Formula One world champion Max Verstappen expects Lewis Hamilton to challenge him for the title next year "if he has the car to do it".

Hamilton, a seven-time drivers' championship winner, was blighted by car issues with Mercedes last season as he failed to win a race for the first time in his career.

Red Bull star Verstappen tallied a record-breaking 15 wins to finish 146 points ahead of closest rival Charles Leclerc in a dominant title-winning 2022 campaign.

But the Dutchman does not envisage a third straight F1 crown coming with such relative ease in 2023.

"He's been one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport, so for sure if he has the car to do it, he can fight for the title again," Verstappen told Sky Sports of Hamilton.

He added: "But that's the same for George [Russell], it's the same for Charles, it's the same for Lando [Norris] – if you give them the car that's capable of winning the championship, they can.

"But it's also about when you have the car then the pressure comes you cannot afford big mistakes.

"That's a bit of a different pressure you have but I'm confident once these guys get onto a roll like that it is all possible, they all have talent to do so."

Red Bull cruised to the constructors' championship last year, winning the title for the first time since 2013.

However, the team have been hit with wind tunnel testing restrictions and CFD limitations after they were judged to have breached financial regulations.

The full impact of those punishments is unclear but a reduction in time allowed in the wind tunnel could lead Red Bull to fall behind their rivals in aerodynamic developments.

"You always try to go for it, but I don't know if we're going to be good enough," Verstappen added.

"Of course as a team we believe we are, we are very motivated, we come off the back of a very strong year and we are working flat out to try and achieve that."

Ford will return to F1 this year for the first time since 2004 and partner with Red Bull from 2026.

Verstappen cannot wait for the partnership after seeing success in a collaboration with Honda, having also witnessed first-hand the struggles with the Renault combination.

"I signed twice without actually fully knowing what was coming in terms of engines, and people said maybe that's a crazy thing to do," he continued.

"I believed in the project and I believed that everyone involved would make the right decisions for the team.

"The first one they made going with Honda, I think that worked out really well and now for the future this is the next step – Ford in 2026 – and I believe in it.

"If we all believe in it, I'm sure we can create something really cool."

Williams have named James Vowles as their team principal for the 2023 Formula One campaign, prising him from his role as Mercedes' strategy director.

Williams finished bottom of the constructors' championship standings in 2022, the fourth time they have done so in the last five seasons.

That led Jost Capito to step down as team principal after two years at the helm, and Vowles will replace him on February 20 after being released from his contract with Mercedes.

Vowles has been with Mercedes since the team's 2010 inception, helping them win eight consecutive constructors' titles between 2014 and 2021 before they were usurped by Red Bull last year.

"I cannot wait to start with Williams Racing," Vowles told the team's website. "It's an honour to join a team with such an incredibly rich heritage.

"The team is an icon of our sport, one I greatly respect, and I am very much looking forward to the challenge.

"Williams Racing have placed their faith and trust in me, and I will do the same in return. The team has tremendous potential, and our journey together starts in a matter of weeks."

Williams' 2023 car will be launched on February 6, with newcomer Logan Sargeant set to partner Alex Albon in the upcoming campaign.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who previously worked at Williams, backed Vowles to make a success of his new role.

Wolff said: "While we are naturally sad to be saying goodbye to such a capable member of the team, I have no doubts whatsoever that he has all the necessary skills to become a fantastic team principal in Formula One.

"We wish him every success and are delighted that he will take this next step in his career with Williams, a strong technical partner of ours and one that has a place close to my own heart."

Mick Schumacher's move to Mercedes in a third-driver role is a "win-win situation", former Formula One driver Ralf Schumacher believes.

The younger Schumacher, son of racing great Michael Schumacher and nephew of Ralf, was left without a seat on the Formula One grid for 2023 following Haas' decision not to hand him a fresh deal – instead opting to bring in Nico Hulkenberg.

Schumacher then brought an end to his four-year allegiance with Ferrari, where he was a member of the young driver academy, which freed him up to join Mercedes for the 2023 campaign.

He will serve as an understudy to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell next year, stepping up into a racing role should either of the pair be unable to feature, and Ralf feels it is the perfect fit.

"I think it's a win-win situation for both sides," he told Sky Sports in Germany.

"One, for the team they have a great driver, if they need a replacement short term, if one of the drivers for some reason cannot drive. And the next is of course that he is now in the team where he can learn a lot, first of all through a new structure, a big structure.

"For me, I think it's a great opportunity. Because he now has an experienced team, with two experienced team-mates, and above all, for a change, a team that is happy that he is there."

A return to the grid in a full racing capacity is still the aim for Mick Schumacher and, with Audi competing as a works team from 2025, Ralf expects the German manufacturer to be interested in his nephew's services.

 "He has the opportunity to develop further. He deserves and belongs a chance - actually of driving a car - but at least as a replacement for test drivers and as a third drive," he added.

