Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will each start from the back of the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix after receiving penalties following power unit changes.

Verstappen leads Ferrari rival Leclerc by 80 points in the Formula One drivers' championship, having won eight of the 13 races so far this season.

However, the Red Bull man, who came from 10th on the grid to win the Hungarian Grand Prix prior to the mid-season break, will have to fight his way through the field to triumph at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.

Verstappen won in Belgium last year in a race reduced to two laps behind the safety car because of a deluge that made racing unsafe.

The Dutchman, who was born in Belgium under two hours away from the circuit, has had all the components of his power unit replaced.

Leclerc, meanwhile, has taken on a fifth power unit of the season as well as a new gearbox.

Joining the title rivals at the back will be McLaren's Lando Norris, Alpine's Esteban Ocon, Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo.

Norris, Ocon and Bottas have seen their teams opt to change their engines, while Schumacher is taking on a new control electronics unit.

The grid shake-up could put Mercedes in position to claim their first win of a difficult season, while Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez and Leclerc's fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz will each fancy their chances of winning for the second time in 2022.

Lando Norris believes McLaren's porpoising ahead of the French Grand Prix is a positive, stating it shows the team are heading in the right direction.

McLaren have been unable to keep pace with the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes so far this season, sitting joint-fourth in the Constructor's Championship alongside Alpine with 81 points.

Meanwhile, Norris sits seventh in the Drivers' Championship after a difficult campaign that has seen just one podium finish, coming at Imola in April, and has finished outside the top five in every race since.

McLaren have introduced a new aero package for the French Grand Prix and, while it has resulted in porpoising, Norris believes that is a sign that things are on the right track.

"It felt like I had a decent amount. The last few races we've had quite a bit at times, Silverstone we had a lot as well, so I'm not surprised. Not a shock," he said.

"Yeah, I'm hoping it's kind of a good thing that, if we can improve the car, sometimes that promotes porpoising.

"Apart from Red Bull, it seems like it's what Ferrari and Mercedes have had a lot of, and they are obviously a lot quicker than us.

"But I think, as we're trying to improve the car, sometimes we expose this phenomenon and yeah, it's maybe not a bad thing. Sometimes it means you're heading in the right direction."

Norris was sixth-fastest in FP2 on Friday, ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with both running the new aero package for the second session after the Australian also ran it in FP1 – and Norris admitted the car felt 'different' to drive.

"Just different, I wouldn't say trickier. It's just the feeling you get behind the wheel, you're so sensitive, you get so used to things," he explained.

"As soon as something feels just a little bit off, you have to figure out why that's happening and what it's doing, what the reasoning is for it, and then how to overcome it and maximise it again.

"So I guess I'm playing a little bit of catch-up and just trying to understand all of that, comparing to Daniel, but at the same time, it's been good we've been able to compare data easily today, because we chose that strategy of me not having it, him having it."

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris have hit out at the "stupid" track limits penalties dished out at the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, while George Russell has suggested F1 should revert to a single race director.

The sport has strict rules this season regarding exceeding the borders of the circuit, with 43 offences notched for crossing the white line during Sunday's race, won by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull racer and incumbent world champion Verstappen came home second while Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was third, but the former admitted that events felt somewhat overshadowed by the stringent enforcement.

"I think the track limits debate this weekend has been a bit of a joke," Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

"I don't think we should have this value on one millimetre over, that's a penalty or whatever. Then just add a wall or put some gravel back. I think that's great because there is gravel, you punish yourself if you go wide.

"These kind of things, I think it just doesn't look good for the sport."

McLaren's Norris, who was hit with a five-second penalty for repeat abuse, was also frustrated by the rules, adding: "You can't see the white lines. It's just guessing and I'm obviously not good enough at guessing.

"But I got a warning from Turn 1, and it was just a complete mistake. I lost time, so when you look at it that way, I can say it's a bit stupid. This was just me making mistakes. So I don't feel like I should be punished for it."

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Russell meanwhile questioned whether the application of the rules was down to F1's revolving cast of race directors this season.

The sport has utilised multiple directors after Michael Masi's infamous handling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of last season, which ultimately helped hand Verstappen the world title at Hamilton's expense.

"We don't want to be dishing out penalties left, right and centre but there needs to be an element of consistency somewhere and I think we need to look at the root cause of the issues," Russell added.

