Max Verstappen produced another emphatic performance to complete a home win for Red Bull at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The double world champion was made to work for his seventh victory from nine rounds so far after he passed Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on track.

But after manoeuvring himself ahead of both Ferrari drivers, Verstappen raced off into the distance to the delight of his 70,000-strong travelling army from Netherlands.

Leclerc crossed the line five seconds behind Verstappen in Spielberg, with Sergio Perez recovering from his lowly grid slot of 15th to finish third. The Mexican fought his way past Sainz with 10 laps remaining following a nip-and-tuck duel.

Sainz took fourth after he served five-second penalty for exceeding track limits.

The Spaniard was among six of the 20-strong field to be sanctioned by race director Niels Wittich, with Lewis Hamilton also punished.

Hamilton finished an underwhelming seventh, while Lando Norris ended the day in fifth to record his best result of a difficult season for his under-performing McLaren team. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished between Norris and Hamilton.

George Russell made up three places from his starting spot of 11th to finish eighth.

Verstappen heads Perez in the standings by 81 points – the equivalent of more than three victories – heading into next weekend’s British Grand Prix.

A day after taking the sprint race spoils, Verstappen was celebrating his fifth consecutive win on his unstoppable march to a hat-trick of world titles.

Verstappen fended off an aggressive Leclerc on the opening lap before he fell to third after the Ferrari drivers stopped for tyres under the Virtual Safety Car.

It ended Verstappen’s run of 249 consecutive laps at the head of the field. However, the Dutchman required just 11 laps before he was back in charge.

After he left the pits on lap 25, Verstappen moved ahead of Sainz a couple of laps later, and then fought his way past Leclerc on lap 35 of 71.

From there, the Dutchman cruised to the flag – even stopping for tyres on the penultimate lap in order to set the fastest lap and take a bonus point.

For Hamilton, the seven-time world champion endured a difficult day in his Mercedes.

Hamilton started fifth and leapfrogged Norris at the start of the race, but soon faced the wrath of the stewards for putting all four wheels of his Mercedes over the white line.

A black-and-white warning flag was served to Hamilton before he was hit with a five-second penalty on lap 17.

Sainz, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly and Logan Sargeant were also handed five-second penalties, while Yuki Tsunoda saw his initial five-second sanction upgraded to 10 for driving off the track.

Hamilton served his penalty at his second pit stop on lap 43, dropping him to eighth place. He moved up one spot when Gasly stopped for tyres but he failed to make any impression on Aston Martin’s Alonso.

The Briton was on the radio several times asking why other drivers had not been penalised.

Team principal Toto Wolff first came on with a word of encouragement for his superstar driver.

“They are all going to get penalties in front of you, Lewis.” he said.” Keep going.”

But following another frustrated radio message from Hamilton, Wolff was back on to his driver with a firmer message.

“The car is bad, we know,” said Wolff to the Briton: “Please drive it.”

Hamilton finished 39.1 seconds behind Verstappen and is no closer to ending his 18-month losing streak in Formula One.

The Austrian Grand Prix will remain on the Formula One calendar until at least 2030 after a new long-term deal at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring was confirmed ahead of Sunday’s race.

The circuit, which was bought and re-branded by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz returned to the F1 schedule in 2014 and has been a permanent fixture since.

Mateschitz died last year, aged 78, after battling a long-term illness.

“The vision and passion of Dietrich Mateschitz, a man who loved this sport, made this all possible and it is a very special moment and a tribute to him that we can confirm we will be racing at this incredible venue until 2030,” said F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

The race in Austria is a big favourite for the drivers and all our fans and we are looking forward to many years of excitement and action that are ahead of us.”

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen will start on pole position for Sunday’s 71-lap Grand Prix as he bids to extend his 70-point championship lead.

Max Verstappen said he was fortunate to avoid a high-speed shunt with Sergio Perez after accusing his Red Bull team-mate of forcing him off the road in Saturday’s sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen survived the early drama to win a chaotic 24-lap dash in damp conditions at Red Bull’s home race in Spielberg and extend his championship lead from 69 points to 70.

But despite racking up yet another victory on his probable gallop to a hat-trick of world championships, Verstappen expressed his disappointment with the conduct of Perez in the other Red Bull.

“The exit of Turn 1 was not really nice,” said Verstappen on his way back to the pits after he crossed the finish line 21 seconds clear of the Mexican.

