Max Verstappen suggests any drivers in Formula One not prepared for a record-breaking race calendar next season should consider quitting.

The Red Bull man, who claimed a second world drivers' championship crown this term, capped his imperious year with victory at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix earlier this month.

But the Dutchman will face a longer fight to defend his title once more next term, with F1 poised for a possible 24-race campaign, two more than in 2022.

That has raised concerns over the fatigue drivers may face across a mammoth season, but Verstappen suggests those who do not feel they are cut out for the long haul should step back.

"If you're not prepared, then it's better to stop already, right?" he told The Guardian. "I think we're all racers, and we love racing.

"I think we are all prepared for longer seasons. I hope it will be tight. It's always nice to have a fight until the end. But yeah, I'm prepared for more races and for a longer fight hopefully."

Having seen the battle for his maiden title in 2021 go down to the wire in controversial circumstances, Verstappen ultimately secured his second crown with four races to go, at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Acknowledging it was nice to have a change of pace, the Dutchman also affirmed his hopes for a closer contest next term.

"You can't have that drama every single year, for sure," he reflected on 2021. "It's not good for me, it's not healthy for anyone in the team, both teams.

"Of course it's nice to have a season like I had last year, but it's also nice to have a season like I have this year.

"It just would be very tough if you have that every single year. But that also doesn't really happen in F1, so it should be okay."

Max Verstappen already ranks among Formula One's all-time greatest drivers, believes former world champion Nico Rosberg, after the Dutchman's latest triumph.

The Red Bull man signed off on a second successive world drivers' championship crown in emphatic style with victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.

With 15 race wins this season, Verstappen has set a new record for most victories in a single campaign, and has moved to sixth on the all-time list, overhauling Fernando Alonso.

Now former Mercedes driver Rosberg, who won the title in 2016, thinks he deserves to be high in the conversation when it comes to determining who the sport's finest stars are.

"He is an incredible driver," he told Sky Sports podcast Any Driven Monday. "I think it's easy to say even now that's he's going to be one of the best of all time, if you look at the statistics he actually even is now.

"He's a double world champion [and] with all of the race wins that he has, more than Alonso, he's already one of the best of all time. I think he's only getting started.

"He's going to confirm that in the next decade, certainly. His level of driving is phenomenal, and it's great to witness that."

Though the latter half of his campaign was dogged by Red Bull's salary cap infringements, Verstappen's achievements nevertheless came impressively this year,

An early title battle with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc ultimately petered out after a multitude of strategy errors from his rivals, but even before then, the Dutchman looked to have the edge.

"We need to remember also, it's not like from the get-go this year his car was miles quicker than everyone else's," Rosberg added.

"The Ferrari was the quickest car in the beginning of the season and still, he got this incredible 15 wins and really destroyed the opposition in that way.

"If you look at the points, he scored 146 more than anybody else, it's unreal. It's one of the greatest driving seasons we've ever seen, certainly."

Max Verstappen has hinted he could retire from Formula One when his contract with Red Bull expires in 2028, saying: "I want to do other stuff".

Verstappen retained the drivers' championship in dominant fashion this campaign, posting 15 victories in 22 races – a new single-season record.

However, speaking before he claimed a record third straight victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, Verstappen highlighted F1's impact on his family life and cast doubt upon his long-term future in the sport.

Asked whether he would continue in F1 when his current deal expires in six years, he told Sky Sports: "I don't know after that, but it also probably depends how competitive we are in '28.

"I've still got time. I don't want to make drastic decisions now.

"I want to do other stuff. F1 is amazing and I've achieved a lot, and I'm very happy and proud about it, but it's a lot of travelling and it's a lot of races.

"At one point, what is more important? Is family more important, or is F1 more important? That's when you need to make your mind up."

Verstappen finished the season 146 points clear of second-placed Charles Leclerc in the drivers' championship standings, having wrapped up his second world title with four races to spare.

Max Verstappen acknowledged it will be tough to replicate his "unbelievable" season next year after landing his 15th win of the Formula One campaign at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull star secured a record third straight victory in races at the Yas Marina Circuit, leading from the start of Sunday's grand prix to its conclusion.

Dutchman Verstappen had secured his second consecutive world title long before the season-ending event in the Middle East, and it would be remarkable if he is similarly dominant in 2023.

"It's been really enjoyable this year, working with the whole team to be able to achieve something like this year," Verstappen told Sky Sports.

