over from a current team – though there have been some pushes for the number of teams on the grid to be increased from 10.

Elsewhere, the WMSC also approved technical regulation changes for 2022 and 2023 – including the controversial directive regarding a counter to the 'porpoising' that has plagued several teams this season.

Red Bull and Alpine had opposed such proposals but it has been announced that, from the resumption of the season in Belgium later this month,' there will be changes to redefine the stiffness requirements of the plank and skids around the thickness measurement holes on the cars'.

From 2023, the floor edges will be raised by 15mm, the diffuser will be raised and stiffness increased, while an additional sensor will be mandated to monitor the porpoising phenomenon more effectively.

After Zhou Guanyu's horror crash at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, changes were made to the safety standards surrounding roll hoops on F1 cars, including a rounded top, with further regulations planned for 2024 to ensure future cars can resist more significant loads.

Lewis Hamilton has opened up on his emotions following the controversial end to the 2021 Formula One season, admitting his "worst fears came alive" in Abu Dhabi.

The Mercedes driver was at the tail-end of a fierce battle with Red Bull's Max Verstappen for the championship in last year's finale, knowing a record eighth world title would be clinched if he finished ahead of his rival.

On lap 53, Hamilton led but drama would soon erupt as Williams' Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barrier at the exit of turn 14 and the safety car was deployed.

Under FIA guidelines, lapped cars are allowed to overtake behind the safety car but that guidance was not followed by race director Michael Masi, who instead only allowed the cars between Verstappen and Hamilton to move through.

Verstappen, having pitted, then completed an overtake of a defenceless Hamilton at the restart to clinch his maiden title.

The controversy that followed rumbled on for months, with Masi departing his role prior to the start of the 2022 season, and Hamilton has now spoken about his feelings regarding the incident.

"You see things start to unfold and my worst fears came alive," he told Vanity Fair.

"I was like, there's no way they're going to cheat me out of this. There's no way. That won't happen. Surely not.

"I don't know if I can really put into words the feeling that I had. I do remember just sitting there just in disbelief. 

"And realizing I've got to undo my belts, I've got to get out of there, I've got to climb out of this thing, I've got to find the strength. I had no strength.  And it was one of the toughest moments, I would say, that I've had in a long, long time.

"I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. Yes, I knew that something wasn't right."

Ahead of the 2022 season, questions were raised whether Hamilton would return to the grid, and he admits that he considered retirement.

"I, for sure, considered whether I wanted to continue," he confirmed.

Hamilton did return, racing alongside new teammate George Russell, but has not been able to compete for the crown, instead encountering numerous issues with Mercedes unable to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari at the start of the season.

Better fortune was found ahead of F1's summer break, with back-to-back podium finishes for both drivers, but Hamilton remains 112 points adrift of Verstappen in the standings.

Charles Leclerc acknowledged it is more difficult to get over his own mistakes than those of his Ferrari team, and still wants to make the most of the remainder of the Formula One campaign.   Two early season victories gave Leclerc a 46-point lead over Red Bull's Max Verstappen after the first three races of the campaign, but just one win for him since has seen his Dutch rival open up an 80-point gap at the top of the drivers' championship.   On several occasions, Leclerc has been unable to see out a victory, with his engine failing twice and questionable strategies from Ferrari also appearing to cost him, while he also crashed out when leading the French Grand Prix last month.   Speaking to BBC Sport, Leclerc said he was happy that Ferrari were finally back fighting at the front, after seeing Red Bull and Mercedes dominate in recent years, but conceded further improvement is needed.   "First of all, it was amazing to see that we finally got back to fighting for wins," he said.   "On the other hand, we haven't managed to maximise all the potential we had. And this is not great. We still have the second part of the season to catch up, I hope, and I will push at the maximum. But the last few races have been a bit difficult."   Leclerc finished sixth in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, with Verstappen winning again heading into the mid-season break, with the next race in Belgium in late August.   "We want to do absolutely everything to get better in every single thing we do, and obviously looking at the first part of this season, there have been some strategy problems, there have been some reliability problems and there have been driving mistakes," Leclerc added.   "On reliability and strategy, we are working extremely hard to get better. And after a mistake, we always go through exactly the same process, which is to try and analyse from where the mistakes come, why did we take the wrong decision at a certain point of the race, in order to go forwards. As soon as we understand a mistake, then we can move on."