“That could have been a big shunt so we need to have a chat about that because it was not OK.”

Verstappen was referencing the flashpoint between the Red Bull drivers which arrived after only a few hundred metres.

The Dutchman started from pole position, but he was unable to prevent a fast-starting Perez from muscling his way past on the run to the opening right hander.

Perez took the lead, but the Mexican then ran wide on the exit of the first bend allowing Verstappen the opportunity of a slingshot back past.

Verstappen drew alongside his team-mate, but he ran out of room, briefly dropping two wheels on the grass.

“He pushed me off, man,” yelled Verstappen over the radio. “What the f***.”

However, on the long drag to the third bend, Verstappen managed to maintain enough momentum to launch an aggressive move down the inside of Perez.

Verstappen, late on the brakes, ran deep into the right-hander, but he managed to make the move stick. And this time, it was Perez who felt aggrieved.

“What is wrong with Max, man?” he said. As Verstappen raced off into the distance, Perez then lost out to Nico Hulkenberg before eventually finding a way past the Haas driver.

The inquest started immediately after the flag dropped with Perez going over to Verstappen, while the world champion still had his crash helmet on.

The debrief continued into the weighing room as the team-mates spoke for a couple of minutes before revealing their verdicts.

“Max was angry that I went into Turn 2 but I did not see him,” said Perez.

“I had a very bad Turn 1 so I tried to protect [the lead] and once I realised he was there, I opened up the door and gave him the place back. It is all fine. We just spoke about it. The visibility was very bad out there.”

Verstappen was up next. “It was a hairy moment out of Turn 1,” he said. “When you get forced on to the grass it is very slippery but I managed to keep my car under control.”

Moments later, Verstappen headed to the official press conference for the top three finishers. Sitting alongside Perez, he moved to downplay the row.

“It might have compromised the result but it didn’t,” said Verstappen. “We don’t need to make this a big story.

“This is what happens sometimes. We talk about it. We clear it. And it is fine. That is how human beings work. Question, answer, solve it, done. You don’t need to write a whole article about it, I hope.”

Behind Verstappen and Perez, Carlos Sainz took third for Ferrari, while George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished eighth and 10th for Mercedes. Lando Norris started third and ended a disappointing ninth.

Hamilton fought back from 18th on the grid after he had three qualifying laps deleted for exceeding track limits.

Russell started 15th but managed to make up seven places and take the final point after his roll of the dice to move to slick tyres – the first driver to do so – with nine laps to run paid off.

Saturday’s result has no bearing on Sunday’s 71-lap Grand Prix, with Verstappen on pole as he bids to land his seventh victory from the nine rounds so far.

Max Verstappen accused Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez of pushing him off the road before going on to win Formula One’s sprint race in Austria.

Perez had to settle for second behind Verstappen with Carlos Sainz third for Ferrari.

Lando Norris started third but finished only ninth following a poor opening lap, while George Russell and Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in eighth and 10th respectively on an underwhelming day for Mercedes.

In damp conditions at the Red Bull Ring, pole-sitter Verstappen fell behind Perez as they blasted away from their marks.

Verstappen moved to his right on the run down to the opening corner, but Perez squeezed his way past to take the lead.

However, the Mexican ran wide on the exit of the first bend allowing Verstappen the opportunity of a slingshot back past on the straight.

Verstappen drew alongside his team-mate but ran out of room, briefly dropping two wheels on the grass.

“He pushed me off, man,” yelled Verstappen over the radio. “What the f***.”

On the long drag to the third bend, Verstappen still managed to maintain some momentum, launching an aggressive move down the inside of Perez at Turn 3.

Verstappen made the pass stick, running on deep into the corner, but Perez felt aggrieved by the move. “What is wrong with Max, man,” he said.

From there, Verstappen raced off into the distance, taking the chequered flag 21 sec clear of Perez.

Despite his commanding win, Verstappen, who extended his championship lead from 69 to 70 points, took aim at his team-mate again.

“That first corner was not really nice,” he said on his way back to the pits.

“It could have been a big shunt. We need to have a chat about that. For me it was not OK.”

Russell was the first driver to gamble for dry rubber in the changeable conditions. The British driver pulled in on lap 15 and was soon the speediest man on track.

Half of the 20-strong field took on slicks, too, but such was the advantage of the leading pack, that they were able to finish the race on the intermediate tyres.