"I know it's going to be hard to replicate something like this, but it's also very good motivation to try and do well next year."

Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, who held off Sergio Perez to finish second in the drivers' championship, opted for a one-stop pit strategy with their respective Red Bull and Ferrari teams.

Two-time world champion Verstappen cited the importance of tyre management after an efficient performance, as constructors' championship winners Red Bull finished 205 points clear of Ferrari.

"I think we looked after the mediums quite well," he said. "And then on the hard tyres, I was looking after them from lap one until the end, but incredible to win here again."

After becoming the first driver to win three straight races in Abu Dhabi – and also the first to do so from pole in all three – Verstappen appeared somewhat lost for words, labelling the win as "unbelievable".

Max Verstappen claimed a record third straight victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc edged Sergio Perez for second at Formula One's season-ending event.

The Red Bull pair dominated the headlines in Sao Paulo last Sunday after Verstappen refused to allow Perez to overtake to aid his battle with Leclerc in the drivers' championship.

Verstappen became the first driver to win three consecutive races at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday, but the Brazil decision came back to haunt Red Bull as Leclerc held off Perez to claim second.

That saw the Ferrari driver beat Perez to second in the drivers' championship, while Lewis Hamilton ended the 2022 season without victory for the first time in his career after late Mercedes car failure and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel signed off with a point.

Sao Paulo winner George Russell suffered a five-second penalty after an unsafe release in the pits, before Fernando Alonso retired on lap 28 due to problems with his Alpine car.

Red Bull decided to pit Perez on lap 34, handing second to Leclerc, before the Mexican eventually battled past Hamilton to move into third with 11 laps remaining.

Mechanical issues for Hamilton saw the Mercedes star forced to withdraw on lap 56, while Ferrari opted to keep Leclerc on the same hard tyres with a one-stop strategy throughout.

That decision proved rewarding as Leclerc held off Perez to finish behind 15-race winner Verstappen as Ferrari secured second in both the drivers' and constructors' championship behind Red Bull.

Hamilton claims unwanted record

Hamilton experienced a season to forget as he and Mercedes battled with car issues – no more so than on Sunday – and underwhelming performances against the dominant Red Bull.

The seven-time world champion boasts the most wins in history at Abu Dhabi (five) but was unable to draw on that experience as he finished without a win or pole position this season amid a frustrating campaign.

Vettel bows out

Four-time F1 champion Vettel announced in July he would retire at the end of the 2022 season, with the last event in Abu Dhabi acting as his final swansong.

The German, who was heard questioning his team's strategy on radio, could only manage 10th in his final outing but ended with the most points in history for Aston Martin (80) after his 299th career race.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.771 seconds
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +10.093s
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +24.892s
5. George Russell (Mercedes) +35.888s
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +56.234s
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +57.2402
8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1:16.931s
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1:23.268s
10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1:23.898s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 454
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 308
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 305
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 275
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 246

Constructors

1. Red Bull 759
2. Ferrari 554
3. Mercedes 515
4. Alpine 173
5. McLaren 159

Max Verstappen was thrilled to join team-mate Sergio Perez in locking out the front row at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Red Bull, following a week of controversy.

Championship winner Verstappen attracted criticism in Sao Paulo last week after refusing a team order to let Perez pass on the final lap.

Lack of teamwork was not an issue in Saturday's Abu Dhabi qualifying, however, with Verstappen helping Perez to second place, while securing for himself a third consecutive Yas Marina circuit pole position.

"It was a bit up and down qualifying, started off quite well, Q2 was a little bit more messy, I don't know why. I couldn't quite get the grip together," Verstappen said.

"In Q3 it all felt a bit more normal, though we had a bit of a scare as the car turned off before the first run, so we had to reboot everything.

"We're very pleased and very happy that both cars are on the front row. Of course, we want to win the race, but we also want to finish second with Perez in the championship, so that's a great start for tomorrow.

"It always sounds great, today was amazing, I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow but at least we have two cars there, so we can do what we want."

Perez specifically mentioned the teamwork conducted with Verstappen, who finished 0.228 seconds in front of the Mexican.

"I didn't make the final step in Q3, especially in the first run, so we were a bit behind, but it's good to lock out the front row tomorrow. Max did a great job for me, we worked as a team really strongly in that final run," Perez said.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third quickest, clocking in just 0.04 seconds behind Perez, and team-mate Carlos Sainz took fourth on the grid.