Leclerc outlined his process when he costs himself in a race.

"I'm extremely tough with myself," he added. "So it is much more difficult to deal with my own errors than whenever it is the team, even though we are obviously one team and we lose and we win together.

"I'm always harsher whenever it's me who does the mistake, and obviously France was one of those which hurt quite a bit.

"But whenever I go through this tough time, I go through the same process as I was saying before, trying to analyse what was wrong. And it's mostly mentally.

"To speak about it seems quite easy, but it is not always easy to pinpoint exactly what was going on in your head at that moment. But I think this is a strength of mine and helps me to improve as a driver every time I make a mistake."

When asked about his aims for the rest of the season, Leclerc said: "To try and grow from the mistakes of the first half, but try and perform as well as the first half because the performance I've given, I'm extremely happy about. And this I want to keep.

"So there won't be any significant change. We just need to try and work as a team to put a weekend together for the nine remaining races and see where we end up."

Alex Albon will keep his Williams seat beyond this season after signing a multi-year deal with the team, it was revealed on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Thai-British driver joined Williams for 2022 and has secured all three of the team's points so far this season – finishing 10th in Australia and ninth in Miami.

Formerly of Red Bull, Albon's initial deal with Williams was for a single season, but the team confirmed he will return to the grid next year, as well as for future seasons.

"It's really exciting to be staying with Williams Racing for 2023 and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve as a team in the remainder of this season and next year," Albon said.

"The team is pushing hard to progress, and I am really motivated to continue this journey and further develop our learnings together."

Albon could still have a new team-mate for the 2023 season, with Nicholas Latifi's contract expiring at the end of the season.

Williams' announcement comes in what has been a dramatic seven days in F1, which started with the announcement of Sebastian Vettel's retirement at the end of the season.

Fernando Alonso was then confirmed to be Vettel's replacement at Aston Martin, with Alpine later stating Oscar Piastri would step into the vacancy – though the Australian denied those claims.

It has been suggested Piastri is in negotiations with McLaren for a seat alongside Lando Norris for 2023, which in turn would leave Daniel Ricciardo seeking a new team.

Australian Oscar Piastri has refuted an announcement from Alpine that he will race for them in Formula One next season.

The stunning move came on Tuesday as Alpine reserve driver Piastri shot down the team's assertion he would be taking the seat of Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso.

Piastri, last year's Formula 2 champion, has been linked with Williams and McLaren recently, but Alpine have been determined to keep him.

However, the 21-year-old said in a statement posted on Twitter: "I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year.

"This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year."

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer has claimed Piastri does have "a legal contract" for next year with the Renault-owned marque, seemingly putting him in direct conflict with the young driver.

The disagreement will need to be resolved, with Szafnauer having told motorsport.com "I'm not privy to whatever pre-arrangements he has with McLaren, if any at all."

He added: "Oscar and his camp are considering their options, whatever that means."

This situation has been brought into the spotlight amid Alpine's need to find a replacement for Alonso, who has agreed to succeed retiring former four-time champion Sebastian Vettel with Aston Martin.

The drama comes as Formula One enters its short mid-season break.

German great Vettel will retire from Formula One at the end of the season, with Szafnauer indicating he was expecting Alonso to commit to a new Alpine contract until news came through of Aston Martin's move for the Spanish veteran, who won the 2005 and 2006 world titles.

In Alpine's now-contradicted statement about the appointment of Piastri, Szafnauer described the youngster as "a bright and rare talent".

He added: "Through our collaboration over the past four years, we have seen him develop and mature into a driver who is more than capable of taking the step up to Formula One."

The Denver Broncos have announced that seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has joined the team's ownership group.