"I think that's a great thing, but I could also imagine that Audi [could be interested] since there aren't really any German drivers on the market.

"But that's still a long way off from that point of view. I think where it is now it's in perfect hands and the rest will tell. The nice thing is that from the age of 24 I think he will have a great chance again, no matter where."

George Russell has faith Mercedes will be much more competitive next season, believing they "just got it wrong" this year.

The Silver Arrows had won eight consecutive constructors' championships heading into 2022, also taking the drivers' title in seven of those seasons – including six for Lewis Hamilton.

But Russell's move to Mercedes coincided with a dismal year for their car, unable to match the pace of Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

Mercedes were third in the constructors' championship, with Russell fourth in the driver standings and Hamilton down in sixth.

That is not a theme Russell expects to continue into 2023, however, confident Mercedes are still capable of producing a title-winning car.

"They haven't forgotten how to build a fast race car," Russell told BBC Radio Norfolk. "We just got it wrong this year.

"We got the philosophy wrong. We went down a route which turned out to be the wrong route.

"Sometimes it takes you a long time to dig yourself out of that hole. Now I feel we've dug ourselves out of that hole and we're building on top of that.

"We are a step behind Red Bull and Ferrari and we've got a lot of catching up to do – but we're definitely going to be in a much stronger position from race one next year than we were this year."

Russell ended his wait for a first career win at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in the penultimate race of the year, but he is hungry for more.

"When you join a team like Mercedes, you're expecting victories," he said. "I felt ready to fight for race wins and championships this year, but you've just got to manage your expectations.

"You've got to change those sights slightly, and it's been really intriguing for me this year, seeing how the team deal with this situation.

"I'm here for the long haul, and even though I wanted victories and [to be] fighting for that championship in 2022, as a team these struggles are going to set us up for the coming years.

"I hope I look back in 10 years' time and say the 2022 season was a positive one in the journey."

Mick Schumacher has joined Mercedes to become the Formula One team's reserve driver.

The son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael, Schumacher lost his 2023 seat with Haas to Nico Hulkenberg after finishing 16th in the 2022 driver standings.

Mercedes have recruited the 23-year-old to be the back-up for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Schumacher's legendary father spent three years with the Brackley-based team during his illustrious F1 career.

Daniel Ricciardo had been linked with the position, but Red Bull confirmed he was returning to the team as their third driver having left for Renault at the end of the 2018 season.

Nyck de Vries, who was Mercedes' reserve driver last season, will drive full-time for AlphaTauri in 2023.

Schumacher said: "I am thrilled to be part of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team as their reserve driver for 2023.

"I am committed to give it my all to contribute to their performance in this very competitive and professional environment.

"I take this as a new start, and I am just excited and grateful to Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team principal and CEO] and everybody involved for putting their trust in me.

"F1 is such a fascinating world, and you never stop learning, so I look forward to absorbing more knowledge and putting in all my efforts for the benefit of the Mercedes team."

Wolff said: "Mick is a talented young driver and we’re delighted to have him join the Team.

"He is a hard worker, has a calm and methodical approach and is still hungry to learn and improve as a driver. These are all important qualities.

"We also know that with two years of experience racing in Formula One under his belt, he will be ready to step into the car at short notice to replace either Lewis or George, should that need arise."

Lewis Hamilton described the 2022 season as a "team-building exercise" for Mercedes, having failed to finish the final race of the season.

The seven-time world champion a difficult campaign this year, having struggled to compete for race victories and Mercedes finding themselves way off the pace of the likes of Red Bull, who waltzed to victory in both championships.

In Abu Dhabi, an initially strong start from Hamilton saw him leapfrog Ferrari's Carlos Sainz to fourth but he encountered issues after bouncing over a curb off track.

Hamilton was eventually forced to retire with power failure in an end that summed up the difficulties he encountered throughout the year, though he hopes the team can take lessons from their woes into 2023.

"Ultimately, we started with a car that we didn't want and we finished with a car that we didn't want," he told Sky Sports.

"We were stuck with it, we kept working away to improve it but the fundamental issues have been there all the way to the end, as you saw this weekend.

"It's been more of a team-building exercise this year and I'm very proud of the team. I'm very grateful for everybody who has continued to push.

"We have these next couple of weeks where we will be back at the factory, we'll get to see everybody. While we won't be celebrating a championship, we'll be celebrating them still for their hard work and efforts.

"I hope that the struggles this year really provide us with the tools and the strength to fight for many more championships moving forward."

A DNF in Abu Dhabi ensured Hamilton would finish a Formula One season without a race win for the first time in his career.

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

Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to a final race in the Mercedes W13 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, admitting it is a car he never wants to drive again.

Having fought Max Verstappen all the way for the title last year, only losing in controversial circumstances in the final moments of the season at the Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton has not been a threat in 2022 as the Red Bull star waltzed to a second consecutive championship.

