Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull and Ferrari "are in a league of their own" as Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen prepare to battle it out once again at the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc came out on top at the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago and will start Sunday's race at Circuit Paul Ricard in pole position for the seventh time this season.

The Ferrari driver has momentum on his side, but he still trails Red Bull rival Verstappen by 38 points heading into the 12th race of 2022.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez finished third in qualifying after recovering from some flat practice showings, while Mercedes driver Hamilton was a distant fourth.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton is still seeking his first win of the campaign, but that seems unlikely to arrive in his 300th grand prix on the basis of Saturday's qualifying.

"It's not that it is disheartening, but you do a lap and you are told it is 1.7 seconds off and you are like 'what?'" Hamilton said.

"And then you do a really good lap and you are 1.1 seconds off and you are like 'wow'. There is nothing I can do in my power to change that.

"Everyone is working as hard as they can. Each weekend we come with little bits to try and improve, but sometimes that doesn't make a difference and that is difficult.

"The top two teams are in their own league. I came here this weekend hoping we would be within three tenths of them, and we are a second back. 

"If it is anything like this it is going to be a while before we win, but it's not impossible."

 

The driver starting on pole has won the past three French GPs – Hamilton in 2018 and 2019 and Verstappen last year – though not since 1960 has it happened four times in a row.

Leclerc's 16th career pole was achieved in large thanks to a tow from team-mate Carlos Sainz, who will start at the back of the grid after a fourth engine change of the season.

Sainz provided a tow down the straights to help Leclerc edge Verstappen, but the latter does not believe the same tactic would have worked for Red Bull.

"No, because Ferrari gained only two to two-and-a-half tenths with the slipstream, Charles told me," Verstappen said. "It was also very logical that they did it.

"Obviously both me and Sergio Perez want to be in the best position possible. That's why I don't think we're doing that sort of thing. Neither of us had a grid penalty, either.

"It also seems logical to me. We are both still fighting for the title, so it is difficult to explain. It is up to Ferrari if they want to do that, but within our team we haven't talked about it."

Should Verstappen and Perez earn at least 12 points on Sunday, Red Bull will join Ferrari (9,015) and Mercedes (6,535.50) as the third team ever to reach the 6,000 points mark.

Perez has placed in the top two in six of the past seven finished races, two times more than his previous 186, and the Mexican is delighted with his starting position.

"It's been a good recovery. I've been nowhere the whole weekend. To be honest, I've been struggling a lot," he said.

"I think it's probably been my worst weekend up to qualifying, really, and finally we managed to recover well. Now we will try to beat those red cars. They were very strong today."

Charles Leclerc was full of praise for Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz after he provided a tow down the straights to help Leclerc edge Max Verstappen for pole position in the French Grand Prix.

Sainz, who starts at the back of the grid following a fourth engine change of the season, looked to be the quickest throughout qualifying before switching his approach in Q3 to help Leclerc finish ahead of his title rival.

It secures Leclerc's seventh pole of the season and the 16th of his career as he looks to rejuvenate his title bid following difficulties in recent races, and he was clear it would have been a harder task without Sainz.

"I struggled all weekend to put a lap together, but I managed to do it. I have to say, I also had the help of Carlos and that was amazing teamwork," he said on the grid.

"Without Carlos it would have been much more close so a huge thank you to Carlos and I hope that he can join us in the fight for the win tomorrow. 

"The car feels good but it's difficult to understand what the Red Bull guys have done yesterday, as there was loads of difference in terms of lap times, so let's see how it goes tomorrow."

Verstappen looked to be in fine form with the Red Bull ace showing great pace throughout the free practice sessions, but he couldn't quite put it together in qualifying and sits behind Leclerc at the start – the sixth time in 2022 the pair have been on the front row together.

 

"Overall, I think we were lacking a bit in qualifying, just with general grip. It was a bit more tricky than I would have hoped but we still have a decent race car," Verstappen said.