The Broncos released a statement on Tuesday from Rob Walton on behalf of the Walton-Penner family ownership group, saying: "We're delighted to welcome seven-time Formula One world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton to our ownership group.

"He is a champion competitor who knows what it takes to lead a winning team and a fierce advocate for global equality, including in his own sport.

"With over 100 race wins, Lewis is considered the most successful F1 driver of all time. His resilient spirit and standard of excellence will be an asset to the ownership group and the Broncos organisation."

Hamilton's 103 race victories are the most in F1 history, and his seven titles are tied with Michael Schumacher for the most all-time. He is winless so far this season and sits in sixth place in the drivers' standings.

He wrote on his Twitter page: "Excited to join an incredible group of owners and become a part of the @Broncos story!!

"Honoured to work with a world class team and serve as an example of the value of more diverse leadership across all sports."

Russell Wilson, the Broncos' new quarterback for the 2022 season, wrote: "Congrats @LewisHamilton. Winning is a Habit! #LetsRide"

An agreement was reached in June for the sale of the Broncos in a deal worth $4.65billion, a record for an American sports franchise. NFL owners are expected to approve the sale this month.

Ownership of the Broncos will be transferred to the Walton-Penner family ownership group, headed by Walmart heir Rob Walton.

It sets a new benchmark for the price of professional sports franchises in the United States by over $2billion, topping the purchase of the New York Mets ($2.4billion) by hedge fund manager Steve Cohen in 2020.

Honda has extended its tie-up with Formula One pace-setters Red Bull through to the end of the 2025 season, providing long-term stability as the team and star driver Max Verstappen close in on more success.

The Japanese auto giant formally withdrew from F1 at the end of last season but has continued to support the Red Bull Powertrains power unit division with vital technical assistance.

Red Bull's deal with Honda, which supplies the Austrian team's power units, had been due to expire after the 2023 campaign but will now run for a further two years.

Team principal Christian Horner said: "Red Bull's partnership with Honda has been an incredibly successful one and we are pleased that this will continue until the end of the current era of the FIA's power unit regulations in 2025."

Red Bull lead the constructors' championship after 13 of this season's 22 races, with Ferrari a distant second, while reigning drivers' champion Verstappen is well on his way to a second title, with his haul of 258 points putting him 80 clear of second-placed Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen, contracted until 2028, won the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, after Red Bull's support crew overcame a power unit issue that affected his qualifying performance.

F1 is now on its mid-season break ahead of a resumption on the final weekend of August in Belgium.

 

Alpine expected Fernando Alonso to agree a new contract with the team right up until the moment his move to Aston Martin was announced, Otmar Szafnauer has revealed.

And Alpine team principal Szafnauer's attempts to subsequently get in touch with Alonso have proved unsuccessful.

Alonso has driven for Alpine since their rebrand ahead of the 2021 season, returning to Formula One after two seasons away.

The Spaniard had won world championships with Renault – the team under their previous name – back in 2005 and 2006.

Now a midfield runner, Alonso has secured only a single podium in his second stint with the French team, but his switch to Aston Martin on Monday came as somewhat of a surprise – not least to Alpine.

Alonso will replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel in 2023, with his move the first of the mid-season break after Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

As of the end of that race, in which Alonso finished eighth, Szafnauer thought his superstar driver was returning next year.

"[The Aston Martin statement] was the first confirmation I had," the Alpine chief told Motorsport.com.

"Obviously, when we're in the paddock, there's all sorts of rumours, and I had heard rumours that Aston were interested.

"Once you hear that they're interested, there's probably discussions that took place, and there's some other indications that discussions took place, like walking out of the same motorhome at the same time, all that kind of stuff, which I saw.

"But I was confident that, even with the discussions, and there's nothing wrong with exploring, we were very close.

"So, yes, the first confirmation I had was the press release. I did ask the question [to Alonso]. And I was told: 'No, no, I haven't signed anything.' So, I was a bit surprised."

Asked if he had since spoken to Alonso, Szafnauer replied: "I haven't talked to him, since he's on a boat, I think, in the Greek Isles somewhere.