However, Russell managed to fight his way back from last after his pit stop to take the final point.

Lance Stroll held off Aston Martin team-mate Fernando Alonso to finish fourth with Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg sixth.

Lewis Hamilton will start today’s sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix from a lowly 18th as Max Verstappen took pole position.

Defending champion Verstappen raced to top spot for the second day in succession following his qualifying triumph for Sunday’s 71-lap Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez joins team-mate Verstappen on the front row for today’s 23-lap dash round the Red Bull Ring, with McLaren’s Lando Norris an impressive third.

Norris, who finished nearly six tenths back from Verstappen, lines up one place ahead of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg.

The winner of today’s race will be awarded eight points, but the result has no bearing on Sunday’s main event.

Hamilton was eliminated in the opening phase after he had three laps deleted for exceeding track limits.

“That was really bad time usage,” said Hamilton over the radio. “Am I out?”

“Yes we are,” replied his race engineer Pete Bonnington.

Hamilton had been leading the way in Q1 before he had a hat-trick of laps chalked off by race director Niels Wittich for running all four wheels of his Mercedes over the white line at the final bend.

Hamilton tumbled down the order and was knocked out at the first hurdle of qualifying for only the second time in the last six years.

In Friday’s qualifying session, which determined the grid for Sunday’s main event, Verstappen said Wittich made the drivers look like “amateurs” with his over-zealous refereeing.

But Wittich did not hold back in the second qualifying running of the weekend, with Hamilton not the only driver penalised. Verstappen also had multiple laps scrubbed off.

Following his early exit, Hamilton said: “It is for a sprint race so it does not really matter.

“I wish I was still out there. But there is nothing really to say. We focus on what we can do and we could easily have been much further up. Today I will have some fun from the back.”

Hamilton was soon followed out of qualifying by team-mate George Russell after he suffered a hydraulic failure. Russell’s Mercedes mechanics were forced to change his steering rack meaning that he was unable to post a lap in Q2. He starts 15th.

Today’s sprint race takes place at 4:30pm local time (3:30 BST).

Lewis Hamilton will start Saturday’s sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix from a lowly 18th.

Hamilton was eliminated in the opening phase of the sprint shootout on Saturday in Spielberg after he had three laps deleted for exceeding track limits.

“That was really bad time usage,” said Hamilton over the radio. “Am I out?”

“Yes we are,” replied his race engineer Pete Bonnington.

Hamilton had been leading the way in Q1 before he had a hat-trick of laps chalked off by race director Niels Wittich for running all four wheels of his Mercedes over the white line at the final bend.

Hamilton tumbled down the order and was knocked out at the first hurdle of qualifying for only the second time in the last six years.

Today’s 23-lap sprint race takes place at 4:30pm local time (3:30 BST).

Max Verstappen accused Formula One’s referee of making the sport’s superstars look like “amateurs” in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen put his Red Bull on pole position for Sunday’s 71-lap race in Spielberg after he saw off a late flurry from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Carlos Sainz starts third in the other scarlet car ahead of Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton who qualified fourth and fifth respectively.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez finished only 15th after all three of his laps in Q2 were deleted for exceeding track limits.

Verstappen also had four runs scrubbed off by the stewards for putting his Red Bull over the white lines. In all, an extraordinary 47 laps were deleted by race director Niels Wittich.

“This is a joke,” said Verstappen over the radio. “Honestly, with these track limits, f****** ridiculous.”

Verstappen managed to fend off Leclerc by just 0.048 sec, but moments after he stepped out of his Red Bull, the Dutch driver took aim at Wittich’s refereeing.

“Today, it was very silly,” he said. “It made us look like amateurs with the amount of laps that were being deleted and some of them were so marginal.

“We spoke about it in the briefing before, and when it is very marginal, it is impossible to judge if the car is out or in, and yet laps were still getting deleted. It was not a good look today.

“People will say, ‘you should have kept the car in the white lines’. If it was that easy, you can take my car and try it, but you probably wouldn’t get up to speed in time.”

A Remote Operation Centre in Geneva consisting of six officials – FIA’s answer to football’s VAR system – flag up contentious laps to Race Control at the circuit using various camera angles. Wittich then has the final say.

It is understood that if the laps in question are marginal, Wittich will lean in favour of the driver.

But Verstappen continued: “We don’t do this on purpose. With these speeds and the high-speed corners it is so hard to judge where the white line is and that is why a lot of people got caught out.

