Red Bull are hopeful DRS and a strategic edge could help them overhaul Ferrari in Sunday's inaugural Miami Grand Prix, with drivers expecting racing to be difficult on a surface that has been branded "a joke".

World championship leader Charles Leclerc took pole ahead of Carlos Sainz as qualifying ended in a Ferrari one-two.

Max Verstappen was third ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who did not mince his words when asked about the track following qualifying.

Echoing a sentiment shared by seemingly every driver in the paddock, Perez was emphatic in his criticism of a lack of grip off the racing line.

"I think most importantly the surface is a joke," Perez told Autosport when asked if there will be overtaking during the race.

"Tomorrow the racing is going to be difficult. And you're going to have the drivers making mistakes because we've been put into this situation."

With racing potentially set to be compromised, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed to the deployment of DRS on straights where Red Bull have a pace advantage over Ferrari as an area where the race could be decided in their favour.

Praising the performance of Verstappen, whose qualifying session was impacted by a lack of track time in Friday practice because of gearbox and hydraulics issues, Horner said: "Max has been on the back foot, he's down on laps on the other guys and still learning about the track so it's a good recovery from him.

"We know both our cars have good straight-line speed and the DRS could be pretty powerful here tomorrow, and with all the support races the braking zones should open up a bit, so there are a couple of places where we should be able to overtake.

"Strategy and pit stops will be crucial, as no one has really been able to do any long runs, it should be a fascinating contest tomorrow."

Leclerc topped the timesheets with a lap of one minute and 28.796 seconds, reaping the benefit of upgrades that appear to have strengthened the hand of the team that have emerged as the favourites to win both championships.

"It's definitely better," Leclerc said of the performance of his F1-75. "Yes, I mean both cars are very competitive, so Carlos and I are very competitive.

"So, it's great for the team and yes, we'll push to try and finish in the same positions tomorrow.

"It is a very strong package that we have, it works in more or less every condition since the beginning of the season so that is a good sign for the future.

"As I've said many times, the upgrades this year will be very, very important. We've had a few here that went in the right direction and hopefully we'll have a few more throughout the season to stay on top."

Verstappen will be out to ensure Ferrari do not stay on top in Florida and joked he may need to call his father for advice, former F1 driver Jos having recently returned to motorsport as a rally driver.

He said: "It's quite slippery outside the racing line, it almost feels like gravel, maybe I need to call my Dad and ask for some rally advice."

Charles Leclerc knows there is work still to do, but his Miami Grand Prix qualifying debut went entirely to plan as Ferrari's main man claimed pole position and was joined on the front row by Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc was able to secure pole for the third time in five races this season despite complaining he had not run his best lap on Saturday.

The Scuderia superstar profited from a late error from Max Verstappen, who had to settle for third, also letting through Sainz – back on form following his practice crash on Friday.

It puts Ferrari in a great position for a third win of the season, as many as they had managed in their previous three years combined, with Leclerc converting his previous two 2022 poles. All of his four career victories have come after qualifying fastest.

Each of the past four races in the United States have been won by a different driver – none of them being Leclerc – with three of them starting from pole.

"The last weekend hadn't been great for me [at the Emilia Romagna GP]," Leclerc said. "I made a mistake in the race.

"But today went well. We are starting on pole and we need to finish the job tomorrow.

"Red Bull are extremely quick in the straight lines, we are quick in the corners, and it will be a tight challenge tomorrow. But hopefully we will come back on top."

Leclerc is right to be wary of the threat of the Red Bulls in third and fourth, as Verstappen still believes he is in a good position to contend.

"Of course, you want to be on pole," the world champion said, "but where we came from, we've done a really good job.

"We have to start making the weekends a little bit less difficult because, like this, it's always going to be tricky.

"We have a good chance tomorrow. The car is handling quite well, so I'm looking forward to it."

Mercedes had taken pole – and subsequently won – at each of the previous six new Formula One circuits, but George Russell failed to get out of Q2 while Lewis Hamilton made do with sixth.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:28.796
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.190secs
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.195s
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.240s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.679s
6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.829s
7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.894s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.954s
9. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1.136s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1.880s

Real Madrid's dramatic Champions League turnaround against Manchester City showed Carlos Sainz he has plenty of time to get his Formula One season back on track. 