"I took this morning to address the staff. And the second thing I'm doing is talking to you. And yesterday, I fielded a bunch of calls from other potential drivers."

One obvious option is Oscar Piastri, the Alpine reserve driver who had appeared set for a year at Williams when Alonso was in line for a new contract.

However, Szafnauer faces issues on that front, too, amid claims Piastri has agreed to race instead for McLaren – something Alpine have not agreed to.

"I'm not privy to whatever pre-arrangements he has with McLaren, if any at all," Szafnauer said, stating Alpine have "a legal contract" with Piastri for 2023.

He added: "Oscar and his camp are considering their options, whatever that means."

The first domino in the Formula One driver market has fallen with Aston Martin's confirmation that Fernando Alonso will be driving for the team in 2023.

Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix was always going to lead to movement on the grid but Alonso's move from Alpine is a significant statement of intent from the Silverstone-based team.

Alpine are currently vying for the best of the rest tag in 2022, alongside McLaren, while it has been a year to forget so far for Aston Martin – but they still boast one of the most recognisable brands on the grid and Alonso is a stellar acquisition.

There will be further movement, with a number of teams yet to confirm their full driver line-up for the 2023 season – with Alpine, Haas, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri having one spot open, while Williams have not confirmed either driver.

That leaves six seats up for grabs as it stands, with some of the outcomes easier to analyse than others – Alonso's departure from Alpine solves their headache as it leaves a slot open for reserve driver Oscar Piastri.

The Australian was already heavily tipped to take a seat on the grid for 2023 but, with Esteban Ocon and Alonso at Alpine, just where that spot would open was up for debate, with a Williams move touted, but it should now be a fairly easy decision.

For Williams, it could result in the continuation of their partnership with Mercedes. With Alex Albon expected to retain his seat, a replacement for Nicolas Latifi is on the agenda and the leading option may now be Nyck de Vries.

Toto Wolff had already conceded that De Vries, who is on their young driver programme, could be let go in order for him to open avenues in F1, but a seat becoming available at Williams would be perfect for all parties – potentially lining-up De Vries as Lewis Hamilton's long-term successor.

Another option for Williams is Jamie Chadwick, who has dominated the W series and has her eyes set on a seat in F1, though she has expressed doubt as to whether women can cope with the physical demands of the series.

Seats at Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri are harder to assess but Mick Schumacher could play a pivotal role for the trio. Yet to be confirmed by Haas for 2023, the young Ferrari driver could make a sidewards move to continue his F1 career.

Given AlphaTauri's relationship with Red Bull, Alfa Romeo seems the more likely option for Schumacher if he was to depart Haas and an opportunity to drive alongside Valtteri Bottas could aid his development – though Alfa Romeo have a young talent of their own waiting in the wings in the form of Theo Pourchaire.

Felipe Drugovich, the runaway leader in F2 this season, and American Logan Sargeant are alternative options within the young driver ranks, while both have additional appeal due to their respective nationalities, Brazil and the United States, both of which are areas of growth for F1.

The break period in the F1 season is usually the time where teams line everything up for the next year, so the next few weeks before the season resumes in Belgium are likely to be extremely busy – and there could be some surprises in store.

Fernando Alonso has agreed a multi-year deal to replace Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin from the 2023 Formula One season.

Four-time F1 world champion Vettel announced last week he is retiring at the end of the current campaign.

Aston Martin have moved quickly to bring in a replacement, with Alpine driver Alonso – himself a two-time world champion – set to join next year.

"This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula One today," Alonso said.

"I have known Lawrence and Lance [Stroll] for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One.

"I have watched as the team has systematically attracted great people with winning pedigrees, and I have become aware of the huge commitment to new facilities and resources.

"No one in Formula One today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me."

Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021 after a two-year sabbatical and finished 10th last season, which is also the position he finds himself in midway through 2022.

The Spaniard made his F1 debut in 2001 and won his two world titles in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006.

Now at the age of 41, Alonso is still as motivated as ever as he prepares to embark on another new chapter with Aston Martin.