“My first lap in Q3 was just a banker lap which takes out the joy. Today showed that it is not easy to have a clear rule about it.”

Despite the row, reigning world champion Verstappen will be favourite to take his seventh victory from the nine rounds so far this season and extend his 69-point championship lead over struggling team-mate Perez.

Behind the Dutchman, Norris impressed to take fourth spot in his revamped McLaren, one place ahead of Hamilton who finished 0.428 sec adrift of Verstappen.

The Red Bull Ring is hosting F1’s second sprint event of the year with a shortened qualifying and race to follow on Saturday before Sunday’s main event.

“Our car has not suited this circuit in the past and it showed again today,” said Hamilton. “It was a really tough and difficult session but we got through it, thank God.

“We will try to do better in sprint qualifying tomorrow, and then fifth on Sunday is a strong position to start from.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell managed only 11th on a disappointing afternoon for the Briton.

Max Verstappen’s crushing dominance of Formula One continued at the Austrian Grand Prix after he put his Red Bull on pole position.

The world champion, a winner at six of the first eight races, saw off his rivals at the Red Bull Ring to seal his fourth pole on the spin for Sunday’s 71-lap grand prix.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc provided Verstappen with a late scare, but the Monegasque had to settle for second place, crossing the line 0.048 seconds shy of the Dutchman.

Carlos Sainz took third in the other scarlet car, while Lando Norris impressed in his revamped McLaren to take fourth spot. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished fifth, 0.428 sec adrift.

Sergio Perez’s torrid time continued after all three of his laps in Q2 were deleted for track limits. He lines up a lowly 15th on Sunday.

The increasingly under-pressure Mexican looked to have sealed his spot in Q3 in the closing seconds only for the stewards to scrap his lap after he drove all four wheels on his Red Bull beyond the white line at the final bend.

“Can we go again?” asked Perez over the radio. “No, that is the chequered flag,” said his race engineer, Hugh Bird. “What a f****** joke,” replied a furious Perez.

George Russell was also subjected to an early bath after he failed to make it out of Q2. The Englishman, who retired at the last round in Canada after he crashed into the wall, missed out on progressing to the final phase by just 0.041 sec and qualified 11th.

For Verstappen there were no such concerns, and the Dutchman is on course to extend his 69-point lead at the summit of the standings following another commanding performance.

His qualifying triumph was greeted with a number of his travelling Dutch fanbase lighting orange flares.

“It was very difficult because of all the track limits,” said Verstappen. “We don’t do this on purpose, but with these speeds and the high-speed corners it is so hard to judge the white line and that is why a lot of people got caught out.

“It was about surviving. My first lap in Q3 was just a banker lap which takes out the joy but we still did a good enough lap and I am happy to be on pole.”

Verstappen’s countryman Nyck de Vries’ place on the grid appears uncertain after Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko said Christian Horner was right to question whether he should have been signed.

The 28-year-old was brought into the Red Bull junior stable at the beginning of the year, but he has struggled to get up to speed at AlphaTauri, and he did little to help his cause here after he qualified last for Sunday’s race.

Earlier, qualifying was delayed by half-a-dozen minutes after Valtteri Bottas stopped in his Alfa Romeo.

Bottas spun on the exit of the opening corner and was left stranded on the track as he failed to engage neutral.

The red flags were deployed but Bottas was able to get going again and made his way back to the pits. The Finn made it through to Q2 and qualified 14th.

Spielberg is hosting the sport’s second sprint event of the year with a shortened race on Saturday to come before Sunday’s main event.

Max Verstappen finished fastest in the sole practice session at the Austrian Grand Prix – as Mercedes were fined £86 after Lewis Hamilton was caught speeding in the pits.

Verstappen saw off Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by 0.241 seconds at Red Bull’s home race, with Charles Leclerc third. Hamilton finished fourth.

Spielberg is hosting Formula One’s second sprint event of the year which will see two qualifying sessions – one to decide the order for Sunday’s grand prix which takes place at 5pm local time (4pm BST) – and the other determining the starting grid for Saturday’s sprint race.

Practice has been slashed from three hours to just one to create greater jeopardy with the teams unable to gather as much data as they would like.

Red Bull are undefeated at the opening eight rounds of the season with Verstappen taking six victories to head the championship standings by 69 points.