"Hopefully, tomorrow will come to our favour. We're quick on the straights, so hopefully we can use that tomorrow. It's going to be a bit warmer. Clearly, Ferrari have been very quick again."

Sergio Perez will start third, bouncing back after struggling to find pace in the practice sessions, and admitted it had been a difficult few days.

"It's been a good recovery over the whole weekend, I have been struggling a lot, I think it has been my worst weekend up to qualifying really but we managed to recover well," he said.

Perez sits ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who will start fourth, which means Mercedes' wait for a top-three start on the grid continues, with it already being their longest stint into a F1 season without one.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:30:872
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.304
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.463
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.893
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.160
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.259
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.680
8. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) +1.908
9. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) No Time
10. Kevin Magnusson (Haas) No Time

Charles Leclerc does not want a repeat of the tussle he experienced with team-mate Carlos Sainz in the sprint race as he targets victory in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Ferrari drivers saw Max Verstappen race away from them in the sprint, the championship leader benefiting from the duel between Leclerc and Sainz to take the maximum eight points.

Verstappen eventually claimed triumph by 1.6 seconds from Leclerc, who insisted the Scuderia drivers must not risk losing time and wearing down their tyres by fighting with each other again at the Red Bull Ring.

He said: "I think tomorrow is going to be a long race and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today, so probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today.

"We lost a little bit of time, but again when Max had the gap he also managed his pace, so we'll never know… but I felt like we were strong towards the end – probably stronger than at the beginning. Whether it [would have been] enough I really don't know."

Verstappen now leads the drivers' championship by 38 points, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who climbed from 13th to fifth in the sprint, his closest challenger. Leclerc is a further six points back.

The Dutchman has won five of the last seven races and has an outstanding record at his team's home circuit.

He has won three of the last four Austrian Grands Prix and also prevailed at the Red Bull Ring in last season's Styrian Grand Prix.

However, Verstappen labelled his tyres "tricky" and is not anticipating a routine success across the 71-lap feature race.

"We had good pace at the beginning and after that we were very closely matched, it was as a sprint should go, it was quite flat out," said Verstappen.

"I do expect tomorrow is going to be a very interesting battle again."

George Russell will start fourth in a Mercedes that appears to lack the straight-line speed to mount a serious challenge for victory in Spielberg.

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start eighth having claimed the final points place in the sprint.

The seven-time world champion has experienced an eventful weekend, crashing in qualifying on Friday and being involved in a first-lap collision with Pierre Gasly before fighting back from 11th to eventually get past Mick Schuamcher's Haas for eighth spot.

"I'm grateful I managed to survive out there today," Hamilton said. "The team did such a great job to get the car back together last night and this morning. A big thank you to them, and I'm glad I brought it back mostly in one piece.

"We are slower on the straights, so I had to wait until I was out of the DRS train to overtake the cars in front. That's why it took a few laps to get ahead of Mick. Hopefully we can race stronger tomorrow – fingers crossed!"

There are six world titles split between the two drivers starting 18th and 19th. Sebastian Vettel, who was handed a suspended €25,000 fine for walking out of Friday's drivers' briefing, finished 19th in the sprint following a collision with Alex Albon that sent Vettel's Aston Martin into the gravel.

Fernando Alonso's Alpine failed to start the sprint due to an electrical issue. Valtteri Bottas, a two-time winner of this race, is the only man behind Alonso on the grid after the Alfa Romeo driver incurred a penalty because of his latest engine change.

Max Verstappen continued his excellent record in Formula One sprint races as he cruised to victory at the Red Bull Ring to secure pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

The reigning champion began the sprint in first place and rarely looked likely to relinquish his lead as he added to his success at Imola earlier this season in the shortened format.

At their home grand prix, Red Bull will be hoping for a successful weekend and Verstappen's victory provides them with a dream start and eight points, extending his overall lead for the season to 38.

The race itself was delayed twice as Fernando Alonso – who was subsequently unable to start – and Zhou Guanyu – consigned to a pit-lane launch – had car trouble.