"I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to learn, develop and succeed," he said.

"We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front, and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.

"The passion and desire to perform that I have witnessed convince me to maintain my enjoyment and commitment to the sport.

"I intend to win again in this sport and therefore I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me."

Alonso finished eighth at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday to secure his eighth consecutive points finish.

He brings a wealth of experience to Aston Martin, where he will link up with Lance Stroll, the son of executive chairman Lawrence.

"I have known and admired Fernando for many years and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me," Lawrence Stroll said.

"I have set out to bring together the best people and develop the right resources and organisation to succeed in this highly competitive sport.

"Those plans are now taking shape at Silverstone. It seemed natural therefore to invite Fernando to be part of the development of a winning team. 

"We very quickly established in our recent conversations that we have the same ambitions and values, and it was logical and easy to confirm our desire to work together."

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 celebrated a "crazy" success at the Hungarian Grand Prix, after coming from 10th to take a surprise win.

Reigning world champion Verstappen looked unlikely to challenge for victory on Sunday following a frustrating qualifying session.

The Dutchman had looked ominously fast but a power unit issue on his out lap ahead of a second flying effort ended hopes of pole.

Yet Verstappen will head into Formula One's break with an 80-point lead in the championship standings after powering to a hugely impressive win that sees him equal Nigel Mansell's record of the most F1 triumphs for a single team.

Rain threatened to cause late drama but Verstappen held firm to seal a famous victory for Red Bull, despite at one point spinning on the track.

"It was a crazy race, very happy that we won it," said Verstappen, who finished over seven seconds ahead of second-placed Lewis Hamilton and more than 12 seconds quicker than third-placed George Russell.

"I was of course hoping I could get close to a podium. Very tricky conditions out there but we had a really great strategy, really reactive, always pitching at the right time and then even at the end, with the 360 [spin], we won the race."

Explaining how he had lost control of the car during his 360-degree spin, Verstappen said: "I was struggling a bit with the shifts and the clutch and we had to change a few things around that to not basically burn the clutch.

"That cost me a bit of performance and it caught me out on that corner. Luckily, to do a 360, so I only lost one spot.

"It was very good. I was battling a lot of guys so it was a lot of fun out there."

Lewis Hamilton is confident Mercedes are "closing the gap" on their rivals following another impressive drive from the Briton at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, starting seventh, benefited from a strong strategy by his team to work his way through the order, overtaking Ferrari's Carlos Sainz for third and then leapfrogging his team-mate George Russell.

The result secured back-to-back podium finishes for Hamilton who, surprisingly, has achieved more top-three finishes this season than title hopeful Charles Leclerc, who has seen his bid to take Max Verstappen's crown crumble.

Ferrari's main challenge in the final nine races of the season after the upcoming break may now come from Mercedes, who sit just 30 points behind in the constructors' championship, and Hamilton believes there is a solid platform to build on.

"I was definitely struggling at the beginning of the race and wasn't sure if I was going to be able to catch the guys up but bit by bit, I was more comfortable with the balance and had a really good start as well," he said on the grid.

"I really want to acknowledge my team who have pushed and never given up in this tough year so far.

"To be on the podium, for both cars to be on the podium twice, it is pretty special for us and really unlucky for George today.

"The other guys still have a bit of an edge but we are clearly closing the gap and this is just an amazing way to go into the break knowing that we have this performance. 

"Hopefully we can bring some more into the second part of the season and start fighting with the guys up front."

Russell started the race in pole position after his surprising Q3 session on Saturday but was unable to stay ahead and admitted he thought the race was there to win in the early stages.

"When it started spitting and we were on the soft tyres at the start I thought we were on," he said. 

"Towards the end on the mediums with the slightly heavier rain I really struggled."

Having secured back-to-back third-place finishes, Russell also praised the improvements shown by his team after what was a poor start to the 2022 season.

"Amazing job by the team. Pole position yesterday and a double podium - we're definitely making progress, so really proud of the work we've done," he added.

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

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