"It's the place we deserve, Red Bull were stronger," said Leclerc. "We are still in quite a good position, it's going to be close to Perez for sure.

"I'm sure we can work with Carlos, I have no doubt in that, we'll try to maximise the team result. Red Bull is a bit stronger on a Sunday, so it's going to be tricky, but hopefully we can do it and get second place in the championships."

Max Verstappen has described media coverage of his disagreement with Sergio Perez at the Brazilian Grand Prix as "ridiculous", saying he and his family received "disgusting" abuse after the incident. 

Last week, Verstappen infuriated Perez by defying orders to give up sixth position to aid his Red Bull team-mate in his battle to finish second in the drivers' championship.

Having said Verstappen's move showed "who he really is" over team radio, Perez went further in his criticism of the world champion after the race, declaring: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me".

On Thursday, Red Bull released a statement acknowledging the team's mistakes in Sao Paulo, claiming Verstappen had been placed "in a compromising situation with little time to react".

The team also condemned "shocking and saddening" online abuse directed towards both drivers and their families, saying: "At the end of the day this is a sport, we are here to race. Death threats, hate mail and vitriol towards extended family members is deplorable."

Speaking at a press conference to preview the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Thursday, Verstappen defended his actions in Brazil and hit out at those who blamed him for the incident. 

"We had a bit of a miscommunication on Saturday and Sunday, nothing had been said to me about a potential swap," Verstappen said.

"It was only coming into that last lap that it was said on the radio, and they should have known my response already from what I said the week before. 

"After that race we had some good discussion, we put everything on the table, and everything has been solved.

"In hindsight, we should have had that conversation earlier because I have never been a bad team-mate to anyone. I've always been very helpful, and the team knows that.

"After that race, I looked very bad in the media but they also didn't have the clear picture, but to immediately put me down is pretty ridiculous to be honest. 

"Because they don't know how I work within the team and what the team appreciates about me, so all the things I have read are pretty disgusting.

"And even more than that, they started attacking my family, threatening my sister, my mum, my girlfriend and my dad. That goes way too far while you don't have the facts of what's going on. For me, that has to stop.

"If you have a problem with me, that's fine but don't go after my family because that is just unacceptable. We move on. Honestly, I have a great relationship with Checo. But I just don't understand when people don't have the full picture, to immediately start attacking me like that.

"I'm just a bit fed up with all this bull**** going around all the time. At the end of the day, I haven't done anything wrong, people just misunderstood what was going on."

Perez, meanwhile, told Sky Sports he wished to move on from the incident after discussing it with Verstappen.

"We have discussed everything internally," he said. "There's been a lot of speculation on social media, a lot of hate, that is not nice to see.

"We're just ready to move on as a team. What happened there, we discussed it, and we're ready to move on as a team."

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez's disagreement at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix has left former world champion Jenson Button "amazed" over potential discord in the Red Bull garage.

The pair were involved in late drama during Sunday's race, when the Dutchman defied team orders and refused to cede a place to his team-mate in the closing stages at Interlagos.

Vertsappen, who has wrapped up a second consecutive drivers' championship already, denied Perez the chance to move second in the standings ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with his move.

The incident prompted cryptic but heated comments from both men, and now Button - who won the 2009 title with Brawn - has mused on the reasons behind their spat.

"I'm more amazed by [Perez's] comment, I love it, 'Shows who he really is'," Button said on the Sky Sports programme Any Driven Monday.

"It's a tricky one because we just hear one side of it, we don't hear what his reasons are.

"It doesn't come across well, and when you hear his comments saying 'No I'm not letting him past, I've got my reasons', if we don't hear the reasons we think Max is being selfish, he's not thinking about the team or his team-mate.

"I did see something in the media, I don't know if it's factual, but I think he was very upset about the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying where [Perez] ended up in the wall.

"Maybe that's his reason for not wanting to give the place up, because it hurt his qualifying in Monaco and maybe he thought [Perez] found the wall easier than he should have."

A qualifying crash for Perez prevented a potential pole position for Verstappen in Monaco, where the Mexican ultimately went on to win.

It has been suggested the Dutchman's actions have been in response to that, though Perez has since respected team orders on multiple occasions to give his fellow Red Bull man a race advantage this season.

Lewis Hamilton is "not concerned" about racing against Max Verstappen in future despite the two clashing in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

After a red flag on the opening lap in Sao Paulo, the restart saw the two familiar foes make contact heading into the second corner, forcing both off the track.