Riyad Mahrez looked to have done enough to deny Madrid a place in the final of Europe's premier club competition on Tuesday but two last-gasp goals from Rodrygo forced extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Karim Benzema's penalty then gave the Spanish giants a 6-5 aggregate semi-final victory to book their place in the showpiece match against Liverpool. 

Madrid fan Sainz is finding himself under pressure to turn things around at Ferrari, having been forced to retire in the opening stages of the previous two races. 

Ahead of this weekend's maiden Miami Grand Prix, Sainz joked that anything is still possible for him this season given the feat Madrid managed to pull off. 

"Missing the 600 kilometres [of the past two races] hurts me more than the zero points, because the kilometres are what make you learn about the car and the new regulations," he told AS. 

"I did a test in Imola in which I also had a problem, but we are recovering as best we can. It's part of the athlete's life. There are always better and worse moments. 

"The last two races have not been ideal – far from it – but we have also had a bit of bad luck. Now we want a clean weekend to try to recover. 

"Madrid had it worse. I have 19 races left. Madrid had five minutes left!" 

However, Sainz revealed that promotional duties meant he missed Rodrygo's late double. 

"It was amazing. I missed the last few minutes of chaos because I was in the middle of an event with Shell. It shows that nothing is decided until the last minute," he added. 

Lewis Hamilton has hit back at Helmut Marko's suggestion he should have retired last year, calling the Red Bull advisor's words "disrespectful" and pledging to use any criticism thrown his way as "fuel".

Hamilton has made a poor start to the 2022 campaign after losing the drivers' championship title to Max Verstappen in a thrilling conclusion to the 2021 season, finishing 13th at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix last time out.

After the seven-time world champion was lapped by Verstappen at Imola, Marko, who made nine Formula One starts in his own racing career in the early 1970s before being made blind in one eye by an accident, suggested Hamilton might be regretting his decision to participate this season.

"I mean, he was lapped by us, so I don't know," Marko told Sky Sports F1 in the aftermath of the race. "Maybe he is thinking he should have stopped last year."

On the eve of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton said such comments will only motivate him to get back to top form.

"People always love you when you're up, and love to kick you when you're down. It's a part of life," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"Naturally, I've seen some people I've grown up admiring as a kid and even in the sport, that have come out with some things, some disrespectful, or not particularly respectful of my name.

"For me, I have to make sure I use that as fuel. I'm putting that into the pot, and I'm going to turn that into a positive and come back stronger. We are going to come back stronger as a team.

"Four bad races, or five, six, seven, 10 bad races… is not going to stop me doing what I love doing. It's not going to stop me in my tracks.

"I've been racing for 29 years and I've had way more difficult times than this and bounced back. It's not how you fall, it's how you get up.

"Nothing you say or do is going to stop me in my tracks."

Hamilton sits seventh in the drivers' championship standings after four races of the new season, having recorded just one podium finish so far this term.

 

Lewis Hamilton warned Formula One risks taking "a step backwards" if governing body FIA continues to impose "unnecessary" jewellery regulations on drivers.

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, reminded drivers at the Australian Grand Prix in early April that the FIA's code prohibits drivers wearing jewellery in the car.

Hamilton still competed in Melbourne with piercings in both ears and a nose stud, and Wittich has reiterated the rulings ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix this weekend.

Wittich explained that wearing jewellery under flameproof clothing can reduce protection and increase the risk of burn damage, but Hamilton remains staunch in his refusal to conform to the FIA's demands.

"I couldn't get any more jewellery on today," the Mercedes star told reporters on Friday.

"But I don't really have a lot more to add than what I already said the last time I was in front of you guys and we spoke about it.

"I feel it's almost like a step backwards. If you think of the steps we're taking as a sport and the more important issues and causes that we need to be focused on and really pushing.

"I think we've made such great strides as a sport. Look, we're here in Miami. This is such a small thing – I've been in the sport for 16 years, I've been wearing jewellery for 16 years.

"In the car I only ever have my earrings on and my nose ring, which I can't even remove. So it seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat."