When it eventually began, with the length reduced to 23 laps, Verstappen held off the two Ferraris at the start and managed to build up a handsome lead as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz began to tussle with each other.

The top four ultimately ended as they started, with Leclerc beating Sainz to second and George Russell finishing fourth, but undoubtedly the most impressive performance on the grid came courtesy of Sergio Perez.

The Mexican felt his nine-place punishment for exceeding track limits in qualifying was excessively harsh, but he came out with a vengeance in the sprint, taking fifth despite starting way down in 13th.

Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton closed out the top eight as the other drivers who took points.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1.675
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +5.644s
4. George Russell (Mercedes) +13.429s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +18.302s
6. Alexander Ocon (Alpine) +31.032s
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +34.539s
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +35.447s
9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +37.557s
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) +38.580s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 189
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 151
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 145
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 133
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 116

After recent issues with reliability putting a dent in their championship hopes, Ferrari were able to marginally recover at the British Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz's maiden Formula One race win.

It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Scuderia at Silverstone, however, with tactics scuppering a potential one-two finish with Charles Leclerc, who fell away to finish fourth on older hard tyres following a late safety car.

Ferrari capitalised to some extent, but were not able to take full advantage of Max Verstappen's damaged floor putting him out of contention for the race win.

Now heading into Red Bull's home race at the Austrian Grand Prix, the championship challengers simply must recover more ground if they are to mount a real threat in the standings.

Reigning world champion Verstappen has won the last two races and claimed the last two pole positions at Spielberg, however, making a repeat of Sunday's run to the chequered flag for Ferrari unlikely.

Red Bull have won three of the past four Austrian GPs, with Verstappen taking all three for the team.

The Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for the 24-year-old, reaching the podium six times, with two fastest laps as well as his four wins and two pole positions, with all being the most out of any circuit in his career.

A Ferrari win would prove an important historical moment for the team, though, as well as what it means in context of this season.

The Scuderia need only 23 points to be the first team in F1 to reach 9,000 points, while both they and Mercedes are one win away from equalling McLaren's record six wins in Austria.

Meanwhile, they are one clearout of the front row away from surpassing Mercedes for the most one-two qualifying finishes in F1, with both on 82.

Can Sainz push on after breaking through?

Carlos Sainz finally broke through at Silverstone, even declining team orders to collect the race win upon the resumption after the safety car.

Despite a tricky start to the season, Sainz has slowly developed confidence in the car, with six podiums this season

One more would see him surpass his total over the previous seven seasons in F1, and could be the first Spaniard since Fernando Alonso in 2010 to record back-to-back wins.

Austria does not follow 'El Plan'

Alonso's longevity and focus has been nothing short of extraordinary since returning to F1, but Austria has not been the most forthcoming of places for him.

Despite encouraging recent form, including a second place in qualifying in Canada and a fifth-place finish at Silverstone, the 40-year-old will be looking to change that.

The two-time world champion has appeared nine times at Spielberg, the circuit with his lowest aggregate of race wins, pole positions, fastest laps and podiums in his career.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 147
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 127
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 111

Constructors

1. Red Bull 328
2. Ferrari 265
3. Mercedes 204
4. McLaren 73
5. Alpine 67

Carlos Sainz hailed an "amazing" first Formula One victory as the Spaniard finally earned top step on the podium by winning a dramatic British Grand Prix.

His Ferrari took the glory at Silverstone, some 12 years after Sainz won on the track in his fledgling Formula BMW days, a world away from the elite level of motorsport.

The 27-year-old overtook team-mate Charles Leclerc after a safety car delay, which followed a lap-39 breakdown for Esteban Ocon.

While Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso fought for the lower steps of the podium, Sainz stayed out of trouble and powered to the chequered flag.

This was his 150th grand prix, and despite achieving a flood of podium finishes, a win had been elusive until now.

"It's amazing. A first race win, 150 races later, with Ferrari in Silverstone. I cannot ask for more," Sainz said.