And the Dutchman, perhaps predictably, raced to top spot in the first running of the weekend without even posting a lap on the speedier soft tyre compound.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez finished in fifth, half-a-second off the pace and one place ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s Mercedes team were hit with a 100 Euro (£86) fine after the British driver breached the pit-lane limit.

Hamilton, who earns £40million-a-season, was adjudged to have broken the 50mph limit by just 0.12mph.

Aston Martin were also hit with a fine – this time worth 300 Euros (£258) – after Fernando Alonso and team-mate Stroll drove too quickly in the pits.

Elsewhere, Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell finished ninth for Mercedes, almost a second down on Verstappen, with Lando Norris bringing up the rear in his revamped McLaren machine.

Lewis Hamilton has called on Formula One’s lawmakers to introduce a radical new rule to end Max Verstappen’s dominance of the sport.

Hamilton believes the FIA should deny all of the grid’s teams the chance to develop next season’s machine until a specific start date.

The seven-time world champion says Verstappen’s Red Bull team are so far ahead this year that they have already started work on their 2024 project.

But Verstappen, who has won six of the opening eight rounds on his seemingly unstoppable march to a hat-trick of world championships, bit back at Hamilton’s suggestion, telling his British rival he was not complaining about the current rule when he was winning.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg, Hamilton, already 93 points behind Verstappen in the championship, said: “At the end of the year we will probably catch Red Bull, but that’s probably because they are already focusing on next year’s car.

“They don’t have to make any changes to this car because they’re so far ahead.

“I have been here for 17 years, and before I got here there has been periods of dominance and it continues to happen.

“I was fortunate to have one of those periods and Max is having that now, but with the way it is going it will continue to happen over and over again and we don’t need that for the sport.

“If you are so far ahead, you don’t need to develop the car so you can start early with the next car and with the budget cap you can spend this year’s money on next year’s.

“But if everyone had a time where you could only start on next year’s car – say August 1 – no one has a head start. Then it is a real race in that short space of time for the future car.

“Maybe that would help everyone be closer the following year. I might be wrong, but something has to change.”

Hamilton won six of his record-equalling seven titles in a period of dominance for Mercedes. And when his theory was put to Verstappen, the two-time world champion said: “We were not talking about that when he was winning his championships right, so I don’t think we should now.

“That is how Formula One works. When you have a competitive car it is great but at one point you have to look ahead to the next year.

“A lot of things in life are unfair so we just have to deal with it.”

Lando Norris has revealed he had a number of expensive items stolen in a robbery at a villa in Marbella.

It is the second time the British Formula One star has been targeted by thieves after he was accosted by two men and had his Richard Mille designer watch stolen after the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

McLaren driver Norris, 23 was understood to be on holiday in the south of Spain for three days when the incident took place.

Speaking to the PA news agency ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, Norris said: “We were out for dinner and our place got robbed.

“A mixture of many things were stolen. Some were expensive and some were not so expensive. It is still an ongoing conversation so I cannot say too much.”

Norris was reported to be on holiday with a group of friends, including influencer Jennie Dimova.

Dimova posted a video to her TikTok, saying: “If you are wondering why I look like that it is because our villa got robbed and everything I have ever owned – my clothes, my shoes, my bags, my jewellery – everything has been taken – and I am left with literally nothing. I cried for two hours but what can I do?”

The popular Norris is only 11th in this season’s drivers’ championship having scored points at just three of the opening eight rounds in his under-performing McLaren machine.

The British team have brought an upgrade to this weekend’s event in Spielberg in the hope of turning their disappointing season around.

Damon Hill has praised Lewis Hamilton for the “admirable” way he “kept his chin up” after the controversy of Abu Dhabi – and believes the Mercedes man is “absolutely motivated” to win a record eighth world title.

Eighteen months have passed since Hamilton lost out to Max Verstappen at the contentious season finale, with his Dutch rival going on to take last year’s title too.

And Verstappen, 69 points clear in this season’s championship, is primed to complete his hat-trick.

Hamilton, 38, has not won a race since the penultimate round of the 2021 campaign – the longest losing streak of his career – but he heads to this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix following two consecutive podium finishes in his revamped Mercedes machine.

“It is admirable the way Lewis kept his chin up after what happened in Abu Dhabi,” Hill, the 1996 world champion, told the PA news agency.