The jewellery ban has been in place since 2004, but Wittich made a special effort to stress the rule in his pre-race notes in Melbourne before reaffirming his demands in the United States.

Hamilton also revealed he has reached out to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, although he is yet to get through, to try to find a resolution and encourage greater attention on more important matters.

"I am willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them if necessary," the seven-time world champion added. "It is about individuality and being who you are.

"I did try calling Mohammed this morning and I think he was super busy but I sent him a message. I wanted to reassure him and said: 'I want to be an ally. I don't want to fight with you guys over this.'

"It has never been a safety issue in the past. If they stop me, we have a spare driver. There are lots of things to do here."

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly was quick to back Hamilton.

"I do believe there are bigger things to focus on," Gasly said. "I appreciate the FIA are looking after our safety.

"But in my case I am religious and there are things I have with me that I do not feel comfortable not having in the car.

"In the end, we are the ones who go out there and put our lives at risk and I do feel it should be a personal choice. I hope in the end we could find a better solution than this very strict one."

Max Verstappen has rejected Lewis Hamilton's complaints about Mercedes' W13 car, saying George Russell's early successes with the team show it is "not all horrific".

Verstappen claimed his second victory of the 2022 campaign at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last time out, with Sergio Perez following him home to ensure Red Bull's first one-two since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Seven-time champion Hamilton, meanwhile, has struggled since losing the title to Verstappen in the closing seconds of 2021's final race in Abu Dhabi, and was lapped by the Red Bull driver at Imola as he toiled to a 13th-place finish.

On Thursday, Hamilton repeated criticism of his team's car, comparing it to his struggles in the 2009 season when he finished fifth, telling The Race: "There are people that watch and say I've never had a bad car, and I can assure you that I have. 2009's car was very, very far off – the worst car that I've had. This car currently is not far off that experience."

But Hamilton's new team-mate Russell is yet to finish outside the top five since joining Mercedes, which Verstappen says is evidence the team's car is not as bad as Hamilton claims.

The reigning world champion, however, denied that he enjoyed lapping Hamilton in Italy, claiming he was simply focusing on his own race.

"To be honest, it wasn't something I was enjoying at the time," he told the Telegraph ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. "I was just focused on my race, on getting through the traffic as cleanly as possible and winning. 

"It wasn't like I was saying, 'Oh, I'm lapping Lewis, what an amazing feeling'. I had great battles with Lewis last year. Now he's in a car which is not so great.

"Having said that, of course, George does finish fourth in that car [at Imola]. So, it is not all horrific, right?

"I'd say [Hamilton's] car had quite a bit more pace than the midfield traffic. But yeah, it was hard to pass. I mean also when there was only one dry line and when you don't have, let's say, a top speed advantage anymore. 

"It makes it a lot harder to judge how far Lewis was off George. But clearly the whole weekend George was doing really well." 

Verstappen sits second in the drivers' standings after Red Bull's erratic start to the season, in which the Dutch driver has posted two victories but failed to finish twice. 

Formula One's ever-expanding presence in the United States will come to the fore as it returns to Florida for the first time in over 60 years with the Miami Grand Prix this weekend.

Bruce McLaren claimed the first of four Grand Prix wins at Sebring in 1959, before the United States GP moved to Riverside for 1960 and then Watkins Glen until 1980.

Last time out at Imola, Ferrari suffered their first bad weekend of the season, with Red Bull's one-two compounding Carlos Sainz crashing out on the opening lap and Charles Leclerc spinning after going over a sausage kerb, before finishing in sixth.

With DNFs in Imola and Melbourne, Sainz had not retired in his previous 24 races and will be looking to recover at a track that could suit this year's Ferrari package.

Even after Imola though, Ferrari still lead in both the driver's and constructor's championships, with respective 27 and 11-point leads.

Following his wins in Bahrain and Australia, Charles Leclerc could equal Ferrari's win tally in the previous seasons combined, with all three coming in 2019.

Though the Monegasque driver converted his pole position into a win at Albert Park, only four of his 11 career wins have come from pole position.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen has been much more clinical in that regard, converting his 14 pole positions into 10 race victories.

Verstappen was the last winner in the United States, taking the top step at COTA last year in Austin.