"It's a very special day, a day I shall never forget. Lewis was on it today, I heard, but we managed to hold on and I'm incredibly happy.

"It was not easy. I struggled quite a bit with the balance, especially on the first stint with the medium tyre, Max [Verstappen] was forcing us to push a lot through the high speed. I opened the front left, but even with all that I stayed believing that it could happen. I needed to stay in the race.

"All of a sudden the safety car gave me the opportunity to get back on it, and we did it. You can imagine the nerves on the safety car restart knowing it was my chance and getting it done and then the win."

Reflecting on the drama behind him, Sainz said: "There was a lot going on, yeah?

"Silverstone has been a bit of a special place for me. I had a first ever race win for me in Formula BMW in 2010, first pole position here back in 2010, and suddenly 12 years later I achieve exactly the same but in Formula One with Ferrari."

Perez took second place, with Hamilton third

Mexican driver Perez suffered damage to the front wing of his car on the first lap, finding himself sandwiched between Verstappen and Leclerc, but recovered admirably from having to dive into the pits for repairs.

"It was a great comeback," Perez said. "We didn't give up, and we kept pushing. Then the opportunity came at the end, and we took it.

"It was a great fight with Charles and then with Lewis. It was an epic final lap, and it was a good fight within us."

Carlos Sainz secured the first win of his Formula One career in a dramatic British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where Zhou Guanyu was involved in a huge crash.

The 10th race of the 2022 F1 season saw another significant swing in the title race, with Max Verstappen's lead over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez taking a dent after the defending champion sustained floor damage.

Sainz's victory – in his 150th grand prix start – was not as comfortable as he would have liked, with the opportunity seemingly having passed as Ferrari ordered him to relinquish his position to team-mate Charles Leclerc as he lacked pace but then benefited from a late safety car, retaking the lead after changing to soft tyres.

A terrifying crash on the opening lap involving five cars left George Russell, Alex Albon and Zhou out of the race and a red flag waving, with the latter left upside down and stuck inside his Alfa Romeo for a lengthy period before being taken away on a stretcher, though thankfully the message from the team was that he was okay.

Under the red flag restart, the initial grid order was reinstated and Verstappen, who had overtaken Sainz, was unable to repeat his feat, while Perez had contact with Leclerc that resulted in the Mexican driver tumbling down the order after an early pit stop.

An error from Sainz on lap 10 saw the Spaniard run wide and onto the grass, with Verstappen taking the opportunity to seize the lead, but his advantage lasted just two laps as he ran over a piece of debris and suffered floor damage, resulting in a significant loss of pace even after a pit stop.

Sainz pitted at the end of lap 20, with Leclerc following suit six laps later to leave Hamilton in the lead, but a slow pit on lap 34 left him adrift of the two Ferraris, putting Leclerc in the lead after Ferrari swapped positions prior to Hamilton's stop.

Esteban Ocon's breakdown on the old pit straight on lap 39 resulted in a safety car, with Leclerc, who did not pit for soft tyres, overtaken by Sainz – leaving Leclerc, Hamilton and Perez fighting for a podium finish and exchanging positions multiple times.

Perez's promising push

Perez's early pit stop looked to have ended his hopes of a podium finish, but he was a major beneficiary of the safety car as it allowed him to take his required pit stop without losing time, sitting fourth for the restart.

A thrilling battle with Hamilton and Leclerc saw him go wheel-to-wheel with both drivers before taking them both, securing a second-place finish that moved him 34 behind Verstappen in the championship standings. 

Russell's record ends

Russell headed into his home Grand Prix with the tag of Mr Consistent, standing as the only driver in 2022 to finish all nine rounds in the top five, but that run came to an end at Silverstone following the collision that resulted in a red flag.

The early end to his race also means he finished behind Hamilton for the second race in a row – the first time since his move to Mercedes that he has been outperformed by his team-mate in back-to-back race weekends.