"I do agree that we need to stick to one race director. We need to have a bit more consistency with the stewarding.

"We come to the following event and often the steward in the previous event is not there. There's no accountability, no explanations of decisions. It is tricky. Everybody's got their own interpretations."

Lewis Hamilton was pleased with the "small step forwards" taken by Mercedes after setting the second-fastest time in practice ahead of the British Grand Prix.

The Briton was 0.163 seconds slower than pace-setter Carlos Sainz in FP2, while compatriot Lando Norris was third and championship leader Max Verstappen in fourth.

Hamilton has yet to win a race this season, but he offered plenty of promise heading into a big weekend on home soil at a packed Silverstone with his performance in practice.

However, the seven-time world champion offered a word of caution over the ongoing porpoising issue that has dominated recent races.

"It's bouncing still, quite a bit," he said. "Not necessarily on the straights but through the corners it's pretty harsh – not physically harsh but in the car on the tyres and everything.

"So we still have work to do but it feels like a small step forwards.

"Our long run pace isn't as good as the other guys but it's not miles off. We've definitely made an improvement. I'm sure overnight we can work and improve the car a bit more."

Hamilton may have endured a difficult campaign to date, lagging as he does 98 points behind leader Verstappen, but he boasts an impressive record on his home turf.

The 37-year-old has won the British Grand Prix eight times and could become the driver to have won the most races at a single Grand Prix with victory this weekend.

Mercedes, meanwhile, have recorded eight of the last nine wins at Silverstone, while also taking eight of the last nine poles.

McLaren driver Norris looks good value to challenge for a second podium of 2022 after a surprising rise up the timesheets, having finished 15th last time out in Canada.

"As good as it looked, it is still difficult to put things together and be consistent but I am happy," he said.

"The car seems to be in a decent place, at least a little better than we were expecting."

Friday was rather unimpressive for Red Bull's Verstappen, who has won six of the nine races this year, including five of the last six.

But the Dutchman – who is out to surpass Valtteri Bottas and equal Rubens Barrichello as the driver with the eighth-most podiums ever (68) – is confident of finding improvement.

"It's always a bit tricky, of course, after not driving in FP1 and then FP2 becomes a bit of guessing, let's say it like that," Verstappen said. 

"It was maybe not ideal, but also not a big issue. I think we know what we have to work on and that's what we'll try to do overnight. 

"But, again, tomorrow probably it's raining so you have again different kinds of conditions. This time probably was not amazing, but it was also not really bad."

Lewis Hamilton suggested the problems with his Mercedes W13 were being exacerbated in Monaco on "the bumpiest track I've ever driven".

Seven-time Formula One champion Hamilton has endured a difficult season, complaining right from the outset about his "bouncing" 2022 car.

There had been some signs of progress in recent weeks, however, with Hamilton finishing fifth in Barcelona despite a first-lap puncture.

But things have taken another turn for the worse for the Silver Arrows in Monaco, where Hamilton finished in P10 in Friday's first practice session and P12 in the second.

The circuit itself has contributed, the Briton says, as he said: "Firstly, it's the bumpiest the track [has] ever been. It's probably the bumpiest track I've ever driven.

"So, one, that makes it difficult, and two, just generally our car bounces a lot.

"It's different bouncing to what we've experienced in the past; it's in the low speed also, but it's not aero[-related]. I think the bumps on the track just make it worse.

"I'm not really having to learn the track differently, just fighting the car. To put a lap together is... wow, holy c**p! I don't remember experiencing it like that before."

Team-mate George Russell was only a little better in P8 and P6, beaten in both sessions by McLaren's Lando Norris (P5 twice).

"I'm a little bit surprised to say we're ahead of Mercedes," Norris said. "I expected them to maybe be ahead of us at the minute.

"But the plan is to be ahead of them, and if we can be, I'll be very happy with that."

Yet McLaren colleague Daniel Ricciardo has work to do after hitting the barrier in FP2.

"We pushed a little too far probably in a couple areas with the set-up," Ricciardo said. "We had a good morning, and obviously you try a few things for FP2 to try to maximise a bit more performance, but let's say we overstepped it – you don't know until you try it.

"It was my first lap, so I couldn't really get much of a read on it; it happened straight away.

"I tried my best to save it, but I couldn't. We missed all of the session, but I'm okay. We'll be ready to go tomorrow."

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz wants a wider debate on the impact that designs of modern Formula One cars are having on driver health.