Mercedes bring upgrades

Although George Russell sits fourth in the driver's championship, Ferrari and Red Bull have had the two best packages on the grid so far this season.

Mercedes have struggled to match them for pace and performance as they come to terms with the car's particularly aggressive porpoising coming into braking zones.

They are hoping upgrades could revive Lewis Hamilton's season and the USA has traditionally been a happy hunting ground, with six of his 18 wins in North America coming there.

Can Red Bull consolidate?

Defending champion Max Verstappen won at Imola in what was an assured drive, reminding the paddock that Red Bull are capable of coming up with a strong package this season.

Sergio Perez has also been in solid form to open the season, securing back-to-back second-place finishes for the first time in his career in Melbourne and Imola.

Anything less than another strong performance will undo the progress they made, however.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 86
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 59
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 54
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 49 
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 38

Constructors

1. Ferrari 124
2. Red Bull 113
3. Mercedes 77
4. McLaren 46
5. Alfa Romeo 25

Two of the world's most recognisable car brands – Audi and Porsche – have plans to join Formula One.

It is said that the two brands, who are the Volkswagen Group's biggest income generators, have had a keen interest for a while now and have been waiting for F1's engine regulations to move in a more eco-friendly direction.

These changes are reportedly set to come into effect in 2026, when it is expected that Porsche will form an alliance with Red Bull and compete under the team name of Red Bull-Porsche.

Audi, on the other hand, are seeking to buy out an existing team, and have had talks with Sauber, Williams, Aston Martin and McLaren.

Speaking at an event in Wolfsburg, where VW is based, company chief executive Herbert Diess said when it came down to it, entering F1 would simply generate more money than not entering.

"You just run out of arguments [against it]," he said.

Last year, Porsche Motorsport vice president Fritz Enzinger revealed that the company was again considering their future in the sport, as long as the engine requirements met a certain standard.

With F1's new engines to run on fully sustainable fuels – which was non-negotiable for the VW Group – it is now closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Lewis Hamilton believes Formula One's popularity in the United States is "booming" ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday.

Miami's first Grand Prix will take place later this week after the Miami International Autodrome agreed a 10-year contract to stage the race, meaning the United States will host two events in the 2022 season, with Austin, Texas hosting the United States Grand Prix in October, while a Las Vegas Grand Prix will be introduced next year.

Hamilton, who holds the record for most wins in Austin (six), has struggled at the outset of the new campaign, sitting seventh in the driver's standings after finishing a disappointing 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last time out.

In an interview with ABC'S Good Morning America, the seven-time drivers' champion said he was excited to be participating in the USA, highlighting the role of Netflix's 'Drive to Survive' documentary series in boosting the sport's stateside popularity.

"It's a bit nerve-racking because I think it's going to be a huge event for us," he said. "We obviously had the race in Austin, Texas, which has always been amazing. The first race I had out here was Indianapolis in 2007.

"But now, with Netflix's Drive to Survive series growing, we have two Grands Prix in the States and we have another one in Las Vegas next year, it's going to be huge.

"I've been coming out here for a long time, but never understood why people weren't into Formula One.

"Everyone knew NASCAR, and obviously there are such huge sporting fans out here and this Netflix show, particularly through the pandemic, has just brought massive awareness to the sport, and now it's booming."

Meanwhile, the 37-year-old used his appearance on the show to highlight the launch of his Mission 44 Foundation, which aims to "support, champion and empower young people from underrepresented groups to succeed through narrowing opportunity gaps across society."

Hamilton said his experience of working in Formula One, an industry in which ethnic minority groups remain severely underrepresented, motivated the foundation's mission.

"It's been generally quite a lonely journey. It's been me and my family. We're the only black family [in the sport]," he added.

"I've been racing 29 years. I'm 37 now, but I've been professional for 16 years. I've most often been the only person of colour in the room and when I asked the question [why], there was no great feedback or answer to that.

"So we've now started Mission 44, which I've funded myself, to try and create more representation and support and empowerment for these young, underserved groups."

Despite out-driving his famous Mercedes team-mate early in the season, George Russell has nothing but praise for seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton, 37, got off to a solid start in Bahrain after qualifying fifth and sneaking onto the podium when both Red Bull cars were retired, but his fourth-placed finish in Australia is sandwiched by crossing the line 10th in Saudi Arabia and a disappointing 13th in Imola.