IN THE POINTS

1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +3.779
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +6.225
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.546
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +9.571
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +11.943
7. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +18.777
8. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +18.995
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +22.356
10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +24.590

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 147
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 127
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 111

Constructors

1. Red Bull 328
2. Ferrari 265
3. Mercedes 204
4. McLaren 73
5. Alpine 67

Carlos Sainz expressed his surprise after he secured the first pole position of his Formula One career for Sunday's British Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver pipped championship leader Max Verstappen and team-mate Charles Leclerc to first on the grid, putting him at the front for what will be the 150th start of his career.

A wet session at Silverstone left everything to play for heading into the final minute of qualifying, but none were able to better Sainz's time of 1:40.983, finishing less than a hundredth of a second ahead of Red Bull's Verstappen.

While it was enough to secure a landmark result for the Spaniard, he did not believe his lap would be top of the pile.

"It was a good lap, I was struggling a lot with the standing water with the intermediates. It was very easy to get snaps and lose the lap, also very easy to lose the tyres," he said.

"In the end, I put in a lap that I thought was nothing special, I just put it on the board and see how it is and it was pole position, which cannot be a bad surprise."

Sainz will now be seeking the maiden win of his career and, having shown improvements in Canada with a second-placed finish behind Verstappen, believes he has the potential to do exactly that.

"The base has been there all weekend. We had some issues that we think we have corrected. If I base myself on my FP2 pace, I think we will be in a good position. I'm sure Max and Charles will put on a lot of pressure but I will try my best of course."

Verstappen had consistently set the fastest laps in qualifying, but with the weather playing a part, he ultimately could not do enough to get the job done.

Nevertheless, he feels he is in a good position as he looks for a third consecutive win.

"It was quite a tricky qualifying with the rain, you have to be on the track at the right time, but overall the car was working really well. In Q3, it's a bit of a lottery sometimes when you have to put in the best lap," he said.

"To be on the front row, it's very good for us and we have a good race car I think both in the dry and in the wet."

Leclerc, on the back of some difficult race weekends, starts on the second row after spinning on his final flying lap – though he still believes he is in a position to mount a challenge.

"I spun on the last lap, I knew it was the lap where I had to put everything together, but I didn't as the driver, so I didn't deserve to be on pole," he said.

"It's a good position to start in for tomorrow's race and hopefully we can put everything together and come back.

"I think the pace is there, if we have a clean race and everything goes well, a good start and tyre management, the strategy will be a bit mixed between one or two stops so it will be interesting to see. Hopefully we make the right choice and come back to where we want to be."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 1:40.983
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.072
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.315
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.633
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.012
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.101
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.133
8. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.178
9. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) +1.736
10. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +22.112

Ferrari's recent issues with reliability have put a major dent in their driver's and constructor's title hopes, but they will need to quickly bounce back at this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

It was a painful day for the Scuderia at the Azerbaijan GP on Sunday, with both cars retiring due to technical issues.

For Charles Leclerc, it was the second time in three races he was forced out because of a power unit problem while leading, and the fourth consecutive race where he failed to convert pole position into a race win.

Sergio Perez took full advantage in Baku, moving ahead of Leclerc in the driver's standings with his win, with Max Verstappen opening up a 34-point gap to the Ferrari driver.

With two retirements sandwiching Ferrari's strategic blunder at his home race in Monaco, the Monegasque moves to four wins from 15 pole positions, with only Jarno Trulli holding a lower conversion rate (25 per cent) among winning drivers in the history F1.

Meanwhile, only Michael Schumacher (+23) and Alain Prost (+18) have a higher differential between race wins and pole positions than Max Verstappen, who has claimed 25 and 14 respectively.

Verstappen will already be making his 150th GP appearance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, looking for his sixth win of the season out of nine starts.

It would provide little solace to the 24-year-old but he has been in supreme form on the Saturday, claiming six poles out of eight this season, and could match his highest tally in a single season from 2019.