Constructors in the series have taken steps to counteract the impact of 'porpoising' (or bouncing of the car) brought about by new aerodynamic rules, including making suspensions stiffer.

The rule changes were brought in with the intention of increasing opportunities to overtake, but one of the impacts of that has been the extra 'porpoising'.

Sainz, who sits fifth in this season's driver standings, has been in Formula One since 2015 and says he can already feel the toll taken on his back and neck.

Asked prior to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix how the issue may be particularly prominent on the street-race of Monaco at the end of this month, Sainz said: "It's more than Monaco.

"How much toll should a driver pay for his back and his health in an F1 career with this kind of car philosophy?

"I think we need to open the debate more than anything.

"I think the regulations are great. They're doing exactly what we needed for racing. But do we need to run as stiff for our necks and back as we are having to run lately?

"I've done my usual checks on my back, neck tightness, and I see this year I'm tighter everywhere.

"I don't need expert advice to know that 10 years like this it's going to be tough, and you're going to need to work a lot in mobility, flexibility."

McLaren driver Lando Norris, a former team-mate of Sainz, offered suggestions to limit 'porpoising'.

"I would have thought you'd have much worse effects from crashing a car at 50 or 60G like some of us have done," Norris said.

"There are also many ways for them to stop porpoising. Like lifting your rear ride height 20mm."

Max Verstappen felt Red Bull "were on it" at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and thoroughly deserved their one-two. 

Reigning Formula One champion Verstappen started on pole after winning Saturday's sprint race and he took maximum points at Imola by winning and setting the fastest lap. 

He cut Charles Leclerc's championship lead from 45 points to 27. The Ferrari driver span out from third when trying to take the bonus point from Verstappen and ended up finishing sixth. 

That opened the door for Lando Norris to finish third, with Sergio Perez making it a first one-two for Red Bull since Malaysia in 2016. 

"It's always tough to achieve something like that but already yesterday and the day before, we were on it and it was looking like a strong weekend," said Verstappen. 

"Today, you never know with the weather how competitive you are going to be, but I think we did very well and this one-two is very deserved. 

"The start was very important but afterwards, judging the conditions and when to swap to the slick tyres, because in the lead you have to always dictate the pace, and it's always a bit more difficult initially, but everything was well managed." 

Perez defended brilliantly to keep Leclerc at bay after getting past him on the opening lap, though he was lucky DRS was not enabled until after he took a trip across the grass and gave the Ferrari a chance to close the gap.

"It was really intense! The fight since halfway through the race we were fighting, then it was all under control but then they start chasing us again with the stop and it was the fight again to warm up the tyres," said Perez. 

"The most important thing today is to not make mistakes, because with these conditions it was so tricky out there. To get a one-two in these conditions, I think it is a great result for the team. We've been so unlucky at the start. It's been so difficult for us. 

"I am very pleased to see everyone in my team smiling today." 

Norris said: "It was an amazing race. An amazing weekend.  

"I'm happy, the team deserves it. From where we were in race one to now scoring a podium, top job by the team. It's just hard work [from the team]. A lot of time of effort back in the factory and here at Imola. 

"It was a mixture of tricky conditions, but we've been able to capitalise on that as well. But I love these conditions, so I always do quite well. Just a mixture of hard work and a great weekend and it all pays off." 

McLaren driver Lando Norris believes the struggles of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are reassuring for Formula One.

Hamilton squeezed onto the podium in Bahrain in the season opener despite ongoing questions following a series of design changes by his team to comply with new regulations for the 2022 season.

However, he then succumbed to his first performance-related Q1 elimination since 2009 in Saudi Arabia as Mercedes failed to make the top five on the grid for the first time since the 2013 Italian Grand Prix.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has since acknowledged that instant solutions would not be found for their new W13 car 'porpoising' – bouncing at high speed – and not racing at the optimum height.

And Norris believes it is refreshing for the rest of the grid to see the usually dominant Mercedes well behind Ferrari, who hold a 40-point lead over Red Bull in the constructors' championship after two races.

"In a way it is nice to see that Mercedes don't always have success," Norris told The Daily Mail. "It shows that even when you have had that success, you can still get things wrong. It is easy to get things wrong.

"Much as I hate to say it, it is good to see Ferrari up there. And it is reassuring for other teams to know it is still possible. If it were just Mercedes and Red Bull again, it would be so predictable.