Instead, Hamilton was battling with 'porpoising' issues early in the campaign and, after some respite from the issue following the mid-season break, he saw those problems emerge again in Saturday's qualifying session.

Mercedes' campaign has been a frustrating one for Hamilton, and he is eager to bring his spell at the wheel of this particular car to a close.

"We definitely weren't expecting to see such a big gap, but we are losing 0.6secs on the straight," Hamilton told the BBC.

"Kind of reminiscent of some of the previous races before, like Austin. And bouncing is back, so that's not been easy.

"I am looking forward to the end of Tuesday, which is the last time I have to drive this thing. I don't ever plan to drive this one again. It won't be one of the ones I request to have in my contract.

"We have some downforce. We just need a much more efficient car and everybody in the team knows exactly what are the problems and where we have gone wrong, so I'm pretty confident they are not going to build the next car with any of those characteristics."

A disappointing showing in qualifying leaves Hamilton fifth on the grid for Sunday's race, ahead of team-mate George Russell. It makes the experienced Briton highly likely to finish the 2022 season without a race win – which would be the first time in his career he has gone without.

Team principal Toto Wolff has insisted the lack of a win is not something that has been in the mind of Hamilton.

"He says that the one victory a year isn't really a record that bothers him," Wolff said. "If I'm trying to put myself in his shoes, where I was before Brazil, it didn't particularly bother me whether we would win a race this season, because all our eyes are already on next year.

"But having won one, it felt pretty good. At least nobody could say you didn't win a race."

Russell got that win last week, with Hamilton taking second place.

Looking at setting up seven-time champion Hamilton for a title tilt in 2023, and banishing this season's winless run, Wolff said: "I don't think this particular record is an important one for him, but we need to provide him with a car next year in which he can fight for victories and championships. That's most important and he knows that."

Hamilton heads into next season, his last contracted campaign with Mercedes, level with Michael Schumacher for the most career world titles in Formula One.

Sunday's Abu Dhabi race sees the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the front row, followed by the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with the Mercedes cars occupying row three.

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."

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

Lewis Hamilton is planning to work alongside teammate George Russell to secure victory in Sunday's race in Sao Paulo, following a stellar showing in Saturday's Sprint.

Russell was a surprise victor after overtaking champion Max Verstappen to secure pole position for the race, while Hamilton rose from eighth to join his teammate on the second row.

It hands Mercedes their best chance of victory in 2022, after what has been a frustrating season for last year's winning side, as they look to end the season on a high in the final few races.

While Hamilton is still seeking to avoid this being the first season where he has failed to secure a single win, his priority is in getting the best result for the team and he is looking to unite with Russell.

"This just goes to everyone back to the factory, everyone here working on the ground working so hard this year," he said after the Sprint.

"This is an amazing result, for us to be on the front row tomorrow is incredible so from there we should be able to work as a team and hold off the guys behind.

"We are going to try as hard as we can. If we can have some good degradation tomorrow, hopefully some good weather we can have a good fight on our hands. A win here for Brazil would be incredible."

Russell was left surprised by his performance on Saturday and is wary of the threat that Verstappen poses, with the Red Bull ace sitting on the second row alongside teammate Sergio Perez.

"It's crazy to think we are both starting on the front row and Lewis did a great job starting coming from P8," he said.

"I'm sure Max is going to be flying tomorrow coming through the pack but we are in a luxury position and we can maybe split the strategy and go for the win."

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

George Russell is in a good spot going into Saturday's sprint race at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, but his session ended poorly as he spun out violently.

Ultimately, the time he set previously ended up being good enough to take third, with his incident chewing up valuable track time as the rain arrived.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Russell said it was a rough session physically, detailing the damage inside the car.

"I have broken the headrest because my head was banging so much," he said. "It was a pretty unpleasant experience.

"I wanted to do a 360, but then did the rears in the gravel, so probably not the wisest choice I have ever made.

"As it turned out, we knew that the first lap was it all."

He added that he believes there should be no ill-effects for his car the rest of the weekend stemming from the crash.

"There was no damage, but you are always tentative as it is lifted onto the tow truck," he said. 

"There is a lot of gravel, so the guys are going to have to take the car to pieces tonight to make sure we have got all of the gravel out, but it should be ok."

Teammate Lewis Hamilton made his way back out onto the track following the incident, but he said the track was in no condition to put up a strong time.

"I went out there to see what the conditions were like, but obviously it was properly wet," he said.

"It was just difficult to see the conditions, difficult to see the rain drops because it was so dark and I was the last car out, so I think I got the earliest part of the rain and probably lost too much in the tyres in the pitlane.

"Just a bit unfortunate, but George did a great job, and congratulations to Kevin [Magnussen]."

Haas' Magnussen will start the sprint race from pole, with Max Verstappen in second.

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)

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