Meanwhile, Russell has finished no worse than fifth in any race, despite having a best starting position of sixth, both in Australia and Saudi Arabia.

It means Russell occupies fourth position in the driver standings, just 10 points away from Max Verstappen in second, while Hamilton is back in seventh.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Russell said he has no doubts about the "inspiring" Hamilton's quality, and his likelihood of returning to form.

"Lewis has clearly got the pace," he said. "He's incredibly fast, and he's showed that so far this year, but it's just been tricky for us as a team to get it done when the time is needed.

"When things have been more stable, Lewis has still been massively fast.

"I know there was a bit of a blip last weekend, but I have no doubt he's going to come back, and the way he's pushing the team and motivating the team is truly inspiring.

"We all want more. He wants more. Nobody is happy with the position we're in currently."

While Russell acknowledged that some of the team's problems have been out of the drivers' hands, he said they are issues he is also having to combat, and that his time at Williams has prepared him to make the most out of difficult situations.

"We are equally struggling," he said. "When the car is so far out of bed and it's not in the right window, it doesn't really feel like a proper racing car to drive.

"Perhaps with my struggles at Williams, with very difficult cars, maybe that's helped in some small regard.

"But Lewis will come back stronger, I have no doubt. He's definitely going to be pushing me all the way.

"I'm not getting comfortable in this position because I know what he's capable of."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff commended his young star, and stressed his team is determined to provide their drivers with cars they can compete with.

"I'm very impressed with how [Russell has] settled in," he said. "How professionally and analytically he is helps us to assess the situation.

"The combination [of Russell and Hamilton], that's one of the very few highlights I have at the moment on our journey – the two of them work together with no friction. On the contrary, it is very, very productive and positive for the team and I couldn't be happier with the driver line-up.

"We have two of maybe the three best drivers, and they deserve a car and a power unit that makes them fight in the front rather than being lapped. That's not what any of them deserves."

The FIA is continuing to evaluate plans to double the number of Formula One sprint events to six next year.

Silverstone staged the inaugural sprint race last year and the first of three on the 2022 calendar was staged at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last weekend.

All 10 F1 teams are if favour of having six sprint events on the 2023 schedule.

F1's governing body is still considering whether to approve such an increase.

An FIA statement said: "With the first of three sprint events of the 2022 season popular with fans and stakeholders last weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Formula One and the teams were supportive of an extension to six sprint events for the 2023 season, running with the same format as in 2022.

"While supporting the principle of an increased number of sprint events, the FIA is still evaluating the impact of this proposal on its trackside operations and personnel, and will provide its feedback to the commission."

Max Verstappen won the sprint at Imola to take pole position and duly converted that into a race victory on Sunday.

Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko could not help but add insult to injury following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday, suggesting Lewis Hamilton should have retired at the end of last season.

The seven-time Formula One world champion finished out of the points in 13th position at Imola and to compound the misery, was lapped by rival Max Verstappen, who went on to win the race in a one-two for Red Bull.

Mercedes have struggled to come to grips with porpoising as a result of new regulations this season, but Hamilton's form is in stark contrast to that of team-mate George Russell, who sits 21 points ahead in the driver's standings and finished fourth on Sunday.

When asked how Hamilton might be feeling after Imola, Marko could not resist.

"I mean, he was lapped by us, so I don't know," Marko told Sky Sports F1. "Maybe he is thinking he should have stopped last year,"

Verstappen played down the gravity of Hamilton being lapped, however, saying it's a natural consequence of the disparity in performance between the Red Bull and Mercedes packages.

"They've been slow all year so for me it's not really anything exciting, it just happens," he said.

Verstappen's win at Imola was an assured drive, the Dutchman untroubled from pole to finish. With Carlos Sainz out on the opening lap, Red Bull were able to put second-placed Sergio Perez on a different strategy to force Ferrari's hand with championship leader Charles Leclerc.

The reigning world champion moved to second place in the driver's standings on 59 points, 27 points behind Leclerc, who recovered from a spin on lap 53 to finish sixth.