"With Lewis you are seeing the challenge of one of the best drivers competing in a car that is not the best. We will see a different side of Lewis, compared to the last decade.

"But I don't think you can say it is all about the car, rather than Lewis' ability. He has still been against very good drivers, such as Fernando [Alonso] in his first year, and then went on to achieve what everyone expected of him.

"I just don't believe in the last few years he has had quite the challenge that he could have had, or maybe that he had against [Nico] Rosberg. Perhaps we will see that against George [Russell, Hamilton's new team-mate].

"I don't think anything takes away the driver he is."

Norris has endured a similarly tough start to his season with McLaren, finishing almost a minute behind winner Max Verstappen in Jeddah, but he feels he made the right choice to join his new team.

"I see a lot of stories saying I have made the wrong decision," he added. "But that is not the case. I am happy. I have all the faith in the world that we can still achieve good things in the next few years and if I had to make the decision again, I would still do what I did.

"There were chances to go to other teams, but I am playing the long game."

The 22-year-old, who is 10th in the drivers' championship, will hope he can kick-start McLaren's 2022 campaign at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have reaffirmed their concern over Formula One racing in Saudi Arabia.

A Houthi missile strike that hit an Aramco facility 10 miles from the Jeddah circuit during the first practice on Friday sparked concern over the safety of the race.

The Saudi energy and chemical company is also a sponsor of F1, as well as a principal sponsor of the Aston Martin team.

Amid criticism of the Saudi regime's human rights record and fears for their safety, there was serious concern over a driver boycott of Sunday's race. 

However, the event went ahead as planned, with reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen beating Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton, who qualified 16th, finished down in 10th, but the seven-time world champion was simply happy that the paddock could finish the race and leave the country.

"I am so happy the weekend is done," Hamilton said.

"I am so happy everyone is safe, I am just looking forward to getting out. I just want to go home."

Red Bull's Verstappen confirmed the drivers will be looking to take their concerns over the future of the race further.

"We had a lot of guarantees that of course it would be safe but after this weekend all the drivers together, we will speak with F1 and the team bosses to see what is happening for the future," he said.

"Of course, I am relieved [to have got through the weekend," added McLaren's Lando Norris.

"It is a nervous place to be and you are going to have these nerves."

Daniel Ricciardo qualified in 18th on Saturday as McLaren endured a tough start to the Bahrain Grand Prix, but the Australian vowed to "get on with it".

McLaren were fighting with Ferrari at the front of the Formula One midfield in 2021, yet the first weekend of the new season suggests the Scuderia have left their rivals behind.

Ferrari had Charles Leclerc on pole and Carlos Sainz in the top three, with all teams using their engines performing well in qualifying.

By contrast, Ricciardo failed to make Q2, and McLaren team-mate Lando Norris was little better in 13th.

A challenge in Sunday's race appears highly unlikely, but McLaren will continue to work to get their young campaign back on track as soon as possible.

"The only way we're going to move forward is if we put our eyes forward and get on with it," said Ricciardo, who missed the end of pre-season due to coronavirus. "And I think that's important as well for team morale.

"If we just sit and moan and cry... Of course, in qualifying, I'm not happy with 18th, but there's no good being upset about it and not doing anything.

"It's going to require action and effort from all of us, but I think that should motivate us to do better and want to do better. 

"I know we believe that we can be obviously a lot further up the grid, so it's fuel for the fire. It might be a slow burn for now, but that's all we can do to make things better."

Norris is certainly not expecting sudden improvement on Sunday, while he added a turnaround in time for next week's Saudi Arabian GP is also asking a lot.

"There are still a lot of positives – just sadly more negatives than positives," he said. "It's just about time and working on them. I think now we understand them more than ever; it's simply about putting them into action.

"But it's not an overnight job, it's not something that we're going to turn up [on Sunday] and be amazing, or turn up to Saudi and be amazing.

"It will take time, and [the team] are going to be working hard to try to make those improvements."

Following an eventful, dramatic and – dare we say it – the best Formula One season to date, the 2022 campaign has plenty to live up to.

Lewis Hamilton is going in search of a record eighth world title at the second time of asking after missing out to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the final race in 2021.

Reigning champion Verstappen is himself seeking some personal history this coming campaign, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

Ahead of what will hopefully be an equally as gripping season this time around, Stats Perform picks out some of the key numbers.