Pole position is not essential but it has proved to be convenient in recent years, with each of the past five winners in Montreal coming from the front of grid on the Saturday, the longest such streak in F1.

Since the opening race of the season in Bahrain, Ferrari remain one more one-two finish away from surpassing Mercedes for the most all-time in F1, with both on 82.

Ferrari customers facing similar strife

Problems have persisted for the factory team and Ferrari power unit customers since the first upgrade at the Miami Grand Prix, where Zhou Guanyu retired.

Both he and Leclerc then retired from the Spanish GP, after Valtteri Bottas was forced out of FP2 in the other Alfa Romeo due to an engine failure.

Both Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen experienced MGU-K failures in Monaco, before Leclerc, Magnussen and Zhou had power unit-related DNFs in Baku.

Red Bull in control

After rectifying their own reliability issues at the start of the season, Red Bull have picked up the pieces and are now in control of both championships.

Red Bull drivers have finished on the podium in 11 of their 13 finished races, securing the one-two in three of the last five Grands Prix and are one more from securing the highest tally in a single season.

The last time the team had six wins in the opening eight races of the season was when Sebastian Vettel coasted his way to the driver's title in 2011.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 150
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 129
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 116
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 99
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 83

Constructors

1. Red Bull 279
2. Ferrari 199
3. Mercedes 161
4. McLaren 65
5. Alpine 47

Charles Leclerc stormed to pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, surprising himself by getting the better of the Red Bulls.

Leclerc produced a sensational final lap in Baku to become the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2001 to record six pole positions in the first eight races of a season. 

He was almost three tenths of a second faster than Sergio Perez, who pipped team-mate Max Verstappen to a place on the front row. 

"It feels good. Obviously all poles feel good, but this one I did not expect because in Q1 and Q2 I really struggled to see that we could be faster," said Leclerc. 

"In the last lap everything came together and I managed to do good, so I'm extremely happy. 

"I'm really excited for [the race]. Tyre management is a big thing here. In Barcelona and Monaco we were managing it well but overall our race pace has gone a step up since we brought in the upgrades." 

Championship leader Verstappen was disappointed to miss out on a place on the front row but is confident Red Bull will be able to challenge for the win on Sunday. 

"I think the start was good, then it went away from me a little bit with tiny mistakes," said Verstappen. 

"It's not ideal but in general I was just struggling to find balance over one lap. It's not what I want but being second and third the team has a good opportunity. 

"We'll find out tomorrow, but we maybe seem to lack a bit of pace over one lap but in the long run we should be quite good." 

Perez, who experienced an issue in the garage in Q3, said: "On the first run of Q3 is when you go all out. I hit the wall a couple of times – luckily we managed to survive, which is the key here. 

"We had a problem with the engine at the end, we couldn't turn it on. We lost a few tenths, but I think Charles has done a very good job. 

"It's a very long race ahead, so we just have to make sure we are there. You can make a mistake at any point and that's it." 

Lewis Hamilton could only qualify seventh and was facing an investigation for driving unnecessarily slowly in Q2.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:41.359
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.282s
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.347s
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.455s
5. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.353s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.486s
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.565s
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1.697s
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.732s
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.814s

Sergio Perez will race for Red Bull until at least the end of the 2024 Formula One season after signing a new deal following his triumph at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Mexican put pen to paper on fresh terms during race weekend, as he went on to earn the third victory of his career in a rain-soaked race at the weekend.

The 32-year-old sits third in the driver standings this season, just 15 points off team-mate and leader Max Verstappen.

"For me, this has been an incredible week," Perez said in an official statement.

"Winning the Monaco Grand Prix is a dream for any driver and then to follow that with announcing I will continue with the team until 2024 just makes me extremely happy.

"I am so proud to be a member of this team and I feel completely at home here now. We are working very well together and my relationship with Max, on and off the track, is definitely helping drive us forward even more.

"We have built tremendous momentum as a team and this season is showing that, I am excited to see where that can take us all in the future."