Marko asserted the one-two was a critical result from the standpoints of team morale and the championship, following DNFs in Bahrain and Australia.

"It was very important after our problems in Bahrain and Australia from the engine side…another one-two, the last one was 2016 in Malaysia," Marko said.

"It was about time, for the morale and everything it's more than important. It showed that we are competitive, we just have to get the package together and then we are there.

"There are so many races coming, the important thing is that we have such a strong package, so the championship will be very exciting but hopefully it doesn't go the last race like last year."

Charles Leclerc acknowledged he was "too greedy and paid the price" as he span out from third and finished sixth at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. 

Despite qualifying second behind Max Verstappen following Saturday's sprint race, Leclerc slid down to fourth on the opening lap as Sergio Perez and Lando Norris found a way past him. 

Although he was able to overtake Norris, Perez's exemplary defence kept him at bay and he was unable to get close enough when the track was finally deemed dry enough for DRS to be enabled. 

With the front two out of reach, Leclerc opted to switch to soft tyres and chase the fastest lap to deny Verstappen the additional point. 

However, an error at the Variante Alta saw him hit the barriers and forced him to pit again. 

Leclerc was ninth when he returned to the track but managed to climb back up to sixth, meaning his championship lead was cut from 45 points to 27. 

"It's a big shame. Whatever happened before the spin, these are details and it's part of racing. The spin shouldn't have happened today," Leclerc said on Sky Sports. 

"P3 was the best I could do. We didn't have the pace for much more and I was too greedy and paid the price for it and lost potential seven potential points compared to the third place I was in. It is a shame, it's seven points that will for sure be valuable at the end of the campaign, but this shouldn't happen again. 

"For sure, Red Bull seem to be more competitive than the first three races. We had the upper hand in Bahrain and Australia, then they had it here and in Jeddah. 

"It is very, very close and I think it will be that way for the rest of the season. It's a big mistake but the consequence considering the mistake could've been much bigger. It's only seven points today but it could cost more the next time, so I need to be careful." 

Ferrari got zero points through Carlos Sainz, who got stuck in the gravel following contact with Daniel Ricciardo at the first chicane on the opening lap. 

Sainz said: "It was very bad, definitely. A tough moment. 

"It's not at all the way I wanted to go out in front of the fans. Turn two can be bad, but there are always these tough moments in the life of the sportsman and you have to go through them. 

"As long as I keep working hard, the good times will come." 

Lewis Hamilton scotched any suggestion he might still challenge for the Formula One drivers' title after an Imola nightmare on Sunday. 

The seven-time champion placed 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and was lapped by race winner Max Verstappen, leaving him a distant seventh in the 2022 standings after four races. 

Hamilton's former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg questioned team principal Toto Wolff's assertion that it was the car, rather than the driver, that had been the dominant factor in the British star struggling. 

Given Hamilton's team-mate George Russell finished a creditable fourth, Rosberg believes Wolff chose his words carefully in an effort to gee up his lead driver. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said it had been "a weekend to forget, that's for sure". 

When asked about title prospects and the possibility of fighting his way back into contention, Hamilton said: "I am out of the championship, for sure. There's no question about that. But I will still keep working as hard as I can and try and somehow pull it back together somehow." 

Rosberg raced for Mercedes from 2010 to 2016, pipping Hamilton to the title in his final year with the team before driving off into retirement. 

Wolff described the Mercedes as "undriveable" as he spoke to Hamilton over team radio at the end of Sunday's race in Italy, saying it was not fit for a world champion. 

But Rosberg, also speaking to Sky Sports, believes that was a case of clever politics from the Mercedes team chief. 

"Here, Toto was playing the mental game which is very smart on his behalf again, taking the blame themselves and really trying to support Lewis mentally. Lifting him up and saying that it wasn't Lewis' doing, it's on us," Rosberg said. 

"It's very smart because it's not quite the truth and let's not forget that Russell is in P4 with that same car, so Lewis definitely had a big role to play in that poor result this weekend." 

Rosberg believes there was "more in that car" than Hamilton has been able to find. 

He added: "It's so important that Lewis keeps that motivation through the whole season, it's important for the team and it's quite easy for Lewis to lose it in these kinds of situations." 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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