 

Hamilton narrowly missed out on surpassing Michael Schumacher as F1's most successful driver, though he has not missed out on top spot in successive years since joining Mercedes in 2013.

Should he match his achievement from last year, Red Bull's Verstappen (25 years, two months) would surpass Fernandes Alonso (25y, 2m, 23 days) as the second-youngest multiple world champion, behind only Sebastian Vettel (24y, 3m).

Mercedes may have suffered disappointment last time out, but they still finished top of the constructors' standings for a record-extending eighth time in a row. They are one short of equalling Williams as the second-most successful team, though Ferrari (16) are still well out in front.

In terms of other team milestones, Bahrain will be the 250th GP Mercedes have competed in, while they are six fastest laps away from setting 100. McLaren, meanwhile, are seven podiums from reaching 500 in F1.

Joining Hamilton at Mercedes this season is compatriot George Russell, who along with McLaren's Lando Norris is aiming to become the first Briton other than Hamilton to win a race since Jenson Button in 2012.

Bottas is now at Alfa Romeo and is joined by Guanyu Zhou, who will be China's first ever representative on the grid, making them the 39th country to appear in F1. Indeed, it is the first time three Asian countries will be represented, with Alex Albon (Thailand) and Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) also featuring.

 

Now 14 years on from their most recent constructors' title, Ferrari will equal their worst-such streak – 15 years between 1984 and 1998 – if they again miss out this term.

Carlos Sainz is Ferrari's big hope and he has either matched or bettered his performance from the previous season – both in terms of points and position – over the past six years when racing for just one team.

While his title chances are slim at best, Fernando Alonso has the opportunity to become the driver with the biggest margin between F1 titles of all time, 16 years on from his most recent success. 

Twenty-two events are currently locked in the F1 calendar for this year, with Miami set to become the 77th different circuit used when it hosts its maiden GP in May. It will be the 11th different track used in the United States, which is the most of any country.

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo has tested positive for COVID-19, in a blow to his preparations for the first grand prix of the Formula One season.

The team expect the 32-year-old Australian to be out of isolation in time to compete at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the race scheduled for Sunday, March 20.

The news still comes at an unfortunate time for McLaren, who are looking to build upon their fourth-place finish in last year's constructors' championship.

Ricciardo's positive test was confirmed on Friday's second day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit.

"McLaren Racing can confirm that after feeling unwell from Wednesday onwards in Bahrain, Daniel Ricciardo has now returned a positive PCR test for COVID-19," a team statement read.

"Daniel is therefore continuing to isolate in accordance with local regulations.

"Under these regulations Daniel will be released in time for next weekend's Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Daniel is already beginning to feel better, and we wish him well for a quick recovery.

"Following this, we can confirm that Lando Norris will remain in the MCL36 for the final day of the official pre-season test in Bahrain tomorrow."

Ricciardo said on Twitter that he was already "starting to feel better".

Lando Norris has agreed to extend his stay with McLaren through to 2025, the team announced on Wednesday.

It was confirmed by the British constructor back at the Monaco Grand Prix that an option to prolong Norris' stay for multiple years had been exercised.

An agreement has now been reached for the Briton to stay with McLaren for the next four seasons, starting in 2022.

"Teams are about people, and I love the people and feel at home at McLaren. I have grown up in this team and I'm part of this journey we're all on," Norris said via a McLaren statement.

"Last season was another great step, both in my career and the team's performance, and I see and feel all the work, investment, and commitment for the team to be in a position to challenge for wins and titles in the future. 

"This all gives me huge confidence looking forward, so it was a natural decision to extend our relationship for the next few years."

Norris has a relationship with McLaren dating back to 2017 and was reserve driver for two years before gaining a full seat in 2019.

There has been steady progression of the past three seasons, with Norris finishing 11th in his debut campaign, ninth in 2020 (which also yielded a first podium), and sixth in 2021 where he had four podium finishes and a first pole position.

Team principal Andreas Seidl added: "The opportunity to extend our relationship with Lando reflects not only our commitment but our belief and confidence in his talent. 

"It is also a strong sign of trust and commitment from Lando in us as a team and our journey to world championship contention. 

"Lando has shown impressive growth as a Formula One driver over the past four years and has been an instrumental part of the team's momentum and performance trajectory. 