Initially entering F1 in 2011 with the Australian Grand Prix, Perez worked through a succession of teams in the sport, including Sauber, McLaren, Force India and Racing Point.

The Mexican looked poised to be without a seat for 2021 after the latter confirmed he would be replaced by Sebastian Vettel following the team's transition to Aston Martin.

But a shock maiden victory at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix earned him a drive with Red Bull and saw him set a record for the most races before a first win in F1, with 190.

Since his move to Red Bull, he was won two more, including Monaco, and will seek to defend the trophy he won in Baku last year at next month's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

"Since joining Red Bull, Checo [Perez] has done a fantastic job," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

"Time and again he has proved himself to not only be a magnificent team player but as his level of comfort has grown he has become a real force to be reckoned with at the sharp end of the grid.

"This year he has taken another step and the gap to world champion Max has closed significantly, evidenced by his superb pole position in Jeddah earlier this year and by his wonderful win in Monaco just last weekend.

"For us, holding onto his pace, race craft and experience was a no-brainer and we are delighted that Checo will continue to race for the team until 2024. In partnership with Max we believe we have a driver pairing that can bring us the biggest prizes in F1."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted team strategy halted Charles Leclerc from triumphing at his home race, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez winning the Monaco Grand Prix.

Leclerc finished in fourth place after starting the race from pole position, which is critical at a circuit like Monte Carlo, with its tight streets making overtaking difficult and track position paramount.

Perez managed to keep Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari at bay with an assured drive, but it was also borne of circumstance after a pit-stop mix-up before a second red flag tumbled Leclerc down the order.

Binotto conceded it was a team error that cost his drivers from claiming more points but specifically for Leclerc, a potential maiden Formula One win at a home race where he has been dealt constant bad luck.

"I fully understand the disappointment for Charles," the Ferrari boss told Sky Sports F1. "He was first and finishing fourth means that something was wrong in the decision we made.

"So clearly we need to review it and I think we underestimated the speed of the intermediate [tyres] at that stage, so we could have called a lap earlier for Charles or later on, maybe we should have left him outside on the extreme wet then going on the dry.

"These are mistakes that may happen, but more importantly it is a lesson to learn to try and understand why they happened and I am sure that is a process we will do."

Ferrari went down a further ten points in the constructor standings to Red Bull, who now lead by 36 points after both Perez and Max Verstappen finished on the podium.

Leclerc's fourth-placed finish also means Verstappen extended his lead atop the driver's standings to nine points, heading into the next grand prix in Azerbaijan.

Sergio Perez has called winning the Monaco Grand Prix a "dream come true" after his triumph from third on the grid to take the top step.

Perez put in an assured and calculated drive in tricky conditions on Sunday, which meant only 66 laps could be completed on the streets of Monte Carlo after a late start, and further delays following a big crash for Mick Schumacher.

Perez claimed only his third race victory from 220 starts. Admittedly for the Mexican driver, the prestige of taking the race victory at Monaco is different to his other two wins, in Sakhir and Azerbaijan.

"Well, certainly very high up there, winning Monaco, it's a dream come true as a driver," Perez told a news conference.

"When you come into Formula One and when you come to Monaco, when you drive it for the first time, you always dream about one day winning the race or racing here. So it's just incredible.

"It's such a big day for myself. I was driving with Pedro Rodriguez's helmet today, and I'm sure that there he will be super proud of what we have achieved in this sport."

Perez pitted from fourth place for a set of intermediates before both Charles Leclerc and team-mate Max Verstappen came in, putting him in position to take the race lead as the track dried, albeit with the help of poorly executed Ferrari strategy.

He was eventually able to hold off a late charge from Carlos Sainz, becoming the first Mexican driver to win in Monaco.

With only six drivers from Mexico to ever drive in Formula One, Perez did not lose perspective on the gravity of such an achievement.