The incident dropped Hamilton from second to eighth, while Verstappen required a new front wing.

The world champion was handed a five-second time penalty for his part in the crash, which was reminiscent of a number of battles between the pair in their thrilling title battle last season.

Verstappen blamed his rival after the race, which Hamilton's team-mate George Russell went on to win while the seven-time world champion followed up in second to earn a Mercedes one-two.

"It cost him the race win and it gave me five seconds," Verstappen told Sky Sports. "It wouldn't have mattered anything for my race.

"I thought we could race quite well together but clearly the intention was not there to race."

Hamilton responded in the post-race press conference, saying: "I am not concerned.

"I think it's natural when you have the success and the numbers on your chest that you become a bit of a target.

"But it's okay, it's nothing that I've not dealt with before."

The clash with Hamilton was not Verstappen's sole controversy from the race, after he refused to hand sixth place to Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who called Verstappen's decision "disappointing" with the Mexican battling Charles Leclerc for second place in the drivers' championship.

George Russell was lauded by team-mate Lewis Hamilton after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the first-time Formula One race winner left "speechless" by his success.

Having won Saturday's sprint race, Russell led from the start in an eventful race on Sunday, coming out on top after two restarts following safety cars at the Interlagos Circuit. 

Russell had to fend off Hamilton – who had earlier clashed with Max Verstappen but come away largely unscathed and unpunished – after the second safety car, but there was no bad blood between the Mercedes duo at the end.

"What an amazing feeling," said Russell after sealing Mercedes' first win of the season. "Just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible. 

"It has been an emotional rollercoaster this season. This was a tough race, I felt in control.

"Lewis was super-fast and when I saw the Safety Car, I thought this is going to be a really difficult end, he put me under so much pressure.

"I am speechless. On the in lap, all of these memories start flooding back, starting with my mum and dad at go-karting and going through to all of the support I have had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager.

"The list is endless. I can't thank them all enough, I am super proud."

Hamilton said: "A huge congratulations to George. What an amazing drive he did today.

"He did an amazing qualifying yesterday, so he truly deserves it. To my team, so proud of everyone back at the factory and here. This is an incredible result. 

"We’ve worked so hard through this year to get a 1-2 and to get a win, and so this is hugely deserved by everybody so a huge thank you."

On his collision with old rival Verstappen, who received a five-second time penalty, Hamilton added: "What can I say, you know how it is with Max."

The harmony in the Mercedes camp was not replicated in the other teams. 

While Red Bull's Sergio Perez was left infuriated by Verstappen, who refused to hand sixth place back to the Mexican after failing to overtake Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc also wanted Ferrari to concede Carlos Sainz's place on the podium to boost his chances of finishing second in the world championship.

Leclerc will now head into the final race in Abu Dhabi on level points with Perez.

"I think we can be happy with that," said Sainz. "It is a shame that Mercedes are so quick but congratulations to George."

Sergio Perez hit out at Max Verstappen after his Red Bull team-mate refused to hand him sixth place at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, saying: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me".

Verstappen overtook Perez following a late safety car at the Interlagos Circuit to take sixth, having been encouraged by his team to challenge Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in third and fourth, as long as he could first overtake Fernando Alonso.

With Verstappen unable to take points off the Ferraris, he was told to hand his position back to Perez, who is battling Leclerc for second place in the drivers' championship standings.

However, the two-time world champion failed to do so before telling race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase: "You guys don't ask that again to me, okay? Are we clear about that? I have given my reasons."

Perez was infuriated by Verstappen's failure to give way, exclaiming over team radio: "It shows who he really is."

Speaking to Sky Sports after finishing seventh – a result which leaves him level with Leclerc in the standings, Perez said: "I was told to let him by and that I was going to get the position back.

"I don't know what the complications were on his side. I have no idea, maybe you should ask him about it.

"I have nothing to say, really. After all I have done for him, it is a bit disappointing, to be honest. I am really surprised."

Perez went further when asked about the incident in Spanish by ESPN, declaring: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me."

However, Verstappen told Sky Sports he remained willing to support Perez in next week's final race of the season, while refusing to explain his decision not to hand the place back. 

"I have my reasons for that, we just discussed that [in the debrief]," he said. "I think it was good that we finally just sat together and talked about it, and we'll just move forward from here.

"If we go to Abu Dhabi [next Sunday] and he needs support, it is not the end of the world. It is all about who finishes ahead, anyway. 