"We are still on our journey to fight at the front and Lando is a key element of our plan, so to lock him into place, alongside Daniel and our senior leadership, gives us stability and continuity as we build towards our ultimate shared goal of world championships."

The new F1 season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix next month.

Lando Norris believes he can benefit from the heartbreak of dramatically missing out on victory at the Russian Grand Prix.

Norris was three laps away from claiming his maiden Formula One victory but was denied by rain in Sochi last Sunday.

He spun off the track after the decision was made that he would stay out on slicks, eventually finishing seventh as Lewis Hamilton claimed a 100th F1 win.

The McLaren driver was left devastated having come so close to his first win but says he will learn from the painful experience.

"It's not just something people say, it definitely is true [that tough experiences make you stronger],” Norris told F1.com.

"You do learn probably more from the hard moments. You always learn things. Even if you win a race, you can learn things.

"Definitely when you have to make these split-second decisions, when it's not an easy decision, and you need so many different factors involved, there is a lot of things you can learn.

"I feel like I have a long career in F1, it's nice in a way to get it out early, so that when these things arise in the future, or in my future years in F1, I’ll be able to react better."

The 21-year-old expressed his gratitude for the support he has received since the race in Russia.

"I got quite a few messages and not necessarily from drivers. Obviously everyone within McLaren and a lot of people even from different sports," he added.

"It was more of a time when people see it as an emotion-attached sport, rather than cars driving round in circles, as lot of people like to say.

"So I guess they saw the feelings we have as drivers, the passion we have for the sport, the desire to win. You want to do the best job you can for the team.

"I got a lot of messages from a lot of people which in some ways help. There were a lot of 'Your time will come!' But no matter what, they definitely helped."

Lewis Hamilton collected his 100th Formula One victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday after pipping Lando Norris to top spot.

Norris, who secured pole position and was eyeing a maiden victory, spun off the track with three laps to go as rain started to cause chaos in Sochi.

That allowed Hamilton to capitalise and sneak into a late lead to secure his century of race victories, the first F1 driver to achieve such a haul.

McLaren, who collected their first win since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix last time out, were left heartbroken as Norris limped to a seventh-placed finish, with Max Verstappen making important ground to finish second.

Verstappen, who led the championship going into the race, had started from the back of the grid after Red Bull had a new engine installed, but he magnificently recovered to make the podium and ensure Hamilton moves into just a two-point lead.

Carlos Sainz took the lead on the first corner, with Norris, George Russell and Lance Stroll in close company.

Daniel Ricciardo, who would eventually settle for fourth, was back in fifth as Hamilton and Fernando Alonso looked to make ground on the McLaren man who was the shock Monza winner.

Verstappen, meanwhile, was climbing slowly up the grid as he overtook Valtteri Bottas and then Charles Leclerc, moving ominously through the field.

Norris' pole position looked to be paying off when Alonso and Perez had to pit, giving the 21-year-old the lead with 16 laps to go.

He had Hamilton in close company four laps later, and it appeared to be a two-car battle as the Englishmen jostled for first place.

Hamilton took the lead 11 laps later and went on to win as Norris spun out, with Verstappen coasting to his podium placing after making the smart decision to put the intermediate tyres on early.


Mercedes magic

Mercedes made the early decision to put on the inters as their rain radar suggested the wet weather was going to come before the finale.

With others choosing to stick out there and get through it, Hamilton surged into a late lead as Norris' tyres failed him, while Bottas climbed up from 17th on the grid to finish fifth to prove the Mercedes team's decision was an excellent one.

McLaren mistake

A visibly upset Norris addressed the television cameras after the race in Sochi but stood by the decision to stay out there.

The Briton battled to pole position in the adverse conditions the previous day but, for as long as Norris remains without a race win, this will resemble a missed opportunity for him and for McLaren to collect back-to-back wins after their success in Monza.


IN THE POINTS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +53.271
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +1:02.475
4. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1:05.607
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1:07.533
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1:21.321
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1:27.224
8. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +1:28.955
9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +1:30.076
10. George Russell (Williams) 1:40.551

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 246.5
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 244.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 151
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 139
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 120

Constructors

1. Mercedes 397.5
2. Red Bull 364.5
3. McLaren 234
4. Ferrari 216.5
5. Alpine 103

WHAT'S NEXT?

There is another two-week gap until the next race, which is the rearranged Turkish Grand Prix.

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