“He got back on with the task in hand and he is driving better again this year than he has done before. He is starting to gel with that car now and he has solved some of the problems he faced.

“So I would be amazed if he doesn’t want to go out on a high by winning that eighth title, and he is absolutely motivated by that. He has got that longevity and he looks after himself.

“He needs a competitive car, half-a-chance, and someone like Lewis will rise up to that challenge and find more in himself. At the moment we are seeing a happier Hamilton, and a happy Hamilton is a fast Hamilton.”

The British driver’s future on the grid, however, remains a hot topic of speculation.

Hamilton has entered the final six months of his current £40million-a-season contract with Mercedes. But despite a string of recent discussions with team principal Toto Wolff, a conclusion to the saga is not understood to be imminent.

“The talk is that Lewis is finalising a much longer-term deal that goes beyond his racing career,” added Hill, 62.

“The car company itself is involved, so there is a bit more bureaucracy in this deal.”

Hamilton is already 93 points behind Verstappen in the standings after the Red Bull driver raced to his sixth victory from eight rounds to equal Ayrton Senna’s career tally of 41 wins last time out in Canada.

Following Verstappen’s triumph, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said his star driver must now be considered among Formula One’s all-time greats.

“Comparing different eras is quite difficult,” said Hill, who was speaking at his Halow Project charity event in Sandown following a world-first kart run on Zero synthetic fuel.

“They do many more races than they used to in the sport. But, nevertheless, in every era there are one or two drivers who are the cream of the crop, and you have to say Max is one of them, along with Lewis and Fernando (Alonso).

“I certainly see him having his own era called ‘the Max Verstappen era’ where he wins practically everything.

“If you appreciate great drivers and the job they do then it is great to watch. But I understand people want to see a race and not a demonstration and we have to be patient and hope the others catch him up pretty quickly.”

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have expanded their sporting portfolio by investing in Formula One team Alpine Racing.

The Hollywood stars and co-owners of Wrexham are part of a 200million dollar (approximately £157million) investment, representing a 24 per cent stake in the team, who sit fifth in the constructors’ championship.

Reynolds’ Maximum Effort production company has teamed up with Otro Capital and RedBird Capital Partners, with fellow actor Michael B. Jordan also among the investors.

Reynolds and McElhenney have earned widespread praise for their approach to Wrexham, frequently attending games and promoting the whole town.

The news was announced by Alpine’s parent company Renault, and James Toney, co-founder of Maximum Effort Investments with Reynolds, said on “Maximum Effort Investments focuses on unlocking value through the power of storytelling, and we believe there is tremendous untapped potential in Alpine Racing.

“We are eager to help shine a light on this incredible team. We’re thankful to our partners at Otro Capital and RedBird Capital Partners and look forward to diving in with them, as well as our co-investors Michael B. Jordan and Rob McElhenney.”

Since the Renault team was rebranded as Alpine in 2021, they have managed one victory and three podium finishes, with Esteban Ocon coming third in Monaco this season.

Ocon currently sits ninth in the drivers’ championship, with his team-mate Pierre Gasly one place further back.

Starting a race weekend as championship-leading driver is never a bad thing, but doing so carries extra weight. However, there is also added pressure when a driver, who holds himself to high regard, has to make up grounds to deliver a championship win.

That's the situation Jamaica's karting sensation Alex Powell is in, as he heads into the business end of the season in pole position in the five-race Champions of the Future (COTF) series, but at the same time, is someway off the lead in the more illustrious four-round FIA Karting European Championship.

Still, Powell welcomes the challenge that both events present as part of his growth process in a budding career that could see him transition to the Formula 4 ranks next year.

"I want to win both the Champions of the Future and the European Championships, so I will do everything I possibly can to achieve that feat. I have been a little lacking in some cases, particularly where race pace is concerned, but I am confident with the direction that we are working in and we will be working very hard over these next few weeks," Powell told from his base in Italy.

The American-born driver's declaration came while he reflected on the second and third place finishes in the third round of both events, in the OK category, on separate weekends in Rodby, Denmark.

In the COTF series, Powell was beaten by Italian Gabriel Gomez, with Great Britain's Kean Nakamura-Berta in third. Despite placing second, Powell moved to the top of the series standings 24 points ahead of rivals with two more rounds to come at Cremona and Franciacorta, both in Italy on July 12-15 and September 13-16, respectively.