"Certainly, in terms of history of the sport, I'm a big fan of my sport," he said. "So, certainly knowing what it means to win a race like this. I mean, they're all very important, but certainly this is very special. And it goes very, very high on the list for my country.

"I certainly feel like at the moment, I'm the only Mexican – or even Latin American – driver on the grid. So, it just shows how difficult it is for us - not saying that for European drivers it's easy, but it just shows how difficult it is for us to make it into the sport and to have a successful career. It is quite hard, but I have to say I'm extremely proud of it."

Sergio Perez won an extraordinary Monaco Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc endured more misery in his home race on Sunday.

Perez claimed his first victory on the streets of Monte Carlo ahead of Carlos Sainz after a late start due to heavy rain and the loss of further time following a big crash for Mick Schumacher, who was fortunate to walk away unharmed.

Leclerc had started on pole but could only finish fourth after paying the price for poor Ferrari pit-stop strategies and so Max Verstappen extended his lead over the Monegasque to nine points in the battle for the title after taking third.

Verstappen’s Red Bull-mate Perez took the chequered flag in the sun on lap 64, as there was not enough time to complete the full 77 in the Principality as a result of the poor weather earlier in the day.

There was eventually a rolling start behind the safety car an hour and 10 minutes after the race was due to begin, with the red flag having earlier been waved during a deluge.

Leclerc maintained his lead ahead of team-mate Sainz on a drying track ahead of a Red Bull duo of Perez and Verstappen.

Perez pitted from fourth place for a set of intermediate tyres before both Leclerc and Verstappen came in for intermediates.

Leclerc was not happy when he was called in again at the same time as Sainz for hard tyres only three laps later, with Red Bull also opting for a double stack soon after and it was Perez who was leading after a string of pit stops.

The second-placed Sainz produced a great save to avoid crashing into the barriers on a wet part of the track, but the virtual safety car was deployed and subsequently another red flag following a big smash for Schumacher on lap 26.

Leclerc found himself in fourth behind Verstappen following some puzzling decision-making from the Scuderia and there were only 40 minutes of racing to go when the race restarted again on a significantly drier track.

Mexican Perez fended off Sainz to celebrate his first victory of the season. George Russell was fifth, with his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton only eighth behind Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso.

Charles Leclerc was "incredibly happy" to claim pole position in Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, leading a Ferrari one-two – although Carlos Sainz felt he could have pipped his team-mate if not for a dramatic crash.

Monegasque driver Leclerc qualified fastest at his home race after the final session was cut short due to a red flag.

Sergio Perez hit the barrier, prompting a yellow flag that Sainz saw only in time to brake as he careered into the Red Bull.

That brought a premature end to proceedings but ensured a fine result for Ferrari and, in particular, Leclerc, who secured a precious pole; while he has converted only four of his 13 previous poles into wins, some 15 of the past 17 winners in Monaco have started from the front row, including 12 from first place.

For Leclerc to add his name to the list of winners, he will have to overcome an awful record which has seen him never manage to finish the Monaco race. Despite taking pole last year, his car also crashed heavily in qualifying, and it meant Leclerc could not take an active part on race day.

This time it could be a different story.

"It is very special. I'm so incredibly happy," Leclerc said. "It's been a very smooth weekend until now – I knew the pace was in the car; I just had to do the job, and it went perfectly.

"That last lap, before the red flag, was really, really good, but it didn't change anything for us."

That may be true for Leclerc, but Sainz felt he was on course to top the timesheets prior to the collision with Perez.

"It's a shame – another year that a red flag cost us the end of a session, and we could not go for pole position," he said, "but it's typical Monaco."

Sainz added: "I think we are in a great position to score a great result for the team. The car has been amazing all weekend, so we'll go for it."

Perez still qualified in third, ahead of an out-of-sorts Max Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton's practice woes shifted only enough for him to make eighth before his final flying lap was halted.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:11.376
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.225s
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.253s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.290s
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.473s
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.736s
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.871s
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.184s
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.356s
10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +1.671s

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