"If he needs the help, I am there, but it is good that we first talked about it now and cleared everything that was there and why I didn't do it."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, meanwhile, insists the team will prioritise Perez's battle for second next time out.

"We will go to Abu Dhabi to get Checo the second place and Max will support that," Horner told Sky Sports. "We won't talk about what happens internally, but the drivers shook hands on it.

"We work as a team, we race as a team and our priority is to help Checo get second in the championship. We will do the best we can to achieve that and if Max can help in any way, he will do."

George Russell led from the start in a dramatic, stuttering Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday to clinch his first Formula One win, holding off Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Having won the sprint race at the Interlagos Circuit on Saturday, Russell kept his composure while those around him clashed and collided in a race full of incident.

The race was halted by a red flag on the first lap, with Daniel Ricciardo crashing into Kevin Magnussen, and Hamilton was perhaps fortunate to come away unscathed and unpunished after a collision with Max Verstappen following the restart – which saw the world champion handed a five-second time penalty.

A second safety car was brought out after Lando Norris lost power on the track with 19 laps remaining, but another fine restart from Russell saw him see off Hamilton and claim a deserved maiden victory.

Sunday's race was dramatic from the start as Ricciardo and Magnussen crashed out as early as Turn 8 – and the restart brought another collision, this time between old rivals Hamilton and Verstappen.

Hardly strangers to battles and bruises down the years, Hamilton and Verstappen tussled on Turn 2.

Verstappen got around the seven-time world champion on Turn 1, but despite appearing to have the racing line on the inside on the next corner, it was the Dutchman who was punished after a significant collision – though both cars were able to stay in the race.

Charles Leclerc was also sent spinning into the barrier after an incident involving Norris, but the Ferrari was able to continue.

Hamilton recovered swiftly, with the Mercedes driver clawing his way ahead of Norris, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez.

A three-second loss in the pits cost Verstappen further time, though the Red Bull's speed was on show as he quickly cruised back into the points.

However, Norris' vehicle failed him on lap 52, resulting in a second full safety car. Having seen his 11-second lead cut by that stoppage, Russell might have lost his nerve, but a wonderful restart propelled him out of Hamilton's DRS range.

Sainz came in third, leaving Leclerc dismayed, though the day belonged to Mercedes, who are aiming to cap a frustrating season with a flourish.

Team-mates tussle

There are few friends in F1, it would seem. While Hamilton was happy to congratulate his team-mate Russell on a maiden F1 success, there was frustration within the ranks of Ferrari and Red Bull.

Leclerc was begging Ferrari to instruct his team-mate Sainz to give way, and concede a podium place, in order to boost his chances of finishing second in the world championship.

Verstappen, meanwhile, ignored Red Bull's instructions to hand sixth place back to Perez if he was unable to pass Fernando Alonso. "I have given you my reasons," Verstappen said on the team radio. 

Magnussen's weekend ends in sorrow 

Haas driver Magnussen took a shock pole in qualifying on Friday, though he went down to eighth in the sprint race. However, by Turn 8 on the first lap, the 30-year-old had crashed out.

Ricciardo, who could now face a grid penalty in his last race for McLaren, was to blame for clipping the back of Magnussen's car, with the Australian compounding the issue when he failed to avoid the spinning Haas, sending both vehicles into the wall and out of the race.

IN THE POINTS

1. George Russell (Mercedes)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.529 seconds
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +4.051s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.441s
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +9.561s
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +10.056s
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +14.080s
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +18.690s
9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +22.552s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +23.552s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 429
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 290
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 290
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 265
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 240

Constructors

1. Red Bull 719
2. Ferrari 524
3. Mercedes 505
4. Alpine 167
5. McLaren 148

Mercedes enjoyed a strong Saturday ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix as George Russell won the sprint race at Interlagos.

Kevin Magnussen was the surprise pole holder after his brilliant qualifying session on Friday, though the Haas driver, who had promised to go "maximum attack" slipped well down the grid.

Russell qualified third and delivered a brilliant drive to claim his first race win and get himself on pole for Sunday's grand prix.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari clinched second, though a five-place penalty should see Lewis Hamilton join his team-mate at the front of the grid, although the result will be subject to a stewards' enquiry.

Hamilton will be investigated, along with Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu, for his position in his grid box at the start of the sprint.

Should he retain his place in second, Hamilton – who is aiming to equal Michael Schumacher as the driver with the most wins at Interlagos (four) – will take his place on the front row for the first time in 2022.