"Champions of the Future was quite a successful event in terms of consistency, as I was in the top five from the qualifying heats all the way through to the final. Unfortunately, in the final, we missed out as we were lacking a bit in pace. 

"But it is good to be atop the overall standings with a fairly good lead and so the aim is to maintain that over the next two rounds. It comes with some amount of pressure because you have to ensure that you drive the best race possible for those two rounds," Powell said.

Just this past weekend, the 15-year-old Mercedes-Benz AMG F1 protégé, again showed good speed through the rounds, but faltered at the backend of the 21-lap final in European Championship action. He placed behind Dutchman Rene Lammers and Gomez.

"The weekend started off poorly as qualifying didn't go to plan so we had to completely change the kart and it did work for us to an extent because I won all three of my heats, but that race speed was missing in the latter stages of the final. It was a bit frustrating, but we did the best we could, and we just have to try to improve going forward," the Prema Racing representative shared.

Though he is 43 points off Lammers, who heads the European Championships on 208 points, Powell on 165 points, admits overhauling the leader will be tough but is by no means impossible. Gomez (202 points) currently occupies second position.

"I'm not saying that it is over but I'm going to need a really big points haul or some mishap for the first two for me to win the overall championship. But it is important that we stay positive, there are 81 points available and I'm 43 behind so with a perfect weekend we can overturn it," Powell, a cousin to former 100m World record holder Asafa Powell, said.

"We were in a similar position last year and just missed out on it so I'm not giving up and I will be giving it my all. All or nothing for the last round," he added.

With that last round of the European Championship scheduled July 27-30 in Italy, Powell pointed out that he will be putting in the necessary work, physically, mentally and otherwise in an attempt to once again prove his class.

In last year's championships, Powell won the last round but just missed out on being crowned European champion by a mere two points.

"We basically have a month to prepare, I'm actually off to Sarno, Italy for a race in Kz2 (shifter karts) in preparation for the last round of the European champions for that category which is the first week of July. So though its two different categories, it will serve as a preparation race and could be a good indicator of what I need to work on in terms of race strategy," he explained.

"Because we are going to need a very good last round but until then, we will have to focus on ourselves and do the best that we can and then hopefully we will be in the best possible position to challenge," Powell ended.


Fraser McConnell kicked off the 2023/24 NitroCross season in sensational fashion, securing a resounding victory in the first event held at the MidAmerica Outdoor complex in Oklahoma on June 16 and 17.

The Jamaican driver showcased his skill and determination, leaving his competitors in the dust and setting the tone for an exciting season ahead.

From the onset, McConnell demonstrated his prowess by topping the charts in the Timed Practice, proving that he was a force to be reckoned with. However, despite his exceptional performance, he narrowly missed out on the Top Qualifier title, losing to his childhood hero, Travis Pastrana, by a fraction of a second.

Undeterred by the near miss, McConnell continued to display his strength throughout the event. A second-place finish in the Battles Final further solidified his position as a frontrunner. He then went on to secure victory in his heat race, earning him the coveted pole position for the Final.

As the final race began, McConnell surged forward, seizing the lead from the start and never relinquishing it. The competition proved intense, with his teammate and reigning champion, Robin Larson, challenging him in the opening corner.

Additionally, World Rally icon Kris Meeke provided a late challenge, but McConnell remained composed and focused, crossing the finish line with a commanding win in the season opener.

To add to the excitement of his triumph, McConnell was presented with the first-place trophy by none other than UFC's Dana White, who heads a group of investors that recently acquired the NitroCross brand.

The victory not only marked a perfect start to the new season for McConnell but also showcased his talent and the exceptional teamwork behind his success.

Reflecting on his triumph, an elated McConnell expressed gratitude to his team and sponsors for their unwavering support. "This win in Oklahoma has been a perfect start to this new season. The track was incredibly challenging but fun to drive, and very exciting for the spectators," he remarked.

Following the season opener, McConnell now leads the 10-event championship with an impressive 76 points, holding an 11-point advantage over Kevin Eriksson and a 12-point lead over Robin Larson.

Looking ahead, McConnell is set to compete in Sardinia, Italy on July 8-9 as part of Sir Lewis Hamilton's X44 Vida Carbon Racing Team. Fans eagerly anticipate seeing McConnell's skills on display once again as he continues his quest for championship glory. The next NitroCross event will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 18-19, promising more thrilling action and fierce competition on the track.

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