Max Verstappen went out on mediums instead of soft tyres, and that decision backfired as he dropped from second to fourth, though the world champion will move up thanks to Sainz's penalty, which came as a result of the Spaniard clipping the Dutchman's Red Bull.

Sergio Perez, Verstappen's team-mate, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris will start ahead of Sainz, while Magnussen will have to settle for eighth.

For Mercedes, the omens are good, with 15 of the last 17 winners at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix having come from the front row, with eight of the winners having started on pole.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. George Russell (Mercedes)
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +3.995
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +4.492
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +10.494
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +11.855
6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +13.133
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +25.624
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +28.768
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +30.218
10. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) +34.170

Surprise pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen pledged "maximum attack" as he aimed to "have some fun" in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix sprint race.

Haas driver Magnussen, who claimed a podium finish in his first Formula One race back in 2014, had never previously topped qualifying.

Yet he claimed a shock pole position on Friday, ahead of world champion Max Verstappen and Mercedes' George Russell, to ensure he will start Saturday's sprint race at the front of the grid.

Magnussen recorded a fastest lap of 1:11.674 before a combination of a rain shower and a red flag due to Russell spinning off ended the session.

"You're kidding, you're kidding, you're f****** kidding me! I've never, ever felt like this in my life," the Dane said on the team radio after being informed he was P1.

Magnussen, the first driver from Denmark to claim a pole in F1, had hardly composed himself by the time he was interviewed following the race.

"I don't know what to say," said the 30-year-old, who signed for Haas earlier this year after Nikita Mazepin had his contract terminated.

"The team put me out on the track at the exact right moment. We were the first out in the pit lane and did a pretty decent lap and we are on pole. It is incredible. 

"Thank you to Gene Haas and [team manager] Guenther Steiner and the whole team for this opportunity. 

"It has just been an amazing journey. It is incredible, thank you."

Asked about his plan for Saturday, Magnussen quipped: "Maximum attack, let's go for something funny."

Magnussen might still have his work cut out to hold off the Red Bull of Verstappen, who said: "We are still at the front. We just stayed calm from Q1 to Q2, then Q3 was where it was a bit more of a lottery but we are still on the front row."

Russell had to settle for P3 following his spin, though the Briton believes the sprint race provides Mercedes with a prime chance to beat Verstappen.

"Firstly, I'm happy to be P3 and congrats to Kevin," he said. "What an awesome job he did and Haas – they truly deserve it for all the efforts they have been putting in.

"P3 is not necessarily where we wanted to be but it's a very good place to be starting for tomorrow's sprint race. 

"I think it is our best shot at finishing ahead of Max and Red Bull if there are some mixed conditions. I think we are ready for a good couple of races."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 1:11.674
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.203
3. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.385
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.589
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.683
6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +0.751
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.830
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.937
9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +3.927
10. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen's "perfect" 2022 campaign is the most dominant he has seen during his time in Formula One.

Verstappen retained his world title with four races to spare by emerging victorious at last month's Japanese Grand Prix, and he has since posted wins in the United States and Mexico.

The Dutchman broke F1's single-season wins record – previously shared with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel – at the Mexican Grand Prix, securing his 14th race victory of 2022.

The numbers therefore back up Horner's claims this has been a season like no other for Verstappen.

Asked whether his driver had produced the best campaign in recent memory, Horner said: "There's been years of domination with Mercedes, but I think, as an individual driver, probably yes. 

"He's won the most grands prix in a year now, within 22 races. On top of that, he's won two sprint races, and he's not won all of them from pole position. He's had to fight and race for a lot of those victories.

"I think when we look back at the end of the year, it is an absolutely outstanding year that Max has driven. He hasn't put a wheel wrong. 

"He's been perfect throughout the season. It's incredible, the level of consistency that he's been able to achieve."

Last year, Verstappen became the first Red Bull driver to win the world championship since Vettel clinched the last of his four successive titles in 2013, and Horner believes he does not get the recognition he deserves. 

"They are two very different drivers, two phenomenally successful drivers," Horner said of Verstappen and Vettel.

"I think that what Sebastian has achieved in his career puts him among the greats and most successful drivers in the sport, but I think Max, what we're seeing today and this year, we're actually witnessing something very special. 

"I actually think his achievements sometimes don't receive the plaudits that they should, because I think what we've witnessed this year is an absolutely outstanding performance from a driver that is very much at the top of his game."

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